QHow can we keep an interior door from swinging shut when we want to keep it open? Our door will stay open only at a certain angle. -- J. Abeli
ADoors usually swing shut because they are not plumb or hanging perfectly vertically in their frames. There are a couple of simple solutions, or you can go the hard way and adjust the position of the hinges in the frame so the door is put into a plumb position (use a level, held vertically, to check the position of the door).
An easy way to solve this problem is to install a kickdown-type door stop. These are sold at some hardware stores and home centers. An online source is www.thehardwarehut.com (product number HAG-270C-SPALUM, about $7). The stop is screwed to the bottom of the door and the rubber-bottomed lever can be lifted up or down with your foot. The door can be opened and held in any position.
If you want to keep the door wide open, a magnetic door stop is a good solution. A ball-shaped magnet is screwed to the baseboard or floor and a metal "receiver" that will stick to the magnet is screwed to the base of the door. You can buy one of these for about $8 from Improvements (www.improvementscatalog.com or 800-642-2112, product number 47175).
Another simple solution is to remove one of the hinge pins from the door. You can generally get a pin out by prying at the top with a screwdriver, then using the screwdriver and a hammer to tap the pin upward. Place the pin on two blocks of wood so that the pieces of wood support the ends of the pin. Strike the pin sharply in the middle with a hammer.
The object is to bend the pin just slightly so it will be a tighter fit in the hinge. When done properly, the tight hinge pin will keep the door in any open position by friction.
An oil delivery man apparently put an oily hand on our vinyl siding and left a dark stain. We have tried the usual cleaners without success. Can you help? -- Ron
The trade group Vinyl Siding Institute recommends these brand cleaners for oily stains on vinyl siding: Fantastik, Lysol, Murphy's Oil Soap and Windex. If none of these work and you can find a matching strip of siding, the damaged piece can be replaced. To do this, you need a "zip tool," available for a few dollars from many siding dealers.
To replace a siding panel, insert the hook end of the tool into the locking joint between the damaged panel and the panel above it. Start at the end of the panel, and look for a small notch in the bottom of the siding panel where the tool can easily be inserted. Pull downward and slide the tool along the joint to the other end of the damaged panel. This will open the joint so that the top panel can be swung up to give access to the nails holding the damage panel in place. Remove the nails and slip out the damaged panel.
Cut the new panel to match the length of the panel that was removed and install the new panel. Do not drive the nails too tight; the siding must be allowed to move to accommodate expansion and shrinkage. Use the zip tool to lock the new panel in place.
We get mold under the eaves on the shady side of our house. It cleans off easily but reappears the next year. Is there a more permanent solution? -- A. Shuttleworth
The mold is probably mildew, and it reappears because the cleaner has not killed it. I would try a commercial mildew treatment such as Mildew Check or Jomax, sold at many home centers and paint stores. To make a homemade solution, add a half-cup chlorine bleach such as Clorox and one teaspoon of trisodium phosphate, sold at home-improvement stores, to a quart of water. Some users double or triple the amount of bleach in the solution.
When the stained area is thoroughly cleaned and dry, consider painting it with a mildew-resistant paint such as Perma-White. This paint, which can be tinted to any color, has a five-year warranty against mildew formation.
For more information, see the Web site www.zinsser.com. If you have a favorite paint you would like to use, most paint stores sell fungicidal additives that will give it some resistance to mildew.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to email@example.com. Questions cannot be answered personally.