Ken's latest blog post:
Dear Ken: I removed wallpaper from our dining room walls and then painted. But I can still see some glue lines. Is it too late to fix this? Mark
Maybe. You probably should have used extra applications of an enzyme based wallpaper remover product. Now, however, you’ve locked that glue in with your paint coat. You could try to sand, but sanding a sheet rocked always turns out badly. That’s why I always tell people on the radio show, “Once wallpapered, always wallpapered”. That is, you can never get rid of the after effects of papering enough so that a subsequent smooth, painted wall will look pristine.
Why not repaper with a muted texture product—like you see in office buildings and doctors’ offices? You could choose a light gray, tan or off-white that will be barely noticeable—especially after you rehang your pictures and doodads and move the furniture back into place.
Dear Ken: Is it OK to cover the crawl space with dirt? Even if it has periods of dampness in the spring? Deborah
My rule is: Damp is OK, wet is not. That is, the dirt in all crawl spaces will feel a little cool and slightly damp year round (moisture likes to transpire up through the earth to the dryer space under your house). But if the soil is wet and sodden, you should leave it uncovered. One test for this to pick up a clump and squeeze it in your hand. If water leaks out around your fingers, then it needs to “breathe”—that is, no plastic.
Your observation is correct. Spring and summer are the hardest months for your crawlspace. Moisture from your sprinkler system and downspouts leaks around the foundation and finds its way inside. Now is a good time to analyze the drainage systems around the perimeter of the house. Use that black, flexible pipe to extend the downspouts at least ten feet away. Also, sprinkler heads are a bad idea close to the foundation; keep them at least five feet away.
Once you’ve dried out the crawl space, then roll out a layer of black, 5-mil heavy duty plastic sheeting—otherwise known as visqueen. It will keep the humidity down in there and help you avoid fungus issues, like mold or dry rot on the wood floor above. And it will help soften your energy bill a little.
Speaking of crawl spaces:
Dear Ken: I want to add a little heat to my crawl space by cutting a hole in an unused heat register. Any problems with this? Tonya
A little heat blown into the crawl space is always helpful. I know it wastes energy, but the benefits are a dryer environment in there along with less chance of frozen water pipes. However, I would not simply cut into a room register. That will steal heat you may need during really cold weather. Instead, look for the main trunk feeding the branches and cut your hole in it.
Dear Ken: Is it OK to put the attic access in the garage? J.R.
Yes. But you need to honor the “firewall” in there. In most homes the walls which are common with the house plus the ceiling are covered with a special, extra thick sheet rock--usually 5/8” instead of the normal 1/2”. The theory is that it will slow down or even contain a fire until the firefighters get there. So, yes you can cut an access hole to the attic, but be sure to cut a piece of the thicker drywall as a lid in the opening. Plus, picture frame the hole with pieces of 2”x4”.
Many folks have installed a set of pulldown stairs in their garage ceiling. The bottom of these stair sets (the part you see when it is closed) is usually a layer of thin plywood. Technically this is also a violation of the “firewall”. It can be ameliorated by adding a layer of drywall or even galvanized metal sheeting on the room side of the stairs.
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