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Super Handyman: Don’t let a clogged dryer vent become a hazard

Clearing your dryer vent of lint is extremely important. If your duct work is clogged, your clothes are not going to dry efficiently. It’s also a fire hazard. There are some neat tools that you can buy at your home center to clear a duct, but you also can do it with a plumbing snake. Pull the dryer away from the wall so you can disconnect the hose from the back of the dryer. Then run your plumbing snake through the duct and out through the other end. Before pulling it back through, tie a dusting cloth to the spring end of the snake and pull it back out of the duct, along with the dust. Vacuum it up and reconnect your dryer. Do this once a year and keep it clear.

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Q: I have a problem with my countertop. It’s older and just standard plastic laminate, and it’s scratched. I can’t afford granite, but wanted to know if you think I could put tiles or more laminate on top of what I already have? – V.C.

A: If your existing laminate is securely attached to the counter now, you can. You should sand the gloss off of it, apply a latex primer and do it. Use the recommended adhesive for the product you are going to use, and you should get several more years out of it.

Tips from readers

I installed my own outdoor lights for landscaping. They look nice, and I am very proud of the work I did. This past fall, though, I accidentally cut through one of the wires and needed to splice it back together. I couldn’t find the original outdoor connectors I used and had to use some standard wire nuts. I put a blob of silicone caulk on the connection before inserting it into the wire nut. The silicone is supposed to keep the connections more weather-resistant. So far, it seems to be working fine. I’ve had no more problems since I did it. – D.S.

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We found a large gap between our siding and the bricks on the front of the house. I planned to caulk it, but was unsure about the caulk spanning this large of a gap, so when I went to the home center to buy the caulk, I took a look around. I found some soft foam filler tubing that is made just for this. I pushed it into the gap to fill it and then went over it with the caulk. It seems pretty air-tight and looks OK, too. – N.M.

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We have enough closets in our home for all of our clothes but not enough for storage like crafts, linens and other things. I took a plan closet, removed the closet rod and added six more shelves. Now I have a closet just for all of these other things. The shelves I added were painted to match the other one already there, so it looks like it was originally designed that way. It’s perfect and holds so much stuff! – K.M.

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I pick up my garden hoses before they freeze every year and store them away in the garage. They aren’t a huge investment, but with three acres, replacing them could get costly. I try to empty out the water before storing it, too. What I do to keep things clean and dry is to connect the ends of the hoses to each other. This a simple thing to do, and it also keeps the hoses coiled up tightly. – J.T.

A Super hint

When it’s time to mount something on your wall, it’s great to have a template – but if you don’t have one, you can make one. Just place the item on your scanner or copier, back side down, and make a copy. This will be your template to get the screws or nails in just the right spot.

Shoptalk

You can get the WeMo App to control household items. The app is free and, with Belkin WeMo Plug-In Adapters, you can control any plug-in appliance or device. These are available at your hardware store or home center, and you can find out more at www.belkin.com.

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit www.thesuperhandyman.com. Those of general interest will be used in future columns.