Dear Ken: My old fireplace is dark red and no longer matches my color scheme. How can I paint it? What color would you suggest? – Jan
Reply: It’s pretty easy, but as with all painting jobs, the key is in the preparation. Apply a few coats of a primer / sealer, such as KILZ or Bullseye 1-2-3. You can roll it up if you want, but a better idea is to use a small sprayer, after you’ve masked the area. The primer will help seal the pores in the brick so that your topcoat covers more completely – not to mention that it will be easier to apply. You can choose a neutral color, like a tan or an off-white – maybe three shades darker than the walls. Or if there’s a favorite accent color in the room, turn it off and use the darker shade. Finally, you can recreate the lines of mortar between the bricks with a dark gray or brown paint applied with a small paintbrush.
Dear Ken: We have a badly scratched gun metal Bruce floor. In addition, our doors are dark and also nicked and shabby. Can we restore them? – Lisa
Reply: You have a factory finished hardwood flooring system. There are basically two styles: solid wood and laminates. The former can usually be sanded and refinished with a fresh coat of shine. But the laminate flooring system – made up of multiple layers of colored veneers and unfinished interior fillers – is problematic. Sometimes the top coat is thick enough for the finish, and sometimes it’s not.
Bruce’s website is a bit vague on this, so I would advise taking a sample of your lumber from a local flooring dealer for more advice. If you can’t find any leftover trash, remove one of the ventilation covers and take digital photos of the edge of one of the boards.
The doors are much easier; I would paint them. These old dark mahogany veneer doors can be primed and painted with a semi-gloss latex paint in a neutral color – like off-white or beige. If they are scratched, first apply wood putty or spackling to the imperfections.
Dear Ken: Some time ago you looked at a device for circulating hot water. I can not find it. Can you tell me again? – Billy
Reply: Discover the Watts Premier system. It pulls hot water from the water heater and pushes it back into the pipe on the cold side. This means you don’t have to wait almost that long every morning for a hot shower. And it can save thousands of gallons of water in your home every year because you don’t have to run cold down the drain first. Plus, it has a built-in timer, so it only works when you need hot water. Schedule it to start right before you wake up in the morning and you’ll have hot water almost instantly. It comes as a kit with all the appropriate fittings, a sensor and supply lines for easy installation; I saw it online for $ 176 and change.
This recirculation diagram is especially useful if you have a tankless water heater. These take even longer to supply you with hot water, as the burner has to start first. So a small pump like this will have it handy when you need it.
Dear Ken: I want to add a light to the front of my garage above the door. Should I wire it into the regular light switch or into the old device itself? – Matt
Reply: Why not save time (and wire) by plugging it into the nearest garage outlet. It will then be “hot” all the time, but if you choose a motion sensing device, it will only turn on when needed. Why burn an outdoor light all night long when, instead, the device may be on standby, ready to turn on to surprise unwanted visitors?
Dear Ken: One of my outside taps developed a little dribble. A plumber wants over $ 400 to replace him. How can I fix it myself? – David
Reply: Like all faucets, the outer hose ends have a washer to control the water flow. In this case, it’s deep inside the sleeve – maybe 10 inches or so – to protect it from freezing. Find the hex nut just under the handle and soak it overnight with a penetrating fluid, like WD-40; then use a sufficiently sized pipe wrench to loosen the shaft. Pull it straight out and you will see the washer inside. Replace the existing flat washer with a cone-shaped version. Why? The metal innards of these older faucets wear out, so the larger washer will help fill in the gaps and stop the leak.
Dear readers: What has been the smell of your elimination lately? This is the time of year when bacteria infect inside her bedroom and release that unpleasant odor around the sink. It’s the dirt on the underside of that rubber splash guard that can be the source of this stench; Use a round bowl brush dipped in ammonia to scrub any accumulated dirt below and as far as you can reach the top of the grinder chamber.
Then throw in several handfuls of ice cubes plus half a lemon, turn on the arrangement and let it run for a few minutes to scrub the inside.
On a regular basis, it also helps flush half a cup of pine oil cleanser down the drain on either side of the kitchen sink. Do this right before bed and only rinse off the next morning.
Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak area. His on-call radio show airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit aroundthehouse.com