Q: The bottom bolts exploded off our indirect-fired water heater last night, and now we have 40 gallons of water in our basement. This was our second water heater from the same manufacturer. It lasted only six years. It is under warranty, but I am not sure whether I should replace it and build a moat around it with a sump pump or get a traditional water heater. A complicating factor is we do not have natural gas in our area.
A: I think your water is heated by propane gas, which is probably on par with oil for cost. I suggest you get a stone-lined or heavy-duty electric heater, 50-gallon size. I have one at least 30 years old; the prior one lasted more than 30.
Black dots on siding
Q: Regarding tiny black dots on vinyl siding; check out artillery fungus, which comes from mulch. We’ve got it all over our community – black dots that is.
A: Yep, it’s the artillery fungus. And here is the cure, or at least a preventive step: Replace all wood or bark mulch from areas around the house with large stones.
Painting the roof
Q: I am residing again in the house where I grew up, but no matter where I was living, I always came back to paint the roof on the metal garage for my grandparents and then my parents. I am 70 now and just finished wire-brushing it with my 3 1/2 grinder (easier than in the old days), but I really wonder how much longer I can push my luck. When you sand or wire-brush the roof, the dust and other residue make it really slippery. This time I even sprayed my shoes with nonslip stuff, but it worked for only a few minutes.
I’ve dreamed of adding studs, plywood and shingles to the roof, but I don’t think the angle-iron supports would take the weight. My latest solution is to glue rolled roofing to it, but it sounds like a lot of work and I question the glue’s lifetime. So, other than hiring someone to do it, do you have any solutions? This might be my last time being up there, but I thought that four years ago, too. If I hit the lottery, that’s my first project: knocking it down and putting up a real honest-to-God wood garage.
A: Your last idea, to tear the thing down and put up a real wood garage with white-cedar shingles, will increase the house’s value and make your retreat more comfortable. Good for those golden years.
From a reader
I just read the letter from somebody trying to remove soap scum from a shower door. It won’t get rid of scum, but using liquid soap instead of bars will help keep scum from reforming. I read about that solution some time ago and have been using nothing but liquid soap since. It works!