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Broomstick Can Do Magic on Jammed Disposal

July 06, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. A screw has fallen into our kitchen sink and has jammed the garbage disposal. I've tried using a wrench under the unit to dislodge it, but that hasn't worked. Is there anything else to try before I have to pull it out and take it apart?

K.K.

Costa Mesa

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A. First of all, make sure that before you stick a hand in the disposal or work on it that you've disconnected it from the power source, says Frank Eckert of Arrow True Value Hardware. Most models have a nut or a space to fit an Allen wrench underneath. Insert the wrench and try to rotate the motor back and forth to dislodge the item.

If this hasn't worked, try using a broom handle from the top of the disposal opening to get leverage in turning the blades. If it's still jammed, try removing the disposal and pulling the screw out. However, if the unit is old, it may be better to simply replace it at that point.

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Q. During the rainy season, water ran down my stucco walls onto the windows of my atrium. After several washings, the glass still shows faint white streaks. Is there any way to get these windows really sparkling again?

J.K.U.

Mission Viejo

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A. It sounds like the windows are stained by calcium and possibly oxidized paint from the stucco, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass & Mirror in Anaheim. There are a number of products you can find in a good glass shop that should remove the stains.

One in particular, Shower Sparkle, is designed for removing hard-water deposits in baths and showers and is usually good for glass deposits as well. Make sure, however, that you're not using an abrasive that will etch the glass.

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Q. On one side of our house, the ivy has taken over the entire wall. I like the look, but I know that ultimately ivy damages the stucco and it must be removed. What needs to be done before the wall is repainted?

P.M.

Yorba Linda

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A. It's dirty, hard work, but it must be done, says general contractor Andy Garcia of Huntington Beach. Pull the vines away and cut them off at ground level. Use a new, stiff wire brush on the roots attached to the wall.

Removing these will be essential to restoring the wall. You may need to patch areas where the ivy has pulled stucco off the wall. Only after the roots have been removed from the stucco can you repaint the wall.

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Q. The wood fence separating my backyard from my neighbor's is deteriorating and in need of replacement. We prefer wood, but how can we do it to make it last?

J.K.

Santa Ana

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A. The usual problem with wood fences is the rotting of the posts and termite damage to the slats, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. It's better to use round steel posts embedded in cement, which will give you better stability.

Then, fit a metal-to-wood-rail bracket, which allows you to tack your fence boards to the post. Also, make sure there's at least a 1-inch clearance between the ground and the fence boards to prevent damage from subterranean termites.

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Q. We moved into a home with an old wood floor in the living room that needs to be redone. Instead of refinishing it, we're thinking about painting it. Can this be done successfully?

C.O.

Garden Grove

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A. The prep work involved in this kind of job is extremely important, says painter Will Graves of Fountain Valley. There may be years of wax and finish you'll have to remove before the repainting. You may need to rent a floor sander to get the best results. After the floor is clean and ready, use an oil-based primer and then a floor and deck paint.

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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