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    Handyman on Call

    Bureau smells like mothballs

    Q. How can I get the smell of mothballs out of an old bureau?

    IPALMER, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. Take the bureau out on a warm, sunny day and keep it dry, probably on a windy porch. Take the drawers out and stack them loosely. Spray Febreze on the inside wood, and wash the outside with detergent and water. Venting will be the most helpful.


    Q. I am looking to replace my asbestos-cement roof shingles that were installed in 1928. A roofer told me that roofers would put a metal roof over the old shingles. Is that possible? Should I do it?

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    ERIC, from Gardiner

    A. First, what, if anything, is wrong with the shingles? I know that such shingles can absorb water, but they still can last at least 100 years. Such shingles on my parents’ house in Michigan have lasted more than 100 years, and yours are 85 years old. If they ain’t broke, don’t fix or replace.

    It’s amazing. Massachusetts, normally one of the strictest states in the country for dealing with asbestos, mold another toxic materials, yet will allow asbestos-cement wall shingles to be covered by vinyl siding, so by extension will allow a new roof to be put over asbestos-cement roof shingles. It also allows unheated gas heaters in houses. The siding and roofing allowances cover the toxic wall and roof shingles and nailing breaks it up, leaving the danger to be discovered in the future. That is a cop-out. The only legitimate solution is to remove the old asbestos-cement, which is very, very expensive to the homeowner, probably the reason the cop-out is allowed.

    If the roof shingles are intact and not leaking, why not keep them?


    Q. I replaced a cast iron drain pipe with more cast iron because I found PVC to be noisy. That’s not the problem. I have an old (1945 war orphan) skylight in the floor of the attic with another skylight in the roof. A piece of flooring broke the wonderfully etched glass in the floor skylight, and I am sure I cannot get a replacement. Who should I contact to replace the old glass with something similar?

    JO SOLOT, Cambridge

    A. Call an antique glass dealer and/or a glass engraver. Try to put the broken glass together so an engraver can follow the shape and size of the old. If that is not possible, the engraver and you will have to use your imagination. An antique glass dealer might already have a well etched piece of glass. Be careful with very old glass. It is brittle and easily broken.

    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