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posted: 7/25/2014 12:01 AM

These bars may grab your attention

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We're all going to get older, and when we do, having grab bars in our homes surely will come in handy. They might even be helpful now if you have guests who have physical challenges. They are fairly inexpensive to add, and could even be a selling point if you decide to sell your home in the future. Here are a few suggestions and guidelines you'll need to do the job successfully:

If you want to try a grab bar, consider using a portable suction-type bar in several places. You can give them a good test before buying one or two permanent ones.

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If you know or have a physical therapist, check with him or her as to proper placement. Most packaged grab bars also will give you some good suggestions. Generally speaking, you want grab bars placed in locations that will help you get up or down on your own. Besides the bathroom, you may want grab bars near stairs, doorways and other similar locations.

When shopping for a grab bar, you'll find they come in a wide variety of sizes and even some very nice finishes that will look great in any bathroom.

To ensure a safe mounting, you'll need to locate the studs in the wall. Most grab bars will need to be secured with several bolts or screws, so it's very important that you pinpoint the stud locations by using a stud finder.

Hopefully the grab bar will come with a drilling template as well. If not, you may want to make one. Set your mounting plate on a piece of paper, and use a pencil to mark the holes. Then you can tape the template to the wall to use it as your drill guide. If you don't hit a stud when your first hole is drilled, use a scrap of wire to probe the inside of the wall to locate the stud. Then adjust your drilling pattern so all screws will hit a stud.

To drill into tile, you will need to use a glass and tile bit.

If your grab bar is going to be located on a shower wall, it also needs to be sealed at the holes to prevent moisture from working its way into the wall. Silicone caulk will do the trick.

Having a grab bar might grab you, even if you don't need one yet.

Lattice works

Lattice is great for holding vines, but it's also pretty handy for holding other things in your workshop. If you can grab a couple of scraps about the same size, and mount them side-by-side about 2 to 3 feet apart on an exposed stud wall, you can slide pieces of pipe, dowel, wood trim and other similar items through the holes of the lattice so they act as a support for them. Mount them up high, and your materials will be stored securely and ready to use when you need them.

Curtains to leak

We recently visited a friend's lake house. The weather was nice, but we had some minor flooding in the bathroom. The hanging shower curtain was a little too short for the shower, and water was coming out from underneath it and onto the floor. We couldn't lower the shower curtain rod, so we bought more shower curtain rings and added another set of these to the existing rings. The added length was enough to prevent water from coming out onto the floor. No more flooding!

Super hints

• So many of us are using rechargeable tools these days that it makes sense to create your own "charging station." Just install these chargers together in one place, with a surge protector/power strip. Then you can keep your batteries charged and ready, all in one place.

• Our last family outing was overrun by bugs. We had the toughest time getting rid of the flies. Then, a neighboring camper suggested we fill up some clear plastic bags with water and hang them from the canopy over our table. I'm not sure why the flies don't like this, but it definitely worked. Best of all, we didn't have to use pesticides around our eating area.

• One of the best and least expensive ways to clean latex paint from a paint brush or roller is to soak the brush in very hot water or hot vinegar. This will loosen the paint and you can work it off in a short time, leaving behind a clean brush ready for your next paint job.

Q. We are getting ready to paint our house trim and would like to paint all of our gutters at the same time. Do we need to prep them in any way first? Do we need to paint the inside of them to help them last longer and resist rust?

A. If possible, use a metal primer before painting. Don't worry about the inside of the guttering. The metal is normally galvanized and made to resist rust for many years.

Q. I have a problem with getting hair spray off our bathroom floor. It has built up through the years, and you actually can see the "fallout" area. What cleaner will work to cut through this sticky stuff?

A. Any general-purpose cleaner should work. Spray it on and give it a chance to loosen it up. Depending upon what type of flooring you have, you should be able to use a plastic scrubber of some sort to work it loose once it's softened.

Q. We are considering wood floors in our home and have started to shop around. I had no idea it was going to be so difficult. There are so many kinds to choose from. What is your favorite?

A. We are so lucky to have all of these choices. Choose the one that will work best for you. Each has benefits for different situations. Some will stand up to moisture problems better than others. Others can handle traffic better. Regular maintenance is easier on some floors than others and, of course, your budget also should be considered.

Reader tips

• Our older bathtub is almost an antique. It has claw feet, but it's in pretty good shape. We still have the original faucets. One of the handles was a little loose. When I tried to find a replacement, I quickly realized it was not going to happen. I pulled off the handle, wrapped the bolt with a scrap of aluminum screen wire and twisted it back on. The wire tightened it back up so, maybe, we can get another 50 or 60 years out of it.

• For years, my tools would rust when my workshop was in our sub-level garage. I knew the humidity was a problem, but never could find a solution for it. Then I got a great deal on a dehumidifier at a garage sale down the street, and hooked it up and let it run in there for a few days. Boy, did it make a difference! I run it whenever the moisture level is too high. It's also helped keep other things in better shape. There's no more clumping fertilizer anymore, either.

• I cleaned out our rental unit for a new tenant and spent more time cleaning the bathroom than I ever had to before. It was really bad. I used a razor paint scraper to get the soap scum off the shower tiles and door. I sprayed it with hot vinegar first, then used the scraper. It took a while, but it looks pretty good now. I hope this tenant is neater than the last one!

• You will love this idea. I have a superfast way to wind up my extension cords: First, I fold them in half. I don't crimp the cord, but fold it loosely. Then I wind both ends up at the same time, from the middle loop, the halfway point. This means I'm winding the cord twice as fast this way. Another bonus is that when I'm finished coiling it up, both ends are exposed together, making it easier to make the connections.

• I finally pulled the old rubber shelf liners out of my kitchen and put new in. I gave the old liners to my husband, and he was thrilled. He uses them to line the drawers in his tool storage cabinet. It's the kind on wheels and it makes a big racket, so the rubber liners should quiet that down. Plus, he says it's better for the tools since they don't roll around as much.

Shoptalk

• Energizer's Hard Case Magnetic LED Lamp was designed to make it easier to see what you are doing when working on and under cars. But we find it good for so many other things, so we wanted you to know about it. It runs on two AA batteries, but since the bulbs are LED, they last for a very long time. It's small and has a built-in magnetic case so you can stick it on a lot of metal surfaces where other lighting isn't available. Just a tap on the front will turn the light off and on. It's part of the Hard Case line, so it's built to take some abuse without failing. Check it out online at www.energizer.com. It's available at discount, auto supply and hardware stores, as well as most home centers.

• If you've tried an oscillating tool, then you already know how super they are. The deceptively small and lightweight tool has plenty of power, and a variable speed control makes it very easy to control, so you get precise and detailed results. Dual Tools has just come out with a dual-blade oscillating tool -- it's the only one on the market. The two blades work in opposite directions so it never pulls one way or the other, and there's much less splintering, binding and kickback. Check it out, and the whole line of innovative tools, at www.dualtools.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.

© 2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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