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Simple tool frees sashes painted shut.

Byline: Brian Nelson

Dear Henri: Can you please mention the tool you suggested for freeing painted sashes? Thanks.

A: The perfect tool for freeing stuck sashes doesn't seem to have a special name. It's sometimes referred to as "window-opening tool'' or window-freeing tool.''

The thin metal blade is shaped like a pear and has serrated teeth. You insert it between the sash and the frame and wiggle it up and down until the paint bond is broken. You should be able to buy one in paint and hardware stores.

Q: When we moved into our house the front and back stoops were covered with outdoor carpeting. We recently removed it and are now wondering what to cover it with. Someone suggested tile and another said to recover it with carpeting. I really need help on this one.

A: You have not said what the stoops are made of. It makes a difference as to what is best to do with them -- if you need to do anything after removing the old adhesive with boiling water.

Tiles would be very slippery.

If the stoops are made of concrete, and you are concerned about their being slippery, there are metal stair treads that can actually be installed on any stairs, but my concern is that anything but concrete or pressure-treated wood may be adversely affected if the treads are exposed to the weather.

If you're interested in these metal treads, check this website:

Q: We recently were told by HVAC personnel of moisture/mold problems in the crawl space of our 25-year-old trilevel home.

Upon the initial inspection by the homeowner's insurance agent, it was agreed to have an engineer make a thorough evaluation of the cause. His report and pictures are attached.

We're wondering if you would kindly review this report and offer some direction as to the kind and scope of repairs necessary and the type of professional(s) that should be sought.

We would also appreciate your thoughts on how best to ventilate/not ventilate the crawl space (between the lower level and garage). There seem to be two schools of thought about whether it's a necessity or not.

A: You have received a comprehensive engineering report with which I am in total agreement. Most of the rim joist wetness and mold are caused by the moisture from the uncovered crawl space dirt floor migrating through the rim joists' fiberglass insulation, which is lacking a plastic vapor retarder.

The absence of vents is not the problem, as crawl spaces with proper floor moisture control should not be ventilated in order to prevent summer moisture from being absorbed by the framing and causing the problems visible in your home. This also requires proper vapor retarder installation covering the rim joists' fibrous insulation. If the rim joist insulation is done with rigid insulation, its perimeter should be caulked.

The engineer's report also singles out the absence of a kick-out diverter, where the addition roof ties into the original two-story house wall. As pointed out, this would prevent roof water from getting behind the siding and entering the house. A kick-out needs to be added.

It is evident that the builder who built the addition for one of the two previous owners made several errors, showing inexperience.

I suggest that you hire an experienced general contractor who has a strong understanding of moisture problems and the damage they can cause inside walls.

Sorry for those problems caused by someone else's incompetence.
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Title Annotation:Homes
Author:Nelson, Brian
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 5, 2015
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