Q: I am installing a Franklin stove and want to know if I can connect it into my existing chimney, which has the flue for the oil burner.
A: You should not connect any other appliance (stove, fireplace or burner of any kind) to the same flue as your oil burner. Each fireplace or stove needs its own flue -- although more than one flue pipe may be built into a single chimney. If there is no separate flue for your new stove, an extra flue or stovepipe will have to be installed, either through the wall and then up, or straight through the ceiling. Either way, make sure you use insulated flue pipe (prefabricated chimney) that is approved for this purpose.
Q: We keep our attic windows open to permit cross ventilation of that space. Can we save on heating costs by closing these windows in cold weather, and if so, would this lead to a problem with moisture accumulation that could damage the ceiling below?
A: Closing the windows will save heat but it may very well lead to condensation problems if you don't have adequate vents near the peaks or along the ridge of the roof.
Q: We live in a three-year-old town house that has double-pane windows which have two sheet of glass set about 1/4 inch apart in hollow aluminum frames. Condensation has appeared between the two panes of glass in several of these windows; our neighbors are having the same problem. A window merchant we consulted says they cannot be repaired since they are factory-sealed and the entire window must be replaced. Can this problem be corrected without going to this much expense?
A: The most accurate answer I can give is "sometimes." It depends on the type of glass, and on the type of window. Ordinary glaziers usually have no facilities to repair these, only to replace them. This does not mean the whole window has to be replaced -- just the glass inserts. Some glass dealers can repair some types of double-pane installations, so I suggest shopping around and talking to other large glass dealers in your area; one of them may be more familiar with repairing these, or he may be able to steer you to someone who can.
Q: I have a large bookcase that was built next to a concrete block wall that is not insulated. The books are constantly being attacked by mildew. Is there anything I can do to the wall to stop this mildew problem, and how can the mildew be removed from the books?
A: Unless you insulate the wall behind the books, the only way to keep the mildew from forming again is to move the books away from the wall at least a couple of inches so that air can circulate behind them, and so that the heat from the rest of the room can get back there to warm that part of the wall. Mildew can often be removed from books with alcohol, wiping it on and then wiping it off with a clean cloth. A dilute solution of laundry bleach and water (1-to-5) works even better, but you should test this first to make certain it does no damage to the books. Sponge off with clean water and alcohol when you are finished using the bleach solution.
Q: Since we moved into our house three years ago we have had a problem with our lights dimming whenever a major appliance comes on in the house. This happens even when the lights are on a different circuit breaker from the appliance. The electric company has checked the leads to the house and says they are okay. I suspect that I may need a 200-amp system from the meter to my circuit breaker. Do you agree?
A: You probably need a larger service entrance such as the 200-amp service you are apparently referring to. However, this means a new service entrance from the light pole outside to your house to the meter and service panel on the inside, not just from your meter to your circuit breaker box. Even though the appliances and the lights are on separate circuits, they still all draw through the same main service wires (through the main circuit breakers that supply the whole house). Apparently either the supply is not large enough, or the wires inside the house are not adequate.
There is one other possibility. You may have aluminum wiring, which often causes problems of this kind. Either way, your problem should not be ignored. It may not be serious, but it could be. For example, if a previous owner installed oversize circuit breakers, or if some of the wiring is under size and therefore overheating even though the breaker does not open, I recommend having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your wiring and see what needs to be done to correct the situation.
Q: I have a Mexican silver chandelier and a Moroccan brass tabletop tray. Can you suggest a method of applying a protective coating after these items are polished that will not detract from their beauty?
A: The usual way to protect polished metal of this kind is with clear lacquer. After polishing, clean off all residue of the polish by wiping with lacquer thinner (it's highly flammable, so work outdoors if possible), then apply two coats of clear lacquer. Best results will be achieved by spraying, so I recommend using a spray-type can of lacquer that can be bought in most paint and hardwar stores.
Questions about home repair problems should be addressed to Bernard Gladstone, New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 200 Park Ave., New York 10036. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column, but unpublished letters will not be answered individually.