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Super Handyman: PVC pipe is handy in the shop and home – and even the pool

Lots of folks cover their swimming pools during the winter. This is a good idea for keeping the leaves out. Of course, all of the leaves that would have ended up at the bottom of the pool will pile up pretty quickly on top of the pool cover. You can blow them off or vacuum them up if your hose will reach. You also can make an extension for your vacuum or blower from a piece of PVC pipe. This stuff is lightweight and available in lots of different sizes, so you’ll probably be able to find one to fit onto the end of your vacuum hose. Just be careful while using it not to go too far, or you might end up in the pool yourself!


Q: We have a small generator and want to use it to help with power when ours goes off in the ice storms. Is this OK to do? – H.A.

A: You can only use it OUTDOORS. You need to have it away from the house and use only a proper extension cord to power your appliances. Never try to hook it up to your home. Go straight to the manufacturer for complete information and safety warnings.

Tips from readers

I usually try to use up a whole tube of caulk when I open it. I’ve never had much luck at getting back into one that has been partially used. But this last time I used a wire nut to seal an unfinished tube. It sat for a couple of months with the wire nut on the end of it and, when I opened it back up, it worked pretty well. At least I was able to get enough out to re-caulk a few places that I missed the first time around. – T.D.


We had a bad storm and had a window broken out by a tree that fell across the front of our house. It was going to take almost a week for the new window to come in, so I covered it with sticky Contact paper before breaking it the rest of the way out. This kept all of the shards of glass in one piece stuck to the paper. Then I covered the window with a piece of wood to keep the cold out. With the glass all in one piece with the Contact paper, it was easier to throw it away, too. – R.Q.


I clean my circular saw blades with oven cleaner. It works really well. I place them in a pan and spray them on both sides. Then I let them sit for an hour or so before wiping them clean. It really does a good job of getting them clean, even the really bad ones. – V.N.


Last winter we had our first freeze in our kitchen sink. It’s never happened before, and only did it once, but I learned a neat trick out of desperation. When I figured out that the waste drain was frozen, I poured some salt into the drain with the water. It took about an hour, but the line did start draining after that. I just figured if it would work on the sidewalk it might work in the drain, and it sure did. I’m glad I had some handy. – R.F.

A Super hint

One item that’s great to recycle in the workshop is a good, heavy-duty cardboard core from the inside of a roll of carpet. These are pretty large, and you can cut them into footlong sections and stack them to create a super storage area for lots of stuff. They are great for toys and craft items, too. Most of the time you can get them for free if you ask a carpet dealer.


Most of us don’t have the luxury of unlimited counter space in a bathroom. So organizing your bathroom cabinets can make a big difference. Check out some of the over-the-cabinet-door organizers available from Spectrum. There are a lot of styles to choose from, and they can hold anything from a hair dryer to a whole set of hair styling tools. These are installed without any tools required either. Check them out at They have a lot of other cool organizing gadgets, too.