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HANDYMAN Q & A : Installing Wood Floor Over Concrete Slab

March 21, 1993|From Popular Mechanics

QUESTION: I would like to install a strip oak tongue-and-groove floor on top of an above-grade concrete slab. However, I've heard horror stories of costly wood floors buckling from moisture. How can I avoid problems caused by moisture that might accumulate in the area under the slab?

ANSWER: A hardwood floor can be installed on a concrete slab at or above grade. The Oak Flooring Institute recommends against below-grade installations.

Moisture is the chief culprit in hardwood floor buckling, so test the slab for dryness. Tape one square foot of clear polyethylene sheet to the slab, sealing its edges with plastic tape. If after 24 hours, no clouding or moisture droplets have formed under it, the slab is dry enough to install a wood floor.

To prevent moisture from reaching the underside of the hardwood floor, place a vapor barrier of either building felt or polyethylene plastic over the slab prior to installation.

Water-Base Paint Can Go Over Oil Based

Q: Please advise on the problem with a building that has two coats of oil-base paint and needs painting. I would like to change to a water-base paint. Would this be possible? I intend to perform the work myself.

A: According to the technical department at Benjamin Moore Paint, there is no reason that prevents you from spreading latex over oil-based paint. In fact, you can go back and forth between latex and oil. However, the wall surface must be properly prepared before painting.

The surfaces must be clean, free of dirt and grease spots and should not be excessively chalked. A good way to ensure proper surface preparation is to have the walls power washed. The wash water also usually contains additives to kill mildew. Priming the surface is not necessary if the surface is in good condition--that is, there are no peeling sections or blisters.

If there are, those sections should be scraped and spot primed. You can then apply one coat of a good quality house paint; although two coats would be better. A good quality paint, applied correctly, should last six to seven years.

Refrigerator May Need New Breaker Strip

Q: Our GE no frost side-by-side refrigerator-freezer, model No. TFF-22K, is experiencing panel to frame separation. That is, the side panels (inside when viewed from the front) are popping loose from the frame that separates the fridge and freezer compartments. I've tried various adhesives with no luck and resorted to duct tape strips every six inches. The frame does seem a bit warm about where the door seals fit when doors are closed. Is this unit a goner?

A: We suspect that the retaining clips built into the plastic breaker strip that separates the outside of the case from the metal liner have broken.

The only reliable way to correct your problem is to order the complete breaker strip and take the old one out and snap in the new part. This is not an easy job. Sometimes you have to break the old part out a piece at a time. The replacement breaker trim does not come with installation instructions and you will notice that the new part is a little bigger than what was in the refrigerator.

You will need to cut the breaker trim to fit, using a razor knife, then seal each corner with white silicone. For a repair such as this it might be wise to call the GE answer line at (800) 626-2000. Discuss the repair with a GE technician before you decide if you want to handle the job.

Also, before ordering the part, recheck your model number. It seems there is a letter missing from it.

As far as the metal panel that separates the fresh food and freezer, this is called a mullion strip. Behind this mullion strip is a low wattage heater that keeps the exterior from sweating. This area is supposed to be warm.

For further information on any home problem, write to Popular Mechanics, Readers Service Bureau, 224 West 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10019.

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