The shower head in my bathroom seems to be clogged up. How do I clear it?
Mark Fraser replies: The most probable reason is that some of the outlet holes (or aerators) have clogged up with mineral deposits, a problem indicated when the shower head ejects water in a hard single stream or sprays from side to side.
Screw off the shower head (if this is difficult, try using a wrench or a pair of pliers) and clean away all foreign matter with a piece of wire or toothpick and an old toothbrush. You can also try running liquid detergent and hot water through the head until the water runs smoothly. Repeat the process three or four times.
Another home-spun method is to put the shower head in a watertight plastic bag, immerse in a mixture of white vinegar and water, secure and leave to soak overnight.
I have one typical window slot-type air-conditioner in my living room and one split-system unit mounted on the wall. How can I conceal them without affecting the flow of air?
Tania Cha replies: Concealing an air-conditioner must be handled with care as putting any type of material around such appliances will inhibit the free flow of air and raise the temperature of the unit itself. It can also create a build-up of condensation making the cold air feel slightly humid.
However, there are ways to tackle this. If the window unit is near other windows, you can cover the entire area with blinds or curtains. With blinds, create a hole slightly larger than the louvred area supplying the cold air. If opting for curtains, the hole will need to be reinforced with extra fabric around the edge of the opening and supported by vertical strips in between.
Alternatively, a shallow timber box with a louvred opening can be custom-made to fit over the front of the unit and painted to match the walls.
This method can also be applied to the split-system unit. A timber box with a slatted opening could be custom-made to fit the height and depth of the unit, but stretched the length of the wall to make it look like a beam.
With all louvres, make sure there is a minimum gap of 2.5 cm between each slat to allow for maximum air flow. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $20,000 for carpentry and painting, depending on the size of the box needed.
There are no windows in my second bedroom and I feel fairly confident about painting a trompe l'oeil window with a countryside view. What do I use and do you have any tips?
Paola Dindo replies: Trompe l'oeil is French for 'trick the eye' and is a mural, usually on a wall, ceiling or floor, which looks as if it could be real. You can either paint straight on to the wall or on to stretched canvas, which of course has the added advantage of being portable when you move.
Unless you are a budding Michelangelo I would suggest copying an image from a book or magazine. If painting directly on to the wall, apply two layers of Permoglaze eggshell paint as a base, leaving them to dry thoroughly between coats. Decide on the size of your 'window' then with a pencil, lightly divide the space into a grid. Mark the same grid at a proportionate size on your image - this will create boundaries you can refer to to make sure all the proportions are correct.
Sketch the entire image in pencil (rulers, T-squares and protractors will come in handy) then colour in using acrylics or oil colours mixed with a little eggshell paint. You may wish to practise first on paper.
An even easier technique is to borrow a projector then enlarge and project the image directly on to the wall or canvas which you can then trace.
The Artland Co (3/F, Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2511 4845) sells stretched canvases and oil paints and www.cape cod.net/artisticforum offers highly detailed trompe l'oeil painting tips.