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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Don't Blow It With a Six-Plug Power Strip

August 29, 1992|JOHN MORELL

Question: I bought a six-plug electrical power strip to plug in my computer, printer, fax, answering machine, stereo and TV.

Am I pushing fate by turning everything on at once? Will that blow a circuit?

G. B.

Fountain Valley

Answer: "I'd spread them out if I were you," says electrician Jack Goulding from Cypress.

"If you had them all on, you might trip the breaker, which might not damage your equipment, but it will give you headaches if you lose a computer file.

"Don't keep more than three pieces of equipment hooked up to the power strip," he adds.

"Just because there are six outlets doesn't mean you have to use them all."

Q: We bought a condo with a kitchen island that has a butcher block on top. I'd like to seal it somehow. Is there anything that can be used that's safe with food?

C. M.

Newport Beach

A: "I'd stay away from using any kind of sealer on it," says Bill Shelton, a carpenter based in Irvine.

"Through general use, it will wear down and get into the food you're leaving on it. Try washing it down with soap and hot water, letting it dry out for a couple of weeks, then apply a light coat of vegetable oil to it and rub it in."

Q: I've seen these motion alarms in the hardware stores where when set, they'll detect movement and sound a high-pitched alarm.

They're only around $40, and I've considered getting one for our house to guard the back door, but is something that cheap going to work reliably?

N. Y.

Lake Forest

A: "If they're the same kind that turn on lights when movement is detected, these can be very reliable," says Tim Ganci of Dickenson Lumber and Hardware in La Habra.

"Although, if something is wrong with it or if the sensitivity is set too high, having an alarm go off all the time would be a real pain. Make sure you get one with an adjustable field, so that you can direct the field to a particular area and not have it set off too easily."

Q: Now that I've bought a house, I need to buy a ladder to do things like paint, check the gutter, etc. I'm perplexed as to whether I should buy an aluminum or wood ladder. Which is best?

H. T.

Rancho Santa Margarita

A: "The first thing to do is evaluate what you'll be using it for most," says Steve Miller, a painter from Santa Ana.

"Ladders are usually graded with different classes, from 1 to 4, with 4 being a heavy-duty industrial ladder.

"For just simple things a homeowner would do, I'd suggest buying a good quality wood ladder. Although it's heavier, it's cheaper than a comparable aluminum, and if it's cared for it will last almost as long."

Q: With an elderly relative coming to live with us in the fall, I'd like to install a grab bar on the bathtub. What's the best way to drill into the tub without damaging it?

R. E.

La Habra

A: "Actually drilling into the tub is difficult. It's not something I'd suggest," says Robert Rayburn of Woodwards Ace Hardware of Santa Ana.

"If it's a porcelain tub, you could crack it, and if it's fiberglass, the bar might just fall off. I'd suggest installing it into the wall and using anchors to screw it in.

"If the wall is tile, you can use a diamond bit or you can score the glazed finish where you'll be drilling with an awl, then use a common masonry bit. Start out slowly, then speed up as you drill deeper."

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