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Why does one storm window get saturated?

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

Q: I have three storm windows in a room with northern exposure. Two fog up a little in the morning, then clear up as the day continues. But one is a mess, really saturated, so much that it is wetting the window sill and I am afraid it will cause decay. The room will be unoccupied and will be cold. Does that aggravate the situation?

A: You will probably always get light fogging on most windows, which goes away with time. That we can all live with. But the saturated one is a hazard. What has happened is that warm, moist air in the house escaped through and around the main windows and condensed on the storm. The storm has no weep holes or they are plugged, so the moisture builds up fast enough to condense continuously on the storm glass. Result: a mess.

The fix is to make sure those weep holes are open; there should be one on the bottom of the metal sill near the wood, about 4 inches in from each side. Open, they allow water vapor to escape, and also allow drainage of water that might enter when the storm sash is up and the screens are down. And to prevent the indoor air from getting into the space between main window and storm, weatherstrip the main window.

Q: My wood floors are pretty beaten up and dented, thanks to using a walker, and the floor’s age of 10 years. Obviously they need refinishing. By whom and how?

A: A common refinishing technique is sanding to the bare wood and applying two or three coats of a water-based polyurethane varnish. Another technique, called no-sand refinishing, cleans the finish very, very thoroughly without sanding, probably taking some of the finish off, then varnishing. I also understand that this technique darkens the final finish. You can find people to do both in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet by searching “floor refinishing.”

Q: Our tile bathroom still looks great since it was done in 2004, but the marble threshold and marble seat in the shower do not. The water, or cleaning agents, have stained the marble and etched away at the surface. It is no longer smooth and has many dark spots in it. I have contacted marble refinishers, but they cost a fortune and say the fix that they will do will not last. Removing the two pieces and replacing them with Silestone or Corian seems like the best bet to me, but the job is too small for any installer to bother with. Can the marble be restored? Can a repeat of this be avoided if we have it restored?

A: You have learned a sad lesson. Marble and granite are very hard to clean and also difficult and expensive to restore. You won’t be able to restore the smoothness of marble, but you can try to clean it with Spic and Span and water, let it dry, and rub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Finally, if the marble is white, bleach it with household bleach and rinse thoroughly. It is worth doing these because they are simple operations.

photton@globe.com
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