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INSIDE & OUT | A HELPING HAND

Real Effort to Keep Up Faux Marble Is Necessary

May 03, 1997|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q: About three years ago I had faux marble counter tops installed in my bathrooms along with new chrome faucets. Now I'm finding yellow spots on the white marble where accessories have been placed, and on the fixtures the chrome has dulled and is wearing down. The dealer who installed these is no longer in business. Any ideas on how to fix this?

F.S.R.

Laguna Hills

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A: Faux marble is made with a very thin gel coat that has been placed over a hard surface, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets n' Fixtures in Orange. This thin coat can be easily damaged by abrasive cleaners or nicks in the surface.

It's not uncommon to see stains like that created by perfume or cologne bottles or nail polish remover. Once they're embedded in the gel coat they can't be removed.

It's a good idea to preserve the top by going over it with nonabrasive cleaners and then coating it with a good-quality car wax.

As to the fixtures, it sounds as though they're of poor quality.

Good chrome fixtures are made of brass or steel before chroming. Inexpensive fixtures are often made of plastic or a soft pot metal, and the chrome doesn't adhere very well. Again, try not to use abrasive cleansers on them and use a wax after they're dry to protect them from water stains.

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Q: We're looking at getting new windows for our old house. I've heard that argon-filled windows are the best, but are they effective in our mild climate?

M.M.

Santa Ana

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A: Argon windows are excellent for helping insulate a house, but our weather doesn't get cold or hot enough to make them cost-effective, says Katy Jackson of Golden Glass in Fullerton.

A less expensive alternative is to get standard dual-paned windows made with Low-E glass. This will provide adequate insulation and some soundproofing, without the expense of maintaining argon windows, which have to be refilled with argon periodically.

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Q: We had a new asphalt shingle roof installed about five years ago. A month ago we had some trees trimmed that were close to the roof. The trees left some stains from berries and buds that I wasn't able to wash off with a spray nozzle from my hose. Is there something that will clean off the stains without hurting the shingles?

P.E.

Cypress

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A: Try scrubbing it with water and TSP, says Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. Don't use a petroleum product on the shingles; that could cause them to melt.

When you rinse them down, also make sure that you rinse the lower walls too, to prevent staining and streaking there. If that doesn't solve the stain problem, you may need to replace the shingles in that area.

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Q: We have a smooth ceiling in our bedroom and we'd like to paint it blue. The problem is the smoke detector, which is white and which would stand out. Can this be painted without damaging it?

L.C.

Irvine

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A: Clean it first, of course, then paint the cover with a brush, says house painter Dave Gilbey of Santa Ana.

Don't spread it on very thickly, use a light coat and be careful not to get paint in the holes that are used to detect smoke. After painting, be sure to test it to make sure it still works.

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Q: Several months ago we bought and installed a new water heater that was larger than our old one. Since then, we've found you can get hot water from only one tap at a time. When you're in the shower and someone turns on a hot-water tap, you get a cold blast. What's wrong and how can this be corrected?

H.B.

Fountain Valley

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A: If all of the lines have been hooked up correctly, there might be a problem inside the water heater, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove.

The dip tube within the water heater carries incoming cold water to the bottom, where it pushes hot water to the lines that lead to the house.

If that piece is broken or missing in a new water heater, the incoming unheated water will enter at the top and stay there until it's pushed through the hot water lines. If the problem existed before the installation, you may want to look for a leak in the hot-water lines somewhere in the house.

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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