Handyman on Call

Mildew on gutterless home: What to do?

Q. I have a 19th-century house that I prefer to keep gutterless. When rain or melting snow drips or flows off the roof in windy conditions, some of it lands on the siding and I end up with green mildew in many spots. What can I do? It may be time for a new roof anyway, so I’m wondering if it makes sense to sister an extra length of 2x onto each rafter so that the roof overhangs more (an extra foot, say) and the runoff would be farther from the house. Is that fix both possible and advisable?


A. For starters, the green stuff is not mold but algae, and you can clean it with bleach or kill it with vinegar. Extending the roof is feasible, but it will lower the roofline and may be a style problem. I don’t think you will have to make the extension 12 inches, but 6 to 8 inches will do. My gutterless roofline (good idea!) provides a soffit of 6 inches, which is enough to keep blowing water from staining the siding.

You may need a carpenter to do the work, unless the roofer can do it. A plus for you is that the new overhang will allow you to install soffit vents that will ventilate the attic.


Q. Our ranch house is 50 years old, with an addition installed 38 years ago. In the basement of the addition I noticed that the concrete floor has cracked a lot more recently, about ¾ inch along its full length. Can radon seep through those cracks, as we never had radon testing? I live on a very busy street, and there is a lot of wear, and it’s worse in the last few years. Should it be sealed?


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A. There are no basement slabs that have no cracks, and radon can come up through the crack as well as through the concrete itself. You can ventilate the basement to perhaps lower radon amounts, or have a radon check. If your street is a town street, repaving is the town’s responsibility, and sealing it will do no good.

Lichen be gone!

Dave just e-mailed me about a product called D2 he uses on lichen on the gravestones in his town cemetery. It works in about 5-10 minutes and kills the roots. It’s available in gallon jugs. It’s not cheap but can be diluted to last longer.

Thank you, Dave; I am sure many people will welcome a product that will help kill off lichen.

By the way, I forgot to mention last week, in an item about lichen, that while lichen is a nuisance and an eyesore, it will not harm trees, roofs, and other places it grows.


Q. What is the best way to rid my house of termites eating away at the base of my garage?


A. For termites or carpenter ants, the best you can do is call an exterminator.

Q. I have oak floors throughout the house, but some rooms get much more wear and tear than others. I had the floors on the first floor refinished three years ago and the ones in the living room and family room need to be done again. I recently had ceramic tile that looks like wood installed in a three-season sun porch and LOVE it. It looks like real wood but is so much easier to maintain. What’s your opinion of installing the ceramic tile in the rooms that get maximum wear and tear? Will it have a negative impact on the house’s resale value?


A.The wood-look ceramic tiles are a good idea, but I have no idea if they would affect the sale price.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Address section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930.