Question: My home is 25 years old and last December I noticed that the fireplace smoked rather badly, so I didn't use it. I would like to find a professional chimney sweep that I can trust to do a good job. My sister in Garden City, N.Y., had one, and he did costly damage that she had to pay for. For this reason I haven't had the chimney cleaned out. I have checked my neighbors, and they haven't gotten theirs done either. P.S.: Do any of them offer senior citizen discounts?
Answer: As you know, we don't recommend one service of any type over another, but I should think there would be no problem in finding a competent chimney sweep. Start with the Yellow Pages in your area (Fullerton) under the category: Chimney Cleaning and Repairing.
Get cost estimates in writing from two or three companies. Ask questions, such as: How long have you been in business? Where did you get the training for your job? Are you licensed, bonded or insured? Is satisfaction guaranteed? What precautions are taken to protect the interior of my home? Does the estimate include replacement of or reinstallation of spark arresters? You might also ask the firms to give you names of clients they're serviced, and check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints about the company have been filed.
If there's a store in your area that specializes in fireplace fixtures and accessories, the owners might be able to recommend a chimney sweep.
I have no idea who might offer discounts to senior citizens, but it's a good idea. Perhaps it would make it possible for some older people on fixed incomes to properly take care of a potential problem.
Q: I put up some prepasted wallpaper several months ago. It looked fine in the beginning, but now the seams are buckling where the paper did not adhere to the wall. Did I do something wrong or was it a fault of the paper?
A: If you have leftover scraps of the paper, get them out and wet a piece of it to be certain that the edges of the paper had adequate paste applied. In all probability, you'll find the wallpaper was not at fault.
My guess is that you used a seam roller and put too much muscle in your work. If you use the seam roller immediately after placing the strip of paper in place, you're likely to apply too much pressure and literally press all of the adhesive off the paper. It will ooze out at the seams.
Your best bet in the future is to wait to roll the seams until you've put up one or two additional strips. Then go back and lightly roll the seams after the adhesive becomes tacky and begins to set.
To try to salvage your earlier job, try using white glue or a bottle of seam adhesive that can be purchased in wallpaper stores. Perhaps you can get enough under the edges to hold them in place.
Q: We just moved here from the Midwest, and for the first time in our lives we have a swimming pool. That sounded so great when we bought the house, but now I'm worrying about our small children playing around the pool and possibly drowning. Someone said we should get a pool alarm. Do you know about such a thing?
A: Remington Products manufactures a pool alarm that looks something like a toy flying saucer that floats in the pool and picks up any ripple in the water. There are two models; both sound alarms at the pool, and one sounds an alarm in the house as well.
Among the retailers is Dial One, Amtech Security Corp., 524 E. Lambert Road, Brea, Calif. 92621.
The Remington product is marketed only as "for increased safety." The best safety factor for children, naturally, is a parent's or another adult's watchful eye.
Q: The plugs on some of my table lamps are loose, and I'm afraid to plug them in. I don't know anything about electricity, so I hesitate to try to fix the plugs. Someone told me I can buy plugs that you just shove the wires through the new plug and it's ready to go. Where can I get something like this?
A: You can buy them at almost any large drugstore or home center or hardware store. General Electric is one manufacturer. The product is called a clamp plug, and they cost slightly more than a dollar apiece. You just cut the wires in such a way that the copper wires aren't exposed, slip them into the plug and close the clamp. Additional directions are on the back of the package.
Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.