Home & Garden

Handyman: How to heat a 3-season porch

Q: I have a three-season porch that I want to heat for the winter. Could you suggest a cost-effective method of doing so? The porch is not insulated and has jalousie windows. I would like to keep the temperature above 50 degrees for my tropical hibiscus and other plants. What options should I consider?

A: First, cover the windows and outside door with well-sealed clear plastic. Insulate where you can, both the walls and ceiling. I’d invest in a small electric heater to keep the temperature 50 degrees or so. To be safe, make sure the heater is turned off when no one is home or when you are sleeping. If you can’t use a heater, open the door to the house and let air from there heat the porch. (This is likely to be very expensive.)

Peeling wallpaper

Q: My husband and I live in a 100-year-old Victorian. About five years ago, we had someone hang wallpaper in the large foyer, along the hall, and in the second-floor hallway. About one year later (perhaps a bit longer), the wallpaper started coming apart at the seams. At first it was just a bit, but now it is almost every seam. My husband spoke to the wallpaper hanger, and he unsuccessfully tried to re-paste the seams. My husband says we have to take the paper down and paint. I am hoping you have a solution for us so the paper does not need to come down.

A: The hanger forgot to put glue sizing on the walls before pasting the paper. It’s always needed, even with so-called self-sizing paste. The paper is probably stripable, so pull it off the wall carefully for reuse. Wash all the paste off the walls, then apply glue sizing on them before putting up the old (or new) paper with vinyl paste.

Pesky woodpecker

Q: A woodpecker attacked my house on the north side. I had the hole repaired and painted. Now he’s back and has made three more! Any ideas to prevent recurrence?

A: The woodpecker is looking for bugs. Wait for cold weather, and it will be gone. To keep it away, hang silvery Mylar party streamers from the eaves. They will flash in the sun and startle the birds. Or set up wind chimes.