Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean, Small Bathroom Space Savers, Car Care Tips and more

  • 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: And what are you working on on this fine September day? We are here to help you tackle those home improvement projects. We want to help solve the do-it-yourself dilemma you might be facing. If you’re thinking about a décor project, we’ve got some advice to help you get that done, as well. But help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on this hour of the program, your dishwasher might get your dishes clean but I’ve noticed that it can get pretty grimy in the process.

    I mean, Leslie, have you ever had to wipe out that crud from around the door seal?

    LESLIE: It’s like my least favorite chore. It’s so gross.

    TOM: It’s disgusting.

    Well, we’re going to have tips this hour on a simple way to clean your dishwasher simply by running it with just one additional item.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour – and a small bath can really cramp your style. So we are going to get big ideas for small-bath makeovers without a major renovation. It’s all going to happen when we speak with Richard Trethewey from This Old House.

    TOM: And also ahead, if you enjoy maintaining your home, you probably like to take care of your car, as well. We’re going to step into the garage with tips on protecting your car’s paint job to keep it looking new for years to come.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to win 40 square feet of Timberchic. It’s a peel-and-stick version of actual salvaged wood. And you’ve really got some great decorating options you can do with it.

    It’s a prize worth $480. So give us a call, right now, for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Scott in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SCOTT: Approximately two weeks ago, we had a major thunderstorm down here. We got 8 inches of rain in 1 hour. We bought this house two, three months ago. Previous owners told us they never had rain in the basement – water in the basement. Well, in the front corner side, we got rain that come – that water came in the foundation, up and under the carpet. Not a little but not a lot. Enough to where we had to tear the carpet out and get rid of it.

    And the front of the house is – we’ve got this landscape. Got a retaining block, like a landscape retaining wall, where they’ve got it graded level and bushes and stuff in there. I’m wondering – and that seemed to be the area where it came in at – first come into the basement. Is there something I can do? Do I have to tear that down and just keep it sloped away or …?

    TOM: First of all, a couple of things. Because this happened when such a tremendous storm – I wonder if some of this might be covered by your homeowners insurance. So that’s one thing to look into if you’ve not done it yet. This is not sort of a normal occurrence; this is something that was more of a one-time occurrence brought on by, you know, 8 inches of rainfall. That weather pattern will be well documented. It might, in fact, be something that’s covered by homeowners insurance.

    In terms of the solution, basements flood after rainstorms because of two things that usually go wrong with the drainage. One – and the most important one – is the gutter system. The gutter system has to be free-flowing and the downspouts have to be extended. If your home is susceptible to water in the basement, they need to be extended about 4 to 6 feet away from the house, minimum. Now, most of the time, gutters will be discharging within a foot or so of the foundation. And that water will just go, basically, from your roof right into your basement non-stop.

    Now, the second thing, of course, is grading. And as you mentioned, as you’ve described, when you have a retaining wall right in that sort of – we call the “backfill” zone around the house, where the house is originally excavated and then the soil was pushed back in against the foundation, then you build a retaining wall over that. You’re really preventing any drainage whatsoever from getting away from that wall.

    And you’re right: fixing that is kind of a big deal because you have to take the retaining wall down or you have to improve the grading in some way to get it moving away. You may have to use some stone at the front edge of that so water can get through it.

    What I would suggest to you is to work on the gutter system first. Because that causes most of the problems, in my experience. And then if you still have an ongoing issue, then deal with the drainage second. But fixing the gutter system is the easiest first step. Make sure that those downspouts are extended away from the house.

    If you want to really do something on a permanent basis, you could run those downspouts underground through solid PVC pipe. Not the perforated kind but solid PVC pipe. And then break that out to grade somewhere or through a curve into the street, whatever is permitted by your local municipality. Or you could possibly go out solid for, say, 20 feet and then use perforated pipe in a stone trench and have it run back in the soil there when it’s well away from the house. But manage that roof water first and then worry about the drainage second, because that’s obviously much more difficult and more costly to correct.

    Now, if you tackle those projects in that order, I think you’ll be good to go and pretty much flood-free. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Donna in Arkansas is on the line and has a noise issue. How noisy is that place?

    DONNA: Well, I don’t know. My son and his roommate live in a duplex. And the common wall between their living rooms, they can hear the neighbors and so I’m sure the neighbors can hear them. They were just wondering what they could do on that wall to block some of the noise.

    TOM: What they would need to do requires a pretty significant addition to the existing wall. What they would do is they would have to put a second layer of drywall over the existing layer.

    And there’s two options here. You can use a noise-resistant drywall; there’s a couple of different brands of this out there. And basically, it has some sound-deadening built into it. Or you can use a product called Green Glue, which is sort of like a gelatin-like adhesive. And you would apply that to the old wall and then you would put new drywall over that. And that creates a noise barrier.

    And you also have to be very careful around the outlets and any openings in the wall. And they have to be sealed properly. And even after you do all of that, you will still probably get some sound through that wall.

    Unfortunately, soundproofing is not – is harder to do after the fact than it is to do when you’re building it from scratch. So, not always the answer, exactly, that you want to hear but that’s really what it takes to try to soundproof the rooms in this situation.

    DONNA: Alright. Well, we sure appreciate you taking our call and thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. 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 fully a week into the fall season, so now we’re all fall home improvement pros. Right, guys?

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Of course not. Let us give you a hand. We know this is a big, busy season. You’ve got a lot of stuff to work on around your money pit. We’re here for you – we get it; we’re doing it, too – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, a dirty dishwasher can’t deliver clean dishes. We’re going to give you some tips to help you keep that dishwasher clean and sparkly, after this.

    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: And welcome to the official start of fall. Yes, this weekend, we kick off the fall season. If you’re thinking about tackling a fall home improvement project, pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or head on over to and post your question to our website.

    LESLIE: Mack in Missouri is on the line and has a question about a pool. What can we do for you?

    MACK: Well, every year I seem to open my pool up in the spring and it’s always green. I would have to drain it and clean it out and all that stuff. So, I had this brilliant idea to just leave it going all winter long: just put the cover on it, put it on timer and just keep it open and have it come on every day for – you know, every 15 minutes every couple hours or something so it doesn’t freeze. What do you think about that crazy idea?

    LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you. We have a pool, Mack, at my family – like my parents own a summer house out on the North Fork of Long Island. Every spring, we take off that cover. That pool is the nastiest, green-looking thing you’ve ever seen. We have never drained the water. You use a whole sort of chemicals, which is sad, but you shock that water, you get the system up and running and it goes right back to beautiful, crystal blue and we’re swimming in it in no time.

    MACK: Yeah, I know. It takes a lot of chemicals to do that.

    LESLIE: I know. But the other option is – I mean I wouldn’t leave things running all winter long. I feel like it’s going to put pressure on the system, it’s going to overload. You’re not probably getting the proper amount of air and things into it that it needs because the pool is covered. But if you’re so frustrated with it and the chemicals, why not think about a salt-water pool?

    MACK: Because I’m cheap.

    TOM: At least you’re honest about it.

    MACK: Well, I know you guys like honesty, so I’ll probably go against all conventional advice and try it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Natalie in Wisconsin is on the line and is having some issues with old windows. Tell us about the problem.

    NATALIE: Hi. I have vinyl windows, which served us very well. But now that they’re older and I want to raise them up, oh, 5 or 6 inches, they won’t stay there. So I have to brace them up or else they’ll fall down and they are quite heavy. Do you have any recommendations?

    TOM: So, the window jambs have springs in them and the springs have obviously broken down. And the problem with vinyl windows is, unless it’s a name brand where you can easily find parts, is that it’s really almost impossible to get those fixed.


    TOM: And so I’m not going to have a really good solution for you here, Natalie. If it was an old wood window, we could talk about ways to deal with that. But because it’s a vinyl window, it’s already an upgraded window. And if the internal parts are breaking down, it’s difficult to find repair parts for that.

    NATALIE: OK. Yes, I have been trying and I didn’t have any luck so far.

    TOM: Well, I would search online for the manufacturer and see if there are repair parts available. But short of that, it might be time to start thinking about new windows.

    NATALIE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    The dishwasher has to be one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented. Certainly, I thought about that when I was 12 and switched from having to wash all the dishes in the house to using the dishwasher. It’s better to use a dishwasher than to be a dishwasher. I think we’ve established that.

    LESLIE: Right. Agreed.

    TOM: But over time, it can get pretty nasty inside. And the machine itself needs to be cleaned. It’s not going to deliver very clean dishes if it’s going to come from a very dirty appliance.

    LESLIE: That’s true. So, here are some cleaning tips, courtesy of Glisten Cleaners. And they are the machine-cleaning experts.

    First of all, you’ve got to wipe around the edges of the door and around the gasket with a damp cloth. This space never gets washed during the dishwasher cycle. And you’ve got to do the same for the bottom of the door.

    TOM: Now, also at the bottom of most dishwashers – or it could be under the lower spray arm – there’s a filter. And the filter needs to be cleaned regularly. Now, removing it is usually pretty straightforward. But if you have any doubt, you might want to look it up in your dishwasher’s owner’s manual.

    And by the way, if you can’t find your owner’s manual, I have found that almost every owner’s manual imaginable is online these days. Just Google the name of your appliance; you might find it.

    And speaking of the spray arm, you want to also keep that clean. It gets clogged up. There’s little holes in there clogged with food or hard-water buildup. And your dishwasher will do a lot better job of cleaning the dishes if those holes are clear.

    LESLIE: Finally, go ahead and pick up some Glisten Dishwasher Magic and let it do the work for you. It’s a dishwasher cleaner, deodorizer and disinfectant. And it’s going to help extend the life and performance of your dishwasher by removing lime, calcium, iron, soap scum, grease and all those other buildup things that you get left behind from just regular usage.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s also the only EPA-registered dishwasher cleaner. Glisten Dishwasher Magic will clean, freshen, maintain and extend the life of your dishwasher. You can look for Glisten Dishwasher Magic in the household-cleaning aisle. And check out the full line of Glisten appliance cleaners at

    LESLIE: Sam in Idaho, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SAM: I have a [life of] (ph) cedar fencing someone gave me. I’m going to plan it. It’s 10 or 12 years old, never been in the ground. I’m just curious if you would recommend treating the post.

    TOM: Well, you can treat the posts if you want to put like a wood life on it. And make sure you get it into the end grain. It’ll help a little bit.

    But the best way to stop that post from rotting is more about the installation. And what I would recommend is this: I would use a post-hole digger to dig it – the hole – just slightly wider than the post itself. I would put about 4 inches of gray gravel stone in the bottom of the hole, set the post on top of that stone and then use the rest of the stone to fill around the post and tamp it down.

    Now, you can use a tamping iron or if you don’t have a tamping iron, you can use the butt end of a 2×4 to do the same thing. But do not concrete those posts into the ground, because the concrete will hold a lot of water against the post. It will cause rapid deterioration. If you just put the stone in, it’ll be really, really strong and it’ll drain well. So, that’s the best way to preserve it.

    SAM: OK, guys. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line and needs some help revamping a dresser. Tell us about your project.

    SHERRY: Yes. I’ve got this dresser that my father found in a garage. It’s all wood and it’s beautiful but somebody has painted it white. And I would like to get the white paint off.

    LESLIE: For good or to put stain on or to paint over it again?

    SHERRY: Yeah, I’m thinking to put stain on. I think it’s all wood. It looks like a really nice piece of furniture. It also has framed drawers. I don’t know; I guess that’s what it’s called. It has the wood around the drawers. So I’m thinking that’s going to make it really hard.

    LESLIE: So it’s like a glass front door with a wood frame?

    SHERRY: Well, it’s not glass. It’s all wood but the wood has a good frame around it.

    LESLIE: Alright. It shouldn’t be a problem.

    What you have to do is if there’s any doors or drawer fronts or things, you want to either pull out the drawers or just take off the drawer fronts. You really want to make it easy to work on things, so you need a lot of flat surfaces.

    So with the doors, with the framework, try to take them off if you can. Leave the hinges either on the door back or in the dresser itself. And then get everything on a flat surface. And you need to find a good paint remover, a stripper product. I’ve used Rock Miracle before. I like it because it’s got a really thick consistency and you kind of slather it on there. And you can actually see where it is, rather than brushing something on and making – wondering if you’ve covered all spots. And then you really want to follow the directions.

    So you have to let it sit on there as long as they tell you to. And then you want to use a paint scraper to gently sort of scrape the paint off the surface, because you don’t want to gouge anything into it. Because that will show up when you start working on it in the future. And you could have to do it a couple of times.

    Now, depending on the type of wood that’s underneath that white paint, you might not be able to get all of the paint off. So you really have to kind of experiment with it and see how well it is removable.

    And then once you’ve done that a couple of times, you’re going to wipe it down. Then you might still have to sand it in a couple of places with a very fine sandpaper, to make sure that you get all the last bits of the paint off. Then you want to wipe it down with a tack cloth and then prep it for staining.

    So, that’s when you really want to make sure that you’ve got it perfectly beautiful and clean and ready to go before you put the stain on. Because once you start to put the stain on, everything’s going to show.

    SHERRY: OK. Now, what was the name of that product again?

    LESLIE: I like one called Rock Miracle. It comes in what almost looks like a turpentine can. But there are all different kinds. So, you know, you might want to pop into your local home improvement center, ask them which one they like to work with because you might not be able to find Rock Miracle at your place. But definitely feel it out and ask somebody at your local home center what they recommend. But that’s the one I like; I’ve used it a lot of times.

    SHERRY: OK. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome. Good luck with it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Sandy in South Dakota is on the line with a funny smell coming from the basement. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    SANDY: Our basement is – got a real bad, musty smell to it. And we’ve had fans going down there all summer long, we’ve had a dehumidifier going year-round. And I can’t get rid of the musty smell. I don’t know what to do with it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do.

    First of all, the musty smell is because you have an excessive amount of moisture and humidity down there. So we want to do some things to try to reduce that amount of moisture. You’re going to start outside your house and examine your gutter system. You want to make sure that you have gutters, that the gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the downspouts are discharging 4 to 6 feet, minimum, away from the foundation.

    SANDY: They do.

    TOM: They do. Alright. And then after that water discharges, does it run away from the wall?

    SANDY: It runs away from the house, yes.

    TOM: So, I’d like you to take a look at those gutters in a heavier rainfall, just to make sure they’re not becoming overwhelmed. Because that usually is a source of many moisture problems.

    If the gutters are working well, then we need to look at the grading around the house. The soil should slope away and drop 6 inches on 4 feet. And that soil grade should be made up of clean fill dirt, not topsoil, not mulch or grass. You could have a little bit of topsoil and grass on top of it but you have to establish the slope first with fill dirt. And the reason you’re doing this is because you want rainfall that hits to run away from the house and not sit up against the house. That slope is really, really important.

    If that’s done, then going down to the basement area, we could make sure that the walls are properly sealed with a damp-proofing paint and then a dehumidifier on top of that. But the dehumidifier has to be properly sized for the basement space and it has to be drained – set up with a condensate pump so that it drains outside.

    And those steps together are usually going to take out as much moisture as you possibly can.

    SANDY: OK. Thank you.

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

    Well, from single sinks to limited square-footage, smaller bathrooms often leave much to be desired. But you don’t have to make a bathroom bigger just to make it better. We’re going to tell you how you can do that, next.

    MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner and you’re listening to The Money Pit. I love these guys. Can I move in?

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And the weather is perfect for so many great fall projects. You can go on over to to get our fall-project checklist and make sure your home is ready for winter.

    LESLIE: Well, a few things that all old-house lovers, like me and Tom, are familiar with are drafty windows, less-than-perfect plumbing, squeaky floors and this one’s my favorite, guys: small bathrooms. Love them.

    TOM: That’s right. Well, new home baths have nearly doubled in size over the past 30 years. Most older-home bathrooms average about 5 foot by 8 foot. And short of ripping out walls to increase space, you may think you have few options. But there are ways to use the space to its fullest potential. Here with tips to do just that is This Old House plumbing-and-heating contractor Richard Trethewey.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys.

    TOM: So, Richard, if your bathroom is snug, remodeling is always an option. But it can be expensive, right?

    RICHARD: It can. I mean many times, it’s as much as an automobile. For somebody – for a professional organization to come in and, on the Monday, rip out the bathroom for a day or two, rough it in for two or three days, completely rebuild it, another two or three days to tile it and stuff like that, it can be a big deal. It can be $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 for a full remodel. That’s not inconsequential and many people can’t afford it and don’t need to.

    What you can also do is do some cosmetic remodeling, which is what most people want to do, which is a way to say, “How can we get the most for the least?” And you do small-scale changes and additions to the bathroom to clearly – to create the space or at least to create the illusion of the space that you need.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: You can’t change the physical size.

    Corner sinks have been terrific, you know. Corner sinks allow you to say, “Instead of taking up that vanity width – which is generally 22, 24 inches wide – let’s tuck that little, beautiful corner sink, 15 inches on either side, into a corner.” It might have a pedestal leg or not. Pedestal legs, I will warn you, are tricky because you have to make sure they are roughed in perfectly. The wall-hung sinks at least let you come in from either side, so they’re a lot more forgiving in …

    TOM: Right. More flexibility in terms of how you [home it up] (ph).

    RICHARD: Absolutely. And so that’s one way. That’s for the sink.

    Now, the other thing is the shower. You can get a very comfortable, reasonable shower by going into the corner. They call them a “quadrant shower” but really, it’s just going to have a 36 – a 33- or 36-inch from each corner and then that rounded front that allows you to have a little more space, much like those – you know what I also love are those rounded shower curtains, which come out just so that the …

    TOM: Reach out a little bit.

    LESLIE: Gives you more space inside, yeah.

    RICHARD: Gives you a little more space inside. It’s another illusion-changer.

    But these quadrant units allow you to have plenty of space and then close up that door and keep the water in.

    TOM: And they’re really attractive, too. They’re very modern-looking.

    RICHARD: They are better. There was a day that a shower was this really utilitarian, awful, little box. It was like being in a bad, little coffin. And now, this thing really lets you breathe and the corner ones are great.

    LESLIE: I think another thing that people are really in need of, with small bathrooms, is storage. You store so many things in a bath and especially in an older home, you’re not given that extra closet to put linens in.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Oh, that’s right.

    LESLIE: So now your bath closet is everything.

    RICHARD: It’s not just linens. It’s bath products, it’s where do you store those extra towels. So there’s all sorts of cool, little things you can have. There’s a whole world of shelving units that go on top of the tank top, right above the toilet-tank top, really. So now you can have shelving there. You can have little storage units that are designed to fit that 22- to 24-inch-wide space which represents the top of the toilet tank.

    TOM: And use up all that vertical space.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: You can go right up to the ceiling.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah. And that’s been great. They’re not always that attractive but there’s also those two poles that can go on either side of the toilet tank. And that allows you shelving right to the top of the ceiling. And in small bathrooms, you’ve got to fight for it.

    TOM: Just towel storage takes up the most room.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: And it can actually be attractive to have all your towels rolled up and stuck right there.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen some beautiful, sort of medicine-grade, like doctor-grade, white cabinetry where you fold the towels beautifully. And it really is terrific. It’s a relatively small space. It’d be …

    LESLIE: I actually have an antique pharmacy cabinet.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: It locks. It looks all …

    RICHARD: That’s it. That’s exactly it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s really nice.

    RICHARD: And some beautiful hotels do that, too, where they present the towel as part of the decoration instead of hiding it in a closet somewhere.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey – he’s the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House – about how to make a small bath seem bigger.

    Richard, what about some of the fixtures and the faucets out there? You mentioned corner sinks and corner showers but we’re even seeing smaller tubs and different types of sinks, like vessel sinks, that can seem to give you a lot more room.

    RICHARD: Well, the last thing you want to do, with a conventional bathtub – the standard bathtub in America – is take a bath in it. It is not deep enough to actually …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s terrible.

    RICHARD: It’s really not deep enough. So, there, you could go with more of a deeper, deeper tub where you can get in and it could be 4 feet – and don’t overlook the beauty of a what they call the Essex tub, the tub on legs. They were designed to bathe in and then we gave up – we gave them up for the utility of a shower. But if somebody really wants to have an extraordinary bath, those tubs on legs, they tuck right underneath – against the wall and they’re much more functional as far as taking a bath.

    TOM: Now, are those tubs taller? Just not as wide?

    RICHARD: They’re slightly taller. Yeah, slightly taller.

    LESLIE: They’re just deeper.

    RICHARD: Right. But the standard tub right now is only – at the most, it’s a 14-inch off the …

    LESLIE: I can either have my shoulders and back wet in the tub, with my legs sticking straight up in the air, or just my legs in the water.

    RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Right. That’s right.

    TOM: You decide.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s a choice. I have to choose.

    RICHARD: Imagine me.

    TOM: Yeah. And what about the sinks today? Aside from the corner sinks, we’re seeing a lot in vessel sinks. Those can give you more countertop space, right?

    RICHARD: Right. The evolution of lavatory sinks has always been – in the old days, it was – they used to be a stainless-steel rim which held the sink. And that was always a place where it was – get gunked up. And then they went to a self-rimming, which meant that it sort of sat down on top of a countertop. Well, that meant that your width was pretty dramatic; it was just going to be 22×19 or 22 round. And so it took up every bit of the top of the vanity.

    You can actually fool your eye with these sort of vessel sinks, which looks like a still-life bowl.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: It looks like a bowl you put food in. And it stands – so it stands beautifully proud on a flat surface. But now it gives you a little additional storage space for toiletries and things like that on – that actually exist underneath the crown of that lavatory. So people love those.

    I, personally – I’m not that thrilled with them because once water gets outside the vessel, you can’t wipe it back into the – so, if you have – it’s not – I don’t think it’s the most functional for the bathroom where young kids will be using it every day.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: But it’s beautiful for a half-bath or a decorative, smaller bath.

    TOM: Now, aside from the plumbing fixtures, you can do a lot with lighting to make these small spaces look bigger, can’t you?

    RICHARD: Yeah. I mean it’s amazing. Maybe it’s my eyesight but everywhere I go, it seems the lighting is terrible. And there’s all sorts of ways that you can make a room feel bigger, both with mirrors and with lighting, which sort of makes the place come alive a little bit. It doesn’t feel like this awful – because sometimes, these small bathrooms are tucked underneath stairs. They’re dark and dingy. And so proper lighting – and the fact is, if you’re going to make it be a bathroom that you need for shaving or for hygiene to see your face, you’ve got to have decent lighting to make that happen. And there’s got to be something besides those Hollywood lights that we grew up with around the medicine cabinet.

    LESLIE: Yes. The powder-room, makeup-artist lights.

    RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right.

    LESLIE: And as all the ladies listening can attest, we don’t wake up looking like this.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: We need lighting to put our makeup on properly.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: It only takes a little while.

    RICHARD: Only takes a little while.

    TOM: See, that’s where a dimmer comes in. You can start low and kind of bring it up.

    RICHARD: That’s right. A dimmer.

    LESLIE: No, a dimmer is also known as a confidence booster.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: There you go.

    RICHARD: “I look better now.”

    TOM: And our bathrooms will, as well.

    Richard Trethewey, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    RICHARD: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. 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 by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, if you’re an avid DIYer, we suspect you probably spend a lot of time at The Home Depot. And now, the mecca of DIY supplies to take care of your home is expanding into car care. We’ll have more, after this.

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We’ve got the answer to your home improvement project and you’ll have a chance to win 40 square feet of Timberchic.

    This is a very cool product. It’s a peel-and-stick version of actual salvaged wood and it allows you to do some really great decorating options. You can put it up on a wall, you can put it up as a chair rail. It’s a beautiful product.

    It’s actually worth $480 and we’re going to give it away this hour of the show. So pick up the phone and call us, right now, for your chance to win. You’ve got to have a home improvement question. Dial it in to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ed in Colorado is on the line with a basement-plumbing question. What can we help you with today?

    ED: Oh, I live in the area of Colorado that suffered from the floods. Fortunately, I wasn’t one of the persons that had a flood but some of my friends that did have had sewerage backup in their basements. And somebody mentioned that there was such a thing as a check valve that can be installed that still lets it act as a drain but will stop any backups. And I was wondering if you have a recommendation, if there’s any problem with them that you know of.

    TOM: Yeah, Ed, that’s called a “backflow preventer valve” and it’s a type of valve that is installed in the main waste line. And it does just what you explained. If the sewage flow reverses and there’s pressure onto the sewage pipe to kind of pump that sewage back into your house – which can get terrible, because it can come up through every drain in the house – the backflow preventer valve will stop that from happening.

    But just keep in mind that it’s not to be confused with the sewer trap, which stops sewage gas from backing up. You actually need the sewer trap but you also need the backflow preventer valve, especially if you have an area that apparently is susceptible to this.

    So I think it would be a good thing to do. You’re going to need a plumber to install it. It’s a bit of a project, because you’ve got to get access to the line to do it, but it is a good idea to have it done.

    ED: Do I have access through the drain and the little screen that’s over the top of it?

    TOM: Well, the line has to be actually – this is a valve that has to be plumbed into it, so it depends on whether or not there’s enough room to kind of move the pipes around to get this backflow preventer valve in there.

    ED: Oh, we’d have to bust up some concrete in that case.

    TOM: Well, perhaps. Or certainly, you’d have to extend the line that’s there, OK?

    ED: Alright. Well, thank you very much for your time.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    And hey, if you enjoy taking care of your home, you like to keep up its comfort and its value, we suspect that you just might feel the same way about your car.

    I mean around my neighborhood, Leslie, if we’re not picking up paintbrushes on the weekends, we’re out there with towels and hands and polishing our cars.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s important, too. You know, your car had a nice, new finish when it left the factory. But that finish can dull and wear off over time, leaving the paint to fend for itself against the elements.

    Now, if you clean and wax your car on a regular basis, that paint finish will stand up to strong sun, dirt, grime, ice and salt.

    TOM: And a great product to help you do just that is Barrett-Jackson Premium Liquid Wax now available at The Home Depot. It comes with everything you need to wax your vehicle. And the best part is it doesn’t leave a white film on plastic or trim, which is a real advantage. Plus, it’s easy to apply using the foam applicator. Just wipe off the haze with a microfiber towel and you’re all set.

    LESLIE: And thanks to a growing demand and the fact that so many of you home improvers are taking on car care, too, The Home Depot now added a full line of products to help, both in-store and online at, including auto-cleaning accessories and even everything that you need for an oil change.

    TOM: Visit your local Home Depot store or check out the entire automotive-care line at

    888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

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

    CYNTHIA: I have white dust on my shoes – my leather shoes – and my purses inside my closet. And my shoes can be inside of a shoebox and I don’t understand what it is.

    TOM: Do you have a heating duct inside that closet?

    CYNTHIA: No. But right outside the closet, I do.

    TOM: Well, generally, if you get a lot of dust in the air, then you don’t have good filtration in your heating system. And so, if you have a forced-air system, you ought to have a good-quality filter on the return duct. And unfortunately, a lot of folks use those fiberglass filters which don’t filter very much. I always call them “rock-stoppers” because everything else goes right through.

    But if you improve the quality of the filtration on your heating system, that will go a long way to cleaning the air in your home and reducing the amount of dust that’s laying not only on your shoes, in this case, but on your tables and chairs and everything else in the house.

    CYNTHIA: OK, great. Thank you. Have a great day.

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

    Hey, do you know that – the single, most cost-effective way you can cut your heating costs this winter? Well, it’s adding insulation. We’re going to tell you how much you really need, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit

    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: And what are you working on this fine weekend? I’ll tell you what we’re doing. We’re setting up a new bed in our house.

    I picked up a bed, Leslie, from and these are the people that we talked about several weeks ago on the show.

    LESLIE: How big was the box?

    TOM: The box was – OK, well, I’ll compare it to something I’m familiar with: a water heater?

    LESLIE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: It’s about half the size of a water heater. It was not – like the size of a barrel, I would say, right?

    LESLIE: So not mattress-sized?

    TOM: Not mattress-sized, no. It was all squished down. It was in sort of a round, plastic bag. And then when you release this big, it’s amazing. The whole thing swells right up and it becomes this beautiful, full-size mattress. And I tell you what, we love it. It comes with a 120-day, money-back guarantee. If you didn’t like it, you could send it back. I guess that’s possible. Somehow they’ll figure that out for you.

    But we really, really love it. And we posted the pictures on Facebook, so you can see what this thing looks like when it expands. It’s really pretty cool. So, very impressed with it and getting a better night’s sleep as a result. That was our project for the start of fall.

    LESLIE: Awesome. Well, you guys, check out that video, watch this mattress spring to life. And now you’ll see what Tom’s bedroom looks like, heh, heh, heh.

    And while you’re online, you can post your question. And we’re going to get to that right now. I’ve got one from Quinn who writes: “I have a second floor which is partially finished and partially a walk-in attic. The attic area’s insulation is in terrible shape but it is only above my two-car garage. Is there any reason at all I should insulate this space better?”

    TOM: OK. So let’s talk first about where insulation belongs. Insulation belongs between conditioned and unconditioned space. So, if you have an attached garage, the conditioned wall would be the wall between the garage and the house. If the roof is continuous across the whole thing, you would usually just insulate to that outer wall of the garage and again, which is the mark between conditioned and unconditioned space.

    So, if you’re telling me that this garage space is not connected thermally, so to speak, to any other part of the house, then it doesn’t need insulation above it. And so, you don’t really need it. What you do need, though, when you’re dealing with a two-car – with any kind of garage and you have an attic to access there is that access has to be fire-rated. So it can’t be just a piece of ½-inch drywall or worse yet, a piece of plywood. It’s got to have a one-hour firewall, which is what’s required between a garage and a house.

    So, otherwise, I don’t think you need to deal with it, Quinn.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Marissa who writes: “I’d like to install a fridge with water dispenser and ice maker. There’s no easy access to a water line. The fridge is on an inside wall and the home is on a slab. I would have to go up and over from my sink. Is this doable?”

    TOM: OK. So here’s the thing. With water that’s going to an ice maker, you only need to use what’s called a “saddle valve.” So, a saddle valve can basically clamp on or pierce any other water line that’s in the area. So if there was, for example, a half-bath behind this, you could pull the water from there, run it through the wall and into the dishwasher or from the kitchen sink.

    Now, a lot of times, what’ll happen is people will run a thin PEX line from the dishwasher, through the cabinetry, kind of drilling holes along the back of the cabinetry and under the sink that way. But you’ve got to find that water somewhere with the least distance. Don’t be afraid to run it through the cabinets or through the wall until you do just that.

    LESLIE: And lucky you, an automatic ice maker. Enjoy.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on a beautiful fall weekend. If you’ve got questions about your home improvement projects, if you need some help planning them or getting out of a jam that you kind of found yourself in when you got this one started, remember you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or always post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at We are here to help you.

    Thank you so much for being a part of this program. 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 2015 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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