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Super Handyman: Make a switch to safer outlets

Most homes are protected by GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas where water and electricity are in close quarters. These outlets are designed to shut off power to the circuit should water short it out. If you don’t have these outlets in these areas already, you really ought to add them. Here are the basic steps involved in doing so. Be safe and, if you don’t think you can do it on our own, hire an electrician to do it for you.

The first thing you need to do is turn the breaker off to the circuit you are going to be working on. Use a tester to make sure you got the right one.

Once you are sure the power is off, you can remove the receptacle cover plate.

Undo the connections to the existing receptacle and remove it. The new receptacle probably will be a little larger, so take a close look at it to make sure it will fit in the existing box. If not, you will want to replace the box, too.

The way the new receptacle will be wired depends upon whether it is at the end of the run or in the middle, and also whether you want to protect just that outlet or the rest of the circuit. Your new GFCI receptacle will have the diagrams for both, and you should follow them closely.

Once the wiring has been completed, turn the circuit back on and push the reset button to see if it works. Now press the “test” button to make sure it cuts off when pushed. If all goes well, you’re finished – and safer, too. You should test these receptacles periodically to make sure they are functioning properly. It could save your life!

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Q: At one point, we had some indoor/outdoor carpeting on our back porch and steps. We pulled it off years ago, but some of the adhesive still remains on the concrete and won’t come off. Is there anything you can suggest to remove this adhesive? – K.L.

A: Brush some paint and varnish remover over the old adhesive. It will take several minutes to start working, but it should help dissolve the old adhesive. Then you can use a putty knife to scrap it off. A wire brush also will help get more of it off.

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Q: I have black tire marks on my driveway. What can I use to remove these from the concrete surface? – H.J.

A: TSP, or tri-sodium phosphate, is a great cleaner for surfaces like concrete and can remove a lot of different stains. It should do a good job with a stain like this. Just use it according to the package directions, and use caution because it is a strong cleaner. You’ll like having it for other cleanups, too.

Shoptalk

When you are busy working on a project, changing a blade over and over again can really slow you down. Bosch has just come out with a carbide-tip multitool blade that combines speed, precision and long life. That means you can use the same blade for multiple tasks and know that it is strong enough and versatile enough to handle a variety of applications without that time-consuming blade change. It can be used on ceramic tile, nails, screws, cement board, plaster, sheet metal, cast iron, copper pipe and wood. The multitool blade will fit most brands of multitools and is made to last a long time, through lots of heavy-duty projects.

To find out more about the whole line of blades and tools, go to www.boschtools.com. The website is full of useful information and many ideas for super projects.

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