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Keep an Eye on Fluorescent Bulbs That Need to Be Changed

February 15, 1992|JOHN MORELL

Question: I have a fluorescent fixture in my kitchen and I've noticed that on two of the four tubes, there are dark spots on one of the ends. Does that mean it's dying out?

P.L.

Santa Ana

Answer: "Yes, that's definitely a sign that it's going out," says Dave Galluccio of Harbor Lites in Costa Mesa. "Before a light begins to lose its ionization, it's best to change the bulb. Over time, an old bulb's resistance level goes up and the ballast overheats, which means eventually you'll have to have a new ballast installed. We recommend that you change your fluorescent bulbs every 14 to 18 months. You'll have more light, since new bulbs burn brighter, and you're saving wear on the ballast."

Q: We painted our exterior wood trim three years ago with an expensive brand of paint, and now we've found areas where paint has an "alligator skin" finish. What causes this, and what can we do to keep it from happening?

E.B.

Anaheim

A: "That's often a sign of too many coats of paint being applied to the surface of the wood," says Harold Brobst of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton. "Sometimes people don't take the time to remove or prepare the surface of the wood enough before applying the new paint. It frequently occurs on the north side of the house, where there's not as much sunlight to dry away moisture that can get underneath the paint.

"Depending on the age of the house, you might have six or seven coats of paint on that wood, and if there's any kind of bubbling or blistering around it, moisture is getting in behind the paint film and is affecting the finish. The solution would be to scrape away as much of the old paint as possible, then apply a good primer coat before using your finish coat."

Q: I have a patio roof made out of aluminum, and over the years, it's become corroded and pitted. Can I put anything on it to make it look better?

G.V.

Laguna Hills

A: "Probably the best thing to do is apply some aluminum jelly," says Chuck Fields of Yorba Linda Hardware. "You apply it with a brush like paint and it spreads evenly over the aluminum, taking away the discolorations. It's also a sealant, and it will protect it from the sun and rain."

Q: What's the best way to connect a steel water line to PVC plumbing?

T.N.

Costa Mesa

A: "If the steel pipe is threaded, you can use an adapter that mates the threaded part to the PVC pipe," says Lee Sist of the Tile and Plumbing Gallery in Huntington Beach. "If it doesn't have a threaded portion, you can use a no-hub coupling, which is rubber and has a steel band around it to accommodate whatever steel pipe you need."

Q: I'm interesting in painting our young son's room, and I've seen some children's rooms painted creatively. One in particular looks as though someone has dipped a brush into several colors of paints and splattered them across the wall. Is that what's done?

W.K.

Anaheim Hills

A: "It's called 'spattering' and that's basically how it works," says painter Chris Newburg of Santa Ana. "Before you do it, you may want to paper the room with a plain white or neutral wallpaper, since painting over the spattering when you're ready to change the room isn't always easy. You have to make sure the room is completely masked, since it can create quite a mess.

"You should use a stiff brush and ruler. Dip the brush in the paint then put the ruler on the front of the brush and pull it toward you the release thus spattering the paint. You should probably practice this in the garage on a big sheet of butcher paper to get the technique down and to see if you like the colors you're using together. And don't forget to wait until each color has completely dried before going to the next color."

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