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Do it yourself.

Q. The concrete and brick sidewalk leading to my apartment building has accumulated unsightly chewing gum. My power washer doesn't remove it. How can I remove it and, once clean, is there any surface treatment to prevent gum from sticking?

A. Spray the gum with an aerosol freezing agent or place dry ice on the gum for a few minutes. The gum will become very brittle and should be easier to pry off the surface with a putty knife or scraper. It may take a few tries to remove all the gum. If any gum remains, spray WD-40 or vinegar and let it soak to dissolve the remaining gum. Use a scraper or stiff brush to remove the rest of the gum. After all gum is removed, use a power-sprayer to deep clean and remove any gum residue. If you still have discoloration on the concrete, use a muriatic acid

and water mixture to bleach the concrete. To keep the gum from sticking to the concrete or brick sidewalks in the first place; use a waterproofing sealer on the sidewalk.

Q. What is a pre-hung door and why would I choose to buy one instead of a regular door?

A. Pre-hung doors come already installed in the doorframe. r1. Components include the door, outside frame and the hinges. Before the advent of "pre-hung doors," hanging a door required a skilled installer.

Today, a door can come already in its frame with the hinges in place. You must start with a rough opening, which means the old doorframe must be removed. The skill required is minimal and you can often do a professional-looking job the first time.

Q. I want to build the framing for a couple of partition walls to convert large rooms into smaller rooms. I've always had trouble with framing, especially when I have to do what is called toe-nailing. Any tips?

A. Whether building partitions, a deck, a utility shed or almost any other project that requires framing, you will get faster and stronger results by using framing connectors at the joints. The fasteners are made of strong steel in many configurations to suit various framing needs. Ample selection can be found at most any home center.

One of my favorite connectors is a piece of strong steel that is about three inches wide, bent into a right-angle 1111 shape with holes for the short, thick nails used with the connectors. If you are installing a wall stud, for example, nail one flange of one of these connectors to each end, put the stud in place and nail the other flange to the supporting structure.

Toe-nailing can be eliminated with these connectors. Many find toe-nailing to be a tricky proposition. (Toe-nailing involves driving nails at an angle into the end of a part such as a stud, then driving the nails deeper into the supporting structure.)

There are effective variations on the simple L-shaped connector. Simpson, a leading manufacturer of connectors, makes one with tabs with nailing holes. Another recommended connector is the joist hanger.

Many decks, sheds and room additions are attached to existing buildings with a so-called ledger board--a thick, strong plank to which the ends of joists are I attached. Joist hangers form strong steel pockets for each joist--again, no toe-nailing needed.

Post supports, which elevate the bottoms of posts to keep water from rotting them, are also useful connectors. There isn't space here to discuss the many other helpful connectors, but any do-it-yourselfer thinking of starting a building project would do well to visit a home center or building-supply outlet and check the wide variety of connectors available.

Answers provided by maintenance experts Gene Austin and Jerry Le'Cuyer
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Title Annotation:Common Repairs
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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