Learn how to choose the perfect flooring option for your home, depending on whether you have pets, kids or high traffic areas. You can also learn about eco-friendly flooring options. Find out how to create high-impact curb appeal with paved driveways or walkways. And if your lawn is looking less than lush, it’s time to bring that dead grass back to life. This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook has advice on how to do that. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, leaky roofs, sink holes, popcorn ceiling repair, electrical problems, waterproofing a patio, hiring an architect, squirrels, toilets, adding insulation, hardwood flooring.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Time to pick up the tools and get to work. We’re here to help you solve your home improvement dilemmas. If there’s a project on your to-do list, give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Did you have a leak that showed up? Maybe a squeak? A plumbing situation you don’t know what to do about? Call us; we will sort it out together, 888-666-3974. No, we can’t come to your house and do the project for you or even with you but we can help you take the first step.
Coming up on this hour of The Money Pit, one of the most popular topics we’re asked about is the topic of flooring. "What’s the best flooring for my situation? How do I fix my flooring?" We’re going to go through the pros and the cons of the most popular types of flooring, this hour, to give you some insight on what would work best for you if you’re getting ready to install a new floor in your home. We’re talking ceramic, vinyl, linoleum, luxury vinyl, laminate, engineered hardwood, you name it. There are a lot of choices out there. We’ll help you pick the right one for you.
LESLIE: And is your lawn looking a little worse for the wear? Is it looking dead or dying and it’s got you just stumped as to what exactly is going on? Well, it could actually be that your lawn is suffocating due to something called "thatch." We’re going to help you figure out how to dethatch your lawn, with expert advice from our friend, This Old House’s Roger Cook.
TOM: And also ahead, paved patios, driveways and walkways really create a huge amount of curb appeal to our homes but only if they look good year after year. One thing that you can add to those surfaces to make sure they look good is a sealer. But how do you choose the right kind of sealer? Because the wrong sealer can actually cause them to crack and break up if they don’t let the moisture evaporate out, especially over the winter. So we’re going to tell you how to seal those surfaces so they look good year in and year out, without causing any damage in the process.
LESLIE: Plus, one caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a Home Depot project card, which comes preloaded with 100 bucks. Now, the project card is new to The Home Depot and it’s really designed to help all of you DIYers stick to a predetermined budget.
TOM: So give us a call right now for your chance to win that $100 project card from The Home Depot and to get the answer to your home improvement question. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Darlene in Iowa is on the line who’s got a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.
DARLENE: I have got a three-season room that was built onto the house that I purchased and it was attached to the original home. And I’ve been fighting with a leak in that area. And I used some BLACK JACK for a sealant where the shingles come over onto the three-season room area. It’s a flat roof.
TOM: So, I think that what’s happened here, Darlene, is that the junction between the three-season room and the roof was probably not correctly done. The BLACK JACK stuff you are talking about is, obviously, a temporary coal-tar patch type of a product. And that might give you a short-term solution but it definitely will not give you a long-term solution.
If you’re having this kind of a long-term problem, what I would do is I would take the roof apart at the intersection between the three-season room and the main roof and then I would reinstall it, making sure that I address whatever the imperfection is.
So, I suspect that since it might have been added after the fact, that it wasn’t flashed correctly. So, if you were to pull that off and use ice-and-water shield, which is like this rubberized material, under that junction between the three-season room and then the main roof and go up from there and make sure everything overlaps properly so that the water runs down and not back up, that will solve it.
But short of doing that, you’re only going to be making very small gains in terms of slowing down this leak. So I would encourage you to stop using the temporary patch material, to take the roof apart and then fix it right so that you won’t have to be bothered with it again. Because if you don’t, there could be long-term problems. It could cause rot to the roof sheathing, as well. Even though you don’t see the water below, it could be leaking very slowly into the roof sheathing. So that’s the way to fix it once, fix it right and not have to worry about it again.
Darlene, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Tennessee on the line who needs help with some sinkholes.
Bill, tell us what’s going on.
BILL: I’ve got a patio in the backyard and at the end of my patio, I’ve got two huge sinkholes and then another sinkhole at the corner of my house. And this has been going on for about a year, year-and-a-half. They’re about 5 feet deep and, I don’t know, the circumference of about a manhole cover.
And just wanted to know what’s the cheapest and best way to take care of it where it doesn’t keep on happening. My patio is actually cracking where it’s sinking down a little bit.
TOM: So over the course of a year, these holes have revealed themselves?
BILL: For about the last year-and-a-half is when they started happening.
TOM: So very slowly but surely. And how old is this house?
BILL: About 15 years old.
TOM: Well, I mean it could be the result of loose fill that was put in these areas around the house when the home was finished – created, when it was done.
TOM: It could be the result of that. It could also be the result of some decaying material, like old trees or things like that that are in there.
Do you have any concern about it continuing to happen or do you think it’s pretty much done?
BILL: It’s pretty much done, it looks like, and …
TOM: So what I would do is I would fill those areas with clean fill dirt and that’s the most inexpensive dirt that you can buy. And then you want to tamp it down really well. So you put a little bit in, you tamp it, you put some more in, you tamp it. And then you finish it off with topsoil. And because it’s a sunken area, I would almost overfill it a little bit because it’s going to settle down flat.
BILL: And what if it – like a year from now, it starts happening again?
TOM: Yeah, well, if that’s the case and it starts happening again, then at that point I would have to recommend that you got an engineer in to take a look at it, to see if we could figure out what was going on with the soils. You may need to do some borings around there to try to determine what’s in the ground and why it’s sinking.
BILL: OK. Well, that sounds great.
TOM: Alright. Well, 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.
Well, we are in the back-to-school and autumn season, so if you need some help at your money pit, we are here to give a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, are you wondering which kind of floor is best for your house? If that’s a project you’re planning for the year ahead, we’re going to help you figure it out, after this.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Diamond Crystal Salt. The benefits are bigger than you expected. After all, you’re worth your salt. Diamond Crystal Salt. A brilliant choice since 1886.
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: And hey, if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll do our best to answer your home improvement question. Plus, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat for a chance to win a $100 project card from The Home Depot.
Now, this project-card idea is very new and it’s very cool because it’s a way for you to track your project budget. The Home Depot did some research and they found that more than half of the folks that are purchasing gift cards are using those cards to stay on a budget for a specific project. Makes sense. You know, you get a $100 card to do a $100 project and so on.
So, these cards are created specifically for do-it-yourselfers that are looking to do just that and to keep firmly to their budget.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. More than 70 percent of homeowners are going to spend an average of $4,000 on home improvements over the year. And you make those dollars count by making sure you’re spending exactly how much you plan to and not a penny more.
And if you want some great project ideas – maybe you just can’t figure out where to start at your money pit – you can actually check out some great workshops that are offered at The Home Depot stores across the country. For example, with a $100 project card, you can kick-start a kitchen makeover by installing a tiled backsplash.
TOM: And that $100 Home Depot project card is going out to one of our callers drawn at random.
You can visit the card center at your local Home Depot to learn more about project cards. Or give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlotte in North Carolina on the line who has got a popcorn ceiling that doesn’t have butter on it.
Charlotte, tell us what’s going on.
CHARLOTTE: Well, what happens now – we have a brown stain on the ceiling from the leak but we’ve had the leak repaired, of course. And it’s a popcorn ceiling. I’ve always hated this popcorn ceiling; I’m not opposed to getting rid of it. But I’m just wondering, what’s the best way to make the repair here? Because I’m afraid if we just take off the section where the stain is, it’s not going to match anymore and it’ll – you can – it’ll be like a repaired look. What would be your suggestion?
LESLIE: Now, is it truly a popcorn ceiling? Like when you reach up, you sort of end up with remnants of it? Or is it like a textured stucco ceiling?
CHARLOTTE: Whatever that drywall is that they kind of make and they spray on the ceiling.
TOM: Yeah. So, here’s the thing. You’ve had the roof leak. The roof leak is now repaired?
TOM: Has it physically damaged the ceiling or is it just the stains you’re concerned about?
CHARLOTTE: It mostly looks like the stains. To me, it looks like there might be one small section that might have a little bit of a bulge in it.
TOM: Alright. Well, let’s ignore that for the moment. What I would suggest you do is to use a good-quality primer and repaint that ceiling.
Now, if it’s just a very limited area, you could prime just the stain and leave the rest. If it’s a bigger area, you’ve got to prime the whole ceiling. But if you use a good-quality primer there, like a KILZ or a B-I-N or something like that, then that should seal in the stain and you could put paint on top of that. You will have to paint the whole ceiling if it’s not been done recently but if you seal with a primer and then paint it, that’ll make the ceiling stain disappear and preserve the popcorn.
Removing the popcorn, at this point, is just a whole lot of work but it sounds like it’s really not necessary for you to do, unless you just don’t like the look of it.
CHARLOTTE: Thank you very much. That’ll help a lot. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlotte. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of the top questions we get here at The Money Pit is the topic of flooring. It’s important. Think about it: the floor covers a large surface of the area of your house. Everything that you own goes on top of it. You walk on it. If you’ve got kids, they crawl on it. Dogs roll around on it. Really, you spend a lot of time in your rooms and the floors do take a lot of abuse.
So, if it’s time to select some new flooring for your money pit, you want to think about how many years you’re going to be in the house and how many sort of life changes or transitions you’ll experience while that flooring is in use. Think about it: if you’ve got smoother or stable or slip-resistant surfaces like a laminate or a hardwood or tile or vinyl, that’s a really durable choice for flooring, especially if you plan on staying there over a long time and will experience a lot of different life stages in that space.
TOM: I tell you, when we put flooring in our kitchen, our kids were a lot younger. And that definitely is something that I considered, in addition to the fact that I’ve got sort of a medium-size dog. Because I knew that the pets – dog would be there and the kids would be there and it was going to take a lot of abuse.
And we ended up with laminate because it was a very durable surface. And at that time, it was difficult to install laminate because you had to glue each piece together. Now, they all lock together; it’s a piece of cake to put in. So, laminate is a great choice for something like that.
Also, if you want real wood, you can think, of course, about hardwood. But a more durable material to think about is engineered hardwood. Now, what’s the difference between hardwood and engineered hardwood? Well, engineered hardwood is made up of layers of hardwood. It kind of looks a little bit like plywood when you look at it from the side, in that you have several layers of wood that are glued together.
But the top surface – the surface that you look at – is indistinguishable between that and real, solid hardwood floor, with one key difference. And that is that it’s more dimensionally stable, so you can actually put engineered hardwood in a basement, for example, where you could never do that with real hardwood because it would warp and twist and just not last.
LESLIE: You’re right, Tom. We actually had a pressure valve burst in the basement, between the ceiling and the floor of the first level, and it was dumping a gallon of water an hour for, I would say, three or four days.
And the floor underneath the laminate, I was stepping on it and water was just sort of seeping in between. Well, once the leak was fixed and I just dehumidified and tried to dry out the basement as much as possible, the laminate had nothing wrong with it.
LESLIE: And it went back. It really did a great job holding up.
TOM: Now, two of the newer choices you could think about would be bamboo and natural stone. Very, very green floor products that are out today, especially the bamboo. Bamboo, of course, grows very, very rapidly, which is why it makes it such an environmentally-friendly product. But the cool thing about bamboo is that good-quality bamboo flooring is super-super-hard. I mean really dense stuff. You just can’t kill that stuff.
And with all the finishes that are applied at the factories today, those two – really, really durable. If there’s ever a choice, though, to go from sort of a basic finish to an upgraded finish or a commercial-grade finish, I’d always get the better finish because it really is going to make a difference in how long that product lasts. So, a lot of things to think about when choosing a new floor for your home.
We’ve got tips on the pros and the cons on all of these flooring choices, online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Shannon in North Carolina is on the line and needs help with a bathroom vent switch. What’s going on?
SHANNON: The problem is I turn the switch on to it, sometimes it comes on, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I turn the switch on, it briefly takes between two to three minutes. And if it comes on after that …
TOM: Now, Shannon, is this powering an exhaust fan?
SHANNON: Yes, it is.
TOM: So I think probably the exhaust fan is starting to wear out. It sounds to me like the motor for the fan is perhaps dirty or the bearing is a little worn and it takes a while for it to kind of get going. And that’s a very kind of common symptom of a motor that’s wearing out.
Is this an old bath fan?
SHANNON: Yes. It’s about 18 years old.
TOM: Yeah, man, time to replace it. Don’t last forever.
SHANNON: Yeah, I know.
TOM: You know, it’s very simple. Does this bath fan have a light that’s built into it, as well?
SHANNON: No, sir.
TOM: Alright. Well, when you pull the cover off the fan, sometimes you’ll see that the fan is actually plugged into the side of the housing. And so you could plug a light into the side of that housing, unplug the fan and then go to the light switch and turn it on – I’m sorry, the bath fan. So turn it on/off, on/off. You’ll probably see the power come on and off like normally, as evidenced by the light bulb that you just plugged in for testing purposes. And again, that just means that the power is fine. It’s not a problem with the switch; it’s the fan.
And if you’re getting that kind of resistance out of it, I’d just replace the fan. They’re not very expensive. And the good thing is that even though it’s an 18-year-old bathroom exhaust fan, the sizes are pretty standard. So chances are you’ll be able to replace that without a lot of trouble.
SHANNON: OK. Sounds common and easy.
TOM: Yep. Pretty straightforward. Shannon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got lucky lady Nancy who lives in Hawaii, the greatest place in the world, who needs help waterproofing a lanai.
NANCY: Hi. Aloha.
LESLIE: Aloha. How can we help you?
NANCY: Well, we have a walk-around lanai on our home that gets water on it when it rains. And the floors don’t slope, so it’s standing water. And so we’re trying to figure out a way not only to help make a slope but something that’s a waterproof floor that we can put on there to prevent our wet lanai.
TOM: So what’s the lanai made out of now? What’s the floor now? Is it concrete?
NANCY: It’s plywood with waterproof paint.
TOM: OK. So if you want something that’s really super-durable on that floor and you want it to be completely waterproof, I would recommend fiberglass. We very often use fiberglass when we build waterproof decks like, for example, that might be on a second floor where there’s living space below.
It’s kind of like handcrafting the hull of a boat across that deck surface, because you make it very much the same way. You put it in fiberglass, in resin, in varying layers and the pros will just make it so it’s almost like one complete piece and then it can have an abrasive finish on it so that nobody slips or anything like that. So that’s a really super-durable way to create a deck that you can walk on, push furniture around on and not have to worry about it breaking through or ever leaking.
NANCY: And then there’s a way to make it slope?
TOM: Right. And so what you would do before you did the fiberglass is you would probably put a second layer of plywood over there. And you would build it up using what’s called "sleepers," which are sort of like long shims, to kind of create the pitch first. And then once you had the pitch established with the wood, you would cover it with fiberglass. And that would actually go up under a bit of the siding where it attaches to the house so that it gives you a complete waterproof seal.
NANCY: Oh, perfect. What a great idea. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nancy. 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. Still to come this hour, we’ve got tips to help bring back a dead or dying lawn to that beautiful, green, lush lawn you’ve come to love. Roger Cook from This Old House is stopping by with some expert advice, so stick around.
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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 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, have you seen The Money Pit’s Pinterest page? We’ve got great ideas on everything from outdoor entertaining to energy efficiency. It is a seriously addictive site. You can pin articles, blogs and more directly from our site, and other sites that you like, with the Pin It button and then share the pins with your own great ideas to our boards.
You can find it all on the official Money Pit Pinterest page.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Washington on the line who’s doing an addition and needs a hand. What can we do for you today?
RICHARD: Actually, here’s what I’ve got. I’ve got a house built in 1938: a footprint – essentially, a shape like a cross.
RICHARD: The bottom portion of that cross used to be the garage. They turned it into living space and what they simply did with that bottom left quadrant, they poured about a 4-foot-high concrete wall.
What I’m wanting to do is try to gain as much ceiling height as possible. It’s currently framed with 2x10 for the ceiling joists. And I just didn’t know if some of the new engineered lumber would allow me to perhaps get away with something a little shallower while still retaining the strength. But I need to go 16 on center – pardon me, 12 on center instead of 16. I’m willing to do that.
TOM: So, Richard, let me ask – let me stop you, OK? Because you’ve got a complicated question. And my first question to you about this is: do you have an architect working with you on this project?
RICHARD: Not currently.
TOM: You need one, OK?
TOM: This is not a do-it-yourself, general-contracting kind of project. You’ve got a house that you started with that’s got problems. It sounds like – it definitely sounds like the guy before you didn’t have an architect; otherwise, he wouldn’t have designed all these drainage problems into it. And then the guy that came before that, that originally built the house, didn’t have an architect, at least one that knew what he was doing. You, my friend, need an architect.
An architect can look at this situation, address these questions in terms of the design, the elevation and spec out the lumber that you’re going to need to get you where you want to go. Yes, will TJIs or laminated beams help you get more span with less depth? Yes, they will. But it’s an engineering problem to figure out which ones you use and how you lay it all together.
So I would tell you, "Stop, right now." Stop wasting time trying to figure this out on your own and focus on finding an architect to help you. You will be spending some money on this design. It will be well worth it. You will avoid a whole host of problems with the design later on. And secondly, you’re also going to have a set of specs that you can use to go to different contractors and get some prices. So that’s definitely your next step.
RICHARD: OK. I guess that covers it.
TOM: Richard, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve spotted a lot of dead or dying grass in your lawn, it could be a sign that your lawn is suffocating.
TOM: That’s right. And the culprit could be the thatch that’s keeping your lawn’s roots from getting what it needs. Roger Cook is the landscape contractor for TV’s This Old House and joins us now with some tips.
ROGER: Hey, thanks for having me here.
TOM: So let’s define exactly what thatch is. It’s not a good thing, is it?
ROGER: No, thatch is a layer that builds up on top of the soil where the bottom blades of the grass are. And it’s made up of all the organic material that breaks down and falls in there. And as that layer builds up over time, it can stop air, water and even fertilizer from getting down into the roots themselves.
TOM: So, it really seals off those roots from what it needs to grow.
ROGER: Think of it as an impervious layer in the soil. And it’s caused by getting thicker and thicker and thicker declining grass.
LESLIE: But I mean that’s all naturally occurring, so you would think that it could be a good thing because it’s happening from leaves that fall down and the grass dying on its own, correct?
ROGER: Right. But we’re not going to tolerate a lawn that comes and goes as it wants. We want it green and we want it now.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, we’re Americans, dang it.
TOM: So darn it, let’s get it. So how do we get rid of that thatch and how often do we have to do this? Is this a yearly thing?
ROGER: Well, the process is called "dethatching."
ROGER: So that’s a way you go in and you mechanically remove the thatch. And there’s a couple of different ways to do it. I usually do it early in the spring and that way, we get a whole growing season in without having any problem.
LESLIE: Do you find that you get more buildup of it over the winter months?
ROGER: No, not at all. It’s something that happens periodically during the year. It just builds up. And the reason we do it in the spring is where – they’re raking the lawn anyway.
ROGER: So this goes in combination with raking.
Now, you could take a really stiff rake and work really hard and pull it out in a small area. They also make a dethatching rake. It has a bunch of almost C-shaped blades on it.
ROGER: And you try pulling that through a lawn for an hour or so and you’ll have bulging biceps. So we use a machine. Has a bunch of steel blades on it. It’s probably 18 to 24 inches wide. And you go over the lawn and it literally cuts and pulls up all that grass. And when you do it, you’ll be amazed at how much brown stuff you pull out. So it’s pulling out dead grass and it’s pulling out the thatch and it’s opening the lawn up for the spring.
TOM: Now, once you do have it open, is that a really good time to add fertilizer?
ROGER: It’s a great time to add fertilizer. And usually because it’s in the spring – if you have a crabgrass problem, though – you’ve had it in the past – and on those certain areas, it’s a great time to add a crabgrass preventer.
LESLIE: Is there anything useful that you can do with the thatch? Can you turn around and use that for compost? Can you use it for mulching?
ROGER: We use it for compost; we add it to our mix. But if it’s had chemicals on it, you want to make sure that that compost doesn’t go into gardens.
ROGER: So any – we want to separate that from the garden compost.
TOM: Now, is there any time that you don’t want to thatch? Maybe in a drought or something like that?
ROGER: No. Any time after the initial spring. Because what happens is you’re opening up that lawn and when you open up a lawn, the weed seeds love it. The crabgrass will go crazy, the dandelions – everything will get into that lawn.
ROGER: If you thatch mid-summer on, you’ll be in trouble.
TOM: So timing is critical but it’s a very important thing to get done once a year.
ROGER: Yeah, it’s – we think of it as raking the lawn. Or thatching the lawn is like waking it up for spring.
TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Oh, just call me Dr. Thatch.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.
Up next, we’ve got tips on how to keep patio pavers looking great year after year. We’ll tell you how to choose the right sealers for your masonry surfaces, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.com.
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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We’re going to answer your home improvement question on the air and one of you could win a great prize. We’ve got up for grabs a preloaded, $100 project card from The Home Depot. And what’s so great about it is the project card is really a convenient sort of new, prepaid-card option that will help you, as a do-it-yourselfer, probably accomplish one of the most difficult things when it comes to home improvement projects: you know, staying on your budget.
TOM: Absolutely. The card never expires. It’s got no fees. And with a $100 budget, think about it: you can get quite a bit done. I mean projects you could tackle – you could build your own coffee table. You could create a garden planter or you could do lots of things like that. There are ideas every week that you can learn about at The Home Depot workshops that are held at local stores across the country.
The project cards are available at your local Home Depot’s gift-card center. For your chance to win, give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a squirrel situation. Tell us what’s going on.
MARY: Well, I have three porches in my house and my husband found that the squirrels were eating all the porch columns. Well, he went – he replaced them all and lo and behold, they came back and they started chewing again. So, I don’t know what to do. He’s painted them and I’m thinking is there something he could put in the paint or some other product we could use to put – to fix these columns with?
LESLIE: Stop using lamb legs to hold up your porch, geez. Oh, my goodness. I don’t know why they seem to really like your porch posts but they do. And you want to kind of get rid of them in a humane way that’s just going to deter them from chewing on your porch and maybe send them to somebody else’s or just send them back into the wild to eat a tree.
But are you familiar with the company, Havahart?
MARY: Havahart. No, I’ve not heard that.
LESLIE: They have all sorts of humane animal traps and animal repellants and wireless dog fences. And it’s actually H-a-v-a-h-a-r-t.com.
MARY: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: And they’ve got a product that should work for you. It’s called the Critter Ridder Animal Repellant? And it’s a spray and it’s all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about – around kids or pets. But it will repel nuisance animals: squirrels, raccoons, dogs, cats, groundhogs, really pretty much anything.
MARY: Oh, great.
LESLIE: But it only lasts for about 30 days, so you will have to reapply it. But it has things like black-pepper oil, things that they’re not going to like. And it’s not something that you’re going to be bothered by. So if you’ve got even like a birdfeeder that the squirrels are getting at, you can try this on that.
But give it a whirl. You can find it online. I think it’s about 12 bucks a bottle; it’s not too expensive.
TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, a paved patio, a driveway, a front walk, these are the things that create the curb appeal for your home. But if you want to keep them looking good, like the day-they-were-installed good, it does take some effort. So, we’ve got some tips on how to do that, from our friends at QUIKRETE, makers of the QUIKRETE Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, sealing is designed to protect your pavers from rain, snow, ice and most importantly, I think, sun. And although most pavers are UV-resistant, it’s really important to add that extra layer of protection. Because the sealing can also protect the pavers from anything that you might happen to spill on them, like stains from oil or when leaves just get all gross and sort of disintegrate onto things and any other picnic- or barbecue-type spills, which could actually stain those paving stones, as well.
So, a sealer is also, in addition to helping things sort of stay nice, is just going to preserve the paver’s natural color and beauty just for years to come.
Now, any sealing that you need to do has to be done at least one year after the initial installation. And QUIKRETE’s Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer is truly a perfect product for this project. It’s a water-based formula which is designed to waterproof and seal all concrete, masonry, bricks, pavers and stucco surfaces. So it’s really your go-to sealer.
TOM: Now, when you are planning your project, you want to make sure that you pay attention to temperature and weather. They definitely play a role in the correct application of the sealer. So you want to check the package instructions to make sure you’re doing that right. If you don’t follow that, you may get a situation where it’s not going to deliver the intended result.
When you do get it right and you follow those instructions and you do a great job, that sealer really makes the color of the masonry surfaces really pop. So if you’ve got some beautiful brick pavers or something like that, you’re going to see a really nice uptick in the color and of course, in the curb appeal when you’re done.
If you want more tips on that project, head on over to the QUIKRETE website at QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Matt in Wisconsin who’s dealing with a splashy toilet. That is the worst: constantly cleaning a toilet seat. Tell us what’s going on.
MATT: Well, when we flush the toilet, a good portion of air comes up through the trap, forcefully enough to cause the water to splash up onto the seat or the inside of the lid if it’s closed.
TOM: Well, what really causes that, Matt, is a venting problem. Is this a new problem or has it always been this way?
MATT: No, it’s just within the last couple of months.
TOM: OK. So then what I suspect is that you’ve got a blockage somewhere. If your vent for that toilet is partially blocked, then the drain line is being starved with air. And if it’s starved with air, it’s going to try to gulp that air from somewhere else and that’s what’s causing the bubbles.
TOM: So, what you need to do is try to figure out where that obstruction is. And it’s going to be somewhere in the vent that is connected to the waste line under the toilet, if that helps you narrow it down a bit.
MATT: Yes, it does. Thanks.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Has your bathroom caulk really seen some better days? Well, we’re going to share with you some easy tricks of the trade to make sure that the caulk stays clean and crack-free, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you are invited to "like" us on Facebook. We get our likes the old-fashioned way: we bribe you.
LESLIE: We’re not ashamed to admit it.
TOM: That’s right. Got lots of great stuff there on the website, as well as on the Facebook page. You can reach it from MoneyPit.com.
And while you’re online, you could post your home improvement question. A lot of folks do that on our Facebook page, as well as in the Community section. And we will start with a question from Marty in Minnesota.
LESLIE: That’s right. Marty writes: "How do you add insulation to a home built in 1907 with slate siding? You can’t drill holes and blow it in and I don’t know if it can be removed without breaking it. Sounds kind of expensive to me either way." Wow. An insulation question, considering I just did this on my money pit.
Now, granted, Marty, I chose to go from the outside in because I didn’t want to deal with the work of having to sort of re-skim-coat and paint my entire interior. But that’s the other option: you can have the insulation blown in from your home’s interior. They would do it sort of in the same manner that they would blow it in from the exterior.
But on the interior side, what they do is in the same fashion, they locate the stud bays and they’ll drill three holes starting at the bottom, blow in there, sort of let that settle, go to a midpoint, blow in there and then go to the top point, blow in there to sort of fill the bay, keep it all pressurized without sort of bursting your interior wall surface.
Now, keep in mind, you’re going to have to repair those holes and then repaint your surfaces on the interior. You’re correct: it could be expensive but that’s pretty much the other option.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. And one additional tip, Marty, and that is that if you hire an insulation contractor to do this, you want to make sure that they scan your walls, after the project is complete, with a thermal camera. This actually sort of sees into the walls and it will tell them if they’ve missed any areas. In an old house, you never know how the framing is put together exactly and if the framing is blocked in a wall, maybe they need two holes – one low and one up high – to kind of get the insulation everywhere it could be.
A thermal-imaging camera will tell them that. These are not expensive tools. They used to be tens of thousands of dollars; prices have come way down. And if I was in the insulation business, I’d have one in my vehicle all the time because that’s how you can – sort of a quality-control measure. It’s how you know if you’re doing the job that you were paid to do.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Good point.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Samantha in Connecticut who writes: "I have a couple of boxes of hardwood flooring left over from when I redid my sunroom. Is there any cool project I could do with them other than give it away or keep for repairs?"
TOM: Yeah, imagine you’re on one of your TV shows where you have a $100 budget and you have to reuse all the junk that you find in the house. You just found a box of hardwood flooring. Go.
LESLIE: Well, I’ve – a couple of ideas have already popped into my mind. I might think of making a pretty cool piece of art, like some sort of – where I cut it into smaller pieces and create sort of a herringbone display and sort of mount that within a frame or a shadow-box-type thing? Maybe cut it at interesting angles and make a cool starburst piece for the wall? Maybe use it as a tabletop? Create a tray? Build a frame? I don’t know. I’ve got lots of ideas for hardwood flooring and suddenly, my brain has gone a-blank.
But I think, you know, you might want to keep some of it just in the event that you do have an issue. Granted, it’s never going to match years down the road, just because of wear and tear. But think creatively because you’ve got a beautiful grain to it. Also, look at it on the other side; see opposing sides of the cut edges. There might be something interesting there as far as a look or a detail. And I think you could create some interesting art if you cut it in the correct manner.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some great home improvement ideas. And there’s more of that on our website at MoneyPit.com, where the show does continue.
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.)