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    Handyman on Call

    Can they fix their Formica cabinet top?

    Q. We have a house in North Carolina. The kitchen has the original Formica cabinet top, which has developed raised edges where two pieces of Formica join. Presumably it is from moisture getting under the Formica, but we don’t know how to remedy the situation, which is getting worse with use because now that it is open, it gets more moisture each time the Formica is wiped. Any solution?


    A. The only thing that will help is replacement. You can have the bad pieces removed with heat, then replace them with a laminate of the same color and pattern. If you can’t find a match, replace the entire counter covering or put on Corian. Find a laminate dealer who can do the work.

    Q. My toilet is leaking at the seal, a problem I have had since I had new ceramic tile applied to the floor seven years ago. Each time I install a new wax ring it starts leaking in a short time. How can I stop it for good?



    A. You are not going to get the leak fixed until a competent plumber does it right. When you retiled the floor, you made it a little higher, so an ordinary wax ring will not work. Call a plumber and explain the higher floor, so he can put in a bigger wax ring or an extension of the toilet’s horn. If done right, it will never leak again.

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    Q. I am replacing a 1997 Sharp over-the-stove microwave with a new Sharp model, but the new ones, and other brands, are larger than the opening by maybe ½ inch or so. I can’t adjust the cabinetry for the unit to fit, so what else can I do?


    A. Bite the bullet and try your hand at taking out cabinet partitions for bigger openings. Or have a cabinet-maker do the work. Then write a letter to Sharp and other manufacturers to suggest some sort of standard sizes.

    Q. My attic has very low headroom under the highest part of the roof. I can see the rafters that are exposed and the inside of the roof boards. How can I get more headroom?



    A. Think about that for a minute. There is no ceiling material that you could remove because there is no ceiling. The only way is to raise the whole room, or install an extra high full-width dormer, very expensive ways for a foot or so higher ceiling. Such things are done regularly, but the expense may discourage you.


    Q. I put down a new floor made of chipboard in my cabin in Maine, then painted it, and finally put down self-adhesive resilient tiles. Now when I walk across the floor, the tiles make a crinkling sound. What’s wrong and how can I correct it?


    A. If you put only one layer of chipboard over the joists, they didn’t span the space between joists, sagging a bit when you walked on the floor, causing the adhesive to break up, maybe even some tiles. If the joists are 14½ inches apart, it can be fixed without taking up the tiles. Simply install ¾-inch plywood and drive long, hot zinc-dipped galvanized box nails through the plywood into the joists. Then install new self-sticking tiles. I think the ¾-inch plywood is better than -inch plywood. If the joists are 22½ inches apart, take off that chipboard and nail in a ¾-inch plywood floor with -inch plywood on top. Then the tiles.

    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. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to