Home Improvement : Special Tool Will Shut Off Main Water Line

Associated Press

QUESTION: I was told to place a tag on the main water valve to the house so everyone will know where it is in case of emergency. But the only valve I can find is outside the house. It is partially underground and it would be a tough job to turn it off. In fact, it appears it cannot even be shut off without a special wrench. What do I do now?

ANSWER: You are correct. Some outside valves require the use of a special tool to keep them from being turned by a vandal. There must be a shut-off valve inside your house. It usually is located at the point where there is a water meter or where the main pipe enters the house.

Mortar Mix Better for Brick Wall Joints

Q: I plan to put up a brick wall. I know it is a bit more expensive to use the kind of sand mix that comes already prepared and needs only the addition of water, but I have used it in the past and found it very easy to handle. Will the regular sand mix be all right between the joints of the bricks?

A: You should use a mortar mix rather than a sand mix. It is virtually the same but has some hydrated lime in it to make it more suitable for joints in brickwork.

Use Pilot Holes for Drilling Fiberglass

Q: I intend to put up a fiberglass roof on our back patio. I know fiberglass panels are attached to the wood framing in one of several ways. What I do not know is whether the fiberglass can be drilled for pilot holes or will it split? My idea is to glue the panels and then nail them with fasteners that have leak-proof washers.

A: Your attachment plan is fine. If you nail right into the material you are using for the roof, it may be all right or it may chip a bit, depending on how careful you are and how much experience you have had in this kind of work. You are better off doing what you apparently contemplate--drilling pilot holes. The fiberglass will not split. Follow the manufacturer's directions on how far apart the fasteners should be. Ask your dealer to sell you the special flashings that make the joints waterproof.

Bleaching Process Takes Double Step

Q: After I had stripped the old finish off a piece of furniture, I discovered there was a mottled effect I could not remove with another varnish remover treatment. I read somewhere that the way to get the wood ready for refinishing is to bleach it. When this incident occurred, I read a book that dealt with bleaching. It called for a two-step bleach. Is that something special and where can I buy it?

A: The regular commercial bleach is a two-step bleach. The bleach comes in two containers. Follow the directions on which to use first. In most cases, the application from the first bottle must be left on for a specified period--let's say, 30 minutes--and then wiped off. The contents of the second bottle usually can be left on for as long as needed, but follow the manufacturer's instructions. Be especially cautious about how and with what the residue must be wiped off. Remember, bleach is a powerful substance or it would not lighten the wood, so handle it with care. Wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes. Once the bleach has done its work and you are satisfied with the result, apply a wood sealer before you put on stain or any finishing material.

Skylights Can Help Bring Light to Attic

Q: We are going to finish our attic soon and get the use of a couple of extra bedrooms. It isn't very light up there now, and we are considering having a dormer built on one side. The price of the project has scared us a little, and we are wondering whether there is any alternative. We don't need a dormer for extra space, merely for extra light. Any suggestions?

A: Look into the possibility of obtaining the needed light with one or two skylights built into the roof. Some of the modern skylights are very attractive and add to overall appearance as well as furnishing extra light.

Be Extremely Careful When Shingling Roof

Q: Our roof must be reshingled soon. I plan on doing it myself. I have had some experience on roofs, although I have never put on shingles. Is there anything I should know?

A: A hundred things. Here are a few of them. Be sure to wear construction-type shoes with rubber soles. Do the work on a day when it is warm but not hot. Stay off the roof if the weather is even a tiny bit wet. Secure ladders top and bottom and keep the roof surface free of debris. Watch out for power lines. Keep people away from the work area. And don't get on the roof unless you are sure of your footing.

"A Homeowner's Guide to Quality Roofing," including an asphalt shingle color guide, can be obtained by sending $1 to Know-How, P.0. Box 477, Huntington, N.Y. 11743. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column.

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