........The Cajun Contractor, Michael King.........
..................Michael King
...........The Cajun Contractor

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QUESTION: What’s the best way to seal double-hung windows and make the weight pocket and its hardware less drafty?

ANSWER: Such windows are best sealed with spring bronze weather-stripping. Done right, it will make the windows virtually are tight. Or as air tight as they ever will be. This stripping should go on all sides of the sash and at the checkrail, which is the joint between the top and bottom sashes. To seal the weight pockets, pull down a sash cord, insert a piece of foam 2 inches square and 4 inches long between the rope and pulley, and let go; the rope will snap back and pull the foam up over the pulley. Weight pockets are a source of heat loss in an otherwise well sealed house, so it might be best to take out the ropes and weights, and fill the space with fiberglass or cellulose. To open the windows, you’ll have to prop them up with sticks.


QUESTION: I had my house near the beach reshingled this summer with white cedar shingles. I have heard different opinions on letting it weather naturally or sealing it with a clear protective coating. I don’t love that dark weathering appearance so I anticipate having it bleached sat some point, or should I just have it sealed? Since it was done this summer, can I still have sealed it? What type of sealant is used?

ANSWER:  Let it weather. White cedar will weather to a light to medium gray, often called Cape Cod Silver, and it will be a long time before it gets dark. Do not apply a preservative, which will do a little good. When the singles do darken, you can treat them with bleaching oil or a bleaching stain.


QUESTION: My fireplace screen is bordered by a brass frame that is so shiny it hurts my eyes. Is there any way to dull that shine a bit? I think its brass plated.

ANSWER: This might work: Spray on a flat plastic aerosal. I think Krylon makes one. This will provide a flat finish. Short of that, try a flat black aerosal paint, also made by Krylon. The back might make the frame look more elegant.


QUESTION: My 43 year old ranch its post and pier, very well ventilated underneath. The floors are hardwood, nailed on a particleboard subfloor. In winter, I get heaving in the hardwood, but only in a long, narrow hallway. The boards are parallel to the length of the hallway. What is wrong and what can I do about it?

ANSWER: What you describe usually happens when the hardwood takes on moisture, which is usually in the summer, but also in winter in some climates. At any rate, I think the problem is due to the fact that the hardwood boards are parallel to the joists, and the particleboard is not a good nail holder. That is not the way to lay floorboards. If the boards dry out, the nails will lose their grip and the heaving could occur. Whatever, the cause, I think this is the way to cure it: Cut the hardwood boards at the edges of the wall and remove them. Relay them at the right angles to the joists, driving nails into the joists themselves. If there is a joint at doorways, where boards meet at right angles to each other, you can cover those joints with an oak threshold.


QUESTION: In my 48-year-old house, the bathtub drain cover is discolored, with the brass showing through the chrome that has worn off. Is there any way to restore or replace it? My plumber said the tub has to be replaced.

ANSWER: That drain must be so complicated that the tub might have to be moved in order to replace the drain, but the tub would have to be put back, rather an expensive operation. You could paint the cover with a white appliance touch up paint but it will look painted and not, in my opinion, satisfactory, because it would not last very long. The fact that it is chrome over brass means it is a high quality item, so why not leave it brassy, being elegant in its old age. Keep it polished with Noxon or Maas or other polish.


QUESTION: How can I remove an ink stain? And, as long as I’m writing, how can I get rid of carpet dents made by heavy furniture?

ANSWER: Treat the ink with rubbing alcohol. If the ink smears with this treatment, keep wiping with clean alcohol until it clears. For the dent, put a wet cloth over it and iron with a hot iron until the cloth is dry. Then take a hair pick and pull the fibers up.

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