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posted: 8/17/2012 5:23 AM

Maintaining your water hose can be quite simple

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A water hose is a simple device, but if not properly maintained, it can cost you more to use than it's worth. If it leaks, then you should make repairs ASAP. Most are easy, cost very little and will save water, which is something we all should try to do whenever we can.

Starting at the source, many hoses leak simply because the washer, which gives you a good seal where the hose is connected to the faucet, is worn or missing. You usually can buy a dozen rubber washers for a dollar or two. This would be enough to take care of all of your hoses and other water-using devices and still have some left over for future repairs.

If your hose is leaking, locate the damaged area. Most hardware stores have everything you need to repair a hose. If one of the ends is damaged, you can replace it with the appropriate (male or female) end. If the hose is damaged between these ends, you can repair it just as easily.

Most repair kits have you cut out the damaged area. Use a sharp utility knife for this. You want to make straight, smooth cuts.

The fittings usually have an insert that fits into the hose and some sort of clamping device to hold it in place. If you have trouble inserting the kit inside the hose, try placing the rubber hose in a bucket of hot water to soften it. Make sure your connections are tight and that you have no leaks when finished.

If your hose is really in bad shape, just replace it. You can find a basic hose for a low price, or buy one that can withstand tougher usage -- it will cost more but will last longer.

Keep your hoses stored properly in cold weather, and try not to overstretch them or drive over them. A good hose reel will help you with this.

We all have to do our part to protect this valuable resource, so stop leaks whenever you can!

Keep paper towels handy

Storage shelves are great for most garages and give you plenty of space to store just about anything. We even found that you can store paper towels right on the support arms of the plastic-coated wire versions. By just carefully lifting the upper shelf off one of the support arms, you can slip a roll of paper towels onto the arm and then set the shelf back into place. The roll of paper towels is held on the shelf support and is ready for use whenever you need them for garage cleanups.

Down the drain

Most shower clogs are caused by hair that gets trapped in the drain. The fastest way to remove these clogs is with an old hacksaw blade. The blades are thin and easily can be slipped down into the average tub or shower drain. Hold on to the end and give it a little wiggle or a slight twist to grab on to the hair. Then pull it back up and out of the drain, usually with a clump of hair attached. It's a nasty job, but someone has to do it, and this is a quick and easy way to take care of the problem.

Super hints

• Sharpen your shovel blades, and you'll be shocked at how much faster you can dig a hole. It's easy to do with a file or a rotary tool, and it takes very little time. It will have you done working in less time, which is a blessing for your arms and back!

• I created a neat storage place in my kitchen cabinet for flat things like trays and baking sheets. I just bought some long dowels, longer than the height of the inside of my cabinets. Then I drilled a deep hole into the underside of the top of the cabinet and another shallow hole directly under it so that I could insert the dowel, first up into the top hole and then down into the bottom hole, where it would stay in place vertically. I put a series of these in the cabinet, and now I have plenty of space to store all of my trays.

• Want to have an automatic door? Just install a "spring hinge." This type of hinge has a built-in spring that will close your door automatically when you let go of it. It would be perfect for a patio door or the door to your garage. Think about where you might use a hinge like this to make your life easier.

Q. Our dishwasher racks are starting to crack, and rust is showing through. What can we do?

A. If the problem isn't serious, you might be able to use a paint-on repair kit for dishwashers. They also make little caps that fit onto the tips of the racks, where rust usually begins. If the racks are badly damaged, you can replace them. An online source we have used is

Q. We need your help. After painting the kitchen, we are starting to see some dark marks coming through the paint on one wall. I seem to remember that they were there before we painted, but I thought the paint would cover them. Now what?

A. Some stains will bleed through paint, as it has for you in this situation. You should seal the stains before painting with Kilz or some other primer or sealer. You can go back and do that now, but you will need to paint that wall again. It's a good idea to use a primer or sealer every time you paint just to prevent this from happening.

Q. I have vinyl flooring in my bathroom but would like to install tile. We are on a pier-and-beam foundation, and I am wondering if it's OK to have tile with this. What are your thoughts?

A. Just make sure your subfloor is very stable. You can install a cement-based subfloor as an extra measure of stability if you think you need it. You shouldn't have any problems if you do the latter, and you should really enjoy the upgrade. Good luck!

Q. We have our deck framed, and are getting ready to put down the deck boards. Does it matter which way they go down?

A. Standard deck boards should be placed with the bark side up. Obviously, no bark will be on the wood, but you should be able to tell by the grain which side is the "bark" side. Just look at the ends of the boards to see which side should be up.

Reader tips

• We started a family project and put up a wooden fort for the kids this summer. It was a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, too. The kids love the playhouse, and it's stout enough to last for several years. The supplied climbing rope was made of nylon, and it started fraying at the end. My husband took a lighter and used it to melt the frayed ends. Now they stay together.

• The old bedroom furniture that my wife had when we got married is very dear to her. I've ordered plastic sheets about -inch thick to fit over the tops of the dressers and tables. I think this will protect the finish from being damaged as we use them. After all, they have been in her family for years, and we want to keep them around for a long time. The acrylic sheets were actually fairly inexpensive and well worth it to us.

• I like to store a lot of my shop compounds, like paint thinner and paint, in jars with screw-on lids. These materials keep better this way, and it's usually easier to spot them, too. One small problem that I've run into is that the lids sometimes get stuck on the jars, so I have a little trick I use to avoid this. I run a strip of Teflon tape around the threads before screwing on the lid. This keeps the lids on tight but makes them easy to open when you are ready to do so. The Teflon tape is cheap, and one roll will last a long time.

• Our patio table has an umbrella running through the top of it, so finding a planter for decoration was hard. My wife came up with a great idea. She bought a Bundt cake pan, which is just a cooking pan with a hole in the center of it. She planted some flowers in it, and they have grown and are spilling over the sides now. You can't see the pan any longer, and the flowers look really nice on the table. I thought it was a clever idea, and wanted to share it with you.

• I've been taking care of my daughter's children this summer so she can work. We've had a lot of fun, but we've had to make some adjustments around our home. One of my grandchildren locked himself in the bathroom and couldn't get out. My husband wanted to remove the lock from the door. I came up with the idea of putting a rubber band over the lock to prevent it from going into the strike plate. I looped the rubber band over the doorknob, twisted it and then looped it on the knob on the other side of the door. The twisted part fits right over the lock and prevents it from engaging. Problem solved -- and without hardware removal!


• If you hate sink clogs, you'll love the PermaFlow. It's a replacement "P" trap that is clear and contains a unique feature that allows you to clean out the trap manually, without disassembling anything. You easily can spot the problem, and a simple dial on the side allows you to maneuver a wiper through the trap to scrape out the clog. You can bypass a small clog to drain the system in an emergency, and there's even a little trick that will allow you to retrieve an object like a ring that was accidentally washed down the sink. Check it out at

• You ought to have a Slide-N-Pump on hand. We tried one, and it's so easy to use, doesn't need electricity and works like a champ. You can use it to empty a pond, drain your fish tank, pump out a small flooded area or empty a washer that needs repairs. The Slide-N-Pump is made to last, and it comes in two sizes. To find out more and see it in action, go to

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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