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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Win the War Against Mildew With Bleach, TSP and New Paint

July 17, 1993|JOHN MORELL

Question: The master bath in our townhouse has a mildew problem. It's a very small bathroom with a very tall cathedral ceiling. About every four months, the walls and ceiling have to be repainted, despite the fact that we have a ceiling fan running all the time and the small bathroom window is always open. What else can we do?

J.H.

Costa Mesa

Answer: "The problem sounds like it's been caused by mildew spores that are in the paint," says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. "Each time you paint over it you cover the mildew, then after a few months it comes through the new paint.

"What you'll need to do is mix some TSP and bleach in a bucket of warm water and scrub the walls down, then rinse them off. After that, cover them with an oil-based primer, then use a marine, oil-based gloss enamel. This should kill the old spores and prevent any new ones from growing back."

Q: Our house is 30 years old and we have two large sliding windows that need new tracks. I've tried to locate new tracks but no one seems to know where I can find them. Is there any place that carries old window tracks?

S.S.

Costa Mesa

A: "Unfortunately, there's very little chance you'll find anyone with tracks you can use," says Bob Henry of B & D Glass in Orange. "What often happens is a builder contracts with a window company to make all of the windows in a housing tract, then years later that company goes out of business and its products aren't available anymore.

"There is a new window available that doesn't require new plastering and painting and is fairly easy to install. These retrofit windows are made to fit into your existing opening and they're simply screwed into place. They're priced about the same as traditional windows, but you will save time and money on their installation."

Q: Our 6-year-old garbage disposal doesn't chew things up as efficiently as it used to. Before, we used to pack it full of watermelon rinds and it would dispose of them in a flash. Now it leaves a lot of rinds in the chamber. What can we do about sharpening the blades?

H.G.

Santa Ana

A: "The best way to keep your disposal blades sharp is to pop some ice cubes down there once a month," says plumber James Killgarten of Anaheim. "And always remember to run water down through it whenever it's running.

"If you're packing it full and then turning it on, you could be causing the problem yourself. When putting things like fruit rinds down the disposal, cut them so they're manageable and put them in one or two at a time."

Q: I recently refinished my kitchen cabinets, which required removing the doors and replacing the worn hinges. When I put the doors back on, I found they didn't close completely as they did before. I tried adjusting the screws, but that hasn't worked. Any ideas?

R.Y.

Lake Forest

A: "It's not uncommon to have problems like this when you change hinges," says cabinetmaker Steve Kelly of Santa Ana. "It usually happens when you have to drill new holes for the screws on the new hinges. The door takes on a different balance and doesn't close like it used to.

"Make sure you pay a little extra for good hardware. There are hinges with springs inside that will keep your doors shut. These are a little more heavy duty, but you usually need that in a kitchen."

Handyman's Note: Regarding a recent letter we had on the control of root growth in sewer drains, Margaret H. Nellor, source control manager for the Orange County Sanitation District, suggests that homeowners who are trying to clear their lines avoid copper sulfate products. "Once released to a sewerage system, the copper contaminates waste water and biosolids (that) hinders the reuse of waste water for landscape irrigation and of biosolids for composting." Nellor says there are products on the market that are effective and environmentally sensitive.

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