A few columns back, a reader complained that her venerable Armstrong ceiling tiles shed a lot of tiny particles, causing quite a "vicious" dust problem.
The manufacturer told her to vacuum the tiles regularly, but she said she didn't have the equipment to do so.
Sam Portaro of Chicago recommends that the reader buy inexpensive wand extensions at any retailer selling shop vacuums.
Since most accessory parts are available separately, one or two segments of the proper size and length will add sufficient length to reach the ceiling without any problem, he said. Another possible source: thrift shops, Goodwill, Salvation Army and similar outlets, as odd parts are often available.
"Having once owned an older home with higher ceilings, I held on to such extra parts when discarding retired vacuum cleaners and found the extra wand segments especially useful when cleaning stairwells, ceiling fans, and light fixtures of cobwebs and dust," Portaro said.
Question: The original owners of our house kept a curtain pulled across the window in a shower to prevent the sill from getting wet and eventually rotting.
Although this has kept the window in very good shape, I am looking for a less complicated look. The tile surrounding this window is laid in typical 1950 fashion - a wet bed.
Is there a finish that I could paint on top of the wood so that I wouldn't need the unsightly shower curtain in that area?
Answer: Yes, that's what she said, a window in the shower, which I assume has frosted glass to deter crowds.
Perhaps adding some sort of sealant to the wood surface might offer protection, but I doubt very much that it would be a permanent fix.
Moisture has a way of lingering on surfaces and finding its way into the wood, compromising the material very quickly.
I'd look for another solution or simply leave the curtain up.
Fire Prevention Week. Since 1922, the seven-day stretch in which Oct. 9 falls has been observed as Fire Prevention Week.
Oct. 9 was the day in 1871 when a massive blaze did its worst to the city of Chicago, which, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, may or may not have been caused by Catherine O'Leary's cow.
The fire started on Oct. 8 but it was the next day that most of the 17,000 buildings were destroyed and 250 people died.
Here are a few safety tips:
Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust, and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after 10 years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
When using appliances, follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts, and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out, then call for help.
Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.