March 20, 2017
Dear Ken: Our garage door is driving us nuts. This time of year the sun affects those sensors, so the only way to get the door to go down is to hop out of the car and hold the button. Any ideas to help this situation? J.P.
You need to add some “shadow” to keep the sun from impinging on the sensors. There are two ways to get this done. Measure the diameter of the “eye” and then check in at a local auto parts store. Purchase a 12 inch chunk of radiator hose which most closely matches that measurement. Use a tiny amount of an all-purpose adhesive, like Liquid Nails, to attach a few inches of the hose to the business end of the sensors. That will ensure year round protection from the sun’s impact. After you’re done fooling with them, you may have to re-aim the sensor boxes so they line up. Check the owner’s manual for tips on this procedure.
Here’s a way to eliminate this vulnerability without having to buy anything. Simply unhook each sensor from its bracket and move them farther back from the edge of the door. You may have to mount a short 2” x 4” on the walls to accommodate each device. Again, they will have to be re-aimed.
Dear Ken: I removed wallpaper in the hallway that had been up for many years and in the process damaged the texture on the wall. I have scraped it and removed the glue, but I don't think it's going to be OK without retexturing. Can the average person do this? Carol
You could try applying a texture compound with a roller or stiff brush, or you could hire a drywall contractor to do it--although a small job like this one won't be very appealing to a busy firm. No matter which way you choose to go, the end product probably won't match your existing walls. Also, hallways are the worst case because their length emphasizes and exaggerates the differences in a very visual way.
Why not texture with wallpaper? A muted gray, beige or off-white textured wallpaper will appear to be a plain wall but will hide all the unevenness; choose a nice heavy vinyl for this job. Lightly sand the "hills and valleys" on your hall walls beforehand, but not too much, since older drywall taping compounds can contain small quantities of asbestos Use common sense and appropriate safeguards--like a water spray bottle for wetting, gloves, goggles and a good mask.
Dear Ken: I thought I heard you suggest (on the radio) that it was OK to vent a dryer into the attic. I'm worried about excess moisture. Are you sure this is OK? Bill
What you heard me say is that BATH fan vents were, for a long time, allowed to discharge into the attic space, providing there are enough vents. We would aim their 3" discharge pipes directly at a roof or gable vent. Even though this arrangement worked well, the rule is now changing—so most building departments now require them to blow directly outdoors.
A dryer vent expels large quantities of really damp air which will deteriorate the insulation and, perhaps encourage mold formation on the wood underpinnings of the roof. So they must always vent directly to the outside air.
Dear Ken: I have a garbage disposer with a strong moldy smell that won't go away. Any ideas? Jan
The innards of a disposer can be scoured occasionally by grinding up a half of a lemon or lime and a handful of ice cubes; but the usually-neglected part is the underside of that rubber splash guard. Take a round toilet bowl brush soaked in ammonia to clean the entire opening and hidden topside of the disposer; I promise that its breath will be sweeter after that.
Also, remember our disposer protocol: cold water only, no grease or oil down the drain, and let the water run for at least 10 seconds after you're done grinding.