Question: Our garbage disposal is 15 years old, and for some reason garbage is often left uncut in the chamber with the blades, and we have to stick our hands down inside to clean it out every few days. Is there a way to remove the blades and sharpen them?
D. A., Fountain Valley
Answer: "There's really not much you can do for a disposal that old," says Todd Coleman of Familian Pipe & Supply in El Toro. "When it gets beyond 5 years old and you start having problems, it's time to think about getting a new one.
"Many of the disposals installed in tract homes are pretty cheap, and you should only expect one to two good years out of it. Before you start having problems with a disposal, you should probably try to keep the blades clean by running ice through them every once in awhile. That will knock off anything sticking to them and help give the blades a longer life."
Q: In trying to secure an armoire to the wall in our bedroom for earthquake protection, I had a heck of a time finding the studs behind the drywall and drilled numerous holes looking for them. Is there a quick and easy way to do this without investing in a stud finder?
W. L., Brea
A: "Try moving slowly down the wall and tapping on it lightly with your knuckle," Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. "As you do this, you should hear a more solid 'thump' or tone change as you reach each stud. Once you locate the first one, the others are about 16 inches away. At each corner is a double stud, or two 1 1/2-boards that are 3 inches wide. If you're doing a lot of this, it may be best to buy a stud finder. There are some good magnetic models that are inexpensive and easy to use."
Q: I'd like to put a new faux marble countertop on my bathroom cabinet. Would I just set it down onto the cabinet and hook up the plumbing or should I use some type of seal before I put it down there?
C. T., Santa Ana
A: "Use a panel adhesive along the cabinet's edge where the top will sit," says plumber Mark White of Westminster. "After applying the adhesive, put the top down and align it so it's straight. Then I always lay an old towel on the top and put something heavy on there, books or a toolbox, and leave it for a few hours to let the adhesive set."
Q: We have a new gas grill with a propane tank, and never having worked with this kind of grill before, I was wondering if there was a way to tell if you need a refill before it runs out.
D. G., La Palma
A: "Unfortunately, there's nothing like a dipstick that you can use to see how low your propane is," says propane dealer Mark Greenfield of Huntington Beach. "The best thing to do is carefully disconnect it from the grill and shake it a little to see if you hear any liquid inside. An empty tank will also be much lighter than a full one."