Handyman on Call

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

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How to kill flies and restore laminate floors

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

Handyman on Call

Why won’t that door stay closed if it’s not locked?

Q. I have not seen an answer to this: I am having trouble with both my doors. We just moved in, so I have no history of the problems. We wanted to change the locks: one’s complicated, so I’d call a locksmith. But that door doesn’t stay closed if it’s not locked. And the storm door won’t close by itself. How do I know if it’s the door or the frame?

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How do I get rid of rust stains in my tub?

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

Handyman on Call

Oil-based stain lasted 20 years. Should he reapply?

Q. I re-sided an old barn with clapboards, and applied an oil-based opaque stain, which lasted 20 years. What should I do now, after scraping and sanding?JOHN HAYES, New HampshireA. That is remarkable endurance, and it might be the fact that the finish is oil-based. Try it all over again, although any oil-based opaque stain that you can buy at a paint store may not be the same as your original coat. One thing I think helped is that you put the clapboards on rough side out.

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What to do to keep critters out of the crawl space

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

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What to do when your house makes cracking sounds

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

Handyman on Call

The mystery of the 22-year leak

Q. In cleaning out the attic while preparing to sell my 1939 Cape in Newton, I discovered way in the back three containers, one with water in it, (the others too far in the back for me to dare peek at) and a punky spot on a board nearby. The bottoms of some cardboard boxes in the area were damp too. The last time anyone was back that far in the attic, that I know of, was 22 years ago (1992) when skylights were installed.

Handyman on Call

Can he fix his windows rather than replace them?

Q. My current home was built in 1985 and has solid wood sliding double pane windows, made by Lousiana Pacific. The windows are no longer available and most of them have leaks allowing moisture between the panes. I know I can easily have the glass in each slider replaced (the wood in most of them is fine and can be refinished and the others restored (some have minor rot). But the bigger concern is most of them ride on plastic tracks which have broken due to becoming brittle.

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Which comes first — staining or painting ?

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

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?

Handyman on Call

Not your run-of-the-mill questions on home repair

Peter Hotton’s Handyman column in The Boston Globe has answered 1,000 questions annually for the last 36 years.

Handyman on Call

How can he get lichen off his shed roof?

Q. I have a 10 foot x 12 foot tool shed in a shady area with a roof covered with unsightly lichen. Can you suggest any relatively simple way to remove it before I paint the shed? GIRARD, BurlingtonA. Ah, yes, lichen raises its ugly head once again. It is hard to remove sometimes, but try this: Wet it heavily and try scraping it with a flat wood spatula. If you start gouging the asphalt, stop, and live with it.

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Pesky squirrels, shower cracks, and chimneys

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

Handyman on Call

How can he get rid of mold in his attic?

Q. I bought my house in 2008 (built in 1977) and was told by house inspector there was some mold in the attic due to no bathroom vent in 2nd floor bath. Had a vent put in immediately. I recently went into attic (crawl space only) and found most of the insulation moldy on top and the bathroom area very moldy but very hard to reach (near soffit/eave area). So, my plan to scrub and clean seemed impossible. The cleaner I bought (Damprid) (I was told not to use bleach by a Realtor, as it would make mold grow?) is an apply, wait 5 mins, and wipe type of cleaner. Since I am not much of a handyman I’m hoping you can help me. Where do I start? New insulation? Is there a spray-only solution to mold?

Handyman on Call

How can he get rid of mold in his attic?

Q. I bought my house in 2008 (built in 1977) and was told by house inspector there was some mold in the attic due to no bathroom vent in 2nd floor bath. Had a vent put in immediately. I recently went into attic (crawl space only) and found most of the insulation moldy on top and the bathroom area very moldy but very hard to reach (near soffit/eave area). So, my plan to scrub and clean seemed impossible. The cleaner I bought (Damprid) (I was told not to use bleach by a Realtor, as it would make mold grow?) is an apply, wait 5 mins, and wipe type of cleaner. Since I am not much of a handyman I’m hoping you can help me. Where do I start? New insulation? Is there a spray-only solution to mold?

handyman on call | Peter Hotton

Prime siding before painting to prevent peeling

Peter Hotton answers questions from readers.

|Peter HOtton

Handyman on call

Globe’s Handyman answers readers’ questions

Handyman on Call

Why is the veneer lifting off his cabinets?

For a veneer to lift after six or seven years indicates that a lot of water was used during repeated cleaning. Call the installer to see if he can make repairs.

Handyman on Call

Why does the paint on the north side of her house peel so quickly?

One of the reasons most of the failure occurs on the north side is because that wall is the coolest.

|Peter Hotton

Handyman on call

Globe’s Handyman on call

handyman on call | Peter Hotton

LED bulb pulling down old ceiling fixture

Peter Hotton answers readers’ questions.

Handyman on Call

Sitting room beam has a gap: What should she do?

Q. One of my exposed beams runs across the center of my first floor sitting room. It goes from a left wall above a main fireplace to a right, outside wall of the room. I hope this makes sense. After 17 years of living here, it gradually has a separation gap now. It seems to have stopped and continues to about a third of the length of the beam. Greater gap seen on left. I wonder if this might have had epoxy and been painted over before we bought the house and now needs to be done again? Is it serious and dangerous (a roof fellow looked at it and said this beam is not structural). And if it should be corrected, how and whom would I contact?

Handyman on Call

Sitting room beam has a gap: What should she do?

The beams ain’t broke so you don’t have to fix them. Large wood beams and posts, indoors or out, will crack when they dry out and contract. Nothing can stop it.

|Peter Hotton

Handyman on call

Globe Handyman answers readers’ questions

handyman on call | Peter Hotton

Cellulose may put end to ceiling condensation

Peter Hotton answers readers’ questions.