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Advice to the Houselorn
By Mac Mowbray

Well, it’s been quite a while since I have done the column. Fortunately, I have been able to help folks when they called; it’s just that I have not been able to share my solutions with the membership. Anyway, I am back and here’s a sample of what I have been asked. Let’s start with Schenectady, see, I have not forgotten how to spell it!

A new home owner laments: The ice tore the gutters right off the eaves of my house !! Water built up in layers over a few days and the weight was too much. Apparently there were frozen leaves in the gutter and the water could not drain before it froze. Any ideas ?

I’ve got a couple. Number one: Why do you suppose the gutters were installed in the first place ? Many homes were designed without gutters in mind. Look at how many of the neighboring houses have gutters installed. Ask a couple of the owners of the ones who don’t, why they don’t. The reason I ask is gutters can be costly, and they require maintenance. Then ask a few why they installed them. Use your judgment as to whether or not to replace the downed gutter. I presume the other side of the house is OK. If you install, make sure good quality gutter are properly installed. It may have come down because it was flimsy or improperly installed. Did it look new? It may have been installed to “dress” up the house in preparation for sale. If you do put up a new one, install gutter (leaf) guards to prevent leaf clogs. You also may have to install electric tapes to prevent the gutter and downspout from freezing up depending on the conditions around your building. This was an extra bad winter; you might not have the problem for another 20 years.

Ravena has a graffiti problem. While I was on vacation, my tenants moved out and left me a message all over the house, garage and storage shed. It appears to be crayon, lipstick and maybe some magic marker. No spray paint. The house has aluminum siding, the garage is painted cement block, the storage shed has vinyl siding. What can I use to remove it that will not damage the finishes? None of these buildings need repainting.

Mac says: I try to stay away from brand name suggestions, because products change from time to time especially once they get a good reputation, they cheapen down the product. But right now I would suggest: Orange Cleaner #414. Google it and you will find where to get it in your area. Try this before you try the home remedies. If the orange cleaner does not work, you will have to try harsher chemicals. Give me a call if Orange does not work. The harsher chemical can damage the finishes. However, it is crayon or lipstick, a clean terry cloth rag dampened with kerosene might work. Good luck. I hope you did not return the security deposit.