Q. Water comes through my roof, which is about 20 years old, during heavy rain, starting under the flashing around the chimney and telegraphing down the rafters. I know I need a new roof and called for bids. There are two layers of shingles there now.
One roofer said he would put down Ice & Water Shield, roofing felt and then organic shingles, adding that hand nailing would cost $300 more. Another said he would put down felt. A third would put down nothing under the shingles. Now what?- Ronald Shea, Haverhill, Mass.
A. Your roof died before its time (25 years), but it can't be helped. You will certainly get no satisfaction from the manufacturer, even if you can determine who made the shingles. And any warrantee payment (on shingles only) would be prorated for the 20 years and would not amount to a hill of beans anwyay.
But that is not the point. I'd pick the man who wants to put down the Ice & Water Shield and the felt, plus organics (shingles with a saturated felt core instead of fiberglass). Charging extra for hand nailing is his way of discouraging it, but hand nailing is better than anything else, so go along with the extra cost (it should be a part of the bid, rather than extra).
The most important part of this, however, is not even addressed by the roofers: and that is the flashing. Since the two layers of old shingles must be removed, it will make it easier to either fix the flashing so it does not leak or put in new flashing, which is the proper way. Roofers know the proper way, and should do it.
Q. How can I get a smoke odor out of an upholstered sofa?
- Judith Mayer, Halifax, Mass.
A. Dampen the upholstery with a wet sponge, then sprinkle a whole bunch of baking soda on the damp surface. Leave it for an hour, then sweep up and throw away. You can use instead carpet freshener, which is perfumed baking soda. You could mound up salt over the damp surface, let dry, and throw away.
The reason you wet or dampen the upholstery: Baking soda will not absorb dry materials very well, but will do a good job of pulling dampness out, thereby pulling the smoke odor out, too.
Q. A lot of black paint chipped off my grill; maybe it even wore off. How can I refurbish it, to make it look good, and resistant to the high heat of a charcoal burner?
- William Morrison, Westwood, Mass.
A. Use a wire brush to remove as much of the paint as you can. Then buy high heat resistant paint. Spray it on the grill and any other part of the barbecue. It's the best you can do. The HHR, made by Rustoleum, is sold in aerosol spray cans in hardware, paint and other building stores. While aerosol sprays are expensive as paints go, there is not a large area you have to cover.
Q. My kitchen linoleum is 25 to 30 years old and is still in good shape, except that a small section is missing, about half an inch, near a metal edging. What can I fill that section with?
- Vera Gropper, Somerville, Mass.
A. If you have a spare piece of the linoleum (actually it is sheet vinyl), you can cut a piece to fit and glue it in with an adhesive caulk. If the linoleum normally goes under a flange on the metal, make sure the patch piece does, too. If it doesn't, and just butts up against the edging, make sure it is well glued down because that's probably where the break occurred, when someone tripped on the uneven surfaces.
If the metal edging is in a doorway, you may not even have to put in the patch ifyou cover the opening and the edging with an oak threshold.
Q. My front steps are made of brick with bluestone treads, about 8 years old. The steps are in good shape, but there is a white powder coming out of the bricks where they form the front of the steps. What is that white powder and what can I do about it? Does it hurt anything?
- John Varron, Sherborn, Mass.
A. That white powder is efflorescence, and it is harmless. From the Latin word "to flower," it is lime leached out of the mortar (usually not the bricks, which contain no lime) by water. Scrub it off with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. Or, scrub with detergent and water and rinse. Or, make a dilute solution of muriatic acid and water (1 part acid to 5 parts water - always pour the acid into the water) and paint this on the brick riser, which is the front part of the step. Rinse. It probably will come back, but you can't keep it from coming back.
Q. I installed a wood stove last fall. The chimney man said he would paint the chimney with two coats of a sealer called Chimney Saver that is 100 percent breathable, to keep the chimney from leaking, at a cost of $225. The man told me that the sealer, being breathable, will not trap moisture in the brick. Is all this worth it?
- Bert Bouchard, Danvers, Mass.
A. If the chimney is not leaking, there is no need for the sealer. If rainwater is entering at the top of the chimney and is dripping on the stovepipe, sealing will not work; you need a chimney cap. The sealer helps only if the water is making its way through the brick; that can happen and it can cause all sorts of mysterious leaks.