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How to clean fireplace glass

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

Q: I let a scarf get too close to the glass of my gas fireplace insert. The material burned on the glass. Do you have any cleaning suggestions? I have tried warm water and glass cleaner for stove, grill and hearth suggested by the company where we purchased the gas insert.

A: If the burned area does not feel rough, try Easy-Off or foaming oven cleaner. If that doesn’t work, try TSP solution or paint thinner. If the area feels rough to the touch, try scraping carefully with a razor-blade scraper or rubbing with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Room needs return duct

Q: I own a house that is about 150 years old, and 35 years ago I put an addition on three stories high. The heating is forced hot air by gas. I think I have one or two vents on the first floor, but the first-floor room gets cold. The heating man did not put in a return for that room, adding that I can use the entire room as a return. What would you recommend?

A: What is happening: The furnace is pumping warm air into the room, but with no return duct, there is no place for the warm air to go. Put a return in the floor at the opposite side of the room, and I think things will improve.

Paint or replace?

Q: My house has old aluminum siding, which needs painting or replacement. I have gotten rough estimates for painting ($4,000 to $5,000), and my neighbor had his similar house re-sided for $14,000 to $15,000. The roof will also need replacing soon ($6,500), but my bigger issue is the painting, as it is really mildewed and weathered. Is re-siding worth the investment? My brother suggested making a deal with a local metal salvager to have them take the metal and pay me for the materials as a way to reduce costs. Do you think that’s a good idea? Also, is it a better idea to paint/re-side the house before or after I get a new roof?

A: Sand and repaint and do it again in five years if necessary. The idea of selling the aluminum is appealing because it will reduce the cost of re-siding. If you re-side, I suggest you choose Cedar Impressions, which looks like painted shingles and is the best of vinyl siding. Have the roof done first.

Hotton: photton@globe.com

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