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HOME TIPS

San Diego Super Home Center Home Improvement Tips

Home improvement and household tips from our editors and from our readers. Here our readers share with us the "tips and tricks" that they've picked up over the years!

TIPS FROM OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Unstopping a Toilet
Tip submitted by: Ed, CA. Former military repair plumber.
To unstop your toliet most of the time, use the garden hose and stick it in as far as you can into the toliet--usually a foot or so. Turn on the water hose and it will flush the stoppage out.

Handling Plastic Wrap: Keep your cellophane wrap from sticking
Tip submitted by: Lori, IA (seen on Rachael Ray show).
Keep your plastic wrap in the freezer, and it will pull out of the box as easy as wax paper and foil does.

Keeping Shower Doors Clean
Tip submitted by: Katie, Milwaukee
For glass shower doors to be cleaned use lemon oil with a dust cloth and the water will bead right off for a good month or so.

Is Your Air Conditioner An Open Invitation To Bugs?
Tip submitted by: Jennifer - Portland, OR
To keep bugs from coming in through air conditioning units, take a piece of screen door fabric and put it around the vent. Then use an extra large rubber band to secure it in place. This will prevent any bugs that happen to come through the air conditioner or that might nest in it from coming into your house.

Removing Blood Stains From Fabrics
Tip submitted by: Christie - San Diego, CA
Blood-stained clothes: pre-soak area in a 1/2 cup - 1 cup full of cold milk in a small sink for 3 hours. Hand wash stain with a deodordant soap (Dial, etc.). Then machine wash on cold.

Removing Nicotine Build-up on Ionic Breeze "Filters"
Tip submitted by: A smoker--so I'll remain Anonymous - San Diego, CA
Saturate a paper towel in alcohol. Cuts through the nicotine in a flash & will dry extremely fast, so you can replace the filter in short order. Use 90% strength if you can find it. You can also use a fine spray mister for the alcohol. This will clean any of those metal blade air cleaners that can be "washed."


San Diego Super Home Center
HOME TIPS

Tip 1 If you have a window air conditioning unit, change or clean the filter every month, or more often if you own pets that shed. This will reduce the load on your AC & cut costs.

Tip 2 If the screw is loose on your eyeglasses and you do not have a tiny special screwdriver handy, a pencil eraser will work in a pinch.

Tip 3 A freezer works less hard when it is fairly full. So if your freezer is a little low on food, fill in the empty spaces with plastic jugs filled with water or bags filled with ice cubes. Remember to leave space in the jugs for expansion as the water freezes.

Tip 4 Recipe for homemade glass cleaner: 24 ounces of water, 4 ounces rubbing alcohol, 4 ounces of non-sudsing ammonia. Add a tad of food coloring (blue) to make it familiar-looking. Of course, label it well. Pour into spray bottle as needed.

Tip 5 Our tip for today is really a reminder. When is the last time you cleaned out that medicine cabinet? Get rid of all expired medications, vitamins, etc. Replace all first aid supplies & OTC medications with new.

Tip 6 Warning about plastic or foam-backed tablecloths. Using a plain plastic or foam-backed plastic tablecloth directly on a wood table with a finish can ruin the table. The plastic or foam can stick to the finish and pulling up a plastic tablecloth that has been there awhile can just pull the finish off the table in patches. In this case, the remedy is to refinish the table. Only use plastic cloths with fabric backing on your finished wood tables, or put a sheet or cloth over the table first. **Also beware of those VHS & Audio tape cabinets & the like. Some "chemical" in the "composition/rubber" feet on the bottom of those cabinets can eventually eat right through the finish of your furniture, leaving permanent circular "dents." It can do the same thing to some "artificial wood" finishes. These "feet" are supposed to protect your furniture...ha!  Glue felt on them.

Tip 7 Tired of your wallpaper? You can paint over old wallpaper, but you need to apply a primer before painting over it. Wallpaper primer is sold at most hardware stores. Painting over wallpaper is faster and easier than removing the wallpaper and repairing the walls, and heavily textured paper can have a nice effect when painted.

Tip 8 Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar - Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.

Tip 9 To clean a toilet, drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous china.

Tip 10 To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh, but if it rises to the surface, throw it away. Is an egg raw or hardboiled? Spin it. If it spins fast & stays in one place, it's hard-boiled. A raw egg will wobble.

Tip 11 Spray your Tupperware with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces and there will not be any stains.

Tip 12 To remove raw onion odor from your hands, rub your hands back and forth over your metal kitchen faucet. ~ Judith

Tip 13 It is said that ants will never cross a chalk line. Draw a chalk line on the floor or sidewalk or wherever ants tend to march. Try powdered chalk for less permanence. Baby powder is said to work, also.

Tip 14 To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. Also vinegar & water will remove it if it is calcium/lime build-up.

Tip 15 To polish jewelry, drop two Alka-Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes.

Tip 16 Beware of pressure washers. They are powerful enough to force water under the siding where it may encourage mildew and rot. Power washing is a job for a pro.

Tip 17 Clean the lint from your entire clothes dryer vent system, from the dryer to the exterior vent cap. Lint is extremely flammable and poses a great fire risk. If that is not dangerous enough for you, if a gas clothes dryer is not properly vented, it can force carbon monoxide back into your home and that can be deadly.

Tip 18 Clean your ice-makers. Debris on or around the condenser coils prevents them from cooling and will cause the condenser to work harder. This not only wastes energy, it will shorten the life of your ice-maker.

Tip 19 If you own a pool, switching to an energy-efficient pump that uses less power conserves energy. The initial cost is higher than a standard pump, but an energy-efficient model will pay for itself in the long run. Check with your power company. They may offer a rebate, helping to defray the initial cost.

Tip 20 To unclog a kitchen sink with a plunger if you have a dishwasher. Most built-in dishwashers have an anti-siphon valve (the metal cylinder next to the faucet) that will prevent a plunger from producing the proper suction and pressure needed. You need to block the anti-siphon valve. Find the rubber hose that goes from the valve to the drain or garbage disposal and pinch or kink the hose so that air cannot pass through it. Once that is done you are ready to use the plunger.

Tip 21 Central Air Conditioning: Keep the outdoor condenser unit free of debris at all times. Anything obstructing the unit will keep it from dissipating heat, making the unit work harder. This wastes both energy and money. Clean or change the filter once a month. Once a year clean the indoor coil, brush and vacuum the fan blades and fan enclosure area, and clean the drain line. Stay cool efficiently!

Tip 22 Care of Window Air Conditioner Units. Clean the air filter once a month while in use. Clean the exterior fins once a year, being careful not to bend them. If you find bent fins, your hardware store has a tool for straightening them. On off-season, keep the portion on the outside covered.

Tip 23 When filling holes in drywall with spackling compound or waterbase filler, wet the drywall area around the hole first. Wipe away excess. Apply the filler. This will minimize the drywall from absorbing the moisture from the filler, causing shrinkage of the filler away from the edges of the hole because the filler is drying too fast.

Tip 24 To remove dried on food from inside your microwave, boil some water in a bowl for a couple of minutes. The steam loosens the dried on food.

Tip 25 Ants dislike peppermint in any way, shape, or form. Plant peppermint in your yard, especially around the doorways. Dehydrate some & sprinkle in cabinet corners. Use Dr. Bronner Peppermint Soap as a spray. Dilute with water until you can still just smell the peppermint.

Tip 26 Get rid of fleas once and for all. A pest control company insider tip. Mix together 2 cups of salt and 2 cups of borax powder (available at most hardware stores). Place the mixture in a coffee can with holes punctured in the top. Sprinkle it on your carpet and brush it in a little with a broom to get it down into the nap. Leave for 48 hours before vacuuming. One application works for years. Put a few moth balls in your vacuum bag the next time you vacuum. This will kill off any remaining live eggs in your vacuum. Use a flea comb to get the fleas off of your pet. Place a cedar chip pillow in your pet bed or basket.

Tip 27 For cockroaches, use bay leaves in corners and any place that is dark, such as under sinks, under the fridge, or any place you suspect they are hiding. They die and will not return.

Tip 28 Moths. Dislike like the smell of mothballs? Take a long strip of No Bugs M'Lady shelf paper, (twice the length of your garment). Cut a small hole in the middle for the hanger hook & drape this over your woolen garment. Then place in a plastic garment bag, or free plastic bag from the cleaners.  ~ Linda
Where to find it: Check for this item at drugstores like Rite Aid, etc. or order it online here: No Bugs M'Lady

Tip 29 Splinter removal. First try a piece of scotch tape or duct tape if you have it (stickier). If that does not work, place a drop of white glue, spread it around the splinter. Make sure it gets at the base of the splinter. Let it dry, then peel the glue off.

Tip 30 To remove wrinkles from a flannel-backed plastic tablecloth. Iron with a steam iron at warm setting, on the FLANNEL side only, or place in dryer at lowest setting with 2-3 damp towels. Check frequently. Remove and lay flat until cool.

Tip 31 Trash bag tip. Store the roll of trash bags in the bottom of the trash can. Open the first bag, leaving the rest attached. When full, lift the bag out, ripping it off from the next bag still attached to the bottom, and drape it over the edge of the can. Neat trick! ~ J

Tip 32  Wad up a sheet of scented fabric softener & stick it in the center of your toilet paper cardboard tube before attaching to the TP holder.

Tip 33: Cut off the tops of cotton socks, fold over once to create a "cuff." Put on your wrists when washing & rinsing your face, or other similar activities to keep water from running down your forearms to your elbows. ~ J

Tip 34  When to prune a poinsettia: Prune your poinsettia to about 8 inches high in late March or early April. By the end of May you should see hardy new growth. Prune during the summer months to keep the plant bushy and compact. Do not prune your poinsettia after September 1.


San Diego Super Home Center
WATER HEATER ENERGY SAVING TIPS

1. Set thermostat between 120F and 125F. If you use a dishwasher you may need to set the temperature at 140F. Refer to your dishwasher manual. Temperatures above 125F can cause scalding.

2. Repair dripping faucets. A slow drip of hot water wastes up to 350
gallons per month.

3. Wash clothes in cold water.

4. Try turning off the water while you're shaving, lathering your hands with soap, brushing your teeth, or scrubbing dishes.

5. Run a full load of dishes in your dishwasher once a day or so. Washing a few dishes by hand several times a day or running partial dishwasher loads uses about 17 gallons of hot water per load.


San Diego Super Home Center
MORE TIPS & INFORMATION

Motor Oil
One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate one million gallons of water. That's what you are doing if you pour oil down the drain. Even throwing oil in the garbage or burning it leads to pollution. Recycle your oil to save resources and the environment.

Insurance
Insurance companies offer coverage for flooding, fires and other disasters and many people would not even think about owning or renting a house without insurance. Even though having insurance for your dwelling is a good thing, understanding your policy is equally important. The worst time to worry about what your policy covers is when a storm is fast approaching. You are probably covered for that "water heater flood" but you may not be for the "act of god flood." It's time to arm yourself with that knowledge NOW and be sure your insurance provides the assurances you need.


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