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Do It Yourself


Fix wobbly fan with oil, flipped blades

By Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton has been the handyman expert for the Boston Globe for more than 30 years.

Q. My ceiling fan has worked well for 16 years, but now it is wobbling and noisy. Is there a way that I can fix it?

Try this: Tighten all screws and connections you see, then try oiling any parts, although the fan may have sealed lubrication. Sometimes, turning the blades upside down will work. Short of success, call an electrician.

Q. A carpenter touching up some exterior wood dropped splatters of latex paint on my brand new bluestone tread (and cobblestone) front stairs. Grrrrrrr! I have asked around and have gotten conflicting information on how to remove paint. Should I pressure wash, use muriatic acid (what the mason said to use), scrape it off or use Goof Off? I’m not sure what route to take. Suggestions would be appreciated. I’m afraid of staining the bluestone.

Try scraping and sanding; any change in the bluestone will disappear in a few days. Citristrip will also remove enough so it can be scraped and hosed off. Power washing will buck off new paint. Muriatic acid will not work. Any stains caused by the removal process are likely to fade in a few days or weeks.

Q. Is there any way to repair a crack in a mirror that is attached to a bureau?

I have seen ways to fix auto glass cracks, but I don’t think it will work with a mirror. The proper fix is to replace the mirror in its frame. Or, leave the mirror cracked, if it is a small one. Incidentally, if the original mirror is not beveled (it probably is), specify “beveled mirror” when you buy a new one. Beveled mirrors are quite expensive, but their elegance is worth the extra cost.

Q. Is there a way to tell whether a dishwasher can be put in a small kitchen? It would have to be small, and does it have to be away from stove or refrigerator?

A dishwasher has to be next to a sink, where it can be connected to water supply and drain. Go to an appliance store and ask whether there are any sizes smaller than standard. If you describe the kitchen thoroughly, the salesman can help more.

Q. The hydraulic door closer on my storm-screen door closes slowly to about 4 inches, then slams. I have tried to adjust it without success. Is there a way to keep it from slamming?

Such closers often work for years, and since yours works well enough, it may be a good idea to leave it alone and get used to the slam. You can have the store replace it, but that has its risks, too. When the storm insert is put in the door, the slam will be reduced or eliminated.
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