Q: We are planning on buying a wood-burning stove this spring. Our problem is that we have a fireplace and are confused by what would be more efficient: Should we put the stove inside the fireplace, or put it in front of the fireplace, thereby still being able to use the fireplace chimney? Some people feel that putting a stove inside a fireplace wastes a lot of heat from its sides . A: There's no doubt that putting the stove inside the fireplace will cost some efficiency, but the loss should be very small. On the other hand, putting the stove inside the fireplace has advantages. It makes for a simple installation -- your installer can remove the existing fireplace damper and install a metal plate in its place. Then he runs the stovepipe up through the plate into the fireplace flue.
The installation is also very efficient in its use of space. A stove installed in front of the fireplace takes up valuable floor space -- not just the space the stove itself occupies, but also the area around it that must be kept free of combustibles for safety reasons. Even a small stove can eat up 30 square feet or more when placed out in your room.
All in all, I think it's worth giving up a couple of percentage points of wood-burning efficiency to save on living space. Q: Our house has stained shingles for siding, with the windows painted white. The shingles under the windows have become streaked with white. How can I remove this streaking, and prevent it from coming back ? A: It sounds as if the paint on your windows is chalking. In other words, the paint is breaking down and powering as it ages. Rainwater then washes the loosened pigment down the side of your house, creating the streaks. The first step is to wash the windows and the siding with a scrub brush and warm water and detergent. That should remove most of the loose pigment from the windows, and some of the streaking from the siding.
The second step is to repaint all the windows with a good non-chalking trim paint. My guess is that you may have used an ordinary chalking house paint on your windows in the past. Covering it with a good trim paint should stop the chalking.
Scrubbing will probably not remove all the streaks from your shingles, because particles of pigment will be trapped in the pores of the wood; but the streaking will probably fade over the years as the weather that caused it in the first place slowly wears it away. Q: What material can I use to remove adhesive price stickers and the gooey residue they leave behind ? A: Ordinary paint-thinner works for me. Give it a try. If the glue doesn't soften up after soaking for a minute or so, you can try something a bit stronger. Nail-polish-remover is a good choice, but it can soften varnishes and paints, so don't use it on finished surfaces. Another good solvent is Weldwood's contact-cement thinner and cleaner; it's safe on most finishes and you can buy it at hardware stores. Q: I tried painting my son's dresser with an aerosol spray. The new paint was very slow in drying and in some spots caused the old varnish to wrinkle and peel away. The peeling seemed most severe where I had most carefully sanded the oil finish before spraying. What went wrong and what do I do now ? A: The spray you used was based on a lacquer formula and its thinners attacted the old varnish. Now you will have to remove all the old and new finishes and start from scratch. Use a paint remover according to label directions. Then sand lightly and refinish.
To avoid the problem in the future, do not use lacquers over old finishes. If you want to use an aerosol, read the label carefully and look for the ingredients list. If it contains alkyd resins the paint will be safe over other finishes. If the can contains nitrocellulose or acrylic resins, it will be a lacquer.