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Before Repainting Lacquer Table, Sand Off Gloss, Then Prime


Q. I'm tired of my black lacquer coffee table, and I'd like to paint it. What kind of paint should be used, and how should the table be prepared?



A. You'll have to use a fine-grit sandpaper to take the gloss off of the lacquer finish first, says Gene Teramura of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. After the surface has been scored, clean it and then apply an oil-based primer. This type of primer provides a much stronger surface than a latex primer. After the table has been primed, use a good quality oil-based paint to finish it.


Q. Our stainless-steel sink has some deep scratches in it. I've tried some polish on it along with steel wool, but that hasn't made much of a difference. What else can work?


Rancho Santa Margarita

A. Stay away from using steel wool on a steel sink, says kitchen designer Davis McFadden of Costa Mesa. The problem is that unless it's a high-quality sink, the wool could leave fragments that might rust and leave marks. Use a scrubbing sponge with a polish designed for a stainless steel sink and follow the directions. Deep scratches might be too ingrained to remove, but you should be able to shine the rest of the sink up.


Q. Every summer my electricity bills seem to be higher and higher since I've had central air-conditioning. I've heard about an air-conditioning system that runs off natural gas. Is that something that can be used on a residence?


Anaheim Hills

A. There isn't a unit that runs off natural gas, says Gary Kuhn of Appliance Parts Center in Laguna Niguel. There are furnaces that are electric or gas, which your air-conditioner must run through to get through the ducts, but electricity is your only power option for an air-conditioning compressor.

To reduce costs, you have to think of your home as the inside of a refrigerator. Make sure doors and windows are properly weatherstripped, keep direct sun out of rooms with curtains or blinds and use fans to circulate the air.


Q. During a party that got way out of hand, our kids threw some eggs that stained the stucco wall of our house. The wall was painted just last year, and I tried getting the stains off with a stream of water from a hose, but that hasn't worked. Any other ideas?


Fountain Valley

A. You may need to try a medium-bristle scrub brush and a bucket of hot water mixed with detergent, says Rich Zelle of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton. The big question will be whether you can remove the egg without damaging the paint. If the paint is of good quality, you shouldn't have a problem. But if it's inexpensive, you may need to repaint the wall. Try using dishwashing detergent. If that doesn't do the trick, move up to something stronger, such as TSP.


Q. In our kitchen, the drain on the side of the garbage disposal is very slow, while the other side appears to be normal. I know you can't put a plumber's snake down a disposal, but is there anything else we can do to free it up?



A. When a kitchen sink is slow, it's usually because grease has clogged the pipes underneath, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating in La Habra. The easiest and least expensive way to fix a slow drain is to pour a pot of boiling water down it. The hot water can melt the grease and send it through the system.

If that doesn't work, you can try some of the environmentally sound drain cleaners, available at most hardware stores, or one of the more commonly known liquid drain cleaners. If these fail, you'll have to remove the drain underneath the disposal and clean it out with a snake.

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