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    Handyman on Call

    What’s the best way to hang pictures on a wall?

    Q. We recently replaced all of our windows and as a result had to repaint all of our walls. We want to re-hang our pictures, mirrors, etc. What is the best way to do that? We can use nails and hooks but there are a lot of other products on the market and I am not convinced they will stick and stay. Can you recommend an approach? We don’t have any particularly heavy pieces except two mirrors. BERNIE BONN

    A. I must assume your walls are drywall (plasterboard) or plaster on lath. Hanging pictures is easy with picture hooks, which come in different sizes and work well and are dirt cheap, because the nails are driven at an angle so they hold well. You can improve the nail’s hold and prevent damage to the wall by putting a piece of duct tape on the wall to drive the nail through. Other types of hangers are also good, but too expensive to bother with. The plain old hooks come in many sizes, including ginormous ones for your heavy mirrors.

    Q. I have a wooden hutch, which, when I open the doors, emits an acrid smell which seems to attach to the crystal, china, etc. The hutch is over 20 years old and this problem only arose in the past few years. This problem also occurred in an upstairs bedroom with built-in cabinets and drawers. In that case, I simply lined the drawers with contact paper, not a feasible solution in the current situation. Any suggestions?



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    A. There are many liquids to store in open containers that can absorb and dissipate the odors. An open container of vinegar can work. Also, try Room Shocker, installed in the cabinet with doors closed. If you don’t like to do those things, ventilation is an effective fix. Open doors of the cabinet and windows of the room and let air do the trick. You mentioned that the odor did not appear for many years. This is typical of a cabinet that is closed up; it will take years to build up enough to make the odor detectable.

    Finally, I noticed in your note that covering another cabinet shelves with contact paper did the trick; in other words, covering will help. So, empty the hutch and paint the inside with a water-based polyurethane varnish. That should do it, and the varnish smell will indeed dissipate, if you keep the doors open.

    Q. My oil-fired, forced-hot-air furnace needs frequent repairs, so I think I need a new furnace and burner. Do you know of any good ones and how much they will cost?

    KATHY, in Hotton’s chat room


    A. I think a top-quality furnace and burner will cost about $7,000. And, I can tell you that a high-quality furnace is Thermo-Pride, which has a copper-clad firebox that allows the company to guarantee it for life. I know this because I have one. It is about 15 percent higher than a standard furnace, which lasts about 20 years. I know this, too, because I had two of the standard ones burn out after 20 or so years. The burner, by the way, is a Becket.

    Despite the quality of Thermo-Pride, if you have gas in the street or in the house, I suggest you look into converting to gas, because gas is cheaper than oil. Equipment will cost about he same, but you may need a stainless steel flue liner in the chimney because burning gas is corrosive to clay flue liners.

    Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@
    ) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to