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How do you evict snakes from a house?

Q. Help! I am inundated with snakes. I know they are garter snakes and harmless, but there are a lot of them in my cellar and in my attic. Is there any way to get rid of them? One person suggested we put mothballs in the attic and cellar. We did ...

Q. Help! I am inundated with snakes. I know they are garter snakes and harmless, but there are a lot of them in my cellar and in my attic. Is there any way to get rid of them? One person suggested we put mothballs in the attic and cellar. We did that, and we gagged a lot, but they didn't bother the snakes one bit.

A. Well, they found a home to their liking: warm in the attic and cool in the basement. How they got there is anybody's guess. It could be the heat of the attic attracted them. Or, your house may be in the middle of a migration corridor, and when traveling animals encounter a blockage, such as a house, in their pathway, they do not go around but right through, if they can. They might be there temporarily, but temporary or permanent, there is little you can do about them. They are beneficial, and if they stay in the attic and/or basement, there will be no rodents there. When they run out of food, they will go away.

Having a nuisance animal person take them away is not a good option because he would have to release them in your yard or kill them. An ultrasound gadget might help.

So, live with them. They might stay, they might go. At least you will have a heck of a good story to tell your grandkids around the campfire.

Q. My wedding band is made of titanium, with a gold band fused on each side. It is nice, but every time the titanium hits an object, or rubs against it, it leaves a black mark, like a pencil mark. I have replaced the band, but I still have lots of black marks. I have tried many solvents without success. How can I remove them?


A. Since titanium is a metal, I think a mild acid, such as vinegar, will remove it. Also, since I flunked chemistry in high school so many eons ago, I figured I'd check with a pro before I went off half-cocked. So I looked up chemists in the Yellow Pages, made a stab at Cambridge Technical Associates and found Dr. Harvey Cohen, an affable, knowledgeable chemist who added this information: Remember, he said, this is all hypothesizing. Titanium is a metal but not very hard, and the marks may be smearings of color on many surfaces, usually hard surfaces. You could use a very mild abrasive, or a pencil eraser, or Lime-A-Way, but only the toilet bowl cleaner. Other mild abrasives are ultrafine sandpaper (preferably with water), toothpaste, OxiClean. With physical work such as using abrasives, don't give up. Cohen also suggested a Google search for titanium stain.

Hypothesizing or not, the Handyman thanks Dr. Cohen, and of course he goes into the Handyman's vast file of useful information.

Q. The flat roof of my garage has a rubber roof with sleeper joists on the roof and wood deck on top of the sleepers. Trouble is, the posts for the railing pierces the roof membrane, with sections of the rubber placed around the posts like flashing. The posts leak. What can I do?

A. Trying to flash those posts is always iffy, and often does not work very well. But try this: Slather roofing cement on the rubber roof where it goes up the posts, and on the posts, then nail 1-by-3 boards on all four sides just above the rubber. This will cover the potential leak, where the roofing meets the post. If that does not work, or you want another way, I suggest this drastic idea: Take down the posts, cover the gaps left by the posts with the rubber roof; then build the railing on top of the deck. There are many metal fixtures that will help hold the posts to the deck.

Q. I removed wallpaper from plasterboard, but in so doing I pulled off some of the paper from the plasterboard itself. I also made a few gouges. How can I fill them? Would joint compound be useful? Also, a mirror is glued to the bathroom wall. It is 5-feet tall and 6-inches wide. How can I remove it?

A. The joint compound to smooth over the torn paper and gouges is a good idea, because it contains a glue that will help make it stick. Sand smooth and you should have a wall finish that will last for years. As for the mirror, I got a call recently about a glass company that removed a glued-on mirror. "It came off in five minutes," the caller said.

If Robert cannot find such an expert glass man, he can try this: Apply a hair dryer on high to the top third, and when the heat softens the glue, start prying it off with a prying tool, chisel, or other convenient instrument. If the mirror breaks, you are at least partly through the project. Keep going.

To handle the glue left on the wall: If it is very hard, sand it off. If it is not, heat it with the trusty dryer and scrape off the softened glue.


Q. I would like to refurbish my kitchen cabinets, but cannot spend big bucks. I thought of replacing just the hardware, but I have 34 of them -- hinges, knobs, and handles. They are brassy looking, with an antique gold finish and look pretty old. What if I paint them? Would that work?

A. If you paint them, I think you'd come up with painted, tired, old looking hardware. But first, check to see if the hardware is solid brass. Put a magnet on one. If it sticks, it is steel, and are unrestorable. If the magnet does not stick , it is either aluminum or solid brass.

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