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Posted: Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009

Soak stuck-on cap in vinegar or ammonia

Peter Hotton
Published in: Home & Garden

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Q. My beautiful Waterford crystal salt shaker has a pull-off (not screw top) metal cap that has frozen on, and no amount of work will take it off. I have tried soaking it in water, even using a rubber gripper pad and pliers to pull it off. I think it is the salt that caused the freeze, because the pepper shaker cap comes off very easily. I don't want to ruin that nice cap, either. Waterford sent me a new cap, but it is too big.

You did everything I can suggest, but try soaking it longer. Or soak it in white vinegar. Or make a half-and-half solution of ammonia and water, which might seep between the cap and glass. Finally, bring out the big guns: WD-40. Use the little red rod to pinpoint the flow into the joint.

I do not suggest the old trick of separating glasses by dipping the outer glass in hot water and ice cubes in the inner glass because I am afraid of breakage.

Fruit flies

Q. I tried your trick of killing fruit flies by putting out a bowl of vinegar with a bit of detergent, but it did not work .The flies seem to be coming out of the kitchen drain. Should I use a different kind of vinegar?

If you used white vinegar, it might not have been fruity enough. Next time use cider or wine vinegar. Keep the trap away from the sink drain. Flies coming out of the drain are called drain flies, but I think they are fruit flies. To get rid of them, pour a cup of bleach in the drain and leave it overnight. Repeat as necessary.

Frozen storm door

Q. My storm door froze to the threshold. How can I keep that from happening? I was afraid I would break it if I used brute force.

Spray WD-40 to loosen it. Or let it thaw. Then spray a bit of WD-40 on the threshold to prevent further freezing.

Slow drain

Q. My bathroom sink drained very slowly, so I treated it with a hair and grease remover. Now the stopper does not stay down. It is the type that is attached to an arm at the bottom of the drain.

It sounds as if the debris in the drain kept the stopper from popping up. You could try adjusting the pivot arm under the sink (flat rod with holes attached to another rod that pushes the stopper up when the handle is pushed down) by inserting the rod in another hole. One of those rods may have been bent, so your best bet is to have a plumber look at it.

Sand off the rust

Q. My 48-year-old brick ranch house has a full basement with steel casement windows. Because the windows are below grade, I have window wells. The outside steel frames of the windows are rusting. Does any manufacturer offer a fix for this problem, or can you suggest a repair?

If the steel windows are not rusted through, you can sand off the rust, apply a rust-reforming paint, then paint with an oil paint. They could last a few years longer, and this might be worth the effort if there are not too many windows.

Leveling threshold

Q. The difference between floors at one of my doorway openings is 11/2 inches. I was thinking of a ramp.

You would have to make it gradual, and it would stick out into the room. My idea involves a threshold, a strip of oak with tapered sides, that would fit in the opening between jambs. If the low floor extends into the opening, nail a pine board on the floor next to the high floor, adding 3/4 inch to the low floor. Buy a 51/2-inch-wide oak threshold and cut it to fit over the pine board; that means you want to cut off one of the sloping sides.

Peter Hotton:

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