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posted: 3/28/2014 12:01 AM

Make your glass cooktop shine again

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Glass cooktops are very popular. When you first get them, they look sleek, shiny and very nice. But over time, they can lose their shine and get a buildup of burned food on them that is hard to clean off.

Here are some super tips and tricks to help you get that sleek shine again.

The smooth, sleek look can be ruined if you use harsh, abrasive cleaners, so don't chance it.

Make sure you cooktop is turned off and cool. Lay paper towels over the surface, and then wet them with warm water and dishwashing soap. Leave them to sit for an hour or so to loosen up things. Then remove the paper towels and wipe off what you can. There are some cleaners made just for glass cooktops available at your grocery store or hardware store, and most work pretty well, but not that much better than warm water and soap.

You'll need to get a razor-type paint scraper and use it, carefully, to remove the cooked-on residue. Wipe it off periodically with a plastic scraper and more warm, soapy water.

Once you are finished with the big stuff, use the scraper again to remove the cloudy residue that usually is left behind. Sometimes these white marks can be caused by mineral deposits, so you can use a little warm vinegar to cut through them.

Use a polish protector like Cerama Brite, also available at your hardware store, to shine up the surface and keep it looking good for a longer period of time.

The cooktop should be looking like new again at this point. Be careful when cooking, and don't slide pots and pans across the surface. Try to avoid boil-overs, and keep plastics away from the surface when hot.

Maintain your vacuum

Vacuum cleaners are pretty basic, as far as regular maintenance goes -- change or empty the stuff you've picked up, replace the belt when it breaks and clean the filters regularly. That beater bar that many vacuums have needs to be cleaned, too. It rolls across the flooring and picks up thread and hair, and this stuff gets wrapped around it, making it less effective as time goes by. It can take a while to pull this stuff off the cylinder, unless you have a razor blade or a utility knife. You need to be careful not to cut yourself in the process, but you can slice right through these threads and get them off a lot quicker. Now you can collect more!

Dress up your furniture

Hardware is jewelry for cabinets and drawers. And it can cost as much as the real thing, too! Sometimes you can paint the hardware and give it a whole new look at a fraction of the cost. For example, if you have a set of polished brass pulls and knobs, these could be upgraded with a coat of brushed nickel. Several spray paint makers have this finish now, and you can take all of those pieces of hardware and place them onto a thick piece of cardboard or Styrofoam and spray them all at one time. You'll be amazed at the big-bang-for-your-buck results!

Super hints

• Even if your basement isn't soggy, and we hope it isn't, there's usually moisture problems from time to time. Papers, magazines, cardboard boxes, dry goods, electronics and tools should be stored in a dry location.

• I have been restoring a wooden table that has some loose veneer on it. I didn't want to lift the veneer too much to get to the glue under it, so I put the glue into a coffee stir stick and blew it into the area. Then I placed a heavy book on the veneer to hold it down until the glue had dried. It's held well so far, and I'm almost ready for a top finish.

• If you have granite countertops, then you know you aren't supposed to use strong cleaners on them. Vodka is one thing you can use to clean them, and it does a pretty good job. Plus, you can use the leftovers for a tasty adult beverage!

Q. A couple of months ago, we had to have part of our furnace replaced. Now I am noticing the blower comes on with a blast of cool air. It didn't used to do this. Is there an adjustment, or do we have to get used to this?

A. It sounds like that's a question for your furnace installer. Typically there is a limit switch that delays the blower fan from turning on until the air is heated a little bit. It might not be working correctly, so we suggest you call them for a quick check.

Q. My doorbell has stopped working. It used to sound rather odd, and then it just stopped working altogether. I found a replacement for the "bell" and installed it, but it still won't work. What else can I check?

A. The push button is a likely suspect, so remove and replace it. Hopefully that will do it. If that isn't it, then it has to be in the wiring, which might be harder to replace since it's run through your walls. Check for a wireless doorbell at your hardware store, and see if that might work for you. It's either that or a metal door-knocker.

Q. I was up in the attic this past weekend changing the furnace filters, and I noticed some dark spots on a rafter. I didn't see a leak, but remembered that it is always very humid in the summer. If this is from the humidity, how can I keep that level down?

A. You probably need to add some more attic ventilation. Check your soffit vents to make sure they are not blocked. If you have only a few, add some more. Make sure your upper vents are operating, too. A good solar-powered vent will take the place of several passive vents, and it sounds like you have plenty of sun.

Reader tips

• I tried to look at the expanded view of parts for my lawn mower in the manual. I needed to replace something but couldn't figure out what part it was. I got out my phone and took a picture of the broken part along the side of the mower handle. Then I went to the parts dealer and showed him the picture. He knew right away what the part was, and had one in stock. Now all I have to do is replace it. I'm just glad I didn't have to pack the mower into the car and take it to the shop.

• I really like our deck. We use it a lot in the summer, and since we built it ourselves, it has sentimental value, too. I decided to add some rubber mats to the steps to prevent slips when they are wet, but I had trouble finding the right size for our steps. I was able to find a commercial-size door mat that I cut into smaller pieces and tacked to the steps to prevent slipping. They look nice and work even better.

• I was replacing the medicine cabinet, which was easier than I thought it would be, and I dropped a couple of screws down the bathroom drain. I wasn't happy about having to take the sink apart to get them out, but figured it would be better to do than to leave them and have them block the drain later. It took about an hour to do it, but after that I was able to get back to the medicine cabinet. Thinking back, I could have prevented this by just stopping up the drain or covering it with a towel before starting work.

• We have had a large, flat fluorescent lighting fixture in our kitchen for years. It was very dated, and my wife hated the light coming from it. I removed it and installed a track-type fixture in its place that has three pendant lamps hanging from it. It looks great, gives off plenty of light and also was pretty inexpensive and easy to install. I wish we had done it a long time ago -- better late than never, right?

• Our garage has been overflowing for years. We have two guest rooms since the kids are gone, so I renovated the closets. I bought some closet storage systems at my hardware store and installed them in both closets. They were easy to do and consisted of additional shelving and storage baskets. I also put over-the-door storage racks into each closet. Now we have tons of stuff stored right in the house, but out of the way.


• 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 moisture problem in your home. A sealed house will retain more moisture given off by cooking, bathing and, well, just living. This is exactly what mildew needs to start and spread. 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. Visit our website,, for even more information.

• Wet & Forget Outdoor is a super cleaner to use on just about any surface outside your home to get rid of moss, mold, mildew and algae. All you have to do is spray it on and walk away. There's no scrubbing or even rinsing. It's non-caustic, nonacidic and contains no bleach, so it's safer to use around people and plants. Find out more at and, while there, take a look at their other products for indoor and shower cleaning. Wet & Forget is available at garden centers and hardware stores.

• You probably know that vent stacks on your roof can leak. After all, it's a hole in your roof, barely covered with material that can deteriorate over time. The Perma-Boot quickly and easily can be installed over these vent stacks to permanently repair and seal out leaks so completely that they are guaranteed for the life of your shingles. Check it out at your home center or hardware store and at

• 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

© 2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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