Q: The light in our swimming pool has burned out. Is this easy to replace, and can it be done without draining the water?
A: The first thing to do, of course, is turn off the power to that circuit before working on the light, says Brad Gaston of Orange Pool Supply. While leaning over the pool from the edge, you should be able to access the light unit and remove the screws that connect it to the pool wall.
In most pool lights, the connecting wires are wound around the inside and you're able to pull the unit onto the deck to service it. If the fixture wasn't installed that way, you may need to drain the pool below the light level or have a professional do the job.
Dry your hands and the fixture before opening it. Once you remove the bulb, test the socket by screwing in a household lamp bulb and turn the power on. Many people make the mistake of testing the socket with the new pool bulb, which will burn out quickly when it's lit above ground.
If the light comes on and the unit seems to work fine, turn off the power again and insert the new pool bulb. Make sure the lens gasket is pliable and in good shape before reinstalling the unit.
You may want to apply a Teflon lubricant to it to help seal out the moisture. Once it's reassembled, put it in the water and see if any bubbles surface, which means there's a problem with the gasket. If it seems fine, you can install it back in the hole.
Q: Some of our wallpaper dates to the early 1960s. I'd like to get new paper with the same design. Is there anyplace where that can be ordered?
A: Some companies specialize in re-creating old wallpaper designs, says Jim Grant of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. Unfortunately, they don't carry designs earlier than the 1920s. Another option, though it's somewhat more expensive, is to hire an artist who specializes in wall murals. An artist may be able to copy the design of the paper and paint it on the walls you'd like, or create some kind of variation of the design.
Q: We're having an odor problem with one of our bathroom sinks. We've used a plunger, snake and many types of chemicals, but nothing seems to work. Whenever water is poured down the drain, the sewer odor comes up and fills the room. What can we do about it?
A: Debris, such as hair, can get stuck inside parts of the drain, and this can deteriorate and create the smell, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove. The debris might be attached to the pop-up assembly, and as water is run through the drain, it's exposed to the air and the smell is carried up into the sink.
Chemicals and plunging are usually ineffective for this problem. Usually, the pipes underneath need to be removed and cleaned out or replaced.
Q: We have a set of tall shutters in our family room in front of a sliding glass door. They're in good shape and about 20 years old, but they've been stained a dark walnut color. How do we go about painting them white?
A: Since they're old, you should probably give them a good cleaning with a mixture of ammonia and water, says Charlie Kaczorowski of Tustin Paint Mart. Once it's clean and dry, use a sprayer to apply an oil-based primer. The next day, carefully examine the shutters and lightly sand rough spots, then spray on a water- or oil-based finish coat.
Remember that when you're spraying the primer and paint, spray the coats as lightly as possible, let them dry completely, then apply another light coat.
If you have a question about your home or garden, A 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.