You’ve seen them on late night TV promising to solve all the woes of home ownership; but do those problem solving products for the home really work, or are they just as waste of your time and money? We put them to the test to find out!
Fix It Tape
Use: Nonadhesive repair tape creates an air and water tight seal.
Cost: $19.95 + $5.95 S&H = $25.90 total
This stretchable, nonadhesive tape claims it can be used to provide an air and water tight seal for everything from garden hoses to electrical cords and works even on wet, oily, or dirty surfaces.
In our tests, Fix It Tape worked well to seal a hole in a shop vac hose but failed to seal a split in a garden hose. The tape comes in six, 10’ long rolls in three different colors. The directions were poor; and, at a cost of 43¢ per foot, the tape is pretty expensive as well. (Watch Video)
Hi-Reach Cleaning Kit
Use: Dusting and cleaning high, hard to reach areas.
Cost: $29.95 + $7.95 S&H = $37.90 total
The Hi-Reach Cleaning Kit comes with a telescoping pole, which extends up to 10 feet, and three interchangeable cleaning attachments – a bendable static duster (for cleaning ceiling fans and blinds), a sponge/squeegee (for cleaning windows), and a mop head (for cleaning floors and moldings).
The homeowner who tested it loved the added reach of the extension pole. While the mop head worked well for cleaning molding; the rubber squeegee blade on the window cleaner was deformed, causing it to miss the edges of window panes. The duster worked fairly well but didn’t have enough static cling to hold all the dust. (Watch Video)
Wireless Alarm System
Use: DIY peel and stick wireless alarms for windows and doors.
Cost: $24.95 + $6.95 S&H = $31.90 total
The Wireless Alarm System comes with eight battery powered alarms that work on both doors and windows (batteries included). Simple peel off the adhesive backing, and stick one part of the alarm to the window or door and the other part to the frame.
The wireless alarm sounds when a window is raised or a door opened. Each unit has setting for alarm, chime, or off. The system was easy to install and worked as advertised. The only disadvantage is that the switch on the alarm can be turned off by an intruder as well as the homeowner. (Watch Video)
Safety Grip Handle
Use: To assist in getting in and out of a tub or shower.
Cost: $9.95 + $6.95 S&H = $16.90 total
The Safety Grip Handle uses flip lever, suction cups to attach to smooth surfaces – such as tile or fiberglass. It can be installed or removed in seconds, without the need for drilling or adhesives.
Though intended to just provide stability, rather than supporting full body weight, the Safety Grip Handle performed well in our tests. While it might not have the holding power of a permanently mounted grab bar, the Safety Grip Handle can provide limited support on slippery surfaces. (Watch Video)
Cordless Light with Remote Control
Use: To provide extra lighting without wiring.
Cost: $13.28 + $4.99 S&H = $18.27 total
This battery powered Cordless Ceiling/Wall Light contains 18, energy efficient, LED lights (batteries not included) to provide additional lighting for dimly lit areas, such as closets or pantries.
The light comes with a wireless remote, which can control up to four lights from as far as 20’ away. Installation was simple, and the light and remote control worked as advertised. (Watch Video)
Easy Reach Plant Pulley
Use: Allows hanging plants to be pulled down for watering.
Cost: $10.00 + $7.95 S&H = $17.95 total (for two)
If you’ve ever struggled with a rickety step ladder to water hanging plants, then the Easy Reach Plant Pulley may be just what you need. Advertising claims it holds plants up to 25 pounds and extends up to 31” for watering.
To install the Easy Reach Plant Pulley, simply remove the plant from the ceiling hook and attach the pulley to the hook and plant. Pull down on the plant and lock the pulley in place for watering, then release the self-retracting mechanism on the pulley to raise the plant back up.
The Easy Reach Plant Pulley worked fairly well, but the self-retracting mechanism release didn’t go up and down very smoothly. (Watch Video)
Use: Electric hedge trimmer that collects clippings.
Cost: $99.99 + $6.95 S&H = $106.94 total
Trimming hedges can be messy work that leaves lots of clippings on the ground to clean up when you’re finished. The Garden Groom is a lightweight (6 lbs.), electric (plug-in) hedge clipper which claims to capture, shred, and store shrub clippings for easy disposal.
The Garden Groom uses a 9” diameter, high speed, enclosed blade to help prevent damage to electrical cords. It preformed well, trimming as fast or faster than a electric hedge trimmer, and did a good job of gathering up and storing the clippings. (Watch Video)
Use: High Volume Low Pressure home paint sprayer.
Cost: $99.99 + $19.95 S&H = $119.94 total
High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint sprayers are a great way to paint cabinets, doors, shutters, and even walls. They use a large volume of low pressure air to reduce the amount of paint overspray when compared to high pressure paint sprayers.
Spray painting with the Paint Zoom required the paint to be thinned considerably, as is the case with most paint sprayers. Once the paint was thinned, the Paint Zoom did a good job of coverage with little overspray. Some of the parts appeared to be a cheaply made, and it may not be ideal for every painting chore; but overall, the Paint Zoom worked well. (Watch Video)
Special thanks to Elaine Sessions with Roberts Brothers, Inc. for help with locations for this episode.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Drilling Into Metal
To prevent a drill bit from wandering when drilling into metal, put the point of a center punch or nail set where you want the hole, then tap it with a hammer to make a small depression in the metal. Position the drill bit on the dent, and drill the hole.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
ScotchBlue for Delicate Surfaces
ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape for Delicate Surfaces is perfect for taping freshly painted surfaces, since it comes off easily for up to 60 days and has Edge-Lock technology for cleaner lines. ScotchBlue for Delicate Surfaces is available at The Home Depot.
Ask Danny Lipford:
Do Green Cleaners Really Work
While some green cleaners work well, be sure to check independent reviews to see which ones do the best job. Many common household ingredients – such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and salt – are also great for cleaning, and are both eco-friendly and inexpensive.