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handyman on call

Water is among the most reliable solvents

Q. We have a glass coffee pot which has been around forever and we use it constantly. We had a mishap. The water boiled out of it and I caught it just in time. However, I dumbly took it off the stove and put it on a towel to cool, but it pretty much cemented the towel to the bottom of the pot. Can you help me as it was my mother-in-law’s and really has a lot of sentimental value.

KEN KRANEFUSS, NORWOOD

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A. The only thing I can think of is to soak the pot and towel in a big container (or the sink) of warm water; that should release the towel, which I suggest you throw away. The pot will remain pristine. If that doesn’t work, try paint thinner. Water is one of the best solvents ever, running water even better. Next best is paint thinner, then rubbing alcohol. The rest follow in a descending ability. Sometimes it is a matter of luck, combined with a spirit of adventure.

Mr. Kranefuss replied quickly: “Bravo. You saved the day. Your solution with the hot water worked. I had to scrape the residue off with a knife but it came out clean. You made my wife very happy.”

Q. I spilled Super Glue on my Corian counter top, which is almost impossible to get off. My daughter removed some of it with nail polish remover, but quite a bit remains. How can I get the rest off? So far the work has dulled the Corian. How can I restore the shine?

FLORENCE BIGELOW, WESTWOOD

A. That glue holds with a death grip. I spilled some on an oak kitchen table a year ago, with little change. I will let it be, and it will outlast me! For you, it will be easy. Buy emery cloth at any hardware store; it is the finest grit removal paper you can find, but it is cloth, and will last a lot of rubbing, which will remove the glue. Don’t worry, sanding is the way Corian is cleaned, and the more you rub, the shinier it will be.

Q. My second-story bathroom floor is made up of old-fashioned black and white mosaic ceramic tile with the grout in good shape. Spilled water somehow is leaking through the floor and dripping through the ceiling in the room below. How can I waterproof the ceramic floor?

STEVE

A. You can treat the floor with tile sealer, which might work, or put down sheet vinyl with a waterproof adhesive. Trouble is, the tile will ghost through the sheet vinyl, so choose a busy pattern to disguise the ghosting.

Is the toilet leaking, or is there a lot of spillage from showering and bathing? Sometimes it can be from outside, where faulty gutters allow water to run down the side of the house, where it can come into through a window or defect. Even heavy condensation of water vapor in a closed bathroom without an exhaust fan can cause water on the floor. So before you tackle the floor, find out how so much water is getting on the floor.

Q. The two faucets of my upstairs shower don’t work very well. I turn on the shower and it works well enough for a few minutes, but then it fades away to nothing, returning later. How can I fix it?

PAUL, ACTON

A. It may be a faulty washer, which swells up from the hot water, plugging itself. Try replacing all washers. It also might be variations in pressure. Have a plumber put in an anti-scald, one-handle shower. It will save water and last years.

Q. My 50-year-old gambrel house with wood clapboard siding is uninsulated, so I called an insulator. He said he can do some of the house but will not be able to do the front, or will have to drill holes in the clapboards to blow in insulation. Why would he suggest that?

MIKE GILDEA

A. Yeah, why? I suggest you find another insulator, because that first one should not touch your old house. Normally when blowing insulation in a house, individual clapboards are removed and holes drilled in the sheathing, then the clapboards put back.

Sometimes the clapboards are split to remove and later returned, but it’s just as easy to un-nail them to take them off, and just as easy to put back; it just takes a little more time. To drill holes in the clapboards is to destroy their good looks; plugging the holes with wood plugs is not good because the plugs will stand out.

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 or e-mail photton@globe.com. He also chats online from 2-3 p.m. Thursdays on www.Boston.com
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