Replacing Washer or Cartridge

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: We have a shower spout that has a constant drip. It must leak a great deal of water over time. The lever is of the single-handed variety; I am in the dark over how it works. I assume it needs new washers. Are faucets of this kind easily repaired?

L.P.

Irvine

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Answer: They're not too hard to fix, but you'll need to know the name of the manufacturer, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra.

In some, you simply remove the lever and pull out the cartridge. In other brands, a special puller is needed to get to the washers. Modern fixtures are going to a cartridge system in which you replace that part rather than fiddling with washers.

Brands such as Moen have a lifetime guarantee on their inner parts, and you'll just need to take the old one to the store to get a new cartridge.

If the fixture is a brand you can't identify, it's probably best to remove whatever parts you can and take them to a plumbing supply, where they should be able to get you the right washers or cartridge.

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Q: I had to replace a garage door spring recently, which I installed myself without any problem. A friend told me that I should always replace the springs on both sides of the door, even though the spring on the other side might be just fine. Is this true?

D.U.

Fullerton

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A: If your door has a single spring on each side, you may want to replace both at the same time, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster.

If you have one new spring in that system or two new ones on one side in a four-spring system, you're going to stress the door's hardware.

The tension on an old spring will wear down over time, and a new spring will offset the tension on the older side.

With the more common four-spring systems, if one breaks, get two and put a new spring on each side so that each side has a new and an old spring that balance each other.

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Q: We're going to paint a bathroom done years ago in a candy-cane pink. I want to use a primer to help cover the old paint. Is it best to use an oil-based or latex primer?

S.S.

Fountain Valley

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A: In that situation, you're probably better off with an oil-based primer, says painter Larry Gomez of Brea. With a good-quality oil primer, you'll get better "hideability" so you won't have the pink bleeding through.

It's important to get the same brand finish coat as primer. If you mix brands, you may find that they're not compatible and that the finish coat won't adhere as well to the primer.

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.

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