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posted: 10/24/2013 3:54 PM

Keep pests out of your home this fall

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As the weather cools, we all start spending more time indoors -- along with the bugs and critters. At least, that is their plan. But you can do a lot of things to keep them out.

• Go around the outside of your home and look for possible entrances. Even the smallest gaps can let in a whole family of pests, so seal them up with caulk or wire, whichever works best for each place. Steel wool also can be stuffed into areas where pests try to enter.

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• Clear away debris and other possible nesting areas.

• Make sure all windows and doors are sealed, especially the ones that you seldom use. Add additional weatherstripping if you need more to seal them up tightly.

• Make sure water leaks are repaired. Water is a must for most pests, and they congregate in damp areas.

• Food left out for them to get into also acts as an invitation. Keep all food sealed up, especially pet food. Sealable containers come in lots of sizes, even super large. If you feed pets outdoors, pick up uneaten food regularly.

• Check for droppings in areas where pests are likely to nest. As soon as you find any, take action immediately.

• Preventive measures can be taken before cold weather sets in, too. You can spray insecticide around the perimeter of your home to keep some pests from even trying to get in. Use protective bait stations that kids and animals can't get into around your home and check them regularly to see if the bait is being taken.

• Set mouse-and-rat traps if you suspect them. Again, protect kids and pets from accidentally getting to them.

Check with local feed stores and even some hardware stores for other creative deterrents. Good luck!

A simple way to update your ladder

Most newer step ladders have improvements over the old classics. The top step, which is not to be used as a real step, usually has holes drilled into it for holding screwdrivers, a hammer and other things. If you still have an old ladder, you can give yours an upgrade by just drilling a few of these holes into its top step. These handy holes will prevent tools from rolling off and falling to the ground while you are working.

Add security to your sliding glass door

Sliding patio glass doors are great because they let in a lot of light. Of course, they also can let in criminals if not properly secured. Newer models offer more security than older doors, but you can still add more. One of the easiest ways to keep a sliding door from being opened is to wedge something between the back frame of the door and the movable door. A piece of PVC pipe is one option. Just use a hacksaw to cut it and fit it in place. It's easy, inexpensive and very effective.

Super hints

• Free up garage floor space by hanging tools, garden gadgets, sports equipment and holiday decor up on the walls. A few nails, hooks and hangers will allow you to use up all of the wall space and leave your floors for the cars!

• If you are tired of waiting for the paint to dry, use a fan! Let's face it -- some of us are just not very patient, and as long as you don't dry the paint too quickly or with too much heat, you can do it with a fan or two. This also can work for drywall repairs.

• That new spray paint that can be used on plastic is perfect for switch plates and receptacles. It's called Fusion by Krylon, and it will make customizing your plate covers take just a few seconds.

Q. We live in a house that has a pier-and-beam foundation. It's an older home and has no cracks in the walls or anything like that. What it does have are bouncy floors. Is there anything we can do to fix it?

A. Go down in your crawl space and take a closer look at the floor joists. Make sure that you don't see any damaged joists or piers. You can add bridging between the floor joists if you want. Just cut 2x4s to fit between the floor joists. There are metal bridges you can use as well.

Q. I like my glass cooktop but have found it hard to keep clean. You can see everything that gets spilled on it. What's the best way to keep it clean?

A. Most glass cooktops do need to be cleaned often, but they sure look nice when they are clean. Never use harsh cleaners or scrubbers that can scratch the surface. Soften baked-on food by covering it with a paper towel that has been soaked in water. Let it sit on the food for a while to soften it up. Then you can carefully scrape it off with a plastic putty knife. Check with your hardware store for cleaners made just for this purpose. They work quickly and very well.

Q. We have a glass shower door that is starting to have some problems. There is a rubber piece along the bottom of the door that is falling off. What can we do?

A. This rubber piece will help keep the water from going outside the door, so you should replace it. Check to see if you can find a brand name on the door anywhere, take pictures of it and the rubber piece, and start shopping around for a replacement rubber gasket. Hopefully you can find one without too much effort. The rubber piece also might be available at your home center. They do have some universal items that might work. If all else fails, you might see if you can find a door sweep that you can install with screws to the inside of the door.

Reader tips

• The other day I grabbed a ketchup bottle from the recycling bin and cleaned it out to use for my hand cleaner. I just filled the bottle with my waterless hand cleaner and now keep the bottle on my workbench. It's much easier in the squirt bottle than in the original bottle, which was hard to keep clean when using dirty hands to open it. I also put a paper-towel holder next to the workbench so I can have paper towels when I need them. Those are my handy tips for your readers.

• My office is right over our bedroom, and when I am working, my husband says he can hear the floor upstairs squeak when I move my chair. Now that he mentioned it, I can hear it, too. The floor is carpeted, so installing extra screws seemed impossible. I decided to use finish nails. I pinpointed the squeaky areas and then drove nails into the floor, right through the carpet. I used a nail set to drive them on down into the subfloor, and just let the carpet fill in over them. You can't see them, but the squeaks have stopped!

• This is a crazy idea I had that actually worked! I had an old entertainment center that was made for my old, large TV. I didn't know what to do with it because I bought a new, thin TV. I used a circular saw to chop off the back 10 inches of the unit. It was pretty easy to do and the new TV fits fine. The unit looks better in my family room and takes up a lot less room.

• Our bed is an antique and has been a treasured piece of furniture for many years. One problem that we had to overcome was the slats. They would move around and eventually fall down, along with the mattress ... and us! I fixed the problem by wrapping the ends of each slat with rubber bands. The rubber bands fit between the wood and the frame and keep them from moving. We have not had any problems since I added these.

• With energy costs going up every year, I try to save money on my heating bills by using the heat generated by other things in my house to help keep us warm. For example, I always leave the oven door open when I'm finished cooking. The heat inside the oven keeps the kitchen and even the family room a little warmer. I also try to move the humid air after we take showers into the bedroom to warm it up and help keep the humidity down in the bathroom. I also vent my dryer into the den. I make sure to keep a clean filter on it, but the hot air does a lot to keep us warm on cold days. I can even open the door on my dishwasher after a load to help warm up the kitchen.

Shoptalk

• If you have done a good job of weatherproofing your home, it will be sealed up tightly. This will save energy but may, in some cases, create a mildew problem. Mildew not only looks and smells bad, but it can ruin walls, carpeting and just about any surface it gets on. Learn how to rid your home of this problem once and for all. We've put together a pamphlet called "Mildew Around Your House," and it is full of tips on how to get rid of mildew and how to keep it from coming back.

• We're big fans of E6000 Adhesives, and their latest Spray Adhesive is a must-have for lots of your projects. It's latex-based, so it cleans up with soap and water. The bond is strong yet flexible, water-resistant, non-

yellowing and has no strong odor or toxic properties. It even resists bleed-through. You can use it on so many different materials, and it will give you a permanent bond. You can find it at hardware store, hobby shops and home centers. For more details, go to www.eclecticproducts.com.

• Attic access usually is by fold-down ladder. They've been the same for many years, but Werner has a new Energy Seal Attic Ladder. It's made better with a special air-locking design that seals up to 60 percent more air. The aluminum ladder also weighs a lot less, which makes it easier to install and use. They even have a compact model for smaller openings in less space. Check them out at select home centers and at www.werneratticladders.com.

• 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.

2013, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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