Handyman on Call

Do her gutters cause ice dams?

Q. I have two issues: 1. A handyman told me that my gutters, with gutter guards, will get snow on them, which could cause ice dams. 2. I have had no ice dams in 20 years. Is there anything to do about that?



A. You will get snow on the gutter guards, and you will get snow in the gutters without gutter guards. It’s a fact of life, and will cause water to flow over the snowy or frozen gutters in winter. Frozen gutters do not cause ice dams, so ignore all that silly advice and get on with your life.

Q. Our vacation house on the Cape came with a cat smell in one corner of the basement — a urine odor that increases with the humidity. I’ve washed the unsealed concrete floor with a product specifically designed to remove urine odors, and it helped somewhat. My question is whether painting the floor would seal in/eliminate the odor. Or do you have other suggestions to help me get rid of this smell?


by e-mail


A. Since the washing helped, do it again one or more times. When the last washing dries, apply one coat of a concrete sealer or a semitransparent stain. The stain will last longer than the sealer.

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Q. We have solid brass bathroom faucets and knobs with a shiny brass finish that has worn or flaked off in fairly large areas. Is there any way to restore/repair the finish?


Dover, N.H.

A. The brass fixtures were probably covered with a clear sealer designed to keep the brass shiny, but it often fails. You can have a metal finisher remove the protective coating, make sure the brass is very shiny, and install a coating called powder coating.

Q. I have a deck of Trex, and trim of Azek, a solid vinyl material. I was told to treat the trim with Timberlock, but I don’t know what that is. What should I do with the Azek and Trex?



A. Do not paint the Azek; it will stand up on its own for years. I have some on the railing of my front porch roof, and it is behaving masterfully. Just wash it. As for the Trex, a composite of wood and plastic, let it weather naturally (best) or stain with a semitransparent stain.

Fall home show


The New England Home Show, which has been holding forth for nearly 60 winters in Boston, is holding its first autumn edition Nov. 1, 2, and 3 at the World Trade Center in the Seaport District.

If you haven’t been to that show in a while, you will be amazed at the development of the area. Hotels and restaurants galore, so you can make a day or evening of a visit. Globe Handyman on Call will be there. He has 40 shows under his rather ample belt, and will talk about anything you like.

The hours are 2 to 9 p.m. Nov. 1; 10 a.m. to
9 p.m. Nov. 2, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 3.

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