Question: You wrote about roof leaks caused by snow and ice freezing and thawing. I had this problem last winter and was hoping you'd write about how to correct it.
Answer: OK, it is early June, but the question was sent at the end of May and I figured by now we needed an unpleasant winter memory to make us appreciate hot and humid.
Why do roofs leak after heavy snowstorms? Because of ice dams - buildups of ice or snow near eaves or gutters.
When heat escaping through the roof melts snow and ice, the resulting water runs to colder, lower areas or eaves, and then refreezes. When the water backs up behind an ice dam, it can find its way under shingles, behind fascias and cornices, and eventually inside your house.
How do you prevent ice dams?
Lower the heat in your house, so less of it escapes and melts the snow/ice on the roof. If you have a flat roof, do the opposite: Raise the heat in the house so more of it escapes, reducing the chance of snowy buildup that could collapse the roof.
No one but a professional should climb on a snowy roof. So, how can homeowners clear downspouts?
Clear snow around your downspouts from the ground, so that the melting water flows away from your house. Make sure the nearest storm drain on your street is clear.
Dislodge ice in the downspouts by hitting them with a hand, then remove the ice from the spout. If the ice can't be forced, carefully pour boiling water on it.
If your roof has a tendency to develop these dams, you might need professional advice on how to prevent them.
One way is by installing underlayment on the roof - obviously under the shingles. W.R. Grace, DuPont, and a number of other manufacturers make this product, which is typically installed from the edge of the roof back about 21/2 or 3 feet - although some roofers are applying it to the entire surface.
Q: I wanted to make some changes to the look of my 25-year-old kitchen. Although the cabinets are in excellent condition and I still like their style and color, I thought a new set of cabinet pulls would go a long way toward updating their look. Unfortunately, when I unscrewed the existing pulls, I found most of them were stuck to the cabinets.
I thought about running a razor blade around the edges but I'm worried that doing so would damage the finish.
The new pulls match the existing holes but the new design is just slightly narrower on the ends, so preserving the finish is important. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Might be built-up wax, or someone along the way might have glued the pulls to the surface as the hardware loosened and there was no longer an easy way to tighten them.
I always try denatured alcohol to soften paint or glue so that I can wipe it away.
There are household cleaners that would do the same thing, but some mar or dull the shine. Give it a try but be very careful.
Q: I have metal windows installed in my condo in Sea Isle City.
I am not sure I have the correct terminology, but there is a thin substance that separates the interior sill from the exterior sill.
When I got the windows 10 years ago, the installer secured the windows to the building by screwing the window through this substance.
Someone pointed out that the substance that separates the two sills prevents the transfer of cold or heat from the outside sill to the inside sill.
The substance is now shrinking away from the screws. Someone told me to take the screws out and fill the holes with silicone sealant and immediately put the screws back.
A: I assume the windows are aluminum, and from what I've read, silicone sealant provides an airtight seal, as well as a water-resistant one. I'd say proceed.