Q. I like the idea of PVC fencing. But doesn't it crack in very cold weather?
- Mary Dowd, Arlington
A. PVC (vinyl) fencing is new, so it has no track record, although I am sure it has been adequately tested. I don't think it will crack, since it is more stable than wood and resists excessive expansion and contraction with the weather. It is put together loosely to allow for such move-ment, just as vinyl siding is loosely nailed to allow for it. But we won't know for sure until the fence goes through several seasons.
Q. A refrigerator given to me has a bit of glue on the door gasket, and this makes the door hard to open. How can I get rid of the glue and allow the door to open and close more easily?
- Frank Caprarella, North End
A. If alcohol or DeSolvit do not work, then try ordinary oil such as corn oil or any other cooking oil. Apply this to the glue, leave it for an hour, then wipe it off with a rough cloth. Or, take a dull knife and carefully run it down the gasket. I think it is important to remove the glue because it may be making the gasket thicker than normal, interfering with the opening and closing.
If that is the case, covering the glue with a piece of duct tape or other thin tape to keep the glue away from the door is not likely to work.
Q. The kitchen linoleum in some rental property I own has worn out. What has the greatest longevity: sheet vinyl or linoleum tile? Or something else? I also have to have the brick house repointed, at a cost of $5,000-$15,000. That is not too bad, because I know it is a lot of work; but how can I get a good mason?
- B.Q., Andover
A. For longevity (virtually forever), use glazed ceramic tile. Things will break when dropped on it, but the tile can be cleaned by a swish with a wet cloth. Sheet vinyl generally is more durable than vinyl tiles. Getting a good mason is a matter of luck. Check the Yellow Pages, then find out from the Better Business Bureau if any complaints have been filed against the mason you may hire. If you know anyone who has hired a mason, ask him how he likes the job. And so on.
Q. My kitchen cabinets are still in good shape, but they are badly stained by cigarette smoke. Is there a sure-fire way to get rid of the stains? I have tried a lot of things without success.
- Frank Albris, Winter Haven, Fla.
A. You didn't mention what you have already tried, but here's what I'd do:
Make a strong solution of Spic and Span and water, and apply this to the cabinets. Let it sit on the cabinets for two or three minutes or even more, keeping it wet; this will allow the Spic and Span to dissolve the stains so you can clean them off.
Or, Simple Green, again letting it sit on the finish for a few minutes before scrubbing with a sponge and rinsing off.
Or, this solution: 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, in 1 gallon warm water. As with any cleaner, letting it sit on the finish for several minutes is more likely to make it work than trying to swish it on and off.
Another possibility: Soil & Soot remover, a sponge that uses no water. It is manufactured in Worcester and is available for $2.99 at some hardware stores. When the sponge gets dirty, wash with soap and water for reuse. Let dry before reusing. My good friend Jerry Morris of Orange discovered this and told me about it. He found it in a store on Cape Cod, but that is a long drive from Winter Haven!