Home Improvement Contest Winners 2015 Project

We’re helping our 2015 “Win Danny & His Crew” contest winners, Anissa and Jerry Arnold, tackle their home to-do list.

Home improvement projects tackled include:

    • Gutter Downspout: Sheet metal screws and Titebond Ultimate MP Sealant were used to reattached a damaged downspout.
    • Front Door Lock: The bent entry door locking mechanism was fixed and the lock lubricated.
    • Attach Shutters: Broken plastic shutter pins were removed and replaced with long screws.
    • Microwave Trim: We cut down the plastic trim around the microwave so it would fit properly.
    • Kitchen Electrical Outlets: The old kitchen electrical outlets with new Leviton SmartlockPro Self-Testing GFCI outlets.
    • Kitchen Sink Strainer: We removed the leaking sink strainer and installed a rubber gasket below the sink and plumber’s putty around the drain inside the sink.
    • Bathroom Vanity: To repair the melamine coating on the bathroom vanity, the cabinet was sanded down and sprayed with a bonding primer followed by two coats of spray paint.
    • Bath Fan: We installed a Humidity Sensor and Fan Control Switch from Leviton, to turn the fan on automatically when the humidity is too high. We also cleaned and painted the existing cover on the fan to improve the look.
    • Kitchen Range Hood: A stainless steel Broan Elite range hood was installed over the kitchen island cooktop. To cover the hole left by a recessed light fixture, a DIY ceiling medallion was made from 1/4″ plywood and panel molding.
  • Kitchen Cabinets: We used a sponge heated in the microwave and citrus cleaner to remove grease and grime from the kitchen cabinets. We also used a stain pen to repair any nicks and dings on the cabinets.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: Every home has a to-do list, and this week, we’re tackling this family’s. They came out on top in our “Win Danny and His Crew” contest, so now it’s time for us to pay up.

Anissa Arnold: There’s—there’s that extra hole there. So what will you do about that?

Danny Lipford: Well…

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been telling you about a contest where you can win me and my crew for a day. Well, you’re about to meet this year’s winner.

Her name is Anissa Arnold, and she was one of over 3,000 entries from all 50 states in the “Win Danny and His Crew” contest.

Anissa Arnold: It was the first contest I’ve ever entered; and, yeah, I never thought I’d win—never.

Jerry Arnold: Well, first she said she was a finalist, and I said, “Well, you know, contests. You’re probably not going to win.” and—

Danny Lipford: Anissa and her husband Jerry have lived in this Hahnville, Louisiana, home with their two sons—Ian and Josiah—for 15 years.

Anissa Arnold: Our kids have grown up here, and it’s a nice neighborhood, and we love it here.

Jerry Arnold: I’m not the best home improvement person that you’ll come across. She’s really the one that does most of the projects.

Anissa Arnold: We check YouTube a lot. And, you know, yeah, we try and do things ourself. If we can’t, then we call somebody.

Danny Lipford: And in this case, that would be me.

Congratulations again, and we’re going to look at the list that you sent and just see how much of this we can tackle here. So, on the outside, you had reattach shutters. What—where—where would that be?

Jerry Arnold: It’s right over here. Actually it just seems like over time they’ve just started coming loose from the stucco wall.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I got you. OK. That’s not going to be any problem. Let’s see. You have repair front doorknob. I guess—

Anissa Arnold: Yeah. This right here. We haven’t been able to use it for quite a while now, and, yeah, it would be nice to let people in.

Danny Lipford: Oh, OK. All right. Well, hopefully, it’s just a little bit of an adjustment in there. We’ll take a look at that. All right. You have repair gutter downspouts.

Jerry Arnold: Oh, yeah, right over here. I have two teenage sons, and they get pretty aggressive with the basketball sometimes.

Danny Lipford: Next stop, the kitchen.

Anissa Arnold: We have this downdraft cooktop, and it sucks air going down but not enough. When we cook, it’s full of smoke.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Jerry Arnold: Especially when you use the grill. There’s just smoke everywhere.

Danny Lipford: We could easily put a nice vent overhead. We can solve this problem here. So let’s see, garbage disposal leak.

Jerry Arnold: Oh, yeah, this thing is leaking pretty bad. The last one, I killed it with fish scales, so I reinstalled this one myself. And ever since I installed it—I’m not a very good plumber—it’s been leaking ever since.

Danny Lipford: So that’s your missing Tupperware, right there. OK, let’s see, microwave trim.

Anissa Arnold: Yeah. I did a quick little teeny fix, but really, you can see this is not going to work.

Danny Lipford: And you have on here touching up cabinets and repairing a little bit. They look pretty good.

Anissa Arnold: Yeah. Actually, most of them do. It’s just the frequent use areas over here. You can see some nicks, scratches, and just wear and tear.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, a couple knobs missing here and there. They always seem to show up. OK. Well, that’s an easy one. I got some really cool tricks I’ll show you on how to make that look a lot better.

OK, we got a few things in the bathroom.

Anissa Arnold: Yes.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Anissa Arnold: Well, this bathroom. The main problem is that it’s the boys’ bathroom and also the guest bathroom, so it gets a lot of use.

Danny Lipford: OK. Well, let’s look at it. I see a little bit of wear and tear here and there.

Anissa Arnold: I also I noticed the other day on this drawer, it’s starting to come loose and cracking a little bit.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s definitely some moisture in there. Well, we can get some glue working on that, touch this up a little bit, make it look a whole lot better.

Anissa Arnold: The only other thing in here—it’s a small space. The steam really builds up. And it kind of gets, well, steamy and hard to clean sometimes.

Danny Lipford: Right. Sure, sure. And you have the—you have the fan here, I guess. so—

Anissa Arnold: Yeah. If I could remind them to turn it on.

Danny Lipford: Oh, they’re just not turning it on. I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a real interesting way to solve that problem.

Anissa Arnold: OK.

Danny Lipford: So Anissa and Jerry do some shopping online for a range hood before we return to start tackling their list. First up, that broken downspout.

Well, Jerry, it’s great you saved those pieces because that would be the first thing we’d have to do is go figure that out.

The old piece fits well enough, but in addition to screws, I’m also using some multipurpose sealant from Titebond that will create a water-tight seal for this joint.

All right, Jerry, there we go.

Jerry Arnold: Oh, man. Hey, that’s solid. Man, that could take a hit from any kind of basketball, and it’s going to stay there.

Danny Lipford: Hopefully they’re better shots now.

Jerry Arnold: Yeah. Right.

Joe Truini: Most home cooks love using copper-clad cookware because the copper conducts and transfers heat really well. The problem is that copper has a tendency to stain over time. Here’s a quick way to clean up a pot so it looks a good as new.

First of all take a skillet and add some white distilled vinegar, probably about a half-inch or more. Sprinkle in a good amount of salt, and turn on the heat underneath it.

Wait till it gets just to the point of boiling, which is where we are right now, then turn it off and set the pot in there. Now the pot’s empty, so it will float, so what you need to do is add some water just as ballast just to hold it down. There you go.

Now, we’re going to let that set for about 10 minutes, and we’re going to come back and clean it up. OK. It’s been about 10 minutes now. We’re going to take it out of the vinegar, dump out the water, and take a look.

Well, there you go, look at that. Without even scrubbing it, I was going to take a little scouring pad and see if I needed to scrub off any of this staining, but it’s already almost brand new. That’s just from sitting in the vinegar for 10 minutes.

Now, if you take it out and you see there’s still some staining left, what I’d suggest is dip the sponge—a scouring sponge—in the vinegar, put a little salt on it, and that will act as an abrasive to really scrub the pot completely clean. And again, it will be as good as new.

Danny Lipford: Anissa Arnold is the winner of our “Win Danny and His Crew” contest, so we’re attacking her family’s to-do list. Her husband, Jerry, and I just fixed a broken downspout; and now Allen is checking in to that broken front door lock.

Anissa Arnold: We actually were going to replace the whole thing, so—

Allen Lyle: Well, that still may happen, but we’re going to see if we can fix it first.

Danny Lipford: The throw inside the lock was the bent, so after a little persuasion and lubrication and with his fingers crossed, he’s putting it all back together.

Anissa Arnold:Ah, yeah.

Allen Lyle: That’s a good sign.

Anissa Arnold: Oh, my god, it works.

Allen Lyle: Yay!

Danny Lipford: Next up, those loose vinyl shutters. These were mounted with plastic pins, and several have broken.

Allen’s removing the remnants of these so he can simply drill a hole through the shutter and into the wall. Then he’ll drive a long screw into the wall to secure it. Now to tackle that microwave.

Didn’t she say something about that this might not be the right trim for this?

Allen Lyle: I think she’s right.

Danny Lipford: We’re shaving an eighth of an inch off of each piece of the side trim to get the clearance this microwave requires.

And I think we got it. There you go.

Allen Lyle: There you go. Anissa, it wasn’t quite the trim kit for this microwave—you were right about that. But a little alteration. What do you think?

Anissa Arnold: Looks really nice. I like it.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, it trims out really nice. OK, so we’re moving along on our list really well. Allen’s going to jump in on the garbage disposal, hopefully that won’t be a problem.

And since we’re moving along so well, there’s something that was not on your list that I wanted to install. And actually, you have a ground fault circuit interrupter here, which you need in kitchens and baths or outside areas—anywhere might be some moisture around—but this one is actually even better than that.

A traditional ground fault circuit interrupter is designed to protect you from electrocution if there’s a break in the proper grounding path. What most people don’t know is that these outlets should be tested monthly to ensure that they are working properly.

This new self-test GFCI from Leviton has an auto monitoring function, so you’re protected even if you forget to test the device. And if the GFCI is unable to respond to a fault, this model has a reset lockout feature that won’t allow it to be reset, preventing you from using an unprotected outlet.

Meanwhile, Allen has identified the cause of the leaking garbage disposal.

Allen Lyle: Usually, this will actually go from the bottom up. And then you’ve got this paper gasket as well. But a lot of people might think you throw it away, you actually keep that on the bottom.

And the collar tightens here up from the bottom. So this needs to be down below, and what we’re going to seal the top with is plumber’s putty.

Danny Lipford: The putty is wrapped around the strainer before it goes into the sink. And as the threaded collar pulls it down into position, it forms a watertight seal around the drain opening.

Allen Lyle: You ready to check for leaks. Don’t just turn the water on and look, fill the sink up. Get a lot of pressure in there, a lot of weight, pull it, and let it all run at once. And I am dry!

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Hey, there.

Anissa Arnold: Wow, got a lot going on them.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah. I noticed that it’s not actually paint on here, it’s a coating. So what we’re going to do is just going to sand the transitions where it’s peeling, prime the bare wood, and then just kind of use spray paint to kind of smooth over.

Anissa Arnold: Oh, I like that. It’s quick.

Danny Lipford: Once the cabinets are emptied and masked off, Chelsea and Anissa begin sanding the areas where the melamine coating has started peeling away.

Fortunately, this coating is pretty thin, so it doesn’t take much to feather out each spot so the surface is smooth.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: If you don’t mind, turn on the vent fan now. I’m not sure which switch it is.

Danny Lipford: Applying the bonding primer from the spray can eliminates brushstrokes that would call attention to the repairs. But spraying inside calls for a respirator, and to get as much ventilation as possible.

While the primer dries, Anissa and Chelsea clean the doors and drawers before gluing down any loose melamine around the edges.

With two light coats of this semigloss paint, the cabinet repair is complete. While it dries I’m removing the switch for the bath vent fan to replace it with a humidity sensor switch.

In this case, I’m also replacing the toggle-style light switches with rocker switches for consistency.

The switch’s sensitivity is adjustable, but the idea is that it turns the fan on when the humidity rises too high, and turns it off once it drops down to a comfortable level. So the fan only runs as long as it’s needed and no longer.

Jodi Marks: Don’t you hate it when you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? You walk into the bathroom. You don’t want to turn on the overhead light because you don’t want to completely wake up, but you also have got to find where the toilet seat is.

Well, look no further than right here. Kohler, those clever people, have come up with a really neat, innovative night-light that’s incorporated into the toilet seat. Now, I don’t know if you can see it here, but it’s got a blue LED light, and it’s illuminated with four double-A batteries. It just pops in under the seat.

Not only does it illuminate the toilet, but it also lights up the bowl as well. Now another feature on this elongated seat is that it has a slow-closing lid, so that it doesn’t slam down and make a lot of noise at night as well.

Another feature of this, it’s very easy to remove. So that when you’re cleaning it—cleaning your toilet—it makes it a lot more convenient.

The thing to remember, though, is because it is battery-operated, you’ll have to replace those batteries maybe every five to six months. But again, another neat idea from Kohler.

Danny Lipford: We’re helping Jerry and Anissa Arnold tackle their home’s to-do list as the winner of our “Win Danny and His Crew” contest.

We’ve handled our outside chores and a few jobs in the bathroom, so next is the installation of a chimney-style range hood for their kitchen.

Now we’ve got the big project.

Allen Lyle: I’m looking at this right now. I’m concerned about the light.

Danny Lipford: Why don’t you start getting the center? I got a plumb bob. Let me get up here, see if we can pull that line down, see where we’re going.

Allen Lyle: OK.

Danny Lipford: Once we transfer the center point of the cooktop to the ceiling, we mark it with a nail.

OK. I didn’t hit a joist, that’s good. And then I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’re definitely going to be into this light, aren’t we?

Allen Lyle: Well, if we can lose the light, that’s fine. We’ve got, I think, three halogens on that hood, so the hood will take the light. But we just need to make sure we can cover it.

Danny Lipford: OK, in the attic. Tell me what it’s like.

Allen Lyle: If I’m in the attic, you go on the roof.

Danny Lipford: OK. I’ll go on the roof.

To make it more visible, we replace the nail with a piece of coat hanger and head to the attic to search for it.

Allen Lyle: All I can say is I’m glad I’m not crawling. It’s a nice, big attic.

Danny Lipford: Man, it’s a nice, big attic, isn’t it?

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Don’t put our foot through the ceiling here. There we go right there.

Allen Lyle: There’s the hangar, yep.

Danny Lipford: Well, we’re definitely going to have to remove that light.

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, Chelsea has found some projects of her own. She removes the yellowed cover for the bath vent fan to clean it and decides it needs an update, too. So with a little spray paint magic, she gives it a brand-new look.

Back in the attic with the breaker turned off, we can remove the recessed light and disconnect it from the circuit.

To create a path for the exhaust duct, we’re cutting a hole in the roof decking above this location and one in the drywall ceiling over the cooktop.

Then we add blocking around the hole in the kitchen ceiling so that we can have a stable structure for mounting the hood. A new wire to power the hood will run from this location to the electrical panel in the garage.

Now we have all of the basic pieces in place, but before we can plug in the hardware, we need to establish the height of the range hood.

Anissa Arnold: So this is 30.

Danny Lipford: Right. That’s 30. So what do you think, you know?

Anissa Arnold: What if it was a little bit higher?

Danny Lipford: OK, go to 32.

Anissa Arnold: 32.

Allen Lyle: There’s 32 right there.

Danny Lipford: There’s 32.

Anissa Arnold: 32, I think I’m liking 32.

Danny Lipford: OK, OK, 32 it is. We can adjust everything so that it works well on that.

Anissa Arnold: I do have a question.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Anissa Arnold: There’s that extra hole there. So what will you do about that?

Danny Lipford: Well, we have an idea that we can cover that with like a wood medallion that I think you’ll like.

And that’s the next step. We’re cutting a ¼-inch-thick piece of plywood just large enough to symmetrically cover the void left by the light. By clipping off the corners to give it a more rounded look. Gluing panel molding down around the perimeter will add some interest and hide the edges of the plywood.

This may seem like a lot of work, but if we patched that hole in the drywall, it would have meant repainting the ceilings of three connected rooms. This way, all we have to paint is our homemade medallion, if we get Anissa’s approval.

This is what it will look like.

Anissa Arnold: Yeah, it looks really good.

Danny Lipford: So the boss approves. We can add some construction adhesive to the topside of the medallion and nail it in place. Next we attach the mounting plate for the hood with long lag bolts, and mount the cage for the hood to it.

The cage contains the electronics for the unit and the exhaust duct. It will be covered by a stylish stainless steel shroud before the hood itself is attached to the bottom.

This hood is from the Broan Elite line, and it will move almost 500 cubic feet of air per minute, so it should handle whatever Jerry can cook up. And its heat sentry feature will automatically adjust the fan speed up if it senses excessive temperatures.

Once the electrical connections are made inside the cage, Allen’s back off to the attic to assemble the rest of the duct work. And, of course, I get to scramble along the roof to install the outside vent for the pipe.

After a little paint, we’re ready for Jerry and Anissa to try it out.

OK. I think the only thing we have left is this. Now this filter’s really important. And all you have to do—you see how that little track clicks right in.

Jerry Arnold: Pretty easy.

Anissa Arnold: It’s easy.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, it is really easy. And, also, it’s easy to take out. You know, maybe a couple times a year, depending on how much Jerry’s cooking, and pop them right in the dishwasher.

Jerry Arnold: A lot more now.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Good, good. That’s all you have there, and then you have the lights that are great right where you need them there. And then now this—that’s the first adjustment there, and this thing is moving.

And then when you really need it, you can pump it up like that to keep it going. And it’s good after you do some cooking, leave it on for a few minutes afterwards, even when you’re through with the cooking, to help get that moister and everything else out of there. But there you go.

Jerry Arnold: That is beautiful.

Anissa Arnold: It’s nice. It’s the nicest thing in our kitchen.

Jerry Arnold: In the words of Andy Griffith, “That’s pretty.”

Danny Lipford: There you go.

So the final job on our list is touching up the kitchen cabinets.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: All right, Anissa, before we touch up any stain, we need to clean the cabinets really well, especially since you didn’t have a range hood before. They probably, you know, retained a lot more grease.

So what we’re going to do is use a wet sponge, and then we’ll warm it up in the microwave for a couple of seconds and then use a citrus cleaner to—it’s a degreaser, so it will really get all the grease off the cabinets.

Danny Lipford: once the cabinets are free of dirt and grime, the nicks and scrapes can easily be covered with a stain pen.

Danny Lipford: People often discover nails popping out of the drywall in their homes, and they want to know how to correct it.

First, dig the loose nails out of the wall completely. Then replace them with drywall screws at least an inch-and-a-half in length, so the problem doesn’t reoccur. You’ll want to drive them down, so that they’re just below the surface, without tearing the drywall paper.

Next, you’ll apply a coat of drywall joint compound to the holes, forcing it down into the voids with a putty knife while smoothing it out to flush with the surface. When the compound dries, it will shrink a little bit, so you’ll need a second coat to fill the dimples.

When the second coat is dry, a light sanding removes any excess joint compound and smoothes out the wall surface so that you can repaint it and complete the repair.

Like most homeowners, Anissa and Jerry had a sizeable to-do list for their home, and because of our contest, we were able to tackle most of those chores for them in just a few days.

Family and friends can use the front door now that the lock works. The shutters are secured on the wall once again, and at least for the moment, the gutter downspout is safe from the basketball.

Chelsea and Anissa made a big difference in the hall bath with a little elbow grease and some spray paint. Not to mention that the air is a little clearer now thanks to the humidity sensor we installed.

The air in the kitchen will be pretty clear, as well, with that new range hood over the cooktop. Plus, it just looks cool. And so does the rest of the kitchen after the cabinet touchup and repair of the microwave trim kit. Not to mention that the sink no longer leaks.

We had so much fun working with these guys. It was great to have some gifts from our contest sponsors to share with them.

Allen Lyle: Our friends at Titebond really wanted you to have a full assortment for all the future products down the road.

Danny Lipford: And I heard earlier in the conversation that you guys were LSU fans.

Jerry Arnold: We are.

Danny Lipford: In addition to making some great range hoods, Broan also has some pretty cool things here. So take this. Now, push the button.

Jerry Arnold: The LSU song! That’s great. We really appreciate all y’all’s help and everything.

Danny Lipford: Oh, we’re glad to be here.

Jerry Arnold: This is more than we ever imagined.

Danny Lipford: Working with Jerry and Anissa has really been a lot of fun this week. And I think they were surprised that they actually won the contest and equally surprised that we were able to complete so many things and knock them off their to-do list.

Now I know you probably have a list at your house, and don’t be overwhelmed by it. Just take a few things at a time, knock them out. You’ll feel a lot better, and sooner or later you’ll be moving from maintaining your house to improving your house. And all the information you need’s waiting for you at our web site TodaysHomeowner.com.

Hey. I’m Danny Lipford. Thanks so much for being with us this week. We’ll see you next week.

All right. I think that will work.

Allen Lyle: No, it won’t.

Danny Lipford: It won’t?

Allen Lyle: No.

Anissa Arnold: Was I supposed to come in? You didn’t say, “that will work.” you said, “that looks pretty good.”

Allen Lyle: Do it from the top down this time.


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