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A HELPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : Good Seal Will Keep Dry Rot Away

October 08, 1994|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. We have French doors that lead to our patio, and we've found that the wood threshold under the doors has become spongy. I suspect it's deteriorating from water coming from a nearby sprinkler head. Any ideas on this problem?

T.C., Villa Park

A. Any time wood has that spongy feel to it, it's a sign of dry rot, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. Dry rot is usually found in wood that's exposed to moisture. It's caused by a fungus that eats away the fibers, and it's difficult to kill. People often associate it with termites, which like to enter the wood when it's soft and spongy. You could fill in the eaten-away portions with a wood filler, but it's not going to look very good. The best solution is to replace the affected wood and make sure it's correctly sealed to keep out moisture in the future.

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Q. We have a 12-year-old condo with those ugly, faux marble countertops in the bathrooms. I'd much prefer tile. Is it possible to tile over these tops rather than remove them?

L.I., Fountain Valley

A. It can be done, depending on the type of counter you have, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim. If the edges are straight and don't have a lip, you should be able to apply the tile directly. The surface just needs to be cleaned and scratched to give the mastic some adhesion. If your sink is a part of the countertop and can't be removed, you may not want to tile over it, because you'll be stuck with an ugly sink alongside your new tile.

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Q. No matter what we do to our wrought-iron fence, it continually rusts. Every three months it begins to look shabby and in need of paint. Any suggestions on how to make it look better?

R.S., Irvine

A. Get some good wire brushes and brush away any scaling paint and rust, especially around joints where the welds are, which are where much of the rust starts, says Charlie Kaczorowski of Tustin Paint Mart. You might get a break in the top coat at a joint, allowing moisture to get in there, and you have a rust problem. After it's perfectly clean, apply a rust converter, available at most paint stores. This retards the oxidation process that creates the rust. Then apply a good rust-preventative primer over the metal and, afterward, an oil-based enamel.

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Q. Our bedroom is close to the air intake for our furnace/air conditioner. When either unit is turned on, the noise is extremely loud--it's enough to wake us from a deep sleep. What can be done to quiet this?

P.Y., Anaheim.

A. Unfortunately, some units are designed without regard to how loud the air intake is, says furnace repairman Gary Matson of Santa Ana. You may be one of the unlucky homeowners to have one of those. Lots of noise from the intake could also be caused by a clogged or improperly installed filter. Be sure to check your filter regularly to make sure it's not dirty. If you're running both an air conditioner and a furnace through it, replace it twice a year.

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Q. We recently moved to a home near the ocean, and in just three months I've noticed that metals stored in the garage are starting to get specks of rust. What is the best way to save things such as tools, lawn mower, etc.?

S.S., Newport Beach

A. If you're used to storing your tools on a Pegboard, you may have to get some new habits, says Frank Eckert of Arrow Hardware in Orange. Exposing them to the salty air adds to your rust problems. You may need to keep them tucked away in a storage closet. Also, be sure to clean metal tools after they're used. Use a rag with a little light machine oil to rub them down and give them some protection.

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