Question - A maple dining set has a bad case of mold after sitting in a damp cellar this summer. Is there any way to remove it without harming the finish? Or is it necessary to have all pieces refinished professionally. I would like to clean it myself.
- Ellie Cronin, Melrose, Mass.Answer - There is no need for refinishing, professionally or by you. Indeed you can remove the mold or mildew yourself without harming the finish. Make a mix of 1 part bleach and 3 parts water, and paint this on the areas where you see or suspect mold. The solution will kill the mold and remove it. And, it would not hurt the furniture to apply the solution to all finished and unfinished surfaces.
After this treatment, get the pieces out of the cellar, or ventilate the cellar by opening windows.
Another thing you might try is Lysol disinfectant spray, which claims to fight mildew and also tends to be a drying agent, reducing moisture on which mildew thrives. I'm going to check that out, but I think the contents are mostly alcohol, which is a drying agent. Alcohol also might kill mildew, but that's something I'm going to find out for myself.
Question - I am having a new roof put on my Cape-style house. Will a ridge vent be useful without soffit vents?
- Victor Banevicius, Westborough, Mass.
Answer - Yes, the handyman thinks a ridge vent is useful under any circumstances, and the time is perfect for installing it when a new roof is going on.
While a ridge vent is useful no matter what - bringing old air out and new air in, or pulling air out of the attic if there are no soffit vents - some vent manufacturers say a ridge vent must be used in conjunction with soffit vents. The handyman agrees with this, except to say that a ridge vent works better with soffit vents than without.
The best soffit vent is a continuous 2-inch-wide louvered strip the full length of the soffit.
Question - Glue of some kind was spilled on my Formica counter, leaving a little raised area. How can I remove it? The top is white, and the stain has a grayish tone.
- Shirley Slater, Brewster, Mass.
Answer - What you can use to remove the glue depends on what the glue is. If it is Super Glue, try Super Glue Remover, sold, obviously, where Super Glue is sold. Or, fingernail polish remover containing acetone. Try an obscure area first to make sure whatever you use does not affect the plastic. If it is Elmer's glue or anything similar to white or yellow glue, water should dissolve it.
A last resort is emory cloth, or very fine sandpaper used with water. Go very lightly. The emory cloth or sandpaper will abrade the glue and the water will help prevent scratching. If after sanding there is a dull spot, you can polish the top with furniture polish.
Question - I plan to remove the insulation between the rafters in my attic, and put insulation in the attic floor. There are floorboards in the attic; I plan to blow in granulated insulation under the floorboards. Will that work?
- David Jerison, Belmont, Mass.
Answer - Taking the insulation from between the rafters (the sloping beams holding up the roof) is a good idea because it is doing little good there; heat is being lost through the floor and is being stored in the attic.
Blowing insulation under the floorboards is good, but be sure that no insulation gets into the eaves (the underpart of the roof overhang). Insulation in the eaves could cause condensation of water vapor into water, a serious problem in an attic. It also could cover any soffit vents (the soffit being the horizontal underside of the eave), and that is not good.
To prevent this, install baffles at the ends of the joists where they form the eaves. Better yet, bite the bullet, pick up the floorboards (no easy task admittedly), and install fiberglass batts, or rolls, with the paper backing (a vapor barrier) against the ceiling below.