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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

When the Writing's on the Wall, Fight Paint With Paint to Rid Graffiti

July 10, 1993|JOHN MORELL

Question: We have a cinder-block wall around our corner-lot house and periodically we have to clean up graffiti that's been spray- painted on it. We've used different types of solvents and cleaners, but there always seems to be a residue left on the wall. Should we try a different strategy?

E.W.

Santa Ana

Answer: "The problem with cinder block is that paint gets into the crevices and is hard to remove," says Harold Brobst of Hal's Paint & Decorating. "Other than using solvent and a wire brush, you could sandblast the wall, which would clean off any visible paint. If this is a recurring problem, you may find it easier to have a paint mixed that's the color of the wall and paint the entire surface. Your paint will protect the crevices from spray paint, and when you do find graffiti, it's much easier to paint over it than scrubbing it off."

Q: We have a one-piece vinyl floor in our game room that's old but in great condition. However, around the fireplace there are a few places where embers have burned holes and dark spots. The flagstone pattern of this floor is apparently no longer available and I don't want to have to keep the spots covered with a rug. Is there anything I can do?

S.K.

Buena Park

A: "Unfortunately, when a pattern is discontinued, you're usually out of luck when you need to make a repair to flooring," says Steve Hix of Aaron Anthony's Floor Coverings in Buena Park. "That's why it's a good idea to get some good-sized remnants of your floor after it's been installed and store them for later repairs. You might try using some industrial cleaner on the dark spots, but unfortunately, not much can be done about the holes. If you've gotten a long period of good use from it, maybe it's time to think about replacing the whole floor."

Q: When our 5-year-old VCR has been running, we find that the TV Guide, tape boxes and whatever else sits on top of the machine get hot. Does this mean the motor's starting to burn out?

D.S.

Laguna Niguel

A: "All VCR's tend be get warm when they're running," says George Sheurman of Mar Vac Electronics in Costa Mesa. "It's not a good idea to pile anything on top of the VCR. The vent slats should be uncovered to provide a good flow of air. It may be a good time to have your machine cleaned, since over time dirt can cause it to run poorly and create a buildup of heat. This is especially important in homes where you have dogs or cats, since their hair can collect and cause problems inside the VCR."

Q: We have a brick floor in the foyer, family room and kitchen, and over time the color has worn down and many of the bricks have become chipped. I'd like to fix the chips and re-stain the bricks. Any ideas?

C.T.

Lake Forest

A: "Other than painting the bricks, you may want to clean and strip them, which should restore some of their color," says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber Supply in Westminster. "It's an involved process, and you'll need to be careful. With a scrub brush and a solution of one-third muriatic acid and two-thirds water, you should scrub the bricks down while wearing gloves and being careful not to get the solution on the walls or carpeting.

"After it's been scrubbed, you'll need to use a sponge and water to completely rinse away any acid. After the floor is completely dry and acid-free, you can apply a clear sealer. As for fixing chips, there's not much you can do. Many people like the aged-look of chipped bricks, so it may add to your floor's appearance."

Q: My sink in my master bath has a problem with the pull-up stopper. I have to pull the rod very gently or else the set-screw slips and the stopper doesn't sit properly. How can I secure it?

F.F.

Brea

A: "Make sure that the screw is tight against the rod," says plumber Paul James of Santa Ana.

"On most rods, you'll find some type of hole or notch where the screw is supposed to hold the rod in place. It could be that you're not getting it into the notch and the rod slips when pressured.

"Also, try cleaning the rod and screw with some solvent to make sure they're free of any grease."

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