Fixing driveway drainage problems
Q. I have a channel drain at the bottom of my driveway that overflows in heavy rains. There are retaining walls on each side of my driveway. During a heavy rain, the storm drain at the top of my driveway overflows, comes in my garage, and eventually into my basement. Ideas?
A. Hmm, you’re getting flooding both at the top and bottom of the driveway — that’s not an easy fix. If that storm drain at the top of the drive is in the street, and you can see the catch basin near the curb, it is the town’s responsibility and should be cleaned regularly. Those retaining walls form a perfect channel to flood the garage, so try this: Install dry wells at the bottom of the drive and install a 4-inch PVC pipe from each dry well through the wall and aiming right along the side of the garage, and let it fall into the backyard. If these solutions don’t sound doable to you, hire a hydraulic engineer or a landscape architect to find the solutions.
Q. My 21-year old colonial style house needs a new roof. I’m on a budget (like everyone) and I wonder if it is cost effective to just put on a second layer of shingles?
A. You can put a layer of shingles over the old in many states, as long as the old shingles are intact and lying smoothly. It will save you the cost of removing the old and disposing of them, which can be substantial. Some roofers may want to take off the old in order to put in an ice and water shield. That’s OK, but if your attic is well ventilated with soffit and ridge vents, or gable vents, and you have no ice damns and water in winter, you can retain the old shingles and install the new over them.
Q. I have a fir door that is only 6 years old and shows major flaws, discolored wood, deteriorating threshold. I have applied six coats of polyurethane, and the door looks terrible on the outside. Can I stain over the poly?
A. Was the original finish polyurethane varnish? If so, it was wrong, because no clear finish like varnish will work outdoors.
Go to the distributor; you should get a new door and threshold. If there is decay in the threshold, you can dig out the rot, treat the holes with Wood Hardener, then fill them with Wood Rot Filler, both made by Minwax. If you have to or want too, sand off the old finish or use paint stripper to remove the varnish, and finish with a single coat of a semitransparent stain. The finish will be flat (no shine) and solid, but will last for five years or so without peeling.
If the distributor or manufacturer doesn’t give you a new door, he should strip it and prime and paint, or use one coat of semitransparent stain. And the threshold, too, which failed because it was not installed correctly.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com