Do you have a non-working fireplace? Have you considered installing a television in this area? Of course, it depends upon the size, shape and a few other factors, but it might be the perfect solution for you. You’ll want to make sure the flue is closed so moisture won’t be a problem. It’s going to look best if the set fits tightly into the opening. If it is a little smaller, you can add some wooden or plastic trim around the fireplace opening, after the TV is in place. This frame will give you a more finished look. All you need now is a video of a cozy fire!

Q: I have a problem. We left a rubber tub mat in place for several years, not thinking about cleaning under it. It has stained the white surface, and I would like to find a way to remove these dark stains. Bleach won’t touch it – I’ve tried that. Now what? – C.B.

A: Try making a paste from cream of tartar (available in the spice aisle at your grocery store) and hydrogen peroxide. Spread this over the stains and let it stay in place overnight. Then wash it away.

Don’t use an abrasive scrubber. If you need to repeat it to get stubborn stains off, do so. It usually works pretty well and won’t harm the finish.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: After football season, the microwave was looking pretty bad. My sister taught me a neat trick to clean it. You just get a large bowl of water and put it into the microwave. Heat it on high for about 4 minutes, and the steam collects on the sides and top of the microwave. Then you just wipe off the steam, along with the drips and spatters. The water softens it up and makes it easy to wipe off. If you do this once a month, then it will pretty much stay clean, too. – V.T.


Dear Al: We put a small deck and garden in last month. It was a family project. It was a lot of hard work, but we also learned a lot and had some family fun. My wife made us some work aprons out of an old shower curtain. These were simple but waterproof, so they kept the stain and mud off of us for the most part. The garden doesn’t have anything growing in it yet, but my wife is planning and plotting for next spring. – J. & S.B.


Dear Kelly: Before the cold weather hit, my husband installed foam-pipe insulation on the water lines under the house. I saved a scrap to put between my kitchen counter and the refrigerator. I am always dropping things down into the space and then having trouble getting them out. This blocks things from falling down into the space. – T.S.


Dear Carrells: I have a nice dishwasher and it works great. It has a stainless-steel interior that always seems to have a coating of white salt on it. My wife says it’s the same thing that is on our shower doors. She uses vinegar on these, so I tried it inside the dishwasher. It worked great. I sprayed it all over the inside and it wiped right off. – S.R.


Tech-savvy DIY’ers will love the new phone app from Skylink. It turns your smartphone or computer into a wireless remote control for a wide variety of devices in your home – lamps, garage doors, security systems, among others. The virtual keypad can be customized for each device and, although it sounds complicated, is actually easy to install and use. Go to to learn more and see if this might be the next upgrade you add to your phone.

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.