Q: How can I calibrate my scale? The number I get when I use it is different from the number shown at the doctor's office or at the health club.

A: You need answers to these questions:

Does the scale repeat itself every time the same weight is applied? (It should.)

Does the weight change when you lean forward, then backward? (It shouldn't.)

Is the scale starting on zero before weight is applied? (It should.)

If your scale doesn't pass those simple tests, problems other than calibration may be affecting its accuracy.

If it does, then the scale probably is stable and needs to be calibrated.

Low-profile bathroom dial scales usually will have an adjustable spring inside the main housing. To get at that spring, remove the two cover screws or small springs holding the top and bottom together.

Once the spring is located, the scale needs to be zeroed, and then a known weight applied. Whatever error is noted, the spring can be adjusted so that the dial is pointing to the correct weight to match the test weight being used. This process should be repeated until no error is present.

-- Mark Ward, South Side Scale, Bloomington

Daddy longlegs

Q: I'm finding daddy longlegs in the lower level of my new home. What do they live on, and how can I get rid of them?

A: Daddy longlegs are closely related to spiders, but differ somewhat in their structure. They are predaceous arachnids, feeding on insects, mites and other small arthropods that they capture. Daddy longlegs lay eggs on the ground in the fall; the eggs hatch the following spring.

Daddy longlegs, like spiders and insects, have a greater tendency to enter buildings during later summer and fall, but you can find them at any time.

It's unlikely that they are reproducing in your home. The daddy longlegs you find probably came in from the outside.

To help keep them out, seal cracks or spaces that may allow pests to enter the building. Check especially around windows. Once daddy longlegs are found indoors, physical removal is the only necessary control.

-- Dial U Insect and Plant Information, University of Minnesota

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