Question: It takes forever for the hot water to get from my garage to the kitchen sink. I've removed the built-in oven and would like to move the hot water heater into this space. Are there any pitfalls I should be aware of?
Answer: "Rather than move the water heater, I'd suggest installing a hot water circulating pump, which would keep the water warm in the pipe so you wouldn't have to let the faucet run very long to get hot water," says Manny Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing Supply in Garden Grove. "You can also install a small two- or four-gallon electric water heater under the sink that will provide you with hot water on demand. The problem with moving the water heater, especially if it's a gas heater, is that you have to provide a vent for the exhaust fumes and you'd have to build an enclosure for it."
Q: I've seen ads for a paint and finish removal product in which you apply it like paint to the surface you want to remove, allow it to dry, then peel it off. Does it work?
A: "Unfortunately, I think this is one of those products that work better on TV than in real life," says John Walter of Alamitos Paint and Wallpaper in Los Alamitos. "I've had people use things like that and then they'll come in and buy regular paint stripper because it was just too hard to work with. In some applications, it may work just as advertised. But I would rather stick with proven paint stripping products."
Q: Our kitchen sink seems to be draining more slowly than normal, even after running a snake down the trap. I'd like to open up the clean-out plug outside, but I don't think it's been opened since it was installed 36 years ago, and with all the rust and paint it's locked on. How do I get it off now?
A: "If the plug is brass and the fitting is cast iron, it may have been tightened too much the last time it was closed, since brass is so soft. Try tapping around it a few times with a hammer to try and break up some of the paint and rust," says Jeff Biard of Biard & Crockett Plumbing Service in Orange. "Spray some penetrating oil around the threads and let it sit for a half-hour or so, then see if you can turn it with a wrench. If that doesn't work, your alternative would be to cut it out with a hacksaw and get a new one, made of either plastic or brass."
Q: About once a month, I need to use a flashlight, and when I pull one out of the toolbox, it never seems to work, even with new batteries, and I end up buying a new one. Is there a type of flashlight I can get that I don't have to replace each month?
A: "Probably the sturdiest ones you can get are those made of industrial-type plastic," says Claude Bradley of Canning's Brea Hardware. "These have gaskets that seal the connections inside from the atmosphere outside. What happens is that the electrical contacts oxidize and corrode and keep the circuit from being completed. You should expect to pay around $7 to $15 for a good one, or up to $40 for a sturdy aluminum light."
Q: I've noticed that there are small spaces at the joints in the molding around a few of my interior window frames. How does this occur and can I fix it without replacing the molding?
A: "It's not uncommon to see that happen in older homes," says carpenter Mark Grant of Fullerton. "As the wood ages, it shrinks and pulls away from the joints. If it's pulled away noticeably, you can try filling the space with a wood putty that can be painted, then sand it down when it's dry so that it's flush with the rest of the molding."