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It may be time to replace decaying boards

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

Q: I am scraping and sanding outside window woodwork and house trim prior to painting. In some areas I have found spots of decay, very soft wood. How can I treat those rotted areas, or do I have to replace each affected board? A friend said I can fill those areas with Bondo, the auto filler material.

A: If the wood is pretty well rotted out, chances are the board needs replacing, or at least the decayed part needs to be cut out and a matching board put in, probably pressure-treated wood, which is easily painted after a year of drying out.

Other areas that are not as severely decayed can be saved. Dig out the decay as best you can, then douse it with bleach to kill any decay mechanisms, rinse thoroughly and let dry. Apply a Minwax wood hardener, then fill the gap with a Minwax epoxy wood rot filler, sand smooth, and repaint.

Be careful working with the epoxy filler; it can harden in as little as 15 seconds, often trapping your mixing stick in the hardening material. Bondo is pretty good, but it does not expand and contract in weather conditions as well as the Minwax wood rot filler.

Q: I live in a house on a river,and it is full of mold: walls, furniture, and every other place, it seems. I tried a bleach-and-water solution, which works, but there is so much mold that it is overwhelming. Is it due to my living near a river?

A: I don’t think it’s the fault of the river, but two other things: You may have closed up the house, not allowing normal ventilation. If you have air conditioning, which is a dehumidifier, the air conditioner is cooling off too fast, preventing its dehumidifying function. For starters, call an air conditioning company to check the unit, which may need an adjustment. Without an air conditioner, venting will help a lot. Since the mold is widespread, call a mold remediation company.

Q: For 20 years my windows worked very well, but recently I discovered they have a film, which is beginning to peel off, making a mess. How can I remove that film? I tried a razor blade, but it scratched the glass.

A: Sometimes you can pull down a bit of the film then clean the glass next to the film with warm detergent and water, making it easier to pull down the film as you go along. Short of that, call a window tinting or window film company; because they know how to put on the film, they will know how to remove yours. You can also buy a razor blade scraper that holds the blade at the proper, non-scratching angle.

photton@globe.com
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