Stop Summer Electricity Fails and Keep the AC Flowing

  • Electric
  • 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. If you’ve got a DIY dilemma that needs to be solved, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to us online at

    Got a great show planned for you. Coming up, between air conditioning, cooking, cleaning and more laundry, summer is a season when we do put a lot of demands on our electrical systems. So, if your system is stressed out and you’re thinking, “Hmm. Do I need to upgrade to a bigger electrical panel? Is that going to solve my problem?” We’re going to tell you how to know if that’s truly needed or not.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, do you love your dog but not so much having to get up in the middle of the night to let that dog out? We’re going to have some tips on how to install a pet door that your pet can actually open, close and lock themselves without human intervention or risk of unwanted wildlife using that same entry.

    TOM: And if you’re thinking about upgrading your floors, we’re going to tell you about a new material that’s so tough, you can hit it with a hammer and it won’t even show a dent.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on this time of year. Are you getting warm? Are you working outside? Are you putting in a pool? Whatever it is, let us lend you a hand.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Jackie in Illinois is looking for some small garden-décor tips. What’s going on? Tell us about your space.

    JACKIE: I just purchased my home. It’ll be a year the second of next month. And my yard is big enough for me but yet small enough for anybody else. What I would like to do is put a garden area up along the west side of my fence without having to dig the yard up and make the yard look real tacky. Do you have any hints, suggestions, ideas?

    LESLIE: So, you have a fence along this one wall. You want to put a garden or a flower bed in front of that. What is the rest of the space?

    JACKIE: Well, it’s – my backyard is fenced in.


    JACKIE: And from my garage, which is on the east side of the property, clean clear to the west side, I get plenty of sunlight.

    LESLIE: OK. But is it grass? Is it patio?

    JACKIE: The biggest portion of the yard is grass. I’ve got a small patio area right next to the garage. And if I could just put a flower bed or a place that I can put a small garden, it’s what I would like to do. I’d kind of like to use the landscape lumber but I don’t know how much to get or how to go about putting it up.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, my first thought, since you’ve got this patio area in front of the garage and the garage is probably just a blank wall of whatever the siding material is, my first thought is to do a great, little seating area in front of there.

    And you need to think about, you know, are you looking to sit at a table or do you want to sit at a small settee, a little couch area with a chair? So think about how you would like to use that space. Are you looking for eating and entertaining or more like lounging and relaxing?

    JACKIE: Mainly eating and entertaining.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So definitely a table, umbrella, some chairs there. That’s great and does not have to cost a ton of money. I mean you can find some at home centers, department stores that specialize in home décor, for very affordable amounts.

    Now, on that back wall with the garage that’s kind of lackluster, you can either do a trellis with some potted plants on either side, with a climber, like a clematis or an ivy or a night-blooming jasmine, something that will sort of grow up and out of the pots and onto the trellis.

    I did this on the side of my garage with two potted clematis and I have this beautiful, wrought-iron trellis that I found that I’ve put twinkling white Christmas lights on and the clematis sort of takes over it in the summer months and blooms and smells fantastic. And it’s just lovely to sit in front of. You can do something like that very inexpensively and very easily, as well.

    Now, as far as a flower bed on the opposite side, you’re really not going to sacrifice that much yard space if you do dig up a portion of that lawn. And that really is the best way to do it to create a flower bed.

    And what you can do is you can use either that landscaping lumber or even stones – river rock or fieldstones – stacked up to create a little wall for a flower bed. Just remove that layer of grass, fill it in with potting soil and plant away. And that really is a great way to create a flower bed. And if you go sort of creatively with your shape and edge it a bit, you’re not giving up that much lawn space.

    JACKIE: I thank you so much for your help and I greatly appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Gary in Virginia is on the line and is dealing with some odor coming from the sink. Tell us what’s going on.

    GARY: We do have a problem in the bathroom. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I don’t know whether it could be trapped gases or whether it could be – I don’t think it’s anything in the water, because it’s just in the bathroom. But a lot of times when we take a shower, get out and – now, if we get dried off and everything and leave the bathroom or come back in, it’s a terrible odor in there. It smells like you – kind of like a sewer, I guess, maybe.

    TOM: Right.

    GARY: But we’ve had our septic pump (inaudible) last year and it’s not that. And it not only happens in the shower, it can happen if we use the tub or sometimes if we’re at the sink, like we shave – or if I shave or something like that and finish up, it’s like it comes up through the pipe. But it doesn’t happen every time. It could happen twice a week, it could happen no time.

    TOM: It sounds like something we call “biogas.” You get bacteria that will form in the drains and in the traps and in the fittings around there. And the bacteria itself has an awful odor to it.

    GARY: Yeah.

    TOM: So what I would do is I would take the trap apart for the bathroom sink, because you can get to that. I would use a bottle brush and scrub the heck out of all of that. I would put it back together and fill the entire trap with oxygenated bleach and let it sit.

    I would do the same thing for the bathtub. I would take the drain cover off and I would use a bottle brush to get down there and scrub the insides of those pipes. And I would fill those with oxygenated bleach and let them sit. Because the bleach is going to kill those microbes, kill that bacteria.

    GARY: OK.

    TOM: And that should make a difference. If it is biogas, it smells terrible and …

    GARY: Then why wouldn’t it do that at every time?

    TOM: Well, sometimes it’s more active than others is all I could say. But it depends on a lot of things, including the air pressure in the room. If the room happens to have a lower pressure because of other things going on in the house, it may draw out or not. So, it’s probably there all the time; it’s just that you don’t smell it because of the airflow.

    GARY: Yeah. Well, we’ve had a plumber look at it and he’s just – he can’t find the answer, either, so I had …

    TOM: I think if you Google “biogas,” you’ll see that there are a lot of folks that have the same issue. And this is how you solve it.

    GARY: Right.

    TOM: OK?

    GARY: OK. Alright. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: Alright, Gary. 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 on air and online at Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

    TOM: And just ahead, between air conditioning, cooking and cleaning and laundry, summer is definitely a season where we put a lot of stress on an electrical system. If you’re thinking that you’re ready to upgrade to a bigger electrical panel, we’re going to tell you how to know if that’s truly needed, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So this weekend, I took a break from my yard and helped out my friend with his yard. But you’ve got a yard project going on, too. So what’s going on at Casa Segrete this week?

    LESLIE: It’s been going on for a little while. I will tell you I did sort of just jump headfirst into this and it was all just catapulted by that pine tree that we took down. And that sort of then led me to pull out pretty much all the landscaping in the back side of the property. And when I say backside of the property, it’s literally 23 feet wide of fence that backs up to the high school. So I’m not talking about a palatial estate here.

    But I had to take everything out to kind of get an idea of what I wanted. I pulled out all the old stonework and I did all of this sort of demo stuff, minus the big tree, myself which saved a ton of money. But then I had a pro come in and do a concrete base with a bluestone patio. And then I built a wall the full 23-feet wide, 4 feet away from that high-school fence line with stacked bluestone and a bluestone capper.

    TOM: Ooh. It sounds nice.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s modern, it’s clean, it’s beautiful. Now, it’s totally empty and I’m trying to decide what sort of evergreen I want to put in there to give me a hedge to hide that high school. The ultimate goal is to hide the high school. And I’m really going back and forth and I just keep going around and taking pictures.

    I found, actually, a great app called PlantSnap, because I’ve been trying to figure out what evergreen I want to put in. And I literally – as I’m walking, I’m like – click. And I scan it through the app and it’s like, “That is called ‘privet.’” I’m like, “OK. Do I like that? What will that do in this area?” Because I’m – Tom, I kill everything. So I’m just terrible at landscaping.

    So I want to make sure, especially with the expense, that it’s durable, it’s going to be evergreen and it’s going to do what I want. So I’m kind of stuck at this point. And hopefully, by the next time we all get together, I’ll say, “Ooh, I planted something.”

    TOM: You know what the worst part is of these weekend projects? Monday morning.

    LESLIE: Yeah, because you’re hurting.

    TOM: I used to do this day in and day out, you know?

    LESLIE: We’re old, Tom.

    TOM: I know. Well, maybe. I’m not ready to admit to that but I’m telling you, even though I work out all the time, I am still a basket case on Monday from all of the muscles that I’m using now that haven’t been used before.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And these 1-week projects seem to linger over weekends.

    TOM: Oh, no kidding.

    LESLIE: I’m just – I’m hoping come the end of June I’m sitting in a beautifully newly-landscaped yard.

    TOM: Yep. Yes. Advil is your friend.

    LESLIE: Martha in Ohio is on the line with a leaky door and a leaky window. What is going on?

    MARTHA: We had some sliding-glass doors in our family room that’s paneled. And we had them taken out and we wanted just a picture window in there. So, when they came to do the picture window, they took the door out – the sliding doors out – and the foundation was like, oh, maybe a block or two up and the door had been left empty down lower.

    So, what they did was they took 2x4s – I think it was wood – and built up to the block level and then proceeded to put in the supports for the window. So, now, when it’s – I made a flower bed out there and now, when the ground gets real saturated and water tends to puddle there, collect, it runs under the wood, through the wood.

    TOM: Right. Not surprised and – well, so it sounds like instead of building the foundation up with concrete block, which is what they should have done, they sort of filled it in with wood framing. Is that correct?

    MARTHA: Yes, yes.

    TOM: Yeah. Probably wasn’t the best choice.

    MARTHA: Can we seal that or do we need to start over?

    TOM: Well, it’s kind of hard to advise that you seal something that was never done right to begin with. It really should have been a concrete block. But having said that, if you are going to trap that much water against the foundation, whether it’s a wood patch or a concrete block, it’s still going to leak. You just can’t hold that kind of water against the foundation.

    We advise against this all the time, Martha, because those sorts of planters and anything else that holds water against a house is just not a good idea, especially in an area like Ohio where you’ve got a pretty significant freeze/thaw cycle.

    MARTHA: Yes.

    TOM: Because if that water that saturates the soil – that soil freezes, it’s going to push inward on that wall and weaken the basement wall. So, I would recommend, if you are going to have a planter, that you’ve got to have some drainage in there so that the water does not puddle up. Because if you do trap it against the wall, regardless of how that wall is built – even though it wasn’t repaired correctly – it’s going to leak and it’s going to cause damage. So I think the issue, really, is what you did after the fact more so than what they did to install the picture window. OK?

    MARTHA: Oh, OK, OK.

    TOM: Good luck.

    MARTHA: Well, thank you so much and have a nice day.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    Well, have you noticed that between the air conditioning and the cooking and the cleaning and everything else that goes on in a house in the summer, that your electrical system might be seeming a bit stressed out? Are you sort of popping circuit breakers when you didn’t before? You might be thinking that now is a great time to upgrade the service. We’ll tell you how to get that job done, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, guys, you have to know whether you need more circuits or a whole new service. So, to do that, you need to understand why circuits break or fuses blow.

    Now, every circuit in your home should be protected by a circuit breaker whose job it is to make sure that that circuit only carries the amount of electricity that its wiring is rated for. For example, in most homes, you’ve got a Number 14 copper wire. Now, that’s used for lighting and outlets. That wiring is designed to carry 15 amps of electricity. Try and put more than that through the wire, that could heat up, cause a fire. So that’s why those are rated the way they are.

    TOM: That’s right. So, the job of the circuit breaker is basically to monitor how much power is being pushed through and to turn that circuit off if the circuit exceeds what the wiring is rated for. It’s going to protect you and the house. Now, if that happens a lot, it might just be that you need more circuits, not a whole new electrical panel.

    For example, I once had a house, Leslie, where we had a window A/C unit. And we learned that every summer, when we tried to plug in the vacuum in the same room with the A/C running, it would blow the breaker. So, the problem wasn’t that we didn’t have enough power to the house; we had plenty of power. It was just that we had too much on that one circuit. So, the solution was just to have an electrician install a new circuit just for that A/C. And then we never tripped the breaker again.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Good point.

    You know what? That’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments, all online, for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

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

    STAN: Oh, well, I had just bought a house that was built in 1995. It’s a 4,000-square-foot underground home.

    TOM: Wow. That sounds neat.

    LESLIE: And it’s not a transformed missile? I’ve been to Oklahoma and I’ve seen these missile-launching areas that have been sort of retaken over and turned into homes.

    STAN: No, this is actually an underground concrete structure that was specifically built to be a house.

    TOM: Do you get to mow your roof?

    STAN: Yes, I do.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Very cool. So, what can we help you with?

    STAN: Well, I knew when I bought this that it had a few leaks. And being that the house is getting close to being 20 years old, I feel that it’s time to probably remove the dirt and expose and probably replace the roof and especially since I have some leaks. And I’m having trouble finding somebody that deals with any kind of underground structure/home and especially in a roof/ceiling of that nature.

    And I was curious if – I’m sure this is probably going to be an expensive undertaking. But furthermore, after I go back and get it all done, when I find the contractor to do it, what may be – is there some care/preventative maintenance that – how I care for that underground roof system, so I’m not coming back at a later date and time and going back through the same process.

    TOM: There’s no way we could give you the answer to that question but we can give you some advice on how to approach it.

    What I would do is I would find an architect to spec out this roof project, because it’s a big project, 4,000-square-foot roof. And I would have an architect or an engineer spec out the project. Let them do the research on what are the most viable materials out there right now, available, to replace this roof with. And have them provide – prepare a specification for that.

    It’s worth the investment because then with that spec, you can bring it to qualified contractors. And I would guess, probably, the best contractors would be those that do commercial roofing, not residential roofing. And have them follow this specification exactly. I would not try to find a roofing contractor that has their own personal idea of how to do this, because you’re not going to find somebody that’s experienced in these homes; it’s too unique. But if you find a building professional that could spec this out for you, do the research on the best way to replace that roof, that spec will be very valuable to you.

    STAN: Perfect. That’s a great idea. Never even thought of that.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Stan.

    STAN: Hey, guys, I appreciate it.

    TOM: Got to work – we’ve got to work smarter, not harder, right?

    STAN: That’s right.

    TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    STAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you love your dog but you just hate getting up to always have to walk them at all hours of the day and night? Well, just ahead, we’re going to have some tips on how you can install a pet door that is so convenient, your pet will literally be able to let himself out and then lock the door behind him. I mean that’s pretty amazing and we’re not giving the dog a key, I promise. We’ll tell you all about it in a bit.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is 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 and get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.

    TOM: At

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?

    TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.

    So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”

    Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.

    MARY: I really like the carpet down there.

    LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.

    TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. Things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.

    MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?

    TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.

    MARY: OK, thank you.

    TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, are you tired of hearing your door scratched constantly by your dog, begging to be let out, often in the middle of the night? A pet door could totally put that to rest and let you get some rest instead.

    LESLIE: Oh, my God. Wouldn’t that be amazing? So, guys, when you’re choosing the door, measure your pet at the shoulders and add 2 inches to determine that door’s height. Now, premade pet doors can be installed into any door, patio slider, garage door or even in an exterior wall.

    TOM: Now, depending on the mounting location and the pet, the material can vary. For dogs that like to chew, though, it’s important you look for a bite-proof door. It’s a definite must.

    LESLIE: You also want to make sure that the door is weatherproof so that the drafts and the rain are kept out of the house. And when you’re installing, you want to be sure to use flashing and caulk to reseal the opening that you make in the wall or your door. Because you’ve got to keep everything dry. You’re putting a hole in a perfectly good wall.

    TOM: And finally, you want to discourage visits by neighborhood cats or backyard wildlife, right? So you need to choose an automated door that unlocks only when approached by a sensor, which conveniently hangs from your dog’s collar, so you don’t let any skunks in by mistake.

    LESLIE: Unless they trick your dog and they’re like, “Come on, buddy. Let me in.”

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Alright. Going to North Carolina where Michael wants to work on a bathtub project.

    Why not just get in the tub and relax, Mike? What’s going on?

    MICHAEL: I wish I could, young lady. Thank you all ever so much for taking my call.

    This house was built in 1934 and the bathtub has always been white porcelain. But I think the last time around my mom and dad remodeled the bathroom, they had it sprayed. It’s like a tan color, like a sandstone color. And I would love to remove it and bring it back to its normal gloss.

    TOM: Well, if they’ve painted it, the – probably the normal gloss wasn’t so attractive. It might have worn. And to refinish a bathtub is usually a big challenge.

    Now, you can strip it and you could refinish it again and you may get some number of years out of it. But I generally find that those refinishing projects are – they’re kind of like paint jobs: they last maybe five, six, seven years and then you’re doing it again and again. Or you can consider relining the tub. There’s a process by which the tub – a tub liner could be built and it sits, actually, inside that original tub and gives it a completely new surface.

    So those are really the two options that I’d pursue, Michael.

    MICHAEL: So, on the relining operation, what would you consider?

    TOM: Well, I mean it’s – there’s different – there are manufacturers out there that do bathtub relining. And exactly, it’s a composite material that’s essentially made to fit your tub. They take some measurements and then – it doesn’t take up too much room and it looks really nice when it’s done. But it’s not inexpensive.

    LESLIE: It’s probably on par with having the tub refinished.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you looking for a floor that’s waterproof, kid- and pet-proof, impact-resistant and super affordable? We’re going to share one with you that does all of that, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Love to chat with you about what’s going on in your money pit. You want to take it from pit to castle? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 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.

    LESLIE: Sharon in Ohio is on the line with a sump-pump question. How can we help you?

    SHARON: We have an issue with our furnace. It seems to be pulling sewer gas from our sump pump, because that’s where it drains into. And we can’t figure out how to solve the issue. Temporary solution is to pour water in the sump pump. But then about three or four days later, we turn the furnace on and it draws the sewage-gas/air again.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about this. So, first of all, what water from the furnace is being drained into the sump pump? Are you talking about the condensate line from the air-conditioning system?

    SHARON: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Is there a return duct in the basement area where this is or in the room where this is? Or do you think it’s coming in through the drainpipe?

    SHARON: We think it’s coming in from the sump pump. And it’s a wintertime issue, because it happens when we turn the furnace on.

    TOM: Well, if you think it’s because it’s reversing – it’s pulling whatever soil gas is causing this unpleasant odor – if you think it’s coming in because of the drain line, there’s a really simple solution: put a trap in it. So, if the drain line has a P-trap, kind of the same kind of that sort of U-shape pipe that’s underneath a bathroom sink, then that pipe will stay filled with water and will not allow any gases, any air to back up through it and get into the furnace.

    SHARON: That’s not built into the furnace already?

    TOM: Not always. It depends on the workmanship of the installer. But no, you would see it on the outside. If you don’t see a P-trap, it doesn’t have one.

    The other thing that could be causing this – and sometimes this happens – is occasionally – and I don’t want to freak you out but occasionally, you’ll get a rodent that will die inside of a return duct. And if that happens, yeah, the stink can go on for quite a while. But I would take a look at that drain line and if it doesn’t have a trap in it, do that. And make sure it’s filled with water when you start, if it’s the winter, because it won’t be. And I think you won’t find any more air gets through that pipe.

    Sharon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, today, there are many types of floors available. But if you’d like a floor that’s beautiful, waterproof, affordable and extremely tough, there’s a new product we just discovered, called SUPERCore, that is all that and more.

    Now, what this is is an engineered vinyl-plank product but instead of the typical, softer, wood-composite construction, SUPERCore has a rigid stone-plastic core. It’s actually made of limestone. And that stone is a lot denser and hence, tougher than virtually all other engineered vinyl-plank floors that are on the market.

    LESLIE: Now, SUPERCore click-lock floors have a wear layer that is 50-percent thicker than virtually any other waterproof floor that’s on the market currently. And the product is waterproof, kid- and pet-proof and impact-resistant.

    TOM: Check out SUPERCore at That’s They direct-source the product, which cuts out the middleman and gives you a better floor for less money. They’ll even send you free samples. That’s

    LESLIE: Pat in Nebraska is on the line with a dishwasher that has decided to take the day off. What’s going on?

    PAT: Hi. Yes. Our dishwasher is on the blink, literally. It doesn’t seem to work anymore. And as I look at it, on the menu screen across the top, it’s blinking but doesn’t work when I hit the start button or cancel or open the door or shut it. Can’t get it to work anymore.

    TOM: How old is the dishwasher, Pat?

    PAT: I’d say about five years old.

    TOM: That’s a shame.

    LESLIE: It’s not that old.

    PAT: Yes. We’ve gone through 4 of them since we’ve owned this house, in about 20 years.

    TOM: Yeah. Wow.

    PAT: Really amazed.

    TOM: Yeah. And I’m sure a little annoyed, too.

    PAT: My husband shut the power off and turned it back on and it still doesn’t seem to work. So, we opened and shut the door, everything. So we think it’s – I went online and there’s something about some kind of a board that can – like a motherboard or something.

    TOM: Yeah. So that’s what I was thinking. It’s a failure of the control circuit and there’s a lot of electronic products in these newer appliances. And the question, of course, is: repair or replace? And at five years old, you’re kind of right at that sort of balance point. You might be able to repair it. The question is: is it going to be worth a couple hundred bucks to you to do that or would you rather take the 200 bucks and put it towards a new unit?

    PAT: That’s what we weren’t sure. So that’s why we thought we’d give you a call.

    TOM: I think if it was me, I’d probably not repair it only because what do you hope to get out of that? Eight years? Nine years? Having somebody come out to your house and fix anything these days is a couple hundred bucks minimum. So it would end up being a third of the cost of a new unit. You could find a decent dishwasher for 500 or 600 bucks. And you could find a basic one for even less.

    PAT: So how much do you think the part would cost if …

    TOM: We don’t know that that’s the part, you know? You have to have a service person diagnose it. But if you just wanted to satisfy your curiosity, there’s lots of websites online that sell appliance parts. And I’m sure you could find it. But the issue is that it’s a call to the service man to come out and diagnose it and that costs some money. And then a call – and then he has to come back after the part comes in. It’s not the kind of thing where they can keep these parts on the truck anymore, you know what I mean?

    PAT: Uh-huh. So, well, we were wanting your expert opinion. We kind of were leaning that way, anyway.

    TOM: I tell you what, if it was older, it would be a lot easier decision. I do agree that it’s still middle-aged. But I still don’t think it’s probably worth you putting the money into it.

    PAT: Yes. Alright. Well, I guess we’ll go shopping for a new dishwasher.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry from Arkansas on the line who’s got a landlord running an extension cord from his home into Larry’s place. This does not sound good. What is going on?

    LARRY: The extension cord is plugged into our front porch. And it’s connected to a light at an attached shed. And the real problem is I’m thinking about putting a freezer in the shed. And I strongly suspect that that’s not enough electrical support for a freezer.

    TOM: Probably not. And the thing is an extension cord is supposed to be a temporary solution, not a permanent solution. If you want to run power to another building, shed or not, on the same property it should be run properly, which is generally underground with cables that are rated for that, that are tied into their own circuit with a proper circuit protection.

    So, this is a shortcut, which I wouldn’t recommend and especially if you want to put an appliance out there. Freezers pull a lot of power when they – when the compressor kicks on. So, you kind of have this voltage drop that happens when they first kick on, because of the draw. And so, I would suggest that if it’s something you really want to do, you should think about having a circuit run there. That’s really the best way to go.

    LARRY: I will check into doing that. I was concerned.

    TOM: And rightfully so, Larry. Rightfully so.

    LARRY: Well, he’s got the extension cord buried maybe a couple of inches some places.

    TOM: Oh, he buried it?

    LARRY: Yeah.

    TOM: Oh, man. That’s really dangerous.

    LARRY: Yeah.

    LESLIE: No, because extension cords are meant to be air-cooled.

    TOM: Well, yeah. But they’re not – they’re certainly not designed to be underground. That’s a certain rating for wiring. Yeah, yeah. Really dumb.

    Should definitely take that out, Larry, OK? Good luck.

    LESLIE: Hey, guys. They’re back. I’m talking garden gnomes.

    TOM: Aww, those little garden – tricky, little garden gnomes.

    LESLIE: It’s this time of year. They find their way straight from the punchlines and into your planters. And they’re not only the surprise trend this year in yards and gardens. We’ve got a lot more that’s coming your way to the neighborhood garden near you. Those gnomes and more, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on? Pick up the phone, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at

    LESLIE: And never worry when you’ve got Tom and I standing by. Post your questions in the Community section of The Money Pit, just like Rashonda (sp) did from Maryland. Now, she writes: “What, if any, maintenance does a refrigerator need? Mine’s only a few years old but when I happen to be cleaning around it, I notice that the back feels a little warmer than I think it should.”

    TOM: Well, I mean a refrigerator typically does get a little warm. It’s part of sort of the compressor’s effort to take ambient temperature in the room and basically chill it for the refrigerator. So a little bit of a warm refrigerator back is actually pretty normal.

    But the maintenance that you do need to do would really be, I think, in two areas. First of all, the door gasket. They tend to get kind of dirty and cruddy. You need to keep them clean and you need to keep the surface that they’re going to attach to clean. Because if they’re not, they’re not going to seal well. They’re going to leak air and then the compressor is going to run more and the refrigerator is going to waste a lot of energy.

    The second thing that I think people forget a lot is the filter for the ice maker or for the water – chilled water – if you have it in the door. Those filters are usually inside the newer refrigerators today. They only last about a year. So if you’ve not replaced that, you definitely need to do just that.

    What I typically do when I replace mine, Leslie, is I write the date on it so I know kind of when it was done.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s smart.

    TOM: Because it’s really important. If you don’t replace it, it could actually become toxic and you don’t want to put out water and ice that’s just not very healthy for you and the family.

    LESLIE: And that’s a good point because I finally have a refrigerator that has a water and an ice maker built right into it. And let me tell you, the ice and water are flowing freely but I’ve already been thinking. You know, just a month in I’m like, “When do I change that filter?” So, good point.

    TOM: Well, are you looking for more fun in yard and gardens? Well, Leslie has got the latest surprise trend, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word. And they’re very, very small.

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    Now, this is going to fall under the topic of what’s old is new again. And in that spirit, garden gnomes are making a comeback. In fact, guys, folks are setting up entire fairy gardens that are whimsical, enchanting and delightful. They really can be so cute and they really are a great family project, as well.

    Now, every enchanted garden is a little bit different and that’s where the fun really begins. So, here are a few ideas to just get you thinking and getting you started, along with some tips to keep your fairies happy.

    Now, before you start putting anything in place, you’ve got to choose a theme, containers, the location, all of that. Now, it could just simply be a flowerpot under a tree or maybe it’s a specifically marked-off area that’s inside of the flower bed.

    Next, go ahead and best sketch out the design that you think you want to see. Remember, you are your worst critic for yourself. So, sketch, doodle, draw. As long as you understand it and you get the idea, that’s totally fine. Don’t be hindered by what you think your abilities are.

    So, sketch what you want it to be. It’s going to help you visualize what you want and keep those plans on track. Now, as you start to collect those items for your fairy garden, it’s really smart to lay them out in place to get a feel for how this garden is going to take shape before you start adding in the small details or gluing things together.

    Now, when it does come time to pick plants for your garden, so many plants are going to work well in an enchanted garden. But some that are really well suited include ferns, succulents, moss, bonsai trees, primroses. Think small, think mystical, think things that look enchanted. Oh, it’s so lovely to work on these.

    Now, if you’re wondering where you can find these magical fairy garden gnomes, we’ve got a complete guide to the most popular collections. Just head onto and search “fairy gardens.”

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, weeds are not the only thing standing between you and a picture-perfect lawn. We’re going to have some tips to help you get to the bottom of those problem patches and the common yard killers, 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.)


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