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Concrete Garage Floor Develops an Effervescence Personality

ALSO: * Barbecue cold spot; * Tarnished nickel plaque


Q I'm having a problem with the concrete in my garage. It's developed effervescence, according to the builder of my home, caused by the pH value of the soil underneath. Can that be the cause? If so, how can this be fixed?

D.K., Mission Viejo

A Effervescence is basically a white film on the surface of the concrete, says Bill Sink of Angelus Building Supply in Santa Ana.

It's generally a sign of alkali coming out of the concrete. There are lots of other factors, however, that can contribute to this that will affect how the problem is fixed. Perhaps the mixture of concrete when it was poured wasn't right. If that was the case, and your neighbors' homes were built at the same time, you would probably all be experiencing the problem.

Ask the builder the name of the concrete contractor that was used and have him take a look at the problem.


Q My propane barbecue has one spot where the food doesn't cook as fast as the other areas. When it's on, I've looked underneath and could see no difference in the flames. Any ideas?

N.Y., Westminster


A There are a lot of possibilities, says George Moelter of Anaheim Patio & Fireside in Brea.

If you're using newer ceramic briquettes, and they're arranged too closely in one space, they'll make that area cooler than other areas. With lava rocks that's not a problem because they're so porous that the heat goes right through them no matter how they're arranged.

This can also be the case when your barbecue has an oval burner; food on the inside will cook more quickly than food on the outside of the oval. Check the venturi tube to see if it's clogged by a spider web or debris.

On older barbecues with cast-iron burners, one or more ports could be clogged.


Q I have a large, heavily engraved wall plaque made of nickel that's starting to look like an old nickel. I'd like to polish it but haven't found anything that can do it. Any ideas?


Buena Park


A Nickel isn't a particularly shiny metal, so you may find that it's never going to get as bright as you think it should, says metal polisher Dave Cranson of Los Angeles.

You may want to check with a silversmith who could recommend a polish that can be applied with a rag to get to the intricate areas of the plaque. There are products available to remove the tarnish; it's just a matter of finding the right one.

Send questions to John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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