Installing shingles too tightly causes curling
Q. I live in Pine Hills. The house is eight years old. Recently some damaged shingles that were replaced did not match the old shingles’ color. So the builder took shingles off the back and put the replacements on there, then put the back-roof shingles in place of the old ones in front. Now the replacement shingles are curling. The builder said it was a matter of regular maintenance. What does that mean? The original shingles were replaced because they did not meet the code for wind resistance.
CHARLOTTE SIMMONDS, Plymouth
A. What, indeed? Builders often have some interesting reasons when something happens without explaining it further. If the shingles did not meet wind resistance codes, then all should be replaced. The shingles curled because they were installed too tightly, and curled when they expanded. Ergo, they all should be replaced and installed a bit loosely.
Q. My gingerbread cottage is used only in summer. I’d like to upgrade the cathedral ceiling that is simple roof boards supported by 2 x 4 rafters. Can I paint the boards white and leave the 2 x 4 just plain?
NANCY LeBLANC, Oak Bluffs
A. Painting the inside of the roof boards can work, but if the boards are split or slightly damaged, the white paint will aggravate their defects. So, here is an idea I used in the two front rooms in my 1768 house. Buy Homasote, a common wall or ceiling covering made like papier-mache, compressed into rigid boards. Cut these boards to fit between the rafters, paint them with two coats of a white latex solid stain, and insert them between the rafters. Nail along the edges (not too long that they penetrate the boards and pierce the shingles), and nail a large quarter round along the edges to cover the nail heads.
You may not need insulation, but if you ever do, install 1- or 2-inch thick rigid insulation on the boards before putting on the Homasote. Use Styrofoam insulation or Thermax. It will cover the sides of the 2 x 4 rafters, but they will show enough of the dark rafters to make a good looking ceiling.
Q. My American Standard yellow toilet is 50 years old and leaking water, and my plumber says he can’t get parts for it. What can I do? I would like to keep the toilet that matches my other fixtures.
A. Have your plumber call Bill Tragakis of Watertown Heating and Plumbing Supply. If Bill does not have it, it does not exist.
Whether or not parts can be found, I suggest you buy a new low-flow toilet. I checked the company catalog and noticed that many toilets have colors. The point is, the low-flow (1 1/2 gallons per flush) will save thousands of gallons of water, an expensive part of your household budget. The one you have is using up to 7 or so gallons per flush. If you cannot find yellow, then settle for a white one, and install a yellow seat and cover.
Q. My door locks and latches seem rather stiff, and I cannot turn the key easily. A man suggested I spray
A. Sure would. But it’s better to use a non-oily spray, such as a silicone spray. Overuse of oil will combine with dust and make it stickier.
Q. I keep the heat (forced hot water by gas) in the daytime at 67 (61 at night), but it never warms up to 67, and feels cold. I tried raising it to 70, but that is much too hot. Now what?
A. Try 68, or 69. If that doesn’t work, consider replacing the thermostat.
Q. I have a summer house in Maine where I drain the water in winter, and turn off the heat completely. The gas company told me to keep a little heat in the house because total cold will damage the house. Is this true?
A. It’s an old wives’ tale, so turn the heat off. The money you save will pay for half the furnishings in the house, if you have to replace them. Since there may be a bit of water vapor buildup during the winter (moisture is harder on things than cold), keep two windows open just half an inch (protect them from entry) to allow water vapor to escape.
Q. Every few years I chip out broken mortar from between the bricks in my steps and press in new mortar. Trouble is, I have to buy a 40-pound bag of Mortar Mix, and because I use very little, the leftover mortar in the bag turns to concrete. Is there something that comes in smaller packages? I noticed DAP ready-mix concrete patch comes in a smaller package. Would that work?
ROBERT DESROSIERS, Belmont
A. If it contains cement and is like mortar, it will work. Try Top ‘n’ Bond, a mortar that works well and comes in 5- or 10-pound plastic tubs. The tub can seal out all moisture, so the leftover will not harden.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (email@example.com) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.