Q: When I pulled up my rug for cleaning, I found a nice hardwood floor under it, but it had a number of white water stains. How can I clean them off?
A: One way is to mix 1 part bleach and 3 parts water, and paint it on the whole floor. The other is to rub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and I do mean rub, hard. To prepare, soak the eraser sponge, then squeeze it as dry as possible before rubbing. If the stains are black, the floor must be sanded to the bare wood and refinished.
Q: My basement foundation had two leaky areas. One is a vertical crack about 4 feet long and 1/8-inch wide. The other leak comes from a small metal rod that has rusted and lets water in. The rod, which runs through the foundation, seems to be an artifact of when the foundation was poured and was part of the forms. Last week, an electrician suggested that hydraulic cement may stop the leaks. How does it work and how do you apply it properly? What about those waterproof paints?
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A: Yes, hydraulic cement can work in these situations. It expands as it sets, which is its best attribute. For the long vertical rack or joint, secure a piece of wood inside or out to hold back the hydraulic cement that you will try to stuff deeply into the crack. It will make a good seal. For the remains of the wires or rods in the opening, you can use them as reinforcing to help keep the mortar in place. I think a good mortar will work here better than hydraulic cement.
Q: Years ago I clipped a column of yours about attic furnaces. Your snarky response was, “A hot-air furnace in the attic is the dumbest thing to foist upon hapless homeowners since vinyl siding.” I live in a 1964 brick ranch to which some DIYer applied the cruddiest grade of vinyl siding (cruddy installation to match) on the gables, fascia, soffits, and under a 12-by-20-foot covered patio. Home Depot reps gave me a replacement estimate (almost $9,000), but I put the project on hold in light of your comment, concerned about paying thousands to do the wrong thing.
What’s your beef with vinyl siding? Would it be better to remove the siding, roll up my sleeves, and do some caulking and painting? Is there a better solution? Are there problems associated with removing siding, beyond finding a filthy, long-overdue paint job underneath that will need some time and TLC?
A: Snarky or not, I am still against vinyl siding, although there have been a few improvements in recent years: Cedar Impressions, for example. But give me cedar any time, with a semitransparent stain, which needs redoing every seven years – not bad! At least the siders had sense enough not to cover brick! Your best bet is to take off that trash and take your chances on its condition. Painted wood is pretty tough, so bite the bullet and try.