Dear Ken: I have a new garage door I like, but I can see daylight through the gap at one side. Do I have to live with it? — Gary
Answer: The installer should have taken care of it. This is usually caused by settling concrete. One edge will sink while the middle stays put. Sometimes it takes a thicker rubber weather-strip at the bottom to squish against the floor. Also, the “down limit” control on the opener can be adjusted a little to push more tightly against the door at the bottom of its travel. In really severe cases of settling, you might need to add a piece of tapered redwood stripping on the concrete floor. It can be glued in place, caulked and painted to match the gray surface. That will fill in that daylight gap nicely and give you a weathertight seal.
Dear Ken: How many degrees do we need to reduce the temperature at night to save energy? I don’t want to get it too low. — Danny
Answer: You’re right to be concerned, because if you lower it too much, it takes too long to reheat the house in the morning. I think 8 to 10 degrees is about right. Moreover, many modern programmable thermostats have an anticipatory learning feature that I think you’ll like. It uses the morning “up” setting time and works backwards, so the house is at the ideal temperature when you arise.
These thermostats save marginal amounts of energy that add up over time — maybe 4 percent or so — and so they can pay for themselves in just a couple of heating seasons.
Dear Ken: I keep getting mold spots above the tile in my shower. How can I keep them away permanently? — Todd
Answer: This isn’t too unusual in a shower you use every day. You can ameliorate it by running your bath fan while showering. In the meantime, wipe the area down with a Clorox and water solution to kill the mold. Then repaint the drywalled portions of the stall.
Scuff the surface with some medium-grade sandpaper to de-glaze it and then apply a couple of coats of a good primer, such as KILZ or Bullseye 1-2-3. It will seal the surface and kill any residual mold spores. Follow that up with two good coats of a semi-gloss, latex paint.
Dear Ken: How do you stop a floor squeak from above? I have a bad one in my bedroom on the second floor. — Carrie
Answer: Sometimes you can cure this problem by driving nails right through the carpet. It sounds worse than it is. Choose 16-penny finishing or casing nails (they have almost no heads). If you can find the appropriate floor joist, they can be driven straight through the carpet and pad. One way to pinpoint an underlying joist is to start at the edge of a heat vent and then count over 16, 19 3/8 or 24 inches, depending on the spacing.
You also can buy special screws at the hardware store with a break-away head that snaps off after they are screwed through the carpet. One problem with this fix is that you can damage the carpet by winding fibers in the screw rotation.
If these methods don’t work, the one sure-fire way to eliminate squeaks is to roll the carpet back and attack the subfloor with regular deck screws.
Dear Ken: My redwood deck railing is badly splintered. Can I fix this with sanding before I stain it? — Alan
Answer: Sanding is tedious and dusty, and you might not get deep enough to cut through the splits. Another idea is to turn the boards over. That will give you a clean unweathered surface, and you usually can even match the old screw holes.
Redwood handrails need treatment with a linseed oil-based deck stain twice as often as the deck itself. Apply a thin coat twice a year to keep the wood seasoned, which makes it less vulnerable to these problems.
Dear Ken: I have those turbine vents on my roof. I notice that my neighbor covers his this time of year. Should I also? — Don
Answer: It’s a pretty good idea. These vents are quite efficient at pulling air through the attic. Wind-driven rotation creates a vacuum effect that pulls air out of the attic. But in winter, we want to hang onto any passive solar heat gain. So cover the whole thing with a plastic garbage bag secured with a bungee cord. One precaution: If these are the only vents in the attic, leave them alone. Every attic needs a little year-round ventilation to release unwanted moisture. On the other hand, if a couple of other passive roof or gable vents are present, it’s OK to cover the turbines.
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. Visit aroundthehouse.com