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How You Can Repair Torn Window Screens


QUESTION: I have several torn window screens on my summer home. Can the screens be repaired, or must I replace the entire unit?

ANSWER: Window screens can be repaired for less than replacement cost. What you'll need is a two-wheeled spline roller, vinyl spline and the screening itself--all available at hardware stores and home centers.

To repair the screen, pry the vinyl spline and damaged screen from the frame groove using an awl or sharp knife tip. Discard the old spline (in most cases it'll be too dry and brittle to reuse). Use a razor knife to cut a piece of screen slightly larger than the frame, then lay the frame on a table and the screen over it.

Tape each edge of the screen to the table and make a diagonal relief cut at the screen's corners, stopping at the frame groove. The relief cut prevents the screen from tearing at the corners or bunching up when it is rolled into the corner of the frame.

Press the screen into the frame groove on one side with the convex roller. This will cause the tape to pull loose from the table. Pull the screen tight from the opposite side and repeat the process. Do this on the other two sides. Press the spline into the groove with the concave wheel. Trim off excess spline and screen with a razor knife.

Indirect-Fired Water Heaters: A Guide

Q: I am considering installing an indirect-fired water heater but cannot find sufficient information. Any help will be appreciated.

A: The indirect-fired water heater was developed about 20 years ago. It is called indirect-fired because water from the boiler is the heat source. There are basically two types of heat exchangers used in indirect-fired water heaters. One is a coil inside the tank and the other is a shell filled with hot water that surrounds the heater tank.

In both cases, the water heater is isolated from the space-heating system by zone valves. Indirect-fired water heaters generally have a higher recovery rate than the typical gas-fired or electrically heated storage water heater because they use the BTU output from the boiler as their heat source. Also, they tend to be durable appliances, because they are not subject to thermal stresses produced by heating with a direct flame or heating element. Some manufacturers give a lifetime warranty for indirect-fired water heaters.

Gold-Plated Fixtures Rubbed the Wrong Way

Q: We recently moved to a home that has Kohler gold-plated bathroom fixtures. Evidently, they had been cleaned with an abrasive solution because all the finish is off them. Is there anything we can do to restore their gold luster?

A: The finish on Kohler faucets is made to resist the effects of soaps and hard water. However, it will not withstand an abrasive cleaner. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to restore the gold luster other than having the parts replated, and I doubt that this cost would be justified. Unless the gold finish on the entire faucet has been abraded, you might consider replacing the affected parts rather than the entire faucet. Contact your local plumbing supply store for help.

To submit a question, write Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The most interesting questions will be answered in a future column.

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