Q. We have a 2-year-old water heater that seems to work just fine, except that sand or sediment comes through the faucets when the hot water is turned on. Is there a filter that can prevent this?
A. There's really not a filter you can use, but you should try draining a little water from the water heater tank, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating Supply in Los Alamitos. This should be done once or twice a year.
Sediment tends to build up at the bottom of the water heater, and if you don't clean it out, the sediment can build up higher than the drain valve, preventing it from opening. It can affect the capacity of the tank and its effectiveness at heating the water.
To drain, simply attach a hose to the drain valve, then put the end of the hose outside or in a sink. Open the valve and empty out four or five gallons of the water.
Q. We have a couple of double-paned windows in our house, and there are streaks on the inside pane of one. Are there any tricks to getting these clean?
A. Unfortunately, you'll have to replace parts of the windows, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass in Anaheim. Double-paned windows are basically two pieces of glass with a space between them. There's a slight vacuum in that space, which helps increase the insulation value. As the insulation cracks over time between the panes, air and moisture get in, which leads to the streaking you see. Replace the dual-pane insert, keeping the outer aluminum frame.
Q. We've been given an old crib that needs either to be stripped and refinished or painted. Are there any types of finishes we should stay away from because they may not be "baby safe"?
A. Modern wood paints and finishes are all very safe, says Jim Craig of Decratrend Paints in Anaheim. Lead was banned long ago, and that was probably the biggest paint hazard for children. You'll probably want to go with a tough, durable finish or paint that can be easily cleaned.
If you decide to strip and refinish the crib, you might want to use a water-based polyurethane to seal it. Use at least three coats, going over the crib with fine steel wool between each coat, then give it a few days to dry into a hard surface.
There are some urethane paints that will give you that tough finish with the coverage of a paint; check with your local dealer.
Q. I recently bought a new hose that is much too long for our back yard. I'd like to cut it off to a more manageable length, but is there a way to add a connector to it so that I can attach a spray nozzle?
A. There are plastic adapters you can fit onto a cut-off hose that are relatively easy to screw on, says Frank Eckert of Arrow True Value Hardware in Orange. They're available at most garden shops, and they allow you to fit a threaded end onto the hose. At some hardware stores, they may be able to crimp on a metal end to the hose, which is more durable than the plastic models.
Q. The spring door stoppers in our house are almost new, but they're bent, or the rubber caps have come off. Is there a better alternative?
A. Try the solid metal stoppers, says carpenter Dave Wilby of Costa Mesa. These are a little more expensive, but they don't bend like the spring stoppers do, and if the caps come off, just glue them back on. Make sure you get the right length so that there's adequate clearance between the doorknob and the door.