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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Wired Smoke Detectors Offer Added Protection With Fewer Maintenance Needs

August 07, 1993|JOHN MORELL

Question: Our condo is 12 years old and has beige-colored smoke detectors in each bedroom and in the halls. I'd like to replace them with white detectors to go with the decor, but when I removed one of them I found it was connected to the house wiring. The new detectors I've looked at are all battery-powered. Is it OK to just cap the wires and attach the battery-powered units into place?

F.D.

Santa Ana

Answer: "It's fine to replace them; just make sure you periodically check the condition of the batteries," says Pam Ieoine of Martenet Hardware in Anaheim. "With the wired detectors, there's an emergency battery that kicks in during a power outage, but it's constantly recharged so you don't have to worry about it. With the battery-powered detectors, if you forget about them, the batteries could die and you'll be without protection.

"You can order new covers through electric supply stores to fit your wired units. You can also order new wired detectors as well. My feeling is that if you have the wiring in place already, why not get a detector that fits into this system to give you added protection and to keep from having to check and change batteries?"

Q: We installed a name-brand tub in the bathroom we added for our children two years ago. Since that time, we've noticed gray areas form along the bottom. How can we get those out?

G.D.

Irvine

A: "This isn't an uncommon complaint about some of the newer bathtubs," says Rich Haagsma of Faucets 'n Fixtures in Orange. "Many are made with a non-slip bottom in which the porcelain is etched to allow for some traction. This area, since it's not smooth, allows dirt and deposits to stick. You may need to use a light, bleaching-type cleanser to scrub the area out, being careful not to scrub the smooth areas of the tub.

"There are other porcelain cleaners, such as KRC-7, available at plumbing supply stores, which may work at removing deposits from etched areas."

Q: Whenever we turn on a fluorescent light in the kitchen, garage or bathroom, our radios begin to buzz. Is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening?

J.P.

Anaheim

A: "This is pretty common when you have fluorescent lighting," says Tom Becker of Harbor Lites in Costa Mesa. "It's caused by interference from the magnetic transformer, and you usually hear it when listening to AM stations. You may get some relief by moving the radio to a far corner of the room, as far away from the lights as possible. You can also get a radio with detachable speakers that allows you to move the tuner into a room away from the lighting."

Q: I have plastic sheets covering the porch roof, and we're having problems with the plastic expanding and contracting with changes in the weather. Can something be put on or between the seams to keep the plastic roof waterproof regardless of temperature?

W.C.

Fullerton

A: "If the roof has been correctly installed, there shouldn't be a waterproofing problem," says John Willie of Ganahl Lumber in Garden Grove.

"Assuming you're using the large, ridged plastic roofing sheets, you need to nail those into place with aluminum roofing nails that have rubber seals. When putting them into place, the sheets should also overlap, which will keep them from expanding and contracting and allowing rain or sun into the porch area."

Got a question about your home or garden? Write to: John Morell, Handyman, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.

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