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posted: 4/26/2013 4:02 AM

Keep your wicker furniture in wonderful shape

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Wicker furniture has been around for years and, if you don't take good care of it, yours might start to look like it's actually that old! Here are some steps you can take to keep your wicker from unraveling!

It's OK to take it outdoors, but don't leave it out there for long periods. It's also a good idea to keep it away from heat, because too much heat will dry it out.

Wiping it down with a damp sponge or cloth weekly is about all you need to do after that. Vacuuming also is another way to clean it.

Washing it with warm, soapy water is something you should probably do once a year. A pressure washer would have too much power, but a strong spray from a garden hose would be about right for getting the dirt out of the nooks and crannies. Add a little laundry bleach to the mix if you find any mildew spots that need treating. Allow it to dry in the sun to tighten any loose spots in the wicker.

If you need to make repairs, check your craft store for products you can use. Glue can be used to hold it in place.

If you want to paint the furniture, keep in mind that this material is porous and will absorb paint, so several coats will be needed. Spraying it on is the easiest. Just make sure that you do it in an area where over spray won't damage anything. You may want to use a clear polyurethane to seal the paint. If you leave it natural, try a little furniture polish to add a layer of protection.

Just keep an eye on things and make repairs as soon as you see a problem. The longer you let it go, the worse it will get.

Stubborn screws and bolts

We are always trying new ways to gain leverage when removing tough screws and bolts. Recently we had to try to unscrew some very old screws from a trailer floor. We had to dig out the slots just to get a screwdriver into them. Then, even pushing down hard and using a lot of force, we couldn't get them to turn. We finally grabbed the blade of the screwdriver with some pliers and got it started. The leverage gained with the pliers really made it quick and easy. Try it yourself!

Easy extension for shop vac

Shop vacuums are the perfect cleanup tool for messy shops and homes. Most are heavy-duty and can be used for both wet and dry pickups. We always suggest breaking them out on spring-cleaning projects. One thing you may want to add is an extension to the end of the hose. You can use a cardboard wrapping-paper tube or even a scrap of PVC pipe. Just tape it onto the end of the vacuum hose, and you can reach cobwebs and dust bunnies under just about anything, and many other hard-to-reach messes. Pull it off when you are finished, and take a break. You earned it!

Super hints

• Stirring paint can be messy, especially when using a drill to do it. Set your paint can down inside a large paper sack before stirring. It will catch the messes before they become messes. You can just throw the bag away when you're finished.

• I like painting from a can. It allows me to hold the paint while I work. I transfer it to a smaller can to make this easier. I like to use coffee cans for their good size. I take the plastic lid out about two-thirds, leaving one-third with a straight edge. When placed back on the coffee can, I have a great place to wipe off the excess from my paintbrush. Having an extra lid around also is handy so you can close up your paint when it's time for a coffee break.

• For years, we've printed letters and emails from readers suggesting that we leave yarn and string scraps out for birds to use in their nests. Now we are hearing that some of these materials can cause problems when they get wet. They don't dry out fast enough and can hurt baby birds. Just FYI.

Q. How can you reinstall a toilet-tissue holder so that it will stay put?

A. The original mount probably was done with plain screws. You can remove them and install wall anchors. There are several different types, and you can pick the right one for your wall. This should do the trick.

Q. I always have peeling paint in my bathroom. I've sanded and painted several times but still have the problem each time. Is there any particular kind of paint I can use to avoid the problem?

A. What type of ventilation do you have in the bathroom? You might just need to add more or use it more often. A lot of people have bathroom ventilation and rarely use it or use it only when using the toilet. Try leaving it on for 15 minutes after a shower and see if this doesn't help.

Q. Last year, we discovered our air conditioner was draining through the eaves on our roof. It has caused a rust stain down the side of our house. Is there a problem, or is this normal? This is the first year that I have noticed it, so I'm not sure what to check next. What should I do next?

A. Take a closer look at your AC in the attic. Most have a drain pan located under the coils. As the coils melt after it cycles off, this pan catches the drips and should drain into your house drain lines. When this drain or pan becomes clogged, most systems have a built-in secondary drain pan that drains out the side of your house. See if you can access the main drain pan and use a plumbing snake to clear the line so it will work the way it's supposed to. Pour a cup of bleach into the main drain pan a couple of times a season to prevent clogs. That should take care of things. If you can't clear it yourself, have a pro take a look at it. A good tuneup before the season starts usually is a smart thing to do anyway.

Reader tips

• I noticed one evening while working late in my office that the cleaning crew was using club soda to clean the chrome chairs in our office. I told my wife, and she tried it on the chrome in our house, bathroom and kitchen. It works great and, as you already know, club soda is really inexpensive. I just thought I would pass it on to you and your readers.

• I bought some lithium grease to spray on my garage door track. It worked great, and then I tried it on a couple other things. I sprayed it on all of my window tracks. Some are hard to raise and lower, and we like to keep them open during the springtime. The grease works great on them. I used it on my garage hinges, too. So far, it's working, but I'm not sure how long it will last outdoors. I'll let you know later.

• Our front door is a good, solid wood door, but the sidelights are clear, and we feel like we don't have enough privacy. We've never been able to find drapes for them, so we decided to etch them. We found etching acid at a craft store and stencils to use for the design. We taped the stencils on the glass, applied the etching cream and waited until it had time to work. Then we just wiped it off and repeated the process until both windows were done. It looks really nice and does the job of making it harder to see into our home through these side windows.

• We have a nice closet in our master bedroom, but it doesn't have much light and my wife has always complained about it. It has a couple of plugs, so I bought two floor lamps. These are great. I really didn't realize how dim it was until I brought the lamps in. They do a great job, and the closet is a lot more functional now.

• We removed the old ventilator in our bathroom and installed one that is quieter and has a light included in it. It's much nicer. But there wasn't anything wrong with the old one, so we installed it in our laundry room. Now we can get rid of the excess moisture in that room. It used to get pretty bad during the summertime.

Shoptalk

• We all use chip clips, but they don't do much good on large bags that we all have for the shop or garage. The Handy Camel will take care of these big items. It's a super-heavy-duty, industrial-size clip made for sealing up large, heavy bags like charcoal, potting soil, fertilizer and concrete. It's easy to use and won't let go. It even has a handle on it so you can hold the bag more easily and with just one hand. With a little adjustment, it even can be used to help make pouring easier. To see it in action and to find a local dealer, go to www.thehandycamel.com or call (816) 651-2568.

• Valspar is known for its quality paints and we use them often. Now they have a neat additive called Signature Colors Granite Crystals. You just add them to your paint and the result is a lightly textured paint, with subtle sparkle and shine to it. You can find out more about it at www.valsparpaint.com. You'll also be able to see a sample at your paint dealer, in most cases. You'll get some really interesting results, and it's like nothing else we've run across. And, because you mix it into the paint, you can use it in any kind of paint, including wall paint and even furniture paint.

• 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 thesuperhandyman.com.

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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