Question: My husband and I are selling our home, and the buyer is requesting the removal of the oil tank in our basement. We switched to gas a few years ago. Do you have any advice for how we should go about having the tank removed? The oil was siphoned out when we switched to gas, but I don’t know if it is 100 percent clean and dry. In other words, I don’t know if it would be a big mess if we call a scrap metal guy to come cut it up.
Answer: The solution is much easier than if the tank were one of those buried in the yard, because all sorts of environmental regulations kick in, and for good reason, since having fuel oil leaking into the groundwater is very bad.
In your case, you should contact the nearest company that deals in removing basement tanks. The company will ensure that all the sludge is cleanly and safely removed before the tank is sliced up, and will carefully dispose of any remaining fuel and the tank as well. By the way, since the landscape is shifting to a seller’s market, and the removal of the tank is something that the buyer wants, talk to your agent about splitting the cost.
Q: Five years ago, my daughter and her husband purchased a house built in 1958. I think you can smell the mustiness the minute you open the front door, but the smell goes away the longer you’re there. Sometimes, though, I smell the odor in my daughter’s hair even when she’s at my house.
The previous owners had dogs and stored hundred of books in the basement. The carpet was old and dirty, and cleaning didn’t take the musty smell away. I think they run a dehumidifier in the basement year round. This spring they replaced the carpet with wood floors everywhere in the house.
It still has a musty odor, though not as pronounced. They claim never to notice any musty odor at all, ever. Am I imagining this? If not, is there a remedy I might suggest to them to rid the house of this musty smell?
A: You may be overly sensitive to this kind of odor, meaning that you would be more aware of it. I’m not saying that older houses once inhabited by dogs and a basement filled with books, as well as carpeting that defies cleaning, won’t have a musty odor. I’m just saying that there are people who are more sensitive than others to these things, and that sensitivity tends to increase as they age. Perhaps a visit to the allergist would be in order. Your sensitivity to these odors might be getting more acute and should be checked.
Q: We have an entire wall in our family room made with what has been described to us as “old bricks.” Unfortunately, the bricks around the fireplace have darkened, from soot, I assume. Can you suggest the best way to clean them, other than using some caustic chemical? We want to have a new mantel and bookcases built on that wall and don’t want to mar the new look with a dirty portion.
A: I used straight white vinegar and a scrub brush on the inside of my fireplace and it lightened the bricks considerably. I only had time to do it once, since the gas insert people arrived early. Repeated applications could solve the problem. You should give it a try, but make sure you wear gloves and a mask and open the windows, and cover everything else before you start.
To the reader trying to remove black stains from patio bricks: Linda, from Simsbury, Conn., uses apple cider vinegar on patio bricks to remove black stains and green mold. She uses several gallons annually, and says it works beautifully. In addition, the vinegar does not damage the surrounding grass.Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or email@example.com.