handyman on call

Emery cloth may get rid of stubborn sink stain

Q. I have a Dupont Corian sink that has a large, light green stain that I can’t seem to get rid of. I called the manufacturer and they suggested all types of cleaners which haven’t worked. I called back and they suggested someone may have to resand my sink, but the cost, $500, is quite expensive. At one time, I used well water but for the last nine years I’ve been using town water. I have to bleach the sink every night since anything stains the sink, the top stains disappear with bleach but the green stains remain. Do you have any ideas what I can do to rid myself of these green stains?



A. Dupont recommends abrasion to clean Corian sinks. I have two Corian vanity tops with integral basins, and have easily kept them clean with emery cloths.


Your green stains stump me. If that green stain can be removed only by $500 professional sanding, Dupont should give you a new sink.

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This is what you can try: Sand the sink with emery cloth, and if that doesn’t work, buy a coarser emery cloth. Or, try Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, just for the heck of it. Incidentally, I don’t think well water or town water is at fault.

Q. When I had my septic tank pumped and cleaned, the cleaner broke the concrete cover, and offered to put in a new one for $50. He put in a tarp cover, then 6 inches of earth. Will that work?



A. Fifty dollars for a new cover is reasonable, but since he broke it, it should be free. A tarp cover will not work for very long because it will sag under the earth, and will leak water into the tank. Desperate? Pay the $50 for a new concrete cover and consider a lesson well learned.


Q. When I lifted my carpet and the rug pad under it, the pad had rotted and some of it stuck to the wood floor. I can feel it, but it’s not sticky. How can I remove it?


MARY BARBER, Brookline

A. In the future, use a cotton or acrylic pad. To remove, wet with paint thinner and scrape off residue with a wood spatula. Then wash with detergent and water. Foam pads have given me and many callers the hardest times.

Removing humongous mirror

When Cheryl Roof asked how to remove a huge mirror safely, the Handyman suggested two people do it by heating it with a hair dryer and prying it off.

Here is what Debbie Lerra and her husband did, safely: We removed our huge (66-inches-by-30-inches) mirror without breaking it! It’s definitely a two-person job, and wearing heavy gloves is also important. Buy a carpet protector that will protect everyone in case the mirror shatters. My husband used a pry bar at the corners to loosen the mirror. It turned out there were only five large blobs of glue holding it, one in the middle and in the four corners. We didn’t need the hair dryer. Be prepared to do some plaster repairs if your new mirror is smaller than your old mirror.


And from Chris DeMers: I have removed a mirror using picture frame wire. I fished the wire behind the mirror, and pulled the wire down with a side-to-side sawing motion. The wire is rough enough to cut through the adhesive.

And from Joe Tyler of Boston on another problem: For windows made stubbornly cloudy by power-washing, try Blue Magic from an auto store. It’s a mild abrasive.

Q. When I had my two-family house insulated, Mass Save insulated the first story, where I live, and did not insulate the second story because the tenant did not provide the needed information. The tenant has since left. But the house is still cold. Why?



A. Of course it’s still cold (hard to heat) because all the heated air from your unit is rising through the ceilings and roof. Have Mass Save insulate your ceiling, the second-story ceiling (the attic floor), and all walls.

Q. I had masonry work done on a side door and some stairs going down. It was a good job, but the new mortar is stark white compared to the older mortar that remained. How can I get a match?


JOHN FOSTER, Marblehead

A. Wait a few years, and you will have a match. To get the match sooner, buy Olympic semitransparent stain in a light to medium gray, and paint it on the new mortar. A second coat after the first one dries may darken the mortar a bit more.

Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930 or e-mail He also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays on