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Incredible Shrinking Doors And Burrowing Land Crabs

Q. Every winter, as soon as temperatures fall, a number of interior doors in our house won't close correctly. Instead of closing firmly, these doors can be "nosed" open at will by the family dog. This certainly surprises overnight guests. What do you suggest?

- C.L.,

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Chattanooga, Tenn.

A. It sounds as though the door's frames were not shimmed correctly when they were installed, says Howard Clark, a licensed construction supervisor from Hopkinton, Mass.

The quick solution is to loosen the door-latch strike plate from the jamb portion of the frame, slip a small-diameter washer or two behind the strike plate, and then re-tighten it. This will move the strike closer to the door latch and make it catch reliably.

But the attractive way to solve the problem is to remove both pieces of door casing from the strike side of the jamb using a flat bar, shim the jamb closer to the closed door with wood shingles, and then replace and repaint the casing.

Shim it by sliding and tapping two shingles past each other, usually about six inches from the top and bottom of the jamb and often at the strike itself. Though there is usually no need to remove the existing nails from the door frame, add a couple of finish nails of your own to hold these shims in place. With a utility knife trim the extending portions of the shingles.

If you make this adjustment in the winter when the doors are loose, leave a gap about the thickness of a nickel between the door and the jamb to allow for winter expansion; in the summer, make the gap just shy of rubbing.

Q. What can I do to get rid of land crabs, who dig burrows along the curb in front of my condo?

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- R.P.,

Lake Worth, Fla.

A. Land crabs can be found in Bermuda, the Caribbean, Texas, and southern Florida. The crustacean is generally harmless unless handled, but its holes can be a nuisance. According to Amy Taylor, an urban-wildlife extension researcher at the University of Florida, adult land crabs dig burrows 3 to 5 inches wide and up to 5 feet deep. There are no chemicals registered to control them, says Ms. Taylor, because of the possible negative effects on ground-water quality. At the same time, there is no state or federal law to protect the species. You can capture and remove them by using live traps baited with rotting fruit, or by using nets. P.S. Land crabs are edible, the claws are especially delicious.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail

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