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I have two pairs of dress shoes that squeak when I walk. What can I do to fix the problem?

Nothing says "Here I come!" (in an embarrassing way) like a shoe sending out distress signals.

Do-it-yourself solutions can work on some squeak sources, but proceed with caution, advises Gene Hartland of Hartland Shoe Repair in St. Paul, Minn., who gets asked this question at least once a week.

Half the battle is identifying the source of the squeak. Try walking back and forth, then rocking on your heels and toes while listening. Baby powder or cornstarch sprinkled along the stitching under the inner sole (if you can lift it out), or anywhere shoe components rub together, is an easy experiment, as is rubbing saddle soap on the tongue of leather shoes (don't use on suede). You can try to secure loose heels with Super Glue or rubber cement, but both can stain and leave permanent damage if not carefully applied, and they won't work on heels made of urethane. If the shoes only started squeaking after getting wet, try drying them out on cedar shoe trees, which wick moisture away.

At least half of squeak problems are structural, such as a loose shank, sole or heel counter, which requires a professional to disassemble the shoe. He suggests wearing your shoes into a repair shop, so they are "warmed up," making it easier for the repairer to detect the source.

On one-piece rubber soles, air pockets occurring during manufacturing can sometimes cause squeaking that even a pro can't fix, said Randall Reichstadt of Macy's Shoe Repair in Minneapolis. If the shoes are new, return them and ask for a replacement pair.

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(Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488, or call 612-673-7032, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies.)

 

 

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