Question: I have a white refrigerator at the Shore and it's rusting on the outside around the handles. Is there a paint or something I can use to cover up the rust? The refrigerator is only 8 years old.

Answer: The Shore is a little moist year-round and it takes a toll on any painted surface, even a fridge.

Because I do not know the extent of the rusted area, I'm not sure that appliance touch-up paint would cover it. You'd have to prepare the surface properly before painting, obviously, sanding the area lightly with fine-grit paper and trying not to stray outside of it.

Use a rag dampened with paint thinner to clean up. Try the appliance paint but in several thin layers. If you know the manufacturer, you can probably seek advice from its website or help line.

A reader recently asked about painting bathroom tiles. It brought this response from someone identifying himself as Len D.:

"This is a possible solution to the painting of ceramic bathroom tiles.

"We moved into our condo almost seven years ago. It had 1950s green wall and floor tiles. Needless to say, my wife was not happy. We had one quote to tear out and redo for more than $20,000, but it was not in our budget.

"My wife spoke to someone who lived in our building and was told about Perma Ceram, a refinishing method for ceramic bathtubs, and, as it turned out, walls and shower stalls.

"We contacted an authorized dealer, and its representative came to our condo in a day or two, saw what we wanted, and also provided someone to retile the floor with thin tiles that fit evenly with the marble threshold at the entrance.

"The whole job was a three-step process:

"They clean and acid-etch the glaze on all the tiles to be coated. (You may have to leave; even with the windows open, there was an overwhelming stench.)

"Using a spray applicator, they then applied the coating of the Perma Ceram. We were not able to use the bathroom for a day or two as I remember, so the product could fully set.

"The tile man then was able to retile the floor. We have the luxury of having three bathrooms, so it was not a great inconvenience. This is now my bathroom and is used almost every day.

"There are a few caveats: no abrasives; you must use a spray liquid cleaner to remove soap scum with a nylon scrubber or Dobie pad.

"They recommend a few national brands of liquid cleaners.

"No stickers, flowers, or strips. Use a suction bathmat and remove it after every use.

"Three walls of the shower, three walls of the bathroom, and the floor cost under $2,000. Very satisfied."

As I have pointed out, this column provides a forum for readers and those who consider themselves experts.

The list of recommendations from Myron Wentz's Healthy Homes book was one of those "take it or leave it" segments offered more to see if you were (a) listening, and (b) had anything to say in response.

So far, this, from Larry Baker, is my favorite:

"I have to take exception with Myron Wentz's admonition about fluorescent lights. I'm personally neutral on their use, believing they have pluses and minuses, but I think Wentz went over the edge implying we will turn into brain-sucking zombies if we use the bulbs.

"Maybe he's watched Joe Versus the Volcano too many times.

"Also I'm not sure how the mercury vapor inside my spiral bulb affects me on the other side of the glass.

"As for his suggestion that we should be purchasing 'regular incandescent,' he forgot to extol the virtues of halogen and/or LEDs, which are just starting to come into their own as affordable alternatives.

"Keep up the good work, and watch out for those contributors!

"(I have to go now and see if I can corral the little blob of mercury I've been playing with back into its jar ...)"

Watch out for The Blob, Larry!

Remember, if Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) hadn't been diagnosed with a "brain cloud" in the movie, he'd never have met Meg Ryan.

I've seen it twice, OK?

Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at, or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.