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    Can this marble statue be cleaned?

    Q. I have a problem. My mother owns a very nice house in Miami which has a life-size Italian white marble statue of a woman and Cupid which sits in the middle of a small fish pond, also made of marble, and dates from 1900. Here’s the problem. Parts of the arms and the face of the woman are discolored and dirty with black and yellow. Other parts of the statue are fine. My mother shoots the hose on it, which achieves nothing. I think the stains have penetrated the marble. Also, she puts a soapy solution in a sprayer, without success. She thinks maybe we should put some Clorox in the solution. I suggested that I may need to put a ladder into the water and start rubbing the statue with something, but again, I think the stain had gone to the interior. I told my mother that we should not waste further time until and unless we get some professional advice, because we could actually be harming the marble. What do you say?

    PATRICK FOY,by e-mail

    A. What you have tried will not hurt the marble; very little will hurt it. But it is an antique, and may be worth more than you might be anticipating. Try pressure washing, which will power off a lot of the dirt and possible mold. You have to do this close up. Or apply bleach, which will whiten up the statue, but you have to contain the bleach if there are fish in the pond.

    And, I’m guessing that woman is no mere woman, but is Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and Cupid is her kid.


    Q. I’m trying to change the lock set on my bathroom door but there is no obvious way to take the old one off. The house is circa 1960 and the lock is original. There are no screws on the outside. I loosened the round part that sits on the door. There are 2 screws behind there but I can’t get at them because I first need to remove the knob. I had the same problem with the knob on a closet door a few weeks ago. I ended up replacing the door because I couldn’t get the knobs off. I would like to keep this door if possible. How can I get the lock set off without damaging the door?

    COLLEEN CONROY, Fall River

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    A. For starters, the person who sold you that new door should not have taken your money and fixed the lock. You mentioned that there are no screws on the outside to unscrew to take off the knobs. Did you check the other side? I think the door knob is on an axle, and that you can try this: Unscrew a set screw in the neck of the knob. Keep it because you can unscrew the entire knob from the axle or shaft, and use that little set screw when you put the knob back on.

    Did you ask the store where you bought the new door if the lock can be removed? You should have asked them and avoided buying a whole door for the want of a lock.

    Avoid thinking of replacements unless the original unit is totally damaged or destroyed. Get the right info on removing a lock or call a locksmith who will take it off in seconds. Watch him carefully so you can handle the next lock set.

    Q. My wife, Annie, is the sole breadwinner in our family and times are tough out there. What’s the best way to do a remodel on the cheap?

    MIKE, in Lincoln


    A. Do it yourself. You can find manuals at bookstores and libraries that you can follow to find out what you can do, and not do.

    Q. I have a problem with my front walkway. A contractor (who did not know what he was doing and I wasn’t home to watch) applied water sealer to the slate walk which has made it extremely slippery when wet. Is there any way I can remove this sealer?

    KATHY NOBILE, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. My goodness, that contractor certainly done wrong. You can wait a year or two for it to wear off, or, if it is shiny, remove it with Citristrip, a citrus-based remover that can be rinsed off with a hose. Any smooth stone is slippery when wet, but what I suggested will improve things a lot. Most outside stone does not need sealing.

    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 on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to