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INSIDE & OUT : Hot Topic: Custom Fitting a Gas Oven


Q. I have a gas oven that has been continually repaired and is still not working right. I've considered replacing it, but the repairman discouraged me by saying that, because I live in a mobile home and the oven is a hard-to-get size, it would be costly to put a new one in. Is there an easier way out of this?


Costa Mesa

A. You may want to talk to a contractor to see just how much it would be to retrofit a normal-sized oven in your home, said Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove. Custom ovens can be pricey, and it may be cheaper just to have a new cabinet built to hold a regular oven. If you decide to keep it, you may want to change repairmen and see if someone new can keep it working reliably.

Q. I recently bought some wood patio furniture that had been whitewashed with a primer coat. I applied a water-based top coat but found that the knots in the wood are visible. Is there a way to cover them up?


Villa Park

A. It's highly unlikely that the primer used on the wood at the factory was a stain-blocking oil-based primer, said Harold Brobst of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton. Knots are always a problem, especially with redwood furniture. You'll probably have to remove the paint around the knots and spot-prime the knots with a stain blocker. You can then reapply your top coat, and remember that the knots may need more than one coat.

Q. Our 10-year-old swimming pool has never been drained and repainted, and we've noticed a few hairline cracks. Friends have told us that a pool should be drained and checked every three to five years. Could our pool be damaged?


Lake Forest

A. Check the water level to see how much you're losing, said Brad Gaston of Orange Pool Supply. If it's more than can be attributed to evaporation, you could have a crack that's letting water seep through. If the water level seems fine, the cracks may just be at the paint level. You can check the condition of your paint by rubbing the surface. If a chalky film comes off in the water, you could probably use a new paint job. Paint jobs generally last five to 10 years.

Q. The tracks of my sliding aluminum windows have become sticky. What's the best way to smooth them out?


Santa Ana

A. A lot of people just spray a penetrating oil like WD-40 on the tracks, which seems to work fine, said Roger Martin of Martin Glass & Mirror in Costa Mesa. If you don't want the mess of oil on the glass, you can try using a bar of soap or paraffin wax and running it down the track. Remember to keep the tracks free of dirt and grime, and remember that there is no permanent lubricant. You'll have to periodically reapply it.

Q. The previous owners of our new home had a film placed on the windows to tint them. We've tried using a razor and peeling it off, but that's so time-consuming. Is there an easier way?


Newport Beach

A Using a razor is very effective, but its size is a problem, said Robin Solberg of Vision Window Tinting in Anaheim. You'll need to use a blade or sharp scraper that's wider than one inch if you want to make any headway, and make sure to change blades regularly so you always have a sharp one. But the first thing to do is get some thin plastic film from a paint store and fill a spray bottle with soap and water. Spray the window and put the plastic on it. The plastic will keep the solution in place and soak the tinted film. After a couple of hours, the unwanted film may be soft enough to scrape off easily.

If that doesn't work, you could try the same thing with a solution of ammonia and water. If there's any adhesive left on the glass, just go over it with soap and a razor blade.

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