Home & Leisure

Here's How: Add a Damper to the Top of Your Chimney

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: During winter, I feel a breeze coming down the fireplace chimney even with the hearth damper closed. Also, I think raccoons and bats get down in there. Will installing a chimney-top damper help? -- Karl T.

Dear Karl: A fireplace certainly is a pleasant and attractive feature for a home, but it allows many unwanted "things" to enter ...Read more

Here's How: Simplest Method to Remove Old House Paint

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I need to paint my house which has wood siding. The paint is in pretty bad shape. What is the proper way to scrape and prepare the wood surface so the paint will stay on longer and look better? -- Missy D.

Dear Missy: You are thinking along the right lines. When people say they are going to paint their house, the painting phase is ...Read more

Here's How: Regrout Discolored Tiles in an Old Bathroom Floor

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: The grout in my bathroom tile is discolored and crumbling in spots. It look terrible. Do I have to remove all the tiles and start over or can I just repair the existing grout? -- Tracy G.

Dear Tracy: If only the grout is deteriorating and your tile is still in good shape, then there is no need to remove tile. It is important to ...Read more

Here's How: Build a Simple Brick Barbecue Without Mortar

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I grill on the propane barbecue for quick meals. For entertaining, I would like an attractive brick barbecue that uses real charcoal. What design can an inexperienced homeowner build? -- Mike F.

Dear Mike: You must pay more attention when cooking with a brick fireplace because you do not have quick control over the heat as with a ...Read more

Here's How: Keep All the Design Details in Order When Building a New House

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am going to have a house built. There are so many items, products, details, etc. to keep track of that I am sure I will miss some. What is the best way to work with my builder to avoid problems? -- Gary E.

Dear Gary: When you first sit down with your builder, it can seem overwhelming going through the details of what you want in ...Read more

Here's How: Repair Rotting Decking and Support Lumber

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: The wood on my deck needs some repairs. It is four feet off the ground and made of pressure-treated lumber, so I thought it would last longer. How do I go about checking and repairing it? -- Kim F.

Dear Kim: Contrary to popular belief, a deck, even when it is constructed of pressure-treated lumber, needs regular maintenance and care...Read more

Here's How: Simple, Effective Method to Caulk Windows

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I noticed a draft coming in through a few of my windows, even though I recently had the weatherstripping replaced. I am afraid my heating bills are going to get very high this year. What can I do to seal these leaks? -- Larry H.

Dear Larry: The new weatherstripping should have sealed most of the leaks through the window joints. It ...Read more

Here's How: Replace a Shower Curtain With a Door

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My girls never completely close the shower curtain and the floor gets wet. There are walls on each end, so adding a shower door would be good. Is this a project I can do myself? -- Claire C.

Dear Claire: The idea of installing a shower door in your girls' bathroom is an excellent one. Shower doors block water spray better than ...Read more

Here's How: Build an Attractive Board and Batten Fence

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My yard is level, so I think I can install a board fence myself. I was considering a board and batten style. What other board fence styles are there? I could use some building tips. -- Philip F.

Dear Philip: A board and batten fence can be very attractive while providing the benefits of privacy, security and a windbreak. The fact ...Read more

Here's How: Soundproof your Existing or New Home

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We are planning to build a new home in three years. Our current house is noisy inside. What can we do to soundproof our existing house and make sure our new house is not as noisy? -- Lou T.

Dear Lou: Lacking adequate soundproofing is an extremely common problem with existing homes and many new homes today. Even if a new house is ...Read more

Here's How: Locate and Repair a Leak in a Flat Roof

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I have a flat, asphalt roll roof over my garage and it has a slight leak. It is only three years old, so I want to repair it, not replace it. Where should I look for the leak and how do I repair it? -- Christine A.

Dear Christine: A flat asphalt roll roof is generally more prone to leaks than a pitched roof is, but there are ...Read more

Here's How: Repair and Stop Paint Blistering Problems

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I have noticed the paint job on the exterior of my house looks terrible in some spots. My house has lap siding which we installed ourselves. There is blistering in certain spots that makes the house look really bad. What is causing this and how do I fix it? -- Robin R.

Dear Robin: No one wants the outside of their house to be an ...Read more

Repair Your Window and Door Screens Yourself

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My window and door screens are an absolute mess from the kids and the dog. Some are on metal and others on wood frames. How can I repair these screens myself to keep the mosquitoes out this summer? -- Cari F.

Dear Cari: It is amazing how the mosquitoes can find even a tiny hole in a screen and come indoors for a feast. Damaged old ...Read more


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