Fix-it: Winter Worries

Winter and the rain that follow will soon be here, and now is the time to beat the rush to take care of winter-related home maintenance jobs.

winter 88 (photo credit: )
winter 88
(photo credit: )
Winter and the rain that follow will soon be here, and now is the time to beat the rush to take care of winter-related home maintenance jobs.
  • The roof should be inspected to ensure it's free of debris and looks whole. There should be no tears or breaks in the surface, no bubbling or cracked shingles. Remember that if there is an obvious entrance for rain to enter your building, it will.
  • Any windows and doors that require caulking around the frames and glass must be seen to as well, and any glass that is broken should be repaired with the proper thickness of glass (many repairmen will use a very thin and inexpensive glass which is perfect for covering artwork, but will break when the first heavy wind hits it).
  • Any exterior wood that is not painted or treated should be done before the rains hit it. Left untreated, rain could cause it to deteriorate beyond any point of repair. Metal that is excessively rusting should be scraped, sanded and treated as well.
  • If the heating system has not been used since last year, now is the time to try it for at least half an hour. If it needs repair, a repairman and the parts to do so are more available now than after the first cold spell. Remember that fuel oil keeps getting more expensive and a large hike in price always happens after the first frost; buy your heating fuel now.
  • C. Zeldis asks, “We painted our walls with synthetic white wash, and afterwards put on a coat of Tambour Bondorall undercoat. When this was dry, we applied imported Schlicht (wall texture) according to its directions. This was over three weeks ago and there is still a distinct paint odor. Is there some way to eliminate the smell?” Varnish or natural shellac such as those available at all better DIY stores by Zinnser will seal a wall to odors. I would prefer using the shellac as it is natural and, being an alcohol-based product, will help kill any bacteria that could cause odors. Martin Stein writes, “I make gifts of different decorative items such as candelabras and lamps and I would like to find a place where I can get various brass parts. Any ideas?” I have always found two sources of parts invaluable. One is the streets of the Arab bazaar or shuk; there will be lots of antique items available, but with a lot of time and patience most any thing can be found. The other source of brass parts would be old family-owned lighting and hardware stores, such as in Mea She'arim. Never go into these stores early in the day when they are servicing their usual customers, but late afternoon when the stores are empty. There are many such stores, and I have found old gas-powered lighting parts (which are suitable for a variety of applications) under a pile marked junk that would have not been available anywhere else. Bracha Steinberg asks, “We have a light varnish on some of our teak kitchen cabinet doors that seems to have worn off in places. Is it possible to touch them up or do we need to sand them down and start over?” You can always try touching up the area with a little varnish, and if it doesn't quite match, you can later strip all the varnish from it. The correct process of refinishing the doors would be to sand down all the shiny varnish with a small electric sander; any varnish the sander couldn't reach should be done by hand. When all the varnish is removed, wipe the cabinet with a clean turpentine-dampened rag to remove any wood dust. A coating of sanding sealer (available at all DIY stores) can be applied. After it is dry give it a light sanding with fine-grade black graphite sandpaper, and wipe it down with a dampened clean rag. (If a colored stain is required, it can be applied at this point). A coat of varnish can now be applied, and when dry additional coatings can be applied. The writers can be reached for consultations at (02) 585-9559 or at
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