Watch this video as we put eight home TV infomercials products to the test. Products tested include:
Fix It Tape: Nonadhesive repair tape that is claimed to create an air and water tight seal.
Hi-Reach Cleaning Kit: Extension pole with dusting and cleaning attachments for high, hard to reach areas.
Wireless Alarm System: Peel and stick wireless alarms for windows and doors.
Safety Grip Handle: Suction cup grip handle to assist in getting in and out of a tub or shower.
Cordless Light with Remote Control: Battery powered wall light with switch to provide extra lighting without wiring.
Easy Reach Plant Pulley: To pull hanging plants down for easy watering.
Garden Groom: Electric hedge trimmer that bags its own clippings.
Paint Zoom: High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint sprayer for home use.
Read episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re putting those products you see advertised on TV to the test. Do they work or don’t they? With the help of homeowners just like you, we’ll find out. Hey, it’s time for our annual review of a lot of those products for your home that you see advertised on television all hours of the night. Now, we’ve done this episode for several years. We get a lot of great feedback because what we do is we take a few of those products. And really see if they do what they claim they do. And Allen’s ready to launch right in with our first product.
Allen Lyle: That’s right. We’re starting with the Fix It Tape. This is an all-purpose repair tape. It is silicone, non-adhesive. Ten feet in each roll. We’ve got six rolls. And this is how it comes, Danny, just like this in an envelope.
Danny Lipford: All right. How much did all this cost with shipping and handling and all that?
Allen Lyle: Shipping and handling, you’re talking about almost $26 for six rolls, 60 feet. That’s a little over 43 cents for every foot you use.
Danny Lipford: Well, if it saves you a lot of repair costs it’s good; but, initially though that’s pretty expensive for a few rolls of tape.
Allen Lyle: It’s a little expensive to me. I think so. But here’s another thing. This is it. This is all you get with it. If you were going to do directions, Danny. That’s what you’ve got.
Danny Lipford: Wow! You don’t have to spend a lot of time reading directions, do you?
Allen Lyle: No, you actually have to go to their website to find the more precise directions. Basically, what they’re telling me is that the more you stretch it, the better the bond.
Danny Lipford: I get you. Okay.
Allen Lyle: That needs to be on this right here. It also says that it will stretch out over three times its length. I thought we’d try that first. You want to cut about a foot of this. Let’s see if we can get it to past three foot. I’m going to hold it here, let’s see what happens. Well, you hold that. Stretch.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. That’s one claim that’s true. Very good. Now, will it repair anything?
Allen Lyle: Let’s try it. We’ve got a garden hose here that’s got a bit of a slit in it.
Danny Lipford: All right. Well, let me cut you a little piece of this. How long do you think? Six inches?
Allen Lyle: Oh, six should do it. Okay, now there’s our slit right there. Okay, so I’m going to stretch this.
Danny Lipford: Okay. Here, you hold it. And let me turn it on here. Okay, you ready?
Allen Lyle: Yeah, go ahead. Didn’t work out.
Danny Lipford: What happened? So it just blew the side of it out?
Allen Lyle: Yeah. So I’m not real impressed with the water leak.
Danny Lipford: Well, maybe we should use more of it and everything. How about a vacuum hose?
Allen Lyle: We had a slit in this one which I’ve already put some of the tape on. What I thought we’d do, Danny, is a little tissue paper.
Danny Lipford: Oh, I see, okay.
Allen Lyle: And you’re gonna cut up.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I got you.
Allen Lyle: I’ll cover this in, and if that’s still leaking, it should hold the tissue paper to it.
Danny Lipford: All right. I know what to do next.
Allen Lyle: For air leak it looks like it’s pretty good.
Danny Lipford: Well, maybe on something like that if you wrapped it up a little bit more, used a little bit more of the, you got plenty of tape.
Allen Lyle: At 43 cents a foot.
Danny Lipford: Right. Right. Well. Okay, it wouldn’t be long before you could buy a new hose.
Allen Lyle: Oh, that’s true.
Danny Lipford: So, because the Fix It Tape is expensive, the directions are weak, if not incomplete, and it was only moderately effective, we’re giving it a two out of five rating.
Next, Allen is meeting with homeowner, Tommie Black, to get her opinion on a product designed to make house cleaning easier.
Allen Lyle: Tommie, I got to tell you. I love the house.
Tommie Black: Well, thank you, Allen.
Allen Lyle: So tell me a little bit about it.
Tommie Black: Well, the house was built in 1904. We’ve completely restored it to try and keep its charm and character and originality.
Allen Lyle: You did a good job.
Tommie Black: Thank you. And the ceilings are almost 11 feet tall and hard to reach.
Allen Lyle: Well, yeah, I would guess so. I’ve got something for you. This is a product called the Hi-Reach Cleaning Kit. I’ll be back. You let me know what you think of this.
Tommie Black: I’ll do it.
Allen Lyle: The kit includes three different attachments that thread onto an extension pole. A dust mop for cleaning corners and molding, a flexible, statically-charged dusting wand for ceiling fans, and a squeegee sponge combo for windows. What did you think of it?
Tommie Black: Well, I had different thoughts. I love the extension of the pole. It helps short people like me get to tall areas. It cleaned the crown molding very well. So I love the mop head. The duster for the fan, that’s what I use, I love the way it bent. It made it very easy to clean, but a lot of the dust fell rather than clinged to the thing.
Danny Lipford: According to Tommie, the Hi-Reach Cleaning Kit lives up to most of its claims. And even though it had a few drawbacks.
Tommie Black: Well, it’s not holding the dust very well.
Danny Lipford: The price point makes it a good value. So we’re giving it a three and a half out of five rating. Now, if only Tommie could teach Allen how to clean.
Joe Truini: A common problem in drilling metal is getting the drill bit to start exactly at a spot that you want it to. The problem is that the bit has a tendency to wander on the hard surface. So, until they come up with a wonder product that can prevent that, you can solve it with nothing more than a hammer and a center punch.
What I’m going to do is mark a little depression right where you want to drill the hole. Then, clamp it in place. Now, this works not only for flat stock, but also it’s a really great tip for drilling around round pipe or any curved metal surface. Now, because of that depression, the drill bit will start cutting exactly where you want it.
There you go. Got the hole right exactly where I need it. Now, if you don’t happen to have a center punch, you can also use this. Use a nail set and get the same result. Either way, this is a simple solution that works.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of products you see on television all the time. We’re about to look at one that I really hope works. This is my daughter, Chelsea’s place, and she’s always wanted an alarm system. And we found one at only $30 that has eight different little mini alarms that you can attach to either doors or windows all the way around the house.
Chelsea Lipford: I’m kind of wondering how these are installed there.
Danny Lipford: Well, that’s the thing I noticed on this. It’s just double stick tape. We can try one. See if it works out. And you got to peel that tape off there.
Chelsea Lipford: Where should we put them at, like, the top of the window?
Danny Lipford: I’d put it right up there. I’m gonna have to put this one right about here. So put that one as close as you can. Yeah, yeah, close as you can to the edge. Perfect. Okay, I have the alarm set. So, if someone was to open this window. That should make someone really think about going any further.
Of course, one of the downsides of it that we noticed. You can just reach up and turn it right off to silence it, but I’m not sure anyone breaking in would think that clearly in being able to turn it off. Also think about any cabinet that you may have that you want to be aware if any child is getting in there. Maybe under the sink or maybe even the back door to go out. It’ll also alert you to that.
Pretty good idea. With eight individual units, this wireless alarm system is a great deal for the price. And since it delivers on its promises, we’re giving it a four out of five rating.
While we’re on the subject of safety Allen is checking out a product that is supposed to make the bath and shower a little safer. Although this suction cup handle appears to be intended as a grab bar.
Allen Lyle: And it’s just that, when you read something like this, automatically it denotes a grab bar.
Danny Lipford: The manufacturer backs away from making that specific claim.
Allen Lyle: Then they’re very, very clear to tell you. Use for stability only. Not intended to support
full body weight.
Danny Lipford: But the question is, how does it work? So Allen attaches it to the wall of the shower and puts it to the test with a little weight.
Allen Lyle: That’s a pretty doggone good seal on that.
Danny Lipford: And then, a little more.
Allen Lyle: Tell you what. Hand me that 10 pound weight in there.
Danny Lipford: And then, a lot.
Allen Lyle: I can tell you that’s more than 10 pounds right there.
Danny Lipford: The super grip seems to do the job it’s intended for quite well.
Allen Lyle: You can see it will start to move a little bit if you put a whole lot more weight on there. Uh, all in all, it’s very good.
Danny Lipford: It’s still just a temporary fix, but apparently a pretty good one. We give it a four out of five rating.
Any project around your home that involves any electrical work can be very intimidating to most homeowners. But homeowners Brent and Chelsea have found something that they hope will solve a problem they’ve been dealing with for a long time around the house.
Chelsea McKinley: Our problem is this pantry is so dark. It’s really hard to see at night.
Danny Lipford: It is pretty dark.
Chelsea McKinley: So we’re hoping that finding this will help us out.
Danny Lipford: As you might imagine, the batteries are not included, but we brought some along. And once they’re in, it’s apparent that both the remote switch and the light work pretty well.
Chelsea McKinley: Oh, cool. Oh, wow! That’s bright.
Danny Lipford: Now to figure out exactly where to put it. Can you see all right? Need some light?
Brent McKinley: Perfect. Thank you.
Danny Lipford: The installation is pretty straightforward, and when it’s complete.
Brent McKinley: There we go.
Chelsea McKinley: There you go.
Danny Lipford: Chelsea seems to be pretty happy with the result.
Chelsea McKinley: Look at that. I like it.
Brent McKinley: Pretty good.
Danny Lipford: So this cordless light and remote have the McKinley’s approval. And at just under 13 bucks, it seems to be a pretty good value. So our rating, four out of five.
Jodi Marks: Well, I’m going over my checklist for my painting project. And I like this little list, because it’s got everything on it that I’ll need once I get home. Now, there is one thing on this list I think a lot of people overlook, and you might just be one of them, and that’s painter’s tape. And I can’t stress to you how important it is to use painter’s tape.
Now I’m over here in the painter’s tape aisle, and I have to say I’m pretty particular with this one right here. This is ScotchBlue. And what I like about it best is it’s got this edge lock technology. So what that means is you’re going to get sharp, straight lines every time. They’re going to be nice, crisp and clean.
Another thing about this particular one is that it can stay on the surface up to 60 days before you have to remove it. Now I know you’re not going to do that, but if you did at least you’ve got that big window.
Now there’s another thing about this too, is that it can be applied to delicate surfaces and when you take it off it’s not going to leave a residue and it’s not going to peel the paint off. Again, this is just a great little thing to have on hand to make sure that when you do your painting projects, it’s gonna look like a professional did it every time.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of products you probably see advertised on television all the time. And if you’re like me, you just wonder if they really work. Well, we’re about to put one to the test. My friend Melanie here hopes that the Easy Reach Plant Pulley will help her solve a problem. It cost us 17.95 for two of them. And, Melanie, if this works, maybe it’ll make it a little easier for you to maintain these plants.
Melanie Petithory: Yes, that would be great. It’s difficult to get up for the fern or any other plant that I might have in there. I have this rickety old step-ladder that just doesn’t always cut it.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that doesn’t look too safe anyway.
Melanie Petithory: I’m not real comfy on that.
Danny Lipford: Let’s give this a try. Fortunately, you already have a hook up here. So that’s half the battle, not having to worry about that. So let’s take one of these things out.
And let’s see. This end up. And we’ll put it right in here. Hook the plant to it. And I’ll let you give it a try and see if it’s as easy as they say. Oh, causing us some problems, huh. Let me give it a try there. Sometimes it’s just, it’s like.
Melanie Petithory: Maybe I’m just not holding my mouth right.
Danny Lipford: It’s kind of like a seat belt. You know how. it’s kind of. Okay, there we go.
Melanie Petithory: Well, look at that. I have a magic plant.
Danny Lipford: And they say you can stop it at any point. So let’s see. Yeah? It’s allowing it to do that. And let’s see if I can do that again, or if that was just a fluke. Well, it’s not going
back up in there very well. Okay. There you go. There. And maybe it’s just new, maybe it just takes a little while for it to work, but if it does end up continuing working for you.
Melanie Petithory: That would be grand.
Danny Lipford: And maybe you can throw that old step stool away there.
Melanie Petithory: That would work.
Danny Lipford: The concept of the Easy Reach Plant Pulley is a great one. And the price point isn’t bad considering you get two in the package. But the release mechanism in the pulley seems to be a little inconsistent. So we’re giving it a three out of five rating.
Allen and Talaine Dykes are getting ready to check out another outdoor product called the Garden Groom.
Allen Lyle: All right, Talaine, now according to these people, they say it’s so light weight, six pounds, that even senior citizens and women can do it. We’re actually going to try this out. Your blade is enclosed. That’s one of the nice features about it. It spins so fast that it creates a cyclonic action that apparently is supposed to pull all your clippings inside here and it shreds them to one tenth of their original size. So let’s test it out and afterwards you give me your opinion on it.
Talaine Dykes: Okay.
Danny Lipford: The Garden Groom looks a little bit like a space ship hovering over the hedge, but really seems to be making quick work of the job. In fact, Talaine’s side is going a lot faster than Allen’s. And it looks a little neater, too.
Allen Lyle: All right, so you looked like you were going a little faster than me.
Talaine Dykes: Mmm-hmm.
Allen Lyle: Tell me what you think about it. Your honest opinion now.
Talaine Dykes: Well, it is lightweight. It seemed to do it pretty quickly. Obviously, it’s a lot less mess. I would actually give it a high rating.
Danny Lipford: At over $100, the Garden Groom is a bit pricey for a hedge trimmer, but it does live up to its promises. So we’re giving it a four and a half out of five rating.
Okay, it’s time to do a little painting, and any product that can speed that process up is a good one. Especially for my friend Tom, who owns a number of rental houses and we’ll see if spraying can kind of speed that process up. Tom, I found this thing online and on television called the Paint Zoom. You’ve probably seen it.
Tom Blizzard: I saw the commercial.
Danny Lipford: And, of course, I’m always wondering if something like this works, but what a great place to try it out right now.
Tom Blizzard: Well, I’m ready. You ready to put it together?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, let’s see what happens.
Danny Lipford: The Paint Zoom is a high volume low pressure, or HVLP sprayer. That means it uses a motor much like a vacuum cleaner to blow air through a tube and siphon the paint out of a cup on the bottom of the spray gun. For that to work, the paint or stain has to be fairly thin. And that seems to be our biggest challenge. This funnel cup comes with the kit so you can determine if the paint is thin enough, by clocking the time it takes to drain. I’m ready. Go.
Tom Blizzard: Go?
Danny Lipford: Pick it up, yeah. I gonna go get a cup of coffee. I’ll be back in a minute.
Tom Blizzard: This may need some thinning.
Danny Lipford: After a few trials we get it thin enough.
Tom Blizzard: I think we’re good.
Danny Lipford: That Tom can test it out on some scrap cardboard. All right. Let’s do a little test then. Then we take turns putting the sprayer through its paces.
Tom Blizzard: Now make sure you try all the way around the sides.
Danny Lipford: And in the process, knock out a good chunk of Tom’s painting chores. Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m really surprised, because I’ve used a lot of sprayers before and that one’s pumping’ out the paint, you got a good spray pattern. Um, now you probably could have painted that almost the same, same time with using a roller. But if you’re spraying something like you’re spraying cabinets, or spraying a lot of doors and things like that, you can get that nice. You know, more of a smooth finish than you would have with a brush.
Tom Blizzard: That’s what I was gonna say, get a real even coat. And this wall’s textured
a little bit so I’m thinking I might try it on this popcorn ceiling.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s a good idea. All right, well, you got a whole house to do. Let me know how it turns out.
Tom Blizzard: You’re not gonna stick around?
Danny Lipford: Oh, no, no. You’re on your own. At $100, plus shipping, the Paint Zoom is comparably priced with other similar sprayers. Some of the parts appear to be a little cheaply made. And it may not be ideal for every painting chore, but it does work well. So, we’re giving it a four out of five rating.
Kathy Asks: Are those so-called green cleaners really effective? Can you offer any suggestions on how to keep chemicals out of the house?
Danny Lipford: Some of the green cleaners do work fairly well. You know, it’s kind of funny that even some of the chemical cleaners contain natural products like ammonia and vinegar. Hey, speaking of vinegar, I can clean just about anything around the house with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. It’s very cheap as well. But if you need a little degreaser, well, citric acid works perfect for that, and smells pretty good as well. Now if you need a little abrasion, salt does the trick perfectly.
Now if you decide to use some of the green cleaners, don’t rely on the PR and marketing behind these products. Make sure you check out some of the independent third-party reviews to see what they’re saying about the product you’re considering. And if you find one that works really good, spread the word.