In this episode…

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Whether you have a green thumb or need to hire out the job, sprucing up your landscaping is a great way to step up your landscaping. Tom & Leslie have tips on how you can create a simple landscape plan to for a beautiful exterior to your home. Plus…
Flu season is upon us and along with all the concerns we have about viruses, do you know the difference between a cleaner, sanitizer and disinfectant?  We’ll tell you what you need to know to make sure your home is safe. Garages are spaces where most of us store everything BUT a car!  However, these are also places where toys and toxins are often stored side-by side.  We’ll have tips to keep this space cleaned, organized and safe. And for those that don’t have garages, we’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to build or buy a storage shed and get it set up for maximum efficiency,
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, eliminating carpenter ants, squeaky wood floors, venting dryers, cleaning vinyl siding.

Do you have a home improvement or decor question? Call the show 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT (888-666-3974) or post your question here.
!doctype> Read Transcript
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 are here to help you get the projects done that you’d like to tackle around your house. Now that we’re all spending more time around our homes, we’re probably seeing more stuff that needs to get fixed. Well, don’t get upset, don’t get anxious. Get it done. We’ll help you start with the simple repairs you can do yourself and it’s ones that, perhaps, you need a pro to handle. You can either do that or put it off, perhaps, until the fall to get that part of the job done. But if it’s on your to-do list, if it’s something you’re thinking about doing, think about calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Coming up on today’s show, whether you’ve got a green thumb or you need to hire out the job, sprucing up your landscaping is a great way to step up the beauty and the curb appeal of your home. We’re going to have tips on how you can create a very simple landscape plan that will lead you to a beautiful exterior for your space.

LESLIE: Well, this year, we have seen an unimaginable flu and virus season. I mean none of us could ever have expected this to go on. But we want to make sure that your home is well cared for and safe. Well, we know there’s a lot of products out there that you can choose to clean your home but how do you know the difference between a cleaner, a sanitizer, a disinfectant, which one’s the best for the house to keep it safe? We’re going to help you sort it all out, in just a bit.

TOM: Plus, we’ve got tips to help you with seasonal storage. Garages are spaces where most of us store everything pretty much but a car. However, they’re also places where toys and toxins are often stored side-by-side. We’ll have tips on how to keep this space clean, organized and safe. And if you don’t have a garage, we’re also going to tell you exactly what you need to know to build or buy a storage shed and get it set up for maximum efficiency.

LESLIE: Plus, if you call in or post your home improvement questions to us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ve got a great giveaway that’ll help you get some spring cleaning done outside. And we’re all loving going outside. We’re giving away a Greenworks 60-Volt Handheld Blower that’s going to deliver an airspeed of 130 miles an hour, which is perfect for cleaning off your deck, your walk, your driveway, all of it.

TOM: That Greenworks Blower is worth 179 bucks. It’s available exclusively at Lowe’s but we’ve got one going out to one listener drawn at random who reaches us with their home improvement question. So, call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

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

ANNA: Well, I have a problem with a painted banister. We have a white staircase – white banister – painted. And after a while, we’ve been cleaning it and it gets a lot of dirt into the paint and the paint has become sticky. I need to know what to maybe seal it with or some suggestion.

TOM: Well, at this point, if you’ve gotten kind of a sticky mess on your hands, there is no sealing. You’re going to have to go back to the …

LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve worn through the finish.

TOM: Right. You’re going to have to go back to the raw wood and get as much of that old paint off as possible. So I would use a paint stripper first. There’s a pretty good product called Rock Miracle that we like, that does a good job. Get as much of that paint off as you possibly can, then use a good-quality primer – oil-based is best – and go up from there. There’s nothing at this point – if you’ve got a goopy, sticky, yucky surface – that you should put on top of that. It’s only going to make the matters worse, Anna.

ANNA: It’s not ,it’s more just sticky and it gets grime into it. It’s the only thing I can tell you.

TOM: Yeah. Right. And …

ANNA: I was hoping I could maybe save it but it’s an awful lot of stripping.

TOM: Yeah, I understand that. But the problem is that anything you put on top of that is just going to make it worse right now. When the paint gets to be that – in that kind of condition, you’ve got to really start taking off some layers. You may not have to go down to raw wood but you’ve certainly got to get off the upper couple of layers and go from there.

ANNA: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, was hoping you had a magic but …

TOM: Sometimes we do but not always. Sometimes, the only magic is the hard elbow grease that has to go into a project.

ANNA: OK. And what kind of paint would you suggest? An oil-base, I know that.

TOM: Well, for priming, yeah. Just an oil-based primer. At least you get better adhesion with it.

LESLIE: And then it’s better to use a glossy finish, because anything with a glossy finish has more layers of that finish in it to achieve that high gloss or a semi-gloss. And then it’s more cleanable or easily wipeable.

ANNA: OK. Alright. Thanks so much.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Hong in Pennsylvania on the line who is having an issue with carpenter ants. Tell us what’s going on.

HONG: One day – within the front of the house, we have these wooden pillars. And in the round base, I saw there was a neatly cut hole and the carpenter ants were climbing out of that. What’s an effective way of getting rid of them?

TOM: Well, there’s a product called Phantom – P-h-a-n-t-o-m – that’s a professionally applied pesticide, Hong. Works very well for carpenter ants and roaches and other types of pests like that.

And the reason it works particularly well is because it’s a non-detectable pesticide. So the ants go through this product and they bring it back to their nest and they pass it from insect to insect. I think of it as germ warfare for insects. And as they pass it from insect to insect, it will very quickly wipe out the entire nest.

And I think a professional product like that is going to be the safest and most effective way to get rid of these ants. Because if you use a lot of over-the-counter products, chances are you’re not going to get all the ants where they live, because you’re not going to find any product that’s non-detectable that’s available as an over-the-counter. And you’ll end up putting more and more pesticide in than you probably really need to.

So I would take a look at – You can put in your zip code, find a number of pest-control operators near your house and have them provide you some estimates for controlling this. You really need to get it under control, because carpenter ants are called “carpenter ants” for a very good reason: they do eat wood. We want to make sure they don’t eat anything that’s structural in your house.

HONG: Yeah. You know that that’s what I was – I thought. OK.

TOM: Good luck, Hong. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Hey, if you’ve got a question, remember you can always call us with your home improvement question, design, décor, whatever it is you have been thinking about these past weeks. We are available to you right here at 888-MONEY-PIT, so ask us your question.

And remember, some lucky question-asker is going to win an awesome prize. This hour, we’ve got the perfect outdoor tool to help you with all of your spring-cleaning projects in the yard. It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Battery-Powered Handheld Blower. It’s got incredible power and performance with 130 mile-per-hour airspeed, advanced brushless-motor technology, which really gives you a lot of power and durability with not a lot of maintenance required. And it’s worth 169 bucks. Plus, it’s got a battery that’ll last run for 50 minutes. I mean it’s really fantastic. Check it out at Lowes and

TOM: That Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Handheld Blower with the battery and the battery charger going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your question to us at or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: OK. Let’s welcome Donna from North Carolina with some squeaking floors. What’s going on?

DONNA: We have a 13-year-old home in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was purchased as new construction. We have squeaky floors – wood floors – primarily in the kitchen, in front of the sink. Originally, we – there were shims placed between the joists to even the floor after we moved in. But after a first frost, there were raised areas of flooring, particularly in the kitchen. And some of the shims were removed to even the floors once again.

Currently, we’re selling our house and my concern is that when the purchaser employs a home inspector, that the squeaky floors would be so obvious that we would need to resolve the problem. And I wondered what you would suggest we do.

TOM: I was a home inspector for 20 years and I’ve never, ever, in those 20 years, reported squeaky floors as a structural problem.


TOM: So, on that point, I don’t think you have a lot to worry about unless you have somebody that really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes, if you get an inspector that is really under-skilled, they will take the minute, normal occurrences of a home and turn it into a major issue. But that’s it.

It is kind of annoying. And trying to figure out why it squeaks requires you understanding which part of that floor assembly is moving, because it’s evidence of movement. So, if there’s movement between the subfloor and the floor joist underneath, that could be one source. Or if there’s movement between the finished hardwood floor and the subfloor and the floor joist, that’s another type of movement.

You can deal with all of this if you were to be able to identify where – from the top side, from the kitchen side – the floor joists are underneath that area that’s loose. And then you can drive what’s called a “trim screw,” which is about as wide as a finish nail, with the proper prep, which means you have to predrill the floor. But you can drive a couple of those into the hardwood floor to kind of tie it all together. And once you do that, you’ll find that you’ll quiet it down quite a bit. And the size hole that you’ll have to fill is no more than the width of a finish nail.

DONNA: OK. So the key is finding the joist, I would guess.

TOM: Floor joist. And there’s a way to do that, too. And you can do that by measuring it out or you could simply get a stud finder – a stud sensor. They have them today where they’re good enough where they can actually see through 2, 3 inches of building material and find the floor joist below with great precision. Stanley makes a number of very good-quality and inexpensive stud sensors that can do that.

But don’t panic. A squeaky floor is pretty much typical and it’s not indicative of a structural issue.

Right, Leslie?

LESLIE: Oh, yeah. It’s just more annoying. And I think one of the benefits of you saying – you know, you seem to have so much knowledge of the shims and what’s going on there. It makes me feel like you have access to the thing, so it should be fairly easy for you to get to the bottom of.

DONNA: Alright. Well, thank you so much for that information. It’s encouraging.

LESLIE: Well, landscaping is one of the most cost-effective improvements that a homeowner can make. But whether you’re starting from scratch or you need a total yard makeover, planning that space on paper before you put your shovel in the ground can help make sure that it comes out perfectly.

TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So, we’ve boiled this down to really four things you need to consider. First, what will the space be used for and who is going to use it? Is it a kids’ play space, a garden, a casual kind of chill space or is it going to be your showpiece? Next, once you know that, you’ve got to prioritize your wish list: your needs versus what you might like to have. If you can sort that out, it’s going to help you make the rest of the decisions you need to get it built out.

LESLIE: Now, next, you’ve got to decide how much time you’re willing to set aside for maintenance. And this really is a big one, because the best-laid plans won’t pan out if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to maintain them. And of course, your budget. How much do you want to spend on the project and then the maintenance to follow?

TOM: I can’t tell you how many times, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, I saw yards that once were perfectly designed and maintained but then sort of fell by the wayside. You can tell at one point somebody put time and effort and care into creating this beautiful space but then just totally let it go. So that’s a really important point you just made. Make sure that you plan something that’s going to be doable for you to take care of as the years go on.

Landscaping is really a great way to quickly increase your home’s value with very little cost, so think about what you can do to spruce up that space this spring and it’ll give you enjoyment and value for years to come.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Greg in Georgia on the line who’s having an issue with a dryer vent. What’s going on?

GREG: I have a dryer vent that vents into the attic. And the problem that I’m running into is that the laundry room is surrounded by a kitchen on one side, a bedroom on the other side, a bathroom on the back and an upstairs bedroom above it. So I was wondering if there’s any way – there is one wall that I was thinking about trying to go through but I’m afraid of what I might run into, as far as plumbing from the bathroom behind it and electric that might be in the wall. But I really don’t know exactly what to do.

TOM: Is this laundry room on the first floor and are you venting this up through a second floor to the attic? How long is this run?

GREG: I’m guessing it’s about 12 to 15 feet. And yes it does go vertically from where the dryer is into the wall – into a dryer box into the wall – and then up. And then it goes into this – some of that foil-type ducting that has the wire reinforcement?

TOM: Yep. Yes.

GREG: And the wire-reinforced ducting kind of then goes horizontal for about 2 or 3 feet, I’m guessing, because I can’t really get my head …

TOM: Does it lead to a termination point where it vents outside?

GREG: No, it does not go outside. It just vents into …

TOM: OK. So, putting – yeah, I understand. So, putting all of that moisture and humidity into the attic is really bad, for a couple of reasons. First of all, your insulation is not going to work well because it will always be damp. And especially, of course, in the wintertime, it’ll get – a lot of condensation will saturate it. You’re going to lose a lot of the R-value.

And secondly, where it’s venting out I’ve very often found, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, that the plywood sheathing – the roof sheathing around there – will start to rot and delaminate for the same reason. It’s cold, the moisture is warm and it just saturates and is, basically, wood rot that happens. So, you do need to find, at the least, a better solution.

Now, it would be OK in the attic to run it to a vent that goes through the exterior walls with a flapper on it so you know that it’s ducting out. But even in that case, you have such a long run here that it’s going to take a lot longer for your clothes to dry. And secondly, it’s more likely to get dirty and get filled with lint and need to be cleaned. So if there is a way to get it out in a shorter way – you mentioned being concerned about that wall. I wouldn’t let that stop me. I mean if you open the wall and you find pipes, you’re going to work around them.

But if there is a shorter distance to go from the dryer immediately outside, that’s the way you really should go and with the fewest possible turns. Even a turn, an elbow – one 90-degree turn – is the equivalent of about 10 feet of straight ductwork in terms of its resistance to the flow of that lint getting out of your house.

So, I think you’re on target trying to find the right – the shortest way out. And I wouldn’t be afraid to open a wall to help me do that, even if it meant I had to do some drywall work, which it sounds like you’ll be up against.

GREG: Yeah, that’s probably going to be – and I was concerned, too, about the – how much drop I need per foot going horizontally if I keep going through that wall.

TOM: You don’t really need much drop. No, you don’t really need much drop per foot; it’s not like a plumbing pipe. It’s a dryer duct, so it’ll go.

What’s underneath the dryer – the laundry room?

GREG: It’s on a slab with a floor.

TOM: OK. So there’s nothing you can do down there.

GREG: There’s no crawlspace. Yeah.

TOM: Yeah, there’s no crawlspace or basement. All right. Yeah, I would try to get it out through that bathroom wall and just open it up. If you’ve got to replace the drywall on that whole side of the room, then just do it. But you may be able to locate where the pipes are by using a scanner, you know, like a stud finder. There are finders today that can detect metal and electricity and such.

But you need to get that out, because it’s not safe to go straight up and then all the way out the way you’re going from the attic. That could lead to a dryer fire. I bet you probably have never, ever cleaned that exhaust duct and …

GREG: Well, not until recently.

TOM: Yeah. And was it an experience when you cleaned it? Did you have a lot of lint fall out of it?

GREG: It really wasn’t too bad. But what brought me to this point was the thermal heat in the dryer tripped, so I had to replace it.

TOM: Oh, man.

GREG: And I wanted to make sure that I found the cause of that fuse blowing.

TOM: Right.

GREG: So I started cleaning out the vent and tracing where it went. I’ve only been in this house about a year-and-a-half, so …

TOM: Right. Well, I think you’re on the right track here. So, I would just encourage you to continue this and get it out. And once you do open that wall up, make sure that the dryer exhaust, of course, is solid metal. Don’t use flex duct or anything like that. Use a solid-metal duct and screw it all together so that it’s permanent.

I’ll tell you, in our house, we moved the dryer – washer and dryer – upstairs because we had a traditional home with a first-floor laundry and we got tired of going up and down the stairs. So we moved it up there and I was able to vent it directly to an exterior wall. And man, what a difference in terms of the speed that the clothes dry. It was basically about 25-percent faster because it was not being held up by any of the exhaust ducts.

GREG: Mm-hmm. Well, I sure appreciate your calling me and following up on this and giving me an answer.

TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.

GREG: Alright, thank you.

TOM: Well, flu season is upon us. And along with all the concerns we have about our health, it’s a really good time to take stock of the way we disinfect the surfaces of our homes. In our house we use the JAWS Disinfectant Cleaner. So I decided to ask Bruce Yacko to join us to talk about disinfectants, how they work and what we need to do to keep the surfaces in our homes as clean and safe as possible.

Welcome, Bruce.

BRUCE: Nice to talk to you.

TOM: I think that this is a term that sometimes gets – it gets thrown around without people really understanding what it is. When we say disinfectant, that is a very specific type of product that does a very certain job. Can you just start there and talk about how that might vary from things that we call “sanitizers” and that sort of thing?

BRUCE: Sure. Well, a disinfectant is designed to kill 100 percent of the germs and viruses and things on a surface. A sanitizer would do about 99 percent of them.

TOM: I see.

BRUCE: And so, typically, your disinfectants are stronger in terms of their performance and are designed for more universal use, like in a hospital.


BRUCE: You wouldn’t want to sanitize a hospital, nor do you want to sanitize your home.

TOM: Right. OK.

BRUCE: And so, you really would want to disinfect those areas so you’re killing 100 percent of the viruses and bacteria and all the harmful things that are in that area.

And used to be, Tom, that you had to use very high pH, high-alkaline products to do that. Well, that’s no longer the case. So we can have neutral products that are safer for the home and the surfaces in the home and the people in the home and still do a very high level of disinfection.

And actually, our disinfectant is used in the White House, it’s used in the Capitol Building, the Pentagon, some very prestigious places around the country that we really want to protect from harmful pathogens in those areas.

LESLIE: Bruce, I think during flu-and-virus season, we’re always hearing people saying, “Wash your hands. Clean the surfaces.” But I don’t think people really think about those surfaces that our dirty hands are touching every day, over and over and over again and coming into contact with when we’re out and about in our daily routine.

So, thinking about our houses, we’re washing our hands. What’s a good routine to get into, cleaning-wise for all of those surfaces, to make sure that we’re disinfecting things the best that we can?

BRUCE: Well, I think it’s something that – and again, by having a neutral product and one that’s a great cleaner, in terms of our JAWS Disinfectant, there’s absolutely no reason not to use it like you’d use a general kitchen degreaser in your house. And so, having the ability to know that you’re cleaning away the greases and the oils, which is typically harboring those bacteria and allowing them to survive in foods – cleaning those off the surface efficiently, which is really what you’re trying to do and then leaving that disinfectant on that surface to be able to kill whatever bugs may exist on that area I think, really, it makes a whole lot of sense.

So in a timeframe like this, where people are very concerned – the flu season has been a pretty major season this year. That flu shot you took may or may not have killed that flu – that influenza that you were trying to defend yourself against – but our disinfectant will. And so, by having a product that cleans efficiently, effectively, doesn’t hurt surfaces in their home, nice things to work with in terms of they’re pleasant, they don’t have fumes and odors and things like that, won’t leave streaks behind whether it’s being used on a kitchen marble surface, dark surface or used on your floor.

That it really has the ability to do – and during this time of the year when flu is prevalent, we’re in the house a lot, we’re closed in. Being able to use a good, solid, hospital-grade disinfectant – which it is – that’s used in medical facilities across the – really, across the globe, that why not protect yourself no differently than they would in a medical facility and really have a great cleaner, to boot?

TOM: Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense.

And I want to explain, for those that are not familiar with your system, the product’s called JAWS. And that’s because it stands for Just Add Water – the Just Add Water System. And so, your product is sold as a concentrate. And by doing so, you are not only providing a product that’s safe for the environment but you’re taking a lot of waste out of the – out of not having to throw away plastic bottles.

Plus, you’re lightening up the shipping. You’re not paying for all the fuel and all the exhaust to get what is essentially a lot of water – in most cleaning products, that’s probably the biggest ingredient – across the country and just providing the essential product.

And I think it’s cool the way you guys have designed it with these refills that just pop into the top of the bottle and just release into the water. And there you get a full bottle of disinfectant, just like you would if you were to go to the supermarket and pick up one off the store shelf.

BRUCE: Absolutely. You know, they’re small, they’re efficient. They’re about the size of a roll of nickels. And all you’ll do is you’ll fill up that hard – and again, it’s an elegant, beautiful, heavy-duty bottle designed for 26 refills. You have a heavy-duty sprayer on the top designed for the life of that sprayer, about 50,000 pulls.

And all you’re going to do is when that bottle goes empty, rather than throwing it away or recycling it – and we have seven oceans full of plastic, single-use bottles – all you’ll do is you’ll refill it with your water, your tap, insert the cartridge. And when you tighten down the sprayer, it’s kind of fun and interesting. And really give it time to do that piece of art that it does in front of you to create the next bottle of the cleaner.

And you’re not going to have 50 bottles of cleaner around your house. But having those little cartridges around that give you an opportunity to come back in the next time and clean, when the bottle goes empty and you simply reconstitute your product in your own home, it’s kind of fun. It’s interesting, it’s easy, it’s convenient. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of space and in the end, it’s cost-saving.

TOM: The product is the JAWS Disinfectant Cleaner. That is one of six products made by JAWS in the same way.

Bruce Yacko from JAWS, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

You can learn more at And Bruce has also provided us a promo code just for our  listeners, that’s worth 25 percent off the cost of your purchase. And you just enter MONEYPIT as your promo code. You’ll save 25 percent.

Bruce, thanks for doing that. And thanks, again, for stopping by The Money Pit and clearing us up on the term disinfectant so that we can keep our homes as safe and clean as possible.

BRUCE: Great to be with you, as always, and thank you for your support.

TOM: Well, I love spring but I don’t always love spring cleaning, Although, spring-cleaning my yard, that I’m OK with. And we’ve got a great tool to help you if that’s on your to-do list. It is from Greenworks. We’re giving one away this hour. It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Battery-Powered Handheld Blower.

It’s got amazing power. I mean you just don’t need gas-powered equipment anymore. And this one will actually provide air at a flow of 130 miles per hour. So that’s going to blow all of the leaves, the dirt, the debris when you’re cleaning off your porch, your deck, your sidewalks, your driveway. It can do the job for you. It’s got brushless-motor technology that gives you this crazy amount of torque and power and durability with virtually no maintenance. And it’ll run for up to 50 minutes on low speed on a single battery charge.

So, we’ve got one here. It’s going to go out to one lucky listener. Make it you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s available exclusively at Lowe’s but we’re sending one out to one caller, 888-666-3974. You can also post your question to

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Doug in Virginia on the line with a siding question. How can we help you?

DOUG: Yes. I had – my son’s house has some vinyl siding on it. And the folks that owned it before he did were patching something with some of the spray-foam insulation – the crack-filler stuff – and it oozed out all over the siding. So I know I can go back and cut it loose, cut what’s extra stuff. But when I get down close to the vinyl, what can I clean the residue off with to make it clean without damaging the vinyl?

TOM: It’s very difficult because you get – those foams are usually polyurethane and they have real adhesive qualities to it. Real adhesive. So, what you can do is try to gently scrape it off with a putty knife. But make sure you use – an older one is better because it won’t be quite so sharp. And very carefully do that.

And then, I’ve stripped off some foam – errant foam – with WD-40 as the solvent. So you might want to try that with a ScotchPad, because ScotchPad is not abrasive. But you could spray the siding with the WD-40 and then work the ScotchPad back and forth. You may find that you pull off some of that residue. It really depends on what kind of foam it is. But you’re right, once it’s dry, to cut as much of it off and then try to abrade the rest of it off. But do so with a mind not to damage the siding.

DOUG: OK. Well, I’ll give it a try. WD-40.

TOM: Yep. Try it. It’s one of the thousand uses for that stuff. They say you only need two things in your tool kit: WD-40 and duct tape. They’re pretty close.

DOUG: Then I can go over the whole back of the house with WD-40 to revitalize the vinyl, right?

TOM: Well, I wouldn’t – if it’s the whole back of the house – if you’re talking about spot-cleaning, OK. But if it’s the whole back of the house, then I think you’ve got a bigger problem. I think you’re looking at new siding.

DOUG: But would I get an oily spot when I use the WD-40 that will look different than the rest of it?

TOM: You will, you will. But soap and water will take it away.

DOUG: I guess that’ll fade, yeah.

LESLIE: That’s why it’s good for only like a little spot.

DOUG: Alright. Well, thanks a lot.

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

I feel like most of us, garages are spaces where we store pretty much everything but our car. More likely it’s a place where we are storing things like toys and toxins side by side. Think about it: you got the toys and the balls and the bikes and you got the paint and the paint thinner and the oil. It’s all right there, so it’s really important to keep the space clean, organized and safe.

LESLIE: Yeah. However, this really is the space in my house that gets the most cluttered, especially over the winter. You know, you have all those items that you can’t use when it’s too cold but then you get that spring day, so you pull out the bike and the ball and the toy. But then you also have all the winter stuff. And then this really is the only space in your house where you probably store things like antifreeze and chemical deicers and skateboards and baseball bats. And it’s all kind of right in the same area.

TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So, first off, let’s clear out the empty containers of the chemicals that you may have used over the last season. If you’ve got gasoline containers for, say, lawn equipment or a generator, they need to be emptied because you can’t store gas in them that long.

LESLIE: Yeah. Next, you’re going to want to sweep up all that salt and sand that definitely gets tracked in there over the winter months. And you’re going to want to start moving the sleds, the shovels, scrapers, all of that winter stuff towards the back of the garage and then all of the springtime/summer sporty stuff that the kids are going to want to be using in the yard, because everybody’s been inside a long time. Pull those out to the front, get the lawn equipment towards the front. And maybe even if you’ve got holiday decorations or things that are loose in there from the winter, put them in clear bins so you can see but also label the stuff.

And if you happen to, as you’re pulling out the winter stuff to tidy it up towards the back, if you come across the holiday lights, check them out now. Make sure they’re working. Toss some stuff. Just start a good clean-out of what you’ve got in there and put the most used stuff towards the front.

TOM: Yeah. And I have two words for you if you’re trying to figure out what to do with all this stuff: air space. You’ve got to look up. There’s a lot of space above your head. You can hang up tools, you can hang up brooms and ladders. And basically, anything you can get off the floor is one less thing that you have to worry about tripping over or having to move 20 times.

LESLIE: We’ve got a post here from Tyler who writes: “Is there a DIY solution for getting rid of ants or do I need an exterminator?”

TOM: Tyler, there are actually a number of things you can try yourself. Borax is an amazing product. It’s good – it’s kind of in that sort of WD-40 category: it’s good for lots and lots of different things and it works well as an insecticide for ants. You can leave Borax around where they seem to be coming through and see if that has an effect. And if you’re looking for an even cheaper, less toxic solution for your ants, you can find it in your local produce aisle and it’s simply mint.

And while there’s, of course, a little harm or foul with taking that natural approach, if you do opt for a pro you can be confident that they’ll use the exact right amount of product needed to eliminate the bugs. A lot of people avoid exterminators out of fear of the sort of broad-spectrum DDT and products like that that they used in the past. That’s just not the case today. Today’s pesticides have evolved by leaps and bounds.

And if you’re looking for one over-the-counter product that you could buy yourself without going to a pro, try TERRO – T-E-R-R-O. I’ve used it successfully to try to control ants in our kitchen.

LESLIE: Alright. I’m going to take some of this advice because we’ve got our ants back again this year. Always back and they love my kitchen, so I’ll let you know …

TOM: It’s your cooking.

LESLIE: Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha. You’re so funny, Tom.

TOM: Well, now that spring is in full swing, you may be finding that you’re a little short on outdoor space. This is where a shed comes in. Leslie has got tips on the four most important things to consider when planning one, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, the average cost to build a shed is anywhere between $800 and $4,000. Now, I know that’s a big spread there but it really depends on the materials that you choose and whether you choose to do it yourself or to hire a pro. But whatever you decide, whether you hire the pro or you go it alone, there are several basic questions that you need to ask yourself before you start shopping.

First of all, you need to know: do you need a permit? Now, that depends. You’ve got to check your local building codes to determine if you need a permit to build a shed on your property. You don’t want to find out after you’ve finished the project that it’s got to come down because you violated some building code or some zoning ordinance. So do that work up-front to save you a lot of headaches after.

Then you need to think about what size and style your shed is going to be. Do you want something simple? Do you want something that’s strictly utilitarian? Or maybe you want something more decorative. You know, there are many different styles and sizes out there, so you’ve got to evaluate your home and property to determine the best style for your needs.

Now, you also need to think about where that shed should go. Now, depending on the size of your property, you may have some different options for the placement of the shed. Some popular choices include building it close to the house, which makes running power and water lines easy, or maybe tucking it to the side or back of your property so that it’s not that obtrusive.

Also, you need to consider your budget. If you’ve got a tight budget, you can build a simple shed that gets the job done without a lot of frills. And if you do have some wiggle room, you can look for some added features, such as integrated shelving, decorative trim on the exterior. Or you can go all-out total man cave or she shed, add electricity, heat, plumbing.

Now, if you do go pro, guys, we recommend getting estimates from at least two or three different contractors before you choose that one pro to help you with this project. And make sure when you talk to them, you’ve got a set of plans all in one place so everybody is bidding on the same exact thing and you can actually compare those numbers.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, having an energy-efficient home can save you big on energy and cash. But can a home actually be too airtight for healthy living? The answer is yes. The solution is extra ventilation. We’re going to teach you what you need to know to make sure you can stay efficient and healthy, on the very 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 2020 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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