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Hints for around the house

Quick Fix for Leaks

For a quick fix on copper pipe, small leaks, keep handy an easy repair kit. All that is needed is a hose clamp and a small piece of firm rubber, such as small section of garden hose. Simply insert the rubber around the leak and clamp. It will save you from having to drain the system, until you have more time on your hands. The clamp and rubber section of hose helped me out of a few jams, especially if you don't have copper or solder on hand at the cabin, it could save the weekend! Remember: clamp and rubber, plus screwdriver.

Thanks to Ed Vatcher for this hint.

Keep those locks working

On second thought... we had recommended WD-40, but...

I am employed as a Locksmith in Madison, Wisconsin. I am writing this in response to your tip on keeping locks working smoothly. Most Locksmiths would NOT recommend using WD40 for the following reasons. WD40 contains a substantial amount of oil (petroleum distilates) that tend to collect a good amount of dirt and dust. In cold weather, the oil in this product can and will get tacky and over time will start to solidify causing the lock to fail. The product most locksmiths use is any type of silicone spray. I personally use a product called Wonder Mist sold by Amway distributors. However, WD40 works extremely well on other items that do not have such intricate parts.

Please take this as constructive feedback from someone who works with locks on a daily basis. For more information, click here Associated Locksmiths of America

We took the hint! Our thanks to Mike Vorpahl., posted 4/17/99.

Keep that garbage disposal humming smooth.

Once a month put two or three ice cubes in the disposal and run it with cold water.
This dislodges any leftover food particles and breaks up any grease that can jam the blades.
Remember : dont put potato peelings in the disposal, these contain too much starch and almost always form into a clog.

Thanks to Joe Periat, Licensed maintenance tech. Posted 3/23/99

Roof Care

High winds, snow and ice can damage a roof. Check after heavy storms, and every spring for water stains in the attic and on the overhang. Repair or replace split or loose shingles.
Asphalt shingles, should be replaced when the mineral granules coating the top surface disappear and you see exposed black felt. Get a professional. You'll save in the long run.
Do not walk on the roof except when absolutely necessary. Inspect if from the edge. Check flashings (chimneys, vents, skylights, etc.)
If you install an antenna, be sure you caulk any holes you make.

Gutters and Downspouts

Prevent water from seeping through walls and damaging paint by checking to see that gutters are:
  • Sloping correctly so that water flows to the downspout.
  • Clear of leaves and debris.
  • In good repair and without holes


Dampness is almost unavoidable in new homes because of the gallons of water that went into the construction of foundation walls, basement floors, paint and even bathtub grout.
Although proper ventilation helps speed drying, allow about a year for through curing. Don't hurry the process with high temperatures, unnatural heat can cause warping and other damage. Doing the following can help:
  • Open basement windows during warm weather, close when weather is damp.
  • Have outside venting for kitchen, bath and utility areas.
  • Adjust the humidifier, if there is one in your heating system.
  • Consider installing a dehumidifier in extremely damp areas.
  • Check sumps periodically.

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Door Care

If doors stick, check hinges to make sure they're aligned and tightly affixed to frame and door. Then fold the sandpaper around a block of wood and sand the edge that is catching. Repaint or seal the sanded edge to prevent moisture absorption which can cause warping. Tops and bottoms of door should be painted or sealed at all times. Inspect exterior doors each spring and fall for wear to see that metal weather-stripping is tight and free of dents, or that vinyl/rubber stripping is glued tightly. Prolong life of vinyl/rubber weather stripping by applying petroleum jelly occasionally. Use an aerosol lubricant on squeaky hinges (WD40).


Be sure to check the following before chilly weather sets in:

Heating and Cooling System

Fireplace and Chimney

Before building your first fire of the season, check to see that the damper opens properly and closes tightly. If the "fire clay" used as mortar for the bricks inside the fireplace has fallen out, replace it.
Inspect the flue with a flashlight for heavy soot residue.
If you have a brick or clay tile flue (not a metal flue), an occasional handful of salt tossed on the fire will help remove the soot.
When the soot deposit gets too thick, have the flue professionally cleaned.
Keep the damper closed when fireplace is not in use.

Hot Water Heaters

Due to high mineral content, some hot water heaters require draining. Consult your installer for proper care.


Don't pour grease down your drains; keep free of hair and other debris. Once a month, to prevent residual grease and soap from clogging drains: To properly maintain the garbage disposal: Do not use lye or its derivatives with plastic piping.

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