Home Problems and Solutions

Dumbwaiter made from garage door opener
Homemade dumbwaiter made using a garage door opener.

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It’s not uncommon for the typical home to a few little problems or things that cause aggravation on an almost daily basis. Here are some solutions to some of the more common problems you might encounter around your home, including:

    • Homemade Dumbwaiter: A dumbwaiter made from a garage door opener is a great way to carry groceries into the kitchen from a downstairs garage.
    • Clothes Dryer Woes: Cleaning the dryer vent pipe and installing a dryer booster fan (Fantech DBF110) can allow clothes to dry faster and prevent dryer fires.
    • DIY Recycling Chute: We made a recycling chute from metal duct pipe mounted inside a kitchen cabinet to send aluminum cans and plastic bottles to recycle bins located in the garage below.
    • Instant Hot Water: Adding a hot water recirculation pump allows for hot water every time you turn on the tap.
  • Water Heater Maintenance: Draining your hot water heater from time to time removes built-up sediment so the water heater works more efficiently and lasts longer.

Producer's Notes from Allen Lyle

This was, by far, a fun show to put together. Not even halfway through production, we realized that there are a ton of problem/solution areas to tackle, so I feel pretty certain we’ll re-visit this topic again soon.

Venting your Dryer

Ah, the debate rages on! In this episode, we recommended using the metal pipe in lieu of the old white flexible plastic hose to vent your dryer.

I know people who have used the same plastic vent hose for years upon years. So you have to ask, is safety concern going just a little too far? Why not replace the flexible plastic with a flexible foil?

Cleaning a clothes dryer vent pipe is important to prevent fires.
Cleaning a clothes dryer vent pipe is important to prevent fires.

Well, to answer the first question, I have to view it in the same light as paying month after month of health insurance when I am rarely sick. So why pay for the insurance? Simple: it only takes one time in the hospital without insurance to send you to the Poor Farm.

The newer dryer models also put out a lot more heat. Like it or not, the plastic and foil vents are a fire hazard. The plastic and foil vent hoses have all kinds of ridges that can catch lint and allow it to build up. While a fire may not occur, the chances are increased with that setup.

Sure, it will take a little extra effort to install, but the peace of mind is worth it and, frankly, the dryer will operate more efficiently. Use the metal pipe. Also remember, no screws securing the pipe and make sure all pipes from the dryer side slip into the next pipe, not the other way around.

While we’re on the subject, the brush used to clean the dryer vent works pretty good, but I discovered that it also will push a lot of the lint and compact it right at the dryer. Not good. Be sure to remove the vent pipe at the dryer and remove any excess build up AFTER you have used the brush to remove the lint from the outside.

DIY recycling chute inside kitchen cabinets.
DIY recycling chute located inside kitchen cabinets.

Recycle Chute

I loved the recycle chute. Admittedly, I thought Danny had been hit in the head with a 2×4 when he first mentioned the idea. But it really was a lot of fun to put together, and Danny’s kids get such a kick out of dropping recyclables down. In fact, after the chutes were in place, a few days later the doorbell rang, Danny answered and it was one of his daughter’s friends who stopped by to ask if she could drop a plastic bottle down the chute!

If there was one thing I could change about it, though, it would be the galvanized metal we used. Actually, there’s not a thing wrong with it. It’s inexpensive, lightweight and makes a great sound when you drop a can down it. However, a thin wall PVC would look better to me.

It could be installed in a single piece, instead of having to join the metal to extend the length like we had to do. It also looks less industrial when you open the closet. All in all, though, it’s a great idea, and if it gets the kids excited about recycling, it’s an idea more people should pursue.

Tankless hot water heater mounted outside on a brick wall.
Installing a tankless hot water heater can save energy.

Tankless Water Heater

Do you think those tankless water heaters really work? I’ve had a traditional water heater for years, but when mine bites the dust, I want to replace it with the tankless system. No kidding, I can turn on the water to my shower, go back into the bedroom and make the bed and still have to wait a few seconds longer for the water to get hot.

In comparison to a traditional 40-gallon tank, the Rinnai system that we showed will provide an output of six-times that of a gas heater and a staggering TEN TIMES the amount of an electric HWH!

Add to that the annual cost of operation is significantly lower than gas or electric and it makes the up front cost of installing a tankless system more than worth it.

Other Tips From This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Outdoor Light Cleaning

Outdoor Light Cleaning

It can be frustrating to try and clean the inside of the glass panes on outdoor light fixtures, especially when the fixtures or globes aren’t large enough to fit your hand inside. Reaching inside often leaves you with nicked knuckles and a sore wrist. The solution is simple – grab a 2-inch foam brush and spray glass cleaner onto the brush. The foam brush will easily fit and clean the glass without dinging up your hand. (Watch Video)

Best New Products with Danny Lipford:
KwikTwist Ties


KwikTwist can be used anywhere you would use a rope or a bungee cord but with less hassle. To secure it you simply twist the ends together. KwikTwist is rated to secure up to 100 pounds, but the tightness of each twist and the number of twists will determine how well it holds. The manufacturer recommends that you use three full twists, very close together. Simply remove the end cap and thread the ends together to double or triple the length. At less than $6 it’ll save a lot of hassle.

Around the Yard with Tricia Craven Worley:
Coping With Drought

Coping with drought

Here are some important things to keep in mind for your lawn and landscape when dealing with drought:

  • Mulch to preserve moisture
  • Don’t fertilize in hot weather. It may actually enhance drought problems.
  • Raise the blade on your mower. Close cropped grass requires more water.
  • Cut back on pruning. It stimulates new growth and requires more water. Only prune plants as they wilt or die out.

(Watch Video)


  1. I was listening to the radio show Saturday, February 27, 2010,and was interrupted. Danny was talking about dust in your house and why. I missed the cause and my house is extremely dusty. Please help. Thanks.

  2. What is the procedure for tiling the face of a fire place which has a 6″ metal flange? Should I face the flange with plywood before tiling or can I lay thin set and tile right on the metal flange?
    Thank you


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