Tips for Bright Kitchens #0206171
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Tips for Bright Kitchens #0206171

  • Kitchen Tile Backsplash
  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your how-to projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Whether you’re going to do it yourself or direct a project yourself, we’ve got the tips, the ideas and the advice to help you get it done right the first time around.

    Coming up on today’s show, if there’s one room you’d like to be bright and cheery, it’s got to be the kitchen. We’re going to have tips on lighting to keep that space looking bright even when it’s dark outside.

    LESLIE: And also, if you’ve got a big house, you might also be trapped with big energy bills. But how we operate those systems is what really has the biggest impact. We’re going to share some tips, in just a bit.

    TOM: And if you’ve been chipping away a lot of ice this winter, we’re going to have a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially when it freezes a garage door shut.

    But first, we’re here to take your home improvement questions and your décor questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Wendy in Florida is on the line with a question about the structure of her home. How can we help you?

    WENDY: Yes. I’m restoring an old house. It’s about 100 years old. And we had to take up the kitchen floor. And we’ve taken – there’s layers of plywood and whatnot. And in order to get through it and get the rot out, whatever was gone down to the beams underneath the floor – now, the beams are 4×4 and they’re on 28 inches on center. And so I’m wondering – this needs more support and I’m wondering, can we put – instead of putting beams down in between the two so they’re parallel, can we put perpendicular ties across from those two and create boxes to support the floor?

    TOM: Can you get underneath the existing floor joists?

    WENDY: Well, it’s called “above grade.” And so there’s not that much space. You can get under there. It’s about to my side – to the ground.

    TOM: Yep. So here’s the thing: you can’t change the direction of the beams because they usually go front to back for a reason. Typically, there’s a girder in the middle of the structure – the middle of the building somewhere. But if you want to support those beams because they’re sagging a bit, what you could do is you could put beams perpendicular to those underneath them. But those, of course, would have to be supported, as well. So I think your options are to put additional beams in in between this big, wide 28-inch gap or to put beams perpendicular underneath.

    But if you put them underneath and you still have this wide gap, the other problem you’re going to have is supporting the plywood now or whatever you’re going to need for that. So, in that case, you would have to put some perpendicular spacers in between the beams but those are not – they don’t have any structural value. All that’s going to do is going to give you some additional surface to support whatever kind of floor you put on top of it. Does that make sense?

    WENDY: OK. That answers my question.

    TOM: Alright, Wendy. Good luck with that project.

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

    TOM IN ARIZONA: Talk to me about this thing called “stainless steel” that stains: stainless steel appliances and how you clean them.

    TOM: Yeah. Stainless steel and the stains that follow it, right?

    TOM IN ARIZONA: Oh, yi-yi.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, everybody thinks it’s indestructible and always stays beautiful and silvery looking and all of that. But it is indestructible but it doesn’t stay pretty. It’s used a lot in commercial kitchens for a very good reason: because it’s very, very durable. But if you want it to look shiny like chrome all the time, that’s just not going to happen. So, you’ve got to kind of accept that.

    It’s like if you have copper – we had somebody that called once and said, “I can’t keep my copper gutters without turning green.” I’m like, “People pay extra for that. That’s called patina. It’s the natural way copper turns.” And with stainless, it’s going to get stained and it’s going to get discolored and you are going to have to polish it probably more than you’d like to. But that’s just kind of the way it rolls.
    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: I mean it definitely is. And it’s interesting because some of the appliances have made that turn towards the non-fingerprinting stainless, because it’s amazing how quickly stainless steel does get fingerprint-y. And one thing I didn’t realize, which I should have before I got my stainless fridge, is that you can’t put a magnet on it. So then it’s like all the fun things you’d put up of your kids, it’s kind of useless. You can’t put any of those things up. And in fact, some now manufacturers are putting a magnetic backing on their stainless so that you can do that.

    TOM: That’d be a big problem in my house. I don’t think I’ve seen the refrigerator door since it was delivered.

    LESLIE: Right? It’s true but there are special products that are meant for cleaning stainless steel. It’s important that when you do clean the stainless that you wipe it in the grain of the stainless itself, because you can then scratch it and cause a weird swirling pattern. In my opinion, it’s gorgeous and I think it’s worth the work. So, it’s just something that you’ve got to deal with, unfortunately.

    TOM IN ARIZONA: What products would you suggest or process to clean?

    LESLIE: The one that I actually like actually comes in a wipe format and it’s called Weiman. It’s W-e-i-m-a-n. I know you can get it at Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond. You can get it in a spray, you can get it in the wipe. I think the wipe just kind of makes it the easiest to deal with. Plus, then you end up with extra liquid at the bottom and you can use regular rags when you’re done. But I think the important thing is use a product that’s meant for stainless and you’ll find that you have good success with it

    TOM IN ARIZONA: OK. Is there any type of polish to put over that then to help reclude getting stained again right away?

    TOM: I don’t think so because you’re not going to be able to buff this to keep it clean in that sense. So, I think it’s just a matter of wiping it down on a regular basis. It’s more of a maintenance issue, Tom.

    TOM IN ARIZONA: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: 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

    Well, we are smack in the middle of February, guys. What are you working on? Are you just looking forward to the springtime, which hopefully is right around the corner? We’re here to help winter, spring, summer or fall. Unfortunately, we’re here for winter help right now but give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you have a room in your house that’s drab despite the bright colors on the wall? Well, lighting updates could be the key to stepping it up. We’ll have lighting tips to brighten your day, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Did you know that more than 90 percent of U.S. homes are under-insulated, causing increased energy costs and uncomfortable temperatures year-round? An industry leader, Owens Corning, has a new solution to help homeowners and contractors identify air leakage by performing a home energy assessment.

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    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation, an effective one-step insulation product that insulates, air-seals and reduces drafts that can save as much as 40 percent on your heating and cooling bills. Learn more about Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation today by visiting

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Leslie, you got any tips for maybe a romantic home improvement that our listeners could take on?

    LESLIE: You know what I’ve always found so interesting is that, in my travels with the home makeover shows, how many people do not have a proper headboard or even a proper bed. It’s just a mattress and a box spring on a bed frame. Nothing fancy.

    TOM: Right. They have a wall.

    LESLIE: Exactly. So if that’s you, why don’t you surprise your loved one with maybe an upholstered headboard? Guys, they are so easy to make. Truly, you have a piece of plywood cut to whatever the height you want by the width of your bed. And then you just get some foam and some batting, put the foam down, wrap it with batting, get your fabric – you want to make sure you have enough to wrap around the tops and the sides – and just staple it on the back side.

    And you can totally stop there or you can add some decorative nail heads. Or if you want to add some tufting, we can have that discussion another day. But they truly attach the most simplest way. You can use something called a “cleat hanging method” and it’s basically if you take a 1×3 or a 2×2 and you cut it on the 45. Then you put one piece to the back side of the headboard and one piece to the wall. This way, you get the tooth coming away from the headboard and the tooth coming away from the wall so when you hang them on each other, they sort of lock in place.

    If you look it up online – cleating system – you’ll see some photos there. I’m sure we have something somewhere on The Money Pit that you will find how to do this. And then all you need are some little blocks on the bottom half, the same thickness as your cleat so that the headboard doesn’t tip back. Truly an easy project and it will change the entire look of your room.

    TOM: And that’s a cool idea. So basically, you’re hanging this on the wall. I think a lot of us think of headboards as being attached to the frame and they’re kind of wobbly. But in this case, it’s basically mounted on the wall. So once it’s on, it’s on and you can lean back on it with confidence. Great advice, Leslie.

    Hey, do you have a question about a project like that in your home? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line with a question about flooring. What can we do for you today?

    LAURA: Putting down laminated flooring in my kitchen. It houses a washer and dryer. The washer and dryer, they shimmy a bit.

    LESLIE: You mean they shimmy as in they’re moving across the floor or they just shake a lot?

    LAURA: They shake a lot. I mean they shimmy to the point of if I have my coffeepot on the stove, the water will shimmy a little bit in the pot.

    LESLIE: Seriously? Now, that could be a balancing thing. It could be, quite frankly, that your washing machine itself isn’t perfectly leveled. That could be a matter of adjusting the legs or something’s up with the flooring underneath it. But that could be one thing. Or if it’s not happening with every single load, it could be how you’re loading the washing machine. You could have too much stuff in it. But I would start, really, by making sure that the washing machine is perfectly leveled and perfectly balanced.

    And then there are actually pads that you can get at the home centers, even a Bed Bath & Beyond-type place. It’s an anti-vibration pad that goes underneath. Some of them are large enough to fit underneath the entire washing machine. And some of them are more for the corners under the legs. But they’re meant almost like shock absorbers from the machine to the floor. So, definitely start with making sure it’s fully balanced and level.

    LAURA: And I can put these machines directly on my laminate flooring?

    TOM: Yeah, you can. Look, if they’re going to shake a lot, you’re going to get maybe some abrasion, especially if you get dirt under the leg. That could wear through the laminate surface. But I think Leslie is spot-on. Get it leveled and then get the anti-vibration pads or blocks. You can Google this. You’ll find them. I’ve got four of them, one under each leg of my washing machine, and I had it in there from when it was brand-new and it didn’t really shake at all. But it was on the second floor, so I wanted to make sure it was as quiet as possible. And they work fantastic.

    They’re just like rubber spacers that go under the leg of each washing – of each of the four legs of the washer. And they sit on the floor. And because they’re rubber, also, they will protect the laminate floor from any scratching.

    LAURA: OK. Thanks for your help.

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

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

    TED: Listen, folks, I was calling about a leaky ridge vent that I have on my home. It’s a north-south top where the ridge vent was installed but it only seems to leak when the rain blows in sideways. And it only seems to leak under those circumstances. For some reason, if the rain’s coming straight down, it doesn’t leak. And I’m trying to find the solution, whether it means to replace the ridge vent and just put shingles over top of it or some other solution.

    TOM: Well, you don’t want to replace the ridge vent because it’s there for a reason. A ridge vent is a very effective way of venting an attic, taking out that warm air in the summer and the moist air in the winter that affects the efficiency of your insulation. There are just a whole lot of ridge-vent types out there.

    Now, there’s one in particular that I like that’s made by Air Vent and it’s called FilterVent. And what’s cool about the FilterVent is it has some weather protection built into it. It’s got an external baffle that deflects the wind and the weather. And so it won’t let it blow in regardless of what, you know, direction that wind comes from.

    So it might be that you have to replace that vent but you just don’t have the right one. You can’t really close off a ridge vent. It’s not like it has a way to turn it off. It’s going to be on all the time. But if you have the right kind of vent there, I don’t think you should have that kind of weather issue, although I have heard it before. But I know that this product called FilterVent by Air Vent works pretty well.

    TED: OK. Well, that’s great. I do appreciate that suggestion. I’ll go ahead and get my home improvement store and see if I can pick one up.

    TOM: Yeah. Take a look at it online first to make sure that you understand exactly what it is. Because sometimes, when you go into the store, they just might only have one or two varieties of it but you could potentially order it if they don’t.

    TED: OK. Well, that’s great then. I thank you all for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re like most of us, there are likely some areas of your home that are just not well lit. Good lighting is really important. Not only is it going to make your home look bigger, it actually makes your home much safer.

    Now, first in your living and your reading areas, you obviously need plenty of floor lamps and table lamps. But here’s a common mistake that tends to lead to injury: you want to make sure that those lamps point toward the activity and not towards you.

    TOM: Now, one area where direct lighting is super important is the kitchen. Now, most of us have one main overhead light source but that’s really not enough. You really need different types of light. You may want to pick up some additional pendant fixtures, which give you good sort of task-area lighting. And then you could also add some accent lighting. So if you combine area lighting and task lighting and accent lighting, then you will really have a super-bright kitchen any time of the day.

    LESLIE: Now, if you have a room that’s tough to fill with natural light – like maybe it only has one window – an easy fix is to place a mirror or mirrors strategically around your room. And you want to do that so it’ll help bounce the light around. Also, if you tend to put the mirror across from the window, it just really makes the room feel bigger.

    TOM: And if you really want to make something very visual, you can take advantage of high-contrast colors. Just put a dark switch plate, for example, on a light wall or choose bright colors for furniture and accessories.

    We’ve got more tips on brightening up your space, online, at

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got David from North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a mold issue.

    Welcome, David.

    DAVID: I live in a – it’s a cinder-block house. And in the cabinets, it’s bad in the cabinets and in the closets, especially. You can feel the moisture on the back walls of the cabinets and in the closets.

    TOM: Yep.

    DAVID: And lately, it’s – since it’s started getting colder, it’s on the bedroom walls, as well.

    TOM: So, what are you actually seeing?

    DAVID: It’s green mold and moisture, like dew on the walls.

    TOM: Have you ever had this problem before in any of the past winters?

    DAVID: Last winter, it was a little bit bad. And my wife cleaned it with bleach and water and stuff and it pretty much went away. But then in the cabinets, it started coming back almost immediately after she cleaned it.

    TOM: And how is your house heated?

    DAVID: It’s gas.

    TOM: So it’s forced-air?

    DAVID: Yes.

    TOM: Do you have a dehumidifier or a humidifier running?

    DAVID: No, not at all.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s the thing. You may have a situation here where the mold spores are starting to take hold and they’re multiplying and that’s why it’s happening more frequently. It also could be made worse by the weather conditions. And by that, I mean the weather conditions inside your house, in terms of the humidity and that sort of thing.

    DAVID: Yeah.

    TOM: So, what I’d like to suggest you do is a number of things. First of all, when you clean mold – and you should only be doing this if it’s a small amount, which it sounds like it is although it’s spread in different areas. When you clean mold, you want to make sure that you’re killing the mold spores first. And you do that – the easiest way is to simply spray that with a bleach solution that’s about 10-percent bleach and 90-percent water. And you let it sit on the areas for a good 15 minutes. So you don’t want to spray and wipe; you want to spray, wait and then wipe.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: And that makes a difference because this way, the bleach actually kills the mold spores. You’re not just wiping them away and moving them around and sending them back to the air where they’re going to settle immediately. If you can spray it with a bleach solution and let it sit there and then rinse it off and clean it as a second step, that’s important.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: In terms of the closets, if you can get more air into those closets – and typically, what we do in some homes is add additional vents to the closets. I don’t know – it depends on the way your closet is configured but sometimes, we put louvered doors on them or add vents to the side walls, that sort of thing.

    DAVID: Yeah.

    TOM: But if you could improve the ventilation in the closets so more of the warm air gets in there – and after you clean that – the closets and the cabinets – try to leave them open a little bit longer than you normally would so that the warm air from the house gets in there and doesn’t let the mold kind of reignite that quickly. Because that warmth from the forced-air heating system is going to create a condition where mold really can’t grow, because it’s going to be drying out that air.

    The moisture in the air is working against you here. And I know that we like to have a little bit of moisture in the house during the winter, because the heat system can be very dry, but an excessive amount can cause a mold problem to develop. Does that make sense?

    DAVID: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

    TOM: Alright, David. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You know, home improvements that are designed to lower energy bills, they don’t have to cost big bucks up front to get done. We’re going to have some cost-saving tips for homes, big and small, after this.

    ADAM: I am Adam Carolla. I’ve built hundreds of houses and I can tell you how to avoid falling into that money pit: listen to Money Pit Radio with Tom and Leslie.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by, the smarter way to a designer kitchen. Tell us more about your project at and receive a free custom-kitchen design. That’s

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Say, have you guys been feeling drafty windows all winter long? Well, you know what? It might not be the windows that are drafty. That’s not the only way that air leaks into the home. What you might want to check are those outlets and those light switches on the exterior walls of your home. Because a lot of times, you’ll get wind that’ll whistle right through there.

    The fix is pretty easy. Turn off the power, remove the switch plate and then put in a foam gasket behind it. You can buy them at a home center or a hardware store. They’re cheap, they’re easy to install. Put the switch plate back on. You’ll notice that drafts will be completely gone and you will be much more comfortable.

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

    JAN: Yeah. My commode is about five years old and it got clogged. I tried vinegar and baking soda, Liquid-Plumr, plunging it out, anything else I could think of because I really did not want to snake it with the rusty snake that I had. Because I knew what that was going to do. Well, after three days, I finally snaked it and got the clog out but now I’ve got all these scrapes with rust, in the bottom of the toilet bowl, that cannot be removed.

    LESLIE: OK. And you’re sure they’re actual scrapes or scratches and not just a rust marking?

    JAN: I think so. I’ve tried to scrub it with a toilet brush and toilet-bowl cleaner and as it – today, when I heard your show and you were talking about don’t – to some other guy – don’t use anything abrasive to remove the surface off of the inside of the commode, like – and you suggested to him polishing compound and something else but be very diligent. And there, right then, I thought, “Uh, oh.” Well, I messed up, because I have totally interrupted the surface.

    TOM: Let’s see if we can pull you back from the brink here.

    So, you are correct. It’s not polishing compound, it’s a rubbing compound. It’s used mostly for auto-body work but it’s mildly abrasive and it can remove those stains.

    There are also some cleansing products that work well, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Bar Keepers Friend, which is sort of like a mild abrasive, that tends to work very well on a porcelain surface that does have smaller scratches in it. I don’t know how bad your scratches are but it’s worth a try.

    You may want to drain the toilet out first, just to give you some more ease in actually getting to the scratched area but not 100-percent necessary. Although it does help if you sort of rub it in and then let it sit on.

    TOM: Yeah, I would turn the water off to the toilet bowl and flush it so that the bowl is fairly dry or fairly empty. This way, you can kind of let that sit on there for a while and really do go – and really go to work. And then you could rinse it off.

    So give that a shot and let us know how you do. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    JAN: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Well, big houses sometimes get a bad rap from an environmental perspective, with some complaining that they’re energy hogs compared to smaller, more efficient homes.

    TOM: Yes. But size might not matter as much as people think. What matters is how we operate them. Here to help set the record straight is a guy with experience remodeling homes of all sizes: This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So, the current sort of tiny-home craze notwithstanding, American homes have generally gotten bigger over time, right?

    KEVIN: They have gotten bigger over time and they are continuing to get bigger, despite that tiny-home craze.

    Think about this: the average size of a home in 1950 was 983 square feet. Fast forward to 2013 and the average size was 2,598 square feet.

    TOM: Wow.

    KEVIN: So they are definitely …

    LESLIE: That’s insane.

    KEVIN: It’s insane. They are definitely getting a lot bigger. And while they’re getting bigger, the number of people living in those houses is going down. In 1950, the average household had about 3.38 people. In 2014, it was 2.5, so a lot more room per person.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy.

    TOM: But we don’t build them like we used to, do we?

    KEVIN: No, we don’t. And I think this is the thing that’s behind the premise that a big house isn’t necessarily bad. And again, let’s look at some statistics. Homes that were built after 2000, they consume only 2 percent more energy than homes that were built prior to 2000, despite the fact that on average, they are 30 percent larger. We are building better houses. And the only reason that the total home energy consumption isn’t down in those periods is because we’re using a lot more electricity for all of our electronics and gadgets. We use 21 percent less energy for space heating in today’s homes than we do in older homes, despite being so much bigger.

    TOM: So it’s not so much the house that’s wasting energy, it’s all the people living in the house that’s using energy.

    KEVIN: Well, it’s using energy but the point is that we can make a bigger house that uses less energy than a smaller house. And so the size – well, the size is kind of a moot point. What’s important is really how you operate the house. That’s the thing that you really have to look at.

    LESLIE: And I think, you know, you bring up an interesting point. We’re remodeling houses to make them larger. There’s not really a lot of new home stock happening out there.

    KEVIN: Did you build a new house, Leslie?

    LESLIE: No. I’m in a 100-year-old house.

    KEVIN: You bought – there you go.

    How about you, Tom? Did you build …?

    TOM: Yeah, mine’s been in the family since 1886.

    KEVIN: Well, there you go. The first house I bought was built in 1895 and the second house I bought was built in 1950. Very few of us build a new house. Less than half of 1 percent of new – of our existing housing stock are new houses built every year. So the vast majority of the 112 million homes are homes that we buy that are already there. So there’s very little we can do about their size. What we can do is think about how do we operate these houses efficiently.

    And if I move into a big house – let’s say I buy a 3,500-square-foot house but then I go and I add a ton of insulation and energy-efficient equipment, aren’t I taking a lot of housing stock and making it more efficient? I’ve actually improved the efficiency of a big house, which is necessarily a good thing. So you have to think about not the size of the house but what you do with it.

    TOM: So bottom line, Kevin, really, for any size house, if you want to make it more efficient, what are the top things to consider?

    KEVIN: It’s a pretty short list. And as you say, it doesn’t matter what size the house is. This list applies to all houses.

    And the first thing you want to do is you want to make sure that you add insulation. If the house doesn’t have any, there’s a great opportunity to add tons of it. If you’ve got some in there, you often can add to what’s there and improve on what’s there.

    After insulation, you want to think about air sealing. You want to stop the moving air from going in and out of the house, around windows and doors. And around the sill is certainly a place. You can also upgrade your mechanical equipment. Mechanical equipment these days can be 90-, 95-percent efficient. So new equipment will be super-efficient. And then the easiest thing is your electrical load. You can reduce your electrical load very quickly using things like LED light bulbs all throughout the house.

    All of those things will take a big house or a small house and make it more efficient.

    TOM: Great advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, one of the joys of winter: getting stuck in your garage thanks to a frozen garage door. We’ll tell you how to get out of that jam, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Home Advisor. Find trusted home improvement pros for any project at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you guys have ceiling fans in your home? Apparently, about 80 million households in America do. And you’re probably thinking, “Why are we talking about ceiling fans now? That’s what I use in the summer.” No. There’s a little switch on the side. If you switch it to run counterclockwise, it will push some of that warm, heated air that’s hanging out at the ceiling level back down to the area where you are relaxing in your easy chair. And you will be much more comfortable as a result.

    Think about it: clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer.

    LESLIE: Sandra in North Carolina is on the line. How can we help you today?

    SANDRA: We’re trying to decide which quality of filter to use for our furnace filter – switch out? Should we use the ones that are cheaper, like the 4-for-$2 or should we use the HEPA-filter quality ones that are like $20 for your furnace filters, when you change them out?

    LESLIE: Well, with filters, you’re definitely getting what you pay for. And it really depends on what the situations are with everybody in your house.

    Now, the less expensive a filter, the thinner that membrane is going to be and of course, the wider that webbing is, if you will, so it’s really not going to stop very much. You know, Tom and I always joke that they’re called “pebble stoppers,” because that’s really the only thing that’s not getting through there.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: So it really depends. The less money you spend, the less things that are getting trapped. If you’ve got somebody with allergens in the house, you want to spend a little bit more money, because you’re definitely going to get what you pay for.

    SANDRA: OK. So I need to go to a quality filter, because I have a lot of allergies. And the people that built the house say to go with a cheaper filter so you can let air circulate.

    TOM: Yeah, well, look, a good-quality filter does not block the air, whether it’s one that’s designed for better filtration or one that’s designed for lesser filtration. None of these things block the air. So if you have allergy issues, you have asthma issues, you definitely want to use a good-quality filter.

    And if you want the ultimate in filtration, what you might want to think about doing at some point is installing an electronic air cleaner. This is a device that’s built into the HVAC system right near the furnace, generally. And these are incredibly efficient at taking out 95-percent plus of the contaminants that are in the air. I mean these electronic air cleaners today can take out microscopic-size particles.

    SANDRA: OK. Well, I really appreciate your information. You’ve been very helpful.

    LESLIE: Well, storing your car in a garage can help keep it frost-free but the same can’t be said for garage doors that often become stuck in the super-cold weather. And that can trap you and your car inside. Well, if you do find yourself frozen in, first try disconnecting the automatic garage-door opener and then try to open it manually.

    TOM: And if that doesn’t work, don’t force it or you could damage the door.

    Next, you want to spray a lock deicer along the bottom of the door. And if you don’t happen to have one, just use WD-40 as a deicer. It’s another one of its very many uses. Just clean up any extra so nobody slips on the stuff. And you can also pour some lukewarm water along the base and then just slide a putty knife between the bottom of the door – there’s going to be a rubber gasket there and the concrete floor – to break away any remaining ice between those two surfaces and the door should be good to go.

    And we’re good to go to take your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Eddie in Rhode Island is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?

    EDDIE: I have cement steps and it seems like every year I’m repainting them. And I’ve been using an exterior oil-based paint. I didn’t know if there’s a reason why they’re peeling every year or if I’m doing something wrong.

    TOM: Are you using a masonry paint?

    EDDIE: I thought that’s what that is but I won’t answer that question.

    TOM: Then maybe the answer is no. There’s paints that are designed specifically for masonry surfaces. The other thing that you might want to think about doing next time is to strip off all the old paint and use an epoxy-based paint.

    EDDIE: An epoxy paint?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s got really good adhesion. It’s a two-part mix. You mix it together, then you apply it to the steps. And there are versions that are designed for exterior, as well as interior – under roof spaces, like garages. And I think you’ll find that that will really, really stand up because it’s not an air dry or solvent-based. It’s a chemically hardening system that basically reacts and hardens.

    EDDIE: And how long would that paint last do you think?

    TOM: I think it will last a heck of a long time.

    EDDIE: OK. A lot more than a year.

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    EDDIE: OK. Alright. Well, that answers my question. I really appreciate the information.

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

    Well, you know that your dishwasher is for washing dishes but did you also know that it can be a handy machine for cleaning your air filters? We’re going to explain why and how, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: I think there’s one room that we all share across the whole country, Leslie, and that’s a small bathroom.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Everybody has or has had a bathroom that’s just too small to do much in and storage is particularly challenging. But there are some spaces for storage, even in small bathrooms, if you know where to look. And one of them, I think, is kind of obvious and that’s the wall space above the toilet, right? It’s really big enough for a 12×30 size kitchen cabinet and you can get a lot of stuff in there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you actually can. There are some that have more storage than others but that’s definitely a smart place to reclaim some very valuable real estate. You know what I like to do with my kids’ stuff is they – I feel like they just have so many bath toys and different bath gels and special shampoos and all sorts of stuff that I took a shoe hanger – one of those shoe-storage things that you would put in the back of your closet door – and I put one on the back of my bathroom closet door. And I put all the little toys on the lowest one where Charlie could reach it and then I put the kids’ mouthwash. All that stuff is right there. It’s definitely helped out a lot.

    TOM: Now, in our family, we seem to go through a ton of bath towels. So what I like to do is hang a decorative brass shelf, not at sort of eyelevel where you normally would have a shelf but above that where you could start sort of piling up the towels. And you don’t pile them up. I mean you can roll them neatly, like you might see them at a gym or a spa, and just stack them on the wire rack. It looks kind of cool and this way, they’re not kind of piled up on the floor outside the door, which is where we used to keep them.

    So, lots of little things like that, that you guys can do, that will free up some space in the smallest room in the house: the bathroom.

    LESLIE: Alright. And if you’ve got some other questions outside of bathroom storage, post them online, e-mail us, call in. Whatever you’d like to do, we are here for you. And Margo in Florida posted: “I have electronic air filters and I’m wondering how to clean them. One dealer says vacuum, because washing could cause corrosion and malfunction. And another dealer says wash with water.” Well, that’s some conflicting information there.

    TOM: And first of all, you really shouldn’t care what the dealer says. What you should care about is what the manufacturer says, right? So if you know your brand, these days you can look up anything online, Margo. So look up the advice from the manufacturer.

    That said, I do know that with electronic air cleaners, where they come out in sections, a really easy way to clean those – that whole section – is to basically stick it in your dishwasher and run it through a cycle. With all that water running through it, it frees up and cleans out all the dust that gets clogged and caked on that reusable filter. Then once it’s good and dry, you can basically pop it back in. I wouldn’t use the heat-dry setting on the dishwasher; I’d let it air dry. But certainly, all that water action will do a good job of cleaning it up just fine.

    LESLIE: Alright. Will in Texas has a question for us. He writes: “I was thinking of adding a stainless-steel backsplash to my kitchen counters. I recently saw some sheets at a big home improvement store that looked like brushed steel but were plastic with an adhesive back. I was wondering if you thought this was OK for a very busy kitchen with a lot of big messes. They were very affordable.”

    TOM: Yeah, I bet they were. There’s absolutely no comparison, though, in durability between a plastic and stainless. Stainless is virtually indestructible. Now, you know, if you want to do something and not kid yourself – it’s going to be short-term – you certainly could do that. But I don’t think they’re really comparable. One looks like stainless, the other one is stainless. But one thing you should also know about stainless is even though it looks really pretty when it first goes up, it doesn’t stay that way for long.
    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah, no. It definitely does need a lot of special care and you do have to use some special cleansers for it. You want to make sure you maintain the grain of it. They do tend to fingerprint very quickly. So you will find that you’re doing some day-to-day maintenance on it. But if you like the look, it’s definitely worth it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at, where you can also subscribe to The Money Pit podcast so you don’t miss a single tip.

    Thank you so much for joining us. 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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2017 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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