HELOISE Clean chimneys for safety's sake

Dear Heloise: You had a letter from a chimney sweep warning people to have their chimneys cleaned and checked. I felt I should write to tell you of our experience a couple of years ago.
We do not have a fireplace. We burn fuel oil. Our house is an old, two-story farmhouse, and our chimney is tall. We were having lots of windy days, and my husband and I were noticing that the tips of our fingers were getting dirty every time we touched things. I called our furnace-maintenance man to come and check the furnace -- nothing wrong there. Then he told me what the problem was -- a stopped-up chimney, and that I should have it cleaned. Some of those winds were causing a downdraft in our chimney.
During the years we have lived in this house, we have had the furnace checked periodically, and the maintenance people never told us that we should have that chimney cleaned. So all this soot, etc., was building up. That soot settled on everything, creating a massive cleanup. O.H. in Ohio
Your story stresses the importance of having your furnace and chimney checked annually. It might just save your life and home. If you have questions, call your fire department -- someone there can advise you on fire-safety measures. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have a travel dusting-powder shaker. To refill it, I put the powder on a folded piece of wax paper. This way, I am able to refill my small container for travel without making a big mess. Pat in Arkansas
Dear Heloise: My talents lie in the cooking part of kitchen use, not in the cleaning-up part. Perhaps there are others whose kitchen trash goes in a trash masher or a waste can under the sink that you have to open every time you have some little wadded-up piece of paper towel, can lid, butter wrapper or the like.
I've discovered that early in most meal preparation, there is a can or box opened. I just put that on the counter, and whenever I get some little piece of trash that doesn't go in the disposal, I stuff it in the can or box. When finished, I just have one thing to open the trash masher for.
Pretty basic, but it saves me extra steps, and that is always welcome. Thank you for your years of help. Sandra in Texas
Dear Heloise:
UUse soft-sided eyeglass cases to hold pens or pencils that you can never find at the bottom of your purse.
UAlways pack a diaper in a first-aid kit. It absorbs blood from an injury. Susie, via e-mail
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate