Question: Our den only has one electrical outlet and I'd like to plug a TV, stereo, lamp and computer into it. But is there a way I can calculate whether the circuit can take all of that before it overloads and trips the breaker?
Answer: "There is a formula to calculate it, but it's assuming that you have a 20-amp circuit, which most homes have," says Bill Cramer of Ferrell's Electric Supply in Anaheim. "Add the total wattage of all of the appliances you want on that circuit, divide by 120, which is the voltage, and that will give you the load or amperage. If you're within 85% of the 20-amp range, then you're overloading the circuit. If that's the case, you'll have to tap into another one to avoid setting off the breaker."
Q: Our new Gwynn and Anaheim avocado trees have a few fruit, but we don't know when they are ripe enough to pick. Can you advise?
A: "Both Gwynn and Anaheim avocados have different harvesting times," says Lalo Mata of Green Thumb International Nursery in Santa Ana. "The smaller Gwynn fruit ripens from February to October, while the Anaheim avocado is ready only during the summer months of June through August. To tell whether an avocado is ripe or not, give it a light squeeze. It should be firm but the skin will give just a bit like a tomato."
Q: I have a 2-year-old table saw that I use for different projects around the house. I've noticed lately that some of my cuts aren't very accurate. What's the best way to align the fence with the blade?
A: "All manufacturers of table saws have their own ways to square the fence to the blade," says Dan LaBounta of Coastline Wood Design of Huntington Beach. "The fence is what slides back and forth to give you the width you want on your cuts, so accuracy is important. What I do is measure from the fence to the front end of the blade, go to the other side, and measure from the fence to the back end of the blade.
"When making the adjustment on the fence, I usually leave mine kicked out about 1/64th of an inch in the back. This keeps the blade from dragging against the wood and chipping as you finish cutting."
Q: My wife and I put new vinyl flooring in our guest bathroom this summer. However, we've noticed that there are small bubbles near the middle where the floor isn't adhering to the vinyl. What can be causing this and can we get rid of them without pulling the whole floor up?
A: "Bubbles can be caused by a lot of things, such as heat or wear, but usually it's because the floor surface hasn't been prepared correctly," says Alan Drewkellen, a floor installer in Huntington Beach. "Probably the best thing you can do is cut into the bubble with a razor and inject seam adhesive into the space, then carefully press it back down. If you cut it cleanly, it should look fine when you press it back down on the floor."
Q: I've got a 1-inch-thick, 4-feet-square sheet of glass that is part of a coffee table. I want to move it upstairs to the family room. However, as you can imagine, it weighs a few hundred pounds and it's very awkward to carry. Is there anything me and my sons can use to make the job easier?
A: "You've just got to go slowly and take it a step at a time," says Martin Bratt, a glass installer in Santa Ana. "With glass that thick, it's probably not too brittle, but it's still real heavy and you could be in danger if you should drop it. If the stairs and floor are carpeted and the glass edges are smooth, I'd try pushing it up and into the room. Make sure there's nothing sharp or hard on the floor and use your legs when lifting it into place."