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INSIDE & OUT : Getting to Bottom of Drain May Clear Ice From Frost-Free Fridge


Q. My frost-free refrigerator has worked fine for the last nine years and continues to do so, except for the ice that forms in the back corner. What is causing this?

K.E., Newport Beach

A. It could be that the defrost system is working, but you're having a drainage problem, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove. The defrost system operates by collecting the frost on a coil, then heating it so that it melts. This water then drops into the drain pan at the bottom of the unit and evaporates. However, if the line that runs down to the pan is plugged, water will collect and it can freeze.


Q. My husband says I should rinse every dish clean before putting it in the dishwasher. I think the dishwasher can handle food particles and the dishes don't have to be perfectly clean. Who's right?

S.W., Brea

A. Although it has a pump to dispose of small food particles, a dishwasher shouldn't be treated like a disposal, says Ted Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra. From the dishwasher to the final sink discharge at the disposal, the drain typically passes an air gap. Over time, food particles can accumulate and clog. You have to be aware of non-dissolving food particles. You don't have to wash the dish completely, just rinse off the loose food so that you're not leaving a lot to clog the system.


Q. We'd like to wallpaper our living room. However, I want to do it in a striped wallpaper pattern, which is a problem since the walls aren't straight and it's bound to look funny in the corners where the stripes will run out. How do the pros do it?

T.Y., Lake Forest

A. This is a pretty common problem since most walls aren't perfectly square, says Jim Grant of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. Generally, if you look really close at a couple of walls that have been papered, you'll find the corners don't line up real well. You'll end up with a slightly fatter or thinner stripe by using the corner to make up for the wall's bad angle. Re-plumb the piece as it comes out of the corner.


Q. We recently bought a house that has a swimming pool. We'd like to make it safer without fencing it in. Are those strong pool covers able to provide security against someone falling in?

M.M., Buena Park

A. They can, but you'll need to do some research, says Brad Gaston of Orange Pool Supply in Orange. Some covers are better than others and you may need to look into which one will suit you. There are the motorized covers designed for rectangular pools as well as the net-type covers to keep children and animals out. However, remember that state law requires all new pools to be built with a fence, and that's probably the most effective safety device as long as the gate is closed.


Q. I have some old aluminum patio furniture that I'd like to repaint. The last time I did it I used spray cans and while I finished with a good paint job, it was quite messy. I ended up with paint in areas where I didn't want it, especially on my hands. How can I make it a cleaner job?

P.Y.,Yorba Linda

A. There's a common mistake people make when they use spray paints, says painter Doug Howard of Anaheim: They don't use rubber gloves. You're always bound to get paint flying up around your hand.

Because you don't have great control, you'll also have to be sure that you've got the object you're painting adequately masked off. This will prevent paint from dripping around onto the floor or areas where you don't want paint. Also be sure you're just applying light coats, letting them dry and then applying your extra coats. When you spray too thick, you'll have drips and blotches that can get everywhere.

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