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Post-holiday Rehab for Your Home

If you're like most people, chances are you did some entertaining during the holiday season. Though the Christmas decorations are down and the candy, cookies and treats devoured, there are probably telltale signs that have left your home looking a little worse for the wear.

Some of the most common visual holiday leftovers include indentions in carpeting from the Christmas tree stand and rearranged furniture; drops of candle wax on carpet, upholstery, mantles and tabletops; carpet and flooring spots and stains; and white rings and/or dents on dining tables and other fine furniture.

Getting your home back into shape could be a daunting task were it not for simple solutions we have collected over the years. So here are some of them to help you get past post-holiday cleaning blues.

_Curing dented carpet: You've taken your Christmas tree down and put your furniture back into place only to discover that your carpet is dotted with dimples that weren't there before the holidays. You've tried vacuuming, with no success.

All you need is a clean white terry cloth and a clothes iron. Lightly dampen the cloth, place it over the affected areas, one at a time, and with the iron on medium heat, iron over the cloth for about 30 seconds. Remove iron and cloth, allow the carpet to cool slightly and ''rake'' the fibers with your fingers.

The steam generated by this process will help the fibers regain their original condition. More than one treatment may be required for stubborn areas.

If this solution doesn't do the trick, a good steam cleaning is in order. You'll get a two-for-one bonus with steam cleaning: no more dimples, plus, the holiday spots and spills will be a distant memory.

_Carpet spots and spills: If you don't have dimples in your carpet, but you do have stains, we have remedies.

Red wine is one of the most common post-party cleaning challenges. There's a simple process that can be used to get rid of a red-wine stain, though it may take a several attempts to eliminate it. And keep in mind that this is a process to use on a fresh, wet stain. It probably will not work on an old, dried stain.

Pour a liberal amount of table salt directly onto the wine stain, letting the crystals soak up the wine. Vacuum up the salt, then pour club soda or water onto the spot and blot with paper towels or even a clean terry cloth. Repeat this process until the stain is completely gone.

To clean up chewing gum, put ice cubes in a plastic bag and freeze the gum stuck in the carpet. When it's hard, scrape it off with a butter knife.

For greasy stuff like lipstick, blot up excess with paper towels, and then use dry-cleaning fluid.

For pet stains, blot excess and then use a mixture of laundry detergent, ammonia and white vinegar. For shoe polish and ink stains, dab with paint thinner. For fruit juice and soft drink spills, mix one teaspoon each of laundry detergent and white vinegar into one quart of warm water, and sponge the stain well with the mixture. For burns, trim off burnt fibers and, if needed, glue in extra fibers cut from rug edges.

Many carpet manufacturers offer free stain-removal pamphlets as part of their customer-service program. If your carpet's manufacturer does not offer this service, check with the people who installed the carpet for you. They may offer a generic stain-removal guide that works effectively with the material used for your carpet.

_Cleaning up candle wax: Who doesn't love a home filled with the glow and fragrance of holiday candles? The problem is that with candles come wax and spills on carpet, upholstery, mantels and other surfaces.

Removing candle wax is really pretty simple. You'll need a brown-paper sack and a clothes iron. First remove excess wax, with a wooden popsicle stick or a dull butter knife. Chilling the wax with an ice cube first will make scraping it off a lot easier.

Sweep up what you have removed and place the brown-paper bag over what remains. Next, place the iron, set on medium-high heat, onto the paper sack and work it back and forth, not allowing it to rest in place.

You will be amazed to see the wax drawn in by the paper. Use different sections of the sack to absorb all the wax and to prevent spreading it. Though this solution will work especially well on carpet and fabrics, it can be used on flooring and furniture as well. Just be sure to use less heat or substitute a blow dryer for the iron.

_Getting the white out of that ring: It simply wouldn't be the holidays without getting white rings on the dining-room table or other fine furniture.

Contrary to popular belief, a white ring results from damage to the waxed finish and not to the wood. Here's a trick to remove these nasty rings. First, make sure that the surface is clean and dry. Next, place a small amount of mayonnaise directly over the ring. Cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and lightly rub the mayonnaise into the finish using a nylon scouring pad and working in the direction of the grain. Wipe up all the mayonnaise with a soft cloth and restore the luster to the area with some lemon oil or paste wax.

_Dealing with furniture and flooring dents: Dents in furniture and flooring run a close second to white rings. Errant tableware can leave quite unsightly marks. Before you attempt to fill a dent with furniture putty, try getting the damage to disappear with the following magic trick.

Dents are only depressions in the surface; the fibers of the wood aren't broken, and if it's only crushed or pushed-in, it's a fairly simple repair using ''steaming.'' Put a drop of water in the dent, cover it with a soft, dry cloth and then apply a hot iron for a few seconds. If it's still there, do it a few more times. Try it a try: You'll be surprised how steaming can make dents disappear.

If the depressed area doesn't come up, it's a gouge. With a gouge, the fibers might be torn and wood might be missing. A small gouge can be filled with colored wax, wood compound or putty. Often, however, for a really good match for a deep gouge you'll need the help of a pro.

Now, with your home back in shape you can really have a happy new year.

Central Furnace Maintenance

New storm-oriented products also include specially designed nails and fasteners with hurricane-strength holding power; stronger and more impact-resistant wood sheathing and tougher exterior siding products; and a number of do-it-yourself, easy-to-install kits that strengthen existing garage doors against being blown in by severe winds.

Devices that cover and protect window openings were among the first products offered to protect homes from storm damage, but new systems are still being engineered and introduced almost daily. These range from easy-to-install protective covers (either heavy, solid sheets or clear, see-through, tough hybrid plastics) to shutters of all types, up to and including motorized roll-up metal units, with rain and/or high wind sensors. The latter go or roll into action to protect windows, whether the owner is home or not.

All these window coverings are alternatives to the purchase and installation of numerous sheets of plywoodwhich is often scarce in last-minute or short-notice situations.

Today, homeowners and manufacturers alike are thinking way beyond simply boarding up when heavy weather threatens. They are investing in built-in everyday protection that not only offers peace of mind for one's home and family, but in many cases also offers insurance benefits and energy efficiency.

First, there are tough roofing products that stay in place during severe winds. A strong, durable roof is a home's first line of defense during a major storm or hurricane. The majority of storm-related damage is not caused by actual structural failure, but rather by water being driven inwhich, in turn, can and often does lead to serious mold problems.

Next is the drive to toughen up, rather than cover up, the No. 1 weak spot in every home: fragile windows. A line specially designed to resist heavy weather called StormBreaker Plus™ is now being offered by Simonton Windows. It features both double-strength glass, reinforced with a tough vinyl inner-layer, and a number of new design features that both strengthen and seal the surrounding sash and frame.

Various impact-resistant glass configurations are now available with combinations of protective materials and technologies, such as using one pane of tempered glass and one pane of impact-resistant laminated glass. A durable inner layer, sandwiched between pieces of the laminated glass, prevents the glass from being shattered by flying debrismuch like car windshields. The glass may fracture but it will not break out of its frame.

Besides impact-resistant, double-strength tempered and laminated glass, tougher and better-engineered window frames and sashes are being offered, with strong seals to keep nasty weather out. These, together with upgraded hardware, all help make once highly vulnerable conventional windows a good defense against whatever Mother Nature decides to throw your way.

Entry and patio doors have also been vastly upgraded and engineered to better fend off severe weather. A storm-resistant line offered by Therma-Tru Doors called the Tru-Defense™ System has been designed and constructed to withstand the most severe weather conditions. Its components and engineering maximize the seal between the door and frame to virtually eliminate both air and water infiltration. Added protection and new storm-resistant features now include composite materials such as fiberglasswhich adds strength, impact-resistance and eliminates wood rot. Numerous design and engineering improvements create a better and stronger seal between the door and frame to reduce air, wind and water penetration, including better seals for the bottom of the door.

These new heavy-weather resistant windows and doors can stand up to very fierce storms and help protect a home and its contents from damage and those inside from injury. Some of these new storm-resistant products have caught the attention of the National Accreditation & Management Instituteand and are NAMI-certified, tested and approved.

Whether its in response to global warming or simply better TV news coverage, Americas homeowners are truly on a personal storm watch. Today, rather than being resigned to repeated boarding-up and cleaning up, homeowners are instead actively gearing-up with an exciting array of specially designed always in place heavy weather products, engineered with built-in durability and true storm resistance for greater peace of mind.