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A HELPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : Bleach Kills Mildew Spores Deep in Paint

November 12, 1994|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. Although our bathroom is well-ventilated with a fan and a window, the walls get black mildew marks. We painted with a washable enamel after scrubbing the walls down, but the mildew returned. What can we do to keep the mildew from thriving?

T.B. Huntington Beach *

A. Before repainting, wash the walls with a mix of bleach and water, says Charlie Kaczorowski of Tustin Paint Mart. Make sure the bathroom window is open and the fan running while you work. Mildew is often rooted deep in the paint surface, so, while it may appear that you've wiped it out with soap and water, it can always return. Using chlorine bleach should kill the underlying mildew spores. When you repaint, use an oil-based enamel, which is more mildew resistant than a water-based paint. Also, have your paint store mix in a mildew-cide with your color to give you more protection.

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Q. We're planning a bathroom remodel. We like the look of high-quality brass fixtures; however, friends who have them tell us that the brass on expensive fixtures deteriorates just as quickly as it does on cheaper fixtures. Is that true? What should one look for in brass faucets and handles?

S.V., Brea *

A. There are three basic categories of brass fixtures, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets n' Fixtures in Orange. Some are made of plastic or a "pot metal" and are brass-plated. Others are made with a piece of sheet brass, out of which the piece is stamped. More expensive brass fixtures are cast from molten brass before being polished and machined.

Once the plated fixture tarnishes, there's no way to fix it, and it must be thrown away. The stamped fixture tends to last longer, but it can't be polished, and it will also be ruined by tarnishing. The advantage of the cast brass is that it can be repolished. All brass faucets have some sort of coating to protect them from tarnishing, but many people use abrasives or harsh chemicals to clean the brass. That removes the coating. Keep fixtures as dry as possible and clean with soap and water. After they dry, apply a car wax to help protect the finish.

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Q. We have carpet in one of our bathrooms, and a crack in the toilet's water line caused a great deal of leakage around the toilet. The carpet is soaked. I've tried sponging up the water with towels, but it's still wet and is starting to smell. What's the best way to clean this mess?

P.I., Buena Park *

A. If the problem is just soaking around the toilet, you may just need to give the area a good chance to dry out, says carpet cleaner Dave Rink of Santa Ana. There's usually a seam behind the toilet that's easily pulled up. Pull the carpet back and use towels to soak up water on the pad. If the bathroom has a window, keep it open; if there's a ventilation fan, keep it running to maintain good air circulation and prevent mildew. Once you get to the point where it's just damp, use a hair dryer on a warm setting to help evaporate remaining water. After the carpet is completely dry, rent a kicker from a rental yard and get the carpet back in place on the tack strips.

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Q. We had a rustic brick paver floor put in our family room and kitchen recently. Although three coats of sealant were applied, I'm noticing oily spotting on the grout and bricks. I've tried plain soap and water but haven't been able to remove them. Any ideas?

M.D., Newport Beach *

A. It's possible that the sealer wasn't correctly applied, or whoever installed it may have used the wrong kind of sealer, says Ken Newland of Tustin Block. Try using a brush and a solution of TSP and water to the spots. That should remove the sealer in those areas and the spots. Once it's clean and dry again, reseal the areas with a sealer designed for use on masonry floors.

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