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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Bleach Solution Can Help Rid Wood of Mildew

March 13, 1993|JOHN MORELL

Question: Two years ago we had our house painted and, while the stucco still looks fine, the white wood trim is discolored with a black substance. We don't know what it is or how to get rid of it. Do you have any ideas?

C.J.

Irvine

Answer: "Most likely, the problem is mildew," says Charlie K. of Tustin Paint Mart. "The area where you find it may be under a tree or on a shady part of the house, and you're probably using a latex paint, which mildew loves. With all the rain we've had this year, there's a lot of exterior wood that's still saturated and is being attacked by mildew and other fungi.

"You'll need to take a strong bleach solution, maybe a cup mixed into a gallon of water, then with rubber gloves, some kind of eye protection and a sponge, wash off the black areas. If it occurs again, you may want to sand the area down and cover it with a paint that has a mildew-cide mixed in."

Q: A large rust stain has appeared on our driveway after our car was left outside, and we haven't found a way to remove it. Is there a method or product that will do the job?

B.P.

San Clemente

A: "You might try having a concrete cleaner pressure-clean the driveway," says contractor Dave Miller of Santa Ana. "It costs around $100, and it's fairly effective. However, rust is extremely difficult to remove. Sealing the concrete would probably solve any future staining; however, sealed concrete can be very slippery when wet, making it a hazard. You'll probably always have some remnant of the stain. You can also try taking a heavy detergent solution and scrubbing it with a wire brush."

Q: In the process of refinishing some cabinets in our den, I've had problems putting the doors back on, and some of the hinge screws have broken in the cabinets. I've tried using a screw extractor and ended up breaking that to remove the screws. What can I do to get the screws out and save the finish on the cabinets?

F.F.

Yorba Linda

A: "Using a screw extractor, especially on small screws, can be very taxing," says Larry Hohenstein of Amco Building and Plumbing Supply in Costa Mesa. "You have to start with a very small center punch that creates an indentation for the drill bit. Then you have to carefully drill through the center of the broken screw. Take the extractor and screw it in counterclockwise. If all goes well, the extractor will remove the screw as it's turned. You just have to be very patient on a job that small, do it slowly and try to do as little damage to the cabinets as possible."

Q: Is there any way to get the glue off of vinyl wallpaper after it has dried?

B.K.

Tustin

A: "Try using some warm, soapy water and a sponge and rub the glue off," says wallpaper hanger Steve Gregg of Anaheim. "Once it's wet it should soften up and it can be gently scraped off. If that doesn't work, you may need to use some type of solvent, but you have to be careful. Vinyl is a pretty tough surface, but some solvents can damage the finish. Try using it in a corner to see if it has an effect on the paper before using it on the rest of the wall."

Q: There is an odor like sewer gas coming from our kitchen sink. What could be causing this and how do we fix it?

B.N.

Seal Beach

A: "There may be a problem in the trap below the sink," says plumber Jay Griego of Lake Forest. "There may not be enough water in the trap to seal it, or you could have some decaying matter that hasn't flushed through the drain. I'd remove the trap and clean it out, make sure there are no leaks, then replace it correctly."

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