Q. I neglected to clean the black grout from white tiles quickly enough during installation. My new floor is stained, and the only remedy so far is to sit and hand scrub every single tile with Barkeep’s Friend and a plastic scrubber pad. After hours of this I was ready for the chiropractor and stopped. What can I do to remove the rest of it? Have I damaged the glaze on the tile beyond redemption?
— Cynthia Scott, by e-mail
A. If there is a lot of grout, wash it off with a wet sponge. This will leave a powdery residue, which you can remove by rubbing with a dry cloth. If there is more grout on the tile that you can handle, try this. Make a weak solution of muriatic acid and water; 1 part acid to 10 plus parts water. The grout will fizz up under this treatment, and make it easier to remove. Be careful when working with acid, and wear skin and eye protection. If the 1 to 10 ratio doesn’t work, make it stronger until it does. None of what you did or will do, will hurt the glaze.
Q. My pedestal table is a family heirloom, 100 years old, but I am not sure it’s an antique yet. The feet are attached to the pedestal with two wood dowels each. One of the dowels is loose, and one is tight in each foot. I can’t pull out the loose dowel. Could I squeeze some glue into the loose dowel hole to tighten it up? What kind of glue?
— Al, from Woburn
A. For something to be considered an antique, it must be 100 years old. You can have it appraised. Since you can’t pull out the loose dowel, it’s best to take it to a furniture repairer, who will take it apart and reglue it properly. If you do use glue, yellow carpenter’s glue is good, but needs clamping. Upholsterers also fix furniture.
Q. The Bruce prefinished hardwood flooring in my eight-year-old house has a 15-year warranty, and has stained badly, fading in virtually all areas. The stain is in the coating, not the wood. Bruce looked at it and said it is not their fault. What can I do?
— Kevin Dyole, Kingston
A. Don’t let them get away with this. Have your lawyer file a suit or an appeal. Bruce will pay attention to a lawyer.
Roof raking debate
The “to rake or not-to-rake roofs” saga continues. Here is an e-mail I received from Michael Donovan of Billerica, concerning my argument Feb. 14 that raking snow, even part way up-roof, is dangerous, will not stop ice dams, and is unnecessary, especially on sloped roofs:
“I must take issue with, and very much disagree with your article. . . . I am positive that raking the bottom 3 feet or so after a snowfall substantially diminishes the likelihood of ice dams forming. I have chopped out more than my share of ice dams over the years, and have seen substantial damages caused by them.
“In theory (only) a very well insulated roof SHOULD diminish the formation of ice dams. However, it is a rare house that does not have some heat loss, and the snow pack on a roof insulates the roof, resulting in ice buildup.
“I feel it is an inexcusable disservice to your readers to suggest that roof raking should not be done.”
Here’s a note from Dennis Ahern of Acton: “Winter before last I had 2 feet of snow on the pitched roof of my 1820s Greek Revival. With a forecast of rain I was not going to leave my roof unraked. . . . I’m not going to risk my roof to the added weight of 2 inches of rain on top of 2 feet of snow .”
And here is how I answered Mr. Ahern: Don’t waste your time and health raking. It is unnecessary, and the roof can hold more than 2 inches of rain and 2 feet of snow. There is no risk of damage from the weight. My roof’s wood parts are 245 years old and will hold any amount of snow and other weights.
These notes are typical of the mail I received after Feb. 14. Mr. Ahern had a misconception of what a snow and water load could do to a sloped roof, which is nothing, and I hope we leave it at that.
But Mr. Donovan’s note was critical, which is OK with me. In my answer, it is possible that some roofs need raking, if the attic is not ventilated and the attic floor is under-insulated or not insulated.
The majority of roofs are cold, made that way by a well-ventilated attic , and do not have ice dams or leaks from ice dams, and do not need raking. I might have been negligent in not mentioning that in my argument, but it has been written so often that I didn’t think it was necessary.
I do appreciate Mr. Donovan’s e-mail and all the other ones I received.