QUESTION: We can't seem to keep paint on our seaside home. What's the reason?
ANSWER: Salt trapped beneath a new coat of paint attracts moisture from the inside of the house, which, in forcing its way out, takes the paint off the siding. An effective way to dislodge salt is "water blasting"--using a high-pressure sprayer to hose down the house. The equipment can be rented. After allowing surfaces to dry, apply an oil-base primer thinned by 25% to give it a chance to soak in deeper.
Trouble Keeping Paint Coat on Radiator
Q: I'm finding it hard to make paint jobs last on the radiators in my home. Is there some kind of special paint I should use?
A: With radiators, as with all paint jobs, preparation is the key to a lasting job. If paint is generally sound, remove only loose paint by wire brushing. Paint edges around chipped areas can be feathered smooth with medium, then fine, emery cloth.
If peeling is extensive, it's best if you remove all old paint, using a chemical stripper. Make sure the room is properly ventilated and wear rubber gloves when working with stripping chemicals. When you are through, wash all traces of the chemical from surfaces using soap and water.
Let the radiator cool and apply primer to bare spots. Do not use aluminum or other metal-base paints (they insulate the radiator). Use either oil or latex for the top coat. Be careful not to plug up the air-release valve with paint, and do not paint the shut-off valve stem. Before turning the radiator back on, wait several days to allow the paint to cure.
Tempered Glass Not Subject to Cutting
Q: How can I cut tempered glass to the size I want?
A: You can't cut tempered glass. Used as a safety glass, it is four to five times stronger than ordinary plate glass of the same thickness. It cannot be cut or drilled after tempering. If you try to cut tempered glass, it will break into small, cube-like fragments, unlike plate glass, which breaks into large shards.
Water Leaks Up Through Garage Floor
Q: I have water leaking through the concrete slab floor of my garage. What kind of grout or patching cement will stop the leak?
A: The leakage can be corrected by sealing the cracks and any open joints with a nonshrink hydraulic cement. Several products are effective, such as Thoro's Waterplug, Tamm's Speed Plug, Five Star Waterproof Plug and UGL Fast Plug. The products are generally available at hardware stores.
Prior to applying the cement, prepare the cracks or open joints by undercutting or square cutting. Do not use a V-cut. Add enough water to the cement to get a putty consistency and then force it into the crack with a trowel or gloved hand. At floor-to-wall joints, form the cement into a cove for increased effectiveness.
If the seepage is heavy, it could be the result of a high water table beneath the slab. Sealing the floor could result in excessive hydrostatic pressure that might cause the slab to heave and crack. In this case, the best solution is to lower the level of the subsurface water by installing perimeter drains below the slab and running them to a sump pit where the water can be pumped away.
Trip Circuit Breakers to Test for Malfunction
Q: Recently, an electrical wall outlet in our home shorted out and threw sparks around violently. To my amazement, the circuit breaker failed to trip. An electrician examined our service panel and told us it was made by the Federal Pacific Co. about 25 or 30 years ago. According to him, the split bus panel is illegal by today's standards, and he recommended replacing the entire panel box with a new one that would cost between $500 and $600. Is there a safe but more reasonable solution?
A: There may be a more reasonable solution than replacing the entire electrical panel box. Your split bus panel is not causing your circuit breaker problem even though it is not in compliance with the latest Electrical Code.
After 25 years, if a circuit breaker has never tripped, it is possible that corrosive deposits have formed, which would cause the breaker to stick and malfunction. As a precautionary measure, it's a good idea, at least once a year, to trip the breaker (move it to the off position) and reset it for each circuit including the master disconnect, if there is one. Replacing all your breakers--especially those that are hard to trip and reset by hand--is cheaper than a new panel.