Bathtub cleaning tips

By Peter Hotton
Globe Correspondent / August 18, 2011

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Q. My 40-year-old tub is very dirty on the inside, both walls and bottom. Are those “reglazers’’ any good? Does my tub need such a treatment, or can I clean it?

A. The reglazing method is not a glazing but an epoxy finish. It is often good, and as good as its warranty of 5 to 10 years and beyond. Another method is an acrylic shell that fits over the tub. If it has no leaks between shell and tub, it is very good, with similar warranties.

But such a dirty tub can be cleaned. For the sides of the tub, make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar, and smear it on the sides and leave overnight. Then scrub and rinse. For the bottom, more effective is to wet it with hydrogen peroxide, sprinkle lots of cream of tartar on the hydrogen peroxide, leave overnight, and scrub and rinse in the morning.

Q. I dropped a sharp object on my white vinyl floor, making several cuts in the vinyl. The cuts have since turned black. Can they be fixed?


A. Find a store that sells a vinyl repair kit. It includes liquid vinyl for filling those gouges. First clean the black marks, let dry, bleach them, let dry, rinse thoroughly, let dry before using the kit.

Q. I had a hole in my ceiling repaired with plasterboard. The contractor did a good job, priming and copying the swirled finish of the original. There are no cracks on the edges of the patch, but a wide darker edge on the perimeter of the patch. Is there any way of making that shadow go away?


A. It may be related to dampness, but not knowing for sure what it is, I am guessing that this might fix it: Paint the entire ceiling with Kilz (a stain killer), then repaint with latex ceiling paint. Thin coats spell success. I suggest you paint the whole ceiling, because Kilz is such an intense white that is it hard to cover with paint.

Q. I am having leaks through one valley in my roof, where ice builds up and causes a sort of dam. Is there any way of stopping the leak? Would heat cables help? I also get a lot of very large icicles. The roof is 19 years old and the shingles are in good shape.

NELL NAIDETH, Westminster A. For the record, a valley is where two sloping roofs meet at a right angle, forming what is called a valley in building lingo. The icicles are caused by having a warm roof, so in the attic make sure you have a ridge vent and a continuous soffit vent in the under-part of the roof overhang. And no insulation in the overhang. This could reduce or eliminate that buildup of ice and icicles. The leaks are from water backed up behind the buildup of ice. It is particularly troublesome in valleys. I think you said you have no gutters there, which is probably a good idea.

The cables may work, and they are safe if you do not turn them on when the roof is dry. Turn them on as snow and ice builds up. They will melt gaps in the ice for water to flow away. You can also put in cables that will automatically come on when needed.

The ultimate cure is to rebuild the flashing under the valley shingles, which must be removed. First goes an ice and water shield on the bare sheathing, then an 18-inch-wide strip of roll roofing facing down, and a 36-inch-wide strip of roll roofing on top, facing up. Then go the shingles, usually woven across the valley.

Q. One of the ceilings in my house has a steady peeling problem. I paint it and it peels in a few months. What’s wrong?

STEVE McAULIFF, Arlington A. Ah, yes, you have a calcimined ceiling. It was popular in the ’20s through the ’50s. Sometimes the paint peels right off the roller. Only one cure: Remove every trace of calcimine by scraping, sanding, and paint remover, then repaint with two thin coats of latex ceiling paint.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton 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 on line about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to