To unstick screw, start with WD-40

09/20/2008 12:00 AM

09/18/2008 9:07 PM

Q. I have a screw stuck in a wood stud, and no amount of coaxing, twisting, or any other removal method is working. A hardware man suggested grabbing it with needle-nosed pliers and twisting, but I can't even grab it. The screw is attached to a broken plastic bracket. What now?

OK, some ideas:

1. First and always, spray it with WD-40.

2. Saw off that plastic bracket; it might reveal enough of the screw shaft that can be turned by a pair of regular pliers.

3. If the screw head has a slot, place a screwdriver on the right side of the slot and tap lightly with a hammer, turning the screw counter-clockwise. This will also work with a Phillips-head screw. An auto mechanic taught me that trick.

4. Buy a screw extractor (not expensive at hardware stores), and drive it into the screw. The extractor will automatically reverse the twist and – voila! – out it comes.

5. Cut off the bracket and dig the screw out. Not pretty, but you can fill the hole with wood filler.

Q. Do you know anything about ductless air-conditioners?

I have heard a bit about them. They are the ones usually installed over windows, and they act as window air conditioners but without the problems that come with window units.

They are ductless because, well, there are no ducts to string around the house. Instead, I believe they cool from the gas-filled copper tubing that carries the refrigerant from the compressor. Those tubes are easier to string through walls and other hard-to-reach areas. They are most popular when you do not have ducts already in the house in a hot air heating system.

Q. I had a bat in my house, and the bat was removed. Now I have to seal a door in the knee wall leading to eave space where I think the bat came in. How can I seal that door? I don't use it very often.

If you don't mind how it looks, cut a piece of polyethylene plastic several inches bigger (on all four sides) than the door. Fold each side of the plastic so you can staple the plastic around the door. Staple the bottom fold on the floor.

A more permanent and attractive fix is to tack a piece of plywood on the door at the top and side. Weatherstrip the bottom and staple a flexible rubber-like flange on the hinge side.

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