Q. My carpet over the entire house is wrinkling and bulging. I wrote you earlier and informed you that I had mold because my windows had been nailed down. It appears that I purchased a bad house. The molding around the walls seems to be coming loose. What do you think is happening? Do I need to try to hire a house inspector? I am a widow and have limited income. I want to fix the problems but it appears that all the people that I have employed to help me have overcharged me and the problem has not been solved.
A. OK, one thing at a time. You do not have a bad house, only a relatively cheaply built one, and any help you hired took your money without doing much good.
All your issues can be fixed, either by you or by professionals who are able and honest. One way to find such professionals is to join a clearinghouse such as Angie’s List, which will help you locate allegedly competent professionals. Angie’s List is in the White Pages and online.
First, the wall-to-wall rug that wrinkled can be stretched, and will be OK for just a while. It wrinkled when it gained moisture, and may go back when it dries out. It wrinkled because it is an inexpensive carpet, and new, more expensive carpet may be the only answer. If there is a hardwood floor under the carpet, then remove the old rug and put in area carpets, preferably wool.
The rug behavior is related to the indoor mold you experienced because the windows were nailed shut. The mold grew and the rug wrinkled because water vapor — created by breathing, cooking, washing, and bathing — built up until it condensed on cool surfaces. One answer to this is to un-nail the windows, and ventilate the house.
In a southern climate like yours, ventilating will not help much in humid weather, so you can install a dehumidifier to dry out the house. If you have central air conditioning, there will be no humidity problem because A/Cs not only cool, but they dehumidify as well.
Also, to attack the mold, wash it with a solution of one part bleach and three parts water. Wear skin and eye protection when working with bleach.
The molding around the walls seem to be coming loose. That is because they are flimsy and probably stapled, not nailed. A competent carpenter can reinstall such molding, or glue it in place, for a reasonable price.
Do you need a house inspector? You probably had one when you bought the house, and he failed to mention any problems that you reported. So you don’t need another.
Q. A few years ago our condo association invested in wooden benches that could have been left to weather. But they were stained and stored indoors during the winter. Now, it has been decided to allow them to return to their natural state. Half the finish has worn away and they look terrible. Do they need to be sanded before they can be left to the elements? Do they need any other sealer?
A. If the benches were made of pressure-treated wood, they should be left to weather normally, and can be power-washed to clean and remove mold. Whatever the finish was on the benches must be sanded off, and then the benches can be power-washed and cleaned.
If the wood is not pressure-treated, the finish can be sanded off, and the best treatment after that is one coat of a semi-transparent stain. It will last five to seven years and will not peel.
Whether stained or not, they do not need any other kind of sealer.
Q. One of my ceilings has a large water stain from an ice dam leak, which has since been fixed. Should I use Kilz as a primer? After priming the stain to prevent bleeding, do I have to repaint the entire ceiling, which is quite big?
A. You have to seal the stain, not prime it, to prevent it from bleeding through any paint you apply. Kilz is a good stain killer, but it is so intensely bright white that it is difficult to cover with any other paint. So I suggest you apply two coats of a clear shellac, then paint the stain and a little beyond the borders with a latex ceiling paint. It might indeed blend in, preventing the need to coat the entire ceiling.