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Share ideas and learn about the latest in home improvement and décor from Tom and Leslie.

Money Pit Blogs

My daughter has a real sense of style. Unfortunately, her dorm room doesn't. We want her to be comfortable but have obvious limitations on what we can change.  Any tips to spruce up her space without adding to our already sky-high college costs? Lisa V.

Memories of my college dorm room are...

Summer is a popular time to build a deck or a patio so that you can spend time enjoying the great outdoors.  But which surface is really the best? Deciding whether a deck or patio makes the most sense is part structural and part personal choice.  If your back door is close to the ground (within...

Hoping you can shed some light on this concern of mine. I recently went into a bidding war on a century-old home and won─however, it wasn't disclosed until after the deal was signed that the home has asbestos siding. After much internet research, I've seen many different responses, all of...

Can you explain what I need to do to clean and restore or replace the grout in my tiled shower? The tile is 4" x 4" with white grout, and despite my cleaning it gets black and moldy every week.MarvA 7-12-08 The place to start in this case is with the overall moisture situation in your bathroom....

I listen to your show on WABC in NY and understand you spent many years as a home inspector.  We are buying a ten year old house in Fishkill NY. We had the house inspected last week; however the home inspector would not check the septic system with color dye. He stated that the fields 'looked...

My son lives in Athens, Georgia, in an apartment complex that houses mostly college students. Since he moved in, he has been sick almost constantly with lung issues─up to and including coughing up blood! We recently found that the AC/heating unit in his apartment is covered in mold and mildew...

Filed under: preventative maintenance, remodeling, Exteriors & Facades, Outdoors

Your roof is wearing out - right now. Thanks to the UV radiation that bakes roof shingles until they are brittle, the summer sun takes more years out of a roof's life than any other environmental factor. If your...

My 6-year-old roof has some nasty black staining that I believe is a moss or algae. Can you suggest a product to get rid of this and prevent it from returning? Also, is this a do-it-yourself project?Mark F.Westfield, NJ Sounds like your asphalt shingle roof has been marked by blue-green algae or...

Our family has a few long trips planned this summer, and though our neighbors will be keeping an eye on things while we're gone, I want to make sure our place is safe. Got a checklist of pre-vacation to-dos? DCarlson 05-09-08 7:32 a.m. Good question, especially as we approach a hot season for...

I painted my daughter's bedroom using primer and then paint. Now it has become my son's room, and there are spots where the paint just pulls off in long strips and looks like rubber. I want to repaint the room, but have no idea how to handle these areas. What can I do?Laura It's pointless to...

We are planning a kitchen remodel but not sure where to start after the kitchen is gutted out. Do we start with the cabinets or do we do the flooring first?fiveangelgirls Way before you ever wield a sledgehammer, the best place to start is with a thorough, clear-eyed assessment of your kitchen's...

Decks that are not properely built or maintained can be unsafe and now is a good time get outside and inspect your deck for signs of failure that could lead to a collapse.  According to experts at the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), the American Society of Home Inspectors...

I have an AC condenser on the roof of my townhouse that I want to demolish to prepare for a new HVAC system. Can I simply disconnect the existing refrigerant lines and let the refrigerant dissipate into the air? The existing system was installed in the early '90s, before we owned the house, so...

I'm cleaning out my workshop and have come across several orphaned rechargeable batteries. Are these recyclable like standard batteries? DamonC 04-01-08 3:42 p.m. Yes, they are, and there's probably a drop-off location just minutes from your home. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation...

How do I know if I'm getting truly green, sustainable wood flooring products?1965daughtry 03-31-08 12:24 p.m. The clearest signal is a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification right on the packaging of the flooring in question. The FSC is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging...

I'm in the market for a new room air conditioner. Got any tips on what to look for?shelaghE 04-02-08 8:11 a.m. The main thing to look for is the Energy Star label, which tells you a unit uses at least 10 percent less energy than conventional models. Energy Star qualified room air conditioners...

I'm interested in building a super environmentally friendly home.  I've seen and read about homes that claim to have energy efficient and earth friendly features, but have not seen one total example of a home that delivers both.  Are you aware of any such homes?Todd 04-02-08 10:00...

We're gearing up for a kitchen remodel, and feel pretty confident about every aspect except lighting. What should we be prepared to discuss with a kitchen lighting designer?PaulZ 03-01-08 7:18 a.m. Before you even get to the point of choosing fixture styles (and there are a lot of them), you and...

Now that the heating season is drawing to a close, I'd like to figure out how to improve my home's efficiency so that summer cooling bills don’t knock me sideways. Where should I start? kt403 03-28-08 11:19 a.m. Good thinking.  A home energy audit is the first step toward energy and dollar...

What do you get when you combine two popular rackets these days-identity theft and mortgage fraud? A totally new kind of crime: house stealing. According the the FBI, here's how it generally works: … The con artists start by picking out a house to steal-say, YOURS.  … Next, they assume your...