Question: We have a 4-by-6-foot domed opaque skylight in our family room that allows too much light inside. Is there some kind of coating we can apply to either side that will reduce glare, or are there any other means of doing this?
Corona del Mar
Answer: "If your skylight is plexiglass, as most modern skylights are, you really should be careful about any kind of chemical you'd use on it," says Bill Campbell of Bristolite Skylights in Santa Ana. "You could make it cloudy or brittle. You may be able to have a pleated shade made for the opening with which you can regulate the amount of light that gets inside. This way you can enjoy the light when you want to, and when it's closed, the reflective backing keeps heat from building up behind it."
Q: I'm interested in adding an electrical circuit to turn my garage into an office and since there's no room on my electrical panel for another breaker switch, I was thinking of using a "skinny" breaker. Are these reliable?
A: "These are small breakers that allow you to fit two breaker switches where only one fit before, and using them is going to depend on whether your panel will accept it," says Bill Cramer of Ferrell's Electric Supply in Orange. "Even though a twin breaker may fit, the manufacturer may not recommend using one. You'll have to do some research to find out who manufactures your panel, and whether they can advise you on using a twin or skinny breaker switch for it. You'd also better check with your city building department to see if you need a permit to add another circuit."
Q: We're going to be replacing some of the windows in our home soon and I had heard about "Low-E" glass as being the best in terms of energy savings. Is this true and is it readily available?
A: "Low-E is still relatively new and usually has to be ordered, and it is probably one of the most energy-efficient glass products available," says Richard Morales of Westminster Glass & Mirror. "You see it most often now in commercial buildings and in some new home construction. It keeps a lot of the heat and radiation from entering the inside of the structure without being heavily tinted. In the next few years, you'll probably see more use of it in homes, since it's effective in preventing curtains, upholstery and carpeting from fading, which often happens when the sun enters regular glass windows."
Q: After the recent rains we found a problem with water getting behind the white walls in our living room and causing some stains. Can we get the stains out without painting?
A: "Unfortunately, you're not going to have much luck getting those stains out; they're just about permanent," says painter Charlie Shaw of Anaheim. "You'll have to paint over the stains, but before you do that you'll have to apply some type of white pigmented shellac to cover the stain. Water stains have a tendency to bleed through regular paint, no matter how many coats you use, so you should use the shellac to 'seal in' the stain."