Q: Bats are nesting behind the vinyl siding that I had installed over the original siding on my house. They gain entry at the corners where there are gaps between the siding and corner fittings. I don't want to kill them, but is there any way to get rid of them?
If you know where the bats are hanging out, thumping on the siding at intervals during the day might convince them that they have picked a bad place to sleep.
The bats should emerge at dusk, when they begin hunting for insects such as mosquitoes, so you can probably pinpoint their general location by watching. Once the bats are out hunting, you can close the entry-exit gaps with a material like foam weatherstripping, sold in rolls at most home centers. This should close the gaps while still letting the vinyl siding move. Since bats don't gnaw, this might keep them from getting back in.
You should also seal other gaps around your house, using caulk or weatherstripping. This will not only help keep out unwanted critters and insects, but improve your energy bills.
Some people who are interested in bat conservation erect simple bat houses for them. You can build your own at moderate cost, using plans available on the Internet. Use a search engine and the words Bat House Plans to find patterns and kits.
Paint peels on sills
Q: My house has a lot of wood-framed windows and every spring I have to check for peeling paint on the outside frames, especially the sills. On some sills it only lasts a couple of years. What causes this and how can I correct it?
The cause is generally moisture from rain, snow or window condensation. The moisture gathers on horizontal surfaces and eventually works its way into the wood, either through the paint film or through poorly caulked joints.
If your paint doesn't contain lead, scrape off all loose paint and use a good paint stripper such as Strypeeze to remove the remaining paint. Sand the sills and fill any cracks or holes with an exterior-grade spackling compound. Some painters like to apply a water-repellent preservative, or WRP, to the bare wood at this point. If you use a WRP make sure it is a brand that can be painted over, such as Woodlife Classic.
Next, caulk the joints at the sides of the sills. A high-quality acrylic-latex window-and-door caulk is fine. Wait about a day for the WRP and caulk to become thoroughly dry and apply a good water-based primer such as Bulls Eye 1-2-3. When the primer dries, you should apply two coats of top-quality acrylic paint. A semigloss paint is a good choice for exterior trim.
Gene Austin: firstname.lastname@example.org