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Degreasers Can Help Clean Unattractive Blotches on Barbecue


Q. Our barbecue is painted gray on the outside. Grease stains have burned onto the surface and made ugly blotches. What can I use to clean these off?



A. Degreasers available at most barbecue supply stores can help keep the unit clean, says Peter Eichelberg of Yorba Linda Patio & Hearth. If these don't work well, try a simple detergent and a sponge while the barbecue is cool.

If it's hopelessly stained, you can always repaint it. The most common paint available for barbecues is black, but you can probably use automobile engine paint or other paints designed for high-temperature use if you'd like another color.


Q. At our previous home in Northern California, we had a blanket for our old water heater. Our home here has a relatively new water heater. Because it's probably better insulated, do we need to blanket it as well?



A. It doesn't hurt to have a blanket, and it would probably help, says Frank Eckert of Arrow True Value Hardware in Orange. They're made of a high insulating, R-44-type material sandwiched between vinyl or plastic, and they're easy to install yourself. Know how many gallons your water heater holds to make sure you get the right size.


Q. A quarter dropped into our kitchen drain, and ever since the water seemed to be going down it slowly. I removed the elbow underneath the sink and got the quarter out. However, I haven't been able to put it together correctly. There's a slow leak whenever we run the water. How can this be fixed?



A. It sounds as though you need new washers to fit into the two joints, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra. The standard washer for a kitchen is 1 1/2 inches, which you shouldn't have a problem finding at your local plumbing store. If that doesn't work, you may need to replace the elbow portion, which is a simple procedure, especially since you've already removed it once.


Q. Our enclosed patio has hard acrylic windows that have scratched over time. Is there a way to restore them?


Buena Park

A. Once an acrylic window is scratched, there's no way to make it like new, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass & Mirror in Anaheim. However, better acrylics are more scratch-resistant than less expensive ones.

Many people make the mistake of using window cleaners and paper towels to clean acrylic windows, which can damage the plastic in the long run. Clean them with plain water and a chamois to protect the surface from scratching.

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