Q: My dog’s nails have left minor scratches in my wood floors. Is there any way to repair this without complete refinishing? –Judith K., via e-mail.

A: If the scratches are not all the way through the finish and into the wood below, there are a couple of things you can try:

1. Sand the scratched area with 0000-grade steel wool to blend the scratch into the surrounding area.

2. Use a very small brush and apply a small amount of polyurethane just to the scratch itself — keep it off the surrounding area as much as possible. Many hardwood floor companies also offer polyurethane scratch repair kits.

3. Rub a small amount of paste wax directly into the scratch, using a clean, soft rag. Let the wax dry, then buff the area around the scratch. If you have dark-colored floors, use a dark paste wax that’s formulated for darker woods.

4. Use a color-putty stick in a color that matches the floor. Rub it lightly into the scratch, then let it dry.

5. Try one of the commercial scratch removers available that work primarily by filling in the scratched area and eliminating the reflected light from that area, making the scratch seem to disappear.

All of the products you need are available at most home centers, paint stores or retailers of flooring-related products. Try the repair in an unobtrusive spot such as a closet before tackling more obvious areas. If the scratch is through the finish and into the wood beneath, you need to have the area sanded and recoated. However, many hardwood floor contractors can sand and coat just a portion of the floor, so it still may not be necessary to do the entire floor.

Q: I have a gas water heater that keeps running out of hot water. The thermostat is turned to high and the water gets very hot, but it doesn’t last long. Short of replacing the water heater, what else I can try? –Abbey S., via e-mail

A: Insufficient hot water from a gas water heater can be caused by a couple of different things. One problem might be sediment buildup in the bottom of the tank. You can try this repair yourself by shutting off the gas and the water at the tank, attaching a garden hose to the drain valve on the bottom of the tank, and then draining the tank. Re-open the water valve to help flush the tank with clean water. Shut the drain valve, refill the tank, then turn the gas back on and restart the water heater. If you are not comfortable with any of these steps, you need to contact an experienced, licensed plumber instead.

Other possible culprits would include insufficient air for full combustion, clogged gas burners or a faulty thermostat, all of which are repairs that need to be left to a plumber. You could also have low gas pressure from the utility company, which could be caused by any number of situations. If you and your plumber suspect this is the cause, you need to contact your gas utility and have them come out and do a pressure test for you.

If your water heater is getting old and showing any signs of rust or other problems besides the one you mentioned, you may be better off having it replaced instead of repaired. You’ll end up with a new warranty and a water heater that is more efficient than your old one, which will save you some money in the long run.

Q: I had the siding replaced on my home, and now there are several bumps and holes in my interior walls, like the nail heads have come through. The contractor says there is nothing you can do about this. Is that true? –Ria M., via e-mail.

A: What you are seeing sound like nail pops. These occur when the nails holding the drywall to the studs either come slightly out of the wood, or the drywall joint compound that covers the nail heads comes off. The repair is pretty simple, and entails tapping the nail back into the drywall, then recovering and re-texturing the resulting “dimple,” followed by touching up the paint.

As to your specific question, the answer is yes and no. Nail pops can certainly be caused by pounding on the opposite side of the stud from the drywall, as would be the case with the installation of siding. If the drywall was not installed well in the first place, it can be very difficult for the siding installer to prevent these nail pops from occurring. On the other hand, a siding contractor is aware of the possibility of nail pops during any siding job, and would typically check the interior of the home early on to see if any damage was occurring, or at least make you aware of the possibility so you could keep an eye out for it.

My best advice is to sit down with the contractor and see if you can come up with a mutually agreeable solution. Perhaps he could do the drywall repairs and you could do the painting, or you could agree to split the cost of having someone else do all the repair work.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paul2887@hughes.net.

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