Top Home Improvement Trends for Spring

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    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: Welcome to the first of two or three almost-spring editions of the show, because we are focused on that season. That’s when most of us want to get outside and tackle those exterior projects or fling open the windows and do some big décor projects. Whether you are going to do a project; whether you’re going to fix something; whether you are going to remodel, paint, update your kitchen, your bathroom, build a deck, build a patio, we’d love to help. We do mean that so call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and take the first step.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you are like most of us, you probably have at least one poorly lit room in your home. We’re going to have some expert lighting tips to help brighten your day.

    LESLIE: Plus, as the weather warms, the kickoff of home improvement season gets closer. And millions of homeowners are thinking about their next big project. If that’s you, we’ll highlight the latest innovations that experts say will have the biggest impact on American housing.

    TOM: Plus, we’re quickly approaching that spring-cleaning season, as well. And a pressure washer is one of the handiest tools to have around to speed that process along. Greenworks is out now with a brand-new 1,800-psi electric pressure washer. And we’re going to do a review of that, just ahead.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on on this almost-spring weekend. Tom has got very wishful thinking for early March. I’m just saying.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: What you’re working on? Let us know. Maybe we’ll force spring along.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. A lot of folks thinking about early spring, Leslie. Look at those phones. Let’s get to it. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Al in New York has a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    AL: Wondering, since my roof blew away, what’s the progress on the solar-powered roof shingles?

    TOM: You say your roof blew away? What happened, Al?

    AL: Well, it’s old. It’s old. Like 40-year-old asphalt on top of cedar shingles. Then had a little storm here and there. We got $18 from FEMA.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: We got 8,000 from the insurance company, which is owned by the bank.

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, at least you got something towards it. But listen, if you’re asking me are solar shingles to the point now where I would recommend them? My answer would be no. I think there are solar panels that I’m very comfortable with.

    But solar shingles, I’m concerned about their durability and their longevity. And every time I’ve evaluated them and seen them at, say, building/trade expos and things like that, I found that the warranties on these things don’t even come close to the warranty on an average roof. So, I’m concerned about how long they’re going to last and what it would take to replace them. They’re very, very expensive, as well. So, I’m not a proponent of solar shingles yet, although perhaps that can change in the future.

    Now, as to your roofing project, you mentioned that you have asphalt shingles on top of cedar shingles. I actually had a very similar roof, because I have a very old house that was built in the 1800s. And just about two years ago, we took off that original layer of cedar shingle, which had been covered by asphalt shingles over the years. And it was in amazingly good condition.

    But we pulled it off and then we resheathed the roof. So this particular type of roofing project is an expensive project because, usually, cedar shingles are on top of furring strips and you have to put plywood down over those furring strips to do it right. Your option is, of course, just to pull off the asphalt shingles and put another layer on top of the cedar and you’ll get more years out of it. But it won’t lay as flat, clean and nice as it should if it was on proper sheathing. Does that make sense?

    AL: Yeah, I know all that. As far as the local code is – you’re going to have to go down to the rafters, which means you’ve got to build up the existing furring strip and the existing – you know, the thicknesses.

    TOM: Well, what I would do is would leave the furring strips in place and attach the plywood right to that. That’s going to be a little less work and with an old house, it doesn’t make sense to pull those off. Just leave those and put the plywood right on it.

    Al, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    DOT: A couple of years ago, we had a driveway put in. We have a house with an attached garage. And they had, oh, graded the driveway, they said, properly so the water would drain away from the house and into the lawn. And we get standing water in our driveway still. And I was just wondering the steps to – the proper steps to put a trench in our driveway and possibly a drain.

    TOM: OK. So, it would seem to me that if – you’re talking about water that’s collecting on the driveway itself or on the side of the driveway? There’s a distinction.

    DOT: In the driveway and also close to the house and where the driveway meets. And then there’s an attached garage there, also.

    TOM: If we were to stop the water from collecting on the side of the driveway, would the top of the driveway still be flooded?

    DOT: I think so. Apparently, they graded it …

    TOM: Alright. Because it’s easier to put in a curtain drain along the side of the driveway than it is to slice the driveway and insert a drain. Because if you want to try to drain what’s on the driveway, essentially you have to cut a slice into the driveway. It’s not something that you could do; it requires specialized tools. And then a drain is inserted and it’s kind of like a very narrow grate, almost like a box, that’s dropped into the driveway. The driveway is graded to the top of it so that the water can sort of roll in and then fill up the drain and then run out.

    If, in fact, that this water is collecting along the side of the driveway, it would be easier, from a do-it-yourself perspective, to add in a curtain drain. The way that works is you would dig a trench that was maybe a foot wide, maybe a foot deep. You’d put some stone in the bottom of that and then you’d put a perforated PVC pipe. You continue to fill that up with stone all around it. You’d add some filter cloth over that and then you would regrade and you would be – it would be completely invisible when it’s done. And of course, it has to be pitched properly and discharged properly, as well.

    So, the curtain drain on the side of the driveway is easier than sort of the trench drain where you have to cut the driveway. I would tend to say do the curtain drain first and see how it goes.

    Dot, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jacob in Kentucky is on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you?

    JACOB: Hi. Basically, the problem that I’m having is when I’m taking a shower and it – kind of in the sink, as well in the kitchen – when I turn on the hot water, you could – I mean you can cook macaroni in the hot water.

    You’ve got to kind of fidget with it if you wash your hands too long or something. And in the shower, kind of the same thing. I won’t turn it on full blast on hot but just about normal and it’ll cool off after just a couple of minutes. It’ll just almost go cold and then just, as you’re taking a shower, in the duration of 5 or 10 minutes, I end up going all the way over with the hot water. Just the one knob. I end up turning it on, I guess, full-blast hot.

    TOM: So let’s see what’s going on here. How old is your water heater?

    JACOB: It’s fairly new. I think it’s just a few years old. Maybe three years old.

    TOM: So, electric or gas?

    JACOB: It’s gas.

    TOM: So, first of all, let’s check the temperature of the water heater. It needs to be at about 110 degrees. And see if – there may be a temperature indicator on the valve that you can line up or you could simply measure it with a thermometer.

    Secondly, in terms of the shower, what I would recommend is that you install what’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” So what a pressure-balanced valve does is that once you have set the temperature, it maintains the mix between hot and cold so that you deliver that same temperature, regardless of what happens to the pressure on one side or the other. So if somebody flushes a toilet or runs the dishwasher and all of a sudden, you’ve got less cold water or less hot water, it’s going to adjust. So the flow may be greater or less but the temperature will never change. And that makes the shower situation pretty much go away.

    JACOB: OK. Awesome. What was it called again, the valve?

    TOM: A pressure-balanced valve. It’s a type of shower valve.

    JACOB: Oh, OK. Awesome. Well, I appreciate it.

    TOM: Hey, ask your plumber for it. They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.

    JACOB: Alright. Well, I definitely appreciate your call.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. From demolition to décor, we’ve got you covered with tips and advice to help get the job done. Call us now with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you have a room in your house that’s drab despite the bright colors on the wall? It might simply be the position of your lights. We’ve got step-by-step lighting tips to brighten your day, 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.

    TOM: We cover it all, floorboards to shingles, gazebos to garages. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you’ll find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Kimberly in Delaware is on the line with an interesting question. I’m reading your bath mats got melted to the floor? How did that happen?

    KIMBERLY: No, I clean houses for a living and I went to clean a house. And the lady asked me if I can get it up and she said it’s been there for two years.

    LESLIE: What?

    TOM: Wow. Stuck to the floor, huh?

    KIMBERLY: No, to the – inside the bathtub. It melted into – inside the bathtub.

    TOM: Oh, the bathtub. And you couldn’t get it up? You couldn’t pull it off?

    KIMBERLY: No, no, no. I tried. It’s stuck there. It’s like cement.

    TOM: I’m thinking it might be glued in place and not melted. Did she buy the house with this bath mat?

    KIMBERLY: No. She’s had the house for 20 years and they put it – and she put the bath mat there herself. And she said her husband just put it in there so they wouldn’t fall, because they’re elderly people. And it’s been like that for two years, she said.

    TOM: Well, I guess she would know herself if it was glued in place. I don’t necessarily have a good solution for you here. Generally, if I find something that’s adhered and needs to be loosened up, I’ll use a product like WD-40. But I’m afraid to tell you to use that in the bathtub because I don’t want them to slip. But that tends to break any adhesive bond that is resulting. But it’s also a lubricant.

    So you could try very, very carefully under one corner of it, see if it loosens up. But you’ve got to rinse it thoroughly and scrub it thoroughly because otherwise, you’ll leave a very slick surface there.

    I guess the other thing that you could try would be an adhesive – a citrus-based adhesive remover. There are orange-based products – citrus-based products that can – are used to remove adhesive.

    But I have a hard time believing that this wasn’t adhesive that actually glued itself to it. And I don’t think it melted. I think there was some sort of maybe chemical reaction between the rubber mat and the bathtub that caused them to bond. Now, I will warn you that even if you get this up, it’s very possible that the surface of the tub could be damaged. And you may be having something else that you don’t like to look at there, as a result.

    KIMBERLY: And that’s what I’m afraid of. Because I’m her house cleaner and I don’t want to get blamed for the tub being messed up, either, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Then I don’t think you should take that – I don’t think it’s your responsibility. I would say you tried but it’s stuck in place and leave it at that.


    TOM: I agree with you. You don’t want to make the situation worse and get them upset and then – and be potentially responsible for finding a solution to an impossible problem.

    KIMBERLY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re welcome, Kimberly. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and have a great day.

    LESLIE: Joe in Ohio is on the line with a blower-motor question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JOE: I was listening to another home improvement show locally and they had an electrical – residential electrical contractor on there. And he said that you could let your furnace blower run constantly. He said that because the capacitor sucks up a lot of electricity in order to start the motor, that it – I guess if it’s cycling on and off frequently, that you would save on electricity by letting it run constantly.

    TOM: I would disagree with that and here’s why: those blower motors, that uses most of the electricity it takes to run the furnace. Now, if the blower is cycling on or off, that’s a whole different problem. That means that the thermostat is not operating properly, the system’s not sized right. There’s other things that cause that. We call that “short-cycling.”

    You’re not going to hurt the blower motor by running it but I think you’ll find that you’re going to drive up your electrical cost by doing that. We know people that, for example, love to heat their homes with a wood stove. But because it’s hard to distribute the wood stove’s warmth throughout the house, they’ll turn on the wood stove and then also turn on the blower on the on position – not the auto position; turn it to the on position – and use that blower’s system and the ducts to basically move the heat around the house.

    So, you’re not hurting the blower, because it’s got bearings and it’s not designed to run indefinitely. But you might be driving up your electrical costs. Does that make sense?

    JOE: I wondered about it because – like you say about the short-cycling, I’ve had someone check the furnace and it cycles like about every five minutes and when it’s really cold outside. But they said – they came out and checked it and said that that was normal or that was the way it was meant to operate.

    TOM: Yeah. Five minutes sounds too quick. I would find that to be odd for that to be normal.

    JOE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, that’s all I can tell you. It sounds too quick to me. It sounds like a short-cycle situation. That’s probably the more important thing for you to address.

    JOE: Alright. Well, maybe I’ll check with another one then.

    TOM: Good luck with that project and 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. Now, good lighting’s important. Not only does it make your home look bigger but it can also make it much safer.

    First, in living and reading areas, you obviously need plenty of floor lamps and table lamps. But here’s a common mistake that leads you to injury: you have to make sure that the lamps you’re using are pointing at the activity and not at you.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, one area where direct lighting is super important, though, is the kitchen. If you’ve got one main overhead light source, you want to consider adding additional pendant fixtures above the work surfaces, so you can see better there.

    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 add mirrors in strategic places. And that’s going to bounce the light around the room and then make it even feel bigger.

    TOM: And if someone you love has vision problems, you can also take advantage of some very high-contrast colors. If you put a dark switch plate on a light wall or choose bright colors for furniture and accessories, it will be much easier for that individual to see.

    Hey, if you want some more easy lighting tips, we’ve got a great post on that topic on

    LESLIE: Karen in Pennsylvania is dealing with some mold in the basement. Tell us what’s going on.

    KAREN: My mom has a house that the basement is – we put it up for sale and nobody noticed this. And one person came in and tore wallpaper off the wall and we noticed that it had mold from the floor to the ceiling and even in the inner walls. So I had a gentleman come and look at it and he said it would take $30,000-plus. And he would come in, remove all the interior walls – all the wood, the paneling, everything off the wall – down to the bare. He would have a chemical put on, clean it and then it would never come back.

    And then the second guy came in and he said he would rip everything out, as he said. He would coat it, clean it and guarantee it that if it did come back, he’d fix it for $10,000.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you need either of these guys. You don’t have enough information yet and I don’t think you’re talking to the right people. I doubt either of them are professional mold mitigators. It sounds to me like they’re just trying to size you up for as much money as they can get from you.

    The first thing you want to do is test the mold to figure out what kind of mold it is. And that’s done – there’s a couple of easy ways to do that. Basically, you take a sample and you send it out to a lab and they tell you what you’ve got. And then you can kind of design a mitigation plan around that. I need to get a sense as to how much mold is there. But if it’s just a little bit of mold behind the wallpaper, you may not need to pull all this out; you might be able to treat it right in place. But it doesn’t sound right.

    KAREN: Where the bathroom is has an inner wall. And that is halfway down with mold.

    TOM: OK. I mean how much mold are we talking about here, square footage-wise? Is it like a 4×4-foot by 4-foot space or …?

    KAREN: We’re going to say all the outer walls. Because we’ve since went around and pulled off some wallpaper here and moved some paneling. And we also – the first guy that came in for $30,000 brought in a light and to me, it looked like a black light. But he brought the light in that was a special light and it can tell what type of mold it was and where the mold was.

    TOM: That is completely wrong. Do not call that guy back. It is completely wrong, OK? That guy was not giving you accurate information if he comes in with his magic light that supposedly tells mold.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they can’t actually tell you what kind of mold unless they do a chemical test on a physical sample.

    KAREN: OK.

    TOM: Well, it’s a mold test. They send it out to a lab and they read it, so that guy’s a snake-oil salesman.

    LESLIE: Right. Right. But it’s actually holding a piece of that mold and testing it with certain things. And that’s done by a lab.

    TOM: It sounds like you could use a basement renovation but I wouldn’t get too crazy over it. If it’s done by the right kind of company that can take that apart very carefully and dispose of all of that material – and maybe you don’t even want to put the walls back. Maybe you just want to leave it unfinished.

    KAREN: Oh, good.

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

    LESLIE: Well, as the weather warms, the kickoff of the home improvement season gets closer. If you’ve got a project in mind, we’ll highlight the latest innovations that experts say will have the biggest impact on American housing, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, as the weather warms and the kickoff of the home improvement season gets closer, millions of homeowners are thinking about their next big project. If that’s you, it pays to be up on the latest innovations that experts say will have the biggest impact on American housing.

    TOM: With us to talk about just that is Dan DiClerico, the home expert and smart-home strategist for

    Welcome, Dan.

    DAN: Hey, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: Let’s start by talking about smart-home products. That market and the technology behind it is growing by leaps and bounds, isn’t it?

    DAN: It is, yeah. We know that about 30 million smart-home products are going to be sold in 2019. That’s about a 23-percent increase from last year. So this technology is really moving from that gee-whiz gadget phase into the mainstream. It’s really affecting every system in the home, from appliances to heating-and-cooling equipment.

    LESLIE: I feel like so many people really want these innovations in their home and they’re becoming more do-it-yourself friendly. But I feel like – where do you know to start when bringing these smart-home innovations into the house? Are you seeing a bigger trend in one area over another?

    DAN: Sure. Yeah, security continues to really drive the technology. And for a long time, that was a professional install. But with the advent of things like video doorbells, that’s something that really any homeowner with a little bit of do-it-yourself experience is going to be able to tackle on their own.

    TOM: And aside from the homeowners, we’re also starting to see a lot of tradesmen take advantage of smart-home technology. In fact, even those that maybe don’t do it themselves – I had a pro come to my home to give me an estimate and he brought his son so that he could input it on the iPad and give me, actually, a printout or an email with the details.

    DAN: Yeah.

    TOM: So, hey, however you get there, you know? Right?

    DAN: Yeah, I know. Absolutely. This technology is often marketed as do-it-yourself. And as I just said, oftentimes it is. But we’re seeing the sort of emergence of a do-it-for-me market here. A lot of people, maybe they could install the cameras throughout the home but they’d just as soon hire an electrician or even a handyman to come in and handle that installation for them.

    LESLIE: I feel like another thing that a lot of homeowners are really taking into account, in 2019 and looking forward, is water management. I think everybody is hyperaware of water usage, the cost of it both financially and towards the planet. Where is this sort of falling in line for the year?

    DAN: Yeah. Here, again – and we see a lot of technology really, really driving interest around water management: sophisticated sensors that use algorithm and artificial intelligence to really measure and track the water throughout the home. That’s allowing the homeowner to measure their water consumption in real time, which was never possible before. So there’s some cost savings there and yeah, to your point – yeah, water costs are really going up around the country.

    TOM: But the big thing, though, is these smart-home devices can also detect if there’s actually a major pipe break, right? Because now you’re using an excessive, unusual amount of water that’s going to trigger an alert and give you a chance to actually do something about it, shut that main water valve off before serious damage sets in.

    DAN: Absolutely. And I think this is really – this is the real value here. It’s identifying small link – leaks, excuse me – but also those major burst pipes. And it’ll automatically shut the water off, so you’re going to eliminate or certainly minimize the risk of any kind of catastrophic damage.

    TOM: I can see insurance companies offering discounts for folks that have that kind of technology. I mean anything you can do to stop your cat from floating down the street is a good thing.

    DAN: Yeah.

    TOM: Let’s talk about maintenance. That’s something that a lot of folks would like to do a lot less of. So we’re always interested in low-maintenance products. Do these devices also help us reduce the amount of maintenance we have to do on the home?

    DAN: They do, yeah. The technology. But also, just simple building materials are getting so much more low-maintenance.

    We’re hearing this from homeowners. Especially younger homeowners are less interested in that – the ongoing upkeep and …

    LESLIE: That’s one way to put it: less interested.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Their motivations lie in very different places. Home ownership upkeep is very low on that. They want to move in ready.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    DAN: Yes. And they’re staying engaged in the home but it’s more through decoration or personalizing the spaces, not exactly – not as interested in the maintenance. So, that’s really driving manufacturers to come out with some excellent, very low-maintenance materials.

    One of my favorite examples is quartz countertops. They’re beautiful – I just put them in my home – but they’re also incredibly low maintenance. They resist scratching and scratches and stains, dents, really anything. A very durable material.

    Another good example is black stainless steel. This is really becoming popular.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s gorgeous.

    TOM: Beautiful stuff, yeah.

    DAN: Yeah. Beautiful but extremely fingerprint-resistant, certainly compared to traditional stainless steel.

    TOM: We’re talking to Dan DiClerico. He is the home expert and smart-home strategist for

    Dan, another trend for Spring 2019 is aging in place. We have a lot of folks that want to stay in their homes as long as possible. And that’s leading to a unique set of improvements that folks are asking for. So, what are you hearing from the pros that are doing this work through

    DAN: Yeah. No, absolutely. This has been building for some time but it’s really, really reaching a critical mass. HomeAdvisor does an annual aging-in-place report and the numbers were just off the charts. The percentage of homeowners – older homeowners but even Gen Xers, like myself – are starting to pay attention to this sort of thing.

    So, a lot of it is technology: installing that smart thermostat so you’re never coming home to a cold house. But then simple things: upgrading the appliances, for example, so the dishwasher is a little bit more accessible.

    TOM: Right.

    DAN: Or putting in – replacing kitchen cabinets with pull-out drawers, which are a little bit easier to access.

    LESLIE: Another thing, with folks really investing in their homes and staying in there long-term, I think you’re looking to create a house that sort of sets up a wonderful environment for positive health, positive wellness. And there’s a lot of smart-home technology that you can incorporate to make sure that you’re living in a healthy home, to say.

    TOM: Yeah, like a room you wouldn’t have had 10 years ago is the Peloton room, right?

    DAN: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. No, no, that’s – yeah, after the – so we’re seeing, you know, homeowners doing the Peloton room or just simply an exercise space. So maybe it’s finishing the basement, for example. That’s become a very, very popular project.

    TOM: Alright. Good advice.

    Dan DiClerico from filling us in on the trends we should expect to see this home improvement season. If you’d like to learn more, check out their website,, a fantastic place to find pros that can help you with virtually any home improvement or remodeling project at your house.

    TOM: Thanks so much, Dan. Great job.

    DAN: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, we are quickly approaching the spring-cleaning season. And a pressure washer is one of the handiest tools to have on hand to speed that process along. We’ll review a new 1,800-psi, electric pressure washer from Greenworks that’s affordable and super easy to use, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

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

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Mike in Georgia is on the line with a question about a dimmer. How can we help you?

    MIKE: My kitchen is in the center of my house, so I get very little light from the windows.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And I tried an LED light. I have five 60-watt cans in there. I had heard you mention about a dimmer that would work with the LEDs? My question is: is there a particular kind? I need one that works with a three-way.

    TOM: Yeah. You can go to The Home Depot and you can pick up the Lutron Skylark Contour CžL Dimmer. That’s the Lutron Skylark Contour CžL. This is a dimmer that’s designed specifically to work with energy-efficient bulbs. It works with CFLs and it works with LEDs. And specifically, it’s adjustable so that you can get the lowest level and then the highest level of light. And therefore, when you move the dimmer up and down, it controls that.

    Typically, with standard dimmers, you can get a flicker because at some point, you’re going to be not putting enough power in to bring that bulb on. So you get this sort of flickering effect?

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: But with this Skylark Contour CžL line of dimmers, you can adjust the low end and this way, it’ll always be on when you turn the switch on. And then you can bring it up from there.

    MIKE: Yeah, I was afraid with five cans in the middle of the house, it would look like Yankee Stadium at nighttime.

    TOM: No, actually – I actually have one of these dimmers in my kitchen and I’ve got five cans on this dimmer, so I have exactly that situation. And I have LEDs in the lights. I have the Philips LEDs in there, the ones that are yellow. And they turn really super-clean, white light when you turn them on. And I’ve got that Skylark dimmer controlling the whole thing. Now, that’s not a three-way but I’m sure it will work on a three-way.

    And the thing that’s cool about Lutron is as you’re putting this together, if you have a question, they have an 800 toll-free, tech-support number. You can call them and there’s somebody always standing by to kind of answer your wiring questions. If you can’t figure out where the extra wire goes, they’ll tell you.

    MIKE: OK, great. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, we’re quickly approaching the spring-cleaning season and a pressure washer is a handy tool to help speed that process along. Greenworks has a new 1,800-psi electric pressure washer on the market now that’s super convenient to use and it has a lot of very helpful features.

    TOM: Well, first of all, it’s got a very substantial motor. It’s a 13-amp motor, which is going to give you 1.1 gallons of water a minute. So think about that; that’s a lot of cleaning power, over a gallon a minute. And it also comes with five quick-connect nozzles, which I like, including the Turbo Nozzle. Now, I’ve got this product and that’s sort of my go-to nozzle because it can pretty much handle just about any type of cleaning project.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I also like that they’ve designed this so everything that you need stores right on board, like the spray gun, the power cord and the spray tip. So it keeps everything you need right within reach. And it also has an onboard soap tank, too, which really makes it easy to add the detergent.

    TOM: Oh, it really does, because so many of the other pressure washers you have to kind of hang the soap bottle off the handle. And it’s very awkward. So I love the fact that it’s got that detergent tank built in.

    And it’s especially useful for projects like cleaning your driveway or your deck, your walkways or your siding or even your car. And I was reading the reviews on this and I’ve got to tell you, people are loving this product. You’re going to find it for the everyday price of just $169 at your local Lowe’s home improvement store.

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

    BETTY: We live in a ranch-style home and we have several bedrooms and bathrooms where the door frames – up above the door frames on just one side – are cracking. And we have repeatedly had contract workers out here to repair them and it has not held.

    TOM: You feel like it’s Groundhog Day? You’re fixing the same thing over and over again?

    Yeah, it’s pretty common. Around the door frame and around windows, those are the weakest portions of the wall. So if you have some movement from the normal expansion and contraction, that’s where it’s going to show. Typically, what happens is you’ll have a painter or a handyman come out and they’ll spackle the crack and paint it and it seems to go away for a while. But of course, as soon as the wall moves again, it shows up.

    What you really have to do here is sand down the area around the crack.

    BETTY: OK.

    TOM: And then you have to cover it with a perforated spackle tape. And that usually looks like netting and it’s a little sticky. You put it across the crack and then you spackle over the tape. And that does a permanent repair, because it actually sort of melds one side of the wall with the other and it should not separate again the next time the wall moves.

    BETTY: OK. Well, that sounds wonderful. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You know, a new vacuum might not be the most glamorous thing you buy but this purchase can make your life a whole lot easier. We’ll share what options make the most sense, 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.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    Bill is up now. He’s from Boston and he’s got a question about his staircase, Leslie.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Bill writes: “I have a disappearing attic stairway that sags, so there’s air coming in our house from the attic and vice versa. What can I do to fix or minimize this? It’s doing a number to my heating bills.”

    TOM: I bet it is, because heat rises. And if that door is not sealed properly, it’s definitely going to let all that heat up into the attic.

    So, I guess the first question is: how saggy is it? Are we just talking about a little bit of gap that you could, say, maybe double up the weather-stripping and that would do it? Or is that spring really shot, really worn out? And if that’s the case, then you need a new stair.

    Now, you could replace it with the same type of stair. They really haven’t changed a whole lot in the last 20 or 30 years. Pretty much all those wood stairs are the same. I, however, found one that I put in most recently to my house, which I really like. It was called a “rainbow stair.” And when you open the rainbow stair, the stair pulls down. It’s all metal, by the way, and the stair pulls down. It’s kind of like an accordion the way it unfolds. But man, when you push it back up, that door seals tight. It’s actually got a metal frame around it and it seals really tight, so I was really happy with that.

    It’s more expensive – probably twice as expensive as the wood stair – but I feel like it was really, really worth it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got a post here from Kim who asks, “How should I be storing and maintaining my firewood supply? I heard that storing it too close to the house can invite termites.”

    TOM: It definitely can invite termites. That wood against the house, the termites are going to come in and feed on that. And one day, they’re going to come in and take a left at the foundation and get into your floor structure instead of the firewood pile. So, you need to keep that away from the house and up off of the ground, as far away as possible, Kim. Do not store it up against the house. You will be feeding a herd of termites, for sure.

    LESLIE: I mean termites have to eat, too, but it doesn’t have to be your house.

    TOM: Well, a new vacuum might not be the most glamorous thing you buy but this purchase can make your life a whole lot easier. Leslie will share what options make the most sense, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, when I bought my new vacuum, it was the best thing I bought in a long time. But second to that, a dishwasher.

    So I am all for buying practical gifts for yourself or your loved ones. Because heck, if you have somebody happy in the house, then everybody is happy in the house. Whoever that is, you can really benefit from a great vacuum.

    Now, when you’re picking out the new vacuum, you’ve got to start with the type of floor, at least the majority of flooring that you have in your house. If you’ve got mostly wall-to-wall carpets, a classic upright is probably going to do the trick for you. Canister vacuums are good choices for homes with a mix of carpet and hardwood but they can be tough to lug around the house. And you’ve got to consider attachments when you’re comparing vacuum prices. There’s no point in paying for a drapery attachment if you don’t have drapes or heck, if you have drapes and you’re not going to use it. So only get the attachments that you’re going to use.

    From there, you have to know your filtration. Now, vacuums that collect to a bag offer almost none of it. If keeping particles out of the air is important, you want to look for a high-efficiency particle air filter; that’s HEPA for short. Now, it absorbs more than 99 percent of larger particles, which is great for household allergies.

    Now, speaking of allergies, you need to steer clear of bagless vacuums if you’re prone to them. Emptying that vacuum bin is going to expose you to all of that collected dust and debris, thus aggravating all of your allergies. So you’ve got to make sure that whatever vacuum you pick, you want to test-drive it before you buy it. You have to make sure you look how it pushes and pulls, that you feel comfortable dragging it around, that you can pick it up comfortably. So many different ways that you use a vacuum every time you use it, you want to test it out before you buy it.

    Now, when it comes time to look at these vacuums, you’re going to be very surprised by their price tags, because they are very high. So, look around, know what you want. Just be ready. They can be expensive.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you have an old, sagging fence that’s bringing down the look of your entire yard? We’re going to have tips for a fast fence makeover you can get done in time for spring, 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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