Q. We installed tilt-in vinyl replacement windows several years ago and they have worked nicely. But now they are getting very hard to raise and lower. Is there something to put on the tracks or a screw to loosen that might make them easier to move?
A. Before you do anything, call the dealer who installed them. I think they are still under warranty.
Q. My house has vinyl siding, and some time ago big brown water stains, all horizontal, appeared on the siding, as if dirty water is coming out under each clapboard. My son power-washed, and the brown water came back with a vengence, up to the third floor. How can I stop that water? And clean the siding?
A. The original water came from inside, maybe through faulty gutters, or from condensation in the wall, and picked up the brown color from the wood parts of the house. Your son’s power-washing made it worse, with more brown water coming out. Vinyl siding should not be power-washed, because it penetrates the siding and takes years to evaporate. I think you need to strip that siding clear off, wait for the house to dry, and install new siding, preferably fiber cement, or even good old wood. Before applying new siding, you have to apply 3/8-inch Styrofoam Insulation to the wall, then Tyvek and finally the siding.
Q. I have a recollection that in the past you recommended (or at least mentioned) a company that would reglaze a porcelain kitchen sink. If you did could you tell me the name of the company?
A. There are tub and sink renovators around, but they call themselves reglazers. That is not what they do, but rather 1) thoroughly clean, then apply an epoxy finish, or 2) install a acrylic cover for tubs and tub surrounds. Find these companies in the Yellow Pages under bathroom renovators. Kitchen sinks are included in their offers.
Q. Our garage concrete floor was poured in 1997. Over eight years several cracks formed and the floor started to exhibit a powdery substance that could not be removed with broom or vacuum. In 2005, I cleaned the cracks, filled them with crack filler, and applied two coats of Thoro-Seal. This lasted a year. Now it’s worse, and we are tracking dirt into the house. My husband says every garage in the Northeast has the same problem, and there is nothing we can do because of the amount of salt brought in on the cars. Could blacktop be an alternative?
A. It’s fact, all concrete slabs crack. That’s the nature of concrete. But your concrete is inferior and too thin, and possibly wrongfully installed, and must be replaced. Find a concrete contractor to break up the old and dispose of it, then dig down 6 inches or so and install crushed stone, then lay 6 inches of concrete, and reinforce it with steel rebars.