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Mold Comes With Territory When You Live by Beach

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: We had a fireproof compartment made of concrete and steel built into our new walk-in closet. We did this so we would have a safe place to store important papers and expensive musical instruments. We’ve had it for only nine months, but whenever the door is opened there’s a musty smell and signs of mold on the instruments. What can be done?

S.S.

Dana Point

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Answer: When you tightly enclose a small space, even a regular closet, and you live near the beach, you’re almost guaranteed to get mold and mildew, says Gary Lillge of Crown Hardware in Newport Beach.

The first thing to do is scrub the walls of the compartment with a solution of bleach and water. There are some good anti-mold products you can get, such as Damp Out and Dry Out. These collect moisture from the air and are relatively inexpensive, about $5 to $10. If the space is large enough, you can get a closet dehumidifier, which plugs into a socket and dries the air. They cost $20 to $30.

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Q I have a two-story tract house built in the 1960s. I’ve always wanted to have a light built into the ceiling of the family room. Would wiring the ceiling for this be a big job that would require permits?

B.B.

Cypress

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A Generally, there’s room above the ceiling in the first floor to string electrical wire, says Mike McCoy of Current Supply in Westminster. There may be wiring there that can be tapped into, or it can be fished up through the wall to the location.

If your interest is in recessed lighting, try a kit designed for use in spots where there isn’t a lot of clearance. Unless you’re well-versed in electrical work, hire a professional. He or she will know if permits are required in your area.

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Q We’re thinking of installing a soft-water system, but we don’t want soft water going to the kitchen faucet or refrigerator. Any ideas?

R.G.

Mission Viejo

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A You can have a system customized to your needs, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets ‘n Fixtures in Orange. Some people choose to have soft water go to their bathrooms and washing machine; others want it going through the whole house. You also can have the softened water that’s going to the kitchen run through a reverse-osmosis filter to improve its taste.

If you have a question about your home or garden, 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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