Q. I'm planning on re-grouting my bathroom floor tile. Do I really need to remove all of the old grout before doing the job?
W.T., San Juan Capistrano
A. You only have to remove about half the grout, says Scott Goodson of The Tile Store in Westminster. Get a grout saw that's the right size for the space you have to work on and scrape away. Once you brush and vacuum away all of the sand, you can mix up and apply a new coating of grout. After it's applied, wipe off the tile and grout with a wet sponge and let it sit for 20 minutes before wiping again to remove the grout film from the tiles.
Q. We bought a home two years ago as a rental property and found that the carpeting seemed wet. We were told the previous owners had the carpet cleaned, but it never has seemed to completely dry. When it rains, the area around an addition to the master bedroom seems to be worse. It's a raised foundation with wood subfloor. Any suggestions?
A.S.H., Costa Mesa
A. Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster says he's seen similar problems in homes that weren't properly graded. One side of the house dips down a little, and water pools underneath the subfloor. This is then soaked up through the floor and walls and creates problems inside the house. It also damages the stucco and siding around the house. You need to have good drainage under the house and good perimeter drainage that takes water away from the house.
Q. I've found that my garage floor has developed several white spots. Any ideas on what to use on them?
M.D., Los Alamitos
A. It depends on what's causing them, whether they're coming up from the concrete or something is dropping on top of them, says Gary Lillge of Crown Hardware in Newport Beach. To clean a garage floor, you may want to start with a general cleaner, such as a detergent like TSP in warm water. Scrub the floor and rinse; when it dries, try using a specialty cleaner for grease or rust spots. If they're still there, the next step would be muriatic acid and water, but always be careful when using acid and wear rubber gloves and goggles.
Q. What is the procedure to strip a no-wax vinyl floor? Are there any problems associated with chemical fumes?
N.L.M., Garden Grove
A. Stripping may not be the right word, says Becky Gonzalez of Anaheim Centsible Tile. Stripping implies that you're taking off the old finish, and if you remove the finish of a no-wax floor, there isn't a product made that can bring it back.
The major manufacturers, such as Armstrong, have products that you can use periodically to help maintain a shine. These will help protect your floor's finish, but they shouldn't be used more than twice a year because they can build up and create a film on the finish. After you use an approved cleaner on the floor, mop the shining product on and let it dry. Always be careful about what you use on your no-wax floor, and stay away from harsh cleaners.
Q. In planning a kitchen remodel, I want to install a built-in dishwasher. However, I was wondering about the electrical wiring. Do I have to fit an electrical socket in the wall behind the dishwasher? Is that how most dishwashers plug in?
D.N., Santa Ana
A. Dishwashers are usually plugged in at the socket under the sink, which is also used by the garbage disposal, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove. For older homes without a disposal, you'll have to do some wiring to fit a socket in. Make sure you adjust the socket so that just one of the outlets is operated by a switch, so you can use that one to plug in the disposal and the other for the dishwasher.