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Inside & Out | A HELPING HAND

Where There's Smoke, There's Sign You Need Chimney Test

December 14, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q We've just started using our fireplace again, and we're using the same wood we had last year that we stored in the garage. The problem is that the fires seem smokier than last year, and some smoke is getting inside the house. Could this be the sign of an obstruction in the chimney?

S.S.

Huntington Beach

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A It could be that something is restricting the flow of the smoke, says Peter Eichelberg of Yorba Linda Patio & Hearth.

You'll need to get up on the roof to check the chimney cap or have a chimney sweep do it for you. On chimneys with spark resistors, it's not uncommon to find that they've been clogged by burnt newspaper ashes. It's also possible that your firewood may have gotten wet while being stored, which has created more smoke now that you're burning it.

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Q My garage door has six panels at the bottom that have been badly warped. Is there a way to straighten them?

J.G.

San Juan Capistrano

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A If it's an aluminum door, it's possible to get replacement panels from the manufacturer, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. For wood doors, however, you'll probably need to replace the entire door.

Warpage generally occurs because of moisture, which often gets in at the bottom of the door. Make sure your wood door is well sealed with two coats of an oil-based primer and a good quality finish coat, and check it regularly for areas where paint may have worn off.

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Q I have a small olive tree that always seems to have a dusty white scale on its leaves. I'm sure it's a result of the poor quality of the local water, and I was wondering if there's an additive I can use in the water to eliminate the chemical additives.

C.H.

Fullerton

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A A white deposit on the leaves could be caused by a number of things so you shouldn't automatically assume that bad water is at fault, says Mario Ramirez of Loma Vista Nursery in Fullerton.

Deposits are often a sign of over-watering, and it also could be caused by a fungus. You may need to cut down the water supply or apply a fungicide to the leaves. It's probably best to take a sample of the bad leaves to a nursery to see if they can identify the problem.

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Q I have louvered doors that cover my sliding glass door, and they need painting. I'm a little intimidated by all the slats. Is there a way to do this that makes them look like they were professionally done?

D.E.

Anaheim Hills

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A Try to spend as much time as you can preparing them, which means a good cleaning to remove old wax and dirt, says painter Steve Graham of Santa Ana.

The best way to paint them would be to use a sprayer. If you're not comfortable with that, use a good brush and apply a thin coat of primer and at least two other thin coats of your finish coat. Thick coats of paint tend to drip, which is why it's a good idea to use just enough paint to cover the area.

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Q I'm getting rust stains on my white enamel bathroom basins. I've tried a number of commercial cleaners and cleansers, but none have been able to remove the stains. Any other ideas?

L.B.

Newport Beach

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A There are two probable causes for this, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating in La Habra. Either there are cracks in the enamel that are exposing the cast iron underneath, or you could have galvanized plumbing that's getting old.

In either case, water is reacting to the exposed metal in the sink or in the plumbing and leaving rust stains. You might want to try using white vinegar and soaking the rusted areas to remove deposits. If that doesn't improve the look, most plumbing supply stores have products that can pull up some of the rust out of enamel.

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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