Cleaning and Updating Kitchen Cabinets on a Budget | Ep. 76

Staining kitchen cabinets with a paintbrush
You can take years off old kitchen cabinets with just some cleaning, degreasing and staining.

Updating a kitchen usually involves a lot of time and expense, but if you just want to refresh the room a little, there are some simple tricks to make the job manageable.

For instance, you can take years off the appearance of cabinets that look worse for the wear. We’ll tell you exactly how to clean, degrease and stain old cabinets so they look their best.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for those and many more home improvement tips!

  • [2:22] Tips for cleaning, degreasing and staining cabinets
  • [7:20] What you should know about M1 Advanced Mildew Treatment
  • [8:43] How to repair small cracks in a stucco wall
  • [12:22] ‘Help! I have a clogged A/C condensation drain…how can I unclog it — and keep it unclogged?’
  • [14:48] Best New Product: Dyson V8 Animal, Cord-Free Vacuum
  • [15:53] The multitasking dad: He works at his law office in the morning and in the afternoon he’s building a shed with his teenage son!
  • [18:10] How to repair rotten wood trim on a basement window
  • [23:48] Simple Solution: Maintaining your outside A/C unit with a condenser fin comb
  • [26:18] Question of Week: A block wall in the backyard is breaking down from the pressure of the hill behind it — what is the best way to reinforce the wall?

Simple Solutions

Fast Fix for Bent A/C Fins — If the thin aluminum fins on your A/C unit have become crushed or bent out of shape, it’ll struggle to draw air through the condenser, greatly diminishing its cooling capacity. You can try straightening out the bent fins with a stiff-bristle toothbrush or putty knife, but here’s a quicker, better way: Buy a condenser fin comb (about $8), which has rows of tiny steel teeth. Simply pull the comb along the outside of the condenser to straighten out any bent fins.

Dust Catcher — Drilling holes into a drywall ceiling, even small holes, creates a surprising amount of dust. Here’s how to make that task a little neater: First drill through the bottom of a paper or foam cup, then hold the cup tight against the ceiling and drill the hole. The cup will catch the dust. Be sure to empty the cup before drilling any other holes.  

Question of the Week

Q: I have a block wall in the backyard that is breaking from the pressure of dirt from my neighbor. (Their house sits higher than mine, about the height of the wall). What would be the best way to fix it or reinforce it? Can I build another wall in front of it?

A: You could build a wall in front of the block wall, but what prevents the existing wall from breaking down and affecting the new wall? It would have a domino effect.

Instead, first, contact a structural engineer. You’ll need their help for this project. Then dig out the dirt from behind the wall and repair the wall as necessary. Finally, install drainage pipe, gravel and landscaping fabric to keep wet soil from pushing against the back of the wall.


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