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Brosco catalog likely has spring balances

Do It YourselfPeter Hotton

Q. I took out the ropes, pulleys, and weights in my windows 30 years ago and replaced them with springs. Now the springs are breaking. Where can I get replacements for those broken springs?

It's interesting to note that your weights and ropes lasted maybe 100 years (only ropes needed replacing), while the springs broke after 30 years. It figures. The company that made the springs is probably out of business, but hope springs eternal, and here is how to possibly find new springs. Go to an independent lumber store and look at the Brosco catalog, which carries a million things like windows, spring balances, and everything else to build with. The catalog contains two pages of spring balances, one of which might work for your windows.

Best insulation

Q. I am redoing my house, having gutted the walls right down to the inside of the exterior sheathing. There are 6 inches of space in the wall cavity. What is the best insulation to use?

The standard “super insulation” of the late 1970s (during the first oil crisis), was 6 inches of fiberglass, which would fit nicely into a wall cavity. But that is now passe, and the byword now is as much as possible; there is virtually no such thing as too much insulation.

So, try Icynene, a foaming insulation that does not contain urea-formaldehyde and has more insulating value, inch for inch, than almost any practical insulation in use today. It is best used in open wall cavities, because it expands a lot and would be a hard to spray in an enclosed place.

It is also a vapor barrier. It also can be used on attic ceilings and floors, and if it is done right, venting may not be needed. Your wide-open walls are just right for Icynene. It can reduce your heating bills by 50 percent or more.

Birds in fireplace

Q. Any ideas how to remove small blackbirds from the fireplace? I put food to entice them out; two came in the house. I closed the damper thinking they would fly away. It has been two months now; they are still there and are very noisy. What else can I do?

Try this: Open the damper and build a big fire in the fireplace. Once the birds are out, have a chimney sweep install a stainless steel chimney cap. Between the time you evict the birds and the chimney sweep comes to install the cap, wire hardware cloth (half-inch mesh) over the chimney top.

A hot fire might not always work. If not, have a chimney sweep try his hand at evicting the birds.

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