“Must have” home improvement products

I receive a variety of Home Improvement catalogs filled with silly inventions that solve non-problems around the home. There’s an outdoor faucet extension that eliminates scraped knuckles, a special tool for “cleaning the grass-caked underside of your lawnmower”, and an $86 solution to “wipe away dirt, dust, and grime from underneath your gutters”.

Given my contempt, it’s scary to see how I pore over the catalogs and purchase all sorts of products. Some of them I end up loving, and some turn out to be duds. For instance, from Sporty’s Tool Shop:

  • (+) Backsaver Tote This is my favorite item. I had a previous tote to haul logs into the house — I would load it up, grab the handles and lift it as high as possible, and then awkwardly trudge along, resting it on my hip. The Backsaver Tote holds twice as much effortlessly — it’s well designed and ruggedly built. I expected that it would be awkward to hold the handle, but it rests comfortably against the wood with little effort. And it’s also easy to open the house door, since only one hand is needed for the Tote.
  • Magnetic Vent Covers We have an unused bedroom, and I imagine that I am saving on heating costs by covering the vents in that room. The Covers are magnetized just barely enough to stay in place, and the ceiling vent in the bathroom is particularly precarious.
  • (+) Remote Control Outlet with Wireless Remote Perfect for Christmas Tree lights on the roof.
  • GutterPump I have two downspouts that can barely be reached with an extension ladder and are frequently clogged.  It has been great for two years.
  • (+) 10 Gallon Collapsible Lawn Container Lightweight and convenient for collecting debris while gardening.
  • Brick Clips Work quite well for hanging pictures on our brick wall, without requiring any drilling.
  • Motion Activated Outdoor Light Provides barely enough light by the garbage cans.
  • (-) Deer Repellent Scented packets that are useless.
  • (+) Garden Kneeler/Seat Fantastic when we got it for $12.
  • 1 lb. Propane Refill Adapter Seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m afraid to use it — I can imagine the explosion from a spark.
  • (+) Parking Mat It’s embarrassing how much I like this. When you drive over the bump, you know you’re in the right spot.
  • (-) Oil Changing System Useless piece of crap. I returned it. Supposedly changes your oil through the dipstick tube. Is capable of drawing out several drops of oil per hour.
  • (-) Large Coil Keeper For hanging extension cords. Stupidly designed — the weight of the coil pulls the velcro apart.
  • (+) 3-Pc. Socket Driver Set Love it. Use your electric drill with your socket wrench set.
  • (+) 3-Prong Space-Saving Outlet Perfect for an outlet located next to our bookshelf.
  • (+) Easy-Movers Put them under our home entertainment center, and they work great when I need to slide it out.
  • (-) Dryer Vent Brush Can’t believe I bought it. Doesn’t work well on thin aluminum vents, and no, I don’t believe there’s a fire hazard.

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