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Super Handyman: Make the most out of your gutter scraps

After installing our rain barrels, we ended up with several good scraps of gutter downspout when we installed the gutter diverters. Well, we came up with some practical uses for the scraps, but we both agreed that using it to store dowels and/or wood trim was our favorite. If you attach it to a pegboard wall over your workbench, you can slide the pieces into the downspout and let them rest on top of your workbench. If you install them on a stud wall just off the floor, the wooden pieces can sit inside the downspout and rest on the sill. You can mount a couple of the downspout sections horizontally and side by side, and set dowels or wood trim into them. Any way you do it, it’s easy to reach what you need while also keeping it off the ground and away from damaging moisture or other abuse.


Q: Our new washing machine is pretty nice, but it seems to vibrate a lot. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to stop it, but I sure would like to try. I’m afraid it will be damaged. What would you suggest I do? – G.J.

A: It’s very important to level the unit. Use a small bubble level to check it in all directions. It also might be good to buy a small rubber mat to fit under the whole thing, or some heavy-duty rubber feet. These are available at most hardware stores, and they do a pretty good job of absorbing some of the shock and vibration. If it continues to do this even after leveling it, you might want to have it checked to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: My mother still lives on her own, but I’ve done a few things around her home to make it safer and more convenient for her to stay. I installed motion-sensor switches in some of her rooms so that she doesn’t have to hunt for the switches when she goes in. This is especially great for the bathroom and kitchen when she is up late or in the middle of the night. Plus, they turn off when she leaves, so she doesn’t have to do that either. – J.V.


Dear Al: I knew that having a toilet plunger could keep me from an accidental overflowing toilet, but it also helped me escape from the room when the door handle came off in my hand. I’m still not sure why the door handle came off, but I grabbed the plunger and stuck it onto the door and pulled it open. So I guess it’s a multi-tool, right? – N.M.


Dear Kelly: I put up drapes in our den and wanted them to be more energy-efficient and maybe keep out some of the heat from the sun. I bought a small roll of radiant barrier at the hardware store and cut it to fit between the drape and the lining. It doesn’t show, but you sure can feel that it is working. Our den is darker and cooler this summer. By the way, it was inexpensive, too. – T.D.


Dear Al: I just paid about $200 to get my air conditioner fixed; it had an ant colony nesting inside of the outdoor compressor. What a mess. After cleaning and repairing the unit, and paying a hefty fee, I sprayed it with preventive ant killer and even put a bunch of mothballs inside the unit before putting the cover back on. I sure hope they don’t come back! – M.N.

A Super hint

When faced with a leak that is dripping in the wrong place, redirect it by tying a string or wire around the pipe that leaks so that the drips will follow it to a better location, chosen by you.


If you haven’t tried Silicone Rescue Tape yet, it’s a must-have. This self-fusing repair tape is super for emergency repairs. It stretches to fit tightly around all surfaces, even irregular ones like pipe joints. It’s perfect for plumbing leaks. The gel-like tape has a peel-off backing and, once the tape is wrapped over itself, seals against water leaks. Check it out at your favorite hardware store or home center. To find out more, go to

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