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The Clog-Free Rake from Ames True Temper is designed to solve the nagging problem of leaves clogging the tines.

MCT PHOTOS

Ames True Temper has a rake designed to solve one of the nagging problems of raking: leaves clogging the tines.

The Clog-Free Rake’s patented design has tines that interlock at the ends to create a zigzag shape and prevent leaves from sticking to them. The newest model has a rake head that’s 30 inches wide and a fiberglass handle designed to reduce hand fatigue.

The 30-inch rake sells for about $15 and is available at Ames True Temper and Lowe’s stores.

Ranch houses may just be the Rodney Dangerfields of architecture, but Michelle Gringeri-Brown and Jim Brown are out to earn them new respect.

The two publishers of Atomic Ranch magazine have produced a book that celebrates the architectural icon of postwar America. The book, “Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes,” focuses on ranches preserved or renovated by owners who respect their homes’ midcentury-modern roots, complete with such features as stone walls, tongue-and-groove wood ceilings and unadorned fireplaces. The Browns make the argument that the open floor plans, glass walls and private bedroom wings that were common to ranches made them livable, and they provide abundant examples of people who have melded 21st-century lives with mid-20th-century surroundings.

The book comes from Gibbs Smith, Publisher, and sells for $39.95 in hardcover.

Q: I read your suggestion in a recent article about turning a gas water heater to the vacation setting if you’ll be away from home for a long time. If the heater doesn’t have that setting, can it just be set on “pilot” instead?

A: Sometimes the vacation setting can be hard to see, but yes, you can use either, said John Banner, regional service manager for American Water Heater Co. in Johnson City, Tenn. Both settings keep the pilot light burning without heating the water, he said.

Q: We have a very small bathroom, the floor surface being about 4 feet by 4 feet. We need to replace the toilet but don’t want it to stick out too far in the room. Is there a way for us to set it back farther?

A: An offset toilet flange may solve your problem. There is plumbing work required to install the flange, but it could allow you to move the toilet back an inch or two. If the toilet is already farther from the wall than an inch or so, then you have only to relocate the sewer line to relocate the toilet anywhere you wish.

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