Home & Garden

Handyman: Thermostat says 74, so why is it so cold?

Q: I live in a Cape with a gas hot water heating system. There is at least a 6-degree difference in the temperature between the two floors. I watch TV with two sweaters on plus an afghan to be comfortable and the thermostat is set at 74 degrees. I have raised it to 80 degrees when I am desperate but then the second floor is unbearably warm. When I go upstairs, it is comfortably warm at 74 degrees. I have had several supposed professionals look at it.

The air has been let out of the pipes, which one said was the solution. No change. Another said the thermostat was fine in spite of the fact it read 74 degrees and it was obvious, to me, that the temperature was lower as further evidenced by a thermometer I had in the room.

A: You need a professional who knows what he is talking about. Your dealer should be able to provide one. Me? I think you need a new thermostat.

Removing oil stain

Q: My ancient car has been leaking oil onto the driveway asphalt pavement for a long time now, so long that the oil is thick and dry, and ugly. How can I remove it without messing up the asphalt?

A: Hardened oil gets harder to remove over the years, but this is how you can try: Wet the hardened oil with paint thinner, which hopefully will soften it, then pile on lots of Speedy Dry and other absorbent clay and materials. Leave it on the oil until it changes color, then shovel it up and throw it away. Repeat as needed.

Answers by the number

Q: 1) For some reason, blue ink got on my pink leather purse. How can I take off it off? 2) My old vinyl wallpaper is in good shape, seams and all, but the top border of the same vinyl is loosening and separating a bit. How can I fix that? 3) I have a large slab of white (with a few darker seams) marble that seems a bit dirty. How is it best cleaned?

A: Answers by the number: 1) Most inks are pretty soluble in detergent and water, so try washing your leather with Spic and Span and water. There are ink eradicators around, but don’t use them without a professional. 2) For the border, insert a putty knife under the border so you can slip in vinyl paste, smooth out and roll lightly to squeeze out excess. This should work, but if it does not, you can buy special pastes for pesky problems such as seams and borders. If worse comes to worse, take off the border and rehang it. 3) Clean the marble slab with Spic and Span and water. Not clean enough? Make a mix of 1 part household bleach and 10 parts water. Not clean? Reduce the ratio to 1 to 8, and so on until you get to 1 to 2.

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