Question: I'm going get a new refrigerator, and I'd like to move the old one into the garage for extra food storage. But in the summer my garage gets very hot. Would high temperatures like that keep the refrigerator from working well?
Answer: A hot garage can affect the performance of a refrigerator, but you can do a few things to counteract the temperatures, says Caesar Del Prato Jr. of Caesar's Appliance Parts in Laguna Niguel.
First, make sure the gaskets are in good shape and fit tightly all around the doors. Use a coil brush--available from any appliance parts store--and brush away the dirt and dust from the coils behind the refrigerator.
Because a garage tends to get dirtier than a house, expect to do this once per month. Coils attract dust and lint; when they get dirty, the refrigerator has to work harder.
Also, don't push the refrigerator against the wall. Keep a 4-inch gap between the wall and the appliance so that air can circulate freely behind it. Because you won't be opening the refrigerator door regularly, you can also turn the temperature up a little.
Q: Our home is part of a tract about 30 years old, and some of our neighbors have replaced their aluminum windows with nice-looking white ones. Is it hard for homeowners to replace windows?
A: Replacing a window is a messy, labor-intensive project that requires good carpentry and wall-repair skills, says Pat Romero of Skill Glass & Mirror in Orange.
But there are new windows that many people are buying that don't require as much work and can be installed by someone who's reasonably handy.
These involve installing a new window that fits inside your existing frame. You remove the stationary and sliding panels of glass and center bar, and replace them with custom panels. The outside flange is wider and gives it the appearance of a traditional wood-frame window.
On the inside, a trim fits in to give it a neat look. This type of retrofitting is becoming popular because it looks nice and is an economical alternative to replacing a window. Expect to pay about $350 to $400 per window including installation for a retrofitting project, whereas replacement is usually around $600 and up.
Q: We bought a house recently in which the tub has a problem with the stopper. When we pull up the handle, the stopper doesn't go down. How can this be fixed? Does the tub have to be removed?
A: Remove the two screws that hold the trip-lever plate on the tub, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating Supplies in Los Alamitos.
When you pull the cover away from the tub, you should see that the linkage that connects to the lever pulls out with it. If it doesn't pull out, the linkage has come off and dropped. If this is the case, try to fish it out with a coat hanger.
If it's impossible to get to or it's missing, buy a new waste-and-overflow assembly. Many times, this is a result of the linkage being out of adjustment, and once you pull it out, you can lengthen or shorten it as needed.
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.