Home & Garden

Handyman: Whom do I hire to replace fancy porch spindles?

Q: I’m redoing my fancy front porch, which is not too much work except for the spindles on the railing. Several need replacing. They can’t be put on a lathe. Trouble is, who would do that? A carpenter, but what kind?

A: Those spindles are balusters, and together, connecting the top and bottom rails, they form a balustrade. You need a finish carpenter or a woodworker. Take one baluster with you so the carpenter can make copies.

Replacing window panel

Q: My windows are double glazed, but one has a cracked panel. Whom should I call to replace the sash or entire window?

A: Contact the installers for a replacement. Some might be too hoity-toity to do just one, but others might, and some companies provide a lifetime replacement warranty.

Swollen door sticks

Q: Last year, my basement was very humid, and the door leading to that space was hard to open and close. This year I installed a dehumidifier, and the door doesn’t stick anymore. Why?

A: Your dehumidifier dried out the basement and the door shrank to its original size. Wet expands and dry contracts and heat expands and cold contracts. You can keep using the dehumidifier, or better yet, open your basement windows for cross-ventilation. Costs nothing. Put in burglar bars if you have to.

Cleaning concrete

Q: I have a slab (I believe it’s concrete) in front of my fireplace, and it has become stained over the years. What is the best way to clean it?

A: Try this: Ventilate the area well, apply a mix of one part bleach and three parts water, and let it dry. After that, scrub with detergent and water. After it’s cleaned up and dry, apply a masonry sealer.

More insulation, less ice

Q: My hip-roofed ranch is 120 feet long and 34 feet wide, including the garage. The ridge vent is 80 to 85 feet long, and I replaced it with an improved one. The soffit vents are 16 3/4 inches wide and are perforated plastic (vinyl) with nothing between the outside and inside the soffit. A man installed two roof vents about 3 feet below the ridge along with a humidistat and thermostat. There are 4 inches of fiberglass insulation on the attic floor. I am still getting ice. Now what?

A: The 4-inch-thick fiberglass insulation on the attic floor is sparse. You can add up to 40 inches of fiberglass batts, each layer set at right angles to the other, but do not block the soffit vents.

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