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Q: Plumbing problems. I have a plumbing problem with the hot water faucet in my bathtub. When I first turn on hot water, a black soot like substance comes out for a few seconds staining the bottom of the tub (and feet if you happen to be showering). After a few seconds the water clears up. It only happens in the tub and to a smaller degree to the basin right next to the tub. Thought it might be the hot water heater but wouldn't it happen in all the other faucets in the house. Had a plumber who changed the stem in the faucet, but that didn't help. Talked to another plumber who had never heard of the problem and more or less told me to forget about it and rinse the tub. Unfortunately, after awhile, the stains on the tub remain on the tub. And besides that, it's obvious there's something wrong somewhere. Any ideas? Thanks. -- Virginia McLaury Reply  (Ref:0091)

A: We have never heard of this one before, Is it possible that there is some decaying organic matter in the hot water tank? -- Anon

A: Regarding your dirty bits in the bath (pardon the pun). The same thing happened to me and I found the heater tank was fairly old and had a high level of loose scale residue in the bottom. It really needs to be removed, emptied and flushed out. Failing this it may well be internally corroded pipe work in the areas near the tub - but it does sound like the longer job. Regards -- Alan - English Bob

Q: Stubborn light bulb. The light bulb in my porch fixture is stuck. When I try to turn it, its ceramic base turns with it. A brass holder surrounds the base and is stationary. I've tried putting toothpicks between The stuck lightbulb and the base and the holder but it doesn't work. Any suggestions for removing the bulb? Thank you -- Leslie Reply  (Ref:0092)

A: Try breaking the bulb and then slice a potato in half and slam the potato onto the broken bulb. With a twisp or two it should comes out. Be sure to turn off the electricity to the fixture before doing this -- Phyllis A

A: I just sent in a feedback message regarding a stuck lightbulb..... A typo...Twisp should be Twist. Sorry -- Phyllis A

A: We prefer Twisp!, seriously though it seems as though the procedure calls for eye protection, ensuring that the power is switched off and isolated - and a very large potato -- qznas  

Q: Clogged Drain. I have a bathroom sink that has a clogged drain. I removed the u-joint and cleaned from the sink to the wall, but can't get any further than that. I don't have access to the pipe, as it leads in my water heater closet and the water heater is mounted directly in front of it the pipe in question. What are the in's and out's of using acid in a drain? Any response would be most appreciated!!! -- "Cherie" Reply  (Ref:0094)

A: Caustic Soda is useful for clearing blocked drains. Remember it is very damaging to skin and causes severe burns. Add the soda to water not the other way round. The hydrogen gas that results from reactions is flammable. Do you still want to try it?? -- DE. 

Q: Dirty Quilt. Antique family quilt has several old ink stains where my daughter forgot to cap her pen. At the time, I thought immediate cold water wash would remove. Unfortunately after a while I gave up. Any ideas? Also another quilt with stains where my son got sick with runs? We were overseas at time and I was truly afraid to take to drycleaners for fear it would be stolen by way of someone saying it was lost. Thanks -- Patti  (Ref:0095)

A: Stain Devils are now available in the USA. There is one specifically designed for ball pen, felt tip and conventional ink stains. Ask at your hardware store -- Anon 

A: Stain Devils  Hi, I notice in the how to remove stains section, someone recommended "Stain Devil" and implied that it was not readily available, except in the UK. If you ask your search engine to find "Westons", they are a pharmaceutical supply company that advertise on the web, and have "Stain Devils" for all manner of stains. P.J.Morant. --  17 Jan 2003

A: I have heard a mixture of fresh lemon juice and salt rubbed on spots and placed in sun will bleach out yellow in old stains. This information from my wise Aunt Sue. I would try it first on just one small area and see how it does. -- Good Luck, Patti Seizetheday 

Q: X-14 spray recipe: I need a "recipe" for something similar to X-14 spray. I have a huge shower room that gets bad fast and the stuff is so expensive ! I have lots of bleach so hope this is in the recipe and figured it would be anyway. Thanks so much. -- Musette P.S. this is my first visit here! I love this site! Reply (Ref:0096)

A: Are you trying to clean ceramic tile or fibreglass shower? Are you dealing with soap scum, hard water deposits or mildew/mould? A 50/50 mixture of household bleach and water should be fine for ceramic tile. Never mix bleach with other cleaning agents as it can create a very toxic combination. A very cheap and mild abrasive is Arm & Hammer Baking SODA (not baking powder). Mix some into a bowl and add enough water to make a paste. Dawn dishwashing soap is very good at cleaning all kinds of greasy or oily surfaces. White vinegar (less than $4 per gallon is another good cleaner due to its acid content. Dilute with water in a spray bottle. Sorry I don't have the recipe for X-14.-- Anon Bleach is the least expensive, but once you get it cleaned, apply mineral oil over your shower doors and tile surface. That delays the mineral build-up in future use. -- Cameo

A: Diluted household bleach will do the trick (around five of water to one of bleach. Keep your old pump spray dispensers or use a small spray from the gardening centre. Any means of spraying or squirting should do the trick. You can add some vinegar or lemon juice to cut the lime scale and maybe a tablespoonful of washing up liquid. Check out an interesting frugal living site for similar tips, they may even have one that solves your current problem. www.thefrugallife.com

Q: Household Pests.  What can you tell me to help rid silverfish from my closets and drawers. They are literally eating the shirt off my back. I have children and pets so I would prefer to avoid poisons. Thank you --Miss Trust Reply (Ref:0097)

A: Try placing whole cloves in the closets and drawers -- Maroof Reply

Q: Steam: My son was using a steamer under the cherry wood kitchen cabinets. they have turned white now. What can we do to fix this. Email me at -- Reply. (Ref:0099)

A: This is a common occurrence and is called 'blooming'. One sure way is to soak cotton wool in methylated spirits (Rubbing Alcohol in the US) and place over the blooming. It draws the moisture out as it evaporates. On the underside of your units you're going to have to hold the cotton pad in place while it dries out. -- Alan -English Bob

A: Have you tried Teak Oil -- Anon

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