Q. My house doesn’t have an attic, so a whole-house fan isn’t practical, but I am looking for a way to use a fan to help cool my hot upstairs.
I know there are fans that fit in windows to exhaust hot air and pull in cool night air, but I can’t find anything to fit my sliding windows. Any ideas?
A. Fans don’t actually have to fit into the window to help cool a hot room. Even ordinary floor fans – the square type that are sold at most department stores and home centers for about $20 each – can help a lot.
For example, set the fan on a small table as close as possible to the open window. The fan can be turned to exhaust hot air out the window or to bring in fresh air from outside.
If there are two windows in a room, preferably on opposite or adjacent sides, two fans can be set up like this, one to bring in cool air and the other to exhaust hot air. Regulate the speed of the fans (most have two or three speeds) to suit.
Even more effective is a high-velocity floor fan, sold for about $50 to $70 at some home centers. A fan of this type can move air almost like a whole-house fan if placed near a window.
We use one of these fans sometimes, setting it on a table near a small upstairs window in exhaust position, and we can feel it pulling in cool air through open windows and doors even in some downstairs rooms.
High-velocity fans do make some noise, so it is best not to use one in a room occupied for sleeping. The less-powerful floor fans are much quieter, especially if lower speed settings are used, and can be used in an occupied bedroom.
You can learn more about these and other floor fans on the Internet; use a search engine and the words Floor Fans.
Q. We have a door that scrapes the thick carpet when opened or closed. How can I trim about ¼ inch from the door, which is quite old, without damaging it?
A. The simplest method would be to use a portable circular saw with a fine-toothed blade. If you don’t own one of these useful tools and don’t want to buy one, you should be able to rent one at a tool-rental agency.
You will have to remove the door to work on it; the simplest way to do this is to tap out the hinge pins. Lay the door flat on a couple of sawhorses or other outdoor surface at a convenient working height.
To avoid splintering the wood when you saw, put strips of masking tape on both sides of the door in the area where you will cut. Draw the cut line on the tape.
Now clamp a straight board across the door to form a “fence” for the saw to ride against while you cut; this will keep the saw from straying above the cut line. You should now be able to start the saw and trim the door without damaging it.
When you have finished the cut, remove the masking tape and sand the cut area with 100-grit sandpaper. Seal the bottom of the door with a couple of coats of fast-drying varnish, which should be allowed to dry thoroughly before the door is replaced.
If a door needs just a thin sliver removed from the bottom to keep it from scraping a floor, sanding is usually the best option.
If the door opens onto a smooth surface such as hardwood or tile, it might not have to be removed for sanding. Instead, try taping a piece of 80-grit sandpaper, rough side up, to the floor near where the door needs wood removed.
Carefully pull the door back and forth over the sandpaper several times, and then remove the sandpaper to see if the problem is solved. If not, repeat and continue sanding.
Q. We have a lot of pine trim in our house – baseboards and so forth. The problem is that knots and some grain areas bleed through the paint even though we have tried several primers and sealers including shellac. What do you suggest?
A. Shellac is generally considered a good sealer for pine knots and it usually does the job. But if you have tried plain shellac and it didn’t work, try priming the problem areas with B-I-N, a pigmented shellac-based stain killer.
You can buy this product at many paint stores and home centers.