House Problems: Tricks and Cures

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At the Almanac, we've discovered some good tricks and cures to address annoying problems around the house. Here's exactly what to do IF . . .

Your scatter rugs have a life of their own . . .

Save your sanity and visit your local carpet store for some padding. Whether your scatter rug is on bare floor or atop another carpet, a thin pad underneath will be safer and saner, plus it will increase the life of your rug.

Your steam radiators are waking you up at night . . .

Steam radiatorIf the price you pay for warmth is loss of sleep during the wee hours, you no doubt agree with the old radiator refrain, "A hiss is pure bliss, but them clangs are gosh dang!" What's the cause of all the ruckus? Usually the problem is due to incorrectly sloping pipes. Pipes that aren't tilted back toward the source pipe give the water a chance to collect and block the steam, causing clangs. Try this: Place small blocks of wood under the radiator's legs to angle the pipes back toward their source. Then go back to bed.

You're going bonkers putting a pillow back inside its slipcover . . .

Wrap it in plastic (a large garbage bag works well) and slide it into the cover. Then gently pull the plastic out, leaving the pillow inside.

You already have a great picture arrangement, but you need to repaint . . .

Keep that wonderful grouping by inserting toothpicks into the nail holes and paint right over them. Simply remove the toothpicks when the paint dries, and you're ready to rehang.

A child has a sliver and won't let your tweezers near it . . .

Try a blob of white glue on the intruder. When the glue dries, peel it off, and the sliver might come, too!

You lose your mind trying to put the duvet back inside its cover . . .

The trick here is not to let it get out in the first place. To keep your comforter snug inside its cover, sew small plastic rings in strategic spots on the comforter—the corners and the center of each side, for example. Tack 2 five-inch pieces or so of thin bias tape inside the duvet cover, corresponding to where you sewed the rings. Now place your comforter back inside the cover, spreading it out. Tie the strings to the rings using a square knot (left over right and under; right over left and under), fluff the comforter, and place it back on your bed. To launder the cover, simply untie the strings and remove the comforter.

Those too lazy to sew can fasten the comforter to the cover at strategic spots using medium-size safety pins. Check the pins often if you plan to jump on the bed.

Your coffee machine begs for a rinse . . .

Pour a quart of white vinegar into the water chamber, put in a filter, and run the machine through its brewing cycle. Put the vinegar in again, but this time let it sit for half an hour. Run through the brewing cycle again. Then run a pot of fresh water through the entire cycle. Repeat with a second pot of fresh water.

Your guests go home, but the white rings from their wet glasses remain . . .

Head to the kitchen and make a thin paste of salad oil and salt. Using your fingers, gently massage this mixture into the ring. Let it sit for an hour or so, then wipe it off with a clean cloth. Or cover the ring with petroleum jelly, let it sit for a day, and then wipe it off. Next time, remember the coasters!

You want a great picture arrangement without extra holes in your walls . . .

Tape several sheets of newspaper together and lay them on the floor. Arrange your frames on the newspaper until you like the grouping. Outline the pictures, then gently affix the newspaper to the wall. Drive your nails right through the paper where your outline indicates. Remove the newspaper and hang the pictures.

Your wicker wobbles . . .

Try misting it with water. The wicker will swell and then tighten up, taking away the wiggles.

Your toilet sweats like a marathoner . . .

Toilet tanks perspire on hot days because flushing fills them with cold water and condensation occurs. Picture a tall glass of cold lemonade in the sunshine, and you'll get the idea. Tanks also will sweat if they, like a long-distance jogger, are "running" all the time. This condition can be caused by two things: a leaky flapper valve or a ball that is set too high. Test to see if you have a leak by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If it ends up in your bowl without anyone flushing, try lowering the ball and replacing the flapper valve. If it's not a leak but your toilet still perspires due to flushing, try insulating the tank. Drain it, then use silicone glue to affix one-half-inch sheets of Styrofoam cut to size, or purchase a kit at your hardware store.

Your garbage disposal smells like a swamp . . .

Scour food particles from the walls and blades, and remove unpleasant odors with this trick: Combine 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water, pour into ice cube trays, and freeze. Remove the cubes and grind them in the disposal, then flush with water for 1 minute. Grind some lemon or orange peels for a pleasant fragrance, too.

Your dresser or cabinet knob won't stay put . . .

Dip the screw end of the knob into shellac or clear fingernail polish. Screw it in. When it dries, it will be set.

Last week's marinara sauce won't leave your plastic container . . .

Rub the container with a damp cloth dipped in baking soda. Or fill the stained container with water, drop in one or two foaming denture cleaning tablets, wait 20 minutes, and rinse.

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