Your Place: Vanquishing cat odor; small flaws turning big

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What's a good method to get rid of cat urine?

Janice Sachen of Chicago offers what she says is a sure cure for that cat-urine smell.

"My older cat started urinating on the basement floor and she would always go back to the same spot because she could smell the urine.

"I tried everything to mask the smell to no avail. Finally I tried peroxide, the regular drugstore kind, although there are stronger concentrations available at chemical supply houses.

"I sprayed a full-strength solution on the concrete area, and it neutralized the smell.

"You may want to take an old towel, place it over the area and saturate it. It may take one or two applications, but it works. No resurfacing or other extreme measure is needed."

Question: Ever since we bought our house - yes, we've put off doing anything about it for 17 years - we've heard what sounds like wind swishing against the house in certain rooms.

We figured it had something to do with the siding but ignored it because you could only hear it on one side of the house in rooms we rarely use.

We recently learned that the siding has come loose close to the foundation - where it's anchored, I guess. It's likely also loose in other spots, which accounts for the noise we've heard.

Our question is, what can we use to reattach the siding to the house (stucco, I think), at least at the bottom?

I suppose fixing it elsewhere would involve replacing the siding, an expense that we don't want to take on if we don't have to.

Answer: Because it is stucco, the siding (vinyl, I'll bet) is nailed to furring strips that are screwed or nailed to the stucco.

Lap siding or the J-channel used to install vinyl siding is attached directly to the furring strips.

Lap or vinyl siding begins flush with the sill plate or at the bottom of the stucco wall.

Each new piece of siding overlaps the previous piece and is leveled to ensure a true horizontal line.

The ends of the siding are placed next to the edge of the wall, window frames, and door frames. I assume the furring strips have come loose from the stucco, and the siding has as well.

Since it starts at the foundation, so should you. You'll need to remove the siding and see if the furring strips are still attached to the stucco. If not, a two-inch screw or nail would be used to reattach it.

Then you'll have to nail the J-channel to the furring strip.

Not a job I would do myself, if it is as extensive as it sounds. You should never let small problems morph into bigger ones. This one might have been easier and less expensive had you gotten to it sooner.

It's like putting a pillow over your head during a rainstorm so you won't hear the water dripping from the ceiling.

Q: We've lived in a Cape Cod home in Northeast Philadelphia for 12 years. The problem is the previous owners built a room in the back of the house 12 inches below ground level.

When it rains, or we have a lot of snow, the room floods.

We put in a new concrete driveway and a new side wall on the house with drainage holes. It cut down on the flooding, but we still have water come up through the floor.

We are tired of moving furniture to higher ground and rolling up the rug every time a storm is coming.

Who do we hire to get the problem solved?

A: A structural engineer, which is what the previous owners should have done before the addition, and you, as well, before the driveway.

Expertise in these matters costs money but it saves you money and angst in the long run.

The people who tell me "but it never flooded before ... " don't understand that we have no control over everything, including the day it rains 10 inches in two hours.

Think before you act.

 


Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.