drdiy

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In Fall & Winter, Q&A on February 7, 2012 at 10:25 am

Q:
How come when it gets cold outside and I turn on my heat, my wood floors separate?

A:
The house needs humidity and the wood is drying out. So you need a humidifier and one that’s properly sized for the square footage of your house

It should have a humidistat to control the humidity level. For example, if you’re getting dry, itchy throats you’ll want to, and need to, turn the humidistat up. If you start getting ice on the windows, you’ll need to turn the setting down. The relative humidity in your house is dependant on numerous variables that are always changing. For example:

•    How many people are living in the house?
•    How often and how much is laundry done?
•    Is the dryer properly vented?
•    How much cooking do you do and how often do you cook?
•    What is the temperature in the house, as well as, the outdoor temperature?
•    The type of heat?
•    Amount of insulation?
•    Whether the house is properly caulked, etc.

To people that say, “Oh humidifiers never work”, I’d say, “They are all wet”, but actually it’s just the opposite.

Q:
Have you ever heard of people having flies in their house all winter? How do you prevent this?

A:

You find them around all the windows especially on the south side of the house. This is “no fly in the ointment”. You’re experiencing cluster flies, which are slightly larger than common household flies. Your house is the flies’ winter home. They enter via cracks in siding, loose-fitting screens, un-caulked trim, wherever. They search out dark wall voids and attics and just “party all the time”. They become attracted to light and migrate into living areas through window casings and wall openings.

The Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin on cluster flies suggests spraying pesticide containing DVVP (also called Vapona) over areas the flies would pass over: electrical outlets, window pulleys, cold air returns, and in the attic. The bulletin reports it’s best to try to prevent their entry, because once they are inside, they’re difficult to eliminate. That bulletin by the way made a great fly swatter!

Q:
I constantly have a banging sound in my steam heat. It seems common, but is normal and can it be fixed?

A:
The steam condensing in the radiator usually causes banging steam pipes. The condensation, slight as it may be, is causing a blockage; making the banging noise you’re experiencing. Now that you’ll find out how easy it is to correct, you’re the one who’ll be banging your head.

Unscrew and remove the air vent from the side of the radiator and put a small pail or pan under that opening. After you’ve done that, turn up the thermostat so the boiler kicks in. After a short while you’ll hear hissing noises from the opening followed by spurts of water. Then you’ll see steam pouring out the vent opening. Next, turn off the radiator at the valve on the bottom of the other side of the radiator and screw in the air vent, turn back the thermostat, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

If you think the air vent is dirty or obstructed, put it in a glass of vinegar for a while to clean out the minerals.

Q:

How do you clean dirty grout between those ceramic tiles?
A:

If you couldn’t clean the grout suing any of the zillions of new grout cleaning products and a stiff scrub brush, then it’s time to re-grout.

Inexpensive grout saws can be purchased for a few dollars at home, hardware and tile stores. The saw is carefully dragged back and forth over the stained grout until you’ve dug it out enough to apply new grout between those tiles. Grout can be purchased ready-mixed or the type you mix with water. A rubber blade is used to force the grout between the tiles and then using soft rags immediately wipe off the excess. When dry, seal with a silicone grout sealer. To keep it looking new, rope off the bathroom and never use it again.

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