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Super Handyman: A helpful tip for maintaining your vacuum

Vacuum cleaners are pretty basic, as far as regular maintenance goes – change or empty the stuff you’ve picked up, replace the belt when it breaks and clean the filters regularly. That beater bar that many vacuums have needs to be cleaned, too. It rolls across the flooring and picks up thread and hair, and this stuff gets wrapped around it, making it less effective as time goes by. It can take a while to pull this stuff off of the cylinder, unless you have a razor blade or a utility knife. You need to be careful not to cut yourself in the process, but you can slice right through these threads and get them off a lot quicker. Now you can collect more!


Q: My doorbell has stopped working. It used to sound rather odd, and then it just stopped working altogether. I found a replacement for the “bell” and installed it, but it still won’t work. What else can I check? – J.K.

A: The push button is a likely suspect, so remove and replace it. Hopefully that will do it. If that isn’t it, then it has to be in the wiring, which might be harder to replace since it’s run through your walls. Check for a wireless doorbell at your hardware store, and see if that might work for you. It’s either that or a metal door-knocker.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: I tried to look at the exploded view of parts for my lawn mower. I needed to replace something but couldn’t figure out what part it was. I got out my phone and took a picture of the broken part along the side of the mower handle. Then I went to the parts dealer and showed him the picture. He knew right away what the part was, and had one in stock. Now all I have to do is replace it. I’m just glad I didn’t have to pack the mower into the car and take it to the shop. – T.G.


Dear Al: I really like our deck. We use it a lot in the summer, and since we built it ourselves, it has sentimental value too. I decided to add some rubber mats to the steps to prevent slips when they are wet, but I had trouble finding the right size for our steps. I was able to find a commercial-size door mat that I cut into smaller pieces and tacked to the steps to prevent slipping. They look nice and work even better. – T.Y.


Dear Kelly: I am getting my vegetable garden ready for another season. I don’t grow much during the winter, but do spend time amending the soil. I also straighten the edging, clean and lubricate the sprinklers and get all of the tomato cages ready to go. I have started hanging old DVDs around the garden to scare off the birds. This works really well, and when they start to fade out, I just take them down and put new ones up. They spin around and flash the birds. – P.B.


Dear Carrells: I try to use paint tray liners more than once, if I can. They can be hard to clean unless you get right on them as soon as you get finished painting. If I can’t find a clean one around when I need one, I will use aluminum foil. You can line the paint tray with this, and when you are finished painting, you can clean it off and let it dry. Then you can flip it over and use it again for your next paint project. – L.D.


Wet & Forget Outdoor is a super cleaner to use on just about any surface outside your home to get rid of moss, mold, mildew and algae. All you have to do is spray it on and walk away. There’s no scrubbing or even rinsing. It’s non-caustic, non-acidic and contains no bleach, so it’s safer to use around people and plants. Find out more at and, while there, take a look at their other products for indoor and shower cleaning. Wet & Forget is available at garden centers and hardware stores.

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