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Super Handyman: Tackling cleanup after a storm

Most of us do-it-yourselfers will tackle their own, or a neighbor’s, cleanup after a storm. It’s easy to go around picking up debris, tree limbs and other stuff, but if a tree is lying on your car or roof or across your driveway, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here are our best tips.

First of all, think SAFETY! Wait until the storm has passed before you venture out for repairs.

Make sure that no electrical lines are caught in the debris.

Take lots of photos if you have to remove debris and cover damage before your insurance adjuster can take a look.

Evaluate the situation before starting anything. Make note of what tools you will need to gather up, and get them ready first.

A chainsaw probably is your best choice of tools for most jobs. Wear safety gear to protect yourself, and if you don’t know what you are doing, ask for assistance.

Make sure that nothing else is in the way as the tree and/or branches come down.

Locate the pressure areas that could cause the tree to move quickly when cut or released. Cut halfway through one side and then halfway, slightly off-line from the other side of the tree. This will release some of the pressure before you cut all the way through the tree. Cut off side branches first, being careful not to lose control of the debris.

Stack debris on your curb or at another location where it will be easy to haul away.

If there are crews working in your area to do this for you and you are not proficient with a chainsaw, get on their work list and let them take care of it.

Be safe! You don’t need a medical claim on top of your other problems!


Q: Our latest project is an old home that needs a lot of work. It also has a lot of character, and we are trying to save as much of it as possible. There is a good amount of “gingerbread” trim on the exterior of the house. Several sections are missing or badly damaged. I am trying to find a source for replacement parts. Got any advice? – T.W.

A: First, check locally for restoration companies that sell salvage parts to see if they have something in stock that will work for you. They also may know local woodworkers who can duplicate your wooden trim. There also are online sources, although shopping online for this is a little hard to match. Good luck, and please send photos when you are finished!

A Super hint

You can add a convenient electrical outlet to any lamp in just a second. Just remove the existing bulb and install a screw-in socket that has an outlet on it into the bulb base. Then, just replace the bulb and you’ll have a new outlet right there on your bedside table or end table.


Wagner is the name we all think of when we think of DIY Spray Painters. The Flexio line is the latest from Wagner, and it is even better. The 570 entry-level sprayer can use most unthinned paints, sealers and stains, both latex and oil-based. A pattern adjustment ring gives you more control and the X-Boost power settings can cover up to an 8-by-10-foot surface in 2 to 6 minutes.

The 590 model offers even more adjustments for detail work and paint-flow rate. The features only get better as you move up in the line, so you’ll be able to find a sprayer to fit your needs, even if you are a semipro.

To find out more about the Wagner Flexios, go to and see for yourself. The Flexio line is available at your paint store, home center or hardware store for use on your next project!

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.