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Peter Hotton

Try L-hooks to affix fancy house number tiles to vinyl

Q. My wife and I bought four ceramic tiles for our house number during a trip to Italy. We’d like to attach them to our deck which has a vinyl board facing front. I tried Super Glue, Gorilla Glue, and one other, but none will adhere the tile to the vinyl. I have no way of attaching a clamp and am wondering if there is a glue that has instant stickability.

A. I think adhesive caulk and Liquid Nails will work, but they all need a bit of holding in place. Also, if the numbers are completely protected from the weather and stay dry, you can use Grip, which has to be held for a short time.

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 You could drill holes in the ceramic for solid brass screws, but I would not take that chance with the imported numbers. So, here’s my last idea: buy solid brass L-hooks, threaded shafts with a small part of the “L” bent to 90 degrees. Screw in three or four of these, then insert the number and turn the hook to hold it in place. Get solid brass or stainless steel hooks because all others will rust.

Q. Last week I had insulation blown into the walls of my 1962 ranch after an energy audit with MassSave. I hope to save on fuel costs. After they finished, I noticed that the plaster in two rooms had cracked and pushed out under the window areas. Can this be repaired so that the wall is smooth? The company is going to send its contractor out to assess the damage. What should I be aware of to make sure the repair is done properly?

A. You will save on heat and cooling if you have air conditioning. And if you don’t use your basement for living space, they should insulate the ceiling, too. But the insulators, who blew cellulose into the walls, got carried away under the windows, blowing in too much.

 The only cure is to take off the wall finish (plaster or plasterboard). Don’t try to push it back intact, it won’t work. Then they take out some insulation so they can put back a new wall finish of plasterboard that is flush and even with the original, tape the joints, and repaint.

Q. I have a problem with a wood door that is very drafty. Would a steel door (I don’t much like them) stop the draft?

A. Absolutely not. It is not the material that stops drafts, but a proper fit and weatherstripping. Wood and fiberglass are both better. But you can have your door weatherstripped with vinyl stripping, and put in a movable threshold, one that pops up when you open the door and closes tightly when you shut it.

Q. I had a brick patio installed by a former neighbor who did not finish it with a border. What can I use to make sure the bricks do not move?

A. If the patio is higher than the ground, use pressure-treated timbers, or concrete patio blocks on their long ends. If it is flush with the ground, use soldier bricks, ordinary bricks on their long ends.

Q. You recently had a question about impatiens plants dying. You recommended Liquid Fence, which is a product that has worked for me with deer and other critters. But I am having the same die-off of impatiens plants and it’s not working now. The bare stems are left upright. An animal would eat the whole thing.

 There is some serious problem involving a pest or disease and I wish the horticultural scientists would jump on this.

A. As a matter of fact, someone has done the research. Peter McKelvey of West Newton wrote: I too am an impatiens planter and have never had a problem until this year. The culprit is a downy mildew, a water mold disease that has reached Massachusetts in a big way. Here is a site describing it: www.ballhort.com/Landscapers/Tips.aspx.

 So it looks like begonias in 2013. Other substitutes for impatiens are New Guinea impatiens, and many fancy-leafed annuals such as coleus.

 Karen Andres had another idea, but it was for critters: dog fur around the plants seems to work.

Q. How can I handle crickets in my kitchen? I think they are coming in under the kitchen door leading to the cellar and under my gas stove.

A. Blocking their entry is the best way. So, have your gas man caulk around the pipe in the floor under the stove. If you can reach it from below, you can do it yourself. For the gap under the kitchen door, you can close it with one of the sand-filled cloth “snakes” usually used against a draft. For already present crickets, baking soda may be a good deterrent and/or insecticide.

Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. He (photton@globe.com) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com
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