Your Life your connection to The Boston Globe

How to get rid of stains on the garage floor

Q My concrete garage floor is 40 years old and in good shape, but I am getting white marks on the floor where water seems to be seeping up through the floor. It looks like salt stains. How can I get rid of them and keep them away?

A It probably is salt, which may be from the car dripping salt water in the winter. Unless there are cracks in the floor, the water is not coming up through the floor . To get rid of it, hose off the floor occasionally, especially in winter. It also could be efflorescence, the leaching of lime out of the concrete by water. There is no cure, but keep hosing down the salt and hosing down the lime and sweeping it up if it is in powder form. The lime is harmless, but a fair amount of salt can damage the concrete. Sometimes if you're lucky, salt will not damage old concrete.

Q My son's house has new basement carpets , which were soaked when someone left the water on and at least two inches of water flooded the floor. What can he do?
J.F., Weymouth

A Dry out the carpets before mold sets in. Put fans on the floor to move that air, and open all windows and vents to allow the water to evaporate. With luck the carpets will dry out in a week or so. If there is a pad under the carpet, this airing might dry it out, too. But if it takes too long, I suggest you get rid of the pad.

Q I bought some nice Adirondack chairs for $29 each. How can I treat them?
CARL WAGNER, Arlington

A Give the chairs one coat of a semitransparent stain. Only one coat is needed. It will not peel, and it will last for years. And it is a preservative. Regarding whether the stain will rub off on your clothes, ask the retailer, just to be sure.

I built two Adirondacks 40 years ago and I painted them. That was the thing to do in those days, and one was a bright orange and the other a moss green. I regret that decision; I have repainted them at least four times, and face the chore again this summer. But I refuse to give them up because they are the most comfortable lawn chairs in existence.

I have three other outdoor wood chairs that are stained, and maintaining them is easy.

Q I am having a new hardwood floor installed. There is one there now. Can I put the new one over the old, or should I remove it first?

A Take the old out first. It is not the added weight that counts; a floor can take a lot more weight than two mere hardwood floors. But it is the added height that matters. The extra height of the floor may interfere with baseboard heaters and at doorways, where the height will be different from the floor in the next room. Besides, it is easier to put the new hardwood over the subfloor boards.

Noxon on windows?
Windows that face the ocean can get banged up and foggy from the salt spray and high winds and whatever those winds bring with them.

Edwin Wolfe of Weston came up with an answer to the windward windows on his summer house in Hull. Said Wolfe: " I clean the glass with Noxon. It is a popular, effective polish for brass and other metals. "

My goodness, that is a good one for the handyman's file of weird treatments. It may not be as weird as one might think, because another treatment for metals, Never Dull Magic Wadding, also works well on glass.

Q I have some nice looking green coffee mugs with white lettering from a bank. How can I remove the lettering?

A You cannot remove the lettering without ruining the mugs. You can wait for the lettering to wear off, but that will take many years.

Q I have to have a new roof and new gutters. The downspouts are draining through the basement into an underground sewer system, which has worked for many years, but now the system is plugged and water is flooding the basement. What should I have done first?
WET in West Roxbury

A Normally the new roof would be first, the gutters second. But you need neither. Your roof is too young to need replacing (it's under 20 years old). And the gutters do not need replacing either because they are not the problem. My answer is based on what you told me.

Here is what you can do: Let the downspouts drain not into the underground sewer system, but onto the lawn. To do that, cut the downspout off about a foot off the ground and install a 10-foot-long horizontal extension of the downspout so that water discharges at least 10 feet from the house and will not drain back into the foundation .

Later on you can put the downspouts in a dry well or make an arrangement that will remove or hide those horizontal downspouts.

Q I am buying the new curlicue light bulbs to save money, but the package of one set of bulbs says "rated for vertical use only." What does that mean, and can I use the bulbs in any other direction?

A I don't know what it means either, but I do think it is OK to put bulbs in any direction. In fact, I have some bulbs going up, others going down, and still others sideways, without ill effect. To be safe, call the manufacturer and ask .

The Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate Section. Peter Hotton 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. To participate, go to Hotton's e-mail is