Q: I plan to enclose a screened porch that leads off the living room. As you walk out you have to step down about eight inches, so I plan to build this outside floor up with 2nd floor joists. When I put insulation between these joists should I use a vapor barrier, and it so, which way should be vapor barrier face?
A: If you are putting insulation between the joists it should have a vapor barrier, and this should face up, that is, it should be on top of the insulation (toward the warm side, always.)
Q: Wax from so-called "dripless candles" was deposited on our glass and silver candlesticks. Do you know of any way to remove this wax?
A: Remove the worst of the wax, that is, the thick accumulations, by scraping with a plastic scraper that won't scratch the silver or glass. The rest can be removed by using mild heat. Often immersing in hot water will soften the wax enough to permit peeling or rubbing it off - or apply heat with a heat lamp or hair dryer. You can also dissolve the wax with paint thinner, washing it off with a rag saturated with this solvent.
Q: Three years ago we put a new fireplace in our house. Now for the first time we get an odor from it when it rains or the weather is damp. I keep the vent open, but this does not help to clear the odor away. Is there anything I can do to correct this?
A: Although you don't say what kind of odor you get, I assume you mean a kind of musty, damp smell.This is often caused by an accumulation of ashes in the cleanout pit at the bottom. There should be a door to get at this in your basement or on the outside of the chimmey. If the ashes in there get damp and stay that way for a long time, they could give off an odor. If checking this does not solve the problem, I advise having the chimmey flue checked to see if it needs cleaning. Accumulations of soot on the inside can have the same effect.
Q: We have wood shingles on our roof that need replacing. I am thinking of installing fiberglass-asbestos shingles with 15-pound felt underneath, and plan to put the new roofing on top of the old shingles. Is there a better way to do this?
A: It is hard to say for sure without actually examining the existing roof, but as a rule putting new asphalt (although you said asbestos, I am sure you meant asphalt) shingles over wood shingles is not usually a good idea. This is because the old wood shingles do not provide a solid nailing base for the new shingles, so nails must be long enough to go through them into the sheathing underneath. Also, you don't know whether or not the sheathing underneath is in good condition - and you cannot tell without first removing the old wood shingles. A lot depends on how old the old roof is and on the type of construction under the shingles.