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We get a lot of questions through the mail and on our website about problems that often are caused by drainage issues around the outside of your home. So many times, you can do a little inexpensive advance work and prevent a lot of costly damage to your home. Here are some things to look for and take care of that you might not have thought of as contributing to problems around your home.

Guttering is a really good way to redirect drainage from your roof to another location away from your foundation. Clean them out at least twice a year and make repairs as needed. You can prevent a lot of clogs by installing covers and screens over them. There are screen and other guards you can put over the downspouts to prevent them from clogging too. Also make sure splash blocks are placed at the end of the downspouts and sloped away from your foundation.

Make sure soil around your home’s foundation is sloped gently away from the house. Any water that does fall in this area needs to drain away from your foundation. Over time, shallow spots can occur, so break out the rake or hoe and take care of it.

If your house is built on a sloped lot and water drains toward your home, consider installing French drains to intercept draining water and carry it to a better location, away from your house. In some cases, just creating a swale and/or berm can resolve the issue.

These simple tips can go a long way toward protecting your home from water damage.

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Q: I really need your advice. I am trying to put up paneling in my office and there is a fireplace on one wall. I want to try to get the paneling right up against the fireplace but, the edge is a little irregular. How does one get this edge trimmed just right without ruining the paneling? – N.K.

A: There’s a little trick to this. Hold the paneling up next to the fireplace so that it’s plumb and just touching. Now, get an old metal compass with a pencil on it, and spread it to the width of the largest gap between the two materials. Place the point of the compass along the edge of the fireplace, and use the pencil to trace the irregular edge directly onto the paneling as you move from top to bottom. Now you can trim the edge to fit perfectly. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to trim the other edge to fit well up against the next piece of paneling, too.

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Q: Our toilet makes a loud noise when it’s filling. Is there a way to stop this from happening? – C.V.

A: It’s probably a small restriction in the line caused by mineral deposits. Try cleaning the water-supply valve inside the tank with vinegar, with the water to the toilet turned off, of course. Hopefully that will do the trick, as other nearby valves will be much harder to get to for the same cleaning.

Shoptalk

Custom Cupboards has just launched a brand-new concept for kitchen cabinets that will raise the bar to a whole new level! Facets is a line of digitally produced prints that can be printed directly on cabinet doors and drawer fronts. It’s not a paper product, so it won’t peel off. The Facets line includes a very wide variety of designs and even allows you to submit your own designs or photos for imprinting. The Facets line is available in cherry, maple and alder. These designs also can be imprinted onto paneling and other stock. The concept is genius and really only limited to your imagination and budget. It’s brand new, so you need to go to their website, www.customcupboards.com/facets, for more information on how the process might work for you and also where you can find a local dealer. Isn’t technology amazing?

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at www.thesuperhandyman.com.