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updated: 11/1/2013 4:07 PM

Allow latex paint to cure fully to avoid sticky situations

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Q. I have a pine board that is mounted inside in my family room. About two months ago, in warm, dry weather, I painted this new board after lightly sanding it, with two coats of Benjamin Moore Super Spec Interior latex semi-gloss, allowing the first coat to dry for 24 hours. Everything seemed fine with the finish. I did not put any objects on the board for another three days.

I now find that any object that sits on this board for about a week without being moved tends to stick to the paint, which appears to be completely dry. In reading online about latex interior paint, comments have been made that latex paint tends to be "sticky." Is this true, and if so, how do I paint wood shelves in the future to avoid this? Will using a primer first avoid this sticking problem? Thanks for any advice.

A. It sounds as if the paint was applied too thickly to cure fully. It would have been best to prime the bare wood first, followed by a thin coat, which should have dried in the 24 hours you waited before applying the second coat, unless the humidity was high when you painted the shelf. The second coat may also have been applied too thickly before the first one had thoroughly cured.

Just allow the paint to cure completely over several days or weeks and it should be fine.

Q. I currently have a combination microwave/exhaust fan mounted over my free-standing gas range, but the air is recirculated back into the kitchen, instead of being vented to the outside. I want to add an outside vent. The stove backs against a north-facing outside wall, and it seems like adding an outside vent would be fairly straightforward, directly through the wall above and behind the stove.

There also is space to run a vent pipe straight up through the second floor into the attic; directly above the first-floor location of the range is an enclosed interior void (where the tub/shower unit forms a right angle to the sink/vanity in a bathroom). The attic is unfinished.

The problem is, I do not want to allow cluster flies (or any other pests) into the house through an added vent. I already have a cluster fly problem that I have been unable to solve; adding to that with yet another path for them to enter the living space is not something I want to do! I am willing to pay extra to ensure that nothing gets into the house though a new kitchen vent, but from what I have read on the Web, there do not appear to be any foolproof solutions. How do I vent my range to the outside, and avoid any insect ingress?

A. Have you made sure you can convert your fan from an indoor exhaust to a ducted outdoor one? If it is feasible, choose an outside jack with a tightly closing flap. Look the jack over carefully when selecting it to make sure there are no gaps through which cluster flies or other insects can enter the duct. Also check to make sure the filter on the fan is so tight that even if insects got in the duct from outside, they cannot get in the kitchen.

Q. I hope you can help us. Our house was built in 1984 in St. Albans, Vt. The contractor used Crestline windows (they look like storm windows) -- which has two panes and the bottom slides up and the screen is then visible. This set of windows is outside of the regular windows. In 1993, we were able to order replacements, and the receipt description was: "double-hung, clad combo, 28 inches wide by 42 inches wide, white."

We need to replace several of these double-hung clad comb windows. However we cannot find them anywhere. Unfortunately, the vendor is no longer in business and we have inquired with our local limited vendors.

We hope that you can help us either with a suggestion for a vendor who sells these windows or another option for the window. Our interior windows are all in excellent condition and we do not want to replace all of them. We have been quoted more than $6,000 to do so, which seems ridiculous as it is only the outside clad windows that we need.

A. Try calling Crestline Windows and Door customer service at (800) 826-5509. The company's address is P.O. Box 309, Medford, WI 54451. You may be directed to a dealer closer to you or a replacement may be offered directly.

I have not been able to find any other source for these windows.

Q. My husband and I recently had our kitchen remodeled. This included replacing the existing faucet with a new, low-flow model. While we are extremely happy with the features of the new faucet, it is taking much longer for hot water to come out than it did before, thus increasing the amount of water going down the drain before the hot water arrives. This seems to negate the water-saving feature.

Do you have any recommendations for us? The run from the new electric hot-water heater to the kitchen sink is about 20 feet.

A. The reason it takes longer for hot water to come out of the faucet is that the water flow has been considerably reduced by the new low-flow faucet. You are not wasting any more water than you did before; you simply have to wait longer for it.

There are a number of products available to bring instant hot water to all of a house's faucets, including the Laing AutoCirc; Watts' Instant Hot Water Recirculating System, www.watts.com/pages/whatsnew/IHWRS.asp; and the Hot Water Lobster, www.hotwaterlobster.com.

These products work by using the cold water lines to form the loop that circulates hot water through the hot water lines and recirculates it to the water heater.

Some of these devices will add a few cents a day to your electric bill while saving water -- a wash.

We have the Laing AutoCirc, and it has done very well. The only drawback is that, while it is programmed to be on duty, you will not get instant cold water at your cold water faucets unless you let the water run until all the hot water in the cold line has been drawn out. The Laing AutoCirc can be programmed for any period of time during a 24-hour time frame -- military and European style. We have it come on at 0500 (5 a.m.) and go off at 0900 (9 a.m.) and come back on at 1700 (5 p.m.) and go back to sleep at 2200 (10 p.m.).

Q. I need some help/advice on sealing my 12-by-29 foot, 6-year-old concrete driveway. I do not have a pressure washer. What would be the best type of cleaning products, etc., to clean it with? There are no oil stains on the concrete. What would be the best product to seal the concrete with? Who would handle it?

A. You can rent pressure washers from equipment rental firms. If there are stains from leaves or other natural occurrences, you can clean the concrete with an oxygen bleach, such as Oxy-Boost, which you can buy online at www.ecogeeks.com. Oxy-Boost is applied with a stiff brush. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the container.

There are two types of concrete sealers: a penetrating sealer, which is permanent, or a topical sealer that should be reapplied yearly.

A masonry or building supply store should carry either type. If you cannot find the sealer locally, you can order it from A.H. Harris, which has many stores on the East Coast, including several in Pennsylvania. Click on Locations on the company's website, www.ahharris.com.

An important follow-up: "I am writing regarding the letter that appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review from the 73-year-old from Monongahela, Pa. Since she is on a fixed income, she may be eligible for assistance from Allegheny County's Weatherization Assistance Program, the Housing Authority or the Redevelopment Authority. I worked for the Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County administering a program that helped low-income individuals get a new furnace, roof and windows. Hope that this is helpful."

Thank you very much for this information. I have written the woman from Monongahela and sent her your advice. I hope she will take advantage of it, if it is still timely for her.

A tool everyone should have: Have you ever tried to fix a leaky drain under a sink or vanity cabinet and tried to direct a flashlight at these special tasks while you needed two hands to perform the repair? I have suffered that frustration many times, until I was directed to the ideal solution. You can even wrap it around your neck!

I have just acquired the Snake Light from Black & Decker. It is a most unusual tool. You can coil it like a snake, hence its name, and direct the powerful light beam, hands free, at the job you need to do. It allowed me to tackle a difficult job I needed to do with a mirror in one hand and a screwdriver in the other. It's well worth its suggested retail price of $30 for making difficult jobs a lot easier. It should be available in November at BlackandDecker.com, Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

• Henri de Marne was a remodeling contractor in Washington, D.C., for many years, and is now a consultant. Write to him in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, or via email at henridemarne@gmavt.net.

2012, United Feature Syndicate Inc.

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