Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Elul 5759 - August 18, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Do It Yourself -- With Yosef Krinsky

In the middle of the summer, have you thought of your heating system? Did you realize that there are only two months from now to October? I remember many times on the High Holidays having to put on an overcoat.

It is always a good idea to fire up your heating system at least two or three times during the summer. This will help in two ways. 1] If there is a problem, you could more easily reach a qualified repairman at this non peak time; and 2] just starting up the system will keep all the parts running better. With a long gap of disuse rust has a chance to accumulate, dust and dirt will build up, and hoses can clog. When running the system for only a half hour three times throughout the summer you can not only keep your system running longer, but better. It is also a good idea to check your storm windows and see to any repair as well before the big rush.

Karen S. Asks, "We live in a house that has a tile roof (re'afim) and our ceiling is synthetic board (ravitz in Israel). As you can well imagine, we are a trifle chilly in winter and we are like an oven in summer. When we built, we thought that we were getting an insulated roof but that's another story. My question is this: Can you give us an idea as to the best way to insulate our roof? If possible to tell us the materials needed, how to know how much we need and how to do it ourselves? The tiles are laid on wood and have nothing under them. Can we insulate between the pieces of wood that lie on top of the ravitz? If so will we need roof fans to pull out the hot/cold air that is trapped in the roof?

The most important part of anyone's home after a proper foundation is the roof. The tiles that you mentioned are only the first step of what should be an insulated roof. A proper roof would first have properly preserved wood supports or beams, on top of that would rest plywood, then tar and tar- paper, and after all that come the tiles. Still, this gives very little insulation; if your attic needs to be livable Dan Lang (owner of A-1 Services in Jerusalem) recommends adding below the roof a layer of heat insulation (not to be confused with acoustic insulation) such as that with aluminum on the top side and bubble wrap on the other. Even with this, the attic would be very hot in the summer. An exhaust fan with a thermal switch would help too. The switch would be set to a temperature of your choosing, and when the temperature reaches it, the fan would turn on automatically. An associate of mine, Mike Jacobs, mentions that his parents in California have such a fan and within minutes of it being on, the entire home is much cooler.

Penina in Gush Etzion writes, "In between my floor tiles are empty gaps. What would be the proper way to fill this space?"

The best substance to fill in the gap between floor or wall tiles is grout. In Israel called roba. Outside of Israel there are many companies that supply this already mixed. But when purchased dry, it is available in a variety of colors and is ready to add water and apply. You should mix about 1/4 cup at first and get it to a consistency of bread dough. Wait 3 minutes, then apply with your finger (if your finger is prone to infections, have a surgical latex glove on first). After 15 minutes wipe the excess off with a dry rag.

Mr. L. in Jerusalem had graffiti sprayed in front of his building on a stone wall. The municipality has sandblasted most of it off, but can't remove the last bit because the pressure of the sandblaster will ruin the stone. He asks, "Is there any way to still remove the graffiti?"

A similar problem happened to Phil Chernofsky (in Jerusalem too). He successfully used a paint stripping attachment for a drill and it removed all the paint without damaging the stone. These are available at all do-it-yourself stores. I prefer the stripping attachments made by Wolcraft as they seem to last the longest.

Today's Do It Yourself Hint: To easily remove burnt-on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil on the stove top. Your skillet will be much easier to clean now. (Please send in your hint as I am running out!)

Today's Do It Yourself Resource: This Amazing Web site has advice even for the least adept at home repair and improvements.

Yosef Krinsky, a third generation craftsman, is the CEO of Walls R Us -- House Painting, Inc., Jerusalem Division. He can be reached at (02) 585-9559; common mail POB 27355, Jerusalem; email at; and very soon at his new World Wide Web Site. Homeowners (renters too) are invited to email their questions for a somewhat quick replay. He will publish names of individuals who ask for advice unless they explicitly request to remain anonymous.


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