Q: I'd like to fix up an antique lamp I received from my grandmother, however, before I can get it to work I've got to get the old, broken bulb out. The glass and filament are gone, but the metal part is still screwed tightly into the socket. Is there any kind of special tool I can use?
Rancho Santa Margarita
A: "There are no special tools, although I make this repair so often I wish there were," says Joe Trujillo of Allied Lighting in Costa Mesa. "First, spray some WD-40 around the socket and wait a few minutes. Then take a pair of needle-nose pliers, grip the edge and try to turn it the best you can. The spray should loosen it enough to get it out of there. Then before you screw another bulb in, wipe off any excess lubricant."
Q: I've got a couple of stereo speakers I'd like to hang from the ceiling in a corner of our family room. Is it safe to hang something heavy with toggle bolts or should I try to attach them to ceiling joists?
A: "Toggles are pretty strong," says Mike Delaney of Fullerton Hardware. "A 3/16- or quarter-inch toggle in drywall is going to handle about 60 pounds. As the diameter of the bolt increases, so does the spread of the wing, which makes it stronger. A half-inch toggle spreads out about 4 inches, so you can get away with hanging a lot of weight with a large toggle bolt."
Q: We have three vinyl kitchen floor tiles that have become stained over time. I have matching replacement tiles, but there's almost no clearance around the bad tiles. How do I get them out without damaging the good ones around them?
A: "You'll need a real sharp putty knife and just pull it up slowly," says George Melendez of Standard Brands in Anaheim. "A little paint thinner might help it come off easier. Or, you might take a sharp utility knife and score it from one corner to the other to make an X. When you pull off the tile it will probably break apart, but that will make it easier to remove. After getting the tile off you've got to remove the leftover adhesive with a scraper or a chemical remover so the replacement tile can be laid on a clean, smooth surface."
Q: I'm having a problem with a portable gas grill. After only about three barbecues, we have to refill the gallon propane tank. Neighbors who have gallon tanks seem to get quite a bit more use before they have to refill. I haven't been able to smell any propane, but could there be a defect with my tank?
A: "You should have your tank checked the next time it's filled," says Barbara Brault of Amco Building Supply in Costa Mesa. "It could very well be a shut-off valve that's not closing all the way and it's allowing the propane to escape. Or it may be at the quick disconnect switch if you have one, or there could be a pinhole in the tank. Checking it yourself is not easy and it could be dangerous. Have someone else do it."
Q: We just extended a concrete porch in the front of our house and I was wondering about sealants. What should I put on the new concrete to protect it?
A: "Under normal circumstances, there's no reason to put a sealer on a job like that," says Don Vaught of Geller's Ready Mix Concrete in Westminster. "Sealing produces a finish that makes stains easy to remove and is good for professional applications, however, it also makes a very slick surface, especially when wet. After it was laid, you could have applied what's called a 'light broom' finish, in which a broom with thin bristles in scraped over the concrete. It creates a finish that's easier to walk on."