Do know anything about radiators and boilers for the home? I'm not sure about proper bleeding and boiler settings. How can I find out this information? Any help would be appreciated.


As someone always reminds me when I respond to a question like this, you bleed the system, not the radiators. I used to do this every year in my Mount Airy house, going up to the third floor with a radiator key and a bucket and making sure water appeared after the air was removed. When all I got was air after several minutes, I would fill the system to the level recommended on the boiler. Go to


for a complete description (type "bleed radiators" into the search function). It's an easy job.


We live in a home with well water and have been plagued with blue stains in sinks, tubs and showers. Over the years, plumbers have suggested two solutions that haven't worked, a scale-buster machine and a water softener. Each time, they have had the water tested and assured me these solutions would solve the problem. They haven't.

The plumber who installed the softener says that we need to keep faucets from leaking and dripping, and then there won't be stains. I know that not all water causes blue stains; I have another home with well water, and we have no blue stains. Any clue?


The blue stains have to do with the pH of your well water - that is, how acidic is it. pH stands for "potential hydrogen," or the amount of hydrogen mixed with the water, as measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with seven being neutral. Blue stains mean your water is acidic or "hard," which is the reason for the water softener.

An ion-exchange water softener is one of the most common tools of water treatment. Its function is to remove scale-forming calcium and magnesium ions from hard water, which could be the actual cause of the blueness of your stains. Continued blue stains may mean your softener isn't working properly; there's a certain amount of maintenance involved. At any rate, you should not let your faucets drip. It wastes water.

Q: We have transformed our dining room into an office for my husband except for one detail, a door. An opening exists between the kitchen and the dining room, (about 44 inches wide, 100 inches high, and 12 inches deep).

Do you have an economical suggestion that would create a soundproof barrier with a door that could be easily purchased and installed by the two of of us?


Your opening is too high for the standard interior doors available at home centers, and too wide and too deep, as well. So you'll have to close up the space to accommodate the door. I'd frame in the hole and drywall to create the proper door opening. If you have the time and expertise, go ahead, but you may want to call a carpenter.

Readers respond:

"I just wanted to add to your answer on what to do for faded vinyl shutters. I have found that applying Armor-All is a great way. I have eight-year-old brick-red shutters that are faded, and I apply the Armor-All twice per year and what a difference! It is not permanent, but it is cheap and easy. Two coats and making sure to rub into the wood-like grain of the shutters gives the best results."

For those in Pennsylvania looking for energy audits: "There is a new residential energy-efficiency program in Pennsylvania, called PA Home Energy (


). PA Home Energy has more than 30 companies throughout the Commonwealth certified to the national standards for conducting home-energy audits and new-home energy ratings. PA Home Energy works in conjunction with the EPA's Energy Star programs for new and existing homes. There are several companies providing this service."