Handyman on Call

How to clean that greasy stove vent

Q. My cherry kitchen cabinets are very greasy above the stove. How can I clean them? Also, there seems to be a vent in the ceiling that I don’t know where it’s going, and I can’t see anything outside. But that vent is greasy too, and needs cleaning. Is the grease a fire hazard?



A. Greasy vents can be a fire hazard, and they should be kept clean. Wash with a solution of one cup of ammonia in a gallon of warm water. The vent is a blind vent, leading nowhere except back into the kitchen. Whenever you use it, open a nearby window which will allow air to be blown out. Or, have an electrician duct it to the outdoors.

Q. I have a nice looking claw-foot tub, but the previous owners painted the inside, and now it is a mess, peeling and very dirty. Can I remove the paint? I’d like to keep the tub, but not in that condition.


Beverly Farms


A. Many people are keeping their cast iron porcelain-enameled claw-foot tubs because they are historic, nicely designed, and big enough to stretch out in. But some benighted souls paint them, as someone did to yours, making the mess of an art object. Your best bet is to have the paint stripped by a professional, to see if the porcelain enamel is worth keeping as is. If not, you can have it reglazed, which means that an epoxy finish is applied. They can also reglaze the outside, or you can have some fun and paint the outside in some outlandish color.

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Q. My shower door does not fit correctly in the frame. Why doesn’t it and how can I make it fit properly?


by e-mail

A. It sounds as if the frame is out of skew, either loose or wrongly installed. Check to see if all connections are tight: where the frame sits on the tub edge, and where it is sealed and glued and screws to the wall at each end of the frame. If any part is loose, reglue it and/or use larger screws to tighten it. Sometimes the screws might have failed where the frame is secured to the tiled walls. Or, hire a plumber or an installer of shower sliders. If the door is not a slider, and is on a sort of telephone booth stall, check for an out-of square opening, which can be restored to square.

Q. Where can I find Venetian blind brushes, the type that clean several slats (metal, plastic or wood) at a time?


A. They are certainly around, though I am not sure they are in stores. Try your hardware store or Home Depot or Lowe’s. They are quite sophisticated, brushing dry, wet, or with your vacuum cleaner. Some have as many as six fingers that are inserted among the slats to clean 5 slats on both sides with a single sweep. You can also search or Google.


Q. I read in your column that a fiberglass door can be painted or stained black. Can I paint my solid vinyl windows in the Back Bay where colors are strictly enforced?


A. I think it’s possible, and I know of two paints for solid vinyl. One is by Cabot, called The Finish. Another is Flashe vinyl paint.

Globe Handyman on Call 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. Peter Hotton
( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to