Q: My living room has a parquet floor, most of which is covered with carpet, but the exposed wood is very worn looking. What can I do to restore the original wood of the exposed wood floors?
A: Assuming that you don't want to lift up the carpet and refinsh the entire floor, your best bet is to fold the carpet back all around the room. Use a wood-floor stripper to get all the dirt and old finish off, then refinish with two or three coats of wood sealer, or by applying a couple of coats of shellac.
Q: Our 90-year-old house has 9-inch-thick brick walls. When the paint began peeling off the wall in our livingroom, we discovered we had a drainage problem in the cellar below, so we had that fixed. We scraped off the peeling paint and repainted after applying a sealer to the plaster. The cellar is now bone dry, yet what I think is efforescence is still making the same wall look as though it has measles. What can I do now?
A: It is probably efflorescence caused by moisture entering from the outside. It could be that the bricks need repointing, or that there are places where the caulking needs replacing. It could also be the flashing above some of the windows or along the roof line -- any place where water could be entering the brick walls.
Q: What is the best way to thaw out a frozen pipe inside the house?
A: Open the first faucet past the frozen section, then start applying mild heat carefully to the pipe next to this faucet, using a hair dryer, heat lamp or small torch (don't hold the torch in one place too long). Keep applying heat until water flows from the faucet, then work your way back along a pipe (away from the open faucet) until water starts to flow in each section. The idea is to make sure the water can escape without creating steam that could cause the pipe to burst.
Q: The bathtub in our apartment has a green stain directly under the faucet. We have tried scrubbing with a number of materials, but the green color remains. Can you suggest anything to get this color out?
A: One cleaner that usually works when others fail is Zud. It is sold in some markets, in many hardware stores and in most plumbing supply outlets. If this fails, try bleaching the stain out with oxalic acid. This comes in crystal form. Mix it with hot water to form a saturated solution (until no more will disolve in the container), then scrub it on and allow to dry. Rinse off with lots of water.
Q: We have a den with louvered windows set in aluminum frames and with storm windows on the inside, also in aluminum frames. When the weather gets very cold we have condensation and ice forming on the inside, especially on the aluminum moldings between the glass that are not covered by the inside storm windows. It there any way to prevent this?
A: The aluminum is conducting the heat out until it gets as cold as the outside, hence the condensation and frosting as moist air on the inside comes in contact with the cold metal. You need storm windows that cover the whole frame, metal and all, even if this means putting additional storm windows over the existing ones. You can put up inexpensive plastic storm windows on the inside yourself. Kits for this purpose are sold in all hardware stores and home center. Just be sure they cover the aluminum frames as well as the glass.