Handyman on call

Getting rid of moss on the roof

By Peter Hotton
Globe Staff / July 1, 2010

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Q. I have moss on my roof, little green plants. My insurance company said to get rid of it. How can I do that? Will vinegar kill the plants, just as you said it will kill weeds growing up between bricks of a patio?


A. The insurer should have told you that moss on the roof can cause the shingles to decay, but that will take a long, long time. Yes, vinegar will kill the plants, because vinegar is like acid rain, which can damage any green living thing. Bleach will also kill it. The dead moss will be easier to scrape off. Or, scrape it off while it’s still green with a dull scraper, and hose down any earth that remains.

Q. Help! I am stuck with a soap-scummy shower door. Nothing will take it off. I tried vinegar, ammonia, and dish detergent, separately, without success. Any ideas?

RENE, from Newton

A. Yep, the old monster raises its scummy head every now and then. Vinegar should do it, because vinegar is a good neutralizer of soap. There are so many solutions on the market that I am not convinced any of them work that well. Here’s what I have in my vast file: X-14 Bathroom Cleaner, Clean Shower, Citra Solv, and baking soda. One solution will work for sure: Get rid of the door and put in an old-fashioned shower curtain. They are colorful and inexpensive. When it gets scummy, throw it away and buy a new one.

Q. What is a good way to paint radiators? Mine are in good shape, but I think I’d like to paint them black.


A. Good thinking. Black is the best color for a radiator, because the darker the color, the more efficient the radiator will be in heating the house, up to 10 percent. To paint, sand the finish lightly, then apply a Rust-Oleum flat black paint. Or, if you can drag the radiators outdoors, spray with a Krylon flat black aerosol spray paint.

That thundering roof

When Kay Creedon of Kingston told us in the June 20 column that her new roof was making thundering noises in high winds, and that the roofer used a nail gun, the handyman suggested that the nail gun was misadjusted and drove nails clear through the shingles, and that the whole roof flapped in the wind, blowing up a few inches, then dropping down a few inches to make that thunder-like clap.

The handyman received several further ideas by e-mail.

From Nate Matsubara of Nathan’s Homebuilding: I never heard of a howling roof, but if the roofer also installed new gutters and downspouts; here is where your answer may lie.

I am thinking there is wood siding, not vinyl, and to attach the downspouts they used the goal post hangers to wire them on. If the posts are spaced far enough the wind blowing at the right angle will cause the downspout to flex and vibrate, creating a hum (howling sound).

Wedge a rag in the middle of the span between the siding and the downspout. If the sound stops, add a third goal post or move the two closer together.

From Jay McGann, former roofer: First, I would get another roofing company to look at the roof, maybe the metal drip edge along the front or sides of the roof was not nailed sufficiently enough and the wind is getting under it so it makes a rattling noise.

Also, have them lift up some of the shingles on the roof to see what type of nailing pattern was used on the shingles. They can also check in the attic to see if a lot of nails missed the wood, and hit the spaces in between.

Finally, what about the ridge vent, if one was installed? Maybe that is loose and the wind moves it up and down.

Ms. Creedon also might have relief from the state if the contractor was licensed and did a shoddy job.

Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to