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It’s time for those wonderful family vacations! But before you load up the car and take off, make sure your home is as secure as it can be. Try some of these tips and tricks to make sure your home is still there when you come back.

• If you get the newspaper, mail or other deliveries on a regular basis, either stop delivery or have someone reliable come to pick up these items.

• Have a neighbor park in your driveway. If they are used to parking on the street, they’ll really appreciate this. You might even have trouble getting them to stop doing it once you come back home.

• Set automatic timers on some of your lamps. Have them turn off and on at varying times to make it look like you are home.

• Turn off your phone’s ringers and answering machine. Thieves often stand outside your home and call your number to see if they can hear your phone ringing.

• Social media might be fun, but don’t use it to announce your plans to leave your home vacant for thieves to break into. You should, however, let your neighbors know, just in case they see something suspicious. Just do so in person or over the phone.

• Store valuables in a secure, hidden place.

• You can save money by cutting your air conditioner way back. Do the same thing with your water heater. You might even consider turning off the water to your washing machine. Leaks can happen in places like this, and coming home to a flood would not be a lot of fun.

• Disconnect automatic garage door openers.

• Anything you can do to make it more difficult for thieves might deter them. After all, if the work is too hard, they’ll go elsewhere, or maybe get a REAL job!

Have a great, SAFE summer vacation!

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Q: I don’t think that we have much insulation in the wall between the garage and the house. I would like to add more. What type of insulation will be the easiest to add? – B.G.

A: If the wall is just exposed studs, perhaps you can install batt insulation. Another option or addition to the batts would be rigid foam panels. If the wall is finished, see if you can cut holes between the studs and add loose fill or blown-in insulation. You might also check around for a contractor and see if foam insulation could be added to the wall. We’ve even seen some DIY foam applications that are worth checking out. Good luck, and that’s a smart idea for saving money and being more comfortable.

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Q: Our house is white, and the new cable that we installed runs along the roof edge and is black. I thought about replacing the cable, but the price of that much white cable was outrageous. I’m looking for an alternative, like paint. What can we paint it with that will last outdoors? – R.P.

A: We like Fusion paint for plastics and vinyl surfaces. It’s available at most hardware stores these days, and it works pretty well on surfaces like this. It goes on quickly and seems to stay on better than most other paints. It’s a spray so it easily can be applied to this cable.

Just put a piece of cardboard or plastic behind it so that it won’t discolor your siding. It might not match perfectly, but it probably will look a whole lot better than the black cable!

Shoptalk

X-Metals can turn a plain, ordinary metal finish into a really neat, anodized metallic finish. It’s made for bikes, scooters and skateboards, but it can be used for tons of other cool projects. It’s a spray paint, so it dries quickly and is super tough.

Besides metal surfaces, it also can be used on ceramic, wood, wrought iron, plaster and more, and it comes in several extreme colors. Check it out at your paint store and at www.krylon.com.