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Rub-a-Dub Success Depends on Type of Tub and Type of Stain


Q. The tub in our 10-year-old house is white, but it's developing some yellow spots along the bottom and sides. What could be causing this, and how do we get rid of them?



A. What you're seeing may depend on the type of tub you have, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets n' Fixtures in Orange. If your tub is cast iron or pressed steel, it may be signs of rust. If that's the case, you can use a product such as KRC-7, which is available at most bath supply stores. It's good for removing rust from porcelain.

If the tub is fiberglass, it's possible that at some point a caustic chemical was used to clean the tub and it etched the surface, discoloring it. If that's the case, there is nothing you can do.


Q. The pile carpeting in my house is 2 years old and in need of a cleaning. I'd like to just rent the equipment and do the job myself, but I've heard that it's possible to ruin carpeting if you clean it the wrong way. Are there any guidelines to self-cleaning carpets?



A. Using rental equipment is fine for periodic cleaning as long as you follow the directions, says Mark Silverberg of New York Carpets in Anaheim. But you should also have a professional deep-clean them with a truck-mounted hot-water extraction unit in between times.

One of the mistakes people often make cleaning carpets themselves is they apply too much water and/or soap. The machine can only extract so much of the soap, and you may end up with a residue on the carpeting that attracts dirt.

Getting the carpet too wet can cause the backing to separate, which can make the carpet appear wavy. Your carpet should be dry two or three hours after cleaning. If it takes longer, you may have soaked it.


Q. In an effort to save on energy costs, we'd like to find the best way to heat our pool without turning on the heater. Is there a special cover that's recommended?



A. There's a solar blanket that's available that can raise the temperature of your pool water substantially, says Brad Gaston of Orange Pool Supply in Orange. It looks like plastic packing material, and if it's properly used, it can raise the temperature of the pool water 10 degrees higher than the air temperature.

This allows you to turn your pool heater off except on very cold days. The blankets are available in manual or automatic models, and they start at about $200.


Q. I love the look of bookshelves that are built into the wall, but I'm wondering how this is done. Would I have to dig into the wall to create them? Or is a second wall built or is it a combination of both?


Costa Mesa

A. They are made by building a false wall in front of the present wall, says Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. You have the new wall set out 6 to 8 inches, which allows you room to fit the shelves.

It's not a good idea to open up the old wall, since you only have a few inches to work with and some problems might be presented. If the old wall is load-bearing, you may need to add a header to help support it, and you may have to avoid electrical wiring.


Q. We're thinking of painting our living room ourselves, but it has a very high ceiling. Is there a trick to getting this painted without killing yourself?


Huntington Beach

A. Good balance and someone to hold the ladder are needed, says painter Dave Garcia of Santa Ana. A professional will try to spray the ceiling when he can, especially when it's an acoustic or "cottage-cheese" ceiling.

If you have to work with a roller, use a good extension for it, and try to be patient as you cover each area with paint.

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