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posted: 8/1/2014 12:01 AM

Unclog stubborn shower drains

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A clogged shower drain is one way to cut down on water usage. But there are better ways to remedy this problem. Here are some super tips for clearing a clogged drain in the shower, tub or sink.

Protect the delicate finishes with towels if you plan to use heavy tools or other items that might scratch or chip the surface.

Before grabbing the chemicals, get a hacksaw blade, minus the saw. Even without pulling off the drain cover, you should be able to slip the blade into the drain opening deep enough to grab the hair that probably is the culprit. Don't let go of the blade, but pull the strainer back out and get rid of that mess. Repeat if necessary.

If the clog is deeper, then a plumber's snake might work for you. If you can't get it through the strainer, then it will need to be removed. It will be held in place with either screws or tabs that grab the drainpipe. Be careful not to drop the screws down the drain. The snake will go into the drain and find the clog, and then pull it out or push it on down.

Another great tool for busting a clog is called a Drain King. This is a rubber device that fits onto the end of a garden hose and blocks the drain line before putting out a very strong, pulsing water spray that can push out a lot of common clogs. Close up overflows if you are working in a tub or sink.

As a last resort, you can use chemical drain openers. The reason why we don't start with these is because they are caustic and, once in the drain, can really make it difficult to use anything else if they don't take care of the clog. The gel formulas seem to work a little better.

Sneak a snack

Summertime means kids at home, vacations and guests in the house, for most of us. Well, it also means you need to be a little quieter if you are an early riser or like those midnight snacks. We installed small, felt bumpers on the inside of our cabinet doors and drawers. Now when we close these doors and drawers, they barely make a sound at all. These also can work well on closet doors, bathroom cabinets and lots of other places. Not bad for a dollar or two.

Shop vacuums are handy

If you don't have a shop vacuum, you really are missing the boat. A good wet/dry shop vacuum really can take care of some heavy-duty messes, both inside and outside the home. One way to add even more value to a good shop vac is to create onboard storage. Just grab a few scraps of PVC plastic pipe, attach end caps to the bottom of each pipe, and then glue the pipe pieces directly to the sides of the vacuum. Now you have a super place to store all of the attachments you will need to take care of the messiest cleanups.

Super hints

• When you get to work with a nice cherry wood or some pecan, you'll want to save the scraps. Even the small pieces can be used. Place them in water to soak, and use them to flavor the meat next time you fire up the smoker.

• We all use plastic drop cloths. They are inexpensive and widely available. That being said, there's nothing like a good canvas dropcloth. They are more expensive, but they absorb paint and won't flop or bow around like the thin plastic type do. Try it once, and you'll see why they are so great.

• Remember when painting that one or more thin coats of paint will work much better than one thick coat. This is true when using spray paint or paint right out of the can. Even the paint that says it will cover in one coat might look better with two.

Q. I have a clogged vacuum hose line on my shop vacuum. Now what? How can I get the clog out? I can't even feel where it is. I don't want to have to cut into it or replace it just yet. What can I do?

A. Take the hose off the vacuum cleaner and stretch it out. Now you can use a broom handle, long scrap of pipe or even a plumbing snake and work the clog to the end.

Q. I have a garden seat that is made from concrete. We don't use it much, but I'd still like it to look good. It has moss growing on it. What can I clean it with? How can I keep it from growing back?

A. You can clean it with bleach and water. Make sure you protect the grass and plants in the area from the damaging bleach. Once clean, spray a water seal on it to keep moisture from getting into the concrete and causing the mold, mildew and moss to return. There also are some rubberized paint products that will seal the surface and keep it clean.

Q. Our bathtub is an older fiberglass model, and it has a small crack near the edge. It's not in a critical area, but I would like to see if there is a way to fix it or seal it up somehow. What do you recommend?

A. Even if you're the crack is not in a critical area, water still can get in behind the surface and cause a lot of moisture damage over time. Your hardware store, or even an auto-parts supply store, will have a fiberglass-repair kit, hopefully to match your tub color. These take a few steps to complete and won't look beautiful, but will seal up the crack. At some point, you will have to replace the shell.

Reader tips

• I like my woodworking projects, but try to keep my shop clean. I end up with a lot of sawdust when I do my projects, and have discovered that it's a great way to soak up greasy messes. You can use it on your garage floor, driveway or even your deck. Just put some on top of a grease stain and let it sit long enough to soak up the mess. Then vacuum it up. It works well and makes good use of your sawdust.

• I just paid about $200 to get my air conditioner fixed; it had an ant colony nesting inside of the outdoor compressor. What a mess. After cleaning and repairing the unit, and paying a hefty fee, I sprayed it with preventive ant killer and even put a bunch of mothballs inside the unit before putting the cover back on. I sure hope they don't come back!

• When I was cleaning out my garage, I found a whole can of undercoating spray for my car. I used it to coat a couple of rusting spots inside my guttering. I also had cleaned them out and found these spots earlier in the month. It looks like it's going to last for a while.

• I made a super tool holder for the front side of the back rack of my workbench. I glued some heavy-duty magnetic strips across the front of it. I am finding that I have a lot of tools that will stick right to it. It's so handy to store tools on. I even throw some hardware up there once in a while. I plan to put in pegboard one of these days, but until then, I've got some great tool storage in this magnetic strip.

• I like to redo my apartment fairly often. I guess I just get bored with the same old stuff. Of course, I'm on a budget so I have to get creative to do it. I found out you can use fabric dye on furniture and rugs. It takes a lot of guts to do it the first time, but once you do, you'll love the results. Check your local craft stores for this stuff, and you'll see what all they have along these lines. You can give your rooms an update on the cheap!

Shoptalk

• If you want to be able to use the space under a deck more often and keep that area dry and rain-free, consider DrySnap Panels. These vinyl ceiling panels are designed to fit to the underside of a standard deck to cover up those wooden joists and flooring members and, because they are white, they lighten up these dark patios. They are fairly easy to put up, with the patented snap-together installation, and they come with a 10-year warranty. You can find out more at www.drysnap.com, and get more use from that dark, damp patio hiding under your deck.

• XT Ladder Luggs are the best way to lug a heavy load up an extension ladder and hang on to it while you are working. Slide the Ladder Lugg into any ladder rung and push it in to lock it in place. It's made to hold heavy paint cans, screw guns, circular saws and lots of other heavy stuff. You even can leave it in place by just pushing it further into the rung for overnight storage if you will need it again the next day. This is a super product, and you'll love having your hands free to do the job you need to do. To find out more, go to www.biglugg.com, and check out the other super helpers the company sells.

• 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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