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General Household Tips


Frozen Nuts and Bolts

Sooner or later we all run into a nut or bolt that just won't budge. Use too much force and you will round off the edges, making it even more difficult to remove. You'll be tempted to bring out the hacksaw and dynamite. Better to try the gentle approach. First load on penetrating oil. It works its way in through rust and gunk to lubricate the threads. After a while, try loosening it again. If that doesn't work, heat it with a propane torch, Even a hair dryer will help. The heat will expand the metal, loosen rust and warm the oil, making it penetrate better. Finally, should all of this fail, before you start hack sawing and lighting the fuse, make sure you are turning it the right direction. Even pros occasionally make this mistake. Right is tight and left is loose.

New Roof? Check Old Vents.

Have you had a new roof put on your home or are you getting one soon? Roofers can create a little-known, but potentially deadly, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fire if furnace exhaust vents are not checked immediately after the work is completed. Many homes are space- and water-heated by forced air furnaces or hot-water heaters that burn natural gas. The hot, poisonous fumes from these appliances often are vented outside through sheet metal ducts routed through the attic and roof. A roofer can unknowingly cause these vents to separate when working on the roof above. Often these pipes are just loosely connected; as many as seven of 10 come apart when new roofs are installed. Yet many roofers do not check the attics when they're finished, thus putting the homeowners at risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning or fire when hot gases are exhausted near a combustible material. So, if you have a new roof, check old vents to be sure.

Sagging Metal Closet Rods

Do you have a sagging metal closet rod that no longer runs straight and true because the weight of too many clothes has bent your rods into a "U"? Telescoping metal rods are convenient and easy to install, but often they give in to heavy weight when suspended wall-to-wall. When hollow telescoping metal rods begin to sag because you’ve hung a little too much on them, you can bring them back, and up to snuff, by unscrewing the metal rod from the wall and inserting a slightly smaller diameter wooden-dowel rod inside. Use one that’s cut about a half-inch shorter than the width of the closet. Put it back in place. It'll be straight and true.

Handy Dandy Toothbrushes

In 1498, the Chinese invented toothbrushes much like those we have today. Before disposing of old, used toothbrushes, remember: in the kitchen and bath toothbrushes can be used to scrub deep into tiny cracks and crevices and many other hard-to-reach places. They're good for cleaning grout lines in ceramic tile, too. They’re also great for cleaning deeply carved fine furniture. In the shop, dipped in solvent, they degrease and clean up tiny parts. Artists and painters can use them to apply stains and finishes in tight places, and make little flecks called "splatter dashing" by drawing paint-filled bristles over a popsicle stick. In the garden,you can use them to brush insects off leaves with denatured alcohol and water