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Ask the Inspector

Spraypainted Walls, Smoke Detectors, Electric Cords

We have been having some wonderful kids come along to do their artwork on our walls. Is there a way to stop them?

Short of a watchful eye on a 24 hour basis, don't know a sure fire way to stop them.

I can suggest that there are products on the market that will make the job of removal easier. Am told that if there is a quick clean-up it will tend to discourage repeat performances. Seems the artists like to see their work and when it's removed quickly they seek other places to decorate. There are several products you can purchase that will make it easier to remove graffiti. They range greatly in price. Depending on the frequency of the application of the graffiti it is possible to find a product within a reasonable price.

A good general one is a product called "graffiti no more" and is within the reasonable price range for the service it offers. A gallon of this product, when applied with a roller can cover somewhere between 350-400 square feet.

It is very important that you read the instructions for proper use and application of this or any of the other products on the market for these types of protection.

Another plus for these products is that they provide good weather protection for the surfaces painted and deliver a flat to a satin finish when dry. You may also wish to note that these products don't work for all products used to graffiti walls.

So read the instructions to see if it will work under your conditions.

Seem to recall that you made some comment about Smoke Detectors awhile ago but don't remember what you had said. Do you remember what it was ?

Sure do. Said that you should check or better still replace the batteries in your smoke detectors when you change the clocks. These batteries can last for a year or so and changing them at these time was cheaper than replacing a life or your home.

Smoke Detectors save lives. Thanks for reminding me that we change clocks this month now I have to remember if we spring ahead or fall back.

My wife seems to think that our 5 year old extension cords should be replaced. Is there a life expectancy on these cords?

I guess that the answer to this is a definite maybe. Most of the cords sold are either an 18 or a 16 gauge wire and can safely conduct between 7 to 10 amperes for prolonged periods.

Remember that the amount of current being carried and if the cord gets damaged as being the major issues. Normal circuit beakers that protect the wiring in a house are 15 and 20 ampere rated. This will allow these cords to heat up without tripping the circuit breaker.

It is the heat within these cords that breaks down their insulation values and cause fires. Some good general rules to follow are these. If you touch the cord and it is warm, it's the wrong cord to use for that appliance. Change it to a larger size wire. Don't allow cords to be under carpeting, rugs or in walls nor any place you can't see them. What you can't see may hurt you. Putting them in a position to have a chair or other furniture rest on them is also a no-no.

Common sense will tell you that these cords can easily become a tripping hazard, so watch out for that. Remember that kids have a way of wrapping themselves up in these cords. With kids around watch out for the half-way plug in the wall. Often these cords are pulled and the contact blades are exposed and become a real shocker. If a cord gets damaged or broken, don't try to tape it up to repair it. Replace it. Don't pull cords out of the receptacles in the wall by pulling on the cord. Use the plug to remove them otherwise you may blow the 69 cents you paid for the bargain cord.

Last year there were about 700 electrocutions and close to 1900 fires directly related to extension cords. Lets not have any in San Diego.