Q: I need to replace some older aluminum windows. Can they only be removed from the outside? I have a two-story house, and I’m not comfortable on a ladder at that height. Also, two windows have brick siding over them. Is it possible to remove them from the inside? –Tom M.

A: Most types of aluminum windows have a flange on the outside. The window is slipped into the rough opening in the wall from the outside, and secured in place by nailing through the flange. Therefore, the easiest way to remove it is by removing the exterior trim, removing the nails in the flange, and then taking out the entire window unit.

If that is not possible, you can also do it from the inside, but it’s more difficult. You have to remove the interior trim and/or drywall around the inside of the window, then cut between the wood wall framing and the inside frame of the window on all four sides, using a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade. You also need to make some sort of provision for hanging onto the window as the cut is completed so it doesn’t fall out of the opening – especially on the second floor.

The cut-off part of the flange will remain behind the old exterior trim or brick. Therefore, for the new windows you will need to have ones made to fit the existing openings, and without a flange on them. The new window can then be installed from inside, and is secured with fasteners driven through the interior frame. Any good window shop can measure and order the windows for you, and will provide complete installation instructions.

Q: We have a composition roof, and have a couple of maintenance questions. Is it necessary to remove leaves and pine needs if they’re not excessive (and how do you define excessive)? Should we sweep or blow off the roof, or will that damage it? Any other roof maintenance suggestions? –Charles B.

A: In general, I would consider a buildup of leaves and pine needles to be excessive if it becomes deep enough to trap and hold moisture on the roof and in turn cause mildew to form, or if it interferes with the flow of water coming off the roof. Other excessive buildup problems would be one that puts a lot of weight on the roof in one area, or that blocks gutters or buildups against or behind flashings, chimneys, flues, etc.

I have used or seen used any number of methods for removing leaf and needle buildup, including a plastic leaf rake, medium-bristle push boom, air blower and pressure washer. I do not recommend the power washer, because the pressure is too intense for the shingles and the water makes it dangerous to work on the roof. Other then that, some shedding of granules will occur with any of the other three methods – just make sure you use the lightest amount of sweeping, raking or air pressure possible.

Other roof maintenance suggestions include trimming overhanging trees to prevent excessive shedding and to allow sunlight to reach the roof to minimize mildew growth; keeping gutters and downspouts free of buildup; and examining your roof each spring to check the condition of shingles, ridge, and flashings.

Q: We would like to redo our fireplace by installing tile over the old bricks, which are painted with a glossy paint. What needs to be done to the brick before installing the tile? –Tolga A.

A: As long as the paint is well-adhered to the brick, the best way to install tile over it is to first clean the old brick, roughen the paint up a bit with a sander or a wire brush, then install a layer of cement board over the brick. The board can be attached using a thin-set adhesive. Allow the board to dry at least 24 hours, then the tile is attached to the cement board using the same thin-set. All of the materials you need, including a tile saw, will be available at most home centers as well as any retailer that sells tile supplies.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paul2887@direcway.com.

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