Learn how to keep fireworks fun safe. You can use the free energy of the sun to extend your swimming season. Help kids avoid the special dangers summer poses. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, cleaning mold, roof replacement, decking options, energy saving window options, sliding door repair
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you take on those summer projects. What is on your to-do list? Or maybe you’re sick and tired of paying those high air-conditioning bills. We can help you out with some tips to cut those energy costs. You’ve got a staining project on your to-do list? You want to tackle a deck project? Do you want to tackle a project inside your house when it’s nice and cool with the A/C running? We can help you with that. But you’ve got to help yourself first by doing this: call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And with the Fourth just around the corner, it’s time to get ready to celebrate America’s independence. But if you’re going to do that with a bang, i.e. fireworks, you want to be very careful not to let that firework fun turn into a family disaster. So we’re going to have some safety tips to help you do just that.
LESLIE: And while you’re lighting up the night sky outside, are you sure that your lights are off inside? We’re going to tell you how to prevent left-on lights from becoming an energy drain on your home.
TOM: And speaking of big energy drains, have you seen the price of heating a pool lately? Wow. It is really exorbitant. But we’ve got some tips this hour on how you can use a free energy source to heat a pool and extend the swimming season by up to six weeks.
LESLIE: And also this hour, one caller is never going to miss a cell-phone call at home again. We’re giving away a Renny Home Ringer. And it’s a hands-free device that connects wirelessly to your cell phone while you’re at home.
TOM: It’s worth $130. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show. So, let’s get to work. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.
CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.
Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag, mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.
So if you go to QUIKRETE.com, you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.
It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.
CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.
TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.
CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ben in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with a hot attic. Tell us what’s going on.
BEN: My attic temperature has been peaking at about, oh, 45 to 48 above ambient temperature. And I could describe what kind of roof. It’s a hip roof and it’s probably about 42 feet long. And I’ve got 13 feet of ridge (audio gap) up above and I was just wondering what would be the way to go: a ridge vent or wind turbine or maybe electric roof fan?
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, a hip roof is among the most difficult types of roofs to vent because you have such a small ridge. That said, what I would do is make sure that you have a continuous ridge vent on that ridge. That’s the first part. The second part is you need to make sure you have continuous soffit vents all around the overhang at the edge of the roof. Because the air, theoretically, will enter the soffit, go up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. Does that make sense?
BEN: Well, it was a place built in ‘76 and it had vinyl soffing (ph) put over it and darn few vents. And I just recently got done putting some extra soffit space in there but that didn’t really seem to make any difference.
TOM: Well, are the soffits fully vented right now, Ben?
BEN: No. Just over the old holes. They put in a couple panels of vented.
TOM: Oh, so they covered the old wood soffits with ventilated panels? Is that what you’re saying?
BEN: Yeah, the old wood soffits were about 14x6 and there were three in the long end and two in the short.
TOM: Yeah, you have – I know exactly what you’re talking about; I’ve seen this many times. In fact, when I was a home inspector, I used to check for this by sort of pressing up on that soft, vinyl soffit – it looks all pretty and vented – to find solid plywood underneath.
It’s a problem. You really have to take the vinyl soffit material down and remove all of the old wood soffit material so that now it’s fully open. Then you can put the vinyl, perforated soffit material back up and you’ll have a fully vented soffit.
TOM: You can’t just put vented vinyl on top of wood soffit that has even vents sort of cut into it, because you’re just not getting enough airflow in. With a hip roof, the best place to get airflow is at the soffits and if they’re choked off, it’s never going to be cool up there.
So I would start by opening up those soffits and adding a good-quality ridge vent. Take a look at the vents that are made by CertainTeed – the Air Vent Corporation. And I say that because those vents have sort of a baffle design that improves the negative pressure at the ridge, which helps draw more air out of it. I don’t like the ridge vents that look kind of like corrugated cardboard; they don’t have enough cross-ventilation, enough way to get air out. I like to see vents that are big and fully open so that the air can really pull out of that. But I think a good-quality ridge vent and soffit vents that are properly open all around are really going to solve this issue for you, Ben, OK?
BEN: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, design, décor. Whatever you are working on, we are here to give you a hand with those questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, fireworks are responsible for tens of thousands of serious injuries every year. We’re going to teach you how to celebrate the July 4th holiday safely, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. One caller this hour is going to get the latest technology for their mobile phone because we are giving away a Renny Home Ringer.
Now, how many times do you miss cell-phone calls when you’re home because maybe you set the phone to vibrate or it’s in another room? Well, Renny can solve that problem because it’s a wireless device that rings when your cell phone is in the house. You can then answer your phone through the Renny and it eliminates the need for a landline.
It’s worth $130. You can check out a product video at OlensTechnology.com – O-l-e-n-s-Technology.com. Or give us a call right now for your chance to win and the answer to your home improvement question, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Janet in Georgia on the line who wants help with a decking project. What’s going on at your money pit?
JANET: I just had a deck built last month and already, some of the boards are kind of shrinking because it’s been raining on and off a little bit.
JANET: And I was wondering when it would be the best time to stain the wood. Is it that I’m staining it against the water or I’m just staining it in general?
LESLIE: OK. Do you know what material your deck was made out of?
JANET: We bought the wood at Home Depot. It was supposed to be a pretreated wood?
LESLIE: So just a pressure-treated lumber.
JANET: Pressure-treated. That’s correct.
LESLIE: OK. So, really, what I always do with a pressure-treated lumber, just because of the fact that they inject a different type of chemical into the wood itself to make it weather-resistant – so it can be a little wet. And since you’re dealing with a high-moisture situation in your weather anyway, you might just want to give it the summer season to sort of dry out as best it can. And then in the autumn – when you’re dealing with some drier, low-humidity weather – it could be a great time to put a finish on it.
Now, you do want to let it dry out. So if you’re dealing with some wet weather as you’re getting into a weekend that you want to work on the project, wait until you’ve had a good few days of dryness and you know it’s going to be dry the day you’re working, so that that wood does get a chance to dry out. And then depending on how it looks and the look that you want, I definitely wouldn’t paint it, because paint is just going to sit right on top of that lumber and then just peel off throughout the winter season and you’ll have to do something again in the spring.
JANET: Right. I really didn’t want painting because I just like the look of the wood. And I know that there’s something that I have to do every so often. They tell me every year I’d have to stain it or something.
LESLIE: It really depends on what manufacturer’s stain that you buy. And keep in mind there’s solid-color stains and there’s semi-transparent stains. So if you want to see the grain in the wood, you’ll want to go with something more semi-transparent so that you’ll actually get some color or just some natural tone. And you’ll be able to see that grain through it.
And you want to apply it just in the way that the manufacturer says. And you’re probably going to get about three years on horizontal surfaces, maybe five on vertical before you’ve got to tackle it again. Depends on how dry that lumber is on that decking when you do put the stain on.
JANET: OK. That sounds good.
TOM: Well, America will be 237 years old this July 4th, a very big birthday. And in grand tradition, so many of us will be celebrating from sea to shining sea with food and flags and fireworks. So you want to be sure that you follow some simple firework safety tips to make sure that you don’t add a call to 911 to that activity list.
LESLIE: Yeah. I think, first of all, you have to know the laws where you live. Fireworks are illegal in a lot of places. But if you happen to live where they are legal, you want to make sure that you use them only outside. You want to make sure that you have a garden hose and a bucket nearby.
Now, before you toss used fireworks into the trash, soak them in some water, just in case. Also, never point the fireworks towards another person or towards the roof of your home or anybody’s home or nearby trees, for that matter.
TOM: Now, if you do get a dud, because that happens, do not try to relight it. And also, never combine fireworks; only light one at a time.
For more thorough guidelines, head on over to MoneyPit.com and simply look up “fireworks safety.”
LESLIE: Now I’ve got Rosie in Iowa who’s got a window question.
Hey, Rosie. What’s going on? How can we help you?
ROSIE: We have Andersen Windows, which we just love the low-E glass on the first level. We want to put some – keep the hot sun and the cold out in the – we want to put new windows on the third level, in the bedroom, the guest rooms.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Yep.
ROSIE: Can you suggest what type of window? We’d have to do a replacement window.
TOM: Yeah. Andersen has a replacement window called the 400 Series. It’s a tilt-wash window, so like a double-hung that tilts down for cleaning. And it’s specifically a replacement window.
So, you order the window to fit the size of your existing windows there that you’re going to replace. And you can order it at The Home Depot. And I think the average cost is about $300 across the country, more or less, depending on size and features. But that’s a good window. It’s got high-performance glass in it; it’s got low-E4 glass in it.
ROSIE: Oh, we just love the ones we put in the basement. You can leave it – the window – open. You know, I’ve got plants down there and it doesn’t even feel warm, the sun.
TOM: Yeah. Take a look at the Andersen 400 Series Window at The Home Depot, OK?
ROSIE: Well, we were thinking about a cheaper one, like Window World or somewhere like that.
TOM: Why do that? You’ve had great experience with Andersen and the price is pretty fair. The average price is about 300 bucks.
ROSIE: Thank you so much. And that was Series 400?
TOM: Series 400. 400 Series. That’s correct.
ROSIE: 400. Well, now you want to come and put them in for me? You’re so good at it and I know you love extra money.
TOM: I can’t do that, Della, but I’m sure the pros at The Home Depot could help. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steven in South Carolina is on the line with a water heater that seems to be leaking and it’s only four months old, so that’s not good. Tell us what’s going on.
STEVEN: Leslie, I consider myself a home improvement master.
STEVEN: And I put in this new water heater in a rental unit that I have – a rental unit/townhouse. And I went over there the other day and noticed that the pressure-relief valve is slowly leaking. And I can’t figure out why it would be leaking.
TOM: Well, Steven, there’s two reasons it could be leaking: the first is that you have a bad pressure-relief valve; the second is that your water heater is not working correctly and it’s actually building up excess pressure. And as a result, the valve is doing exactly what it’s intended to do, which is to open up if the pressure in the valve exceeds – or the pressure in the tank exceeds 150 pounds. So which is it? That is the question.
And I wouldn’t recommend that you do this project yourself. But I guess the first thing I would do is probably replace that valve and see if it continues to happen.
TOM: The other thing that you could try to do is you could try to let a little bit of water out of it. Since it’s already leaking, it’s probably not going to get much worse. We almost never tell people to do this because sometimes if there is a little crud in the water from dirt or debris that’s inside the plumbing system in your house, it can actually make the leaking worse. But if it’s already leaking pretty bad, I would open and close that little valve lever – the lever on the side of the valve that releases some pressure – a few times. Just let some water blast out of that and see if it resets.
But if it continues, then there’s something wrong with the water heater and it’s doing its job.
STEVEN: Well, let me ask you this. What about – I put it in the same way it was installed 10, 12 years ago. And it’s just the hot water out, cold water in. And isn’t there some kind of a diaphragm-type valve or something that can go on the newer water heaters?
TOM: It doesn’t – it’s not for that, OK? You may be talking about a water-hammer arrestor but this has nothing to do with the pressure in your water heater. The water heater is an appliance that’s designed to work by itself. It’s designed to heat the water and deliver the water to your domestic system. And specifically, if it’s not doing that correctly, in terms of this valve, it’s going to open up and prevent it from rupturing.
So, no. The water heater is not supposed to leak and if it is leaking, something’s wrong – either a bad valve or a bad water heater – and you’ve got to get to the bottom of it.
STEVEN: I appreciate your insight.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
STEVEN: Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully, it works out for me.
TOM: Alright. I’m sure it will. Steven, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jason in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with an electrical update at their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
JASON: Hi. Well, let’s see. We bought an older home, probably like 1940, 1950. It’s a great home, no doubt about it. We thought we were going to have a bunch of problems: we thought we were going to have to replace the roof, we thought we were going to have to replace the foundation. But it’s pretty much like somebody built the house and never really lived in it.
TOM: I think we’re getting to a “but.” Everything’s great but what’s happening?
JASON: But the breaker box is outdated. And the total cost of replacing that – hiring a certified and professional contractor and everyone – or the electrician to do it – is going to cost us around $5,000.
TOM: Alright. Why do you say it’s outdated? What’s wrong with it?
JASON: It’s a 100-amp box.
JASON: And you can’t run more than two air conditioners in the house at one time.
TOM: Take a breath. I’ve got great news for you, alright?
JASON: What’s that?
TOM: You don’t have central air, right? You’re running window units?
JASON: Window units.
TOM: You do not need a new panel. A hundred amps is way more than enough power to run that house. What you need …
LESLIE: Unless you’re planning on making those updates.
TOM: Yeah. What you need are some new circuits, which are easier to run.
TOM: You see, the reason you’re tripping those breakers is because whatever circuit those air conditioners are on is pulling more power than that one circuit can handle.
Now, most circuits that go to bedrooms, for example, are 15-amp circuits. You put an air conditioner or two on a 15-amp circuit, it’s going to pop, especially an older air conditioner that’s not as energy-efficient, because it’s going to start pulling more power. And if you happen to have those two air conditioners on the same circuit, there’s not a chance that you’re going to be able to run that when you have to.
What you do is you add more circuits. So you add another circuit that’s just for that air conditioner, from the point where it’s installed to the panel. Put that on its own 15-amp circuit and there you have it; you’re done. No $5,000 for a new panel.
See, this is another example – when electricians come in and they size you up and they give you a price on doing a job that you really don’t need. A hundred amps is a lot of power. I doubt in a house that’s probably gas-fired – is that right? It’s gas-powered?
TOM: So you have a gas-powered house, so you’ve got gas heat, gas stove, gas water heater. You know, if you pulled 30 amps when everything was running in that house, I’d be surprised. So you don’t need a new box; you need more circuits.
JASON: OK. Well, thank you, guys, so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Save the money. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, this Fourth of July, keep the lights in the night sky and not in your home. We’re going to tell you how to automatically turn off those forgotten lights, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:45]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, is someone always leaving the lights on in your house? Do you find yourself, unfortunately, channeling your parents when you yell, “Turn the lights off”? Well, now you can stop asking, “Who left the lights on?” Here to tell us how to make sure the lights are off when you’re not using them is Matt Donati from Lutron.
MATT: Hi. Thanks.
LESLIE: Lutron really is the industry leader in lighting control. I mean they created the dimmer, correct?
MATT: Right. Yeah, our founder, who still comes to work every day, invented the first solid-state dimmer a little over 50 years ago. Some of his notebooks were recently inducted in the Smithsonian. And since he invented that first dimmer, we’ve launched a lot more products. About 17,000 products we now sell. We still sell that individual dimmer for your home but we’ve also added whole-home control, as well as whole-campus control for multiple commercial buildings.
LESLIE: Well, it really is amazing. You know, I’ve worked in the theatrical industry, I’ve worked in TV and the stage and now I work as a decorator in addition to The Money Pit. And lighting control is so important. Rooms truly are multifunctional and we all know that the level of lighting varies, depending on that space’s use at that exact moment.
MATT: Right. And that’s the beauty of a dimmer. It’s an easy install. It takes about 15 minutes and it can really change the look of a room without a lot of effort.
LESLIE: And I think what’s interesting – you said an install takes about 15 minutes. It might for you and it definitely would for Tom. Me, it might take a little bit longer. Electricity tends to scare me a bit. But I think what’s interesting is that Lutron offers a call center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where if you’re installing a dimmer or any sort of lighting control at 3:00 in the morning or a Sunday afternoon, you can call and get help, correct?
MATT: Right, exactly. And it’s a U.S.-based support center. And it’s – like you said, it’s – because when do you usually do your home improvement project? Typically at night or on the weekends. And if you’re installing and have any questions, no question is too simple and they’re here to help.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s important. I have two small boys. Tom has kids at home. My five-year-old is constantly walking into a room, turning on a light and then leaving the room. And then all of a sudden, I find that that light has been on all day. So, I know there’s some great, new options as far as occupancy sensors with Lutron, so talk to me about how we can sort of help solve this problem that I feel like every home has.
MATT: Right. Yeah, I have the same problem, as well. It’s an occupancy-sensing switch and what you do is – similar to what I mentioned with a dimmer – is you replace your existing light switch with a sensor switch. Takes 15 to 20 minutes. You can usually do it with just a simple screwdriver. And what it does is when you walk in a room, it’ll turn the lights on for you. But then, more importantly from an energy-saving standpoint, it’ll turn the lights off after you leave the space. So it’ll insure that lights are never left on.
LESLIE: Now, that’s great, I think, because there’s so many times that I’m walking into a room with laundry in my hands or I’m trying to go into the basement holding stuff from the Price Club or the budget centers. And I’ve got cases of soda and things that – I can’t just turn the lights on. So those seem like great applications for this.
MATT: Right, exactly. So when you look at what people – where people typically use these, the number one is the bathroom. And I think that’s mainly because it’s a high-traffic area where people like the auto-on feature but that’s also where you have people going in and out and kids typically leave the lights on. So that’s great for turning lights off.
But then laundry rooms and garages are the next most use where the sensors go, because of that auto-on feature. Those are rooms you typically enter with your hands full and leave with your hands full, so it can turn the lights on for you when you enter and then turn them off for you when you leave.
LESLIE: So, when I’m thinking about this, we’re looking at about 15 minutes for an install. What’s generally the cost?
MATT: They start around $20. They’re available at your local home center, lighting showroom or electrical professional.
LESLIE: Do they work with all kinds of light bulbs? I feel like there’s so many energy-efficient bulbs on the market today and people are still trying to sort out – “Do I want an incandescent? Do I want a CFL? Do I want an LED?” Will it work with each type of bulb or do I have to buy a specific occupancy-sensing switch per each type of bulb?
MATT: Right. And that’s a really good point – is the marketplace has shifted towards – from the incandescents and halogens to CFLs and now LEDs. Not all lighting controls can work with those bulbs and that’s one thing what Lutron wanted to make sure that the homeowner didn’t have to worry about, that these switches will work with any light-bulb type that you choose. Because your laundry room has a tube fluorescent, your bedroom may have a CFL. (inaudible at 0:24:37) have switched to the new LEDs in your kitchen.
So, you don’t have to worry about this – the sensor working with those types because it’ll work with any of them.
LESLIE: Well, Matt, that’s great. I mean you’ve made it easier for parents to stop yelling at their kids. You’ve made it great for us to save a ton of money in energy expenses and you’ve really just given us the control of our lighting scenario at home. So I thank you so very much and I thank your team over at Lutron for it, as well.
If you want to check them out yourself, you can go to their website at LutronSensors.com.
Matt Donati, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MATT: Hey, thanks, guys.
LESLIE: Alright. While we are on the topic of saving energy dollars, do you want a warmer swimming pool on the cheap? Well, put the sun to work for you. We’re going to explain how, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get a cool, new piece of technology called the Renny Home Ringer. And it’s a little device for your home that connects wirelessly to your mobile phone.
So, when you’re in the house, your phone rings through the Renny. Instead of frantically searching for your cell phone – which, who knows where it is and if it’s on vibrate, are you ever going to find it? – you can actually just answer the Renny. And it’s also going to tell you who’s calling and you can even play music through it. It’s pretty awesome. It’s worth 130 bucks.
TOM: Check out a demo of it at OlensTechnology.com. That’s Olens – spelled O-l-e-n-s – Technlogy.com. And give us a call right now for your chance to win and the answer to your home improvement question, 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Howard from North Carolina on the line with a water-softening question. What can we do for you today?
HOWARD: Well, my question, really, has to do with the EasyWater Water Conditioner. And I’m making a distinction here between water softening and conditioning, because I understand that products that don’t use salt really are not softeners but they are conditioners. And I think that’s really what my need is.
I have no problem with the relative softness of the water, if you will, for cleaning purposes. However, it is a lime- and scale-producing water. It’s municipal water but it comes from an artesian-well system.
So my question, really, is: is this the product on the market? Are there other ones that do much the same thing? How proven is it? Is it something that I can reliably install or is it still relatively an unproven item? It seems to be a name that’s in the market but I’m not – I’m just looking for some endorsement of it, I guess.
TOM: Alright. So, several years ago, EasyWater was a sponsor of the show. They haven’t been for many years. And when that happened, they sent me one of their units and we don’t have well water but I had a friend of mine that did have it. And he installed the EasyWater system on his main water line, as directed, and had really miraculous results. And it really got me interested in the technology.
And the way it essentially works is if you can of a way a magnet works, where positive sides repel each other, that’s kind of the way EasyWater works. It forces the particles that go through – the hard-water particles – to not stick. That leads to less scale and other types of buildups that stick to pipes and stick to faucets and so on. So that’s basically the way it works.
I will say that I do know they have a really good warranty on it and I think it’s like a 90-day, money-back guarantee. It’s pretty long, from what I recall. So I see no reason to tell you not to try it. I’ve had good experiences with it through the test unit – the dummy – that they sent us. They have a pretty good warranty on it. I’d give it a shot.
HOWARD: Alright. Thank you, Tom.
TOM: Well, swimming pools sometimes need a little heat boost to be comfortable. And you can heat your swimming pool on the cheap by taking advantage of the free energy provided by the sun.
Now, even if you already let the sun beat down during the day to warm the water, a couple of smart adjustments can help you harness even more energy and extend that swimming season by up to six weeks.
LESLIE: Yeah, this is one I don’t think people really think about a lot. Your pool cover, you should be using it every single night because that’s going to help hold in solar heat, which was absorbed by the pool water during the day. And that can actually increase your pool’s average temperature by 4 to 5 degrees. I mean it’s not something that you should just be, you know, packing away for the season; you can actually use it well to your advantage.
Now, to soak up the maximum heat during the day, your pool should be uncovered and in full sun between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. And if some nearby trees kind of interfere with the sun exposure, you can trim those back. And you can tap into even more free energy by adding a solar pool-heating system.
TOM: That’s right. And with a few steps like that, you can really cut your heating expenses while maintaining enjoyment of your pool.
We’ve got more details on how to do that, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Daniel is dealing with carpenter bees and of course, those lovely, perfectly round, bored holes that they love to make all over your wood house. What’s going on?
DANIEL: Ah, well, I’ve got these carpenter bees that keep drilling holes into my fascia board right there underneath my roof. And I filled them in and I’ve repainted and they keep coming back. I don’t know if there’s maybe something I can do to prevent that or something I can use to paint it with.
TOM: Yeah, a couple of things you can do. First of all, in terms of stopping the bees from coming back, you would have to have the carpenter bees professionally treated with a proper insecticide that will basically exterminate what’s there. Now, even if you did do that, though, they may come back the next season.
A surefire way to make sure they don’t come back is to replace your wood trim with something that’s not wood. I had this exact problem on a garage on our property and I simply replaced the wood trim with AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And there are other brands, as well, but basically, it’s a cellular PVC material that looks like wood, cuts like wood but the carpenter bees can’t eat it. In fact, it was very humorous to me because after I replaced the fascia with AZEK, the bees kept circling it but they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste like wood.
LESLIE: It’s like, “This looks like wood. I don’t understand.”
DANIEL: That would actually be absolutely worth doing just to see them circle and …
TOM: In frustration, yeah. Alright? I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sharon in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SHARON: Hi. I’m interested in tearing down a wall that’s between two rooms. And I’m wondering if I can do that by myself – I don’t have any experience at all – or if I – it’s something that I would need to have an expert do.
TOM: Maybe, maybe not.
LESLIE: It depends. What’s in the wall? Is it load-bearing?
SHARON: Yeah. How do you tell that?
TOM: Well, where is this wall? First of all, what kind of house do you have? What shape is your house? Is it Colonial? Ranch?
SHARON: I have a – what do you call that – bi-level, where there’s an upstairs part and a downstairs part?
TOM: Bi-level? OK. Alright. And where is the wall?
SHARON: The wall – it’s two bedrooms and the wall is right between the two bedrooms.
TOM: Hmm. So is it parallel with the front wall of the house and the back wall of the house or is it perpendicular?
SHARON: It is perpendicular.
TOM: It’s most likely not a bearing wall; that is my sight-unseen assessment. I could be wrong but it’s most likely not. Because usually in a bi-level, the only bearing wall is the center wall that goes down the middle, parallel with the front and the back wall of the house.
But even that said, what you can do, as a do-it-yourselfer, is you can tear out the drywall and get to that. But remember, once you do that, Sharon, you’re going to be having – you’re going to be looking at plumbing, you’re going to be looking at heating ducts, you’re going to be looking at wiring, not to mention the fact that you’re going to have to patch all that drywall. So, there’s a lot to it.
SHARON: Oh, really? I thought I could be a do-it-yourselfer; I really wanted to do the project myself (inaudible at 0:32:49).
TOM: Well, look, you can do it yourself. We don’t want you to become a do-it-to-yourselfer, alright?
SHARON: Oh, right.
TOM: So you really should not be doing the electrical work yourself. What you could do …
SHARON: I am concerned about that part.
TOM: Yeah, what you could do is take apart all the drywall. That’s easy to do. But again, if …
LESLIE: Yeah, take out the trim, take down the drywall.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe if you get it all ready, you can have a carpenter just come pull the wall out and an electrician rerun the outlet and you’ll be done.
SHARON: Alright. Well, I just wanted to make sure – advice about that.
SHARON: I’m glad you told me before I got in the middle of it.
TOM: Exactly. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Esther in South Dakota on the line with a shed that is scorching. Tell us what’s going on.
ESTHER: We just moved here, so right now it just has the sleds and the bikes and the stuff stashed in it. I want to put my potting shelf out there.
TOM: Esther, what you’re looking for, for this roof, is something called a reflective roof coating. It’s basically paint that’s designed for a metal roof, that is further designed to reflect the heat that your shed is gaining back out.
The problem is that these products are typically only designed for commercial buildings. So you’re going to have to do a little bit of work to find it; it’s not like you’re going to be able to run down to the hardware store and pick this up. But they do exist and I’m hoping that you can buy it in a gallon container, as opposed to 5 gallons or more. Because, again, they’re typically used on a commercial basis for much bigger roofs.
One company that makes them is called Sealoflex – S-e-a-l-o-f-l-e-x – and they have a reflective coating called ReflectoWhite that is a very reflective coating for all sorts of roof surfaces. But it’s important that you get one that’s specifically designed for roofs; otherwise, it’s not going to stick. OK?
ESTHER: I understand.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, summer can be a dangerous time of year for kids. Learn how to keep them safe for that summer fun, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show standing by to help you with your home improvement projects, if you help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And what are you guys doing? Are you following us on Twitter? You should be because it’s a quick and easy way to get your home improvement tips sent directly to your computer or mobile device. Just follow us @MoneyPit.
Now, while you’re online, you can post a question in our Community section at MoneyPit.com. And I’ve got one here from Phil in Maine who writes: “I live in a 150-year-old home. Is there anything that I can do to make my wood floors less noisy? I love them but they creak and squeak.”
TOM: The reason that they make that noise is because they’re loose and that’s really the reason that any type of wood floor develops even a squeak. A couple of different types of sound. First of all, you can have a nail that’s attached to the wood floorboard pull in and out of the joist below. And that’s one type of squeaky sound. Another one is where the boards rub side by side. That’s another type of squeaky sound.
And so, if you want to restore – if you want to try to quiet them down a bit, you’ve got to resecure them to the floor joist below. Two ways to do that. You can either do that with a finish nail – if you did it with a finish nail, I would drill a pilot hole first. I would drive the nail in to below the surface and I would do it on an angle because it’s going to hold better. And I would always use a hot-dipped galvanized nail because it’s got more traction.
The second way that you could do that is you could do it with a screw system. But with the screws, you have to drill through the floor board from the surface and you have to counterbore that and then plug it. That’s a lot more work and that’s – I would only do that if I was planning on refinishing my floors. But if you do this strategically, maybe in just the worst areas, I’m confident you will quiet them down quite a bit.
LESLIE: Yeah, Phil, that really should do the trick. If you’re looking for some additional comfort in those spaces, you can use throw rugs. That will help quiet the space and add some decorative charm, as well. And it really is just sort of a chase-the-creaking sound but you know what? If you’ve got teenagers or college-age kids, you might not want to get rid of all of them because it’s a good clue as to when they’re getting home.
TOM: Well, with kids home for summer, now is a great time to focus on improvements to keep the season fun and safe. Leslie has tips on how to do just that, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, keeping kids safe is really more of a challenge in the summer months, I’ve got to say that. Now I’m a mom of two and it’s hard. I don’t know how people who have five kids do this. It’s kind of crazy.
It really is a good time to think about ways to protect your little ones from summer dangers. This is a big one, for example: drowning. It happens a lot in the summer months. You’ve got to be eyes on those kids at all times. But you can sort of prevent drowning if you install multiple layers of protection around your pool. You want to use a combination of fencing, door alarms, pool alarms and pool covers, for maximum safety.
Now, bicycle accidents also increase during the summer months, so you want to make sure that kids wear helmets while riding. And we have a rule in our house: if you’re riding anything with wheels – I don’t care if it’s roller skates, a tricycle, a scooter, a bicycle – you have got a helmet on your head.
And you can also make sure that your kids are wearing knee protection, elbow/wrist pads. Those are really helpful, especially if you’re on a scooter. I’m thinking about taking the training wheels off Henry’s bike this summer and I’m thinking knee pads, elbow pads. But everybody says that’s a no-no because it sort of hinders how they get their balance.
Now, here’s another one that you have to think about: you need to prevent dangerous falls in your house. And to do that, you can add window guards to second-story and higher windows. And avoid stairway tumbles with childproof gates.
If you take these steps – I mean it really is just a little bit of added protection – you really can ensure that everybody is going to have a blast this summer season and you know everybody is safe. So, just take those steps now; avoid a lot of headaches later.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, have you noticed some pretty big holes in your yard with circles of dirt around them? If so, you probably have moles. But don’t fret. It is not that difficult to get rid of these and other garden pests if you know how to do that project. We’re going to tell you, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2013 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)