Apps to Help with Quick Holiday Decluttering Tips

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’re here to help you take on your home improvement and décor projects. If you’ve got a question, we’ve got answers. The number is 888-666-3974. Consider us your home improvement and décor coach. If you have a project in mind you’d like to get done now or one you’re planning for the new year ahead, we’d love to help you make the best decisions to get that done. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, with the holidays fast approaching, do you need to declutter and maybe thinking about the best way to get rid of all that stuff that you do have? You know, selling furniture and appliances online has actually never been easier. We’re going to share some apps that can help you clear the clutter, plus maybe pick up some spare holiday cash in the process.

LESLIE: And in the years since you’ve been a homeowner, have you made some energy-saving improvements or maybe other types of improvements to your home that have upped its green factor? Well, those improvements might just help you sell your home more quickly than the competition on the market. We’ll tell you why, just ahead.

TOM: And the trash disposer is one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented. But when it gets jammed, it can really slow down all the holiday-meal prep. We’re going to give you a few DIY steps to help you get that disposal running again quickly.

But first, we want to take your calls, your questions. So give us a ring, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

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

DARLENE: Remodeling a bathroom into a laundry room, because there was no laundry room there and three bathrooms. So, I put the stick-on linoleum squares on the floor, which was probably a mistake but it’s all down. And now I notice, on the edges, it’s starting to pull up just a bit. It’s fine in the middle but around the edges – and so I was wondering, should I use a silicone around – kind of pull them up a little bit, put silicone around there or a water-based sealant of some kind? I just didn’t know quite what to do if we put the washing machine in there and there was a leak. And then I was afraid the whole floor would come up or something.

TOM: So do you think if you kept pulling the tiles, they would all come up completely?

DARLENE: I think the reason why the sides are – maybe the floor isn’t quite even on the edges or something. I’m just thinking that maybe it wasn’t quite even. And it’s not every side but just part of it. Right where the washer is going to be, as a matter of fact.

TOM: Well, look, if you were able to lift up those edges and add a tile adhesive underneath that – a regular floor-tile adhesive: the kind of tile adhesive that you would use if you were laying down these vinyl tiles from scratch – and then you weighted it while it dried, that would probably be the best chance you’ve got of preventing it from coming back up again. But I’ve got to tell you that it’s been my experience that once these seams start to go, you fix one and two more pop up. So this might be something you’re chasing.

And if it’s only a small area, what you could also consider is basically replacing the vinyl floor with laminate floor. Just a small amount of laminate flooring won’t be that expensive and it can be laid down right on top of that vinyl floor. Laminate floors will float; they don’t need to be attached. They sort of lock together and they will lay down on top of that. You put a saddle in where you – like at the doorways and that kind of stuff. But that would give you a really durable floor and you wouldn’t have to worry about it.

DARLENE: Well, that’d be better than pulling it all up. That’s a good idea. Thank you very much.

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

LESLIE: Joe in Rhode Island, what’s going on at your money pit?

JOE: I’ve got a Quietside boiler – tankless water tank and boiler – where you heat hot water? Recently, we’ve been having some issues. It’s throwing some codes. And we’ve called a few different plumbers and everyone seems to be reluctant to work on it, because they’ve got – company got bought out by Samsung. And it takes anywhere from 1 day to 30 days to get a part for it. So, all these plumbers that we’re having – we’ve been calling bigger companies, local contractors. And they – like I said, they’re all reluctant to work on it.

We’re in the idea of purchasing a new one but we want to stay within the same type of unit. But we’re also afraid of buying another unit like that and then have the company bought out or sold and we’re kind of stuck in the same position that we are now. The unit is about four years old. It’s got another year for warranty.

TOM: Well, I mean with this warranty, what do you do if you have to file a warranty claim? Is there a customer-service number for it or something of that nature?

JOE: Yes. There is a recall on it, too. I guess there are a couple of fuses that have to be replaced on it. This is all stuff – these are all things that have been brought to my attention within the past two weeks.

TOM: Well, have you taken it upon yourself to try to contact the company directly and see how they might process a warranty claim if it’s not working well?

JOE: Correct. I did and I’m waiting for a call back from them. They’re in California and we’re in little Rhode-y, so time differences and things like that. I did leave them a couple of voicemails.

TOM: Well, I would start with that. They may, in fact, have contractors in the area that are willing to do this sort of work. I don’t think this is indicative of a problem with the – with all of the appliances – all of the tankless water-heater appliances. They’ve been around now – very popular – for over 10 years and they work very, very well.

There’s a couple of things that commonly go wrong with them. And the first one is usually the plumber that installs them, because they need a bigger gas line. And often, they don’t put the right-size gas line in and that causes the water heater to underperform. And then if you have hard water – because sort of the intestines of this thing have a long, circuitous route that the water has to follow. If it’s a – if you have a hard-water problem, those can get clogged up.

But other than that, they’ve been pretty darn reliable. So I would put some effort into seeing if you can make a claim under this warranty, Joe. And if you can’t and you decide to go with a new one, I think if you went with a Rinnai or a Rheem or another name brand like that, I don’t think you’re going to have this problem again.

Alright. Well, I think you have a plan now, Joe, so good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: 888-666-3974. With the holidays ahead, do you need to declutter and get rid of what you have? Well, selling your stuff online has never been easier. We’re going to share some apps that can help, after this.

Where home solutions live, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call or post your questions online to The Money Pit’s Community page at You can also reach us through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter.

Well, the holidays are all about traditions, like those special family heirlooms that come out of the cabinet once a year to grace your table. But over time, those metal heirlooms – all the silverware and stuff like that – well, it can tarnish and begin to lose its original shine. And that’s why on the to-do list this weekend is to clean all of that up at our house with a bit of Tarn-X.

LESLIE: Yeah. And there’s actually two different versions of the Tarn-X cleaner out there that I really enjoy using, especially this time of year, because I keep digging out those things that I only use this time of year. And they do tarnish over the course of a calendar year.

First of all, you’ve got the Tarnish Remover, which is made specifically for a range of different metals. And you just wipe it and rinse. And it will remove the tarnish so quickly and easily. You don’t have to rub, you don’t have to scrub. And it will just make everything sparkle so beautifully for your holiday table.

Now, once you’re done, you can also use the Tarn-X Silver Polish. And that will give you that bright, even finish. And then on top of it, it will slow the formation of tarnish over time. I can’t guarantee that after a year of being put away for the holidays, you know, of next year you might not have to do it again. But it’s a great product to really get everything shining and make a beautiful table setting.

TOM: Yep. You can find both products at hardware, grocery and pharmacy retailers across the U.S. and online at or And if you’d like more information, head on over to

But first, you need some help with your holiday preparation or home improvement projects or maybe your holiday preparation is a home improvement project, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

CATHERINE: My bathroom was painted years ago with oil-based paint. And when the fellows tried to put the new paint on, it’s just washable Glidden paint – scrubbable and washable. And it started to bubble. So they stopped and they’re going to come back next week and do another coat of this washable paint.

TOM: See, when the paint doesn’t stick, OK, and it starts to peel off …

LESLIE: Let’s just add some more paint.

TOM: What do you do? Put more on top of it, right? That’s just silly. No, you want to stop them from doing that. Here’s what has to happen. You’ve got to pull off all the paint they put on already. And if it’s peeling, that may not be a big deal. Then you have to clean the walls. You want to use trisodium phosphate; it’s TSP. It’s a powder, you mix it up. You’ll find it in a hardware store.

And here’s the most important step, Catherine, and that is you’ve got to prime these walls. And you want to use a good-quality primer. You want to use one that is an oil-based primer, as a matter of fact: an alkaline-based primer, like KILZ, for example. That will stick to the old finish. And then once it dries, you will be able to put a latex paint over that and you’ll have really good adhesion.

Right now, they’re trying to paint Teflon, so to speak, alright? And you’ve not prepped that surface properly to make that new paint stick.

CATHERINE: Oh, good. OK. Thank you so much.

TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, with the holidays ahead, do you need to declutter and get rid of what you have, to make room for the stuff you’re going to get? That’s what I always feel like happens.

TOM: That’s being positive.

LESLIE: I always feel like that’s what happens.

TOM: I like the way you think.

LESLIE: So, the question, of course, comes around: how do I get rid of all this stuff?

Well, a lot of people out there – more than ever, actually, today – are selling their stuff online. And that includes even big products that you’d think might be cost-prohibitive. Now, some sites are apps that you should consider when you’re looking to buy or sell – see, I’m assuming you’re buying things, as well, as you’re selling the stuff.

First of all, Craigslist. I think we’re all familiar with it. And it’s much like using a classified ad in your local paper, only it’s far more effective; it’s got a bigger reach. And Craigslist really is, I find, the best place to sell furniture, appliances, probably some vehicle parts, large items. I always recommend when you use Craigslist, like if – for me, I say, “Oh, let’s meet in the police-station parking lot.” I hate to ever have anybody come to the house. So, be careful in giving out your information.

TOM: Yeah, good point.

LESLIE: Facebook, especially local pages on Facebook. I know my town has a Buy and Sell page and there’s a Nassau County Buy and Sell page. There’s so many wonderful ways that you can truly reach a local audience and so you check it out there. And sometimes, you might have to repost your listing again, just because a lot of people post and it gets lost in the shuffle. But be patient, because I find the Facebook one really does work.

TOM: Yeah. Now, there are also some cool apps out there. OfferUp is one. It’s going to let you buy or sell almost anything. I think their website says that you can buy or sell anything from a Beanie Baby to a Dodge Durango. So it pretty much covers the entire process. And it allows you to kind of build your reputation as a seller. And that’s really important in all of these online sites.

Letgo is another app that’s got a very cool organizational system to make it easier for buyers to browse through the categories that are of interest to them. And that one can be pretty useful if you’re listing items that people might not search for directly but are likely to receive a lot of interest that they just can’t find.

LESLIE: Now, I think it’s also important, when you’re creating the post to sell these items, whether it’s on a website or an app you want to make sure that you’re writing in a way that’s going to get those items sold.

And things that you should be doing to help your things sell faster include here – I think photography is hugely important. You want to make sure that they’re clear photos that display the entire item. Make sure they’re taken in great lighting. If there’s a brand or a logo or any sort of identifying mark that enhances the value, show that. Make sure you detail any areas that might bring attention to the buyer: cool hardware and interesting details, dovetail joints in a drawer, anything that really makes your piece stand out.

And then, on the flip side of the good stuff around the item, you want to highlight the bad stuff, too. So if there are any dings, dents, any sort of damage, show that. If you’re upfront with it, you might be able to still negotiate a great price. The person who’s buying it feels like you’re a trustworthy person to work with. I mean it really is a great way to sort of initiate that sale when you’re very upfront, because the last thing you want is somebody on the other side being really disappointed.

TOM: Yeah, important to be honest. You don’t want to disappoint a buyer who might be coming back to you later looking for a refund or start badmouthing you on the website, especially if you’ve got more stuff to ship.

And think about it: if you’re lucky, you might even make yourself some spare holiday cash for your effort.

LESLIE: Buy more stuff.

TOM: There you go.

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

LESLIE: Martin in Wisconsin is on the line with a question about a load-bearing wall. What’s going on?

MARTIN: I’ve got a wall between my kitchen and living room that I’d like to open up. And there’s already a doorway there I’d like to open up and make an open area. And the walls – it’s a main support wall. It’s a structural support wall. I want to take out about 12 – the span would be about 12 feet. There’s a doorway there that’s already 4-foot wide and so about – I’m going to try and open up another 8 foot of it. And I was wondering about, structurally, if it would be possible to put in a micro-limb? I think that’s what they call them.

TOM: Look, I don’t recommend this project for the faint of heart or inexperienced contractor, because it’s not the kind of job you should be doing as your first foray into home improvement. I can explain to you, conceptually, how it’s done. And let’s assume that you have a bearing wall here and you need to disassemble that wall.

So, the way it is done, conceptually, is that there is a temporary wall built on both sides of the bearing wall that has to come out. So, basically, you’re building a load-bearing wall on one side of the wall that’s coming out – maybe 6 inches or a foot away – and one wall on the other side. And then once those temporary walls are in place, then and only then do you disassemble the bearing wall.

And in terms of that laminated beam, yes, once you put that beam in, it’s got to be properly supported. So the ends of the beam have to be sitting on something, like another part of the bearing wall, so that the load is transferred down to your foundation. So, again, it’s really a pretty complicated project and one that has to be done right or the consequences are pretty devastating.

So, it can be done but it’s a big project and it’s not the kind of project I would recommend you tackle unless you have a lot more experience than it sounds like you have.

MARTIN: Yeah. That’s kind of my thought about it. I just thought I would reach out to you guys.

TOM: Alright. Well, I think you’re on the right path now. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.

Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?

PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says “line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.

TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground-fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?

PETER: Yes, sir.

TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground-fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?

PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.

TOM: So, I think that when ground-fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.

So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.

So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.

The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.

So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.

Peter, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, in the years that you’ve owned your house, have you made some energy-saving improvements or maybe any other improvements that upped your home’s green factor? You know, those improvements could be just what helps you sell your home more quickly than the competition. We’ll tell you why, in today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, after this.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What are you working on on this beautiful ho-ho-home improvement weekend? Maybe you’re not doing any of those ho-ho-home improvements, you’re doing a little shopping for the other ho-ho that’s going to show up in just another week or two to shower you and your family with some cool gifts, we hope. If we can help you with some projects that you’re planning to get done before the guests show up or a project you’re thinking about getting done for the year ahead, give us a call, right now, or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

LESLIE: Tracy in Missouri is on the line with an HVAC question. How can we help you today?

TRACY: Well, what really the deal is is I had a new unit put in a few years back. And when they put it in, I had that – my home was built in 1964 and they had what they called “spider ductwork” back then and it’s just the old, metal, 5-inch ductwork. And they put a new plenum in and extended off that in some area in my house for some bigger ductwork.

But they said that that existing ductwork would be fine. When they went in and checked it, they said that it was cooling the room fine, because it was in the summer when they did they work. They said there’s a degree or two difference where they expect – kind of normal, because the way it is.

But the problem I’ve got is, in the wintertime, my daughter’s room is the coldest room in the house and in the summer, it’s the hottest. They’ve been down there and checked; everything’s properly connected. And they say that they’ve dampered it down a little bit, so it would push air a little more that way and it’s still not getting in there.

So my question to you is: would it be wiser to just go and get 8- or 10-inch – one single duct going into that room and just have one duct or extend those two – make those – both of the two existing ones – a little bigger with maybe an 8-inch or something like that? Cost is an issue but I want to make sure that it heats or cools efficiently for my daughter.

TOM: Is this – does this house have a central return duct or is the return duct also in the same room?

TRACY: It has a central return duct.

TOM: Well, obviously, they got it wrong. It’s difficult when you try to use a duct system that was designed for a 1960s house. And I know exactly what you mean when you say “spider duct.” I mean basically, you had one big plenum that came off the heating plant and then a bunch of ducts that were like home runs: every duct went to a separate place in the house, as opposed to having a large duct go down the center of the house and then other ducts come off of that.

TRACY: Yes, sir.

TOM: So, clearly, it seems like they got it wrong when they re-laid out the duct system. When these guys have come and said everything’s fine, obviously it’s not fine because they got it wrong.

There are calculations. It’s called a “heat-loss analysis” that you actually do if you know what you’re doing and you’re in the heating-and-cooling business, where you know what compass direction the exterior walls are, you measure how much glass is in the room and you take all these other factors into account. And then you design your system so you’re delivering enough BTUs, be it heating or cooling, to that room to be comfortable in the extremes of the summer and the extremes of the winter.

So what you’re suggesting now is can you just make a few changes and see if that makes a difference and my answer is: I don’t know. Because I’ve not done that heat-loss, you’ve not done that heat-loss and if I were you, I would get back with the HVAC contractor that put it in wrong to begin with, in the first place, and get them to do that heat-loss so that we get the right-size ducts going where they should be.

Now, if they’re not going to do that, then your options would be to hire somebody else that really knows what they’re doing, to try to get that adjusted. But generally speaking, airflow is critical, so you want to make sure you have enough airflow. And in terms of the return, improving the return situation can help.

And in a bedroom, often that means putting in a vent that goes through the wall, say, into the hall. It doesn’t really supply anything; it’s just kind of a pass-through where more air from the room can get drawn back to the return. Because the more that goes back to the return, the more supply kind of makes that up in terms on the supply side. And that can make the room more comfortable.

But I hate kind of guessing at this when I know that there is a reasonably accurate and scientific way to do that that these guys have not done.

TRACY: Alright. Thank you very much, Tom.

TOM: Well, if you’ve lived in your home for a number of years, you’ve probably made improvements to make it more energy-efficient or maybe to cut back on maintenance. Or maybe you’ve selected materials, to improve your home, that were produced in a way that maybe limits any negative impact to the environment. Improvements like these can add to your home’s greenness and are a valuable consideration for potential home buyers but only if they know about them.

LESLIE: Yeah. Really, that’s why it’s smart to create a green inventory of those elements. You want to list every improvement that reduced the home’s impact on Mother Earth. Now, this could be new appliances, faucets that use less water, even LED light bulbs that use less energy. And don’t forget about any building materials that you’ve chosen that will last longer, need less maintenance. If you’ve got fiber-cement siding instead of wood, that’s a huge benefit.

TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, what you want to do is list every green element in an inventory and have that available, kind of broken out from all the rest of the info. And this way, it can be reviewed by potential home buyers. I guarantee you they will be impressed and you might just get the sale, especially if they’re considering other competing homes in your neighborhood. If you show how much you care about the environment and how many improvements you’ve made in your home to make it safer, more comfortable, energy-efficient and so on, I think you’ll definitely get the deal over the next guy.

LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, makers of the Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer-Switch Starter Kit. With Caseta by Lutron’s smart-lighting control, you can set your lights to come on every night at dusk. And the Sunset Tracker will automatically adjust as the seasons change so you know that no matter what time of year, your family is always coming back to a well-lit home.

Maryann in California is on the line with a tiling project. How can we help you?

MARYANN: Yes, hi. Well, I would like to replace the tile in my kitchen. They’re large and they’re – several of them are cracked and the grout is just – it’s wearing out and it’s pretty dirty. And I was just wondering if there’s something that someone who is not extremely handy, like myself, could do for a reasonable cost or is that kind of like out of the picture?

LESLIE: Are you talking about floor? Backsplash? Countertop?

MARYANN: Oh, I’m sorry. The floor.

TOM: OK. And you have tile now, so you have to either put a second layer on top of that or tear out what you have there. And you said it’s really dirty and gross. Is it structurally solid?

MARYANN: Yes, I believe so. Several of them are cracked.

TOM: They’re not separated from the subfloor, are they?


TOM: OK. You can put a second layer of tile on top of that. It’s possible to glue one tile on top of the other. The one issue you have to be careful of – do you have a dishwasher?


TOM: So you have to watch the height of that dishwasher cavity to make sure you have enough play on the legs of the dishwasher to be able to basically make it a little shorter, so you could make up the thickness of the tile layer. But you can put a second layer on top of it.

Is it a do-it-yourself project? Well, if you can handle the layout, if you can handle the tile cuts – you need a tile saw – a wet saw – to do it. It’s a pretty adventurous home improvement project and of course, the material is pretty expensive and you – if you screw it up, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. So, it’s probably not the first do-it-yourself project that we would recommend but you can do it yourself.


TOM: But you’ve got to have special tools and a lot of patience.

MARYANN: OK. That sounds like it’s probably not for me then.

TOM: And even the grouting itself requires some skill. And if you don’t grout it right, it dries, it’s impossible to get off and you don’t get a second shot at it without a whole lot of work.

MARYANN: I see. But how about a different type of flooring that isn’t tile?

TOM: Now you’re talking. So what about a laminate floor, for example? This is a lot easier on you.

A laminate floor is great. You can get laminate-floor patterns that look like tile or look like marble or look like wood. They’re like puzzle pieces; they all lock together. There’s a strip version and there’s types that look more like tile.

And that’s a lot easier to handle. You can cut it with a regular saw and it floats on top of the tile, so you don’t have to pull up the old stuff. Still have the same height concern with the dishwasher space but it’s a lot easier and a lot more forgiving to do something like that. And it’s very durable. I’ve had a laminate floor down in my kitchen for more than 10 years and it’s great.

MARYANN: Yeah, that sounds like the way to go. So, I didn’t realize you could put it right on top of the – what you have already. The tiles that I have are not flat, smooth, you know? They kind of have a texture to them. Does that matter?

TOM: Yeah, that’s perfectly fine. No, there will be a slight – a very thin – underlayment underneath the laminate floor, usually a thin foam. It’s either separate or it’s attached to the back of the laminate and so that will take up any slight defects like that. But I think that’s the way to go.

Why don’t you head out to Lumber Liquidators? You can go to a Lumber Liquidators store, you can go to and take a look at all of the laminates that are there. You will be amazed at the number of selections. And choose one for your house. I think that’s a great option for you and a lot easier than trying to cut tile.

MARYANN: Oh, my gosh, yes. I wouldn’t even think of attempting that. Thank you so much.

TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, the trash disposer, that’s one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented. If you’ve got one, you know how much it totally kicks butt and makes your whole life at home, in the kitchen, so much more pleasurable until it gets jammed. When it’s jammed, it can really slow down your entire holiday-meal prep. We’re going to give you a few plumber-free steps to get that disposal running again, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call, let us know what you are working on this holiday season. Maybe you’ve got a fireplace that’s just begging to have the mantel decorated. Well, if so, you can get all the step-by-step tips to get that project done by going to and clicking on Projects.

TOM: Plus, if you call in or post your home improvement question to us, we’re giving away a great tool to help get that project done. We’ve got the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and a supply of staples. It’s the most popular American-made staple gun ever.

That package is worth 50 bucks. Includes the stapler and a supply of staples going out to one caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Jan in Kansas is on the line with a home that seems to be cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.

JAN: Well, I’ve got a lot of problems. It’s an old house; it’s over 50 years old.

TOM: You have a lot of opportunities, Jan, not a lot of problems.

JAN: Yeah. I’ve got some cracks in the wall.


JAN: And I have one crack that is going from the dining room to the kitchen and I believe it’s cracking on both sides of the wall. Same crack.

TOM: OK. You said it’s 50 years old. Do you know if it’s plaster lath?

JAN: It’s sheetrock.

TOM: It’s drywall? OK. So, you know, fixing that is not a big deal. The thing is that most people usually fix it incorrectly. What they’ll do is they’ll try to spackle it. And by spackling it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it’s going to re-crack. What you have to do is sand down the area so you get rid of any glaze from the paint or dirt or anything like that. And then you’re going to cover it with drywall tape. And you want to use the mesh type of tape that’s sticky.

So you put a strip of tape across the crack and then you spackle right over that tape. And you’ll use three layers of spackle and the easiest way to apply this is if you buy the plastic spackling knives. You can buy one that starts at around 4 inches, then you go to 6, then you go to 8. And they’re pretty inexpensive and you use that to apply the spackle and you sand in between each coat. And then you prime and paint and you’re done. So those are the proper steps.

Where most people go wrong is they just try to do a quick and dirty spackling job and they wonder why it cracks again and again and again. Because that’s basically an expansion joint right now and unless you spread the repair across both sides of it with new drywall tape, it will continue to show up.

LESLIE: Well, one of the busiest appliances in your kitchen this time of year has got to be the garbage disposer. And nothing puts the brakes on kitchen cleanup like a jammed disposer. Now, clearing it out is not hard if you know what to do.

First of all, you’ve got to be careful about what you feed that disposer. Some foods are just prone to clogging that disposer up, like shrimp shells, pumpkin pulp or really anything that you’ve got that’s stringy and fibrous.

Now, if that happens, you want to turn it off and fish out the debris with something other than your hands. Do not stick your hand down there because if that disposer comes back on while you’re working on it, because you’ve freed up the jam, you are in deep trouble, my friend. So definitely use something other than your hands.

Now, if you do that and the disposer still doesn’t come on, you need to check the reset button, which is located at the bottom of the unit. A lot of people don’t even know that the units have a reset button. So it’s down there; check it out. And one touch of the reset button on the disposer could save you a very expensive, unnecessary repair bill.

TOM: Now, if you’ve tried that and it still doesn’t seem to be working right, then there may be something that’s stopping the blades from running. In that case, look for the small socket on the bottom of the unit, which is for an Allen wrench that usually comes with the disposer. And with the power off – I repeat, with the power off – you can go ahead and wiggle the key back and forth to move the weights manually and free up anything that is stuck in there. You’ll be good to go and back in business.

LESLIE: Well, it’s pretty well known that poinsettia flowers, while very beautiful, are super dangerous if you eat them. But it turns out that other holiday flowers are far more toxic. We’re going to tell you what they are and how to keep you and your pets safe, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: You can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at That’s what Mr. Steep Driveway did. And actually, it could be Mrs. Steep Driveway.

LESLIE: It’s just Steep Driveway.

TOM: He or she says – the Steeps say there are small moisture spots on the steel support beams in their basement. “I tried priming and painting them with Rust-Oleum. I don’t get any water in my basement. I run a dehumidifier but the moisture still comes through. Can you tell me what’s causing it?”

Yes, humidity is the only thing that could be causing that. And the fact that you painted it does not add any insulating ability to that surface. It’s simple condensation. You need to dehumidify further. Check our website for tips on how to reduce moisture in basements and you will be good to go.

Well, it’s pretty well known that poinsettias, while beautiful, can be dangerous if eaten. But it turns out that other holiday flowers are actually far more toxic. Leslie has tips to keep you and your pets safe, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

And Leslie, I mentioned pets because they certainly do get into the holiday flowers, don’t they?

LESLIE: My dog jumps on my dining table, so I don’t even think I can have a poinsettia this holiday season. I mean it’s just crazy and you have to be so careful because pets, of course, are going to put themselves in harm’s way without even realizing it. Children do the same but at least you can explain to them why it’s bad. So, let’s just tell you what’s not so great to have around the house.

First of all, Tom, do you remember when you sent me that holly plant and the dog ate it?

TOM: I know. I felt terrible.

LESLIE: Oh, my God. I had no idea it was even poisonous until their …

TOM: I was trying to do something nice.

LESLIE: And it was lovely. And it was even lovely coming back out of the dog. That’s all I have to say.

But those holly leaves, they’re enough to keep kids or pets away, because they have that prickly edge, but sometimes they do get digested. Now, it’s not so much the leaf, it’s the berry. Now, the berry can cause a tummy ache. And if you eat as few as 20 holly berries – which I can’t imagine you’d eat as few as 20 or as many as 20, I should say – if you have that many, you could die from eating the holly berries. So just be careful where you are placing these. I’m not saying don’t get them; I’m just saying be smart about how and where you decorate with these items.

Now, mistletoe, that’s another deceptive holiday plant. Goes hand in hand with romance but also with nausea, diarrhea, blood-pressure problems and sometimes even fatalities when the berries are eaten. So the berries really are problematic with both of those plants.

And that’s really a great reason, if you are getting real, for real mistletoe, hang it up high on the ceiling, above a doorway where it belongs. And as it starts to dry out and those berries become loose, just be careful and get rid of it at that point.

Now, two flowers that are just symbolic of the holiday season and totally gorgeous is the amaryllis – which is that big, red sort of flower or it’s white, as well, and it has some sort of red marbling on it – and a paperwhite. Now, these are usually known as Narcissus, as well. Both of those you’ll find are gifted as a bulb with a beautiful flower coming out of them. If you eat those, those can cause heart arrhythmia and convulsions. Now, that’s if the bulb is digested. And pets are especially susceptible to these flowers. So you want to keep them far from the reach of any hungry or curious animal.

Now, if you suspect that any of these plants have been eaten, you want to call your local Poison Control Center. Plan to be asked the name of the plant, as well as the exact parts and the amount consumed, if you know this. Also, be prepared to provide the approximate time when it was eaten, the age of the person, the weight, the condition. These are all critical to getting the proper care in the event of having this holiday emergency. And there are also Poison Control lines for pets. So make sure you keep both of these on hand this time of year.

And decorate. Have a beautiful time with the season. Just be smart about it, guys.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about a project that is never much to look forward to: removing wallpaper. Even if you’re good at it, it can be a real drag. But the truth is that if you follow the right steps, we can make sure that clearing that part of your home’s history happens quickly and easily.

But for now, that’s all the time we have. 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 2018 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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