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A HELPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : Deep-Seated Appeal for Japanese Tubs

June 10, 1995|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q Years ago I sailed on a cruise ship, and the tub in my room was small, square and deep. You got in and sat down, and it was very comfortable bathing in water up to your shoulders. I've tried to find something similar for my bathroom at home; are they available?

J.R.

Mission Viejo

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A They're called Japanese soaking tubs, and they're common in Europe and Asia, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets 'n Fixtures in Orange. They're generally 40 inches square and 32 inches deep, with a small seat. It becomes a kind of one-person Jacuzzi bath. There are also models that seat two people. They work very well for people who have small bathrooms and still want the advantage of a whirlpool tub. Expect to spend about $1,000 and up for one, which puts it in the price range of a traditional whirlpool tub.

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Q I painted my bathroom two summers ago with an oil-based enamel. Now, around the shower, "bubbles" have developed on the plaster, and when I break, them a white powder falls to the floor. What causes this, and how can it be stopped?

F.N.

Fountain Valley

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A What you're seeing is probably not related to the paint job, says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. When plaster walls develop powdery blisters, also known as effervescence, that's an indication that water is getting to the wall from the inside. It's not likely to be coming from outside the wall because an oil-based finish provides a pretty good seal. The moisture could be coming from a leaking pipe inside a wall or from a window or tile that needs repair or re-caulking. This needs to be fixed before you can sand the area down and apply an oil-based primer and your finish coat.

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Q The lights in our house seem to be on all the time, and I'm concerned that we may be wasting lots of energy. I'd like to replace our regular light bulbs with fluorescent or halogen bulbs. Which will make the most difference energy-wise?

R.E.

Anaheim Hills

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A Overall, you'll find that fluorescent bulbs use less wattage to produce the most light, says Kathy McNally of McNally Electric Supply in La Mirada. The initial costs of the bulbs, fixtures and adapters will be more expensive, but in the long run you'll save money with fluorescents and they'll last longer. Halogen bulbs don't tend to last longer than 2,500 hours, while fluorescents tend to last 10,000 hours or more.

On the downside, many people don't like the light created by standard fluorescents. There are fluorescents that create a natural light; however, they can cost $16 per bulb. If you're replacing a standard incandescent bulb with a fluorescent, there may be some adaptations you'll have to make.

If you want to be able to dim the light, you'll need a special fluorescent adapter that is very expensive. If you're replacing floodlight bulbs in a recessed lighting fixture, you'll have to use a trim kit with a built-in reflector. When used with a standard black trim kit, fluorescents tend to lose their impact.

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Q We bought a two-story house last year. After the winter's rains, the outside glass on the upstairs windows has become spotted. I don't want to go to the trouble and danger of getting a big ladder and cleaning them. Is it best to pull them out to wash them?

P.P.

Anaheim

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A Assuming you have sliding windows, you could pull them out to clean them, says window cleaner Ed McKinley of Santa Ana. They generally lift out fairly easily from inside the house, which is easiest for most homeowners. Of course, you'll still have the stationary half of the window to deal with. But once you have the sliding half and screen out, it's usually easy to reach the stationary area with a long-handled sponge and squeegee.

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If you have a question about your home or garden, A Helping Hand will help you find the answer. Send questions to: John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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