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Super Handyman: It’s time to seal cracks, gaps in your home

We are officially into the fall season now, and it won’t be long at all until Old Man Winter comes your way! Let’s get those cracks and gaps around our homes caulked and sealed up before that first freeze!

Start off by walking around the exterior of your home to find the places where you need to add caulk. Make a list and take some measurements. Then you will know what to buy and how much of it you will need for each area.

Check areas where different building materials meet, like siding and brick. Usually caulk is best for filling and sealing up these gaps.

Check sites where utilities come into the house, like gas and water. Even a small gap can let cold air or a small critter in. Expanding foam is going to be your best bet for larger gaps like these. If any foam comes out, you can trim it off with a utility knife.

Windows and doors need to be properly weather stripped, as you may need to open and close them and not seal them up permanently. This can be harder and more costly to install. Peel-and-stick foam can be used, but it might not last long. If you can afford it and have the time to do it, a better-quality weather stripping would be worth it. Storm windows are another option.

Fireplaces and vents have dampers, which should be closed tightly. The damper on a fireplace has a lever that must be closed manually. If it doesn’t seal properly, you can add a gasket or install a top-sealing damper. Most vent fans have a damper that opens when the exhaust fan is running. Just make sure they open and close properly. Replace them if they don’t.

Put foam insulating gaskets into light switches and wall outlets on outside walls.

Doing these things is fairly simple and will pay off in lower utility bills and more comfort.

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Q: I finally pulled off most of the old caulk on my bathtub and shower in the kids’ bathroom. What I need to know now is, What is the best caulk to go back in with? Do you have any other tips or tricks for helping it look good and last longer than the last time I did it? Care to share? – C.V.

A: Hopefully, you are doing this BEFORE moisture has created additional problems. Make sure the area you work on is clean and dry. Choose a caulk that is specifically made for bathrooms. It will contain extra protection from mold and mildew, and may even have anti-microbial protection, too. Fill up the tub with water to weigh it down. Then you can put your bathing suit on and climb in to the do the caulking. Use an ice cube to smooth the caulk out with less mess. You even can mask off the areas to caulk so you don’t go over the lines too much. Make sure you don’t get it wet until it has had plenty of time to cure, which might be 24 to 48 hours. Just read the package directions.

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Q: I bought a set of horseshoes at a garage sale and I can’t wait to show them off at our family reunion. Do you know the proper way to set them up? – N.S.

A: It’s been a while since we’ve played that game. The only rule we know is that the stakes are supposed to be placed 40 feet apart. We did find a website that you can go to for everything else you need to know, including the rules and scoring guidelines. Go to www.horseshoepitching.com. If you’re as “good” as we are, you also might need a helmet!

Shoptalk

Barrel Bolt Locks, which are sliding bolt locks, can be used on just about any door, anywhere. They work great and have proven to be secure for many years. In fact, they’re one of the oldest locking systems ever used. One of the few problems that we hear about is how to deal with a shifted door or frame. AjustLock has reinvented this type of lock so that it can overcome this problem. They come in a variety of sizes and finishes to match your existing hardware. They have AjustLocks for doors, windows, gates and even cabinets, and at a really good price. You can find out more, including a brief instructional video, on the website at www.ajustlock.com.