Gas heat puzzlers
Q: I have gas heat. In winter, when the gas goes off, it makes a big bang. Is there anything wrong? Also, there are little oil cups on a motor that I guess is running a fan for the heat. This turns on and off normally. The cups are little lids that pop up for adding oil. Should I fill them with oil?
A: A big bang is normal, I think. The bigger the flame, the louder the bang. Check with your dealer. Up-to-date motors are sealed and usually don’t have oil cups. Open the lids. If you don’t see oil, you can add a bit of lubricating oil; 3-in-1 is still good to use, but be sure to talk with the dealer.
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Q: I have some leakage through my foundation walls. A mason suggested putting a large apron of concrete 6 inches deep on that part of the foundation, deflecting rainwater away from the foundation. Would that work?
A: Yes, it will work, but try this first to stop the seepage to the indoors: Apply one coat of a cement-based paint to the interior wall or walls. And repoint the stone or brick on the above-ground, visible part of the foundation.
Tiles for concrete floor
Q: I pulled up wall-to-wall carpet from the cellar concrete floor and got rid of it. Can I put down flat peel-and-stick vinyl tiles? Anything better?
A: Yes, the peel-and-stick vinyl tiles will do very well for years. Make sure they are 12 by 12 inches. Yes, there is something better: 12-by-12-inch ceramic tile. Much more expensive – and permanent.
Stain exterior door
Q: My front door threshold has been sanded and prepped, but I only have an interior polyurethane as a finish. Would that work?
A: No, interior polyurethane varnish will not work, and neither will exterior polyurethane varnish. So use this on bare wood: oil-based semitransparent stain, sold as deck stain or house stain. Either will do. Get it in colors, and it will not peel, but it will wear off in five to seven years. Then give the threshold, still in good shape, another single coat.
Vinyl siding spots
Q: When the kids are visiting, their grubby little hands make spots on the vinyl siding. Also, white water stains appear on mahogany-stained furniture. How can I clean both off?
A: Make a mix of Spic and Span and water, and scrub the grubby marks well with a bristled scrub brush. For the white stains on the mahogany-stained finish, rub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.