March, thou month of varied weather!
Mild and frigid joined together—
“Winter,” amorous poets sing,
“Ling’ring in the lap of Spring.”

I think this excerpt from “March” (by Hattie Howard) perfectly illustrates the mercurial nature of the freezing hot weather of March in New Orleans. March is a devilish trickster who delights in our disappointment at a sudden cold front, as we retrieve the winter coats we just put away in preparation for the short-sleeved, windbreaker days of spring. Just because daylight saving has us springing forward on March 10 (at 2 a.m.), don’t be fooled! This doesn’t mean that the warmth of spring is here to stay. Au contraire, mon frère, Boreas ain’t gone yet. According to Weather Underground, March historically has the most extreme weather of any month of the year, as a battle royale between winter’s arctic winds and spring’s subtropical air takes place across the eastern two-thirds of the country. In 1993, for example, March caused some serious meteorological mayhem with the “Storm of the Century,” covering the most land (Florida to Maine) and disturbing more peace than any other weather system in U.S. history. So my friends, enjoy the occasionally perfect weather of March, but remember to keep that emergency sweater at the ready! Now it’s time for some tips.

My dryer takes forever to dry my clothes. Can I fix this problem myself?

Uh oh! Sounds like you’ve got lint stuck in your dryer vent, exterior dryer exhaust vent, or lint trap. These three are the most common causes of reduced dryer performance. Not only can you fix this lint dam situation yourself, you must! Failing to unclog your vent and dryer ductwork is a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), of the approximately 15,900 yearly fires caused by laundry machines, 92% of those fires are caused by clogged or dirty dryer venting and lint traps. I have secondhand experience with this risk, as my employee’s dryer caught fire last month for this very reason. Because I dry tons of cotton rags, my wall-mounted exterior exhaust vent gets clogged constantly, and I use a readily available, cheap tool to remove the lint: tweezers. My exhaust vent has louvers that cover criss-crossed plastic bars. These bars trap the lint and keep it from flying all over my yard. The more lint that gets trapped between these bars, the longer it takes to dry my rags, as the airflow is impeded. So about every two weeks, I grab my tweezers, pop a squat in front of the vent, and pluck away all of the lint. Not only do I feel like a bad mother plucker after doing this, but my rags dry at normal speed again. You’ll also want to clean the dryer vent. The dryer vent is very easy to find. It is located at the back of the dryer; the dryer duct is attached to it. First, make sure the dryer is turned off and unplugged. If you have a gas dryer, turn the supply valve off whilst cleaning. Pull the dryer away from the wall so you can access the vent and duct. Now remove the dryer duct. You might need a screwdriver to remove the vent clamps. You’ll need a vacuum with attachments. As always, I recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. It’s especially great for this job, as it has beaucoup attachments. Use the longest hose attachment to suck all the lint from around and inside of the vent. If you can, detach the duct from the wall too. Once removed from the wall and dryer, use your hand to pull the lint from the duct. You can also use the vacuum to remove any stubborn lint. Once the vent and duct are clean, reattach the duct to the wall and dryer, push the dryer back against the wall, plug it in, and let it run for about 15 minutes on the fluff or air dry setting to dislodge any remaining lint and to make sure the machine is working correctly. It is also very important to clean your lint filter after every cycle. It’s super easy; don’t be lazy. You should also periodically remove the lint filter and vacuum around its housing. If you use dryer sheets, your lint filter can become clogged with its slick residue. If this happens, remove the filter, place it in a sink filled with warm water and dish soap, and lightly scrub it with a soft scrub brush. Let it air dry, then place it back in the dryer. If you DON’T clean your dryer in the aforementioned ways, it will definitely break and you might set your house on fire. Good luck!

During the most recent freeze, I taped tarp around the bottom of my house to prevent my pipes from freezing. The tape left residue on my vinyl siding. How do I remove it?

That’s so annoying. Not only did you have to take time to wrap your house, then take all the tarp down, now you have to remove the sticky residue. Sorry. Luckily, it’s very easy to remove this gunk. Grab some WD-40, spray a little onto the tacky spots, let it sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe it off with a rag. This magical multi-purpose penetrating oil loosens the gummy stuff, so it slides right off. If you don’t have the WD available, grab some vegetable oil. Apply a little over the tenacious splotches, let it sit for a few minutes, then use a rag to wipe it off. Got isopropyl alcohol? Pour a little bit onto a rag and wipe the spot. This solution to the sticky situation might take a little more elbow grease, but it should eventually do the trick. I hope one of these options works!

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