Living Columns & Blogs

Hints From Heloise: Check that water shut-off valves aren’t rusted shut – before an emergency arises

DEAR HELOISE: In the past year, I have remodeled my kitchen and both bathrooms. My house is about 40 years old. Much to my surprise, all the hot- and cold-water shut-off valves, including both toilets, were so tight that I had to use channel locks to break them loose in order to shut them off.

I suggest that once a year you go around and make sure these valves are loose and can be shut off by hand in case of a broken line or overflowing toilet.

It also would be wise to make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off valve into the house is located to avoid major damage in the event of a broken pipe in the wall or ceiling.

– Robert L., via email

DEAR ROBERT: How right you are! If you are a homeowner or renter, you should know some of the basics of home maintenance. Many of the simple things that we don't pay attention to can cause a BIG, expensive problem down the road. Thanks for the good hint! – Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: How do I get mildew spots off a shower curtain? I don't want to throw it away.

– A Reader, via email

DEAR READER: There is a really simple way to try to clean those spots off your shower curtain: Wash it! Put the shower curtain and a couple of soiled towels (for scrubbing action) in your washing machine.

Use the highest warm-water level possible, your normal detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Add a cup of vinegar during the first rinse cycle. Do not put the shower curtain in the dryer. Take it out and hang to dry.

DEAR HELOISE: A few weeks ago, a female cardinal began pecking at her reflection on our kitchen window. This would go on for hours every day, and for many days.

After several attempts to run her off, we cut some strips of shiny Christmas paper and taped one end of each strip to the window. The wind would blow and keep them flapping. The flapping strips of paper scared off the female cardinal, and now we have peace and quiet.

– K.M., via email