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Vinegar and Water Could Do the Trick for Stains on Ceramic Tile


Q. I recently moved into a 2-year-old home that has ceramic tile in the kitchen/family room. There are a number of stains on the tile that I can't remove. Is there a special cleaner I should use?

R.H., Foothill Ranch

A. Try a simple solution of white vinegar and water, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim.

Ceramic floor tile is glazed, and it should be very stain resistant. Avoid using abrasives on tile stains, because you might damage the glazing. If the stains can't be removed, you may need to consult with a tile installer.

Occasionally, if moisture is coming up from the subfloor, it can create stains beneath the glazing that can't be cleaned. If the grout is stained, you can use a grout cleaner or, if necessary, grout colorant.


Q. I'm going to be painting my family room soon, and in doing so I want to paint the TV cable that runs along two of the walls. Because I sometimes move the TV to different parts of the room, I want to use a paint for the cable that won't crack as it's moved. Any ideas?

F.N., Santa Ana

A. Go with a 100% acrylic enamel, says Chris Vidovich of Imperial Paint in Anaheim. This stays very flexible and gives great adhesion.

Make sure the cable is clean, but you don't have to use a primer. Because it's a family room, you'll probably want to do the walls in a flat paint, but get a small can of semi-gloss enamel for the cable. Flat paint doesn't have the flexibility of semi-gloss, and you'll find that if it's used on the cable, it will crack when it's bent.


Q. Due to the plumbing layout of our house, it takes at least three to four minutes to get hot water out of some of our faucets, which is very wasteful. Other than re-plumbing the house, is there any way to speed things up?

C.L., Laguna Niguel

A. Your house sounds like a perfect candidate for a recirculating pump, says plumber Andy Gomez of Anaheim. These are installed next to your water heater, and they constantly circulate hot water through the hot water lines so that there's no waiting when you turn on the tap.

You can find them for around $200. Installation is extra.


Q. We replaced the fixtures in our bathroom, and an ugly brown stain has been left on the imitation marble top where the old fixtures sat. Is there any way to remove this?

G.Z., Laguna Hills

A. It's not easy getting stains out of these tops, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating Supply in Los Alamitos. They tend to discolor with age, and the finish on them is very thin. If you use some kind of abrasive, you might permanently damage it.

There's a cleaner known as KRC-7, available at many plumbing supply stores, that might help remove the stains, which are probably a combination of rust and water deposits.


Q. The door to one of our bathrooms was poorly designed. The way it opens, it narrowly misses the toilet and blocks access to the medicine chest unless you walk in and close the door. How hard would it be to install one of those sliding doors that fit flush into the jamb when opened? What is involved in the job?

H. L., Buena Park

A. You're looking at a pretty involved project, says contractor Dan Engle of Brea. The wall you'd be sliding the door into must be broken into and reframed. Wires or pipes would have to be moved, and then the area would have to be patched. It might be easier to hang the door so that it swings to the other side; it will swing out instead of in.

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