Protecting Kids from Identity Theft

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: We’re here to help you with your home improvement and décor projects. But help yourself first: pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because we’ve got the real-life ideas, tips and inspiration to help you create your best home ever.

Hey, coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about preventing identity theft. Now, it’s a growing crime that you’ve probably heard about frequently associated with adults. But now a new report shows that more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft or fraud just last year. So we’re going to tell you how to protect the kids.

LESLIE: I mean that really is so scary and it’s happening more and more often.

Also ahead, removing wallpaper. It’s a really dreaded task but the right steps not only make it quick and easy but it’ll also give you the smoothest possible result. We’re going to share those tips, in a bit.

TOM: And hey, do you have a pantry or a set of cabinets that are stuck in a constant state of disarray? Well, we’ve got some easy ways to clear that clutter, with pantry designs that deliver spacious and orderly food storage.

LESLIE: And if you’ve been thinking about adding smart-home technology to your home, we’ve got a great way for you to do just that because we’re giving away the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer-Switch Starter Kit. And that kit is worth 100 bucks.

TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: We’ve got David on the line. What are you working on and how can we lend a hand?

DAVID: You know, when we go to put the – take and put the sliding door back in and out, because I deliver cabinets all day, I can’t figure out a good way to do it without damaging the door and causing some sort of charge – back charge – to us for trying to get these ranges in or wall ovens, refrigerators. But sometimes, that’s the only way you can get everything in.

TOM: Are you talking about a sliding patio door?

DAVID: Correct.

TOM: Hmm. And so you’re popping out the movable unit, right? The sliding-door part of it, not the stationary part?

DAVID: That’s correct.

TOM: And you’re having trouble getting them back in?

DAVID: Usually I use a, perhaps, a flat-head or something to try to pop it out.

TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Right.

DAVID: But every time I put in, it doesn’t seem to slide or act correctly. And it’s a major part of my job and this is something that I need to be able to do without them even being able to notice that we did take that item off.

TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Right. Or out. Right.

Well, anytime I’ve removed one of those doors, I know that the rollers, even though you’d think they’re going to drop right back on the rail, very often don’t sit on the rail. So I presume that when you put this door back in, you’re moving it back and forth to make sure it slides the same way it did when you started. Is that correct?

DAVID: Correct.

TOM: So, then, wherein lies the problem? Why is it not performing …?

DAVID: Well, wherein lies the problem is when I do that, it doesn’t seem to roll the same way anymore.

TOM: OK. So that’s the issue, yeah. You may not be on the rail when you put it back in. You may have missed the rail. Sometimes, you have to lift that door up and get every – there’s two rollers, right? One on one end and one on the other. Sometimes, you have to lift that up from one side, then the other to make sure it’s sitting right on the rail.

Now, when you take that door off and you set it down, you should be able to see those rollers, right?

DAVID: Yes. But even when I take it off – I’ve spent over half an hour trying to take this door off of it, just – and be careful and not to break anything. And it doesn’t seem like it ever really is kind of meant to go out that way.

TOM: Well, the other thing that you can do is – along the bottom rail of that door, from the inside there’s usually a plug. And you remove the plug, you can actually lower those wheels to make it easier to take the whole door out. Do you know that?

DAVID: Really?

TOM: Yeah. Every one of those rollers has an adjustment from the inside. It has to be because otherwise, you may have an opening that’s slightly out of square. And that’s how you adjust the angle of the door. So, you could pop those caps out.

And what I would do, if I was doing that, is I stuck my screwdriver in and I would count. If I’m going to back it down – so it’s like an unscrewing, so you’re going to basically go to the left. I would, say, make it three twists of the wrist or something, count one-two-three, one-two-three. That’s going to drop the door evenly on both sides to make it easier for me to get it out. And then, when I put it back in, I know it’s rolling and I could reverse it with three twists to tighten it.

DAVID: So where do I see these? Where do I see this thing I can pop out or whatnot?

TOM: OK. So on the bottom of the sliding door, on the inside, the bottom rail – the bottom part of the frame – you’ll see a cap and a little hole. Usually, it’s about ¼-inch wide. And if you stick a Phillips screwdriver in there, you’ll be at the adjustment lug for the roller. And if you twist it one way or the other, it goes up or down: moves the wheel up and down or in and out of that track.

DAVID: Oh, wow. I never knew that.

TOM: Alright. Well, take a look at that next time. And obviously, it’s not optimal to remove those doors. It’s not like taking a swinging door off a hinge, which is a lot easier. I’m sure you do that when you can. But if you are going to have to pull them out, you might want to give yourself a little more room by doing that, OK? Because if you don’t do that, you may not – you may be having a hard time lifting it out of the track and maybe even bending one of those rollers in the process. That could be part of your problem.

DAVID: Well, so then also, I don’t know if you have the answer to this but – so when I have to deliver a refrigerator to, perhaps, a townhouse that goes upstairs with a landing and a turning stairway – and sometimes these people order the biggest fridge that there is and doesn’t even check that doorway.

TOM: Right. Yeah. Yeah.

DAVID: What is the best method and way to deliver this without, first of all, damaging a refrigerator and the product but also not damaging this door – the stairwell and everything when there may even be a railing or molding already in place?

TOM: Listen, man, I feel for you. I don’t have a good answer for that, because the problem is that people order this stuff and they just assume it can get in. And no matter how many different ways you tell them that you need so much clearance and all of that, it’s not going to sink in. So, that’s part of your business that I could never possibly give you an answer for. Whoever is selling this stuff and whatever their policies are, there ought to be a chargeback to people that order things that are not going to fit in their house, to cover your expenses of doing something like that.

But I hope that helps you out. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Massachusetts where Eleanor has a problem with a sump pump. What’s going on?

ELEANOR: I have a water problem but it was corrected with the – I think we used one of the systems and they put a lower pump, an upper pump and an on-the-floor pump. But the water is coming in through the – where the floor joins the walls.

The pump is going every – probably every – not a minute. More than a minute.

TOM: OK. Now, does this water problem that you’re describing – does it seem to get worse when you have heavy rainfall, for example?

ELEANOR: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

TOM: OK. So, that means that you have a poor drainage condition outside that absolutely needs to be addressed. All you’re doing right now is evacuating water that’s already getting down there. But you need to concentrate on why that water is getting down there. And the fact that it happens worse when you have hard rainfall is because the water is collecting at the foundation perimeter. The most likely source of that is a gutter system that’s undersized, clogged or the downspouts are just not extended out away from the house enough.

I see this time and time and time again. And it’s a shockingly simple fix if you can get them all cleaned up and extended out at least 4 to 6 feet. Once you’re confident that the gutter system is properly installed and working, then you can improve the grading at the perimeter. Sometimes, over the years, the soil will settle. And if you add more soil to it, you want to use clean fill dirt, slope it away from the walls. Then you can plant some grass over that or use some mulch or whatever you prefer.

But you’ve got to get that drainage condition straightened out outside of your house. Putting all these pumps in is just evacuating the water but you’re still going to have water – a lot of water – in the soil that’s going to freeze in the winter and put pressure on the walls. Doesn’t change any of that. So you just need to reduce the amount of water that’s getting there in the first place, OK?

ELEANOR: OK. Now, somebody suggested it might be a spring under the ground. Could it be?

TOM: No, that’s what everybody says, you know. “It’s got be a high water table. It’s got to be a spring.” No, you already told me that it’s absolutely not happening, because you said it gets worse when it rains. Water tables move seasonally and that’s not what’s happening here.


TOM: You’re getting heavy rain, you’re getting leaks. It’s an easy fix, OK?

ELEANOR: OK. Mm-hmm. I’ll give it a try.

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 Radio Show on air and online at

Well, the big holiday is just a few days away, followed by New Year’s and of course, the dreaded winter. What are you guys working on? I know you’ve got the holidays in sight, so let us help you get your house in tip-top shape but also start thinking about those long winter months ahead. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to help.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Up next, over 1 million children were victims of identity theft last year alone. We’re going to have tips on how you can stop those con artists from targeting your kids, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And hey, if you’ve been thinking about adding some smart-home technology to your home, we’ve got a great reason for you to do just that because we are giving away, this hour, the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer-Switch Starter Kit worth almost 100 bucks.

This is pretty cool because it puts the smart-lighting control at the switch, so you can use it on almost any dimmable bulb. And it can totally control your lights from anywhere, using the free Lutron app. You can simply set your lights to go on at dusk and Caseta will make that happen night after night.

And what’s cool about it – it is actually, as the seasons change, the time changes. It has a Sunset Tracker feature that will make sure you are not caught out in the dark, like all of us are right now.

LESLIE: It’s true. I mean this really is such a fantastic feature. I love that because you never have to adjust the timing on the light because it does it for you, which is always the thing that would trip me up before the Caseta.

Now, Caseta by Lutron is the most connected smart-lighting control brand, so it integrates seamlessly with leading smart-home devices. And that makes it simple to expand your system over time. Now, you can check out Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Starter Kit. It includes a smart bridge, the free app, an in-wall light dimmer, Lutron Claro wall plate, Pico remote and so much more.

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

TOM: 888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Mike from Arizona who needs some help with some fixtures in a studio. What can we do for you today?

MIKE: I’m a producer and I was looking at a property that I’m thinking about investing in with a partner of mine. And there’s fixtures in the wall that look like they could be – the building used to be a kitchen.


MIKE: So I’m wanting to change those fixtures over to where I can plug in my equipment and stuff into the wall. And I was wondering what I would be looking at, as far as hiring someone to do it or doing it myself.

TOM: Well, first of all, when you say fixtures and you’re talking about plugging in, you mean electrical fixtures in the walls?

MIKE: No, no. The fixtures in the walls are for gas and stuff.

TOM: Oh, OK.

MIKE: Like stoves. And what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to get electrical fixtures in there.

TOM: Oh, like wiring just for whatever gear you want to plug in?

MIKE: Yeah.

TOM: Well, first of all, if it’s had all of that work done, you’re going to have to make sure that everything was properly disconnected and discontinued and essentially behind the walls. And so if stuff’s coming through, that’s going to involve some repair work. Depending on how much stuff is coming through and the condition of the wall, it may possibly be easier for you, for a lot of reasons, just to remove the drywall and do all your work and then re-drywall that particular side of the room rather than having to run patches for the wires and stuff.

MIKE: Here’s the thing. The building is actually made of brick, like a stone. And there’s no exposed wires or hoses or anything. It’s all inside the wall. And the fixture coming out is cone-shaped. You plug a tube in there to get gas and stuff.

TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, it sounds like science class. Yeah. That’s kind of crazy. I can’t imagine what that was for. I’m thinking of the old Bunsen burners we used to have in science lab, that kind of thing. Yeah.

LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. That’s what it sounds like.

TOM: Well, look, if you can – it is possible to run wiring inside a wall like that, even if you don’t have access to it. Electricians have lots of sneaky ways of doing that and getting the wires where they need to go.

Is it on a basement?

MIKE: It’s solid foundation.

TOM: It’s solid slab? OK. Well, it is possible to run the wiring. It’s trickier because you don’t have access underneath and I don’t know what kind of access you have above. But there are tools to do that.

So I think what you need to do is to first create a very detailed sort of specification of what you want to accomplish in that space. And after you’ve really fleshed that out, then start bringing in some contractors. Because with this kind of a project, Michael, if you don’t have a good idea of what you want to accomplish and you start bringing guys in, they’re all going to have different ways to approach this.

But you basically want to say, “Look, I need power for this and I’ll have equipment here in this kind of space. I need to get these pipes out of the way and make sure they’re disconnected.” List out those types of specs and then bring in the pros and get some prices to do it.

It’s a project that certainly can be done but the complication level, I can’t really tell you because I’m not seeing it. But knowing that there’s nothing underneath – see, reason I asked you if you had a basement – because if you had a basement, you can go downstairs, run the wires and bring them back up. But because it’s on a slab, it becomes a lot harder.

MIKE: Well, I know that in the back, there’s a closet where the breaker and the water heater and everything are over there.

TOM: Well, that might be where the panel is. There’s got to be a way to get the wires there. Or you may be able to tap off the existing wires that are already in that space. You may not have to run new wires.

What kind of equipment are you going to use here? What are we talking about?

MIKE: Well, the plug-ins I’m using are XLR cables. And do you know what a MIDI cable is?

TOM: Yeah. So you want to hardwire that stuff?

MIKE: Yeah.

TOM: OK. Well, you certainly can do it. It’s a little trickier because there’s no access. But it’s certainly doable.

MIKE: Alright. Cool.

TOM: Yeah. I mean with that old building and your particular type of needs, I would say one of the most important electrical things to focus on is grounding. Because if you don’t have good grounding with that kind of wiring, you’re going to have all sorts of line-noise issues and ghosts that you’ll be chasing. And being in the recording business, you know what I mean.

MIKE: Yeah.

TOM: Sometimes you do everything right and then you’ve got – you find out that there’s one bad transformer somewhere 12 feet away that – you just screw up your session.

MIKE: Yeah, I’ve blown I don’t know how many keyboards that way.

TOM: Yeah. Alright. Listen, thanks for giving us a call. Good luck with that project. Sounds like a real fun project to take on.

MIKE: Yeah. Thank you, guys.

TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement question.

Well, identity theft is a growing crime and it’s one that’s very hard to track normally. But when a criminal steals the ID of a child, you may not even realize it until decades later. Fortunately, there are some ways you can prevent child ID theft and there are also some signs to look for that should make you very suspicious.

LESLIE: Yeah. This happens more often than you think. So, according to the FTC, several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is misusing your child’s personal information and therefore committing fraud.

For example, you or your child might be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another using your child’s social-security number. You could also get a notice from the IRS saying that the child didn’t pay income taxes or that the child’s social-security number was used on another tax return. Or you could even be getting collection calls or bills for products or services that you never received, booked, used, all of that.

TOM: This has happened to over a million kids last year alone. So if you suspect you or your child has been a victim of identity theft, head to the Federal Trade Commission’s website at They’ve got the step-by-step guide there for preventing and repairing damage caused by identity theft.

LESLIE: Laurie in Nevada is on the line with The Money Pit. Has got a question about a cement sink. What can we do for you?

LAURIE: Yeah, hi there. Yeah, we – you know, I’m helping my parents out with their very old home. Unfortunately, we’re really low on funds, et cetera, et cetera. We have a sink in our old home; it’s in the basement. And the sink is part of the washer/dryer setup there. And it’s an old cement sink that has a crack in it. I was hoping that we could do something to repair it just until they’re ready to move on, because we’re trying to do the downsizing and stuff.

TOM: OK. Is the crack really severe where it’s in two pieces or is it just like one crack that – where water gets through?

LAURIE: Well, it’s kind of like a little forked crack that’s in part of the sink, on the base of it, so …

TOM: So, what I would recommend is you use an epoxy on this. There’s a product called PC-7. It’s sort of like a putty and it comes in a container that has the A part and the B part and you mix it together. And so it ends up being, when it’s mixed together, kind of like Play-Doh. And you can press it into place and get it troweled out and pressed into this crack. And leave it alone for about 24 hours and it will never, ever leak again.

So good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Hey, we all hate this task. If you’ve ever had to do it, you know that removing wallpaper is just super-duper-duper on the dreaded of task list. But the right steps are not only going to make it quick and easy, but you’ll find that you end up with some very smooth results in the end. We’re going to have some tips, 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: Hey, what are you working on on this last week here before the Christmas holiday? Is it still your house? Couple of things left to do? Maybe you’re thinking about planning a project for next year. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you plan those projects so you can get them done as soon as you’re ready. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, if wallpaper stands between you and your dream room, you’re not alone. Wallpaper removal is a dreaded task.

TOM: But the right steps not only make it quicker and easier, they ensure the smoothest possible results and make the next coat of paint or sheet of wallpaper that much easier to apply. Here to tell us more is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

Welcome, Kevin.

KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

TOM: So, removing wallpaper is one of those jobs that just has to get done sometimes and it’s rarely easy. But what’s the most efficient and effective way to tackle this task and why is it so important to do it right?

KEVIN: Well, you are right about the fact that it is no fun to do. I’ve done it in the past. I don’t like it. In fact, I find it so tedious that I’m reluctant to even use wallpaper.

LESLIE: Oh. But it’s so beautiful.

KEVIN: I know but I always think about the fact that someone’s going to have to take it off eventually.

I guess here are a couple of ways to think about it. The most common wall surface in American homes these days is drywall, right? And so, as you guys know, that’s gypsum and it’s got paper on both sides. So the wall that’s up there that we are putting wallpaper on has a paper base. So when it comes time to taking it off, we’re trying to remove that paper surface from a paper surface.

TOM: Right.

KEVIN: So you actually have to do it right and make sure that you don’t damage the drywall in the process.

And there are a couple tips that will help you do that. First of all, you want to think about scoring the wallpaper. You want to actually slice through it. They have scoring tools or a utility knife. Because you’re going to want to get some sort of a steam or some sort of a liquid behind the face of the wallpaper …

TOM: Like a wallpaper remover, like …

KEVIN: Like a wallpaper remover. Because it’s all put up there with glues, with adhesion, and you want to break that adhesion.

So starting off by scoring it is a great way to go. Once it’s scored, you can apply steam to it so it will loosen up those glues. Start from the top, work your way down. Try to pull it off in the biggest sheets possible.

TOM: Yeah. You don’t want to be picking off one little piece at a time.

KEVIN: No, you don’t. And so the more you score, the more steam that’s going to get behind the wallpaper.

TOM: Right.

KEVIN: But it also means …

LESLIE: And the smaller the pieces.

KEVIN: The smaller the pieces. So you have to kind of find that balance.

TOM: The steaming really makes it easier to get off and I guess you can rent a wallpaper steamer pretty easily.

KEVIN: You can go to the home center, you can rent these things by the day. Oftentimes they’re probably worth their weight in gold.

Now, they may not always work or they may not do the complete job, so there’s a couple other things to think about. There are solutions there: wallpaper-removing solutions. You can make your own where you can actually use fabric softener, believe or not. Mix it with hot water, sort of a 1:1 ratio. Spray that up onto the wall. The trick there is work quickly. When the water’s warm, it’s working for you, so try to get that wallpaper off while the water’s warm and apply liberally.

TOM: And once you have it off and the wallpaper is gone, now you have to sort of prep the walls for your next project, which is probably not to put on more wallpaper after having gone through all of that pain of removing the old stuff. What should you do to get the surface ready, say, for paint?

KEVIN: Well, whether it’s paint or for new wallpaper, you do want to make sure that the surface you have is smooth and clean. And so one way to actually clean a wall where you’ve just stripped the wallpaper is by using distilled white vinegar mixed with water. That’s going to help you remove any of the glue that may have been left behind. You want to make sure that if you do that, that the surface is completely dry before you apply any primer or paint to that surface or any new wallpaper.

LESLIE: Now, I know a lot of people want to cut corners and they’ll say, “Well, why can’t I just paint over my wallpaper or put the new paper over the old paper?” And that generally is a no-no.

KEVIN: That is always a no-no.

TOM: A really bad idea.

KEVIN: It’s a really bad idea. For a guy who had to strip wallpaper with – three or four coats of wallpaper with paint on each one, I will hunt you down and find you if you paint over your wallpaper.

It’s not a great idea because, eventually, the wallpaper may fail. And now your freshly-painted surface, it’s not going to look that great to begin with. But if that wallpaper that you’ve painted over ever comes off, now you’ve got a wall surface that’s completely ruined. So, my recommendation is live with the wallpaper you have or if you decide to paint, make sure you get it off in its entirety, clean that surface and then apply the paint.

TOM: We’re talking to Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, about tips for removing wallpaper.

Kevin, you work on a lot of old houses and many of those wallpaper projects that were done years ago include backing paper: kind of a second layer of paper that was underneath the decorative layer. Can you leave that in place or do you have to take that off, as well?

KEVIN: Well, I think that the answer is it depends, you know? And in fact, we still use that backing paper today. We were on a project just two years ago and Tommy basically told the guy, “You’ve got to put the backing paper up,” because we had horsehair plaster walls. And you could spend a lifetime trying to fix those and make them perfectly flat or you can put that backing paper over the walls to give you a nice, smooth surface and then put your (inaudible).

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s a little more forgiving.

KEVIN: It’s a little more forgiving, absolutely. I guess the answer to your question, Tom, is once you get the wallpaper off, you really just have to inspect the backing paper. If it’s a clean surface that doesn’t have any imperfections, then you may be able to go over it with wallpaper. If it’s damaged in any way, unfortunately, I think you’re taking the backing paper off, as well, getting down to that bare wall surface.

LESLIE: And that’s the same process as the first.

KEVIN: That is the same process as the first.

TOM: So it’s worth doing it once and doing it right so you don’t have to do it again.

KEVIN: It’s always the case.

TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, great advice as always. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

KEVIN: Thank you, guys.

LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.

Just ahead, a disorganized kitchen pantry can make it pretty difficult to find what you’re looking for and also adds prep time for meals. And I hate this: it could even lead you to adding things to your shopping list you already have. Have you ever bought something and got home and go, “Aw, man. I’ve got one of these things already.” So now you’ve got two.

LESLIE: Oh, yeah. Or you’re like, “Ugh. I didn’t need that; I needed this.”

TOM: Yep. So we’re going to have some easy ways to clear that clutter with pantry designs that deliver spacious and orderly food storage. That’s all coming up, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to that question, which will probably be right, usually.

LESLIE: We’re usually right.

TOM: But we’re also going to give you some cool stuff, because we’ve got the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer-Switch Set worth 99.95 to give away. It puts smart-lighting control at the switch, so you can use it for almost any dimmable bulb. And it easily controls your lights from anywhere, using the free Lutron app.

And Leslie, I learned a trick with this that is pretty neat.


TOM: So you know it comes with a remote. It’s a little, tiny, Pico remote which is exactly the same size as one of those switches, right? So let’s say you have a three-way switch where you have a staircase and you have a switch at the bottom, a switch at the top.

LESLIE: Right.

TOM: And you think, “Well, how do I get that into the technology so that I could operate it from my app? I can have the lights come on or off at night but I don’t want to have to do all of this major wiring.”

You don’t have to because what happens is that Pico remote fits behind a normal switch plate and it kind of fakes out the – visually, it looks like a switch, right? But it’s really just a remote control. It’s battery-operated. So, in essence, it gives you a switch at the top of the stair and the bottom of the stair but you’re only wiring one, not two. See what I mean?

LESLIE: Oh, that’s interesting.

TOM: Yeah. So it’s a kind of cool trick of the trade. It’s all possible now with smart lighting, right? We can do so many things.

LESLIE: And that’s a really interesting trick to do.

TOM: Yep.

LESLIE: Because you would think that was impossible before, with any of these sort of smart-lighting technology, but just because there’s so many different ways to use that switch.

TOM: Yep, exactly.

LESLIE: That’s great.

TOM: That kit’s worth 99.95. It’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, do you have a pantry or maybe a set of cabinets that are stuck in a constant state of disarray? I know that my cabinets have been in a constant state of disarray for – oh, I guess about the last 20 years we’ve had kids at the house.

LESLIE: That’s what the junk drawer is for, Tom.

TOM: Yeah, no kidding.

LESLIE: You have to have one designated drawer that you can leave a total mess.

TOM: Well, we kid but we’ve got easy ways to help clear that clutter with some pantry designs that can give you spacious and orderly food storage.

And the first place to start is a very simple but effective tip and that is: keep a grocery list on or near that pantry door. Make it a family rule that whenever someone notices something is almost gone, they must add it to the list.

LESLIE: Oh, that is wonderful in theory. If only I could get my children to simply go along with that rule. Then I would not end up in a chocolate-chip cookie situation.

TOM: Exactly.

LESLIE: Now, here’s a great trick of the trade: get one of those over-the-door shoe sort of pocket storage things. It’s clear pockets and you can use them for a ton of things. Not just shoes. And here’s a great place that you can use that, as well. You can cut it to fit the back side of your cabinet door and then don’t overstuff those pockets. But you can put those small things in there and still be able to close that cabinet door. I mean you should be utilizing every space and that includes the back of the door.

TOM: Yep, absolutely.

Now, another thing that you can do is to group things together according to how they’re going to be used. So, for example, instead of keeping all of the herbs and spices together, you want to put the sweet spices with the other baking supplies. Use maybe a small basket to hold all your allspice, your cinnamon, cloves, your ginger, mace, nutmeg and stuff like that. And this way, the next time you’re making an apple pie or a gingerbread, you can just grab the whole basket and know that you’ve got every spice you need. And then just put it back when you’re done.

LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s another good rule to use when you’re organizing the pantry: the less often that you use something, the harder it should be to reach. So you want to save that prime pantry real estate for the things that you’re grabbing for every single day. And then make it a little bit more difficult when you need the thing that you’ll only use maybe around the holidays or something.

And another idea is under-shelf racks. If you can add those to your pantry design, that’s going to double the storage capacity of the middle shelves. Now, you can use one of them to corral all of your food wraps so they’re really easy to find. You can use another for bread and rolls so they’re not getting squished. That always seems to happen no matter where I put the bread and rolls. So if you can have a space that really sort of protects some things and carves out a space specifically for that, that’s the best way to staying organized.

TOM: Yeah. And I like that idea because we end up putting all of our food wraps in the drawer – our kitchen drawer. But they’re just a tiny bit too big for that, so they end up getting smashed in the first couple of weeks, right? And then it becomes a big mess.

Well, that gives you a few places to start. If you’re super inspired to get organizing with that pantry, you can start by sorting things out, getting rid of anything that’s expired or you just don’t like and then repeating that process every couple of months. And this way, every time you open that pantry door, you’ll thank yourself for all that hard work.

888-666-3974. It’s time for us to get to work answering your home improvement questions. So give us a call right now.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nathan in Texas on the line who’s got a concrete-stain question. What’s going on?

NATHAN: Just wondering, we have a place on our stained concrete floors that a chair has sat at and rolled around a lot and it’s faded all the stain away. Didn’t know if you knew of any way to make it look any better or should we just leave it alone?

LESLIE: So the floor itself is not damaged, just that the color has gone away.

NATHAN: Right. Just from a roll-around chair being – sitting in front of a computer, moving around a lot.

TOM: And what kind of stain color are you working with right now, Nathan?

NATHAN: It’s a rust-type brown with a little bit of – almost a kind of slight maroon-ish tint to it.

TOM: Alright. Well, I’m glad that it’s darker rather than lighter because it seems like that might be a bit easier to match, right, Leslie?

LESLIE: Yeah. I think you’re going to have to try to mix up some new stain. And I say mix up only because if you’ve got any of the original color left, you might need to add a little bit of a darker stain to it just to sort of get it to match the current color situation for the rest of your floor? And you should be able to sort of blend that in to make those bald spots, for lack of a better word, go away, that faded area to sort of come back to life.

Now, as far as repairing it or making it more robust or sturdy, I should say, for that future rolling-around on it, have you done any sort of clear coat or protective coat to the top of the stain? Or is it really just like a dry, matte surface finish?

NATHAN: It is dry. We did have a clear coat initially when we built the house. But what happened with that is any type of – if a dog walked on it, the paw prints showed and you couldn’t get them off, so we had to buff it all out.

TOM: So it never really – it sounds like it remained tacky.

LESLIE: It never cured.

TOM: Yeah, that can happen if there’s moisture under the slab.

NATHAN: And that’s probably what happened. We had a little bit of a problem with our contractor and never really got it right.

TOM: Well, look, you could always try this in an inconspicuous area but I think if you were to get the color right and then clear-coat it again with satin, it would stand up a little bit better. But I guess the good news is that this is obviously under a desk or an area where a chair is, so it’s not going to be terribly noticeable. But why not just put some sort of protective mat under that chair this time, after you get it right?

NATHAN: Yeah, I agree.

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

LESLIE: Hey, do you have a door or two in your house or apartment that just seems to get stuck? We’re going to share some easy fixes, after this.

TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: So, Leslie, are you ready for the holiday? You’ve only got a few days now.

LESLIE: I hope so. Geez, I really hope so. Now you’re making me nervous.

TOM: Do all the Santa shopping, hide all those Santa gifts away.

LESLIE: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t do that.

TOM: Not at all, right?

LESLIE: I just do my own thing and the big guy does the rest. But truly, I think I’m fairly organized, I hope.

TOM: Alright. Good to hear.

Hey, you know, we have frequently talked about the importance of checking your holiday lighting before you put things up. And I know many people like to decorate their tree at the last minute. We found a holiday-décor item in our house that was a – it was like a ceramic statue that had a little, tiny nightlight in it that was in the shape of a holiday fireplace. Well, ironic because as we pulled that out of the box to put it out, a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the wire was overheated. It was actually bubbling up.

So, apparently, last year it had gotten hot and it had broken down and it was bubbling up. And that was a fire waiting to happen. Because we always check those wires, we were able to stop it. So, real important to make sure you check those wires before you put them up, especially old heirloom-type family stuff, because you never know what’s going to happen.

LESLIE: I mean that really is true. You’ve got to stay on top of it, because you just want to make sure that you keep you and your family safe.

And while you’re getting out these holiday decorations, if you come across something that you just don’t know, jump onto, send us an email, call us up. We’ll give you a hand with whatever it is that’s bothering you this holiday season and quite frankly, all throughout the home improvement year.

Right now, I’ve got a post here from Sarah. Now, Sarah writes: “My bedroom door isn’t closing properly. I think it was installed on an angle. What’s the best way to make this small adjustment? I don’t want to run the risk of ruining the door, so should I just sand down the parts that are scraping the doorframe?”

TOM: It’s tempting, right? But think about the fact that wherever that door is stuck, that there’s going to be room on the opposite side for it to loosen up.

So what I mean by that – let’s say we’re facing the door and the door opens towards us and it’s stuck in the top, right? So it’s opening towards us. Let’s say it’s opening on – with my right hand, I can reach the knob and pull it toward me but it’s stuck at the top, right above the door handle. Well, that means that the hinge – which is opposite that, which is bottom left is – probably needs to be moved closer to the door jamb. Now, how do you move a hinge? Well, you pull out the old screws – which are only about an inch long, right? – and you replace them with 2 ½-inch drywall screws. You drive them in with a drill. And what you’ll find is that entire jamb will move with that just a scooch closer to the framing. And that might just pull that door down enough for it to free up.

And you can also do it the opposite way by adding, say, a shim behind the upper hinge to move that door down. So just remember – “Which way do I want the door to move and what do I have to do to make that happen?” That’s a lot better than trying to sand and scrape that into place. And it’s a lot easier than having to refinish all of that.

LESLIE: You know what, Sarah? There’s actually a great video online at Tom and I actually had the chance to with Yale Smart Locks over the summer. And we went over all the sort of pitfalls that you might encounter when you’re installing a lock, why things might rub a certain way, why things might be jamming a certain way, how to check for those problems.

Head on over to, search “how to install a smart lock.” You’ll find a great video there and you’ll see Tom and I hard at work and hopefully help you out.

TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this very busy holiday weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas to fuel your home improvement projects.

And listen, if you’re thinking about 2019 and what you’re going to take on first, what you want to get done, maybe you’ve kind of stress-tested your house now with everyone that’s been coming and going and decided this is going to be the year that you’re going to update the bathroom or the kitchen or the bedrooms or the family room, those are all projects that we have much experience to lend to you on. So, think about that and give us a call any time of the day or night, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at

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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