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Do It Yourself


Power washing may have made windows cloudy

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

Q: We had our clapboard house power washed and painted this summer and I noticed that afterward some windows looked cloudy and streaked. I waited until the bugs died away and called a window washer, who said the power washer must have used bleach or another harsh chemical and it is nearly impossible to get rid of the stains on the window glass. I tried Windex and, separately, ammonia, with no result. Any suggestions?

A: Yes, windows are quite susceptible to certain products. Try this for the stains: Rub the glass with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Then clean with Windex and a squeegee. I don’t know of anything else that will work, or work better.

Q: I started a small vegetable garden about 15 feet from the poured foundation of my house. We enjoyed the tomatoes and other items, but for many other reasons, I will be planting grass seed and discontinue the garden. I used wooden stakes to hold up the tomato plants. When I removed them, the portion that was in the ground (about 8-10 inches) was coated with dirt and I noticed “tracks” in the dirt and termites scurrying about on the stakes. I do not see any indication (tracks/tunnels) of termites near the house or on the foundation. Are the termites something I should be concerned with?

A: Yes, termites are always something to be concerned about. But not necessarily immediately, because as the weather gets very cold, the termites hibernate, burrowing 4 or so feet into the ground, and go dormant, and are harmless until they come out of the ground. In the spring, call an exterminator, who can install a bait system to help destroy the termites. It consists of burying wood stakes (similar to your tomato stakes). The exterminator will check the stakes after a time, and if he finds termites on them, he will install a poison that the termites will carry back to their nests. This is just one potential treatment, and it generally is a good one.

Q: Should I paint a cedar fence?

A: I don’t think any cedar fence should ever be painted. Cedar, both white and red, is decay-resistant and will last longer unpainted. It also looks better, and both types will weather to a light to medium gray color and save the owner hours of misery and gallons of paint.

Q: After we got rid of mice in the attic, we were left with several stains on the ceiling below, probably from urine and other liquids. What is the best way get rid of the stains? Just paint, or will the spots still show through?

A: You have good instincts and are right about the stains returning. To stop them from bleeding through, paint them with two coats of a clear shellac, then paint the whole ceiling with thin coats of latex ceiling paint.
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