- Planning on selling your home this spring while the market is still hot? Some home features are pretty much guaranteed to turn-off buyers. We’ll share what to avoid or to change before the first potential buyer shows up.
- Did you know that your appliances may be quietly draining electricity – all day, every day – even when they are turned off? We’ll share solutions to save all that wasted money.
- Plus, can’t wait for all those spring flowers to bloom? We help, with tips on how to get a color-filled garden going immediately, no matter where you live
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Jeff in Iowa needs help improving his water pressure after installing a low flow shower head.
- Kelly from South Dakota needs help removing wallpaper that is removing some of the drywall behind her.
- Wayne in Iowa has an odor in his bathroom and wants to know how to get rid of it.
- Melanie from California wants to know if untreated pine wood will hold up in the bathroom.
- Aaron in South Dakota wants to seal off a second fireplace chimney in his home.
- Lynn from North Carolina wants to know if reducing the moisture in her partially finished basement is a DIY project.
- Geddie in Arkansas wants to know how to prevent mice from getting into his home and how to deal with them humanely.
- Josh wants to know what the cause of a bathroom water stain might be.
- Patrice likes the look of LED lights but not the cords that come with them, is there a way for her to hide them.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Happy Spring, everybody. This is Episode 2191 and we are here to help you improve your home. So if there is a project on your to-do list, you can slide it right over to ours by reaching out with those questions.
Couple of ways to do just that. First, you can go to MoneyPit.com/Ask and download The Money Pit app, record your question and send it right to our production team. That is the fastest way to get an answer from us. And secondly, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’re planning on selling your home this spring while the market is still pretty hot, there are a few recent trends that are pretty much guaranteed to dissuade buyers. We’re going to share what to avoid or to change before that first potential buyer shows up.
LESLIE: And did you know that if your TV, computer or other appliances are plugged in, they’re quietly draining electricity all day, every day, even when they’re off? We’re going to share solutions to save all that wasted money.
TOM: Plus, can’t wait for all those spring flowers to bloom? Well, we can help with tips on how to get a color-filled garden going immediately, no matter where you live.
LESLIE: So pick up the phone, give us a call, let us know what you are working on this spring season. Are you looking forward to summer? The big holidays? Getting family together? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand, so let us help you get your money pit in tip-top shape.
TOM: Reach out to us by posting your question at MoneyPit.com/Ask. Just download the app, record your question and send it right to the production team. Or you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in Iowa needs some help with a low-flow showerhead.
In true Seinfeld fashion, you’re just not getting a good wash going?
JEFF: No. No, I’m not. My house is a 1978 ranch. We’ve lived here about 10 years. I’ve always had good water – what I felt was reasonably good water pressure. Still has the original showers and showerheads in it, so I decided to upgrade everything to more eco-friendly stuff. Replaced the toilets, no problems. But the showerheads, I put these low-flow showerheads on and it’s like the water is just barely – I expected some decrease in performance, obviously, but the water is just like falling out of them. It’s not spraying out like I would expect.
TOM: Is this just happening at one showerhead, Jeff, or is it happening at several showerheads?
JEFF: Two showerheads.
TOM: Two showerheads, OK. So, we can rule out any kind of blockage because it wouldn’t be happening to both at the same time.
Now, what kind of showerheads did you put in there? Can you tell me the brand?
JEFF: Well, the first one was the home improvement store’s brand showerhead. The second one I’ve got is a Waterpik. It’s not the highest end of – I thought maybe I just went too cheap on the first one, so I went kind of middle-of-the-road. Made it – I didn’t know if I maybe needed to upgrade even more or just go back to the old showerheads.
TOM: So, when you install a low-flow showerhead and you didn’t have one before, you are correct in that you’re going to get a reduction in the power of the shower that perhaps you were used to.
Now, there should be an adequate amount of water. And the fact that you’re not feeling that means that maybe you don’t have the right showerhead or there’s something wrong with the installation. I’d like to, for the purpose of this conversation, rule out the installation, rule out any clogging, although that is entirely possible. And you might want to take it off to look behind it to make sure that’s the case.
But what I would recommend is that you upgrade the showerhead to a name brand, like a Moen or perhaps a Delta. Because these guys spend a lot of time and a lot of money engineering their showerheads so that they don’t decrease performance when they save you water. And the other thing to look for is a certification called WaterSense. And it’s sort of like ENERGY STAR for appliances but it’s measuring water efficiency for faucets and showerheads.
JEFF: I will definitely give that a try because what I’ve got going on now, it takes me so long to shower and get foamy and stuff, I might as well use the high-flow and …
TOM: Not going to work, right? Yeah.
JEFF: Then in and out, you know? It takes the lumps. So, yeah, it’s not doing the trick. I will look into the more expensive one and see what that does for me.
TOM: Alright. Yeah, you can always take it back if that doesn’t work. But take a look at the installation first, just to be sure. Make sure you don’t have any plumbing tape that got jammed in there or anything of that nature, OK?
JEFF: OK. Sounds good. Thanks, guys.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kelly in South Dakota is on the line and wants some help removing wallpaper.
What can we do for you?
KELLY: I have a – some wallpaper that I want to remove. And I believe we primed the walls. This has been about 10 years ago. And when I pulled back on the edges of the wallpaper, it seems as though it’s taking a bit of the drywall with it.
TOM: So, what you want to do is you want to get a tool called a “paper tiger,” which puts small holes in the surface of the paper. And it helps the wallpaper remover get behind it and loosen up the adhesive.
Now, in terms of wallpaper remover, you can use fabric softener, which works well, or you could use a commercially available product, like DIF – D-I-F. But putting those holes in there is important because, otherwise, it doesn’t saturate the paper.
Now, if you do that and it still doesn’t loosen up and pull off, then what you need to do is go out and rent a wallpaper steamer. And that will use warm, moist air to separate the paper from the wall.
No matter how you do it, it is a lot of work. And once that wallpaper is off, you’re going to need to reprime that wall with a good-quality primer so you have a nice surface upon which to put your final color of wall paint.
KELLY: OK. Do you need to sand that once you get it all done?
TOM: Well, if it’s a little rough, just lightly sand it. You don’t want to sand it too much, especially because you don’t want to cut into the paper that’s part of the drywall. But a little bit of light abrasion is not a bad thing.
But the most important thing is a good-quality priming paint applied to that wall surface, because you’re going to have old sizing material and who-knows-what-else stuck to that. And if you put the primer on, it’ll give you a good surface upon which to apply the paint. The paint will flow nicely and it’ll look better when it dries.
KELLY: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
LESLIE: Wayne in Iowa is on the line with a septic issue.
Tell us what’s going on.
WAYNE: Well, when I take a bath, I have odor when I drain the tub. If I take a shower, I have no odor when I take – when I take a shower, obviously, I don’t plug the drain. But everything runs through down to one pipe, which goes out to a septic tank. I do know the line is good from the house to the septic tank, because I had to dig that up before I ever did any of the plumbing in the house. I did not replumb the drain on the tub but otherwise, the house has new plumbing throughout.
TOM: So we don’t think that it’s in the drain line. For example, when you talk about sewer odors, the first thing you think of is a missing trap. But if the plumbing has been redone, it’s not likely that that’s the case, correct?
WAYNE: No, it has a trap. And it doesn’t leak into the basement but I – whenever I take a shower, it works fine. But if I take a tub bath and pull the plug on the drain, I get a sewer odor in the hallway outside the bathroom.
TOM: Because the other cause of those odors is something called “biogas” – is when you get a lot of bacteria that can form in a drain. And it may not even be the drain of the tub; it could be the drain of the sink. I presume there’s a sink in that same bathroom. And sometimes, even in the overflow channel of the sink, you get this bacterial buildup that can have just an awful odor to it.
And the solution there is to thoroughly clean it with an oxygenated bleach so that you kill that bacteria, flushing out the overflow channel, scrubbing the drain with almost like a bottle brush to make sure that all of that bacteria is eliminated.
Biogas can be very pungent and unpleasant to live with but relatively simple to get rid of once you get to the spot where it exists. Will you give that a shot?
WAYNE: Yes, sir. I most certainly shall.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Melanie in California on the line with a decorating question.
What can we do for you today?
MELANIE: I have untreated (inaudible) knotty pine throughout the house. I would like to continue into an 8×12 bathroom with the same. Is this the best application for the bathroom or will untreated wood hold up to condensation?
LESLIE: Now, where are you seeing this? On the walls? On the ceiling?
MELANIE: Oh, well, I’d like to do the whole bathroom. Yes, walls and ceiling.
TOM: I would say, Leslie, that knotty – untreated, knotty pine is a really bad idea for a bathroom.
TOM: I actually do have a bathroom that’s got pine wainscoting but it’s completely sealed. And it goes up about halfway up the wall. I would definitely not put unfinished wood in a bathroom because it’s going to soak up the moisture. It’s going to grow mold or mildew and just is not going to look right. You can’t clean it, either. So, a bad idea for the ceiling.
That said, if you like the look of wood, there are many ceiling-tile products that do look quite a lot like wood.
MELANIE: OK. We’re limited. We’re in a small area, so we’re limited as far as hardwares go and paneling. We’ve checked out our local hardware stores. And where’s the best place to find, oh, say, ceiling paneling and …?
LESLIE: Well, now, a clever, creative idea – which, you know, you might be able to source online and perhaps you haven’t looked at some of this in the local places to you – would be a laminate flooring that’s a plank that looks like a knotty pine so that we could utilize that in the same application that you’re talking about. But it’s made to withstand high-moisture situations because it’s a manufactured product and not a natural product.
MELANIE: Sure, sure.
LESLIE: And that, because it’s sold in planks, if you do have to order it online or if somebody has to order it from the vendor directly through your local stores, it ships really easily because of its packaging. And being plank size, you’re not going to have a hard time getting it in, rather than a sheet product.
MELANIE: Oh, OK. Very good. And I think that would look far better than a sheet product. We just – I think that’s why I don’t care – the wainscoting or coating, how do you pronounce that?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
MELANIE: Is that …?
LESLIE: I say wainscoting but I think everybody says it every way they feel like. Tomato, tomato.
MELANIE: OK. It’s just very attractive. But we need to do this complete, up the walls.
TOM: You don’t have to. You could go partially up the walls and then trim off the top edge of it.
MELANIE: Hmm. And then would – OK.
TOM: It depends on what look you’re going for. For example, Leslie, you’ve often given the suggestion that you can take an old door, turn it on its side and that could be a wainscoting.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That works out beautifully, especially because it gives you the paneling sort of built right into the door. The only issue there is that anywhere you’ve got an electrical outlet or something that might protrude from the wall, you’re going to have to bump that out to accommodate the extra thickness of the door. Not a big deal but it’s an extra step.
MELANIE: Boy, it sure is. Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you so much. That’s a lot to think about and I really like that plank-flooring idea. That was a thought that never even crossed my mind, so – nor my husband’s.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
MELANIE: Thank you so much. And thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning on selling your home this spring while the market is still hot, there are a few recent trends that are pretty much guaranteed to dissuade buyers. We’ll share what to avoid or to change before that first potential buyer shows up.
First of all, open shelving. I mean there are two types of people in this world: those who love open shelving in the kitchen and those who hate it. And while you may fall into that first group, there’s no guarantee that a potential buyer of your home is going to agree. So if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, keep those cabinets in place.
TOM: The next is sterile kitchens. While there’s nothing wrong with basically a sleek, contemporary-looking kitchen, some homeowners today take that idea a bit overboard. So, if your kitchen is so white and featureless and shiny that it looks like an operating room, chances are it’s not going to appeal to many potential buyers.
So, think about injecting some color, some texture and some personality if you want to get top dollar for your place.
LESLIE: Now, the next thing is bright mosaic or tile backsplashes. These are eye-catching. If you’ve got no intention of moving soon, feel free: dive headfirst into this trend.
However, if you think you might be putting your house on the market, know that not every buyer is going to like that color or the pattern or the image that you pick. Neutral tile selections do help potential buyers imagine how their own color and style preference will coordinate with the other elements in a kitchen or bath.
TOM: And finally, bright kitchen cabinets. Painted cabinets are really popular now but if the color is overly bright, like we’re talking cobalt blue or bright red, there’s a good chance the only thing the buyer is going to think about is how much of a hassle and expense it might be to paint them again.
So, once again, stay neutral. Now is not the time to unleash your inner design tiger. Stay neutral and you will sell your house quickly and for the highest possible price.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Aaron in South Dakota on the line.
Aaron, what can we help you with today?
AARON: My question is concerning – it’s my fireplace chimney. I have a 35-year-old home. It’s a story-and-a-half and it has two fireplaces. The fireplace on the main level is in – we use it. Below it, in the basement, there is a cutout in the foundation for a second fireplace but it was never put in. So it’s just the foundation concrete.
My question is – because it was never put in – the fireplace in the basement – the chimney was never used and it is dumping cold air into the basement. And I want to know, how do I permanently seal that off so that I’m just not taking in air from outside?
TOM: OK. Interesting question.
Now, because it’s a second fireplace in the basement, do you happen to know if it has a separate, dedicated flue? Because it very well may have its own interior flue. Even though it’s one chimney structure, there could be two flues going up through the middle of it. Do you know if that’s the case?
AARON: I’m not entirely certain.
TOM: OK. Well, I would identify that. You could probably go on top of the chimney and look straight down. You’ll see these two flues side by side.
If it’s got its own flue, I’d probably seal it off from the top. If it’s sharing a flue, then what I would do is I would seal it off from the bottom. And you can do something as simple as sealing in the front of that opening with just an insulated foam panel.
AARON: Well, you see, that is what is there right now. If I go into the basement and I look up, somebody has put a foam panel to seal it up. But it’s not sealed very well and air is getting in. And on the outside, the chimney stack is a double stack and I have cut into the knee wall, into my attic space, to look and it’s a wide-open void up there.
So, the air is getting in. So, whether it already has a flue in there or not, I’m not certain. But I just didn’t know if there’s anything I need to do more than just putting a thermal break on every level.
TOM: Well, you say it’s a wide-open stack. What do you mean by that when you say it’s a wide-open stack, Aaron?
AARON: If you look at the side of my house, there is a massive chimney.
TOM: Right. OK.
AARON: It’s probably 4 feet wide by 2 feet wide.
AARON: And when I look in my attic space, I can see that it is wide open but there is nothing inside of it.
TOM: So it’s sort of framed wide open but there’s no flue liner inside of it?
AARON: It springs wide open like it was intended, at some point, somebody is going to put a fireplace there but no one ever did.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah.
AARON: So, now, it’s just – from outside, down to my basement, it’s air coming in.
AARON: And I don’t intend to put a second fireplace in and I want to finish that area.
TOM: The goal here is to seal off and insulate anything that you’re not using without impacting the side of the fireplace that you are using. And so to do that, you need to know exactly how many flues you have and what appliances in your house that’s serving, whether it’s a furnace or a fireplace. Those need to be left alone. And the others you can insulate or seal off. And so, this may be something that has to be done by an experienced professional, because you want to get it right. But that’s the goal.
If you’re not using it, you can seal it off. And I would seal it from the top, if I could, because that’s where the air is coming in.
AARON: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Lynn in North Carolina needs some help with a crawlspace project.
What can we do for you?
LYNN: I was just wondering if you could advise me as to whether or not I could do this myself or whether I had to get a company to help me. And what it is is my basement is partially finished and partially a crawlspace. And in the crawlspace, there’s just bare dirt. And it typically doesn’t have a lot of moisture unless it’s really, really, really rainy. And I just felt – feel like I need to cover it with some sort of plastic or some sort of barrier to help keep that humidity down.
TOM: You’re exactly right, Lynn. And it definitely is a project that you can do yourself as long as you can, you know, physically get into that crawlspace. But let’s start outside because the moisture does form from the outside in. You want to make sure that your gutter system is clean, that the downspouts are extended not 2 feet, which is the way they normally are, but 4 to 6 feet from the house. You really want to go through a good effort to get those downspouts at least a few feet out from the house.
And then, thirdly, make sure the soil around the house slopes away. Those three things – gutters clean, downspouts extended and soil sloping away – do most of the work in terms of keeping those below-grade spaces dry.
Now, in terms of the crawlspace itself, what you want to do is – I typically would say rake the dirt surface so it’s nice and flat and there’s nothing in there that can kind of break through the plastic. And then what you want to do is just take some very heavy plastic – some clear plastic like Visqueen – and then start laying it down across the crawlspace-dirt surface.
And you want to put it in in as few pieces as possible. And if you have to overlap it, overlap it 3 feet, alright? Because that’ll do a good job of keeping that moisture and humidity from evaporating out of that soil and then getting into the air and the basement and working its way up into your house. So it’s really as simple as that.
LYNN: OK. And any particular type of plastic or are we talking just go to Lowes or Home Depot and get …
TOM: Well, what you want to do is find a plastic that’s about 6-mil thick. It’s usually just called “reinforced polyethylene construction film” or something of that nature. It comes in rolls that are usually about 12-feet wide and about 100-feet long. No, the roll’s not 12 feet; it’s usually about 4 feet and it’s just overlapped. But you buy these big rolls and you roll it out and cut it and then unfold it. And again, get it across that whole floor surface. You can let it lay up against the wall a little bit. And then if you have to overlap it, go ahead and make sure you overlap it by about 3 feet.
LYNN: And do you pin it with something of some sort? Do you pin it with some sort of nail?
TOM: No, it just stays there by its lonesome. It’s not going to go anywhere as long as you’re not – as long as you guys don’t like to crawl up in that crawlspace a lot.
TOM: No, it’s a really easy project to do yourself.
Well, guys, did you know that if your TV or your computer or another appliance is plugged in, it may be quietly draining electricity. And what’s kind of crazy is it even does that when it’s turned off, because electricity used by products when they’re off has a special name. It’s called “standby power” and it gets pretty expensive.
LESLIE: Yeah. And while it may not be readily noticed, standby power is wasted energy that does add up. And according to the Department of Energy, it costs the average U.S. household as much as $100 per year. So we’ve got some tips on how to avoid all that waste, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Now, here’s three easy things you can do, right now, to reduce standby power and save money.
First, use a power strip. You want to make sure it has an on/off switch. Because if you plug all of your products into the power strip, you can flip off that power strip when these items are not in use. And they are truly off, because you will have completely disconnected the power source to them.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another sure way to reduce your standby-power load is to just unplug the products. Now, it’s not convenient and obviously, there are some products that always need to be plugged in – like the refrigerator, for example – but there are others that you may not need to have plugged in, like the toaster oven or any other countertop appliances.
My boyfriend is always leaving the toaster and the coffee maker plugged in. I swear every evening I walk by, I go boo-boop (ph) and unplug them. Come home from work …
TOM: You unplug them and (inaudible).
And lastly, if you’re ready to replace an appliance, always buy one that is ENERGY STAR-rated. Now, these appliances have energy efficiency built in and they use less standby power than non-ENERGY STAR products.
So, there you go: three simple ways to reduce or even eliminate your standby power and save some money, too.
TOM: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Earn three-percent cash back on online shopping. Apply at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Getty, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
GETTY: Oh, hi. My uncle is struggling with a mouse problem.
GETTY: And he wants to get rid of them the old-fashioned way but his wife doesn’t want them to be harmed or killed or anything.
LESLIE: That’s a tough one.
GETTY: Yeah. So they’re trying to figure out a way of, I don’t know, catching them or keeping them out of the house, stuff like that.
TOM: So, what I would suggest is that, first of all, you try to mouse-proof your house as much as possible. So, by doing that, you need to seal all the gaps that may surround the exterior, most commonly around where pipes and things come through the walls.
Secondly, you want to avoid anything that creates a nesting site or areas where the mice can sort of dig into. For example, a common one might be firewood piled close to the house and that sort of thing, high grass. So you want to try to make that as un-mouse-friendly as possible.
Next, you want to look at moisture sources and food sources that are inside the house. So, for example, I’ve seen folks develop mouse problems because they have pet food – in the big, heavy pet-food bags – perhaps sitting on the garage floor where the mice decide they’re going to cut their own door into the side of that bag and help themselves. So, you want to make sure that any type of food source is off the ground, up on shelves and in rodent-proof containers, metal containers.
TOM: You could also put in – now, see, she doesn’t want to kill them. So pretty much any other way to get rid of these things is going to remove – is going to kill them. You could use bait stations where they’ll – does she just not want to kill them or she doesn’t want them to die in the house? Because it’s a fine point, you know? If you use a bait station, they usually take the bait and go outside while that stuff goes to work.
TOM: I can understand her perhaps not wanting to use mousetraps, because that can get kind of messy and gross. But I would suggest you try to make your home as rodent-resistant as possible. We’ve got a great article on how to do that. It’s called “Beating the Rat Race.” It’s on MoneyPit.com. But I do think that if you really want a permanent solution, you’re going to end up having to use some rodenticides, as well.
GETTY: OK. I think that’d be a fair idea. She’s wanting to catch them all and take them down the road somewhere.
LESLIE: Oh, geez.
TOM: You’re not going to catch them. They’re pretty fast.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
GETTY: Thank you.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Josh on the line who’s dealing with a mysterious water stain.
What’s going on?
JOSH: I have a question regarding repainting my bathroom. I want to paint the ceiling and the walls a new color but the ceiling has a water stain on it. But I’m not quite sure where it’s coming from.
TOM: Well, Josh, I know exactly where that water stain is coming from, even though it would seem like I’ve seen your house.
But it’s probably coming from the vent pipe right above that bathroom, which is where most of those water stains – those water leaks – will happen. Because all the toilets, all the plumbing systems in the house basically are going to go up through the roof and vent. And where the vent goes through the roof, there’s a piece of vent flashing, which is like this combination aluminum-and-rubber piece that basically slides over the top of the vent pipe. And then the shingles cover the top half of it and it’s exposed to the bottom half.
And the rubber sealer that goes around that pipe is basically where it breaks down. That rubber gasket, it dries out over time and it cracks and it rips. And then, when you get driving rain, it leaks in around the pipe, which follows its way right down to the ceiling of your bathroom.
So, I would look at that pipe where it comes through the roof, because I can bet you that’s the most likely place that this leak is being caused by. Then if that’s the case, you’re just going to have to either do it yourself or have a roofer replace that vent flashing. And that should definitely solve it.
LESLIE: Alright. Mystery solved.
TOM: Well, nothing says spring like colorful, flowering plants in your yard. And now that we are well into spring, it’s time to plant the seeds that will become the beautiful blooms of summer.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you can’t wait for those seeds to sprout, you can plant live blooms for that instant pop of color. Now, the key is selecting the right type of flowers for your region. And this is actually a pretty specific science.
TOM: Yeah. The country’s divided up into 11 different plant-hardiness zones. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map lays those out. It’s pretty much the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a particular location.
LESLIE: Yeah. And preparing the soil for those flowers is also very important. You have to have healthy soil and the correct pH level for the types of flowers that you’re planting. So you can test your soil with a kit, add organic matter if you need to, add peat moss, sawdust, sand, manure, ground bark, homemade compost.
And I mean if the test seems confusing to you and you’re not quite sure what to add to get it to that proper pH level, go to your local garden center and say, “Hey, this is the number I got. What do I have to do to fix it?” And they’ll totally help.
TOM: And finally, make sure you water them properly. Water them as directed and keep your soil moist. This way, your flowers will grow bright and healthy.
LESLIE: Patrice is on the line and has a question about adding some LED lighting to her bath.
PATRICE: I’m seeing a lot of LED lights on TikTok trending and I think it looks really cool. I think it would make my bathroom look really cool. But I don’t like the fact that you have to plug it into the wall. And I think that the cable is a little unsightly. Do you have any tips for covering up the wire or making – having the effect of an LED light in the bathroom without having to have an ugly wire hanging out of my ceiling?
LESLIE: I get it. You don’t want to see a lot of cords. You want to make sure things look clean. I think with LED lighting, there’s a lot of different options for things that are cordless or a pro electrician can hide the cords. I mean it really depends on the type of fixture that you’re looking at to determine the best way to disguise that.
If there are some cords or cabling that you do need to see, I always try to run it behind a piece of conduit or a piece of molding or some crown molding. It’s kind of dependent on where that fixture is going. There are ways that you can hide it behind a piece of trim so that it’s not being pinched or compromised in any way but it’s totally hidden in a super-decorative manner.
TOM: Yeah. The other option is there are a lot of LED lights out there now that run off batteries, because they just don’t use that much power. But then you’ll have to be dealing with switching the lights on and off and that’s going to lose its value pretty soon. I think that would get you pretty bored.
So, I like your suggestion, Leslie. Great ways to hide those cords.
LESLIE: Now, Bob wrote in and he says, “We painted our house a few months back but there’s a problem with the paint on the trim. You can easily scrape it off with your nail. The painter says wait and see, because paint can take a year to harden. But in the meantime, our house looks horrible. The painter didn’t prime or even sand the trim before painting because he said it didn’t need it.”
TOM: Yeah, well, he’s not so smart. This is not getting better. All of the paint has to be removed and the surface needs to be sanded and primed before another topcoat is applied. You can’t put good paint – even if it was good paint that he put on – over bad paint. And just because there was some prior paint there, he definitely should have primed it. Otherwise, you’re kind of asking for this to happen.
And there’s no quick, easy fix and you definitely should not have to wait and see how this pans out. The old paint has to come off and we have to start from scratch all over again.
LESLIE: Alright. Susan writes in. She wants to get a jump on a carpenter-bee problem. She says every spring, carpenter bees come out of her house in full force, making their holes under the eaves. “Is there anything I can do about them now while it’s still chilly?”
TOM: Yeah, one thing you need to do now – really, two things. First of all, find and plug their holes. They make these perfectly circular, usually about 3/8-inch-wide holes. If you fill those holes and seal those holes, they build those as nests. They won’t come back to them.
And the other thing is if you’ve got one that’s particularly bad, replace whatever they’re eating and use something that’s not wood. For example, you can use AZEK, which is a PVC trim board. They will maybe try to drill into it but then they’ll quickly discover it’s not wood and move on.
LESLIE: Yeah. They’ll be mad, too, but they’ll figure it out pretty quickly and then go to your neighbors.
TOM: Well, we all know power tools can hurt you in an instant but are yours causing slow harm over time? Leslie shares a major health risk among DIYers, that’s got medical experts concerned, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie, we hear you.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, you do everything that you can to make sure you don’t lose a finger or burn yourself while you’re working with power tools, right? Well, we hope so. But here’s a scary fact: only half of DIYers do anything to protect their ears, which truly can have serious consequences. Ongoing exposure to noise that’s 85 decibels or higher can damage your hearing. And 85 decibels really isn’t hard to come by. Circ saws, chainsaws, those come in at over 100 decibels. And even electric drills, lawn mowers, weed trimmers, band saws, those are even in an unsafe zone.
Now, hearing loss from loud noise, it happens over a long period of time, so you might not even realize it’s happening. But if you use these tools on a regular basis or are around somebody that does, you’re probably speeding up that hearing loss. The good news is that you can slow that damage. You want to invest in hearing protection for loud jobs: ear plugs, noise-reducing ear muffs. Those really do the trick. But there’s also electric, over-the-ear protection that lets you listen to the radio or say, your favorite podcast: The Money Pit? It’s just a suggestion instead of those loud, muffled sounds of power tools.
So it’s definitely smart to protect your hearing. And this can happen from use of tools, standing for a subway station, fire trucks driving by. There’s so much, so you can’t protect your ears all the time. But when you can, you should.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you love the look of real hardwood but you don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood might be a perfect solution. We’ll share ways for you to enjoy all that beauty of a real hardwood floor for a lot less, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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