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A HELPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : Black and White of Repainting Room

August 06, 1994|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. Our teen-ager has moved out of our house for college, and I'm planning on turning his bedroom into a den. Two years ago though, we let him paint his room black. How do the walls have to be prepared before I paint them white?

G.D., Garden Grove

A. If you do it right, you'll just need to apply two coats of a primer to hide the black, says Harold Brobst of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton. For the walls, assuming a flat black paint has been used, you can use a simple latex primer. If the woodwork in the room has been painted with an oil-based top coat, you may need to use an oil-based primer, or one of the water-based primers designed to coat oil-based paints. After you let two coats of the primer dry, you should be able to use whatever color top coat you want to lighten up the room.

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Q. I have an old gasoline-powered edger I use about every three or four weeks that works fine. However, a neighbor told me I shouldn't leave gasoline in its tank when it's not in use because as gasoline gets old, it breaks down and gums up the engine. Is this true?

S.S., San Juan Capistrano

A. Old gasoline is not good for an engine, says Patrick Kim of McLean's Lawnmower Service in Ora.nge. This applies to any gas-powered equipment. If you're not going to be using the equipment for a couple of weeks or more, it's probably a good idea to drain the gas tank, then refill it with fresh gasoline just before you use it. Try to get an idea of how much gasoline you use to complete your job so you're not having to drain a lot out afterward.

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Q. We'll be putting new carpeting in our house soon, and I had an idea to solve one of our telecommunications problems. The phone jack in our den is at the complete opposite side of where we like our phone to be. Instead of putting a jack on the other wall, can't we just feed the phone line under the new carpeting?

R.C., Brea

A. Yes, that's an easy way to solve most problems like that, says Doug Welch of A-Z Wholesale Electrical Supply in Anaheim. Normally, you don't run any kind of electrical wiring under a carpet, but there's not enough voltage in the phone line to create a fire hazard. Have the carpet installers take care not to pierce it on the tack strip, and it's probably best to lay it under the pad rather than just under the carpet.

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Q. We recently bought a home that has central air and heat. Over the past few months we've noticed that there seems to be a lot of dust on our furniture after the air has run for a while. Someone told us this could be the result of the ducts being dirty. What's the best way to clean them?

L.L., Anaheim Hills

A. Unfortunately, it's not a job that most homeowners can handle, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove. There are firms that specialize in cleaning ducts and they use unique vacuums to reach into the ducts. The problem usually occurs when dust and dirt are drawn up into the system through a dirty or ill-fitting filter, then the dust is forced through the ducts back into the house. This is one of the reasons you need to regularly check and replace your filter.

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Q. When I turn on my shower, it takes so long for the hot water to get upstairs. Is there a way to make the plumbing route shorter so that I'm not wasting so much water?

C.O., La Palma

A. As for shortening the distance the hot water has to travel, generally your plumbing has been installed to take the shortest route when the house was built, says plumber Andrew Miller of Santa Ana. You can install a water heater upstairs, or, you can also put in a recirculating pump, which keeps hot water running through the system so it's hot whenever you turn the faucet on.

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