DEAR MR. MELTZER: Though we don't live in New York, we do live in a large city and are deeply concerned about being prepare for a blackout, should it happen here.
What should we have on hand, and how should we treat our appliances in the event of a power failure?
ANSWER: The most obvious answer is to provide lights for safety as well as convenience. You should keep a supply of candles in your house and several flashlights. Check from time to time to be sure the batteries are still working. Keep extra batteries on hand.
If a power failure takes place during the winter, the biggest problems is providing heat. If you have a fireplace, build a fire and keep your family close to it. Close off the other rooms of your house. Naturally, you will have to keep a supply of wood. Use outside doors as little as possible.
All major appliances should be disconnected as soon as the power goes off. When the power is restored, connect them one at a time. This can prevent a dangerous overload.
Spoilage of food in refrigerators and freezers can be prevented if you open the doors as little as possible. Don't open the freezer door at all, and food will keep for approximately a day and a half.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: You may think I've lost my marbles, asking you about storm windows in the midst of a hot summer. But I'm the kind of guy who likes to have things done in advance.
Remembering the extreme cold of last winter, I'm preparing to put up storm windows. Somehow I don't think they did the job they were supposed to do last year. Can you give me any tips on how to have my storm windows be as effective as possible?
ANSWER: Each window should be a prefect fit. Each window should be in perfect condition. It should not need to be painted , it should not have cracked or broken glass, and it should not have cracked or broken putty.
If your storm windows need painting, be sure to paint the edges as well as the surfaces. If you don't, the wood will absorb moisture and swell. But apply the paint very thinly on the inner edges, or you will find installation to be difficult.
The windows should fit very well, but not too snugly, so that it becomes necessary to force them in.
If they are too loose, they will of course be worthless, since air will get in. If that be the case, you must use felt or sponge weather stripping or some kind of insulation material.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: We moved from one house to another about nine months ago. We have two matching chests that we push together in our hallway, and they are stunning. Each has nine drawers.
Well, in moving, the moving people removed the drawers.When we got to the new house we realized that, though the drawers looked exactly alike, they don't seem to fit the same. And that's because we don't know which one was where.
I have moved them around for months, and still some stick and some don't. Now I give up on trying to discover which was where originally. What can I do to make them slide without sticking?
ANSWER: Slight sticking of drawers can be remedied sometimes by simply rubbing with paraffin or a lubricating stick over the sliding parts.
If the drawers still stick, sand the sliding parts until they open and close smoothly. If that doesn't work, it may be necessary to plane them.
Don't force a drawer that sticks. Sometimes you may have to remove the back covering of the piece of furniture, if all else fails. You'll find that the backs of the bureaus are held on with screws or nails. You may be able to work better from in back.
If all of these remedies fail, I'm afraid you'll have to consult a carpenter.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: Our house is next to the corner lot, which is vacant. We take great pride in our home and it is truly beautiful. But the lot is littered with trash and overgrown with weeds.
Strangely enough, nobody in the neighborhood knows who owns this lot, even the people who have lived here the longest. We'd like to contact the owner and talk with him about making this area more presentable.
Is there any way we can learn who owns this vacant lot?
ANSWER: Yes, you can find out who owns this vacant lot, and it won't cost you a cent. Go to the office of the tax collector, who keeps a list of the names and addresses of all real estate owners in his area.
You can also visit the office of the recorder of deeds in you county to get the same information.
Bernard C. Meltzer is a realtor, engineer and appraiser. His address: Suite 900, 112 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, 19102.