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Ventless gas fireplaces pose possible hazards

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I was rather amazed and a bit scared when I read your opinion on Dec. 29 that ventless gas fireplaces or gas logs are a hazard, and should not be sold. I have one, so my concern was doubled. I use it for 40 minutes a day, just to enjoy its warmth and good looks. Should I get rid of it or stop using it? I’d like to keep it.

ANONYMOUS You can keep it, and keep using it for short times, and only for supplemental heat, and you will be OK.

The Handyman came on strong about ventless fireplaces because he thinks they are hazardous, and the idea of a flame in a room without a vent is inherently dangerous. There are fail-safe gadgets on the units to shut them off if oxygen levels fall to a certain level, or carbon monoxide rises to a certain level, but what if they fail? You can also open a window just a tad to allow more air into the room, or let carbon monoxide escape, as in a chimney.

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Another hazard is that if used full time the gas units create a great deal of water vapor (2 cubic feet of water vapor for each cubic foot of gas burned). I got a call from one user some years ago that her indoor walls were loaded with water and heavy mold was growing. That happened because she was using her ventless unit full time for heating the house.

Finally, used properly, only for supplemental heat (not full time), your unit will work well and safely.

In my multi-unit brownstone, all the floors are hardwood, nicely finished, but noisy to me from big old shoes clomping on the hardwood floors above me. I asked if they could put pads and rugs on the floor to stop the clomps, but they like the hardwood without rugs and never take off their shoes. It’s only in my bedroom that the clomping is annoying, especially at 5:30 in the morning. What would help? Would a separate ceiling with insulation help?

BILL HAMLETT,Boston Since the problem is only in your bedroom, it will be relatively inexpensive to do a fix in that room. A little consideration isn’t in the cards, so, a separate ceiling will help some, and insulation in the space between ceilings will help more.

Sound is vibration, which travels readily though solid objects. So when you install the new ceiling 6 inches or so below the old ceiling, make sure there are as few contact points (hangers) as possible. And, install unbacked fiberglass batts in the space between ceilings.

Another way is to screw resilient acoustical strips to the ceiling, and attach the new ceiling to the strips. Caulk all joints. Those acoustical strips are long pieces of aluminum or other metal shaped like a deep, squared off “Z.’’ That design keeps contact points between ceilings to a minimum.

My shower has three glass panels, one of which is a glass door. Each panel has three weep holes to allow water running down the walls panels to drip harmlessly onto the shower floor. The weep holes have filled up with tiny larvae of some kind. I treated them with bleach and they were gone, but they came back. How can I get rid of them permanently?

MICHELLE CHRISAFIDEIS,Ashland I think those larvae are drain flies, which love drains and other wet spots. Like many other insects, they reproduce in broods, sometimes a few days or weeks apart. So, after treating the larvae with bleach, do it again in a few days, depending on how long the second brood appears. And again.

Some time ago you wrote something about hinges that raise a door when opened to allow it to open and clear a thick rug and pad. I need one now. Where can I get one?

Also, how can a raised door clear the frame it is attached to?

FRANK LENON It’s called a rising butt hinge, so named for the type of hinge called a butt. Don’t laugh. Call Ball & Ball in Pennsylvania, 800-257-3711. How can the door rise? If you open it all the way so it’s at right angles to the wall, it will clear the frame.

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