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Silencing a squeaky bed calls for a well-orchestrated attack

It is a challenge to get a woodpecker to leave your house alone. It is a challenge to get a woodpecker to leave your house alone. (ASSOCIATED PRESS/file)

Q I recently bought a mattress and foundation for my bed to replace one that was 17 years old and performed well, but it wasn't long before the new set started to squeak, badly. I called the maker of the two units; I even got the vice president, who said he would replace the foundation with a box spring. He did that, and now the bed is squeaking again. The bed, by the way, has two rails that hook into the headboard and footboard, and there are wood slats that set in the frame to hold the box spring.

SUNNY, North Lynn

A Beds that are loose will squeak, so your first priority should be to check the hardware (the hooks at each end of the rail and the openings in the headboard and footboards). If any are loose, tighten them. That might be all that is needed. If the squeaks continue, spray those slats and the frame that is holding them in place with WD-40. If the squeaks persist, turn the box spring upside down, remove the muslin dust cover, and spray all wood joints with the WD-40.

This will work. It did for me some years ago.

Imprints begone!
Huzzah! Something the handyman recommended actually worked.

Jean Wood of Southborough called to say: Remember my question on how to get imprints from plastic bags off a finished wood table? You said to use a laundry pre-soak, which would also work on newspaper imprints on finished wood or countertops. I used Spray & Wash, but I needed a lot of elbow grease to get it off, and I was also able to get some of it off with the butt end of a plastic clothes pin. Thanks.

And the handyman doubles that motion: Thank you, Jean Wood.

Q A crew came and checked my fireplace and put a chimney cap on the top of the chimney. Now, the handle in the front of my fireplace turns nicely, but will not open the damper. I can open the damper by hand but it is sort of a dirty job. How can I fix that handle so that it will do what it is supposed to do?

DICK MAXWELL, South Yarmouth

A I think the connection has separated or broken off. Your best bet is to have a chimney sweep check it out and reconnect it, or replace any broken parts.

Q My condo association is thinking of putting up some plastic fencing. Is it sturdy enough to stand up to weather and other (human) abuse?


A Properly set up, the plastic will stand up to a lot of things, weather or humans and animals. Posts are the most important part of a fence, and if you use 4-by-4 pressure-treated posts clad in vinyl, all will be well.

Q When my roof was redone recently, some heavy - duty roof paper was applied, and before we could put the shingles on, the paper rippled a bit. We put the asphalt shingles on anyway, and the ripples still show a little. I think the shingles will eventually flatten out the paper, but my dad wants to rip out the small area (six squares) and redo it. I'd just as soon wait until spring to see what will happen by then. What should I do?

KEVIN QUINN, Kennebunkport, Maine

A Defy Pop? You're on thin ice there, but I'm with you, to wait and see what happens in the spring. I don't think the ripples will go away, but if you can persuade Pop to wait, you can have a good time redoing that part of the roof in the summer. At least it is a small portion of the entire roof.

Q I have electric candles in all 16 windows facing the street, each connected to a light timer (so I can forget about turning each on and off). But I'm wondering if the timers actually use more electricity than the candles themselves. Am I better off, both in terms of electricity cost and safety, if I just leave the candles plugged in 24/7 (and forget about the timers)? I asked my husband, and he was stumped!

CATHY, Worcester and Osterville

A Sixteen candles? My goodness, the handyman has eight and already he is afraid to open the next electric bill. I can't imagine that the timer for each candle is more costly than the candle itself. So I say let the timers do their work; that should be far less expensive than 24/7.

Q One of the panels in my front door has cracked. I think it's because it was painted charcoal gray. How can I fix it?

H.Y., Weston

A The dark paint might have caused the door to overheat because it absorbed the sun's heat rays and expanded. But more likely is that the panel, which is supposed to float free in the frame of the door, swelled up due to moisture, and was very tight in the frame; then when it dried out and contracted, it could not move and so cracked. Yes, you can fix it: Apply a bead of adhesive caulk (widely sold in hardware stores) to the crack on one side, and press it in with your fingers. Scrape off overflow and wipe any left with a damp wet sponge. Do the same on the other side. The caulk will expand and contract with the movement of the panel, and remain full in the crack. Then repaint.

Q Paint was dropped on an asphalt shingle roof during an amateur house painting project. How can I remove that paint?

J.W., Cohasset

A You can't remove it without damaging the shingles. Damaging, heck , destroying them is more likely. You could remove the painted shingles and put new ones of the same color in their place. This is possible, but it is fussy work. Another easier way is to paint the shingles the same color as the roof shingles. Use an aerosol spray. You might have to repeat the painting now and then, and the spray will only disguise the mess, but painting will make a big difference.

Q In my 1950s house, I noticed that cracks have appeared in my ceilings and walls. The cracks are in the paint, not the plaster. How can I correct that?

A.J., Fraser, Mich.

A The paint cracked because it was put on too thickly. The cure is to sand heavily enough to reduce or eliminate those cracks. Then repaint with thin coats. Load up your roller, then roll off most of it in the roller pan; then roll the rest on the wall. Another way to make sure the coats are thin is not to try to cover with one coat.

Q Well, my resident woodpecker is at it again; I hung up a shiny Mylar balloon ball with no success. And, the little dickens seems to peck around wires where they enter the house. How can I keep him away?

L.O., Lexington

A Instead of the shiny balloon, hang shiny party streamers from the eaves. They will flash in the sun and startle Brer Woody, we hope. You could also hang a wind chime nearby, which might bother him, too . Those wires are making humming or buzzing noises, which the woodpecker thinks are insects.

Handyman on Call also appears in the Globe's Real Estate section on Sundays. Peter Hotton is available 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair; call 617-929-2930. Hotton chats online about house matters 2 to 3 p.m. Thursdays, at Hotton can be reached at

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