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HANDYMAN ON CALL

Pop go the windows, and she'd like it to stop

Q. We built our home in 2003 and noticed a ``popping" noise from the windows. The windows are metal, and the noise comes mainly from those exposed to the sun. But we do hear the popping in the middle of the night. We have been told this is due to expansion and contraction. Is there anything we can do to remedy the problem? Also, why doesn't this popping noise happen to all windows?
ELLEN MILLER, by e-mail
A. Yes, it is the metal expanding when it heats up and contracting when it cools off. Metal is a poor choice for windows, partly because of this expansion and contraction problem, but mainly because it is poor insulation and a good conductor of cold and heat. Better material s are wood, vinyl-clad wood, and vinyl.

The popping is more likely in windows exposed to the sun because the heating up and cooling off is more intense. Why do the pops sometimes occur at night? The window frames are held rather rigidly in their openings, and the expansion occurs without a sound until the tension is released and the window pops.

The construction of the windows may be critical to the problem and the solution. It also may answer your question about why not all windows are popping. If the windows are too tight ly secured in their openings , they have no place to expand, so the popping occurs. If you can loosen them and apply caulking to the joints for weatherproofing, the popping may be prevented. As the house is three years old, the builder is not responsible; you can try to find the window man or contractor who installed the windows.

Q. My shower stall floor is covered with mineral deposits, mostly iron and manganese. How can I remove those deposits and clean up the floor?
HERB ELLIS, Covington, La.
A. For the mineral deposits, try Iron-Out or Lime-Away, then clean with KRC-7 (sold in plumbing supply shops). Or try this for cleaning : Squeeze lots and lots of ordinary shampoo on the floor and smear it around liberally with your hands so that it covers the entire floor. Wait at least an hour, then scrub and rinse. It seems like a miracle! There is a new soap scum cleaner called Bam! on the market, which might also work.

Q. The vinyl floor in my kitchen is bubbling near the seam. The bubble is about the size of a quarter. It was fixed once but has occurred again. Is there a permanent cure? The vinyl has a slate tile look with borders.
NANCY MacLEOD, Wolfborough, N.H.
A. I imagine someone tried to fix the bubble by inserting glue and pressing the bubble down. Trouble is, such bubbles don't stay put because there is not enough room under the bubble for it to lay flat; one way to fix it is to slice it with a utility knife, then insert glue (Phenoseal, an adhesive caulk, is excellent), then press it in place. There is a secret to pressing it down, too: After inserting glue, cover the bubble with a large piece of waxed paper, then put down plywood and weigh the plywood down; leave overnight. The waxed paper will prevent any oozing adhesive from sticking to the plywood.

If you have some spare vinyl, you can do a better job this way: Cut out the bubbled area along the border and cut a new piece to match. Then put it in place with the adhesive caulk and you are home free.

Handyman on Call also appears in the Globe's Real Estate section on Sundays. Peter Hotton is available 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair; call 617-929-2930. Hotton chats online about house matters 2 to 3 p.m. Thursdays, at Boston.com. Hotton can be reached at photton@globe.com.

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