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Fixing Spa May Be Cheaper Than Finding New Use

ALSO: * Cleaning fine woodwork; * Adjusting toilet mechanism


Question: An acrylic spa was installed in the ground in our backyard years ago. It's in need of extensive, costly repair, and it's seldom used. What else can the spa be used for? I've had suggestions such as boring holes in it, filling it with dirt and using it as a planter. Or convert it into a lily pond. Any other ideas?


Mission Viejo


Answer: It could easily be turned into a planter by boring holes for drainage and filling it with dirt, says Brad Gaston of Orange Pool Supply in Orange. But it may not look especially great if you have a lot of spa equipment around it.

As for turning it into a pond, you'd probably have to fill in much of the spa, because ponds shouldn't be very deep. If you intend to have fish, you'd need an aquarium-type filtering system. Below-ground spas can be removed and replaced with a fire pit or barbecue. But removing the unit and filling the open space would be expensive too.

Fixing the spa may be the most economical solution, and it could add to the home's value.


Q The oak woodwork in my kitchen was recently refinished with a lacquer coat. I'm told I should avoid getting water on the wood, but what should I use for day-to-day cleanup?


Buena Park


A It's fine to use a damp sponge to clean the woodwork, says Gene Blauser of ICI Dulux Paints in Anaheim.

What you don't want is to have water in contact with the wood for a long time, because that can damage the finish. Also, watch out for splattering, and wipe away water droplets, which can leave spots. Always use the soft side of a sponge and nothing stronger than warm water and a mild detergent.


Q I recently installed a new toilet ball seal, and I'm having problems with the connection between the chain and the lever. If I set it too tightly, it doesn't drop and seal correctly, but if it's too loose, it doesn't open all the way. How can I fix this?




A Keep fiddling with the chain adjustment until it sits correctly, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra.

The lever mechanism can be replaced if it's bent or out of alignment. Be careful that the excess part of the chain doesn't block the ball from seating on the opening.

If all else fails, install a flapper mechanism, which is much more reliable than the old-fashioned ball seal.

If you have a question about your home or garden, 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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