Handyman on Call

Peter Hotton writes about house repair twice a week. Read previous columns below.

Handyman on Call

How to keep critters out of a greenhouse

Q. I have a nice glass greenhouse sun room with quarry tile on the floor and a drain in the middle, obviously for water to drain away.

Handyman on Call

Bees seem to be taking up residence in the attic

Q. Interestingly I was reading your column in the Globe about the carpenter bees vs. bumble bees.

Handyman on Call

The hazards of winter ice

Before any questions, I want to tell you a funny thing happened to me on the way to a good friend’s funeral.

Handyman on Call

Why is their furnace so loud?

Q. Re your article of February 19 -- concerning furnace noise. We also have a Weil-McLain, gas fired, hot water system with two zones. Our house is new construction as of 2000 and the furnace was so quiet we could hardly hear it running.

Handyman on Call

Roof vent? Check. But what if it’s under 3 feet of snow?

I believe you’ve stated that the best ventilation for an attic is a ridge vent and long, continuous soffit vents. My question is what happens when the ridge vent is under 3-4 feet of snow. Should I keep the gable vents?

Handyman on Call

Why is the ceiling paint peeling?

Regarding one answer on removing sticky residue: Use what most households have on hand, either vegetable oil or olive oil. Actually, I think any type of oil will work. I read this years ago and it works every time, even removing price sticker residue. Just apply a bit and let it soak in briefly, then wipe off. Sometimes you may need to repeat. For the real question: Why do some of my ceilings’ paint peel?

Handyman on Call

Why are his new wood floors cracking?

Q. Last April we moved into our brand new condo. Just prior to moving in, we noticed that cracks had formed in between the boards of the new hardwood floors. The developer took care of the problem with a wood filler and then a wood filler stain, and everything looked perfect.

Handyman on Call

Can he get rid of one of his basement doors?

Q. I have two basement doors and would like to get rid of one. Inside, there are two concrete steps up to the door. On the outside, there are two concrete steps down to the “landing” which is hard-packed soil. There is a concrete “wall” on the other two sides. Weeds grow in this landing and it’s a mess.

Handyman on Call

Applying water-based stain

Is a water-based stain as good as an oil-based stain on pine molding? When applying the prestain conditioner and the stain itself, is it best to use a brush or cloth? Is there a waiting period to apply the finish stain after applying the conditioner?

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Keep rodents from enjoying your hot tub

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

Handyman on Call

How can he keeps the pipes from freezing?

Q. I have a fully insulated (cellulose) 3-family house where an attached garage was converted to the 3rd apartment. The bathroom above the kitchen has water pipes run up from the kitchen sink along an exterior wall. The wall is insulated, but when it’s really cold outside the pipes going to the bathroom freeze.

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What kind of ceiling do you use over the furnace?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

Handyman on Call

Which way should ceiling fans rotate in winter?

Q. Every year about this time there comes up the question as to in which direction should ceiling fans be rotating. For the winter season some say clockwise, others counterclockwise, and then in the summer you change. Which is correct?

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Should you be concerned about those noises in the fireplace?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

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Does your ice maker smell bad?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, and more.

Handyman on Call

Why are woodpeckers all over their house trim?

Q. I live in a rural area and have been feeding birds for about 5 years. I always hang suet in addition to seed feeders about 40 feet from the house at the edge of the woods. The problem we are having since early fall is woodpeckers pecking at the house trim. It is getting out of hand and no one seems to know how to stop them. Do you have any suggestions to stop this?

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Does your clothes washer smell bad?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

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Advice on tile repair fees, washer smells, and glue removal

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

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Should you paint the garage floor?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

Handyman on Call

Ice dams 101: How to insulate the attic

Q. I have a serious problem with ice damming in my house and have been looking for solutions to the problem. It all seems to boil down to not letting the roof heat up from indoor heat sources. It seems that spraying foam insulation on the underside of the roof is the most effective way to accomplish this. I would be interested in your opinion on this vs. fiberglass or cellulose insulation, neither of which seem to solve the problem of air leakage into the attic space. Also, I’d like to know about odor, shrinkage, and other things that can go wrong?

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Advice on smoke detectors, Formica, and foundations

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

Handyman on Call

Why does she have ants in the dishwasher?

Q. Help! I expect some ants in the spring, but now have them in my dishwasher and on the counter! They appear to be craving orange juice, fresh squeezed, and anything sweet. How do I get them out of the dishwasher?

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Is a heating/cooling system right for me?

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.

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What to do about a rusted medicine cabinet

Q. The bottom shelf of our the medicine cabinet in our bathroom is solid but rusted and the cabinet as a whole needs to be painted. There is contact paper, applied years ago, on the inside door and the back wall of the medicine cabinet. It’s smooth, intact, and not shiny. If I wash the contact paper well and let it dry, and I sand to get as much rust off the bottom shelf as I can, would it be OK to paint the whole interior of the cabinet (over the contact paper) with Rust-o-leum paint?

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Slate vs. asphalt shingles

Peter Hotton answers your questions about leaks, cracks, drips, chips, and more.