New garage doors will help keep birds at bay
Q. Help! My garage is full of chickadees which come and go as they please and roost over my car, covering it with guano. My doors are not very secure, and the birds can squeeze in and out through some pretty small openings.
SICK OF BIRDS
A. Install new doors that are bird proof, or plug those holes. New doors can be made tighter than a patchwork of repairs. If by the time you do this the birds are gone, you are all set. If some birds remain, keep the doors closed for a day or two, then open them. I think the remaining birds will fly the coop.
Q. Birds have made their home in my backyard, and there is guano all over the yard, a real mess. I don’t have any bird feeders, any way to control them?
ALFRED HITCHCOCK, I am not
A. Hmm. Short of repellents that might help, put up a big fake owl, maybe one with a bobble head. Or buy one of those basketball-sized balls with a big eye painted on it. The birds might mistake it for a predator.
Q. My daughter is selling her house, and the inspector said to clean the fireplace and the chimney flue. The chimney sweep doing the work said the flue liner is damaged by fire from a wood stove, and that it must be replaced with a stainless steel liner. Is this really necessary, and how much would a stainless steel liner cost? She has oil heat.
BECKY DWYER, South Boston
A. Yes, a stainless steel liner is necessary on any chimney served by a wood stove and/or gas heat. A wood stove created much more heat than a fireplace, hence the need for the new liner. A gas heater also needs a stainless liner, but your daughter lucked out and does not have gas heat. For the record, gas creates two cubic feet of water vapor for each cubic foot of gas burned. As it rises in the chimney, it condenses, and combines with other goodies in the chimney to form an acid, which will destroy any mortar or concrete products in the flue. A stainless liner will cost about $1,000 to $2,000, maybe more.
Q. The borax and sugar mix you mentioned for use against ants in the house — are they for carpenter ants? Are the big black ants I see carpenter ants?
A. The borax and sugar mix is not generally for carpenter ants, because carpenter ants nest in damp, punky wood, and the nest must be destroyed, with the ants in it, by an exterminator. If a carpenter ant finds the poison mix, all the better. As for the big black ants you see being carpenter ants, only an entomologist can tell. Maybe an exterminator can, too. They may not be carpenters, so go after them with the borax and sugar.
Q. My two bathrooms are seriously affected by mold. A professional mold remediator suggested I take down the dry wall, let the space dry out, then install an exhaust fan in the two rooms. Isn’t taking down the wall rather excessive?
LEE SMITH, Medford
A. Yes it is. Make a mix of 1 part household bleach and 3 parts water and apply it to all the black mold stains. Wear skin and eye protection. After this dries, wash it thoroughly because any paint on bleach will fail. Then repaint, and install an exhaust fan in each bathroom.
By the way, I have just learned from Jeff May, America’s chief guru on mold and asbestos, that
Q. My cape style house was built in 1950. The kitchen has some handsome colorful characters on the vinyl covers over plasterboard panels. Someone painted over them with latex paint. My nearby cottage has a similar wall, thankfully unpainted. How can I get that paint off without destroying the color panels?
MIKE SCHAFFER, Eastham
A. Before doing anything, call the Museum of Fine Arts and ask them, at least, how to remove the paint with everything else intact. Otherwise, you will have to experiment yourself. Start with any citrus cleaner such as Citrus Green or Citrus Clean. If you find paint coming off without harming the original color art, you are home. A more drastic treatment is Citristrip, a mild citrus-based stripper that might work, too, but not until you have exhausted all other possibilities, including that call to the MFA.
Q. I have a white painted picket fence with square posts set in the earth. A plow last winter hit a post and now it is leaning a bit, with several inches of wiggle room. Can I set it in concrete to reinforce it? Also, I used pine for molding in my house, and carefully primed and painted. Now, knots are bleeding through. How can I fix it?
JERRY DENNIS, Medford
A. Don’t set it in concrete; that could cause premature decay. Check to see if the post is not broken or cracked. If it is OK, then tamp earth around it until you cannot move it easily.
For those bleeding knots, you forgot to seal them before painting. So, sand those parts and apply two coats of a clear shellac. Reprime and repaint.
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 about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.