Question: I have 3 1/2-inch fiberglass bat insulation in my attic that has large gaps between the ends and sides, which undermines its value. The solution would be to fill gaps with blow-in insulation. However, the building material suppliers I've contacted say they can't sell this to homeowners, only contractors. Is it against the law for them to sell it to me? Or are they just too lazy to order it?
Answer: "There's no reason a retailer can't sell it to you," says Richard Genter of Wells Insulation Co. in Garden Grove.
"You don't find blow-in insulation used much anymore. It's commonly made of cellulose, which is a recycled paper product. Installing it is generally not something a homeowner does, since attics are hard to work in, and you need to rent a blower to apply it properly. The cellulose comes compacted in a small cube. The blower agitates it and fluffs it, which gives it the insulating qualities before shooting it out." A cube will cover about 40 square feet."
Q: My dog periodically has accidents at the bottom of the stairs in our house. She has ruined the carpet and the peel-and-stick vinyl tiles I put down to replace it. I was able to remove the odor from the cement slab with baking soda, but I'd like to seal the cement underneath to keep urine from seeping into it, and I'd also like to install linoleum to keep it from getting to the cement. Will these ideas work?
A: "You might be better off investing in ceramic tile for that area, which is quite resistant to animal stains," says John Cushing of Monnig's Floor Coverings in Anaheim. "Linoleum will keep the urine from getting to the cement, but it will discolor. You could try sealing the cement with a sealer like Aquamix, then laying the tile. You'll have to seal the grout then, because although the tile is protected, it can absorb stains."
Q: I have always cleaned the grill on my gas barbecue by letting it run on low for about 20 minutes after using it, but a neighbor recently said that using that to clean it will destroy the grill's enamel. Is he right?
A: "Running it for 20 minutes is too long," says Irma Lanfranco of Amco Builders & Plumbing Supply in Costa Mesa. "After using it, lay a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on the grill, then let the grill run for a few minutes. You should be able to clean off the grill with the foil like a paper towel."
Q: I want to build a small wooden fence in my back yard. I've been told that for the posts I should buy pressure-treated wood. Is this really necessary? Or can I just coat the section that will be underground with a sealant?
A: "Pressure-treated lumber is always the best choice when the wood is going to be touching the ground," says Anthony Cheverria of Barr Lumber in Los Alamitos. "Generally, the wood is filled with chemicals that help it resist rot and termites. It's more expensive than regular lumber, but if it's an important project, I'd say pay the extra money for it.
"Sealing the wood yourself will provide some protection, but it won't last as long as pressure-treated lumber. Also, be sure to wear gloves when handling the wood. Because of the chemicals used in it, getting a sliver in your hand can cause problems."