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10 Uses for Magnets

Improve home heating, give your water heater a longer life and eight other uses for magnets

Photo by Denise Sfraga

In the 6th century B.C., Thales of Miletus, a Greek wise man, reasoned that a magnet’s power of attraction was the result of science, not magic.

After that, it was only a matter of time (okay, a few millennia) before magnets turned up in TVs, turbines, computer hard drives, and on the fronts of fridges everywhere. Their stick-to-itiveness—in the form of iron horseshoes, shiny rare-earth bars, or vinyl-coated magnetic sheets—is also helpful for a host of household projects.

Magnets Can Be Used To:

  1. Locate metal studs in a wall.
  2. Seal off air-conditioning vents to improve home heating by placing vinyl-coated sheets over the steel register faces.
  3. Hang Polaroids of projects-in-process on the lip of a metal shelf above the workbench.
  4. Collect nails from a porch repair job that have fallen in the grass.
  5. Prevent corrosion inside your water heater; a magnet placed on the freshwater intake pipe catches damaging metallic calcium particles before they can get inside.
  6. Pin blueprints onto the side or hood of the truck.
  7. Create a bulletin board without the use of tacks, tape, or hooks on walls coated with “magnetized” paint containing metals.
  8. Protect a tractor’s engine: Ceramic magnets placed in the oil pan will attract steel bits that get into the oil from grinding pistons.
  9. Fasten steel framing squares to the outside of toolboxes for quick access by gluing magnets to the box sides.
  10. Clean up metal shavings that have fallen from the bench grinder onto the workshop floor.