Q: We're considering buying a used waterbed and using it in our 45-year-old house. However, I wonder if our old home's wood floor can take all of that weight. Is there some way I can check to see if it's safe?
A: "The general rule is that a waterbed is safe in a house that's 50 years old or younger," says Christine Pojar of Waterbed Doctor in Westminster. "Although, I have waterbeds in two bedrooms of my house and it's 53 years old. It depends on the condition of the house and how well it's been kept up, but they're pretty safe. You figure that the average waterbed weighs as much as 10 people standing in one place."
Q: I have an antique pedestal sink that I'd like to have refinished. Could that damage it?
A: "Generally, refinishing doesn't hold up in the long run," says Rick Allbright of Allbright Plumbing and Heating Supply in Los Alamitos. "Refinishers will sand it down and then spray on a new enamel. But after a couple of years of cleaning and use, I've found many people have to do it over or get a new fixture. What should be done is a re-enameling, where the old enamel is stripped off down to the cast iron and a new coating is baked on. It's a tough, expensive job that's too big for the average homeowner. But if you're really attached to the sink, that's what you should be thinking about."
Q: I'm interested in possibly buying those sensor security switches that detect motion outside a door or window and light up an area. However, a neighbor has one that's so touchy his dog sets it off. Can I get one that's more reliable?
A: "The quality of these detectors varies a great deal," says Paul Oelrich of Builder's Emporium in Tustin. "There's usually some kind of sensitivity switch on the back of the unit, however, the cheaper the model, the less reliable it is. They range in price from about $25 to $70, and the better ones usually have a quartz light, which gives you a brighter beam compared to the standard types of floodlights."
Q: Despite this new age of recycling, I can't find any recycler or dump willing to take an old refrigerator off of my hands. How do I get rid of it?
A: "Because of the Freon and its danger to the atmosphere, no one wants to bother with old refrigerators," says Doug Malle, a scrap metal dealer from Santa Ana. "And nowadays, you'll find a lot of people won't take them because they're afraid of scraping a kitchen floor while they're getting it out and having to pay for repairs. Your best bet is to just call a charity like Goodwill or Disabled American Veterans that will take old appliances and have them move it out."
Q: In looking around for new paint for my kitchen, I found a great color but it's an exterior, oil-based enamel. Even though it's designed for outside use, wouldn't it be good for my kitchen because stains would easily come off of the glossy finish?
A: "If it's an oil-based exterior enamel, forget it," says Mark O'Brien of Sherwin Williams Paints in Costa Mesa. "They've been outlawed in Southern California because of the vapors. And for the most part, you really don't need an exterior enamel for the inside of your house. Exterior paints have mildew inhibitors and pesticides that protect the wood from the elements. If you're really interested in a color, a good paint shop should be able to match it in the type of paint you need."
Q: I'm wondering about all of the condensation that drips from the pipes on my central air unit to the plants and flowers around it. I'm thinking about putting a vegetable garden in that area, but is the water that comes from there toxic?
A: "It's just water in the atmosphere, there's nothing toxic about it," says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Plumbing and Heating in Garden Grove. "The only time that would be a problem is if you had a lot of excess condensation that would make the ground too wet and erode the soil. Then you'd have to consider re-routing the pipes."