A ladder is a handy tool to have if you need to clean a ceiling fan, repair a gutter or paint your ceiling. But storing a ladder can be a challenge. Most ladders fold up, so at least you can store them flat – but the bigger they are, the harder they are to store, even when folded. If the ladder is not too long, you can stand it up against a wall and secure it.

We recommend using a couple of hooks. The large hooks that are meant to hold a garden hose or a bicycle will work great.

If the hook is one that is screwed into a wall, then you can turn it one way to hold over the ladder to secure it up and out of the way and turn it back the other way to release it. This is a very simple way to keep a ladder stored securely.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: My wife likes to collect plastic grocery bags and turn them back in at the store. I like to keep some because I use them around the shop for lots of things. But I understand that they do tend to stack up and even multiply if you don’t corral them somehow. I have a tissue box that I keep a bunch in. I stuff them in as I get them and, when I need one, I just pull one back out of the hole in the top of the box. I can store a lot in there, and they don’t take up much room. As long as I have a few to use, I’m OK. – H.S.


Dear Kelly: I had a leak around the flapper in my toilet. I bought a new one but decided to try to see if cleaning the old one first would help. I shut the water off, pulled the flapper out and cleaned it with some silicone car-seat cleaner. It did take off a lot of the black gunk, and made it look new again. It also stopped the leak! I still have the replacement that I bought but will just keep it until I need it for this or another toilet. – R.D.


Dear Al: We have a wall in our family room that is made of stone. It looked dull, so I went to the hardware store to see if they had something I could use to bring the color out. I ended up with boiled linseed oil. I rubbed it in with a rag, and it really made the rocks look great. It does have a strong smell, but that is going away quickly. The wall is absolutely gorgeous! – N.H.


Dear Carrells: We had several broken windows as a result of a pretty bad storm. Because we couldn’t get anyone out to replace the windows right away, we needed to try to seal them up before more rain came along. I used Great Stuff over the cracks and smaller holes. It covered easily and sealed the windows up tight. It also was waterproof. It wasn’t pretty, but worked until we finally got someone out to put the new windows in. – T.B.


Q: My toaster is acting up. Sometimes it works OK, and other times it won’t work at all. I think the problem is with the cord, because I can reposition it and get the toaster working. How can I fix this? – J.T.

A: It sounds like you have a short in the cord. If not that, it could be a short in the toaster itself. Either way, you should probably just replace the toaster. To make sure it’s not the outlet, plug another device in there and make sure it works continually.


Renovating a bathroom is probably the second-most expensive project a homeowner can do. So choosing surfaces and components is very important, not to mention confusing! “Taunton’s Bathroom Idea Book,” by Sandra S. Soria, is the solution. It tells you everything you need to know about planning, building and choosing all of the many options you will have for a dream bathroom, even on a budget. Check it out at your local library, home center and many bookstores. For additional information, go to

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