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Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006 05:09 pm

Squeegee it

How to keep a glass shower door clean

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Dear Gene: I have a relatively new glass shower door. I also have hard water. What is the best way to keep the door clean?

After every shower, wipe the inside of the door dry with a squeegee, just as if you were cleaning a window or automobile windshield. I have used this system for many years and have never had any problem with soap scum or streaks on the door, and I also have hard water. I use a squeegee about 6 inches wide that I hang on a hook inside the shower (self-adhesive plastic hooks are available at most home centers and hardware stores). Cleaning the door takes less than 30 seconds.

Dear Gene: The bottoms of the door jambs on both sides of an entrance door have dry rot. What can I do about this?

Minor wood rot can be repaired, although replacement of the affected wood is always the best option.

To patch the damage, go to a home center and buy a container of Minwax High Performance Wood Hardener (www.minwax.com). Also buy some Minwax High Performance Wood Filler (as a substitute for the wood filler, you can use an auto-body filler such as Bondo, sold at auto-parts stores). Follow directions on the container, but basically the hardener is injected into the rotted wood fibers to strengthen them. The filler, a two-part compound with a strong odor, is then mixed and used to form a patch. The patch should be smoothed and shaped with a putty knife and can be sanded and filed when dry. Finally, prime and paint the patched areas.

Another option is to replace the rotted bottoms with a new trim that won’t rot. A “frame-end kit” (about $15) for this purpose is available from www.framesaver.com. The kit is designed for do-it-yourselfers and comes with instructions. This site also has information on complete replacement door frames with jambs that have wood-composite sections jointed to the bottoms of the jambs, where rot usually occurs.

You should also check with building-supply outlets in your area for door moldings made of durable, rot-resistant materials.

Dear Gene: I want to replace the beat-up vinyl tiles on my kitchen floor and wonder whether I will also need new subflooring. How long does subflooring usually last?

The subfloor, which is the main supporting deck of a floor, generally lasts for the lifetime of the house unless there is a special problem such as termites or rot. Subfloors in newer houses are usually thick plywood or OSB (oriented-strand board, made of wood strands pressed together under high pressure). In older homes, boards were often used for subfloors.

What you are more likely to need if you replace your flooring is underlayment, a thin layer of material that goes over the subfloor to provide a smooth, flat surface. Underlayment can be plywood, hardboard, cement board, or various other materials, depending on the type of flooring to be installed.

Dear Gene: Our stone patio is under a large maple tree. After storms, we sometimes find clear imprints of maple leaves on the stones. Any suggestions?

These imprints, left by wet leaves on wet masonry, can usually be flushed off with a strong stream of water from a hose. If this works but you would like something faster and more thorough, invest in an electric pressure washer that will produce about 1,500 psi (pounds per square inch). A washer of this type can be bought for less than $200 and should eliminate the leaf marks quickly and prove useful for other cleaning jobs around your home, including washing cars.

Quick tip: Shut-off valves on water lines to sinks and toilets sometimes prove impossible to shut off during an emergency or when plumbing needs repaired. I recommend checking these valves every few months and keeping them in working order by closing and opening them several times. A valve stuck in the open position can generally be freed by gripping the handle with adjustable pliers and gently turning the handle counterclockwise. The jaws of the pliers can be padded with masking tape to avoid leaving marks on the handle. I have opened several stuck valves in this manner without any damage to them.

Copyright © 2006 Gene Austin

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