Q. My wooden deck has splintered boards. It has had preservatives put on regularly, but it is 25 years old. It is very sturdy and solidly built. Is there any type of material that could be put on top to cover the whole wooden deck. Since it isn't used I hate to spend a lot, but I want it to look good. Also, I would like to stop with the cleaning and preservative every other year which is expensive. The railing etc is in good shape too. There are so many kinds of wood and plastics for coverings, I would like to have your opinionA. A 25 year old wood deck that is still standing will have had to have been built with pressure treated lumber decking at least an inch and a half thick and the lumber treatment will have been chromated copper arsenate (CCA). That treatment chemical has been suspended for exterior residential use in favor of copper azole or any other non-arsenic containing preservative. If your deck gets direct sunlight at some point during the day, itís the UV rays that breaks the wood down over time and thatís whatís causing the splintering. Your deck is probably in the category of needing a complete surface (deck) replacement due to its age and degree of deterioration. I donít doubt that the frame may be sturdy but due to its age Iíd recommend that as part of whatever you do, have someone who knows what they are looking at check the deckís connection to the house and the condition of any metal joist hangers or connectors. Iíve seen decks that age whose joist hangers were completely rusted out at the stirrup and if enough people got on the deck they could fail and collapse. Over the summer we get about one deck failure a day nationwide according to wood structures specialist Professor Frank Woeste of Virginia Tech. Since you donít use the deck youíd have no idea if it is potentially structurally compromised so have it checked out just to be on the safe side. Replacing the decking with a modern, maintenance free composite material will not be cheap and the parameters you have presented me clearly exempt both great expenditure and repetitive maintenance. Thatís a challenge. Iíll make a suggestion that some will consider heresy. You might want to cover the decking with an indoor/outdoor carpet. Some will object to that scheme as they will claim water will get trapped between the carpet and the wood decking resulting in rot. I doubt that with the CCA treated decking on the one hand and the reasonably rapid drying rate of the carpet material onn the other. CCA lumber of that era was rated ground contact for 50 years. Sure, Iíve seen certain conditions under which the CCA didnít perform that well but thatís so rare as to make the exception proving the rule. Make sure the carpetís permeable and not a solid rubber mat into which the carpet fibers are set. Then the worst youíll have to do may be to vacuum it once or twice a year. I donít know how big your deck is so I donít know how much work it is to clean but the recipe Iíve had the best luck with for all sorts of exterior washing is one cup of laundry bleach with one quarter cup dishwasher detergent in a gallon of hot water. Wear old clothes and eye protection. Using a plastic bristle brush on a three or four foot handle (so youíre not breaking you back) scrub the deck-- along the grain-- and just before it dries wash it off with a garden hose. It wonít cure the splinters but will brighten the wood nicely. Q. I have read your many suggestions on odor in hot water. Last article you suggested to remove the anode from top of hot water heater. I went to do that and I have none. The hot water heater is fairly new (11/03). It is a GE smart water model. I did turn the thermostat up, helped for a short period. I have chlorinated the well and got rid of the odor for a short time. Any other suggestions? A. The old saw is that if you have an anode and water smells remove it- if you donít have one-- add one. Can you? Also keep the temperature at 140ļF or slightly above-- the bacteria canít survive in it. However, by shocking the well with bleach and by doing that reduced the odor you demonstrated that bacteria is coming from there. Consider a UVC sanitizer light just downstream from your pressure tank. That will eliminate 99.9% of the bacteria.