The toolbox: Grocery bags turned dustpan; when to replace vinyl siding

  • Updated: December 31, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Turns plastic bags into dustpans

The Bagup lets you re-use your plastic grocery bags as a dustpan or pet cleanup tool.

The tool holds a bag open, so you can sweep dirt and other debris into it. Its long handle keeps you from having to bend down when you’re using the Bagup with a broom or rake, but the handle can be removed when you want to use the tool to clean higher surfaces such as countertops and work benches. It can be used with various types of bags, including biodegradable bags and kitchen garbage bags.

The Bagup sells for $14.99 at Amazon.com and is also available in a set with either a broom or rake for $24.99.

Vinyl siding replacement

Q: My house was built in 1995 and has vinyl siding. My wife and I see no current problems or adverse conditions with our siding, but what signs should we look for to indicate it’s time to install new siding? I don’t want to spend money replacing our siding any sooner than necessary, but, also, I don’t want the value of my residence to fall below what I could get if I had to sell it now.

A: David Damery, an associate professor of building and construction technology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, suggested looking for these signs:

• Cracked, split or broken siding.

• Excessive color fading.

• Presence of mold, mildew or fungus associated with the siding.

• Moisture on the inside walls of the house due to failure of the siding.

Keep in mind that individual panels of damaged siding can be replaced, although fading can make it difficult to make a good match. In an article on the website for the PBS series “This Old House,” the show’s general contractor, Tom Silva, suggests replacing the damaged piece with one from a less conspicuous part of the house. Then install new siding in the spot from which you took the replacement piece.

Good-quality siding may never need replacing in your lifetime, said Jery Huntley, president and chief executive officer of the Vinyl Siding Institute. Manufacturers of siding that’s certified by the institute typically offer a lifetime warranty for the original homeowner and often guarantee the product for 50 years to subsequent owners. You shouldn’t need to replace it unless you want to change the color or upgrade to insulated siding, Huntley said.

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