Question: We want to install lights around our swimming pool to make it more desirable for nighttime entertaining this spring and summer. My son, who goes to a vocational school, believes we can do it ourselves if we buy a book that provides specific instructions. Can you recommend a book that will give us step-by-step instructions to handle the job?
Answer: You didn't say how much experience you have had with electricity. I assume none and that you're relying on your high school son a lot. He may be a wiring wizard, but it would be better if he gets his training under careful supervision and somewhere other than in a pool area. Just a slight short circuit in the pool area could electrocute anyone who touches the water.
The idea of lights around the pool sounds like a good idea. Call in a qualified electrician to install them.
Q: I live in a rental house that was built about 40 years ago. The plumbing works well except for the stall shower. Ever so often it clogs and we have to wait until the landlord comes to fix it or sends a plumber. I bought liquid drain cleaners and a "plumber's friend," but I have never been successful in opening the shower drain myself. Is there some simple remedy to this problem that occurs in our house about every six months?
A: There are several things you might try. One is to install a more effective drain cap. In all probability, the drain is being clogged by people washing their hair in the shower. Either replace the shower drain with one that has smaller holes to trap more hair or secure a piece of plastic screening material under the existing drain. When hair accumulates and the drain clogs, simply remove the plastic screen and clean it.
A plumber's friend, a stick with a suction cup on the end, can be effective. The problem is that in most cases people don't pump them for a long enough period. There should be only about one-half inch or one inch of water on the floor of the shower. (Bail out any excess before you tackle the job.) Place the suction cup over the drain and pump for 10 or 15 minutes. Just a few pumps usually won't produce results. When (and if) it clears, run some more water in and continue to use the plumber's friend for another five or six minutes.
When the drain seems open, give it a full blast of water to be sure that the refuse causing the clog is fully flushed out of the pipes.
Liquid drain cleaners have never worked very successfully for me when there has been a major clog in the pipes. Once, however, I tried what was labeled an "institutional formula" and achieved success.
The just-issued Fedco catalogue advertised on Page 26 a "Power Rooter" that works on an electric drill and has a safety clutch to prevent drill burnout. It's priced at $7.87. I can't recommend it, because I haven't used it, but you may want to look into that type of a solution.
Q: I'm building a plywood cabinet. I'd like to keep the tops and sides free of nails, because I've never been able to countersink them and fill the holes without it's being a sloppy job. If I glue the top and side panels, what kind of glue should I use?
A: Try an adhesive such as Weldwood Contact Cement, available at hardware stores and home centers. Be generous with it, and it should do the job.
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.