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 it’s one of my favorite times of the year. We are starting to get into the fall season …

LESLIE: Back to school.

TOM: Yeah, well, back to school, of course. A little peace and quiet around the house. But we’re getting into the fall season, so it’s that Goldilocks time when it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. You can work inside the house. It’s pleasant to work outside the house. There’s no heavy humidity. I mean it’s a really fun time to take on projects.

And if that’s what you’re thinking about doing, we would love to help you get those jobs done. Now, we can’t drive over to your house and lend a hand that way but we can give you some tips and advice to help make getting those jobs done easier, less expensively and just more successfully all the way around if you do one thing and that’s this: you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Hey, coming up this hour, can your house hold its own against these cooler temperatures that are just around the corner? We’re going to give you some great autumn home improvement projects that will deliver comfort, safety and put a few extra bucks in your wallet.

LESLIE: Plus, if you’re putting your home on the market or maybe you’re just thinking about stepping up your curb appeal this fall season, painting is the single easiest way that you can do that. But as simple as it might sound, there are some money-saving tricks that can also help you get this job done quickly and efficiently. We’re going to share those, in just a bit.

TOM: Plus, if you’ve got a sprinkler system, it’s almost time to winterize it for the season. But if this project is done poorly, you could be facing some expensive repairs next spring. We’ll share some pro tips to help you avoid that.

LESLIE: And what if we told you that there was one simple improvement, that costs less than $300, but it could help you cut your electricity bill and make your house safer and more sustainable, all at the same time? Would you be all in?

TOM: We bet you would. And that improvement is the Sense Home Energy Monitor. Check it out at But it tells you exactly where all the electricity you get billed for every single month is going. And literally, it’s the single best way we’ve found to reduce your electric costs. You have to see the video at but we’ve got one to give away this hour. And it’s worth 299 bucks.

Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. And if we pull it out at the end of the show, we’ll just send that Sense Home Energy Monitor right over to you. Check it out at

LESLIE: Charlie in Illinois is on the line with some questions about water heating. What’s going on?

CHARLIE: Well, we have a situation where we have a large spa tub in the master bedroom, which is on one end of the house. And we have two large standard tank water heaters completely on the other end of the house. Two so that we’ll get enough hot water to fill up the spa tub. And I’m – we also are people that go to Florida for three or four months during the winter.


CHARLIE: So I’m wondering what the combination of those things – if we would be better off going to a tankless hot-water heater and if that may save us some money.

TOM: Well, I think that a tankless water heater has a lot of benefits. Cost savings may or may not be one of them, depending on how much you’re spending for those two water heaters that you have, plus all of the downtime when they are actually heating water that you don’t need it. It can be sized so that it can certainly supply enough hot water for everything that you have described. And of course, the nice thing about a tankless water heater is it works on demand.

Now, some of the more modern tankless water heaters also have the capability to kind of basically plug into a recirculating loop so that – you mentioned that one bath is at the far end of the house. It can be set up so there always is some hot water basically circulating to that bath in advance of when you need it. And what that means is when you hop in the shower first thing in the morning, you have hot water pretty quickly rather than waiting for that water to make the long journey from the water-heater location to the bathroom. And that can all be set up on timers so that the water is being heated only, essentially, when you need it. So I do think that if you’re ready to make that upgrade, a tankless water heater is definitely the best way to go.

It’s also possible to put another water heater in closer to them but I just don’t think it’s worth it, given everything you’ve described. I would suggest that when you’re ready, replace both of those tank water heaters with one single, properly-designed tankless water heater. And I think you’ll be very happy with the result.

CHARLIE: That sounds great.

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

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

VALERIE: I have some ceramic tiles on the floor that have cracked. And it’s just a hairline crack but I was wondering if there was a way to repair those or if they have to be completely replaced.

TOM: You cannot repair a cracked ceramic tile. Once cracked, it will always be cracked. The question is: can you pop the cracked tile out and replace it? Are additional tiles of the same make available? That could require some research.

But if you can’t find the exact same tiles, you may have some other options. You could try to replace it with a complimentary tile, one that may actually be a décor piece and kind of stand out on purpose. Or you could look for an area where you have tile that maybe went into a closet or something like that and try to remove that and use that to replace the cracked tile. That’s kind of an extreme example of it.

But at the least, the least you need to do is to figure out why it cracked, though. And usually, that has to do with the floor system in that perhaps it wasn’t properly installed to begin with. Does that make sense?

VALERIE: It does, it does. I was afraid you were going to answer it that way, though.

TOM: Leslie, where are some places that Valerie might look for if she was thinking about finding matching tile for an older floor?

LESLIE: It’s challenging to find a tile once, especially, it’s been discontinued and also, if you are new to the house and it’s an old tile and you just don’t know where it is.

So, say you’ve got a box. If you’re lucky enough to have a box that has something with the manufacturer on it, you could at least reach out to the manufacturer and see. Or maybe you’ve got, you know, one or two new tiles kicking around. There are a few manufacturers across the United States that you can actually send that tile to and they’ll actually make it for you, if they have that glaze in their stock. A couple of them that do that are North Prairie Tileworks. They’re in Minneapolis. But that’s going to be a bit on the pricier side. It’s going to run around $30 per square foot. So it really depends on how important it is to actually have this tile and to match it.

It’s tricky. If you can try a couple of architectural salvage yards, maybe you can find something that works. But I do like the idea of popping out a couple of things here and there, to sort of make a purposeful pattern and add a detail in that wasn’t there before. I think it’s a cost-effective way to sort of keep the integrity of the tile you love but make it new without spending a ton of bucks.

VALERIE: OK. Alright. I’ll try that then.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT with whatever home repair or home improvement question you’ve got. We’re happy to lend a hand.

Coming up, a little do-it-yourself now and you won’t lose heat or hot water when those temperatures are cold or even freezing. We’re going to give you some fall to-do projects that you don’t want to put off, 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.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

Plus, if you’ve ever wondered where all the electricity in your home is going – most of us have a few energy guzzlers that we’re not even aware of – we’re going to give away a great solution this hour. We’ve got the Sense Home Energy Monitor worth 299 bucks going out to one caller drawn at random.

Sense is the single best way we’ve found to help you save energy and know what’s going on with your house. You’ve got to see the video – it’s fascinating – at Go to And once it’s installed, the Sense app is going to tell you what’s on, what’s off and pretty much how much energy you’re using, in real time.

Plus, you can even avoid problems by identifying unusual activity in your home before it becomes an issue like, say, maybe a sump pump that’s running more than it should, that might be telling you your basement’s flooding. It’d be bad to get that news but Sense will make sure you have it quick so you can do something about it.

It’s worth 299 bucks. Go check out the Sense Home Energy Monitor at But we’ve got one going out to a listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

CAL: Well, I have an interesting question here. I’ve got a house with an insulated concrete foam basement wall. That’s where you put concrete in between foam. And I have taken the outside wall – the foam – and have scored it with 30-grit sandpaper to give it a rough edge. And I screwed on the 2-foot-wide by 8-foot-long extruded aluminum – or steel screen to give me grip. But I’m putting on fake stone or “faux stone,” as some call it.

And my question is – after I’ve screwed on the screening and I’m putting on – I’ve been told to take a Type S mix, which is a limestone/cement mix, and use that as my scratch coat. And the question is: how soon – what is the longest I can wait before I put on the stone? If I try to do all the scratch coat first, which could be a day or two because it’s over 1,000 square feet, am I going too long or should I be putting – buttering up the stone and putting that against the scratch coat right away?

TOM: I think that as soon as the scratch coat dries, you can go forward with the stone. But typically, most masons will do the scratch coat first and then do the stone thereafter.


TOM: I don’t see any reason that you can’t have it exposed for a short period of time.

CAL: OK. So, we’re not worried about a day or two.

TOM: No, certainly not. You kidding? The way construction projects go, a day or two is like nothing.

CAL: OK. Well, thanks for the info on that.

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

Well, with the chilly weather upon us, now is a great time to take on projects that might improve your warmth and comfort as those temperatures begin to drop.

LESLIE: Well, both gas and electric water heaters do develop a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. And that can not only kill efficiency but it can actually shorten the lifespan of that water heater, as well.

TOM: So, here’s what you need to do. First off, you ought to drain a couple of gallons of water from the tank twice a year. But remember, that water’s hot. So make sure the heater is off and wear long sleeves and goggles to protect yourself from any burns.

LESLIE: Now, there’s going to be two valves on that water heater. The one near the top is a safety valve and that’s going to relieve pressure. Do not touch that one. The one on the bottom is the one you want for the draining. Go ahead and connect a hose to the water and then set it to drain into a sink, a sump well, outdoors, somewhere. But you’ve got to put that water somewhere.

TOM: And once that hose is in place, you just turn the valve counterclockwise to open the drain. But don’t forget, again, it’s hot. And in a few gallons, the water will become clear as that sediment washes out. Then just close the valve by turning clockwise and you are good to go.

LESLIE: You know what? And when you’re done, do your lungs a fall favor by changing out that furnace filter. What? A furnace filter? Yeah, you’ve got one, guys. It’s located in the main return grill near the furnace. Or sometimes, it’s inside the furnace near the blower. And cleaning one can actually help keep your house a lot less dusty. And then go ahead and improve all of that indoor-air quality.

TOM: Now, to replace your filter, you want to use the most efficient one you can find for your system. The more efficient the furnace filter is, the more particulates it will remove from the air. And that means you’re going to be doing less dusting, as well. So, put the new filter in by making sure the arrow, which is always on the side of it and it indicates airflow, points towards the blower. Furnace filter ought to be changed about every month.

Or if you want to have one that lasts longer, you could also think about installing a whole-house air cleaner. Now, those are fantastic. A little expensive but they can take out particles as small as a virus. And they really do a great job of keeping the indoor air as clean as it possibly can be.

888-666-3974 is our phone number here. If you’ve got a question about your home, your remodeling project, your décor project, whatever is on your to-do list, give us a call right now. We’d love to chat at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Judy in Virginia, you’ve got a painting question. How can we help you with that project?

JUDY: We are trying to put an epoxy on our basement floor, like we did on our garage floor. And we are having a very serious problem with this basement-floor project, because we went through all the process of putting down the pretreatment that would get rid of any oils or solutions on the floor. That bubbled up the way it was supposed to. Then we went in and we put down the epoxy as we were supposed to and it came right back up. It turned to a brown powder and then just came up.

And so, we got all that off and then we went back in and put down a sealer and then came back with the epoxy again. And it’s doing the same exact thing. We had no problem with our garage floor and it’s a garage floor that was put down several years after the basement was done. And we were told that – from some people who know the history of the house – that the basement – or that the house was built in the winter months, back in the mid-80s and that they likely used calcium chloride to help the cement set up and that it could be having an effect on this epoxy.

We’re using a very good-quality – a name brand. It’s not a box-store quality; it’s a quality, quality product that we’re using.

TOM: OK. Have you turned to the manufacturer to ask the question as to what might be going on?

JUDY: Well, we have asked and the calcium chloride did come up as a possibility. But they don’t really know what to do about that.

TOM: So, you did talk directly to the manufacturer, not the retailer, about this.

JUDY: The retailer actually talked with the manufacturer about it.

TOM: I would go right to the manufacturer and speak with them directly about this. I don’t like going through the middle man because – not that I don’t trust the retailer to do this. You can never be sure if they’re actually talking to the right guy. And they could be talking to – you see, they could be talking to a field rep who thinks he knows the answer and maybe he doesn’t.

Obviously, something – the first thing that came to mind was moisture. Did the floor – was the floor thoroughly dried before you started this whole process?

JUDY: Yes, it was. We made certain it was very dry in there and used big box fans after we had scrubbed the floor real thoroughly. The big box fans were used and the doors were opened to let the air circulate through. And it was very dry.

TOM: Both times, the paint that you put down, was it from the same batch?

JUDY: No, different batches.

TOM: I’ve never heard of an epoxy floor not adhering, so this is an unusual situation. And it’s one that I would turn to the technical experts at the manufacturer. As you mentioned, it’s a major brand. They have folks – chemists – that basically are standing by to take questions like this; most of them do.

If you have difficulty identifying the right people to talk to, if you e-mail us to with the details, perhaps some photographs and the name of the manufacturer, I am certain that we could quickly get through to the right person for you. There’s a chemical reaction going on here that’s causing this issue and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it.

JUDY: Will do. Alright. Thank you.

TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s an unusual situation and there’s got to be a reaction going on between that floor.

LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I’ve heard of instances where a previous homeowner maybe put like a water-based sealant or a water sealant on a concrete and …

TOM: Or a silicone.

LESLIE: Yeah. And you don’t see it.

TOM: I was thinking about a silicone sealer. Yeah, yeah. I mean if they put a silicone sealer down on the concrete, that could impact it, as well.

LESLIE: Right. And then you might not know it’s there.

TOM: But that’s what the pretreatment is supposed to deal with. The idea of using the acid-etch products that all the epoxy floors come with – the epoxy, they come with an acid etch and it sounds like that’s what Judy did. So, let’s hope she can get to the bottom of it.

LESLIE: Laurel in Pennsylvania is on the line.

And I’m reading, Laurel, that your ceiling fell down? What the heck happened to your apartment?

LAUREL: Well, the lady upstairs had a problem in her kitchen and her bathroom. And I don’t know if there was a fire or what but she flooded the upstairs. And so some of my kitchen ceiling fell in with all the water coming down. It smells like smoke, it smells like rotted wood, wet wood. What do I do?

TOM: Well, by the way, why are you dealing with this as opposed to a landlord or an insurance company?

LAUREL: Well, he swept it up and then put another – put a new tile in the suspended ceiling and that was it. He didn’t repair the whole …

TOM: Well, first of all, you asked about smoke smell and the way to deal with smoke smell is to use TSP and scrub the walls and scrub the ceiling. Trisodium phosphate. That will cut through the tar and the nicotine that sticks to the walls.

Now, if you’re concerned about mold, there’s a product called Concrobium, which is excellent. Specifically designed to kill the mold. It’s far more effective than bleach. And the other quality I like about Concrobium is it leaves a protective coating on the surface when it dries so that the mold can’t grow back.

Their website is – C-u-r-e – Check it out. I think that that is the solution to your mold issue, Laurel.

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

Remember, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others have paid for similar projects. It’s all for free at

TOM: And up next, if you want to step up your curb appeal for fall, painting is the single easiest way to do just that. But as simple as it may sound, there are some money-saving tricks that can also help you get this job done quickly and efficiently. We’ll share those, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, if you’re planning to put your home on the market, painting it is probably the first thing you want to think about doing because, after all, you want to make a good impression. But doing it right requires a little bit of planning and a bit of strategy.

LESLIE: That’s right. So joining us is Kim Rood, the décor expert from WOW 1 DAY PAINTING.

Welcome, Kim.

KIM: Well, thanks for having me, Tom and Leslie. Appreciate it.

TOM: So, this is one of those projects that maybe you put off personally but when it comes time to sell your home, you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Let’s start by talking about curb appeal. What’s the most important thing to consider if you’re going to be painting the exterior of your house, Kim?

KIM: Some of the things are quality of product but two is making sure, especially for getting your house ready for sale, that that front door and those front windows and maybe those garage doors get a fresh coat of paint to get rid of any kind of chips or dings or scratches. And make sure that, you know, it may be you’re a little more in keeping with what’s in fashion and on trend these days. And just making sure that it looks like a clean, fresh entrance, to make that great first impression before the people walk into your home.

TOM: I’ve always considered the fact that not only does it have to look good from the street but it especially has to look good, these days, in photographs and in videos that are really leading people to the door when they search the homes online.

KIM: Absolutely. And one of the things that a lot of people forget when they’re getting their house ready for sale is to appeal to the most broadest of potential buyers. So, that purple door may not appeal to everybody. It may even look great still. But that purple front door and that orange or purple garage door doesn’t appeal to everybody. And the last thing you want is to give anyone any small reason not to come and visit your house.

So, yeah, one of the leading kinds of colors we’ve been doing these days is a deep gray or even black, if you can believe it. Oh, it looks absolutely gorgeous with a fresh coat of paint. Absolutely.

LESLIE: And I always think it’s so interesting that as a home buyer, you have people who look at the house and can’t even imagine that they are allowed to change things. They just feel like, “Oh, but I don’t like the paint color.” Well, guess what? You can paint it.

And so speaking of that, what about any tips for somebody who’s looking to paint a room themselves? Any good place to start?

KIM: A few things. If you’re painting a room yourself, you’ve got to start out with the right equipment. So, you’re going to need the drop sheets, you’re going to need a caulking gun, you’re going to need to know how to fill some holes. Maybe a quick YouTube video on how to cut a nice, straight line.

But the way we typically do it at WOW 1 DAY PAINTING is – to paint a house in a timely manner, typically one day – is we start from the top and work our way down. Because paint, being a liquid, is going to fall if there’s any mistakes or any whoopses (ph).

So we typically start with ceilings first and then we hit all of our trim – so window trim, doors, baseboards – and then we do walls last, which is counterintuitive to a lot of people. But yeah, ceilings, trim and then your walls.

And if you’re getting a house ready for sale, you’re going to want to look at those light, neutral colors. You’re not going to want to put that red highlight wall on the wall. You’re not going to want to do something too personal. Again, you’re going to want to appeal to the broad masses.

And what we’ve been seeing probably for the last four years is gray, gray and more gray.

TOM: We’re talking to Kim Rood. He’s a décor expert with WOW 1 DAY PAINTING.

Kim, let’s talk about the kitchen. That’s a critical room for folks that are buying a house. So you want to make sure yours looks great. And painted kitchen cabinets are all the rage right now. Are you guys doing a lot of work where you’re taking a formerly stained kitchen cabinet – that might have been, perhaps, a mahogany or an oak or a walnut color – and just painting it?

KIM: Weekly. It seems like, yes, it’s a very popular way to refresh a kitchen, which is the heart of everyone’s home. It’s very cost-effective when you compare it to replacing all those cabinets or even refacing.

One of the coolest – one of the two – two of the coolest trends that we’re seeing, that I love and I’ve done in my own home, is people like that monochromatic look. And we get – there’s kind of polar opposites on this. Sometimes, we’re going with that monochromatic look. Sometimes, people want to go with that straight, bright, white, fresh kitchen.

But one of the most fun things we like to do, that really gets the wow factor at the end of the day when customers come in and they just can’t believe the transformation we’ve made, is that standalone island that’s in the middle of your kitchen, where everyone gathers around. People are getting away from painting that the same color as their cabinets and doing something striking, something bold, something to really call out that center island as a piece of furniture. And we use some special paints for that to make sure that it lasts, it can withstand the kicks and the bumps that it gets. But that’s really one big thing that we have a lot of fun with with our clients. And anytime I recommend it, I haven’t had a person not like it at the end of the day.

TOM: Kim Rood with WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit with some step-by-step tips to get your home ready to sell.

KIM: Thanks for having me, Tom and Leslie.

LESLIE: Kim Rood, Décor Expert from WOW PAINTING, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

Well, if you want your sprinklers to work next spring – which we all, I hope, want to have happen – fall, right now, is the time for a pro to perform system maintenance and the winterization. We’re going to tell you how to get that project done, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

LESLIE: Hi, Fred. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

FRED: I have a standard toilet. House was built in ‘29, so it’s, what, 80 years old? It’s the type where the tank hangs on the wall and then you have an L and then you have, I guess – what do you call that? The bowl?

And it started to leak and so the old metal was pretty corroded and everything. So we took everything out. We took the tank off the wall, we – I say we, that I, the plumber who I’ve been using for many years – cleaned everything up. Went to the hardware store that handles these kind of fittings and we just cannot get this thing to work. It leaks …

TOM: Where does it leak? Does it leak at the – where at – the base of the tank where the pipe connects?

FRED: In both, yeah. Well, one time we did it, it leaked at the bottom of the tank. The other time, it leaked when it went into the bowl.

TOM: What kind of a washer are you using? What kind of a gasket or seal are you using in those two places?

FRED: Well, I don’t know the technical names of it. The guy at the – they look like the same stuff we took off. I’m a musician; I don’t know all these things.

TOM: Well, this shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish and it sounds like whatever they’re using in that gasket space right there is not working. And look, if all else fails, you can simply use silicone here. You could apply the silicone in – as you put this together, you could – you seal all of those joints with silicone. Let it dry. Try not to touch it until it dries. And then you can take a razor blade and cut off the excess, nice and neat, and essentially make your own gasket.

FRED: Yeah, the plumber mentioned something. He said the only thing is if that thing fails and I’m not home, I’m going to have a house full of water.

TOM: That’s true. But the thing is, if it – once it works, it usually works continuously. It’s not – it doesn’t usually fail. If you get it right, it’s not going to fail, OK?

FRED: Yes. So, in other words, unless I can see some chips or damage on the porcelain or something like that, which I don’t see, it should work.

TOM: But I would take it apart and I would seal, with silicone, each connection as it goes together so that you end up with a good compression of silicone around that. That’s the solution, OK? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Have you ever wondered where all the electricity in your home is going? I know most of us have a few energy guzzlers around the house that maybe we’re not even thinking of. Well, we’ve got a great solution that we’re giving away this hour.

We’ve got up for grabs the Sense Home Energy Monitor. Now, that’s worth $299. Sense is the single best way that we’ve found to help you save energy and know exactly what’s going on with your house. You know, to really understand it, check out their demo video at

Once it’s installed, the Sense app is going to tell you what’s on, what’s off, how much energy everything is using, in real time. Tom has got it at his house and he says that you turn something on, it goes, “Boop. You just put on your blender. Boop. Your garage door opened.” So it’s constantly …

TOM: Well, it doesn’t say, “Boop.”

LESLIE: It doesn’t say, “Boop”?

TOM: No, but it does pop up on my phone and keeps me posted on what’s operating. So I kind of like that because this way, I can save some money and make sure if something pops on and I didn’t expect it, that I know why. Like if a sump pump came on and I thought that the basement was perfectly dry, I might want to investigate that.

LESLIE: And I’m going to change the alert on my phone so it stops telling me, “Boop. You left something on.”

But I mean this is a really great tool for you to have around your house. Sense Home Energy Monitor is going to help you know what’s on, what’s off, what’s using too much power, if there’s a problem. It’s definitely something great for you to invest in at home but also a great prize that’s up for grabs this hour.

You can check it out, again, at or call us with your question for your chance to win.

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

Let’s get back to the phones.

LESLIE: Lucy in Kansas is on the line and would like some help refinishing some cabinets. Tell us about your project.

LUCY: Yes. We have a home that is about 17 years old. I just moved here about three years ago. And we have solid-oak cabinets and the overall finish is just looking dull. It isn’t awfully bunged up or anything but there are areas, like along the upper edges of the drawers, where the color looks faded. And so, I don’t know what to use to clean them and I don’t know what to do to make them have some sheen.

TOM: A couple of things. First of all, you can clean them with Murphy’s Oil Soap; that’s a good, mild soap for cleaning any kind of wood surface, including floors and cabinets. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is you can – if it’s just the finish that’s kind of worn a little bit, you can take those doors off, take the drawers out and lightly sand them and then put another coat of urethane on it. You’re probably going to want to use a satin urethane but make sure you sand them first. And use an oil-based, satin urethane. I would not use water-base.

LUCY: I see.

TOM: Even though it’s easier to use, it’s not as durable. So, use the oil-based urethane. And I would try it on maybe one drawer front or someplace that’s the least obvious in your kitchen, just to make sure you like the way it came out. And then go ahead and do the rest.

LUCY: Mm-hmm. OK. I think that’ll just fix us right up.

TOM: Well, if you live in that part of the country, which is most of it, that has a pretty cold winter where the weather gets below freezing and if you’ve got a sprinkler system, now is the time to think about winterizing it. We’re going to have some tips to help you get that job done, in today’s Pro Project presented by

First, you’ve got to understand that when water freezes, it expands. And any water that’s trapped in a sprinkler system is going to put stress on those sprinkler lines – the sprinkler plumbing, so to speak – and that can cause it to crack or break. And if those pipes do break, you’re going to have a lot more costly problem on your hands come spring.

LESLIE: Now, some of the more hardy do-it-yourselfers are going to choose to do this project on their own. But if you don’t have the right equipment, it’s just not going to work.

Now, for example, you’re going to need to buy or rent a very powerful air compressor to blow out all the water from those lines. And in the long run, you’re going to get your money’s worth, though it’s going to be easier, really, to schedule a pro to just get this job done right. Plus, the pros really know how to winterize the system and then open them again in the spring. And they’re usually going to cover the cost of any broken lines that may have occurred. And that’s something that you’d be eating out of pocket, again, if this is something you choose to do on your own.

TOM: Now, when spring does come around, it’s time to activate your sprinkler system. And the process entails much more than just turning on the water valve and kind of hoping for the best. What pros usually do is they follow several steps in order to make sure it’s turned on properly, it’s got the right pressure and that there are no leaks in the system. They’re also going to clean and check the filters on systems that are performing poorly.

And they’re also going to adjust the sprinkler heads. And that’s important because you want to make sure you’re only watering your lawn and garden and not your streets and sidewalks. Because if you do water your streets and sidewalks, the only thing that will grow is your water bill.

LESLIE: And we don’t want that.

Well, that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

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

LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year when the weather’s just right for those outdoor home improvements. But one wrong move and DIY can quickly go wrong. We’re going to walk you through some of the top home improvement hazards to avoid, when The Money Pit continues 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.

Give us a call at The Money Pit at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by You never have to worry about overpaying for a job again. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others have paid for similar projects. And then you can get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free at

TOM: And you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page or to, which Frank did in New Jersey.

And it sounds like Frank is struggling with some wallpaper, Leslie. He says he has some wallpaper with texture to it on the walls but the seams are separating. He tried to remove the paper but the facing on the drywall started coming off, as well. He’s tried every glue and seam-repair products are not working. What can he do?

It sounds to me like he’s going to do more damage than it’s worth trying to pull this off. Maybe he can cover it?

LESLIE: You know, first of all, you’ve done the right thing by trying to repair the seam. There are several different wallpaper adhesives that are out there. Some are sold in tubes. Some are sold in little tubs that you’ve got to mix up, that are meant to sort of re-grip that paper back, especially at the seam where you get a lot of wear and tear. And you know what? They don’t always all work.

But I think a good option could be maybe covering over the paper without removing everything and damaging that drywall. There’s a lot of reclaimed flooring products that you can use for the wall, that are just cut as sort of a thinner veneer that could give an interesting detail to the wall. And it might be something that could work with that textured paper on the other walls in the room. I’m not sure, really, which wall is having this trouble, if it’s the whole room. There’s some interesting sort of tongue-and-groove beadboard looks, as well.

There’s really a couple of great options that you can look at to sort of change the entire look of the room without damaging that drywall. Again, you’re adding something on. So either it’s going to be new drywall or a new wall feature. But that’s going to be pretty much the only way once you start dealing with this paper.

TOM: Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be the entire room. It could just be one wall. It could be a nice accent wall, too, right?

LESLIE: Exactly. It really depends on where the damaged spot is.

TOM: Well, we all know the saying better safe than sorry. But we don’t always take it to heart. And nowhere is that more true than home improvement, where injuries can be on the rise as more and more consumers try to take on those projects themselves.

Leslie has details on how to protect yourself, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


LESLIE: Yeah. Working outside really is a great way to combine exercise and results. But it can also lead to injury if you’re not dressed for the job.

Now, whether you’re raking or building, sturdy work gloves are the essential to any outdoor project. Gloves are not only going to give you a better grip with whatever tool you’re working with but they’re also going to shield your hands from painful blisters.

And even when you’re simply mowing the lawn, you’ve got to be sure to wear work boots, long pants, gloves, eye and ear protection. Don’t get lazy about it, guys. Even a quick pass with a string trimmer or edger calls for protecting your eyes and ears. I mean the racket alone can hurt your hearing. And it only takes one stray pebble to permanently damage an eye. And you know what, guys? It’s just worth it. Throw on some eye protection.

Now, tackling a chore that involves pesticides and other chemicals, you’ve got to wear long pants, long sleeves, rubber gloves to protect your skin. And be sure to add a breathing apparatus and those safety glasses, again.

Now, after you’ve gotten all suited up but before you get started, take one more prep step, guys, and just do a little stretching. I know it sounds silly but you’re going to be using muscles maybe that you haven’t used in a while and doing a lot of things around the yard or the house. So just give yourself a little bit of stretching. It’s going to cut down on the soreness that’s going to follow up in the days, hours after, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been doing this, guys.

Don’t worry. I know it seems silly but I promise you you’ll be so much happier with the results when you’re not in pain.

TOM: Yeah. Remember, you want to be a do-it-yourselfer but not a do-it-to-yourselfer. So work carefully.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, from single sinks to limited square footage, small baths often leave much to be desired. But you don’t have to make a bathroom bigger to make it better. We’ll have some tips on how you can expand your space without big expense, on the 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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