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Robert Lamoureux: Glue on granite can be a sticky situation

Posted: February 28, 2009 1:28 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Hi, Robert:
Without going into how I managed to do it, I spilled a fair amount of cyanoacrylate (a super glue) on my granite kitchen counter. Do I have to wait 20 years or so for it to wear off, or can I hope to solve the problem sometime before that? As a way of explanation, I am an elderly widow. ‘Nuff said.
Jane L.

Hi, Jane:
There are stone cleaners available, but I would start with acetone. This chemical is usually found in nail polish removers. Acetone can be dangerous and you'll want to be very careful. Before working with acetone, you'll want to make sure that your kitchen is well ventilated. I would set up a fan blowing the fumes away from the stove and heater and out an open window or door. If enough of the fumes travel to the pilot light of your heater or stove, it can cause an explosion.
The only stone harder than granite is diamond, but it can still be damaged. You'll either have a polished or a honed surface and it is possible that either the superglue or the acetone may affect the sheen of the polished finish. I would start by applying the acetone in an inconspicuous place and let it set up for 24 hours to check if there is any surface change. If it does remove the finish, you can always come back later and reapply the polish.
Wearing rubber gloves, apply the acetone to a Q-tip and slowly start to work it in around the outside edges of the glue spill. It should start to visibly loosen almost immediately. Some of the glue will start to come up on the Q-tip. Depending on how large of an area you are working with, you might then start to gently scrape or peel up the old glue. If you are using a scraper, be careful not to scratch the counter. Take your time and go nice and easy. Remember to keep the windows and/or doors open, and keep the fan blowing until the area is complete dry and there are no fumes left in you home.

Mr. Lamoureux:
I read your column all of the time and I notice that some of the questions are from HOA's. I too live in an HOA and we had a sump pump problem this weekend. It stopped working so we had our workers install a new system - new pump, pipes, everything. It is not working. They said they needed to drill a hole in the pipe to get it to work right, but I told them no. Are you familiar with this hole they are talking about? Is this necessary? It just doesn't make sense to have to drill through what we just put in.
Jennifer G.

Hi, Jennifer:
Yes, it is called an air-lock hole. That happens is when the check valve closes, which prevents all of the water from back flowing down the discharge line and into the vault, there is so much pressure holding that valve closed that there is not enough power to move the water trapped between the pump and the valve.
So, you put a small hole, about 1/4-inch in diameter in the side of the pipe which allows the water to flow in and out to relieve the pressure, opening the valve and allowing the pump to work.
Without that hole, your pump will lock up and will not operate. Now that the new pump is in, you should address the reason why the old one burned out. Is the bottom of the vault clean? Too much mud and sediments will choke the pump and burn it out. It's important that these be cleaned and maintained regularly. If the vault is clean, it might be because the discharge line going out to the street is partially obstructed. This will cause the pump to overheat. If necessary, snake the line out all the way from the vault to the street.

Dear Robert:
I've got a two-part question. We live in a 66-unit condominium association. Some of the 132 skylights are leaking around the black gasket between the skylight and the frame. Does this mean that we need to replace it completely or can we repair it? We are just not in a position to replace these lights at this time. Also, according to our reserve study, it is time that we have some asphalt replaced. Although it looks like the back of a turtle shell, we don't have the funds for this project. We've spoken with two contractors so far. One says he can fill will crack sealer and the other says it has to be cut out and replaced. Any advice you can provide would be appreciated.
Alex T.

Hi, Alex:
The skylights can be repaired, at least temporarily. Take a utility knife and run it along the metal frame and the glass. Cut out that rubber sealant and then wipe it down really well with a glass cleaner.
Once it is completely cleaned and dry, re-glaze it with 100 percent silicone. This will give you another couple of years before you need to have them replaced.
Concerning the asphalt, we call that pattern you are describing "alligator." I know you are trying to save money, but you cannot repair that type of damage with crack sealer. When you see something like that, it has to be cut out and re-poured. This is caused by water getting under the road base and it will continue to break until repaired.
If you can't afford to replace the entire surface, cut out the alligator and just address those areas. If you had straight cracks that traversed the parking area, then yes you could repair those with the crack sealer.
There are different levels of seal coat available. Be sure and use the ones with fibers. You'll get the most longevity out of this type of material and it only costs about one penny per square foot extra, and for that little of a difference, this is the only way to go.
Another thing to keep in mind is that now is not a good time of year to be doing this kind of work. You have curing times with asphalt and the cooler it is, the longer it will take before it sets. You want to wait until it starts getting warmer because if you do it now, it will take days before it becomes drivable.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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