How can he dispose of leaking basement oil tank?

Q. I bought a handyman’s special to flip for less than $65,000. An old huge oil tank in the basement is leaking like a sieve. What are the requirements for disposal of this tank, cleaning up the entire basement, and installing a new tank? Is it a job I can handle myself?

MIKE, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Hooboy, Mike, get thee to a tank replacement company as fast as you can. It is definitely not a job that you can do. Call your oil dealer for names of tank disposers, or find them in the Yellow Pages. A company will pump out the oil, save it, break up and remove the derelict tank, and put in a new one, and fill it with the saved oil. Some will help in cleanup. The cleanup is completely your responsibility, and it is usually by treating with absorbent clay, but I think it must be done by a pro. If oil has seeped into the earth under the concrete floor, it’s a real disaster, because the concrete must be removed and carefully disposed of, and any and all contaminated earth removed and safely disposed of. All this is your exclusive responsibility, and it can be very costly. I’m surprised you were able to buy this house, or the owner was able to sell it.


Q. My garage is humid. Will painting the floor with an epoxy product lower humidity? Should I also paint the foundation walls with Drylock?

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ANDREA, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Painting the floor with anything will not reduce humidity, and why bother painting a garage floor anyway. It is holding cars! The humidity is caused by water vapor coming up through the concrete slab and through the joint between slab and foundation. You can paint the inside of the foundation walls with Drylock, which will help stop seepage. To release the moisture, ventilate the garage by opening windows for cross-ventilation. Or put in a ridge vent and a soffit vent under the roof overhang on both sides of the garage.

Q. Our 1916 home’s front entry is decorated by two wooden columns. The base has rotted. We had someone make the rectangular bottom piece out of Western cedar but have not been able to find a source for the round pieces above that base. Any ideas where we might find parts, or someone able to make replacements?

PHIL WALLAS, Auburndale


A. Yessir, the Brosco Catalog to the rescue! The catalog, by Brockway-Smith, the biggest distributor of building products in the Northeast, has several pages of columns, posts, column tops and column bases, some wood, other fiberglass. Go to a big box store or any lumber store and ask for the Brosco catalog. They might be able to sell you a copy, which you can keep for reference. It’s amazing the products that you can order. Go for it, you will find exactly what you are looking for.

Globe 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 ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to