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ASK THE HANDYMAN / JOHN MORELL

Good Support Will Quake-Proof Your Chimney, Water Heater

January 29, 1994|JOHN MORELL

Question: After seeing all the chimneys topple in the recent earthquake, I'm worried about mine. It's brick and 25 years old. Is there anything I can do now to protect it from quakes?

S.E.

Santa Ana

Answer: "There is a retrofit kit that can give your brick chimney some support," says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber & Building Supply in Westminster. "Basically, it connects the chimney to the roof line. It's adjustable to various chimney styles and roof configurations. Before installing the kit, have your chimney checked out to make sure there are no serious cracks and that it's sound. After connecting it to the chimney, you bolt it down into the roof rafters under the shingles, or surface mount it on top of the roof and use tar to seal it."

Q: My water heater isn't secured, and I have some plumber's tape to do the job, but I'm wondering about the right way to do it. My neighbor said it shouldn't be attached tightly to the wall, that there should be a little play for it to move during a quake. Is that true?

F.F.

Lake Forest

A: "That's false. It should be tightly secured, and you should use an earthquake bracket designed for that use," says Steve Johnson of Familian Pipe & Supply in Costa Mesa. "The problem that often occurs with your water heater is in the water connections. Over time, they become stiff and rigid and if the heater moves during a quake, the connection can break off. The bracket is easy to install. It fits on the top of the water heater, then you bolt it into the wall."

Q: We're thinking of installing a clothes dryer next to the washer in the kitchen. A neighbor put one in the same place in his house and cut a hole down into the crawl space under the floor for the exhaust. We'd like to do the same thing, but I'm wondering if that's a safe way to vent.

R.R.

Costa Mesa

A: "Venting your dryer under the house just isn't safe," says Rod Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating in Los Alamitos. "The lint collects underneath the house and gas molecules can stick to it. If a plumber ever had to go underneath the house to solder a fitting, the flame could create a gas fire. When the time came to sell your house, it wouldn't pass inspection until you rerouted the exhaust. A better solution would be to run an exhaust pipe from underneath the hole to the side of the house. This will create a safer installation."

Q: I need to replace a cracked window but I'm having a hard time. All the windows in our 12-year-old house have that faux pane look, where plastic strips have been glued in a grid to make them look like they're separate panes. I can put a new piece of glass in myself; however, how do I find these strips?

C.N.

Anaheim

A: "Usually, a glass shop will cut off the existing strips and glue them in," says Bob Griffith of B & D Glass in Orange. "They're time-consuming to remove, but you just mark where they should be on the new window, cut them apart with a razor, glue them on and hold them into place with tape. When they're dry, you can remove the tape and install the window in place. If they break while trying to remove them from the old glass, you'll have to have a glass shop order them for you from a manufacturer."

Q: I have an ugly grout stain on my bathroom floor that's between four tiles. I've used various cleaners and stiff brushes but nothing's worked. Any suggestions?

W.W.

Huntington Beach

A: "It depends on what the stain is and how deep it has penetrated," says tile installer Mike Blaney of Santa Ana. "I'd try getting a small grout scraper and try to scrape it out if it's not too deep. If it does seem to go down far, you may want to find a matching grout, scrape all of it out in the affected areas and re-grout."

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