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HAUNTED HOUSE? NAH

Do doors close by themselves on creaking hinges? You've heard scratching, bumping? Did your fall garments come from storage mysteriously spattered with stains? Then your house is haunted - if not by spirits, at least by household matters going awry. There's help for the ghostly magic and eerily uncanny events that happen in a house. Call for a private consultation - ghost buster, if you wish - but first try troubleshooting them yourself.

Mysteriously moving doors? Relax. The door merely is maladjusted, or the house has settled. The simple fix: Remove a hinge pin, lay it on a concrete surface and whack with a hammer to slightly bend the pin. This creates resistance in the door's swing. The more complicated fix involves tightening screws and hinges, and maybe rehanging the door or resetting the frame, in which case you might want to ask a handyman.

Hideously squeaking hinges? Stifle teeth-numbing screeches by removing hinge pins and spraying them with a lubricant such as Jig-A-Loo or WD40. Then treat knuckles of the hinge, tops and inside. (Have a rag handy to catch drips.)

Enchanted toilet? Water is leaking from the tank into the toilet? A quick way to see if that's true is to shut off the water to the tank, then add blood-red food coloring to the toilet tank (after it has finished a flush cycle and has shut off). After an hour, check the color of the water in the toilet bowl. If it's the least bit pink or red, you have a leak. Typically, the flapper valve (which releases water from tank to bowl) needs replacing. You may need a replacement part or kit.

Phantom stains on stored clothing? If garments are stored without cleaning, food spatters - invisible at the time of storage - can oxidize and show up later as yellow or brown stains. You can try cleaning them according to label instructions, but these kinds of stains are difficult to remove. Consider taking them to a dry cleaner.

Ghostly shadows on walls? The culprit is the innocent-looking candle. Candles appear to be burning cleanly; they aren't. Tiny particles of soot are being released to accumulate slowly, over time, as stains on carpet under doors and on walls, leaving shadow stripes called "ghosting." To squelch the problem: use flameless candles, or a smokeless soy variety; keep wicks short; keep candles away from drafts.

Nerve-rattling attic noises? Squirrels, raccoons, bats or birds are behind the attic hubbub. Raccoons and bats come out at night, while squirrels and birds are busy by day. The removal job may require a professional pest control company.

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