Repair your screens and enjoy fresh air this summer

Posted6/20/2014 12:01 AM

Window screens let in fresh air and keep the bugs out. If you haven't checked your screens yet for tears or holes, do so now before you need to use them. If you do find damage, here are some super tips for making quick repairs or easier replacements.

• Vinyl screens are the most common screens, but most of these repairs will work on aluminum screens as well.

• A small blob of silicon sealant can be used to seal over a small hole. Push it into the small holes of the screen to lock it into place.

• You can use a scrap of matching screen and some glue to repair a larger hole.

• If you do any sewing, you can sew a patch into place with matching screen and fishing line.

• Check your hardware store for some easy-to-install patches. Some are even peel-and-stick, which could have that chore done in just a couple of seconds!

If you have to replace the whole screen, just grab the rubber spline with some needle-nose pliers and start pulling it out. The screen will come out after that. Clamp the frame in place with a dowel rod running under each end. Then you can place the replacement screen, which is also available in solar-blocking colors now, over the frame. Use a splining tool to push the screen into place, then start running the spline around the edges. Clamps, placed around the frame edge to hold the screen in place while you work, will make your job a little easier. You'll see that when you remove all the clamps, the dowels that were holding the frame are slightly curved, which will make for a super-tight fit when removed.

Now you can enjoy some fresh air and save money on your cooling bills too! Have a great summer.

Support your trees

If you recently planted small trees, it's suggested that you use stakes and rope to steady them until the roots have taken hold. But there are some tips we have to make this a little less obvious in your landscape. Wooden stakes can be made from small tree limbs cut to a point to make them easier to drive into the ground. Natural jute or heavy-duty clear fishing line also will be less noticeable. To protect the tree from strangulation or other damage from the rope or line, run it through some clear aquarium hose. All of these things will help your tree stay put longer but not be so flashy as to detract attention from your new tree.

Studly storage

Storing tools and other supplies between the wall studs is nothing new; it's one of the best places to store smaller items. One way to utilize this space is to install two-by-fours as shelves, horizontally between these studs. You can improve this by drilling holes into these shelves to make it even easier to store certain tools, like hoes, rakes and shovels. This takes up much less storage space that if you stored them on the floor or somewhere else inside your garage or storage shed. Plus, the tools are stored off the ground, so there's less chance of rust settling in.

Super hints

• Using a push stick to feed lumber through a table saw is a safer way to do the job. You can make a pretty good one from a dowel rod with a rubber pencil eraser affixed to the end to prevent slipping.

• Do they even make pantyhose anymore? Well, I know I don't wear them any longer. It's just too hot here in Texas. I do use old pantyhose for lots of other stuff around the house. They are great for holding bundles of lumber and pipe together. It's strong enough to hold vines in the garden and great for securing lumber in a truck for the trip home from the lumber yard. I like to use the colored hose for this -- just to make a point!

• If you are cutting through plywood and you want a nice, clean edge, mark it first, then score it with a sharp utility knife, placed against a straightedge, then make your cut. The scoring will cut way down on the splintering.

Q. I have a question about my driveway expansion joints. Ours have, or had, wooden strips in the gap. But the wood has rotted now, and we want to replace it. Can we use something else instead of wood?

A. You can buy a rubber/vinyl product at your home center. It comes in a roll and is designed to fit right into this gap. It looks fine, and is inexpensive and easy to use. It's your best choice.

Q. We have an issue with our patio. It slopes back down toward the house, and water pools up next to the side of the house and back door. What can we do to level it or get it to slope in the other direction?

A. Depending upon how much of a slope you have, you can use a concrete floor-leveling compound or concrete "topper." Follow the prep instructions for the best adhesion, and you should be able to get good, long-lasting results.

Q. I have a large, metal planter that is starting to peel, and I want to repaint it. I planned to use spray paint, but wanted to know if I should use a primer. It sits outside, so it has to withstand hail, rain and direct sunlight all day long during the summer. Will a primer help keep it from peeling again? Is there anything else I can do to help it last longer?

A. Scrape and/or sand off any peeling paint. If you are down to the bare metal, it is a good idea to use a primer made for metal surfaces. It will give you a smoother, longer-lasting finish. Although you can get a two-in-one primer-and-paint product, it might be best to use individual cans for this project; it should last longer this way. And, of course, use a paint made for the great outdoors, with UV protection and one that is moisture-resistant.

Reader tips

• I love my table saw. It's older, but it still works great, and it certainly has lasted longer than a lot of the newer ones I've seen. One thing I always do before starting a new project is clean the table. Then I sprinkle some powder on it. It absorbs any grease from my hands and the wood, and keeps the wood moving smoothly across the surface.

• We are using a new crib for our son. The one that we used for the older children was starting to wear out, so we replaced it. It seems taller and a little top-heavy. We mounted some eye bolts to the back side of the crib and matching bolts on the wall, through the studs, of course. Then we put lock rings between the two to hold them in place, just to prevent tipping when he starts trying to pull up on the sides. They grow up so fast!

• Our toilet was leaking around the flapper. I went to the hardware store, and they were out of the one I needed. I came home and shut off the water, took out the old flapper and cleaned it thoroughly with vinegar and water, as well as the seat for it. There was a lot of black stuff that came off. I smeared a layer of petroleum jelly around it and then reinstalled it. It seemed to work, as the leak has stopped. My wife eventually bought a flapper at the grocery store, but after the cleaning, we just put it in the garage for later. I'm sure it will need to be replaced eventually!

• I have a super tip for your column. I bought an extra-large baking sheet that I use in my garage. I lie down on it when I'm working under the car. It also catches small parts that I may drop, as well as fluids that leak while I'm working. When I'm finished working, I just pull it out, clean it off and save it for the next time.

• I finally got my kids to help clean their shower. No, they won't get out the cleaner and sponge, but now I keep a squeegee in there and, after each shower, they now wipe down the walls with it. It's such a simple thing, but they actually enjoy doing it and will do it more often than not. I don't have nearly the soap scum that I used to get, and there are fewer spots on the door, too.


• Has your water pressure dropped off over the years, especially your hot water? Many times this is due to a buildup of mineral deposits in your plumbing system. There's a little trick you can play with a dime on your pipes to clear out some of these deposits. I've written down the steps so that you can try this yourself. With any luck at all, you'll improve your water pressure, and you'll even get your dime back! You also can get this information and more at

• We all know that one of the best tools around for demolition is a reciprocating saw. Most can take on just about any material and save you tons of time and effort. Well, get ready for the latest -- DualSaw! The DualSaw is a reciprocating saw with two blades, working with counteraction technology to give you a more stable and controlled cut with less kickback and vibration. Smoother cuts, safer cuts and more versatile usage is the result, and they have two different models to choose from. You really need to see this one in action to appreciate it fully. Go to and look it up. They have some other unique tools to offer as well. There's a super video that will give you a better idea of what it can do. It's new, so you may have to do a little shopping around to find one, but it's definitely work checking into.

• We all know Elmer's glue and have used it for most of our lives. Well, ProBond Advanced from Elmer's is new and stronger than any other formula they make. It's a multi-surface glue and works great on wood, metal, ceramic, glass, foam and other hard-to-hold surfaces. It's almost clear, 100 percent waterproof and even can be sanded and painted. It has an eight- to 10-minute drying time, and can be used indoors and out. Look for ProBond Advances at your hardware store or home center. For additional information, go to

• 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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