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Bulb Wattage Warning Is There for Fire Safety


QUESTION: What is the reason for the warning about using specific maximum wattage bulbs (such as 60 watt) in lamps and fixtures?

ANSWER: The reason for such warnings is to minimize the chance of heat buildup and fire that can result if you use a higher wattage bulb in that fixture. Recessed and flush-mounted ceiling light fixtures are especially at risk because there is no circulation around the fixture to cool the bulb. Some installations use a cover that traps heat from the bulb. Additionally, the bulb itself lies flat against the metal base, which in many cases is attached directly to acoustic tile.

Tracking Down a Refrigerator Problem

Q: Our 1973 automatic frostless refrigerator/freezer forms ice in the bottom. What do you suppose is wrong?

A: First, check that the ice does, in fact, melt when your unit is in its automatic defrost cycle. Open the door and see if water runs down the tube at the back.

Then inspect to be sure that the water passages from the freezer section are clear. Remove any food or packaging material that may be obstructing the water passages.

Remove the cover over the defroster mechanism and check for a blocked hose. You can run a flexible wire carefully into the tube to help remove any obstructions. While the cover is opened, check the defrost unit action by advancing the defrost timer. Rotate the dial clockwise.

The fact that your refrigerator runs frequently could indicate that fan, coils and compressor need cleaning. You may also have a low Freon level. Check this and add Freon if the level is too low.

Protect Window Sash With Polyurethane

Q: I have wood-sash double-glazed windows that have to be stained and varnished. In the cooler parts of the house, condensation collects on the panes and drips onto the horizontal parts of the sash. Now the finish is starting to crack. What is the most water-resistant finish that can be applied to the sash?

A: For the best protection, the wooden sash should be coated with a polyurethane finish. Before applying such a finish, you should strip the sashes, sand them thoroughly and then wipe them clean with a tack cloth. When refinishing, apply the polyurethane so it covers about 1/32 of an inch of the glass pane. This seals the joint between the glass and the wood.


To submit questions, write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The most interesting questions will be answered in future columns.

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