Question: I've tried everything to get tinted film off some windows in my house, and nothing seems to work. I've tried scraping with a razor blade, but I'll be 102 years old before I could remove all of it this way. Someone suggested soaking it with vinegar, but that didn't faze it. I went back to the place where I bought it, and the store doesn't handle the product any more, so they had no advice for me. The film was installed about seven years ago, and it really looks bad now. Can you help?
Answer: The answer seems to lie in using a product with ammonia in it and then--the real key--covering the glass with plastic.
This was confirmed by Alexander Martinez, owner/manager of Solar Glass Tinting, 16410 S. Figueroa St., Gardena. Martinez suggests you soak the window with Windex or a similar product and then apply a sheet of plastic wrap (any of those plastic wraps that you find in supermarkets). Let it soak, covered with the plastic, for about two hours and then remove the film with a scraper fitted with a razor blade.
Because you haven't been able to penetrate the film with anything, and I don't know how it was applied in the first place, I'd try this procedure on just one window to be sure it works before you spray all the windows.
Martinez points out that his firm will remove the old film and replace it with new Mylar for between $3 and $3.50 a square foot.
Q: I'm having some remodeling done, and I have several estimates. The job requires quite a bit of plywood, and one of the contractors specified that he will use Grade A plywood. I don't know whether that's good or bad.
A: A is a very good quality plywood. Any marks or defects have been repaired. The surface is smooth, and the grains are matched.
Also important with plywood is the finishing touch. You might want to ask the contractors how they plan to cover the edges and join the seams.
If your job requires top-quality plywood, you might want to consider hardwood plywood.
Q: There's a skylight in the house I rent, and after a heavy rain there's water around the edge of the skylight that drips down into the house. I went up on the roof and couldn't see anything wrong with the glass or frame. Is it likely a problem I can fix or should I call in professional help. My landlord ignores my calls.
A: Obviously getting on the roof is no problem for you, so I'd certainly try to correct the problem myself before paying someone else to do it.
Where the skylight joins the roof, I'd apply roofing cement to plug any gaps even though none is visible. Another reason for the problem might be the gasket (rubber-like seal) between the window and the frame. This could be replaced with a new gasket and waterproof seal.
Keep in mind that roof leaks are often deceiving. The spot where the water enters the house might not be the place where the roof leaks. Look at the roof above the skylight to see if there might be a roof leak allowing water to roll down within the ceiling structure that "just happens" to enter the house at the skylight.
Q: There are two strips of siding on my house that are badly--and evidently permanently--stained by a greenhouse window above it. I'd like to replace them, but there's a problem. If I put new siding up, it's going to stand out as a replacement, because the old siding has aged. Is there a way to "age" new siding to blend in with the rest?
A: I wouldn't try. I'd remove two pieces of siding from an area that will be the least noticeable (under the eaves in the back of the house or around the foundation where shrubbery might conceal the area) and replace the stained siding with those. Then put the new siding in the inconspicuous areas.