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posted: 7/18/2014 12:01 AM

Don't overlook details when moving to a new home

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This is the most popular time of the year to move. We've talked about some super tips for packing, but here are some of our favorite tips to help make moving into the new home a little easier.

Hopefully when packing, you created a "Handyman Box." This should contain things like a hammer, pliers, set of screwdrivers, tacks, tape and other items you will need within the first week.

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Establish a small "sick bay" at the new place. Keep some basic medical supplies all in one central location for those little mishaps that we all get when making a move.

Keep contact information for new utilities, emergency medical help, prescriptions, schools, friends and family all in one easy-to-find place.

Corral appliance manuals into one central location, especially when newly delivered, so you can get and keep things working properly.

When unpacking, break boxes down as you unpack them and find a place to stack them until recycling day. Try donating your packing materials to a UPS store or the like. Ours takes these and is happy to do so.

Speaking of recycling day, find out when trash pickup, watering and other city utilities are scheduled.

Send out notices with your new address to everyone who needs to know.

Add organization to closets and cabinets before putting your stuff into them. If you wait, you'll probably never get it done. You'll be very glad you did this, and it will go a long way toward keeping things organized for years to come, too.

Try local restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores to get to know the neighborhood quickly. Take a walk around the block and try to meet some of your neighbors. Get plugged in to local newsletters, newspapers and other city services as soon as you can.

Use your noodles

Sometimes the hard part of shopping at a home center is getting your purchases home. If you need to haul lumber home and all you have is a car, buy or borrow a couple of foam pool noodles. Run some rope through these, and set them on top of your car, spaced evenly apart. Run the rope through the windows and tie it tight. The noodles will act as a base to set the lumber on top of while you drive home. The noodles can go back into the pool when you unload your supplies.

Make cleaner cuts

Most jigsaws have a guide to help you stay on the cutting line. But if you have trouble seeing the hard-to-see guide because of vibration, sawdust or just poor lighting where you are working, you can use white paint or some other brightly colored mark, placed directly on the front end of the saw guide, to point the way. If your mark doesn't show up enough, place white tape over the front of the guide and make your mark on the tape. This will help you work faster and get cleaner cuts.

Super hints

• When fitting tiles into places where they need to be trimmed to fit properly, try using a Dremel or rotary tool. These tools can be used to cut and shape even the most intricate shapes, and will cut way down on accidental breaks or chips.

• I have allergies and, even though they seem to be better now than they used to be, I am always careful to keep dust under control if I can. When I need to clean the filter in my vacuum, I put it in the bag and then shake it to get most of the dust off it. Then I can clean it more thoroughly and with less sneezing!

• If you take the time to clean your deck, fence or siding, apply a water seal to the surface and keep it clean longer. These are available in clear or any number of colors, and will penetrate and protect the wood from Mother Nature.

Q. I want to replace my ceiling fan's blades but can't figure out how to get them off. There's very little room between the fan housing and the blade, and I don't have a screwdriver that will fit. Got any suggestions?

A. Have you tried an offset screwdriver? It's curved to allow you to get into spots just like this, and should do the job for you. You don't have to use them often, but you'll be glad you have one in your toolbox again one of these days.

Q. We have an older brick chimney, and I'm starting to see some crumbling bricks. They all are on the outside wall and I don't see any inside the flue, but I worry that they may start to fail too. What can I do to prevent further deterioration?

A. It's hard to say without actually looking at the situation, but our first thought would be moisture getting into the area. You should make sure that the mortar is sound and that the flashing and roof are in good shape. Make sure your chimney cap is not leaking. Perhaps your best bet would be to hire a chimney sweep and get an inspection. Make repairs before trying to use it again.

Q. Since we renovated our kitchen, all of the appliances have stainless-steel fronts, which always look dirty to me. I've tried the store-bought stainless-steel cleaners, and they work OK. I've looked at the homemade cleaners you have recipes for on your website (www.thesuperhandyman.com) but didn't find one for stainless steel. Do you have a recommendation?

A. Probably the easiest and best cleaner we could recommend for stainless steel is just plain old olive oil. If you put some on a rag, just a little bit, and rub the surface, buffing it as you go, you will get a super shine that lasts a good while. You'll save a ton of money on cleaners, too.

Reader tips

• I bought a great Martin house to put in my backyard. It's large and will house a dozen nests. It's made of wood, but I aged it by spraying it with vinegar. I also added some antique metal brackets and hinges to the edges, and added more perches for the birds, just to personalize it a little bit more. This year, we had only a couple of families move in, but I'm sure we'll have a full house next year.

• I have used your idea for attaching jar lids to the underside of shelves and storing hardware in jars screwed into the lids. It's a great tip and gives me a lot more storage in my garage. I also have added some of these to my fishing boat. I attached small jars to the bottom of my bench seats and store assorted tackle in these jars. They are easy to get to, stay dry and keep my tackle close by when I'm out fishing.

• I made a nice bookcase for my office that turned out great. I glued and nailed the joints to make sure they are good and tight. When I glued the joints, I added a little extra to the edges, since I know they absorb more glue than the sides. It's a good thing I did, because I could see it being absorbed on two of the four just as I was working. I added trim to the exposed edges so they look even nicer.

• I try to use simple cleaners in my home since my daughter has so many allergies. Baking soda is one of my very favorites, and, combined with lemon juice or vinegar, it works just as well as a commercial scouring powder. It works great on tubs, sinks and lots of other places. It's safer to use and much more economical, too.

Shoptalk

• If you are doing a drywall repair or some other, very dusty sanding job, consider using the Dust-Free Sponge Sander by Hyde. The sanding head is easy to grip and is great on a variety of surfaces. It uses sanding sponges, which are washable and replaceable. The included vacuum hose will fit any standard shop vac and will eliminate up to 95 percent of dust caused by sanding. Check it out on www.hydetools.com and see it in action. It's great for large and small jobs, too.

• I've had a good garden cart for many years. At the beginning of the summer, I decided to replace the old wheels since they were starting to wear down from the heavy use. They were solid-rubber tires, and I chose some "balloon" tires as replacements. These actually were tires for a furniture dolly, but they work great on the cart -- much better than the original tires. I can't wait to give them a real test drive.

• When it comes to pressure washers, there are some options to choose from when deciding which one will work best for you. The K3 Follow Me is one that we like a lot. It's compact but still can tackle some bigger jobs. It's on four sturdy wheels that can travel on concrete, as well as wood, grass and even gravel. It has an onboard tank for a variety of cleaners, and uses the Karcher Quick Connect System on all hoses. It includes two wands that can handle driveways, patios, fences, siding and even windows. Turn the dial to the perfect pressure that you need for your cleaning job, and pull it along as you work. Check it out at www.karcherresidential.com and see if this might be the one for you.

• 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.

© 2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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