Q. I have a white car and a skunk sprayed my back bumper. I've tried everything possible to remove the yellow stain with no luck. Would you know what I could use to remove this?
A. Skunk spray is very oily and tenacious.
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The first thing you should try, if you haven't already, is to mix Clorox bleach with water. Try a mixture of one part bleach to three parts water, and if that does not remove the stain, increase the proportion of bleach to water.
As always, first try the mixture on an inconspicuous part of your car to make sure it will not cause another stain, which you may not be able to remove.
If the bleach/water mixture does not work, try this: Mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a couple of squirts of liquid dishwashing detergent and add a tablespoon of baking soda.
Apply the mixture with a soft white cloth and cover the spot with plastic wrap to retard evaporation. Let it stand for a half-hour and scrub the area with a soft bristle brush. Rinse with your garden hose at full power to dislodge the oil residue. You may need to repeat the treatment.
Immediately after you finish, dispose of the mixture -- do not store it.
Q. I live in a one-and-a-half-story Cape Cod. I have a forced-air gas furnace with central air. My problem is dust. I can't control the dust problem in my house. I seem to have more dust than normal in my house for some reason. I run MERV 10 furnace filters and change them on a regular basis. I run the sweeper regularly but still can't keep up with the dust. In a two-week time period, I will see a dust build up on my kitchen appliances. This doesn't seem normal. Could the problem be fixed by having all my ductwork cleaned by a professional? I can't think of anything else.
A. It is not abnormal to see a dust buildup after two weeks time. You are using the right filters and changing them as needed.
You haven't mentioned the age of your house; it may not be very tight and energy efficient, and the windows may also not have an efficient weatherstripping system. You may also be in an area where there is a lot of dust in the environment.
You certainly can have your ducts cleaned, but there is no guarantee that this will solve your problem.
Q. What brand caulking is the best to use in a bathroom shower that does not mildew?
A. Use DAP Kwik Seal 3.0 Advanced Caulk With Microban.
Q. I have a question regarding our cedar siding. We recently had the asphalt shingle roof replaced by a roofing company. When they were removing the shingles, they did not use plywood or tarps and debris hit the siding of our house, causing dents/dings and black tar marks. Some areas need to have the siding replaced, but others may be repaired. But how do I get the tar marks off? I have asked several other builders this question and suggestions have included: Goo Gone, a degreaser, mineral spirits and kerosene. The siding is red cedar and stained with Behr in a cedar tone stain. Thus far, I have succeeded in removing more of the stain versus the black tar marks. This was not a positive experience and I am glad that the roof does not need to be done again anytime soon. Any suggestions?
A. I hope the roofer is paying to fix this mess. Next time, ask what precautions the roofing contractor plans on using, and if the answer is unsatisfactory, insist on them or find another roofer.
Have you tried any or all of the suggestions builders have given you to remove the tar? If none has worked, try auto tar remover.
The siding suffering from dents and dings may have to be replaced, unless the damage is slight enough to be overlooked. Sometimes, light sanding following the grain of the wood may be sufficient to satisfy you.
A new coat of stain should also help.
Q. I am trying to improve my windows. My house is a brick ranch built in the late 1950s, and the windows are double-hung with storm windows. I can't afford to have the windows replaced and wonder what you might suggest to make them more energy efficient.
A. The simplest thing is to have efficient shades installed. Have someone come to measure your windows and quote you a price for the manufacture and installation of the shades. They are several styles of insulated shades that are very effective.
Q. I have a question about an underground water line. I recently built a bathhouse at my swimming pool and need to put a water line in it. I have to bring the line from my house and I am also going to tap into my garage on the way to the pool. I am not going to be able to bury the line at three feet or get below the frost line. I will probably only be able to bury it about two feet.
What type of pipe should I use for the water line, and what diameter of pipe? It's about 100 feet from the house to the bathhouse. What can I use for insulating the pipe? The pool and bathhouse will be closed for the winter; do I even have to insulate it to the bathhouse? My garage will have a permanent supply of water and it is heated. Any help would be appreciated.
A. You should ask a local plumber if there are any requirements as to the type of pipe to use. If there are none, you can use a 1½-inch plastic well pipe.
If you have a way to drain the pipe from the garage to the bathhouse, there should be no need to insulate it.
However, you can insulate the pipe by placing strips of 1-inch thick XPS (blue Styrofoam or pink Foamular) on each side of the pipe. Fill the space between the XPS to the top of the pipe with fine sand and put a piece of XPS over the pipe and the side pieces. Backfill with coarse sand.
Q. We have 23-year-old wood Andersen windows that do not tilt to clean. We received a bid for an Andersen kit that would allow the windows to tilt for cleaning. What is your opinion of kits as opposed to replacing the whole window? We have 15 windows.
A. Older Andersen Permashield Narroline windows built since 1968 can be retrofitted with the Andersen Narroline Conversion Kits. It is less expensive and disturbing to install the kits than to replace the entire window, since you do not need to remove the frame and trim.
The replacement sashes also have energy-efficient, low-E4 glass.
You can watch how to measure, order and install the new sashes at www.andersenwindows.com/narroline.
Q. Some 20 years ago, I had a double-wide driveway installed. Since then, the expansion joints have completely disintegrated. Should I be worried? What should I do to rectify this situation? The past few winters have not done any damage because of this problem.
A. There should be nothing to worry about.
Corrections: In my holiday gift list, I mentioned the Black & Decker Snake Light among other suggestions. It is a wonderful addition to any home, as it allows the light to be aimed at the job to be done, leaving both hands free. It can be coiled in a number of positions, placed on the floor, in a cabinet or wrapped around your neck -- thus the name Snake Light. I have tested it and found it invaluable in doing several jobs, which otherwise would have been more difficult because of the need to hold a steady light with one hand on the work to be done or have someone else hold it for me.
I mentioned it because the information I was sent stated it would be available in November, which turned out not to be the case. It is now slated to be available in January, as I found out from Black & Decker. Moreover, the company's news release stated the retail cost was $29.99 and could be purchased at Amazon or BlackandDecker.com. Black & Decker has since told me that it does not sell retail on its website, and Amazon does not have the Snake Light yet. I have ordered one for a son-in-law at a discounted price of $40. Sorry to have misled you.
I also mentioned Black & Decker's new impact driver, which I found to be very sturdy and of what appears to be high quality. Unfortunately, I just got the following email from a frustrated reader. "Please help us. Your column said the model number of the driver was BDCS801 and no matter which site we try to look it up on, it says there is no such model. Are these numbers wrong? Thank you."
I am sorry, but the model number I gave is incorrect. The model number is BDCS80I (uppercase I), but I mistakenly read the letter I as the number 1.
I just checked with Black & Decker and was told that it is available at Amazon, Sears, Target, Home Depot and eBay, among others. Unfortunately, Black & Decker's public relations people listed the manufacturer's suggested list price as $30.99, but I was told that each store sets its own price, and it is all over the map from $45 to $80 plus. The news release also stated the tool also was available from BlackandDecker.com, but again, this is not the case.
Lesson learned: Don't trust public relations promotional pieces! However, good luck finding the impact driver; it is a great tool!
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2013, United Feature Syndicate Inc.