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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Conversion to Wood-Burning Fireplace No Easy Task

October 24, 1992|JOHN MORELL

Question: We recently bought a condominium that has a gas log fireplace. It looks nice, but we'd prefer to have one where we can burn wood. What do we need to do to convert it?

R.E.

San Clemente

Answer: "In all likelihood, I think you're stuck with it," says Tom Larson of Leisure Living Patio Furniture and Fireplace in La Habra.

"These fireplaces usually have just a black metal frame, with a little burner that has a row of blue flames coming up out of a couple of fake logs. Although they give you the fireplace 'look,' they create no heat. To convert it, you'd need to replace the entire fireplace, and probably the flue. You'd also need to get it past your association board, which could be a problem.

"Wood-burning fireplaces that have been converted to gas logs are easy to change. You just remove the logs and it should be ready to go. For those who have a wood-burning fireplace and are tired of the soot and the work involved in keeping the fire burning, there are new gas logs that can be installed that give off the same amount of heat and look like a real fire. But these logs can only be used in a fireplace designed to burn wood."

Q: I've got two rooms at opposite sides of my house that I use for business. I need to have the same phone line in both and I was thinking about getting one of those wireless phone extensions to keep from having to fish wire all through the house. Are these as good as a hard wire extension?

D.D.

Anaheim

A: "The technology has been around for a long time and it has improved enough to allow you to send a telephone or even a stereo signal through regular house wire," says Mike Delaney of Fullerton Hardware. "These work pretty well, however, you may have interference problems created when a machine is running on the same circuit. Unless running the phone wire is real physical problem, I go with hard wire just because you're assured a clearer connection and it's less expensive."

Q: We bought a home this summer, and the previous owners had removed the doors in the bathroom cabinets and replaced them with wood sliding doors. Is it possible to get new doors that would match the cabinets?

H.D.

Yorba Linda

A: "There shouldn't be a problem removing the sliders and attaching a doors to the frame," says Marlene Marcum of Carle & Son's Wood Products in Anaheim. "Most doors can be ordered through a kitchen or bath supplier, and you can probably find a style to match the cabinet. You can also have a professional stain them to match the cabinets or give you direction on what you'll need to match the stain."

Q: A friend told me that I should install ground fault interrupters to replace all of the standard receptacles in my house. I can see where they'd be good in some rooms, but do I really need to replace all receptacles?

T.R.

Santa Ana

A: "You should check with your local building code to see what your regulations are," says electrician Dave Willow of Lake Forest. "Ground fault interrupters GFI watch the current going through a receptacle and if there's any imbalance between the hot and neutral wires, it shuts the receptacle down.

"You should at least have these in the kitchen and bathrooms where water is close to the electrical outlets. They're pretty easy to install if you've ever replaced a receptacle before, just follow the directions that come with them."

Q: Is there any problem in using standard light bulbs in my recessed lighting fixtures rather than floodlight bulbs?

W.C.

Anaheim

A: "Probably not, but you're changing the look of the lighting," says fixture installer Ed Martin of Los Alamitos. "The floods create a certain atmosphere that you won't have using standard bulbs. The flood light bulbs are little more expensive, but if you've got recessed lighting, you might as well make it look its best."

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