For a quieter home, caulk all the seams
Q. I have been having trouble with sound coming from my unit to my tenant’s below, so I replaced recessed lighting and put in a new ceiling in the tenant’s unit, separating from the original ceiling with acoustical channels. It made a good improvement.
Now, I have a lot of sound traveling between the tenant’s unit and the stairwell leading to my upstairs unit, really intolerable. After cellulose was blown into the wall cavity, things have improved some, but not enough. I can’t add a lot to the wall’s thickness. Is there anything I can do? I discovered a new type of sound-absorbing board. Would that work?
Q.Some areas of my white vinyl siding have turned yellow from extensive use of a bug spray. How can I remove the stains? I have tried Soft Scrub, bleach and water, and ammonia.
UGLY SPOTSA.You mentioned bleach and water, and ammonia. It doesn’t sound as if you used the three materials together, but I am obliged to warn everyone not to mix bleach and ammonia. Such a mixture produces chlorine gas, a deadly gas. So, if none of the above worked, try this: Denatured or rubbing alcohol. Alcohol is the basis of most bug sprays. Or, sand lightly. If that does not work, paint the spots white. Use a Krylon aerosol spray called Fusion, which binds with vinyl for a permanent finish.
Q.Last year I seal-coated my driveway and walkway. During the winter when I shoveled (and there was plenty of shoveling in my area) some of the seal-coat was scraped off. Later some of it came off naturally. Did I do something wrong, applying it too thickly?
PETER GOVE, Albany, N.Y.
A. Too thick an application may be the reason for failure. Anything like paint, stain, and other coatings, except maybe contour paint, is generally recommended to be applied in thin coats. Seal-coat is generally 90 to 95 percent cosmetic, to look nice, and will not fill cracks, although I’ve been told that in hot climates it does add to the life of the material. There is not much you can do except wait until the rest peels off. Top quality asphalt paving can last 20 or more years, and does not need coating.
Q. The deck on my side porch is painted wood boards, all in good shape, but some of the nail heads are rusting. I can’t pull them because they are indented. How can I prevent the rust from coming through the paint?
SAL SCARPATO, Newton
A. It would be better to replace the nails with stainless steel or good galvanized nails or screws, but they are too deeply indented to remove cleanly. So, indent them as deep as three-eighths of an inch, paint the heads with Rust Remover or other material that will turn the rust black, and fill with exterior wood filler. If you can find a filler color to match the deck, you won’t have to repaint.
More on hot dimmers The saga continues on Tom Coyle’s overheating dimmer switch hooked up to nine recessed lights, mentioned here on May 9.
E-mail from Bob Puffer: The likely problem is a simple one (but may be hard to correct): The mounting box is too small and cannot adequately dissipate the heat generated by the dimmer. The National Electrical Code specifies the calculation for the minimum box size in cubic inches depending on the number of conductors and installed devices, for just this reason. Furthermore, if multiple dimmers are installed adjacent to each other in the same box, metal mounting tabs must be broken off which reduces the wattage capacity of the dimmers, as will be noted in the package insert. And using a plastic faceplate instead of a metal one will also reduce the ability of the dimmer to dissipate heat.
From Charles Small, P.E., of Westford: Please call your reader post haste and tell him to stop using that dimmer immediately I see a potential fire in the making. The problem is a heated connection. Also, a connection with some of the strands gone could overheat.
Q. I have a good one for you: How can I remove transferred ink from the Globe on a Formica counter top?
NOT MAD AT ALL
A. Try using a pre-soak treatment such as Spray and Wash. In fact, I have a transfer of the Globe’s distinctive logo, more properly called a nameplate, on a painted countertop. I sort of like it, and it might stay until my wife gets after me.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer home repair questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.