Q. I'm a graphic artist and I've turned my den into an office. I use a lot of electrical equipment and I'm tempted to buy a six-outlet adapter to fit over a dual outlet to keep the maze of electrical cords in check, but I wonder if the room's circuit can take that kind of device.
A. "To be perfectly honest, it's not recommended," says Don Jordan of Jordan Hardware in Santa Ana. "Once you turn all six of those things on, you'll overload the circuit. It'll work as long as you don't operate them at the same time.
"This is a common problem in older homes, which were built when there weren't as many electrical appliances available. Rather than add outlets, a better and safer solution is to add additional circuits to accommodate the extra load."
Q. We want to paper our dining room, and in the process, paper the room's non-acoustic ceiling as well. Is it better to start on the walls first, or the ceiling?
A. "Start with the ceiling first," advises Jay Horn of the Wallcovering Source in Orange. "Make sure that's done, then go for the walls. If the surface was painted with flat paint, you have to paint over it with a special wall-covering sealer. If it's been done in semi-gloss, clean it with a mixture of TSP and water, then scuff the glossy patches with sandpaper.
"If it's patterned wall covering, check to see which way you want the pattern to run. Usually, you have it run from forward to back as you enter the room and look up, as opposed to seeing it from left to right. For a ceiling job, you need two people--one on a ladder actually putting paper into place and smoothing it, and another with a broom holding it up."
Q. My water heater needs replacement and while it doesn't look like an extraordinarily tough job, I also know it's not like changing a washer in the faucet. What should I know before I start?
A. "It's not a difficult job, but moving a large water heater is definitely a job for two people," says John Johnstone of Niagra Plumbing in Garden Grove. "There should be a valve you can see that turns the gas on and off. Then you have to make sure you make the right connections to the hot and cold water pipes. Use Teflon tape or pipe joint compound when connecting the water couplings.
"Before installation, however, there are accessories you should get, including 'plumber's tape,' or metal brackets to secure the heater to a stud in the wall in case of earthquake. Then there's a shut-off valve that stops the gas flow during an earthquake. A blanket is also available that keeps the water warm and helps save on heating costs."
Q. I'm planning on creating a concrete walkway in my back yard and I'm not sure about mixing it. How do I know if I have the right water-to-cement ratio?
A. "There is no perfect consistency," says Ames Kergesian of Buena Park Lumber in Buena Park. "The thinner the mixture, the slower it's going to set. Generally, the ratio is four parts cement, sand and rock to one part water."
Q. What are my options if I want to burglar-proof a sliding glass door?
A. "Sliding doors can be pried up and pushed in or out in burglaries unless they're secure in their track," says John Perez of HomeClub in Stanton. "Putting a stick in the track is no defense. There are two types of locks available. In one, you remove your existing latch lock in the handle and install this one, which locks with a key as opposed to a lever.
"The other attaches to the top or bottom of the door and uses a lever to lock a steel bolt and connect the frame to the door. There's also a key that keeps it bolted in place. They're easy jobs and the locks are relatively inexpensive, running from $2 to $12."