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Around the house: It's time to discard of dated Z-brick in kitchen

By: Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
April 7, 2018 Updated: April 7, 2018 at 8:41 am
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photo - Ken Moon - Around the House
Ken Moon - Around the House 

Dear Ken: I have what they called Z-brick under my kitchen cabinets. It may have been OK once upon a time, but now it looks ugly. How do I get it off? - Kate

Answer: This stuff was popular in the 70's - along with dark paneling and yellow, acrylic shag carpet. But now, I agree, it looks a little dated. Why not try painting it? A coat of white, gray or beige paint will blend it into the surroundings, brighten the kitchen and convey a sort of traditional decorative flavor. Wash the wall with some vinegar and water to degrease it first, then apply two coats of a primer sealer, followed by a semi-gloss latex topcoat. I like this approach better than removal, since peeling it off the wall will create another problem: drywall repair.

   

Dear Ken: I had a handyman power wash and stain our deck. The last time it rained, everything streaked, and now the stain looks terrible. Can you tell me what might be the problem? - Debbie

Answer: He might not have let the deck boards dry after the power wash. I would have waited at least a week before staining the surface. Did he use a linseed oil-based stain? Or simply a water sealer? Or maybe a paint? The material of choice here is a name brand linseed oil deck and patio stain. The good ones are about $35 a gallon or so and contain all the chemicals needed to protect your redwood deck.

   

Dear Ken: You mentioned a rule of thumb for attic vents. Also, you talked about blowing snow in the attic. Could you elaborate? - Stan

Answer: I like the 150 rule, that is, take the square footage of the attic, divide by 150, and the answer is the net open area of all the attic vents. So a 1,000-square-foot attic would need about 7 square feet of gable, ridge, roof and/or soffit vents.

In winter, it's a good idea to close enough of these vents to prevent cross ventilation, which can let in wind-driven snow. The most northerly vents are usually the culprits, and they can be blocked with cardboard or plywood. A cheap fiberglass furnace filter works pretty well, too. It lets some air in for ventilation but will help hold the snow at bay. The vents should be reopened in spring to allow air to flow through during the hotter seasons. If not, in addition to a hot upper level, you'll be shortening the life of your shingles.

   

Dear Ken: The hot water in one of our bathroom sinks comes out cloudy. If I let it stand, it clears. Is this trapped air? - Chris

Answer: It sounds like it. Buy a new aerator for that faucet. Take the existing one to the hardware store to match the threads. While you're fooling around with this lavatory, you can check the washers inside the stems to make sure they are intact and not worn. Also, check the connections on the valves and the pipes you can get to for leaks or drips under that particular sink.

   

Dear Ken: You mentioned some time ago (on the radio) the best way to clean silver without hand polishing. Could you let me know what is? - Allie

Answer: I got lots of feedback on this one. All the ideas were basically one version or another of galvanic action. That is, you set up a small "battery" in a solution into which you've dumped the flatware, and the oxidation flows from the silver to the container. Use a glass bowl lined with aluminum foil for this operation. Start with a cup of baking soda and two tablespoons of salt mixed into scalding water. (You may have to vary the proportions a little, depending on the severity of your tarnish.) This method also works well on old sterling silver jewelry.

Several listeners also suggested that storing your silver pieces with a little powdered alum retards oxidation.

-

Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visitaroundthehouse.com

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