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INSIDE & OUT : Fill In the Blanks to Help Silence the Squeaks


Q. We bought some old oak captain's chairs at a garage sale last year. They look great but sound awful. Any time someone sits in them, they creak and groan. Is there a way to fix this without having them re-glued and finished?

S.A.,Huntington Beach

A. There is a trick that might work for you, says Chris Macias of The Old Way Furniture Restoration in La Habra. When the chair gets old, the glue wears down and leaves gaps where the wood has become compressed. If the squeaking is coming from the legs, first hang the chair upside down. With an eye dropper or a syringe, squeeze some water into the joint while you wiggle the leg as much as you can, then set the chair in a warm, dry area. The wood in the joint should then re-expand into the gaps. If the squeaking is coming from the arms, do the same to that area.

This isn't a long-term solution. Eventually you will have to have the chairs properly fixed. But it will probably soothe your nerves for now.


Q. I have a fiberglass shower that has become faded and scaly. Can I just paint this to improve the look? What kind of paint should be used?

T.T., Santa Ana

A. It's generally not a good idea to paint fiberglass, says Dan KramD Kitchen & Bath Design in Brea. Fiberglass needs to be redone with a gel-coat surface. The old surface has to be removed and the new one applied. Unless you're used to working with the materials, you're probably better off having a professional do the job. There are several companies that specialize in fiberglass refinishing. Just painting over the surface won't look very good.


Q. We recently moved into a house that has a fairly new single-handled Price-Pfister faucet in the kitchen. It looks great, but when you turn the water on and take your hand off the handle, the handle drops down and turns the water off automatically, like it's too heavy for the faucet. Is this common in this brand of faucets? Is it a water-saving feature? How can I make the handle stay up?

C.F., Laguna Hills

A. Something is wrong with the faucet, says Ted Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating in La Habra. If it's fairly new, it's probably an adjustment problem. Either the top bonnet isn't properly in place or the cartridge may be worn. Although in commercial applications you may see water-saving faucets that must be held to operate, those are not used for residences.


Q. About five years ago we put a wood floor in our kitchen and carefully moved our refrigerator out to lay the floor behind it. Now that we need a new refrigerator, we flinch when we think about having to pull this heavy old appliance across our pretty floor. How do the pros do it?

D.C., Buena Park

A. Usually, this is done with a heavy appliance dolly, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove. The refrigerator is pulled out of its space, the dolly fits in the side, and the unit is tilted and lifted up. You may want to lay some cardboard in front of the refrigerator and push it up on that. This will protect the floor from the unit's rollers, which may be sticky if you haven't moved it in five years.


Q. I'd like to wallpaper the ceiling in my dining room, but it's an acoustic ceiling. Is there some kind of blank stock paper that can be used to hide the texture before I paper?

C.K., Fullerton

A. Although blank stock can hide a great deal of wall texture, it's not likely to be effective on an acoustic ceiling, says Jim Grant of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. The problem with papering over that kind of surface is that it's simply been sprayed onto the ceiling, so it's probably not going to hold the weight of your paper. The best answer is to have it removed. Take care to have your ceiling tested for asbestos before it's disturbed, though, so that it can be properly scraped.

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