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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Energy-Saving Bulbs Can Be a Bright Idea

January 08, 1994|JOHN MORELL

Question: I'm looking for ways to cut my electric bill, and I'm interested in those "energy-saving" light bulbs. They claim to give the same amount of light with less wattage, but will they last as long as a regular bulb?

G.H.

Irvine

Answer: "Brand-name energy-saving bulbs are a good deal," says Tom Becker of Harbor Lites in Costa Mesa. "You can replace a 75-watt bulb with the 52-watt version and get about the same amount of light, and it should last as long as a regular bulb. You may also want to consider fluorescent bulbs. A 13-watt compact fluorescent will give you as much light as a 75-watt bulb, which can add up to a big savings if you're replacing a lot of bulbs in your home."

Q: We have an odd problem that we've noticed periodically over the past few months. In our upstairs bathroom, the toilet hasn't been flushing completely. I've tried using a plunger to clear it, but it's still slow. Also, some mornings there's a puddle of water around the toilet and the bowl is very full, as if it overflowed during the night. Any ideas on what could be causing this?

T.R.

Lake Forest

A: "I don't think it's overflowing from the bowl," says Rod Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating Supply in Los Alamitos. "About the only way that can happen is if the outlet were completely blocked and you pulled the handle. I think the water you're finding in the morning is coming from the tank. A good way to test this, as long as you don't have carpeting in the bathroom, is to add some food coloring to the tank at night. If the next day you find colored water on the floor, you'll know it's from the tank. The coloring will also make it easier to find the crack where the water's coming from."

Q: I've recently seen walls that have been painted or coated in a way to make them look like marble--varying shades with white veins going through it. Would that be a difficult project to do at home?

D.H.

Yorba Linda

A: "There are kits available to create a marbling effect that are relatively easy to use," says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. "They're lacquer-based and made up of two parts. You have two spray cans of different lacquers. You spray one on and let it dry, then spray on the other, which creates the veining."

Q: I have an old cherry table that still has a very good finish. At a dinner party recently some drops of hot candle wax fell on the table and cooled there. I've left them on there because I'm afraid I may damage the table trying to scrape them off. How can I remove them without causing damage?

B.C.

Fountain Valley

A: "You may want to try taking a small bar glass and put it in the freezer," says Bob Espeland of Espeland Furniture Repair in Orange. "After the glass is frozen, place it on the wax spots for a few minutes. This should harden the drops to the point where they can be pulled up."

Q: I'm going to put a towel/handle bar in my shower-bath, which has ceramic tile on the walls. What's the procedure to drill through tile?

T.Y.

Anaheim

A: "The biggest mistake most homeowners make when drilling through tile is they don't use the right bit," says tile installer Dave Stastman of Santa Ana. "You need to use a diamond-tipped or some other type of bit designed for delicate masonry use. With a variable-speed drill, start out slowly to make an indentation and then speed up and evenly apply pressure to create the hole you want."

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