Q: My neighbor's downspout empties directely onto my property and he will not correct the situation, despite repeated request. Is there anything I can do to prevent the accumulation of sandy silt that is ruining part of my lawn?
A: There are just two suggestions I can think of: Erect a low barrier of brick, stone or wood logs to deflect the water to either side. Or, Dig a slight ditch or minature culvert running parallel to the edge of your neighbor's property to carry the water to either side, where it it will flow back onto his property.
Q: We recently moved into a house that has a small bathroom one story up. The previous owner painted this bathroom with latex paint. After the shower is used the room gets quite steamy (there is no fan), and lately we have noticed a reddish-brown ooze dripping down from the ceiling. Do you know what causes this ooze, and what we can do about it?
A: This sometimes is from an old coat of glue size -- applied years ago and then painted over -- or from some water-thinned coating that is still susceptible to moisture. Steam from the shower soaks through the paint and softens this old coating enough to allow some of the original vehicle to seep through. As a rule, you can remove these drips by scrubbing with hot water. I recommened doing this, then coating with an alkyd-base primer sealer before the next coat of paint is applied. I also advise installing an exhaust fan to be used when the shower is in use.
Q: The cherry wood cabinets in my kitchen have a lot of spots and discolorations around the knobs on the doors. The cabinets have been waxed for 18 years, but no amount of polish will take these marks off. Can you advise me what to do?
A. Marks often occur around knobs on cabinet doors because this part gets the most handling. Your fingers inevitably touch and rub against the doors when the knob is grasped and released. The wax has built up and is holding the dirt, and the only way to clean this thorougly is to get all the old wax off. Try a commercial wax remover sold for the purpose, or use paint thinner. oIf you use thinner, take the doors off and clean them out-of-doors, because the thinner is highly flammable. Scrub the solvent on with a clean cloth, then wipe if off immediately with another clean cloth. The job will be easier if you take the knobs off first.
Q: In trying to remove a spot on the white marble in my bathroom I first tried ammonia, then scrubbed with Dutch Cleanser. The spot is gone, but so is the shine. How can I restore it?
A: Chances are you can restore the shine by simply polishing with white paste wax. Just rub on, then buff, but make sure the surface is perfectly clean first.
Q: We built a wood deck next to our lake, using two-inch-thick untreated wood planks. We are wondering how we should treat them now. Should we use a clear wood preservative, a stain to make them look like redwood, or a glossy outdoor paint?
A: You should have treated the lumber with clear wood preservative before the deck was put together. That way you, could be sure to get maximum protection by coating all sides and edges of each piece. Now I recommend applying a penetrating wood preservative to as much of the wood as you can reach, including the underside).Use either a clear preservative or one with color added (look like stain). The question of color is a matter of personal preference, although adding pigment always help give added protection against sunlight.