- Pro-Style Kitchen Ranges: Learn how a pro-style kitchen range improves your cooking power and adds value to your home.
- Home Standby Generators: If your home loses power, having a standby generator is not just a convenience but also a good investment.
- Storage Space: When it comes to storage space, every inch counts. Find out where to look for hidden storage options in your home.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Brick Walls: The dark brick wall in Cathy’s house needs some brightening up. We offer some ideas that may be better alternatives to painting the brick.
- Smoke Odors: Lingering smoke odors are a persistent challenge in the house James just bought. We’ll tell him how to get rid of the smell that’s embedded in the carpeting, flooring, walls, and window treatments.
- Painting: How should you paint over a ceiling that currently has oil-based paint that’s not sold anymore? Laura will need to clean the surface well and use latex-based paint with less sheen to hide imperfections.
- Wet Basement: Bobby thinks the water in his basement is coming from a rising water table, but we’ll explain why the problem is really poor grading and drainage outside his house.
- Insulation: Gonzalo is determined to seal any air leaks to make his home as energy efficient as possible. We have info about ways to test how well it’s insulated and why things shouldn’t be too airtight.
- Household Pests: Pesky fruit flies are a nuisance. Karen finds out about an effective product that helps to trap flies and mosquitoes, too.
- Portable Generator: Is there a convenient way to power up a portable generator since it’s unsafe to run it inside a house or garage? Tony can use a transfer switch instead of trying a DIY project to create a new socket through the wall.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on the projects inside and outside of your house that you want to get done this fall. So, if there is one on your to-do list – and we know there is because, heck, we’ve all got those lists that just seem to grow and sometimes never end. Mine tend to extend before they end with the last set, so they’re just sort of rolling over all the time. There’s always something to do but I guess it keeps me out of trouble or it gets me into it, one way or the other. But if you’ve got a project list and you need some help getting started, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Coming up on today’s show, few things are better to find in an upscale kitchen like a commercial range. They are beautiful, they’re beefy. They’re just so impressive, so we’re going to share some tips on how to choose a pro-style range that will boost your cooking powers and your home’s resale value.
LESLIE: And not all home improvements deliver the same return on investment but …
TOM: Oh, come on. We know a man cave does, right? It always does.
LESLIE: Yes, oh, yes. That’s top – top, top, top – of the list, followed closely behind by she-shed, so definitely two huge improvements.
TOM: Of course. And let’s not forget the we-shed.
LESLIE: Alright. But we’re going to actually ask the experts over at Consumer Reports. And we’re going to find out the one that really does deliver a fantastic return on investment. And you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s a home standby generator. So we’re going to look at these convenient personal power plants. Maybe you’ve got one at your she-shed or he-shed or man cave, whatever you want to call it. But either way, putting in a whole-home standby generator, that is a definite excellent return on investment. So we’ll find out more about that.
TOM: And are you looking for more storage space to hide the clutter in your home? I mean who isn’t? Well, you’ve got nooks, you’ve got crannies and you’ve got other untapped turf. And everybody’s got this space in their home and it’s kind of hiding in plain sight. So we’re going to give you some tips on where to look to pick up some not-so-hidden storage space and make it really work well for you.
LESLIE: But first, whether you are doing or dreaming, whatever that project is we can help you make your home everything that you want it to be. So give us a call, shoot us an email, post your question. Whatever it is, we are standing by to lend a hand. This is the perfect home improvement season. The weather is great for projects, both inside and out, so let us help you get all of those projects started before the big holiday hurrahs are right around the corner. They’re about to happen, so let’s get your house ready.
TOM: Two ways to do just that. You can go to MoneyPit.com/Ask or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kathy in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KATHY: In our rental, we have a big wall of brick where the fireplace is. And it’s a dark corner. And I was wondering if we would be able to paint that brick without a whole lot of trouble, to brighten it up in that corner?
TOM: You can paint it but you’d better be sure it’s what you want to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. Painting brick is – it’s kind of irreversible. Once you put the paint on, because the brick is so porous it’s just going to get sucked into every little interior nook and cranny of that brick. So should you ever decide that you would like it to be brick again, it’s a lot of stripping and sandblasting. It’s a big to-do. So you want to make sure that that’s something you really want to do. If it’s just the ugliest brick ever, I get it.
KATHY: Well, it’s the only way to lighten up that area that I can think of.
LESLIE: It’s a corner?
KATHY: It’s a corner of the living room but it’s one wall of the living room. It’s the whole wall right up next to the sliding-glass door. So all the way over to the sliding-glass door it’s all brick, from floor to ceiling.
LESLIE: Have you thought about putting mirrors, like an assorted group of mirrors or adding a different light fixture? There are ways that you can brighten the space with decoration.
KATHY: I hadn’t thought of the mirrors. That might be a good idea.
LESLIE: If you do a cute cluster, almost like a little gallery grouping of different size and shape mirrors and mixing metals and doing something really purposeful and fun and creating a moment, that’s a great way to do it.
KATHY: There’s no electrical in the ceiling.
LESLIE: You don’t need electrical in the ceiling. There are plenty of pendant lamps that plug into an outlet that you can use as swag that – is that what it’s called, “swag”?
KATHY: It’s still called “swag”? Yeah.
LESLIE: Right? Swag [the word] (ph)?
TOM: Yeah, I think so.
LESLIE: You can do something like that and there are really great ways to do that. So you plug in a light fixture and then suddenly, you have a beautiful mini-chandelier or something. There are so many. If you look online for a decorative light fixture with a plug-in, with a plug, you’ll find so many.
LESLIE: And then make sure you can get one of those things that looks like a scrunchie, that you wrap over the electrical cord itself so it hides just the wiring. It’s really easy to do.
KATHY: Alright. I’ll think on those lines, yep. Easier than painting.
LESLIE: There’s even sconces that are plug-in. So you can create a whole, little gallery thing with mirrors and plug-in sconces and really brighten up that space.
KATHY: OK. Thank you, guys.
LESLIE: James in Georgia is on the line with a new home that’s coming with a stinky scent.
Tell us what’s going on.
JAMES: Just got a home that had obviously been smoked in, not only cigarettes but cigars from the previous owner.
TOM: Bleh. Yuck.
JAMES: And yeah, it is horrible, you know. And made my teenager just kind of sick even being in there. So, was going to do a slight remodel before we moved in anyway. I need to maybe pull the carpet out but other than that, I’m kind of at a loss. I didn’t know – would painting help? Should I clean the ductwork or – I’m just kind of really at a loss on maybe what I could do to get rid of the smell.
TOM: The problem is that that smoke gets into everything. So we’re talking about the entire house here or is it just one room?
JAMES: Oh, no, no. It’s the entire house.
TOM: So, in order to really clean out that smell, you would have to pull the carpet. You could have it cleaned but I suspect that it – there’s still going to be some residual. And then once you pull the carpet, then you have to paint the subfloor underneath the carpet, because that smoke soaks in, yeah.
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve got to lock that odor in.
TOM: So you need to use a primer-quality paint to seal in that smoke odor. You need to do the same thing with the walls and ceilings. They have to be washed and then re-primed. And of course, you’ve got to get rid of any drapes or any other fabrics that are around.
LESLIE: Well, even wallpaper.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. Even wallpaper can soak it in.
JAMES: Yeah. I noticed there was wallpaper in a couple of the rooms.
TOM: Yep. And that all – so I think you’re just going to have to tackle it one step at a time. But basically, that smoke gets into everything and you have to pull out those materials and seal underneath them in order to try to clear it.
JAMES: OK. And do you guys have any recommendations? Is there any way to clean the ductwork or anything? I just didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on all the rest of it, then it just gets kicked back in.
TOM: Well, you – the ductwork may just be dusty. I don’t know that that’s going to be the biggest problem. I think you’re going to find that most of this odor is not so much the ductwork, because the ductwork is metal. It doesn’t really soak in stuff. So, I think you’re going to find most of this is going to be in the drywall and in the subfloor and in the carpet and in those surfaces. And that’s why they have to be cleaned and primed and then repainted.
JAMES: Something with a sealer/primer?
TOM: Yeah, I would recommend that you use an oil-based primer for this, because it really does a good job of sealing in whatever’s underneath it. And that will be all you’ll need at the subfloor and you can carpet back over that or put whatever flooring down you want over that. But for the walls, you can go ahead and prime them in and then you could do a top layer of paint over that. But you’ve got to do that first. I would use a solid-based or oil-based primer for it, OK?
JAMES: Awesome. Thank you, guys. I greatly appreciate you taking my call.
TOM: Yes, you’re very welcome. Sorry that happened to you and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Heading out to Illinois, we’ve got Laura on the line who’s looking to do a project with oil-based paint but finding out it’s not available in the state.
What’s going on?
LAURA: My ceilings are painted with oil-based paint and we now live in the state of Illinois. And they say they do not sell oil-based paint and I’m wondering how I can paint my ceilings.
TOM: Laura, we’re hearing more and more questions like this from those that live in states where oil-based or solvent-based paint is becoming more restrictive. I understand that it’s still available. It’s expensive, sometimes only in smaller quantities. But in your case, when we’re talking about a ceiling, I think as long as you clean that ceiling well, then you can use a latex-based or an alkyd-based primer. KILZ has a good-quality primer that’s water cleanup and that would give you the same-quality finish.
We’ve got to remember that the primer is the sort of the glue that makes that paint stick. And so, as long as you have a clean surface and you use a good-quality alkyd primer, I think you should be OK. And you could put ceiling paint on top of that which, by the way, also has different qualities to it. So make sure you look for ceiling paint.
And my recommendation, Leslie, with this is to always use flat. Because if you use anything with a sheen, you’re going to see those defects, right? Those nail pops and stuff?
LESLIE: Well, I mean anything with a sheen is going to make any imperfections super obvious. So, once something starts to kind of go awry, you’re going to notice before you would with the flat paint. So I would definitely recommend a lesser sheen when possible.
Well, few things define an upscale kitchen like a commercial range. You know, those heavy, cast-iron grates, the beefy knobs, the high-BTU burners. The pro-style range has become the modern-day hearth. It really is the focal point in your home’s main gathering space.
Now, of course, a serious stove can boost your cooking powers, too, not to mention your home’s resale value. So, what do you need to know if you’re looking at one of these brawny beauties for your kitchen?
TOM: Well, they do add a very dramatic look to your kitchen. But Leslie, they’re actually not commercial ranges, because commercial ranges don’t have the same level of insulation. And they can actually be unsafe. They get too hot for a wood-framed house. They need special fireproofing.
So, instead, manufacturers offer what is generally called a “pro-style range.” In other words, a commercially-styled range but it’s not really the same range that you might see in a kitchen. And they’re scaled, also, to fit sort of the standard-depth counters, which that wouldn’t apply if it was really a commercial range. And they’ve got beefed-up insulation to keep them safe.
Now, their biggest burners still blast out an amazing 18,000 to 25,000 BTUs, which is huge because a basic range on high is like 12,000 BTUs.
LESLIE: That’s pretty huge. That’s a big increase.
TOM: It is, right.
LESLIE: Imagine how quickly it can boil some water there. I kind of like that.
So, if you’re thinking about adding this pro-style range to your kitchen, what are some of the things that you need to be considering? Well, I think first and foremost we need to talk about size. Because many of these pro-style ranges come in standard widths. So you’re looking at 30-, 36-, 48-, 60-inch widths.
Now, the larger widths generally mean that you’re going to get more burners or other cooktop options: maybe a griddle or some grills or just even more space, too. But that cost, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,500 to $20,000 for a pro-style range. It all really depends on the size, the features, the models, et cetera. But generally, that’s going to be your price point.
Now, with fuel options, pro-style burners are always gas. They can be paired with a gas or an electric oven. The latter option, if you do go gas for a burner and electric for the oven, that’s going to be known as a dual-fuel option. And electric ovens, they do offer more cooking modes and some of them more even heat. But that does add some money to the cost, sometimes as much as $2,000.
Now, some cooks just prefer gas ovens for their moister heat but most pro-style gas ovens aren’t self-cleaning and those that do cost more. So there’s a lot of different options that you’ve got to consider that do add to the cost.
TOM: And installation is also a lot different than a standard range. Starting with ventilation, pro-style power produces pro-style humidity. It also produces pro-style odor and carbon monoxide and all that sort of stuff if something goes wrong. And if a recipe goes wrong, it’s also going to produce all that much more smoke. So, with all that in mind, a vent hood that exhausts to the outside is an absolute must. And the more BTUs the range puts out, the more air that blower needs to be able to move.
Now, think about this: because you’re taking so much air out of the kitchen, you have to also add air into the kitchen. So sometimes they also need what’s known as makeup air: another place where air from the outside can pull back in. And it can be done in such a way as to not waste too much energy, in terms taking in hot air in the summer or cold air in the winter. But all this has to be considered. So it’s definitely not something that a DIY-er should be doing. Also, you need to check your supply line. Most pro-style ranges need a bigger gas line.
And don’t forget about this: measure it. You know how every once in a while you hear about the ships that are too big to get out of the port? Wasn’t the Amazon guy, Bezos – didn’t he order a yacht that couldn’t get out of the port or something and they had to take a bridge apart or something like that? Your little version of that might be ordering your dream pro-style range and find out that it doesn’t fit in your door. So, make sure you measure your front door or your slider or wherever you plan on getting it in so that doesn’t become a hinderance.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s definitely something to consider, because that would be the worst. Could you imagine you get this beautiful range and then you can’t get it inside?
Alright. Now we’ve got Bobby on the line who’s dealing with a water issue in Virginia.
Tell us what’s happening.
BOBBY: So after some heavy rains we had last year, I noticed – I just walked down to the basement and it just – it wasn’t a lot of water. Just picture taking a gallon of water and walking around and just pouring it out as you go.
BOBBY: And I’m pretty sure it’s hydrostatic pressure that’s just pushing the water up through the cracks and through the cinder blocks.
BOBBY: And I’ve tried – I can’t remember the paint that you paint the cinder-block wall.
TOM: DRYLOK? Yeah. Mm-hmm, yeah.
BOBBY: DRYLOK. Yes, sir. Yes. And I know there’s a lot of moisture behind the wall because where I painted it again, it’s starting to flake off.
TOM: Right, yeah.
BOBBY: And that is telling me there’s a lot of moisture buildup.
TOM: Yep. Alright. So, look, there’s two ways to approach a leak like this. You’re going with the idea that you can basically make your house float and you can’t. You’re trying to seal those walls as if it was the hull of a boat and that’s not going to happen.
But you’ve told me something very, very important and that is that this is a problem that happens when it rains heavily or it gets worse after a heavy rain. And that gives me the answer – which is a very, very simple one – and that is simply this: your water is sourcing from bad drainage right outside your foundation perimeter. It’s not a rising water table. And basically, what’s happening is either your gutters are clogged, your gutters are undersized, your downspouts are discharging right near the foundation corners, not extended out. And with water allowed to collect around the house like that, the water will just leak through those very porous walls and start to show up in the basement.
Now, it can come through the walls or it can go under the floor and show up as a little geyser. Same problem, same source. And that is grading and drainage. I’d like you to go to MoneyPit.com and right on the home page, one of our most popular articles is “How to Stop a Basement From Leaking.” There’s 10 or 12 articles features there. Find the one about basements and read carefully. You’ll be amazed at how simple this is to fix. A lot less work than what you’ve done thus far, my friend.
BOBBY: Gotcha. Yeah, I’m actually currently working on the gutter situation. I’m extending those a little bit farther out away from the house. I’m trying to get positive drainage and all that good stuff. And I just wonder if a sump pump would be, I guess, the best route. Or I guess I’m looking for the best route.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not. Because all the sump pump’s going to do is pump the water out after it gets there. We’re trying to advocate for you to not have it get there in the first place.
Now, I’ll tell you how you can prove this to yourself if your gutters are clean, if you don’t think that they’re overflowing because they’re too small for all the roof water that’s forming on them. And by the way, it’s smart to go out – if you get a heavy rainfall, heavy rain, go out and watch what’s happening with the water around your house. It’s a real education. See where that water is going.
BOBBY: Oh, I have. Oh, yeah, I have. I have quite a bit.
TOM: Right. So, what your experiment could be is simply this: go buy yourself 3 or 4 pieces of leader material 8-foot, 10-foot long. Attach it temporarily to the end of that downspout where it comes out and watch what happens when you move all the water away from the house. You’re going to find a dramatic difference in the water that gets into that basement.
And once you’ve proven that to yourself, all you need to do now is figure out how to make it pretty. And that might be by maybe running some underground PVC pipe and having it exit somewhere lower on the property or out the curb to manage that water completely. But if you let it collect around the foundation, it’s going to go in. OK?
BOBBY: Gotcha, gotcha. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Bobby. Thanks for calling us.
LESLIE: What are you guys working on? Let us lend you a hand. Now that it’s fall, this really is a great time to clean and seal your driveway before that winter sets in. So, how do you do that and what’s it going to help you with?
First of all, let’s talk about how you prep for it. You want to start by cleaning up any oil or gas spills that may have occurred and then go ahead and patch cracks and seal the holes. Then, go apply an asphalt sealer. You’re going to find that many are available in a latex formulation, which will be much easier to clean up after.
TOM: Yeah. And as winter wears on, choose your deicing treatments carefully and only use those that don’t harm vegetation or your concrete walks. I like to mix up a batch of salt and sand in a 5-gallon bucket. I keep it handy right near the door so we can get to it quickly at the first sign of ice.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we welcome Gonzalo, who’s trying to seal up things at his house and make it more efficient.
How can we help?
GONZALO: I recently finished an air-sealing project to make my home a little more energy-efficient. I was able to reduce the CFM50 from about 3,400 to 1,700 but I’d like to get it lower than that. I’m concerned that one source of infiltration might be an extension that was built into the house maybe three decades ago.
TOM: Leslie, it occurs to me that a lot of times when we try to seal up our homes, for many folks it’s really a guessing game, right? They’re attacking the areas that they think are giving them the biggest drafts but it’s not always accurate. But you really just can’t attack it that way, because the drafts are largely invisible. And sometimes, when they’re coming in one place, they’re sourcing from somewhere else, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it’s hard to say because there are so many places, so it’s interesting to see what’s causing a huge air leak and what’s causing not so much. There’s a couple of things that you can do to sort of narrow down where the issues are. But there’s also some tests that you can have done by the energy company that really see what the issues are.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s my thought exactly. It sounds to me like – you know, he mentioned that he cut his CFM in half. I’m thinking that maybe he’s already doing some energy testing. But what I would do, in this case, is I would be doing a blower-door test.
Now, a blower door test is basically just that. They take out your front door, they put in a big frame and a big fan in that door and they can either pressurize by blowing air in or depressurize by pulling air out of the house. And then with tools like a smoke tester – where it’s a little puffer thing that you go around windows and doors and places that you think leak and you basically can see which way the air is moving. If it’s escaping through the space around the window or escaping around where a building has an addition connected to it, like in your case, Gonzalo, it will show you that.
But I would do further investigation with a blower-door test. And you might also want to have an infrared inspection done where your walls can be scanned, from the inside or the outside, to confirm whether or not you have continuous insulation. Because a lot of times, insulation is missing in parts of a house or it’s settled. So, I think those are two things you should explore next in your quest to make your home more energy-efficient.
And by the way, since you want to make this as tight as possible, you need to be careful not to make it too tight. Because if you do, you’re not going to be able to have clean, healthy air inside to breathe. You need a certain amount of natural ventilation. And so if it gets to that point, then what you do is you use something that’s called an “air-to-air heat exchanger” or a “fresh-air ventilator,” which basically is designed to pull fresh air into the house but not stress out your heating or your cooling system at the same time.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who’ve suffered a power loss in your home, you may very well have been considering whether you should invest in a home standby generator. Well, it turns out not only can a generator protect your home when the power fails, the experts over at Consumer Reports say it’s actually a good investment that returns more value than it costs.
TOM: That’s right. We’ll explain why, in today’s Power Tip presented by Kohler Generators.
Now, first up, if you think about it, 2022’s relentless power failures have really made this past year one of the most challenging in recent memories. And it’s something that’s gotten progressively worse over time. In fact, over the last two decades, power outages caused by severe weather have doubled. And as a result, the frequency and duration of power failures are at their highest levels since we started measuring it, which was back in 2013. That’s crazy.
LESLIE: That really is crazy. And that’s why now is truly the time to consider purchasing a home standby generator. Not only will you be protected when the electricity goes out but having a generator adds real value to your home when it becomes time for you to sell.
Now, according to Consumer Reports, a professionally-installed standby generator could increase your home value by approximately five percent. So, on a $300,000 home, you could see as much as a $15,000 amount added to the value of your home once you have a generator installed.
TOM: Yeah. And this is especially true in areas that are more prone to power outages – California – because buyers are typically willing to pay a bit more for a home with a standby generator because of the added peace of mind.
So, if you install a home generator, you basically have an investment that’s going to benefit you immediately. You’ll get security, you’ll get peace of mind and it also benefits you when you sell your home. And just like brand-name appliances, installing a Kohler home generator is a big selling point.
LESLIE: And you guys, right now, listeners who order a unit before November 18th, you’ll also get a free 10-year extended warranty. That’s a $995 value and you’ll save up to $750 on select models.
Now, to learn more and find a dealer near you, just go to PoweredByKohler.com today. PoweredByKohler.com. Once again, that’s PoweredByKohler and that’s K-o-h-l-e-r.com. Kohler Generators, backup power from a name you can trust.
Karen is on the line and she’s got a question about some unwanted visitors to her money pit.
What can we help you with?
KAREN: Well, I thought in the past you mentioned something about some kind of a bug zapper that worked outside. And the issue – there are flies, not like the kind of one – they use light to get mosquitoes. This is for daytime.
LESLIE: Well, the light works in the daytime, as well.
TOM: Yeah, I think what you’re talking about is a product that – called DynaTrap – D-y-n-a-T-r-a-p. And the way it works is you kind of plug it in all season long. And there’s a UV light that reacts with a plate of metal. And I’m not sure what the material is but basically, when it combines together, it gives off carbon dioxide, so it mimics human breath. And then the insects are drawn to that and there’s a fan that basically pulls them through the unit and deposits them into a basket below where they kind of dry out.
So, that’s the product that you were referring to. Does it work on flies? I think so but not as well as it works on mosquitoes, I’ll tell you that.
LESLIE: And boy, does it work on mosquitoes.
TOM: It really works on mosquitoes well.
LESLIE: I mean it’s amazing.
KAREN: Yeah. And I know those light ones that do, too. But the issue out in California is actually more flies than mosquitoes, because we don’t have the moisture.
TOM: They’ve got some good science behind it, so I certainly would give it a shot.
KAREN: OK. And so you said that was called DynaTrap?
TOM: Yep. D-y-n-a-T-r-a-p. DynaTrap.
KAREN: And do you know where it’s sold?
TOM: Oh, it’s sold everywhere. You can find it on Amazon, you can find it in home centers and hardware stores. Or look at their website which is, I believe, DynaTrap.com.
KAREN: Oh, OK. And how big of an area does it kind of take care of?
TOM: It depends on the size that you buy. I actually – two units. I have a 1-acre unit that’s in the back of my house, kind of around our dining area/patio. And I actually have a smaller one, that I think is rated at a ½-acre, on my front porch which is the other side of the house. Because we like to sit out there at night. And I tell you what, it’s really created a mosquito-free zone around the entire home.
LESLIE: It’s amazing how well they do work. You just have to remember to clean it.
KAREN: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, if you’re looking for storage space in and around your home, there are some places that may hide storage simply because of the way a home is constructed. For example, in my house I have a staircase and underneath the staircase I’ve got unused space, so I framed myself in a closet. And that’s been really helpful for storage of our office supplies, because my home office kind of backs up to it.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s really clever. But you also have to think about getting creative with alcoves or corners. Everybody’s got corners in the house. Alcoves, maybe not so much. But you can add a few simple storage solutions, which can convert even the smallest landings, perhaps, into a sleek workstation. This is especially valuable if you can’t spare a bedroom to create a home office. So you have to think creatively.
Now, when it comes to your bathroom spaces, you’ve got to look up. That space 18 to 24 inches below the ceiling is perfect for a row of decorative wire shelving. This can give your family space to store a week’s worth of bath towels. I always feel like best intentions. I start off with a beautifully-organized bathroom closet with towels and I think it lasts 3, 4 days. Like the kids are a disaster and towels are just strewn everywhere. So if this can help you stay organized and keep things attractively stored, I say go for it.
TOM: You know, speaking of a week’s worth of bath towels, in my house I built a rack because I couldn’t find one that was wide enough. I wanted it to be a long, sort of, one wall – not all the way but I wanted it to be like the wall that aligns with the bathtub, essentially. So you have the tub and then you have about another 5 feet of wall before you hit the door.
Well, I wanted a 5-foot-wide towel rack, so I made it. But I made it out of PVC, out of 1-inch PVC pipe. And I glued it all together and it looks just like a regular, say, brass or chrome-styled one but it holds all of our towels. The only thing I did different was in the longest portion of the PVC, I put wood dowels in there to give it some strength. So it’s inside the pipe. It’s kind of like reinforced. It was just kind of one of these projects where I had a bunch of PVC and I had this idea, so I just needed to buy a few more elbows and stuff. So I did that – just sort of threw it together – and I’m like, “Hey, this could work.” And before I knew it, I had myself a DIY towel rack made out of PVC piping.
LESLIE: Tony in Missouri is on the line and he’s got a question about getting some extra power, maybe a generator, maybe an extension cord through a window. Let’s find out what’s going on.
TONY: We live way out in the country. And my wife and I have purchased a 2000-watt peak generator. And of course, you don’t want to run that in the house. What I’m thinking about doing is running a male-outside-to-female-inside socket, if I can, through an outside wall so that we can then plug in a short extension cord and run small appliances – light bulbs, whatever – inside the house when we – if have a power outage this winter, which we are somewhat prone to do out here.
TOM: Alright. Well, you’re on the right track but this is not a DIY kind of hack-it-together thing. There actually is a product called a “transfer switch” that’s designed for exactly this purpose. They have transfer switches that are designed for big generators, like 20,000 watts. Then they have ones that are designed for very small generators, like 2,000 watts, and it kind of works just like you said.
There’s an outlet that is inside the house. It could have a series of even maybe three or four different circuits that could be on this. Or it could just be an outlet that’s there. And then there’s a cord outside that would actually be plugged into the generator to bring that power in.
You make a very good point by saying you can’t run it inside the house. I want to expand upon that and say you can’t even run it in the garage. Anywhere aside from 10 feet or more away from your house, you really shouldn’t be using the generator in a space like that because those carbon-monoxide fumes can definitely get back into the building.
So, I think you’re on the right track but what you want to do is go out and pick up a transfer switch. You can find them online. It’s designed for a portable generator. And everything that you’ve envisioned will be there for you. You won’t have to build it yourself. And it’ll be a lot safer, too.
TONY: OK, sir. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, David reached out and it kind of sounds like he was trying to do the right thing and got himself in a little hot water. He says, “I recently applied a pecan-colored stain to our cedar fence, which is located about 10 feet from the street. Unfortunately, I then received a letter from the homeowner’s association saying that colors were not allowed on cedar fences. Is there a way to remove the stain short of replacing all of the upright boards?”
TOM: That’s kind of weird. Well, are they saying you can’t do anything to treat your fence? Because even putting a clear finish on it could result in a slightly different color.
TOM: And it’s kind of silly, because he’s trying to protect it. I’m trying to imagine – what does pecan-colored mean to you? Is that like a light brown? Hard to say, right?
LESLIE: I was going to say, kind of like doody brown. It’s like a yellow-y brown that’s more on the orange-y brown. It’s not – I don’t love it.
TOM: Well, here’s what I think. First of all, in answer to your question, David, it’s not easy to remove that, if it’s at all possible. In fact, I don’t think it is because stain and raw wood soaks in like a sponge. So, you really can’t get the stain out of it.
Well, what you could do is you could restain it to match the exact color that the cedar fence is right now. In fact, you could take one of the boards off the fence, bring it in to your local paint store. They have color-matching tools there. They could actually color-match a stain to that exact color that your wood is.
Well, one thing to keep in mind is you want to color-match against the raw cedar before you stain it. So, find a part that’s unstained or borrow a board from a neighbor and you can go to a home center, you can go to a paint store. And they have equipment that can actually match that exactly. And then you could stain it one more time and at that point, hopefully, the homeowner’s association will be happy with your choice. Because otherwise, you’d have to pretty much take the boards off and replace them. And even if you do that, with new cedar, it’s going to look horrible because it’ll be new boards against old boards. So, I think that’s a reasonable solution.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Joe who says, “My concrete driveway is about 27 years old and shows signs of wear and harsh winters. Besides filling cracks or resurfacing with Re-Cap, I’m wondering if laying rubber tiles is a good idea. And will they hold up to Pennsylvania weather?”
TOM: Well, pavers in general – not tiles. But they have rubber pavers and it will hold up to Pennsylvania weather. And they have real pavers – concrete pavers. And frankly, I don’t – I think the rubber pavers will probably be more expensive. So, if you’re looking for an alternative, I would suggest you use concrete pavers and not rubber pavers. And I don’t even think you could find rubber tiles. They’re just not going to hold up, especially if you had to use any kind of snow blower or something like that on that driveway. I think that’s probably the best option.
But you mentioned Re-Cap; that’s a QUIKRETE product. If you put that down, that’ll be the least expensive way to completely restore that surface and you’ll be good to go for the winter and many more to follow.
LESLIE: Alright, Joe. Well, the time is now because before you know it, there’s going to be a lot of snow on that driveway.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show, on-air and online at MoneyPit.com, on a beautiful fall weekend. We hope that you’re enjoying this very special time of year. When it’s not too cold and it’s not too hot, you can work inside your house and outside your house. And as those projects come to mind, remember, you can always reach out to us for help at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
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 2022 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.)