Q. Melissa asks: The flue is rusted shut on my earth stove (fireplace insert). How can I get this unstuck?
A. The thing that is rusted shut is called the damper. This is going to be a tough one if you can't get to the damper itself. Rust is not uncommon at this location, and if not dealt with on a regular basis it can rust to the point where replacement will be the only way to get it open. Spraying the perimeter of the damper with cutting oil is the first order of business. We use WD-40. Spray an ample coat on and let it sit for an hour or so. Next, gently tap the perimeter of the damper with a small heavy object such as a hammer. Repeat this process as many times as necessary. If it doesn't come loose after several hours, you might have to pull the stove and use heat. A propane-soldering torch (in a can) can be used to warm up the area surrounding the damper. Usually, once heat is applied, the metal surrounding the damper expands just enough to break the rusted connection. Whatever you do, don't get angry. Anything other than a gentle hand here could damage the damper.
Q. John asks: Do I need to put a floor leveler over a plywood subfloor before laying down an unfinished floor (3/4-inch x 2-1/4-inch oak). What about rosin paper? Do I need it and how do I place it on the floor?
A. We would not use a floor-leveling compound between the subfloor and the hardwood floor. They tend to break up over time. If the floor is way out of level, the house might be due for a jack-up. In any event, we suggest that you attach the hardwood planks directly to the subfloor with only a coat of rosin paper overlapped 2 inches each way, and stapled in place. Don't use solid plastic sheeting.
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