Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | September 3, 2022

(MaryTDebs, Getty Images/pixelshot)

Hour 1

In Hour 1, learn how to extend your washing machine’s lifespan, remove white stains from brick, drain standing water from your yard and more.

How to Make Your Washer Last Longer

Washing Machine
Regular maintenance can keep your washer running longer.(stevepb/pixabay)

The average lifespan of a washing machine is only 10-15 years — about the same as a goldfish!

Here are some tips from Consumer Reports to make your washing machine last as long as possible:

  • Make sure it’s level and it stays level. Your washing machine’s drum can spin very fast, and all that vibration can wear out parts and loosen fasteners. Use a level and adjust the feet. Check it once a year to make sure it’s level. Vibration can knock it off level.
  • Don’t overdo the detergent. Too much detergent can make the washer work harder and sometimes trigger an extra rinse cycle, which extends the wash time, wastes energy, and ultimately reduces the washer’s lifespan.
  • Clean the dispenser drawer. Clean it on a regular basis. Detergent can build up in there and create extra suds, again making the washer work harder. 
  • Inspect the water hoses. If you have rubber lines, replace them with braided stainless steel. 

Removing White Stains From Brick

White stains around a stucco window on a brick home
There are multiple ways to remove these stucco stains from this brick home. (Tim Patton)

Tim Patton’s 25-year-old home in Alabama has a brick facade with white stucco wraps around the front windows. Over the years the white from the stucco has gradually stained the red brick below & around the windows. 

Power washing has not removed the white stain. He asks, “Can you recommend a product and method for removing the white stain from the brick?”

Bricks that are not sealed are very porous, so stains tend to stick on them forever. 

First, try scrubbing the spots with TSP or CLR, Calcium, Lime Rust Remover. Be sure to test it in a small spot first. 

If those don’t work, upgrade to a brick and stone cleaner like Rutland Brick & Stone Cleaner. Spray it on and scrub it with a soft-bristle brush.

If all these fail, you need to try an acid-based cleaner. Instead of using highly-corrosive muriatic acid, try Miracle Sealants Heavy-Duty Acidic Cleaner

Once you do remove the stains, seal the bricks and apply a couple of coats of paint to the stucco to lessen the likelihood of any further staining. This will keep the stucco cleaner and prevent it from depositing any residue. 

Solution for Standing Water

Standing water in a yard
Standing water can be a breeding ground for bugs. (MarieTDebs, Getty Images)

Jimmy Crocket built his house in Missouri three years ago, and beautifully landscaped his yard, However, he didn’t realize that when it rains, the water from his next-door neighbor’s yard drains into his, creating almost a pond around one of his planters. 

He asks, “How do I drain standing water that drains into my yard from my neighbor’s yard?”

If you have a lot of surface water and water that piles up all at once, a lot of time French drains won’t take care of that sufficiently and you need some type of surface drain. 

Install a trench drain system with some fiberglass basins. Direct them to the closest place gravity-wise where you can move the water. You can paint the basins to match your landscaping so they won’t be as noticeable. 

I have a similar problem at my home, and I’m doing a combination of a French drain and trench drain to catch the surface water and also get down lower with the trench. I’ll dig it about 16 inches wide and 16 inches deep, fill it with gravel, and place a perforated pipe with a membrane around it (sock pipe) so it doesn’t fill up. And on top of that will be the trench drain.

That way, the water will drop into that pipe and move underground to another area. 

Go to the tool rental center and get a Ditch Witch or a termite machine (miniature backhoe) to help you dig the trenches. Lay a piece of plastic down to place the dirt onto so clearing it off the grass is easier once you’re done. 

As always, call 8-1-1 before you dig in your yard. 

Hour 2

In Hour 2, hear tips for removing a tub from a bathroom, an easy fix for a desilvering mirror, and more.

Removing a Bathtub

In most remodels, a tub can’t be removed in one piece. (Garrett Aitken, Getty Images Pro)

A caller is getting ready to remodel her bathroom, and taking the bathtub out is going to be a problem. She’s not sure if it’s a cast-iron or an enameled-steel tub. I was wondering if we needed to saw it in two or what we should do. Thanks

One way you can tell if a tub is iron or steel is to give it a good thump on the inside wall. If it sounds like a steel drum, then it’s steel. A cast iron will sound like a thud because it’s thick and hard. 

For some of the thin metal tubs, you’re able to break out around the top flange and disconnect the drain and work that out of there. But in so many bathrooms, there’s not enough room to tilt them up without tearing out a wall.

It’s hard to get a tub in and it’s hard to get a tub out, so breaking it up will make removing it a lot easier. 

You can use a reciprocating saw with a metal blade to cut the tub in half. Many times with cast iron tubs, it’s basically just putting on a face shield and long-sleeve shirt and going at it with a sledgehammer. Once it starts to break in the center, then you can more easily break it up into small pieces. 

Before you take the sledgehammer to it, cover it with a quilted moving pad so shards don’t fly everywhere. First hit the middle on the outside then work your way up to the top then toward the inside. You’re creating a crack up and over down the middle, and you might be able to get it out in two big pieces. 

Hiding Rough Edges on a Mirror

Rough edges around a mirror can be distracting. Hide them with some trim. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Karen Dewing in Florida has three wall-sized mirrors in her master bath that have lost some of the “mirroring” close to the edges. 

She asks, “Is there any way to repair or cover these areas? The damaged spots are about 1-by-3 inches long, and I’d hate to have to replace such large mirrors just for some small areas around the outside.”

Desilvering is usually a result of moisture seeping in around the edges and causing the mirror reflection to flake off.

Use construction adhesive to attach prepainted trim boards around the mirrors to create a picture frame. This gives it a great look while also concealing the desilvering spots. Give a little more life out of those mirrors.

The silver backing doesn’t last forever. The older the mirror is the more likely it will happen. You’ll also get some spotting and 

Although you’re reducing the mirror space, it’s still a better solution than removing the mirror and replacing it. 

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Simple Solutions

Hands using a screwdriver to adjust a door hinge
Most modern cabinet doors have self-closing hinges, but over time, the small leaf spring inside the hinge can break, and then the door won’t stay closed. (Kurhan, Getty Images)

Quick Fix for a Broken Self-Closing Hinge — Most modern cabinet doors have self-closing hinges. But over time, the small leaf spring inside the hinge can break, and then the door won’t stay closed.

Here’s a quick fix:

  • Hold the door closed with an inexpensive roller catch.
  • Mount the roller mechanism inside the cabinet and attach the latch to the door. 
Wooden spoon scooping baking soda from a jar
Use to remove stubborn odors from couches and other upholstery. (itsarasak thithuekthak, Getty Images)

Baking Soda Couch Cleaner — Here’s how to remove stubborn odors from couches and other upholstery:

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the fabric.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes
  • Vacuum using the upholstery brush.

The baking soda will absorb odors and even loosen up some surface stains.

Products and Links Mentioned

Further Reading


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