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Special Cleaner Fixes Up Brass

Coffee table's plating has darkened with time. A clear-coat sealer will prevent future tarnish.


Q: We have a coffee table that has brass plating on the legs and frame. The brass has darkened and tarnished over time, and it didn't shine up after I used a metal polish on it. Is there anything else I can use?


Laguna Hills


A: Try a brass cleaner called Cape Cod, which is made by an East Coast company and is available at some local hardware stores, says Frank Eckert of Arrow True Value Hardware in Orange.

It comes with small pads; you rub the brass until the finish is restored. Once you have the brass cleaned, dry it with a soft cloth and apply a clear-coat sealer. This will protect it from tarnishing and preserve the finish longer than by leaving it exposed to the air.


Q: Since I had a sprinkler system installed, my lawn and flowers aren't doing well. The water is somewhat sudsy on the lawn, and my suspicion is that the system is taking water from the water-softening unit. Is that possible?


Huntington Beach


A: That's probably what has happened, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing and Heating Supply in Los Alamitos. The salt in the softening unit will definitely kill your lawn and plants.

If the waterline to the house feeds directly into the softening system, it's likely that an installer may have mistakenly hooked into it to supply the sprinklers.

The system will have to be re-plumbed to connect it to the line before it reaches the water softener.


Q: We have a 20-year-old gas range-oven that's worked great until now. I tried using the ven the other day for the first time in a while, and it never came on. The stove, however, works fine. Could this be a minor problem like a fuse within the stove?




A: In all likelihood the problem is a bad thermostat, says Gary Kuhn of Appliance Parts Center in Laguna Hills. It's not a major problem, but the part can run from $50 to $120.

It's also generally not a project for do-it-yourselfers. A technician should check the thermostat with an ohm meter to see if it's operating and to see if there's any other problem.


Q: My home has stucco and wood siding. It's all in need of painting, but I'm worried about the fascia boards along the bottom of the roof line. They're not in good condition, and I'm sure they'd be expensive to replace. Can damaged boards be salvaged by patching?


La Habra


A: If wood isn't damaged by dry rot or termites, you can patch it, says Rich Zelle of Fullerton Paint and Flooring.

You can fill in cracks with an exterior spackling patch, or, if it's deep, you can use a cement product like Fix-All to fill the deep spots and then cover it all with the spackling patch.

From that point, you can sand, prime and paint the wood. If you find areas of dry rot, cut them out and replace them. Make sure you use a bare wood primer on the new pieces so that the paint adheres correctly.

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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