QA repairman told me my clothes-dryer vent was clogged with lint. The vent pipe goes up and down through the walls. It is possible to make a new vent opening through a basement wall? -- G. Frankel
AThe shortest and straightest path is the best one for a dryer vent. Long vent pipes with a lot of curves can trap lint, which can be a serious fire hazard. For this reason, I think you should disconnect, clean and seal off the old vent and install a new one with a short, straight path to the outside.
For the new vent, use smooth aluminum pipe rather than the pleated, flexible vent pipes sold at many home centers and hardware stores. Smooth pipes are less likely to trap lint and are therefore safer, according to most experts.
On the outside end of the vent pipe, use a cap that will allow lint to pass from inside but will keep out rodents and insects. A cap with small louvers that open only when the dryer is running seems to work well.
Check the vent cap occasionally to make sure it is working properly and that no lint builds up there. At least once a year, disconnect the vent at the dryer end and make sure it is free of lint on that end.
You should be able to clean any trapped lint out of the old vent pipe with a plumber's snake, a flexible cable that can be worked around curves. Because the pipe is inside a wall, you might want to try to stuff some fiberglass insulation into it. Seal both ends of the pipe with cement.
I want to hang a large bathroom mirror. The edges have lost some of their coating, which gives the mirror the appearance of being chipped. Is there a way to remedy this? What about painting a "frame" on the mirror? -- T. Mayfield
I think it would be difficult to make a neat border with paint. You could get a better appearance by using wood molding for the frame. Check some of the moldings used for wall paneling at a home center. Picture-frame moldings might also work well. Some of these moldings are pre-finished, or you can paint them to suit your decor. Do not paint the back of the moldings.
Miter the corners of the moldings to get a neat, professional appearance. Mitering (cutting at a 45-degree angle) can be done with many power saws or with a hand saw and an inexpensive miter box.
Test-fit the pieces of the frame, then glue the parts in place with an adhesive such as Liquid Nails Perfect Glue 1, which is rated for bonding wood to glass. Carefully follow the directions on the adhesive package. If necessary, use masking tape to hold the frame in place until the adhesive sets.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions cannot be answered personally.