Simple Home Staging | Green Cleaners | Kitchen Fire Safety

  • young inexperienced home cook woman in panic with apron holding pot burning in flames with in panic
  • Transcript

    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: And what are you working on this weekend? If it’s your house, you are in the right place because, hey, that’s what we’re doing. And that’s what we will help you do, as well. If you’ve got a question about a project on your to-do list, if you’ve got a decorating chore, if you’ve got a repair, if you’re thinking about hiring a pro to build something big and special around your house, whatever’s on your mind when it comes to taking care of that place that we call “home” is why we exist. We’re here to help you get those jobs done, so pick up the phone and give us a call and help yourself first at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you’re thinking of selling your house, you might know that home staging is an important part of making sure your house gets sold and for the best possible price, I might add. But staging is not always simple, especially if you are doing it while you’re still living there. We’re going to have a simple solution, though, that can help you set that house up for success, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, have you ever thought about the dozens of products that you use just to keep your house clean? I mean the impact on your health and the waste of throwing away all those empty bottles and the cans. We’re going to have some tips on an innovative solution that’s non-toxic and versatile for use on a wide variety of hard surfaces, in just a bit.

    TOM: And winter is a time that’s difficult on trees. If you’ve ever had to cut one up that’s fallen down during one of those chilly days, you’ll appreciate this new tool. We’re going to share tips on a battery-powered chainsaw – yes, I said a chainsaw that is battery-powered – that can make quick work of a project like that without the need for gas or oil or pull cords that can pull your shoulders out. We’ll have that update, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And is your kitchen ready for the holiday-cooking season? Well, if you’re missing a kitchen fire extinguisher, maybe not.

    TOM: That’s right. We’ve got a Home Safety Kit, though, from First Alert that can hook you up. It includes a kitchen fire extinguisher and a bunch more. It’s going to go out to one caller drawn at random. So pick up the phone, give us a call right now. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ralph on the line.

    Ralph, what’s going on at your money pit?

    RALPH: I have several cracks appearing at the corners of doorways. They’re diagonal from the doorway up towards the ceiling. There’s even one in an archway. It’s a squared archway but it could have had a door in it but didn’t.

    TOM: OK.

    RALPH: And I’m wondering A) what’s probably causing that? The house is about 32 years old. It’s drywall. And could it be fixed with just fiberglass tape and spackle?

    TOM: Yeah. So, first of all, Ralph, it’s pretty typical to have that kind of crack. If you think about the wall structure, wherever you have, essentially, a hole in the wall, which would be for a door or an archway or even a window if it’s on an exterior wall, you tend to get more movement of the wall around those openings because it’s a little bit bigger, it’s a little bit weaker. It’s kind of almost like – think of it as a hinge as the wall – as the house expands and contracts. It’s going to open up in those spaces. To have cracks, therefore, in those corners is not anything necessarily, by itself, to worry about.

    Now, how do you fix this and how do you stop it from showing back up again? And you mentioned fiberglass tape and that is, in fact, the best way we’ve found to make that repair. Because if you just spackle it, obviously, that crack’s going to form once again because the spackle’s not really doing anything. It’s not going to expand and contract with it; it’s just going to fall right out.

    So, the best thing to do is to put the fiberglass tape on and then do two or three coats of new spackle above that tape. The tape tends to bridge that crack and keep that wall from opening up in those corners again. So I would do that. And remember, before you put on your tape, I’d like you to lightly sand that to make sure we don’t have any dirt or grease on it. We want to get good adhesion. And that fiberglass tape is tacky, so you don’t even have to worry about spackling it in place; it’ll just stay there.

    But then, when you put those layers of spackle on, go thin. Fight the temptation to put a lot on thinking you’ll get the job done quicker. Put thin layers on there, sand in between. And when you’re done, prime it and then paint it. And use a good-quality, flat ceiling paint. And I think it will stand up quite well.

    You know, maybe one or two more will open up over time but for the most part, I think you’ll close them nicely.

    RALPH: Right. Understand. It’s a stressorizer (ph). They just happen to occur at that point due to the movement of an aging house.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, we all have stressorizers (ph). So I have three of them. They’re called “my children.”

    RALPH: I gave you the straight line.

    Hey, how deep do I have to go down into the drywall? Because I figured a V-cut following the crack, fill in the crack …

    TOM: Not necessary. I would just take out any – if there’s any loose spackle or drywall on that edge. You don’t have to open it up as if you’re repairing concrete here. You could just go right on top of it.

    RALPH: OK. I don’t want a lump there. But do it thin. And feather it in on the …

    TOM: You’re going to have a – listen, you’re going to have a little bit of a lump. You can’t avoid that. But that’s why I told you to use flat wall paint. Because if you use flat paint and if you prime the area first, it will blend in nicely and I’ll be really hard to detect that you have a bit more of a rise there because of the spackle.

    RALPH: Excellent.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Tennessee where Jean has a stucco question. What’s going on? How can we help you?

    JEAN: Well, the house was built in 1914. And the outside exterior walls are covered with stucco that has the kind of swirly bumps where they throw the trowels on it. And it looks like it’s in good condition, so I was thinking we could probably just spray it a nice color. It’s still kind of golden like it used to be. But wherever the branches of the shrubs went against it, it’s kind of yucky and gray-looking.

    But I know that when we painted our patio slab, we had to do some treatment to it before we could paint it. Does stucco need some preconditioning besides just hosing it off with soap and water?

    TOM: Well, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that there’s no algae attached to it. And so I would probably do a very light pressure-washing and cleaning of the outside of the house and let it dry for a good couple of days in warm weather. And then I would prime it with an oil-based primer and then I would use a good-quality, exterior topcoat paint over that.

    You can’t cut any corners here; you can’t take any shortcuts. But if you do it once and you do it right, it’s going to last you a long time, because that siding is not organic. You may find very well that paint can last you 10 to 12 years, as opposed to maybe 5 to 8 if it was wood.

    JEAN: Alright. Well, thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to remote Alaska where Lonnie has an igloo question. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about an igloo.

    LONNIE: OK. Well, we have the opportunity to purchase a monolithic dome, which is – it looks like an igloo.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    LONNIE: And when we were touring it – it’s only a 20-foot in diameter. But they did have a dehumidifier inside. And on the outside, it had just been painted with a – like a vinyl paint. A thicker paint? And there were bubbles on the outside. And I took a knife and poked it and water drained out. So I’m wondering if there’s a condensation problem, especially for mold, and what it would take to remedy that.

    TOM: So what is this dome constructed out of? Is the entire thing concrete or what’s it made out of?

    LONNIE: It is concrete.

    TOM: Well, listen, you’ve got to have some sort of a system to try to manage moisture in a space like that. Because let’s face it, first of all, concrete is very hydroscopic. So, water that will get into that concrete at the base, where it comes in contact with the soil, it’ll draw up into the concrete surface and essentially saturate the entire thing. If there’s bad drainage, it can get worse. But I could definitely see how it would stay very, very damp.

    The moisture that you are seeing inside that paint is clear evidence of the fact that this structure is holding a lot of water. Now, it could draw it from the soil or it could just be from the humidity in the air that’s getting into the walls. So, it definitely has to be managed and it sounds like just a dehumidifier by itself may not be the answer. You might need to really have an HVAC pro design a system that could manage that moisture.

    And in terms of the paint itself, you also have to choose a paint that is designed to stick well to concrete. You mentioned this is a really thick paint. We’ve seen a lot of paints out there that claim to be sort of almost like a liquid siding that are very thick. But the problem is that they’re not vapor-permeable, so they don’t breathe. As a result, everything stays underneath it and then when you see those bubbles and the water is just forming right there, it’s just going to continue to push that right off. And I imagine when it gets really, really cold, it’ll probably freeze and expand and crack that paint, basically making it worthless.

    So I think you have reason to be concerned. And I would definitely – if there’s a good, professional home inspector in that area that could look at it for you, that might be a pro to start with. But I definitely think you’re going to need to have an expert design a system that works for that.

    Typically, when you paint concrete, you want to use an epoxy-based paint that has really high adhesion and really strong durability. But it sounds to me like this paint that they used, in this case, was not that type of paint.

    LONNIE: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews and book appointments right online.

    Hey, have you ever thought about the dozens of products that you use pretty much every day just to keep your house clean? You’ve got one for this, one for that, different sized bottles. Don’t confuse it, don’t use this one on the marble. Well, it’s really kind of a pain in the butt, so we’re going to have some tips on an innovative solution that’s non-toxic and versatile, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: And did you know that cooking fires are the primary cause of home fires and home fire-related injuries? Well, we have a solution that can make your home much safer. It’s from our friends at First Alert.

    It’s their Home Safety Kit and it includes a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s easy to use and designed just to fight those flammable liquids and electrical fires in the kitchen. It’s also small enough to fit in a cabinet or mount on the wall right next to that cabinet so it doesn’t kind of mess up the kitchen décor. It’s a really well-made unit. And this Home Safety Kit is going to include a smoke detector, a carbon-monoxide detector and a combo detector, all with 10-year batteries.

    It’s worth 145 bucks and it’s going to go out to one lucky caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alan in Ohio is on the line with a flooring question. What can we help you with?

    ALAN: Working on my upstairs floor. And it had carpet up there before. The intention was – the project was to take the carpet away and put in hardwood floors. And so when we took the – when I took the carpet up, I found asbestos tile underneath, the 8×8-inch square. That asbestos tile?

    LESLIE: Green, brown and black?

    ALAN: Pretty much just brown and black. And so, that’s part one of my question. I’ve heard or read online that if it’s not damaged, it’s OK to leave it in the home. Just cover it back up. And I wanted to get some advice on that first.

    TOM: Yeah, I think the less you disturb it the better. So if it’s not causing any issues, you can leave it in place and put new carpet on top of it. But where exactly was this carpet again?

    ALAN: It’s on the second floor of the home.

    TOM: OK. Yeah, just leave it in place and put new carpet down on top of it.

    ALAN: My original plan was to put hardwood floors up there.

    TOM: OK. I think that’s probably OK, as well. If you take a look at the prefabricated hardwood floors today, they actually don’t even need to be nailed together; they lock together. Especially the engineered hardwood. And that means you’ll have less disturbance in that floor.

    ALAN: OK. I have actually bought the plank flooring, which has to be nailed down. So I didn’t know if you just had any advice on how to – obviously, I’m going to be putting an underlayment down before I put the hardwood floors on. But I didn’t know if you had any advice, other than that, of an additional way to cover it up.

    TOM: What’s under the tile right now? Why are you putting the underlayment down? Because I’m not sure that that’s really going to be necessary.

    ALAN: What’s under the tile now is just subfloor.

    TOM: Yeah. Then I don’t think you need to put underlayment down. If you’ve got full plank-thickness hardwood, you can just put that down.

    ALAN: Well, I think the underlayment is to help reduce noise from upstairs to downstairs.

    TOM: So are you using engineered-hardwood floor here?

    ALAN: No.

    TOM: So you’ve got an underlayment that has to go under a nail-down floor? I’m not really familiar with that. And I don’t think it’s going to contribute in any way to soundproofing, by the way.

    ALAN: OK. Well, that helps with that part of the question. The other part of the question is the floor is – it’s not flat. Over a 10-inch or 2-foot run, it drops about an inch in some places. And it’s really just where the house settled above the beam in the basement.

    TOM: So there’s something called a “floor-leveling compound” that you can mix up and add to that and trowel into its place.

    ALAN: So that’s my question. On the back of the box – it’s Bruce flooring. It says, “Do not use leveling compound.” And so, I was – I’m at a loss, a little bit, on what to do to level the floor.

    TOM: OK. Well, if they don’t want you to use leveling compound, then you have to do this the old-fashioned way and that is by basically building this up with real wood material. Now, what you could do is you could use a combination of shims or very thin plywood and try to build this up as flat as possible and then install the flooring on top of that. Just be careful that you don’t create a situation where the floor sort of tries to bend or turn on this uneven section.

    So, for example, you would never want the floors to go sort of parallel with the drop-off, because then the board is going to sort of bend downward and open up and cause a gap.

    ALAN: That’s what my concern is, too. So, OK. Looks like going the old-fashioned way.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, for the most part, keeping your house clean requires the hassle and the expense of buying a lot of cleaning products. Plus, it creates a lot of waste when you ultimately have to toss away all those empty bottles and cans.

    We have a much greener solution to tell you about now and it’s called JAWS, which stands for the Just Add Water System.

    LESLIE: Now, it’s an innovative concept in household cleaners that features a refill pod of ultra-concentrated cleaning solutions for use with the JAWS refillable, reusable bottles and sprayers.

    TOM: Yeah. They’re really sturdy bottles and all you do is fill up the JAWS bottle with tap water. And you insert this refill pod into the neck and you twist the sprayer on. What that does is it releases the concentrate and instantly, you have a full-size bottle of cleaning fluid. There’s no measuring, there’s no pouring, there’s no spilling. And when the cleaners are used up, you just put in a new pod. And you add the water and you’re back in action.

    LESLIE: Now, JAWS cleaners are non-toxic. They’re streak-free and versatile for use on a wide variety of hard surfaces. And the best way to get started is to pick up the JAWS Home Cleaning Kit.

    Now, that kit contains four non-toxic, high-performance, non-streak formulas for use on most hard surfaces in your house. You’ve got a Glass Cleaner, Daily Shower Cleaner, Kitchen Cleaner/Degreaser and a Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Plus, if you order today at, Money Pit listeners can save 25 percent on every order. Just use promo code MONEYPIT at checkout.

    TOM: Check out the JAWS Just Add Water System. It’s a home cleaning kit available at Rethink the way you think with JAWS, the Just Add Water System at

    And don’t forget: use promo code MONEYPIT at checkout to save a whopping 25 percent.

    LESLIE: Glenn, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    GLENN: Hi. I was calling to find out – I was looking to purchase, used, a propane heat stove for the house to replace my wood stove. And my question is – I live in town, in a home now that has natural gas. And I’m wondering if a propane stove could work in a natural-gas environment.

    TOM: Not unless it has a new burner put into it. Because the burners are different for propane and for natural gas, Glenn. So you can’t just use one in place of the other; you have to have a different burner. Because the orifice, the size of the holes where the gas comes out, is different.

    GLENN: Oh, OK. Now, I know – I’ve had experience in taking something that’s natural gas and converting it. I would guess, then, that you would make it smaller.

    TOM: Same idea, yeah. And you have to have the right parts to do that.

    GLENN: OK. So it sounds like probably more than a project and probably more expensive than I would want to tackle.

    TOM: Probably, yeah. You might be – just want to pick up a new stove. By the time you get the parts for it, you’d probably be halfway there. And this way, you’ll be starting clean, OK?

    GLENN: Well, thank you for letting me know that and I really appreciate your help. And I enjoy listening to the show.

    TOM: Well, thank you so much, Glenn. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    You can reach us anytime, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home repair or home improvement question. Maybe you’ve got a question about moving. Well, you’d better get a truck to empty out all that extra stuff you’ve got lying around so your house doesn’t look crowded to those potential buyers. We’re going to have some home staging tips to help you get started, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, next.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re here to help you take on your home improvement projects and get them done once, get them done right so you don’t have to do them again. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Deanne on the line who needs some help with the windows at her money pit. What’s going on?

    DEANNE: I have old, steel-framed, metal commercial windows in my house. And the outside walls are double brick. There’s no wood in the outside walls, so these are screwed right into the brick. And we took out one and replaced it and we had a very hard time doing that. And I don’t know if we should replace them or just try to repair them.

    TOM: Well, I mean if you repair them, they’re – I can’t imagine they’re very energy-efficient. So, repairing them and making them operational could restore some of the function but I don’t think they’ll be energy-efficient. Replacing them is a better option but of course, as you cited, because they’re built into the wall it’s a difficult installation. Because you’ve got to get the old ones out.

    So, is this a project you want to do yourself or you think maybe you want to have a pro help you?

    DEANNE: I used to have a builder’s license but I – physically, I can’t do that anymore. So I’d probably hire someone.

    TOM: Yeah, I think you might want to think about doing that. Because taking out those old, metal windows that are screwed into the brick is an awful lot of work. And also, if you’re going to put replacement windows in, they’ve got to be measured just right and they’ve got to be installed just right so that they don’t leak. And I don’t think you want that responsibility. You ought to have a pro measure them and install them. I think this way, you’ll be assured they come out just right.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if your home feels small and you’re planning to move but you’ve got to sell that old house first, you know, staging your home before those potential buyers show up can actually help you create a positive first impression. But this almost always involves getting rid of a lot of what made your home crowded in the first place. We’re going to have tips that can help, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

    TOM: Now, first, understand this: most home buyers are leaving a space that’s become too small for them. So if your home is cluttered, if you’ve got too much furniture or if you’ve got knickknacks spilling out of every nook and cranny, it’s not going to be very appealing to potential home buyers who are coming from an equally crowded space.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s true.

    Now, another common mistake that sellers make is expecting that potential home buyers are going to share that sense of décor and style that they have. And that’s probably not going to happen. So if you happen to love huge antique armoires from the 1920s or anything else that’s not neutral, get rid of it so that those potential buyers can imagine their own stuff in your space. Because get this, guys: people have a hard time imagining stuff.

    TOM: They really do.

    Next, you want to keep in mind that potential buyers are nosy by nature. And I know it’s kind of annoying but look, they’re checking out every nook and cranny. So they’re going to open up every cupboard, they’re going to inspect every closet when they tour your home. So be ready for it.

    You want to make sure your staging efforts include emptying out those spaces. You want to make them look spacious and inviting to new buyers. Now, they don’t have to be totally empty. About 50 percent, though, would be the rule of thumb. Don’t put more than 50 percent of the stuff in the closet or in the cupboard. So when they open it up, they go, “Oh, yeah, there’s plenty of room in here. Look at all the stuff they’ve got and there’s still more room to go.”

    LESLIE: “Oh, my God. Look at all the more stuff I can put in here.” I’m literally just thinking about what my house looks like at home right now. I’m like, “I can’t ever move.” We are jam-packed.

    Another thing is that for much of the same reasons, you’re going to want to limit wall decorations to fewer and larger pieces of artwork. And include a few strategically-placed mirrors that are going to expand that space and reflect its best assets.

    Now, once you’ve cleared out the space, it’s OK to accessorize with what’s left but limit this to uncluttered grouping of no more than two or three items. I always go in odd numbers. I don’t know why. I just feel like it’s a decorating thing. But you’ve got to make sure that you let people see the space. Don’t overcrowd it.

    TOM: Now, you might be wondering what are you going to do with all the stuff that we’ve told you to get rid of. Well, what I think you should do is rent a truck or van from Hertz and move it into a short-term storage space. Think about it: we are big advocates of using rented storage space to help declutter a home that you want to sell. It’s a small additional expense but if you think about it compared to the increased sales price that you’re more likely to get for a home that looks open and welcoming to new buyers, it is totally worth it.

    Plus, think about it this way, too: you’re going to be half moved out by the time you sell your house. And it’ll be so much easier to get the rest – get the final few pieces out and away and set up in the new place.

    LESLIE: That is true. However, downside: you might end up liking all that newfound space in your home and stay put.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz. For any home projects, store pick-up or move that needs more than your car can handle, remember HDTV: Hertz Does Trucks and Vans.

    TOM: Book now at

    LESLIE: Greg in Texas is looking to do some construction. How can we help you?

    GREG: Moved in with my parents who are elderly and kind of needing some help.

    TOM: OK.

    GREG: And so they had a three-bedroom, one-bath house. And so it’s just a little bit kind of crowded. And what I was trying to figure out is would it be better to add a room on to the back of the house and go ahead – that would involve more construction and adding a bathroom, which would mean having to redo the septic system. We’re on a septic system there. Or it’d be a lot more cost-effective, I think, to put in a 12×16 storage unit in the back and – but then insulate it and put an air conditioner where if I wanted to spend some time out there, I could, but not necessarily put a bathroom in.

    TOM: So are you talking about building this storage unit? You mean like building a shed? Kind of like a man cave?

    GREG: Right. Yeah. When it comes time to sell, though, what would be the more – the better deal to do, you think?

    TOM: Yeah. I would tell you straight off you’re better off expanding the house, now, because that’s where your value is. You’re not going to get as much value from a standalone building like that. Plus, you may run up against some zoning issues. You’re talking about – you know, it’s like building a second house on the property, even if it’s really small. Doesn’t matter if it’s on a small space for storage. It’s still like having a second building on the property, so I think you’ll probably be better off improving the house itself.

    What you might want to do is speak to a realtor or two – a local real estate agent – and determine what the value of your home would be compared against. In your community, if most of the homes are two-bath and you have one bath, you could add a significant value to the house by putting that second bath in. And if you’re adding a bedroom and a bathroom, that’s how homes are valued. They’re compared against other houses that have the same number of beds or bathrooms.

    So I suspect that expanding the existing house is going to be – give you a far better return on investment than building an undetermined, at this point, sort of man cave out there. Even though I’m sure you’d love to go out there and get away from your parents once in a while, I don’t blame you. I think the best way to improve the value and maintain the value of the home you have is to work at that level, OK?

    GREG: Yeah. OK. Well, I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright, Greg. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You can reach us anytime, 24/7, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, winter is coming. No, I don’t mean Game of Thrones. I mean actual winter. Geez. Game of Thrones would have been so much better.

    But winter is coming, you guys, and it can be really tough on trees. Now, if you’ve ever had to cut one up that’s fallen down, it’s not an easy job. We’re going to share some tips on a new, battery-powered chainsaw that makes quick work of that project without the need for gas, oil, pull cords that attempt to pull your shoulders out, coming up after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call right here at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    TOM: And hey, are you getting your kitchen all set up for all the cooking that’s going to happen around the holiday season? Well, if you are missing a fire extinguisher, that could be a problem. And I’m not saying that you’re a lousy cook. What I am saying is that kitchens need special kinds of fire extinguishers to make sure they can put out grease fires and electrical fires.

    And First Alert has one. We’re giving one away as part of the First Alert Home Safety Kit. You’ll get a kitchen fire extinguisher, along with a smoke detector, carbon-monoxide alarm and combo alarm. Total package worth 145 bucks that’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lee in Kansas on the line with a concrete question. Tell us what you are working on.

    LEE: I’m in an old house that I got in a survivorship and it’s got an old – probably was built in the 60s. I’m in the prairie of Kansas. It has an entryway concrete porch that just keeps cracking and cracking due to earthquakes. We had a pretty good one a week or so ago and now it’s really unlevel. Some of the cracks are small enough that I could fill and aren’t unlevel. And I was just wondering – because I don’t live near a Lowe’s or a Home Depot or anything like that. I think it’s like an hour-and-a-half drive away. There’s a local hardware store about 10 miles.

    Can you fill small cracks with QUIKRETE or do you need concrete or Sakrete? I don’t know what the differences are.

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, the type of repair material you use is different than the type of material you would use if you were, say, pouring a new concrete slab. And you mentioned QUIKRETE. That’s a great brand and they have a wide variety of repair products. You have the option to repair the cracks. You could also resurface that concrete. There’s a product for that. And in all cases, the difference between that type of a product – a repair product and the original sort of concrete product – is that the repair products are designed to adhere to the original concrete base. If anything is loose, of course, you have to pop that out and restore it.

    But short of that, there are plenty of concrete-repair products that are out there and you’re going to obviously have to get yourself to a hardware store or lumberyard to find it. You could do some research online at their website. But you want to make sure you choose a repair product, because it is designed specifically to adhere to those surfaces.

    LEE: OK. Thank you so much. Alright.

    LESLIE: Well, winter is right around the corner and we know that that time of year is really tough on trees.

    Now, if you’ve ever had to cut one up that’s fallen down, you know it’s a hard job. So we’ve got some tips on a new, battery-powered chainsaw from Greenworks Pro that makes quick work of that project without the need for gas, oil or pull cords that can actually pull your shoulders out. It’s the 18-Inch 60-Volt Lithium-Ion 18-Inch Brushless Cordless Electric Chainsaw.

    TOM: Yeah. Those Greenworks Pro products are awesome. This 60-Volt Cordless Chainsaw has a lot of power. It can actually make 180 cuts – 180 cuts – on a fully-charged battery. And the reason it can do that is not only the battery but also that it has a very high-efficiency, brushless motor that is essentially engineered to give you more power, more torque and very quiet operation. Which is a big difference when you compare it to the gas-powered chainsaws, which are just so freaking loud.

    Now, this has an 18-inch Oregon bar and a chain. And what I like is that it’s got a push-button start. So, again, no pull cord. So you just push the button and you are good to go.

    And you can really get a lot of work done with these battery-powered lawn-and-garden tools, Leslie, right?

    LESLIE: I mean you can get hours and hours of projects done around the property. And the best part is that it’s always ready to go. You know, with that charged battery, you’re ready to go. There’s none of that messy tuning-up, making sure that things have enough fluid in them and everything’s properly lubricated and things are new. You can just pick it up and do the yard work. It’s really a fantastic tool to have around the house.

    You should check it out in person or online at Lowe’s and It’s a tool that’s about 329 bucks, so maybe for your Christmas list? Come on, guys. We’ve got the holidays around the corner and it’s definitely something that you can add and use quite often in your toolshed.

    TOM: Hey, if you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You can reach us anytime, 24/7, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Still to come, you want to make sure your fridge can handle all of those leftovers as the holidays are about to begin. We’re going to have the step-by-step tips, next.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at

    LESLIE: And remember, guys, you can always post your questions at or on Money Pit’s Facebook page.

    Now, I’ve got one here from Gabriella in New York and she writes: “I live in an apartment with hot-water steam heat. The paint on the wall above one of the units is peeling and has dark specks that look like mold. Is that caused by the heating unit? If so, what can I do to fix it or stop it from happening?”

    TOM: You know, that’s a very common assumption but it’s actually wrong. You have to think about those radiators and sort of the convective loop of air that sort of washes over them. They’re warm, so the cold air falls on them and then does sort of a U-turn and goes right back up the wall. As it does so, it pulls all the dust that’s in the house kind of with it and it can leave streaks on the wall right above the radiator.

    Sometimes, you also see these on ceilings. And those streaks are going to align with the floor beams above, because that’s a colder surface and the surface to the left and the right is not. So it sticks to those colder surfaces and that’s why it looks so streaky.

    So it’s not mold. That’s the good news. It’s dirt. Maybe you have a dirty house. That’s the worst that could happen. But you need to not worry about that mold issue. It’s really a simple thing for you to clean that up.

    And by the way, if you get a lot of this, stop burning candles. That puts a lot of carbon into the air and it’s one of the ways that we sort of pollute our insides without really – insides of our house without really knowing it.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Gabriella? Living in New York with those steam-heat pipes, it’s probably 8,000 degrees in your apartment and you’re wearing summer attire all year long anyway. So just enjoy your little mini-vacation in your hot apartment.

    TOM: Well, when it comes to keeping those leftovers around for another meal, a fridge that’s running at its best is important. Leslie has got some tips on how you can improve your fridge efficiency, with this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. You want to make sure that your fridge is running optimally. So, you’ve got to make sure that it’s not too cold. I know everybody’s like, “But the fridge is supposed to be cold.” Yeah but it’s not also a second freezer. It’s supposed to actually be a refrigerator. And that magic temperature is somewhere between 37 and 40 degrees. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re running right there.

    You also want to make sure that that seal is airtight so cold air isn’t escaping. Now, the best way to test this is with a dollar bill inserted into the door. If it slips out easily when that door is closed, the gasket simply isn’t working right. And you can replace door gaskets for a better seal. You can just simply look up the maker, the serial number, the type of refrigerator, whether it’s the fridge or the freezer door that needs it. And you will find the part specifically for that fridge, because you’ve got to make sure you get one that’s correctly sized and the right piece.

    Now, here’s another idea that you might not have considered: if you want to reduce costs, you’ve got to be sure to cover the food. “Now, why? I just want to stick this pie in the refrigerator.” No. Stick a cover on it because uncovered foods will release moisture into the refrigerator. And that’s going to make your refrigerator work a lot harder to keep it cool.

    And it might seem counterintuitive but a near-empty refrigerator uses more power than a full one. Now, when they’re in the fridge, the food and the liquids will collect and store the cold. So your fridge is working harder to maintain that cold when it’s empty. Each little, cold item in the fridge almost acts like its own little ice pack and keeps everything cool. So it’s better to have a lot of stuff in there. Though, if you are serving a big meal and you anticipate lots of leftovers of turkey and stuffing, you’d better have room for those because you’re going to want to eat them.

    TOM: Absolutely. You go through so much work to get that holiday meal ready. I’m looking for at least a work’s worth of grub out of it after the holiday has passed.

    LESLIE: Right? And you know what? I always feel like I spend so much time cooking it that when it comes time to sit down and eat, I don’t actually want to eat it. So two, three days after Thanksgiving is when I’m like, “Oh, now I really want that turkey and stuffing.”

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you dreaming of a toasty, warm fire this holiday season? Well, a wood-burning fireplace is not your only option. We’re going to have tips to keep you toasty and warm, including some that don’t require flames, 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.


    (Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)