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Super Handyman: Cleaning up after your furry friends

I love cats and dogs, but they do shed, and it can be a mess. There are lots of ways to control the hair situation, but I used to use lint brushes most of the time. That is, until I tried this super trick: Put the lint rolls on a paint roller instead of the small handheld lint roller handles. You can put two or three of them on one paint roller and get the job done a whole lot quicker! You’ll see what I mean the first time you try it. I’d rather get rid of the lint than the animals! Try this yourself.

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Q: My bathroom walls are made of a plastic material. It’s been great for cleaning and seems to resist mildew, but it’s not too attractive. I was wondering about the possibility of painting it. What type of paint would work best, and is there anything else I need to know? – M.D.

A: Check your paint store for a paint that will work well on plastic surfaces. It’s a good idea to scuff-sand the surface first and then apply a primer. Use a paint that works with the primer, and you should be able to get a good, long-lasting surface.

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Q: Our house has a white composition roof. In fact, most of the homes in our neighborhood do. We are noticing what I assume are smoke stains from the fireplace. How do I wash these off without damaging the roof? – H.J.

A: You should be able to use some detergent and water to wash the stains from the roof. Just don’t do a lot of scrubbing. As far the smoke stains, I suggest you have your fireplace inspected by a chimney sweep. You shouldn’t have many stains caused by smoke, so either there is problem with the chimney draw or possibly with the chimney itself.

Tips from readers

Our patio looked OK, but it had some surface cracks in it and a couple of stains. I thought about painting it and started researching the project. I found that I would need to apply a concrete topper over the surface first. I applied the topper, and it looked so great that I decided to just leave it like that. It is smooth and has a plain, neutral color. It was very inexpensive, too. Maybe someday I’ll paint it, but it looks great like it is. – R.J.

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I’ve tried to make my apartment a little less drafty during the winter, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money, since I rent. I used extra-large cookie sheets placed behind my radiators to help reflect a lot of the heat back into the room. It helps quite a lot, and is super easy to do. I had to actually use one of them for baking last month, but they mostly stay behind the radiators. It’s a cheap, temporary fix. – R.A.

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Super HandyMom tip

I usually try to replace caulk as soon as I see it failing. Once it starts, it can progress quickly and cause additional damage. Since my caulk beads usually are not very pretty, I choose to smooth them as I go. I like to use an ice cube to do this, as they look very smooth and don’t get any stains on my hands. It also seems to help it cure a little faster. Try it the next time you are replacing your caulk.

A Super hint

When you are using a chemical that warns you on the label to have adequate ventilation, please heed these warnings. If you can use the material outdoors, do so. If you need to use it indoors, open several windows and add fans if you can. This is very important, so read those labels and do it!

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit www.thesuperhandyman.com.