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Special Tool Can Send Speaker Wire Up the Wall


Q. We want to hook up speakers in our upstairs den to our stereo downstairs. Is there an easy way to fish the speaker wire up through the wall?



A. You'll need an electrician's fishing tape to push the wire up, says Mike McCoy of Current Supply in Westminster.

These are quarter-inch-thick rolls of spring steel that feed out of circular cases. The end has a hole in which you insert and attach the wire, and you push it through a hole in a wall to where you're going. The flat steel is rigid but flexible and allows you to push it up long distances without collapsing.

Because you typically run into problems between floors where the joists are, you'll need to use auger bits to drill the hole.


Q. I'd like to make some simple bookshelves for one of my rooms. I assume I'll use pine because that's the least expensive wood around. Is there any way I can treat the wood to keep it from warping?


San Juan Capistrano

A. Your best bet is to go to a good lumber store and get kiln-dried wood, says Mark Bausman of Bausman & Father Furniture Refinishing in Huntington Beach. Pine that hasn't been kiln-dried will tend to warp and twist as it loses moisture.

Also, plan your project so that you will complete it all in a day or two. When you stop and let a half-finished project sit for a week or two in a warm garage, you may find the corners don't fit as planned because of twisting in the wood.

When your bookshelf is complete, be sure to use a good sealer on every side of the wood, top and bottom. This will prevent moisture from getting into the wood and misshaping it.


Q. A few years ago, I had a problem with my rain gutters spilling over, and I had them cleaned out. I tried doing it myself recently by putting the hose on the roof and letting the water run full blast but found they were filling up again. Is there an easy way to clean them out myself?


Costa Mesa

A. Gutters tend to collect leaves and dirt pretty easily, and these cause most of the flooding problems, says gutter installer Frank Gomez of Los Alamitos.

Get on a ladder and use a garden trowel to scoop out as much of the debris as you can find. If the gutters look clean but they're still flooding, there may be debris or a ball stuck in the downspout. If that's the case, try to flush it out with a hose or poke it through with a long stick.

If a ball is jammed in the spout, you may end up having to remove the spout to get it out.


Q. We're going to need to rescreen our windows soon, and I'm wondering what's the best type of screen to keep out the sun's heat.


Garden Grove

A. There are basically four types of screen materials, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass in Anaheim: aluminum, black enamel-coated aluminum, gray fiber and black enamel-coated fiber.

The fiber screens are less expensive than aluminum, but they tend to stretch and in doing so tear easily. The standard aluminum screens have a long life, but they often reflect light inside the house. Black aluminum tends to be the best when you're trying to prevent heat reflection. It's also easier to look out of and gives you great ventilation.


Q. I recently wallpapered my dining room, and I must not have done it correctly. In a few areas are some large air bubbles. How can I flatten these out without causing a crease?



A. With a sharp razor, cut an "X" in the middle of the bubble, says wallpaper hanger Gerri Dorsey of Anaheim. Use a little wallpaper paste on the underside of the X and press the pieces into place.

Prevent bubbles when hanging wallpaper by making sure all of the underside has a thin coating of paste and work out bubbles with your hands after the piece has been hung but while it's still wet.

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