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In some parts of the country, storms can cause power outages but, thanks to solar lights, it’s a lot easier to deal with than it used to be. Of course, a flashlight or lantern can be helpful, but you also can just go outside and grab a solar light and bring it indoors. The landscape lights that usually are right next to the driveway or front door work great indoors, too, as long as they are charged. They are cool and very safe to use and most will stay lit for many hours. Keep one or two handy and remember to use them the next time Mother Nature comes your way!

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Q: The fan part of our air conditioner located outside is starting to squeal. We don’t really need to use it that much right now, but I want to get it fixed before next year. What do I need to do? – G.T.

A: More than likely, it’s the fan motor. See if you can lubricate the motor shaft, with the power off, of course. If it still squeals, you might need to replace the fan. It’s not expensive or hard to do with basic skills. Just be careful and don’t do it if you aren’t up to the task.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: We have hard water in our city and are always fighting mineral deposits. I’ve replaced the ice maker, dishwasher and both water heaters and I know the hard water was the main reason for their short lifespan. I have learned that adding vinegar to the water in the dishwasher and toilet every other month or so can really cut back on the buildup. It’s easy to do and really does help. Vinegar is really inexpensive, too, so it’s well worth the extra effort. – H.S.

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Dear Al: I keep a bottle of waterless hand cleaner in my garage. I use it whenever I am working there or in my yard to pre-treat my hands before going into the house for the final cleanup. It also can be used to clean greasy messes inside the house. Use it to pre-treat grease stains on your clothes, and it works in the kitchen, too. Maybe you should get a small container just to keep in the kitchen and/or laundry room. – R.T.

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Dear Kelly: I know there are other ways to paint, but I still prefer to use it right out of the can. But small cans don’t have a handle on them like the larger ones do, so I put a small can inside a large can so I can hold it with the handle. It also catches the drips that might end up on the floor. I put a scrap of wood or a small box into the large paint can for the small can to sit on. That way the top of the smaller can is closer to the top of the big can, which also is helpful. – V.S.

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Dear Carrells: I was so mad at my son for driving through the construction area because I knew he would get road tar all over the sides of my car. Sure enough, it was there. I handed him the can of WD-40 and had him spray it over the spots. Then he had to clean them all off. After that I made him hand wax the car. Hopefully, he learned a lesson. – M.D.

A Super hint

If you haven’t sealed your granite in more than a year, do so. Sealers are available at most hardware stores and are easy to apply. Just make sure the counter is spotless and completely dust-free when applying.

Shoptalk

We think pressure washers are great for heavy-duty cleaning outside the home. We have recently run across the PivotJet. It’s a pivoting nozzle that can be fit onto most pressure washers that fits on the end of 32-inch pole that you can control from the base. This allows you to reach and guide the water just where you need it. It’s easy to operate and even has a built-in hanger for easy storage when you are not using it. You can find out more at www.hydetools.com.