Dear Glenn: I have a home that has a stucco ceiling in the family room. Other than cutting it out, or laying drywall over it, is there another way to remove the stucco? I have heard that spraying stucco with water and letting it sit before scraping it will remove the stucco. What is the fastest way possible to remove stucco?
Martin, Rochester Hills
Dear Martin: Stucco has to be sanded off. Magna Industries' Sand & Kleen, 800-969-3334, hooks up to a wet/dry vac, which helps make the job less dusty.
Programming your thermostat
Dear Glenn: With the increased costs of heating with natural gas these days, I have programmed my thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and down to 60 degrees at night. One of my friends thinks the 8 degrees difference is too much work for the furnace to recover and save me any money. I also leave my fan on 24/7.
Dear Chuck: The Department of Energy agrees with you, not your friend. A programmable thermostat will "learn" your lifestyle.
It will throttle down the furnace so that it is 60 degrees at the time you set it at night. Then it will throttle up the furnace so that it is back at 68 degrees at the time you have called for the temperature to rise in the morning.
Venting out your home and the proper amount of vents
Dear Glenn: My husband and I are arguing over how many vents should be closed in our house. We live in a ranch style home that has seven rooms upstairs and a partitioned basement with three "rooms." Our family room is on a crawl space and so we do not want to close either of the vents in that room. We remember Glenn saying to close 20 of the vents, especially unused rooms. Does this number include or exclude the vents in the basement?
Dear Val: I said 20 percent of the area of the house, not 20 vents. Usually the best vents to close are dining rooms, sitting rooms and unused bedrooms.
Draining water from your home
Dear Glenn: My daughter will be gone for at least one year. Would you suggest the water be drained from the house? Should the water heater and softener be drained and the heat turned off or left on at 50 degrees? What about draining the washer lines? How long will the water in the dishwasher take to dry out?
Evelyn, Ann Arbor
Dear Evelyn: I took your question to Nick DiSalvio, Environmental Water Services (800) 371-7873, for an expert answer. He says that turning off and draining the water tank would be a good idea but that your daughter should keep the water on and the water softener running.
Over a prolonged period, the salt and metal in the water softener will fuse together and destroy the water softener. The house should be inspected inside and out at least once a week.
Once every six months or so, someone will have to add salt to the water softener. Turn off the water supply to the dishwasher and washing machine, but whoever is looking after the house should pour a cup of water into the dishwasher every month to keep the seals from drying out. Keep the house temperature at 55 to 60 degrees.
High humidity is often a sign that a house is too tight and lacks sufficient air exchange
Dear Glenn: I have a 3-year-old Victorian farmhouse that is 2,700 square feet. My humidity rarely goes below 45 percent and is often 50-55 percent even though I have not turned the water on to the furnace humidifier this year. My basement is 1,800 square feet, has 8-foot poured walls that are sealed on the outside, and has 1 1/2 -inch foam insulation. The floor also has 1 1/2 -inch foam insulation and a layer of plastic. The perimeter has an expansion joint. The basement humidity is around 60 percent and around 60 degrees.
Dear Ruth: You are living in a thermos bottle. High humidity is often a sign that the house is too tight and lacks sufficient air exchange.
Consider having your heating contractor install an HRV (heat recovery ventilator). If your house has this high a humidity level during the winter, it should become absolutely soggy during the summer.
Ask your contractor about installing a Research Products' (888) 257-8801, www.aprilaire
.com, Aprilaire whole house dehumidifier.
To clarify the problem, I recommend a blower door test. Flame Furnace, (888) 234-2340, www.flamefurnace.com, Infrared Services of Michigan, (810) 329-9033, www.ismichigan.com, and Mechanical Heating & Cooling, (313) 277-7630, www.mechan
icalheating.com, all offer blower door testing.
Cellulose insulation is best for draft and noise reduction
Dear Glenn: We are interested in putting new or extra insulation in our walls. Can you suggest which is the best and drop a name of a good company to handle this for us?
Marylou, Canton Township
Dear Marylou: Ace & Sons (734) 374-2883 is one of the only companies that specializes in adding extra insulation to walls. They use cellulose insulation, which helps reduce drafts, as well as adding R-value and sound deadening qualities.
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