If you love the look of natural stone countertops but not the price tag, find out how to get read stone countertops at a bargain price. Learn easy fall landscaping tips for your lawn and garden to protect them during the winter and get them ready for spring. Get expert advice on how to size a backup generator for your home. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, resurfacing an asphalt driveway, removing stains from tubs, correcting water pressure, refinishing kitchen cabinets, insulating an attic, fixing plaster wall bubbles, enclosing a patio, cleaning moss from a roof, and staining a deck.
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: Call us right now with your home improvement project. Standing here to give you a hand getting those projects done around your house. Maybe it’s a repair project, maybe it’s a décor project, maybe it’s a project that you’ve really been putting off for a long, long time; just need a little bit of a push to get over that edge. We don’t judge, we don’t nag; we just give you solutions and some direction to get it done once, get it done right and get back to the lounge chair immediately thereafter.
LESLIE: We just give a hand.
TOM: Now here is a project we’ve got planned for this hour that folks really love: natural stone countertops. Beautiful, right? Except for the price tag.
LESLIE: Yeah, not so much.
TOM: Very, very expensive. There is good news, though. You can get stone countertops and you can do so for a bargain price. We’re going to tell you how, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, what you can do now to your lawn and garden that will help you get through this winter and then get everything ready for the springtime. I know it is just the start of the cold season but there are some things you can do that is going to make spring a breeze. We’re going to share with you some easy, fall, landscaping care tips, coming up.
TOM: Plus, having a backup generator in your home has never been more within your reach. These products, the prices are coming way down. They’re very affordable and contrary to what you might think, they are definitely not a luxury anymore.
We’re going to teach you how to size one so you’ve got enough backup power for your home, a little bit later this hour when we welcome an expert that will kind of walk us through the process. This way, you’ll know what to shop for; you can really seriously consider getting a generator. I’ve got one and I’ve got to tell you, I’m so happy that I do. I’ve had it for five years now and never have to worry about power outages in this house because of it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Tom? Luckily, we have the standby generator in the studio, as well, because there have been times we’ve been in recording sessions and lost power. So, we’re able to bring you The Money Pit even if there is a power outage in the state of New Jersey, because we’ve got a standby generator. So, really something to consider.
And this hour, guys, we’ve got a great prize. We’re giving away an under-rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth $200 and it’s a great way to sort of add radiant heat to a cold, winter floor but without ripping up your floors.
TOM: I love this. It fits under an area rug. You can even put it under a desk and get rid of those little, cube electric heaters that folks are using. So it’s going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT during today’s show. 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim on the line from Ohio who’s got a, I guess, a driveway-resurfacing project. What’s going on?
JIM: Well, my driveway is all cracked up and they’re quoting me big money to bust it out and pour new concrete. And I’m just wondering, I have the height to do it; I’m wondering if I can just asphalt over the concrete and maybe just touch that up every few years instead of – with the cost of gutting it and pouring new concrete.
TOM: Probably not because what’s going to happen is the concrete, if it’s already cracking, it’s going to continue to crack and now it’s going to lift sections of the asphalt at the same time. You know, the key to a proper driveway surface is the layers and the way it’s built up. So you need to pull out the concrete which, frankly, you could do yourself. I mean that part of it is just labor; you can rent a jackhammer. But pull that out and then you put down the stone and then you have the crushed gravel and it’s compacted and that’s what really makes the driveway last a long time.
So if you’ve got bad concrete there, just pull it out yourself and start from scratch. But you cannot go on top of it; you will not be happy because those cracks will continue to move and shift. Imagine it like when you see tree roots that lift up through asphalt; it doesn’t take much strength to do that and that’s what’s going to happen.
JIM: Alright. Sounds like I should rent a jackhammer and put my four teenage sons to work.
TOM: There you go. That’s the easy way to do it.
JIM: Thanks, guys. You’ve got a great show.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dee needs some help taking care of and cleaning some marble in their house. What’s going on?
DEE: Hi. Hi, Leslie. Yeah. I have a problem with travertine.
DEE: I have an open shower and a tub-surround and from the water – it’s about 18 years old – and from the water, I guess it’s – there’s a mineral deposit and where the water is going down in the shower, it’s taken off the polish from the travertine. And I’m wondering how do I clean this mineral besides with a little putty knife and how do I get the luster back into the travertine where the water is hitting the wall?
LESLIE: Well, I think first, to get rid of the mineral deposit, it is actually a simple, homemade solution that you could use which is a white-vinegar-and-water mixture and that really does a wonderful job of dissolving that mineral deposit; any sort of white cloudiness that you might see around a faucet or on a shower wall. Dilute some white vinegar and you can really make a difference with that.
DEE: To soak it with the vinegar and water? I mean it’s like …
TOM: Well, you could mix it up and put it in a spray bottle and spray it on there and then just sort of wipe it down. And maybe you can just kind of keep that spray bottle around to clean up after the showers. It does a great job of melting the salts. Travertine marble is a great material; you would think that as natural as it is, it would be incredibly durable in terms of the finish but actually it’s not and it does need to have a lot of maintenance.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s very porous.
TOM: It’s very porous, right. There is a website that specializes in products for marble and other porous surfaces. It’s called StoneCare.com.
DEE: Oh. OK.
TOM: And they have a …
LESLIE: Great website. Excellent products.
TOM: Yeah. They have a product there called All Surface Cleaner that works well.
TOM: And they also have a sealer. The bottom line is it’s a two-process; it’s a two-step process. You need to clean it first, then you need to seal it and you really need to seal this stuff pretty frequently; I would say probably once every three to four months.
DEE: Is this something I can do myself or I have to have it …?
TOM: Yeah. You spray – yeah. No, you can do it yourself. You can – these are sealers that you basically spray on and wipe off.
TOM: So they’re not hard to do.
TOM: But you really just need to use the right product on this.
DEE: OK. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
TOM: I think you’ll also find, too, when you keep it sealed, that you don’t get as much mineral deposit built up on it.
DEE: Will the sealer bring back the sheen where the water is hitting against the wall?
TOM: Yes, yes. Yes, definitely.
DEE: Oh, great. Great. Wonderful. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Dee. 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, holiday décor, how to start even thinking about getting your house ready for the holiday season which, good Lord, is right around the corner. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, soon you’ll be off the hook when it comes to those outdoor chores. But before you put the shovel and the rake away for the winter, take a few minutes to protect your lawn and your garden for a head start on spring. We’ll tell you what to do, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a rug warmer from Warmly Yours, worth 199 bucks. I love this; no installation required. Just plug in the ¼-inch-thick mat for a quick and easy way to add warmth and comfort to any room in your home. You can visit Warmly Yours to check it out yourself; it’s WarmlyYours.com. Or give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: That’s right. Well, we’re just about to enter in the super-cold time of year and winter can be really tough on your lawn and garden. But with a few tips, you can protect your landscaping. So no matter how temperate the climate is in your part of the country, your flowerbeds should absolutely be mulched all year long because the mulch, it’s going to help provide protection to the plantings and then it also provides organic matter for the soil. And then it keeps moisture on the bed to sort of continually nurture the garden.
Now, if you live where the fall and winter can get really, really cold, you want to place a thicker layer of mulch during those chilly seasons. And then as the leaves start to fall, be sure that you clear them from the flowerbeds so that they don’t smother the growing plantings and then start to sort of encourage rot to grow.
Finally, fertilize your lawn before the ground becomes frozen. And if you’ve got any patchy areas, make sure you reseed those, as well, before any sort of frozen areas develop on the property. And if you do that, you can really keep ahead and once spring comes around, everything is just going to grow in beautifully.
Give us a call right now with your home improvement project.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Sal calling in from Iowa who’s dealing with a water pressure situation. Tell us about it. Is it only in one faucet, shower or sink? What’s going on?
SAL: Actually, yeah, it’s only in one faucet. It’s in the bathtub; the bathtub doesn’t seem to get hardly any pressure coming out. When I put on the hot water, it barely dribbles and the cold water, you know, isn’t that much better.
LESLIE: Is this a new problem or has this always been going on in the life of the fixture?
SAL: Actually, I just moved in so I’m not real for-sure how long this has been going on, though.
LESLIE: And you didn’t turn on the faucet before you moved in? Didn’t your – my dad was always like, "Flush a toilet and turn on the shower."
SAL: Well, I’ll have to talk to my dad about that then.
TOM: You know, if it’s only in one faucet like that, then you don’t have a water-pressure problem; you just have a problem with the faucet.
Now, things that could cause that could be something as simple as a little bit of debris that got into the valve.
SAL: Oh, OK.
TOM: And you may be able to get – to take it apart and clean it out.
TOM: It’s amazing, especially with some of the more modern valves, what a tiny bit of like crud that gets in the pipe – a little piece of mineral deposit …
LESLIE: Even a hard-water buildup or something.
TOM: That’s right. Hard water or a piece of solder that broke off can totally ruin the flow.
TOM: Now is it just – is it the tub faucet or is it the shower?
SAL: It’s actually the tub .
TOM: The tub faucet? Not the shower? So the shower faucet, the shower spout – sorry, the shower spigot has plenty of water coming out of it?
SAL: I actually haven’t tried that yet.
TOM: Well, why don’t you try that?
SAL: I have to get a couple shower curtains, so …
TOM: Let’s start in there. Work with me here, Sal. Let’s narrow it down, OK?
LESLIE: Sal’s like, "I haven’t even unpacked yet. I just turned on the tub."
TOM: But I do think that’s probably what’s causing it. I think there’s some debris in the line. You’ve got to isolate it, figure out what part of it is affected and then fix it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what you can do is you can disassemble the tip of your faucet, which is where the aerator is going to be and really work on – as you take it apart, take pictures, write it down, keep it in order so you know how to exactly reassemble it.
SAL: OK, yeah. I’ve got a video camera so I’ll do that. True.
LESLIE: And some white vinegar and water’ll do a great job of breaking down any sort of mineral buildup. It’s worth a shot.
SAL: Oh, I really appreciate all the help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sal.
SAL: Yep, you folks have a great show and have a good evening.
LESLIE: Thanks, Sal.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Victoria needs some help with a kitchen project. How can we help you?
VICTORIA: Yes, I would like to know about my kitchen cabinets. They are wooden but they are painted and I was sort of debating whether to refinish them – remove the paint and be refinished – or to either buy new cabinets.
LESLIE: Well, are they solid wood? Are you certain …?
VICTORIA: They are solid wood. That’s my problem; they’re solid wood. So …
TOM: And you hate to part with them, huh?
VICTORIA: Well, you know – I know they’re good wood but I certainly – I’m tired of the painted surface.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you’re hoping to get to a stained finish?
VICTORIA: That’s right.
LESLIE: Well, it’s going to require a little bit of, or I should say, a lot of elbow grease because you’re going to need to chemically strip that paint off of the wood surface itself. So you’re going to need to pull off all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and make sure you label where everything came from. Leave the hinges either on the door or on the cabinet box itself so you know exactly where things go and how things fit back.
And then you need to apply a stripping agent to the wood itself. There’s one that I’ve worked with several times and have had good success with. It’s called Rock Miracle; sort of goes on as a jelly and you can watch it dissolve. There’s a lot of …
VICTORIA: Called Miracle?
LESLIE: Rock Miracle.
VICTORIA: Oh, Rock Miracle?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s a lot of good, eco-friendly ones out there that you can find if you’re concerned about fumes and what-not. You need to apply it, perhaps, a couple of times; applying it, then removing it as instructed and making sure you’re getting as much of that paint off as you can. You might even need to use a wire brush or a sander to get as much …
VICTORIA: Or a sander, mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Yeah, to get as much of that paint off as you can. And once you get that surface as clean as possible, then you can go ahead and apply your stain.
VICTORIA: Well, I was thinking of keeping the inside as it is, painted, because it’s in very good condition and just have all the outside refinished. Does that sound crazy or (chuckling) should it …?
TOM: No, not in the least. You could do that. In fact, you could do something sort of halfway in between, too. If you are not terribly upset about having some of it be painted, you could leave the outside of the cabinet boxes painted and then perhaps just refinish the doors.
LESLIE: The doors themselves.
VICTORIA: Just the – yeah. Right.
TOM: Maybe just strip the doors and the drawer fronts of the old paint and have them be natural and have everything else be painted a neutral to match.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got John in Pennsylvania who’s calling in with an insulation question. What can we do for you today, John?
JOHN: I’ve got a question concerning installing insulation in my attic.
JOHN: Do I need to protect the gap between the roof sheathing and the sheathing of the wall? The house does not have an overhang; it’s a simple gable roof with vents at either end and a ridge vent. But where the wall sheathing meets the roof sheathing, there is a gap of approximately 1/8 of an inch. And I was advised that that gap should be protected by a home inspector.
TOM: Now, wait a minute. So you’re talking about – you’re going to reroof and you have a gap between the wall sheathing and the roof sheathing. And isn’t the roof going to go over that gap and hang over the outside wall?
JOHN: Well, the gap is between the underside of the roof sheathing and the wall sheathing. There is, essentially, no overhang.
TOM: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying but I don’t understand. The sheathing is not part of – is he worried about water getting in?
JOHN: No. The question is is for insulation purposes, do I need to keep that …?
TOM: Nah. No, no, no, no, no.
LESLIE: So that doesn’t act like a soffit vent? That little gap?
TOM: No. No. I wouldn’t worry about that.
TOM: I don’t think it’s an issue.
JOHN: So that – I noticed that if I installed drip – a drip edge on the roof when I haven’t reroofed, that gap is going to be closed by the drip edge.
TOM: That’s my point. Yeah, you can roof right over that.
JOHN: OK, that answers my question.
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joanne in Florida is having a problem in the bathroom: the plaster is bubbling up. Tell us what’s going on.
JOANNE: Alright, I have a house that was built in 1967. It’s a block house and in my bathroom it’s plaster on top of the block.
JOANNE: Between the window and the corner of the room, there’s a section about two feet tall and about a foot wide that the plaster keeps getting soft and bubbling up. And I’ve tried spackling years ago and that bubbled out and I’ve tried a plaster patch repair and, over time, that bubbles out.
TOM: Hmm. It sounds to me like you have a leak, Joanne, and we need to get to the bottom of that.
JOANNE: A leak?
TOM: Yeah. You mentioned it’s a concrete block house. The thing about concrete block is it’s very hydroscopic. It’s going to absorb water and that water can not only sort of fall down with gravity but it can actually get drawn up and across the wall.
So the first place I would look is right around that window to make sure that we’re not letting any water in there that’s getting drawn into the block and pulled across to the wall. Because what you’re describing is exactly what happens when that block gets wet and, as such, the plaster can’t attach to it; it gets very saturated and sort of keeps falling off. Could be happening very slowly over time but I’ve really got to get – we’ve really got to get to the bottom of this leak and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.
TOM: So take a look at the window, take a look at the flashing, take a look at the caulking around it and try to seal it up as best you can and then keep an eye on it and see if it repeats itself. And by the way, the next time you patch this and get it all nice and dry and smooth, make sure you prime the wall with an oil-based primer. That would help, as well.
JOANNE: OK. Great.
TOM: Alright, Joanne, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Art in Michigan is doing some work around his money pit. What can we help you with?
ART: Hi there. I have two, large porch openings that get a blast of Northwest wind through the winter. They’re about 12 feet long by 6 feet tall; two of them. And I’m trying to figure out how to close them in without – with a clear enclosure so that from inside we could still see through the porch and also in a way that would not – I would not have to screw into the wood frame of the opening.
TOM: Well, you’ve got to have some system for attaching it so at some point, you have to have some hardware installed.
TOM: Now, it may not be something that you’re nailing-in every single season and we could come up with a system that, essentially …
LESLIE: Like maybe a tracking system.
TOM: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. What I was thinking that if you had – have you ever had sliding windows?
TOM: Or a sliding door? Do you know how to – how they drop in at the top, you lift them up very high and then you drop them into the bottom track?
TOM: What if you built panels that did it, where you had a channel up top and a channel down below and the channels were attached to the opening? And you dropped in some panels that were clear; they could be framed and covered with clear Plexiglas. And then you drop them in when the winter season comes. So slide them up the track and then in.
LESLIE: And the track then really isn’t visible because you’re probably going into the soffit or right into that opening on the porch and then to the floor or somewhere, so you’re not really seeing it. This way, when it’s not functioning, you’re not looking at a hole or …
ART: Alright. Well, very good. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, you might think of a backup power generator as a luxury that you simply can’t afford or you don’t really need but think again. This appliance is becoming more and more of a necessity and the prices, they’ve never been more affordable.
TOM: That’s right. And the key is finding the right-size generator for your home. That’s why, up next, we’ve got an expert to help us walk us through the process.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, having a backup electric generator was once considered a luxury but with more and more demand on the country’s aging power grid, homeowners are finding backup power is an absolute necessity. And if you’re in the market for a backup generator, the most important thing you need to do is to size it correctly so it delivers the power you need, exactly when you need it.
LESLIE: That’s right. So we’ve got a great guest joining us this hour. We’ve got Jon Hoch, who’s the founder of ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, to help us sort out exactly how you size a generator for your home and what you want to power.
JON: Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
TOM: It’s our pleasure. So, Jon, when it comes to sizing a generator, is bigger always better? I mean how do you start the process on figuring out exactly what you need to have the power that you need for your particular situation?
JON: Yeah, the process is actually really simple. The whole point is trying to replace what you lost from the utility, right?
JON: So, a lot of people think about whole-house generators. If you live in a dog house, you just need a camping generator; it’s pretty simple.
JON: But most people live in normal-size houses so they’re going to need something of a certain size. Most houses, nowadays, come with 200-amp panels with a bunch of different circuits already prewired to make the electrician and the electricity work just fine.
So the objective is not necessarily to replace the appliances that lost power but you replace the circuits that are already in the house. So standby generators come with up to 16 different circuits that they can power.
JON: So instead of turning a lamp on, you can turn the entire kitchen on.
JON: It’s a whole lot easier to do that.
TOM: So, I guess, when you’re trying to decide what you want to power, you’re not deciding, necessarily, on an appliance-by-appliance basis. You’re not saying, well …
LESLIE: It’s like a zone thing.
TOM: Yeah. And I want my TV and my alarm clock …
JON: No, you’d go crazy. I mean doing the mathematical calculations would drive you nuts, right?
TOM: Right, exactly.
JON: If you go to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, we actually have a sizing guide. And the cool thing about this is that you don’t have to do any work, really. All you’ve got to do is print out the handout that we have on the website, go to the basement and identify the circuits that you want to power.
TOM: OK. OK.
JON: And you fill out the form, you come back to the computer, you plug it in and poof, it’s going to tell you exactly what size generator you need. So the more circuits that you want to power, the bigger the generator you need, the more expensive it gets.
TOM: Now what’s the average size generator that most homes have?
JON: Well, in most of them – the home standbys start at about 8 kilowatts and they go all the way up to about 20 kilowatts.
TOM: OK. OK.
JON: So the real difference, whether you want a little one or a big one, really depends upon your central air conditioner. Because if you want to run your central air, if you’ve ever seen your utility bill in the summertime, you know that they use a lot of electricity.
JON: So if you want to run your central air conditioner, we recommend getting something around 17 to 20 kilowatts and you’re going to need the extra power to be able to turn that motor over to be able to get it to run.
If you live in northern climates, most cases you don’t – if the power goes out in the summertime, you open up the windows and you’re fine, right? It’s the winter you have to worry about. So if you live in the North, you’ve got to protect your furnace and some of the other things from – you don’t want your pipes to freeze and burst and have problems.
LESLIE: Freezing. Now, technology has really advanced when it comes to standby generators. You have the opportunity that when, you know, power goes off, that they just turn on everything by themselves within like 30 seconds of losing power. Do you need anything special within your home’s electrical system to make that automatic standby generator work or is it pretty much plug and play?
JON: It’s mostly plug and play. The things that you’re going to need are, obviously, is fuel. You’re going to need either natural gas or propane. And other than that, the systems come all-equipped with everything that you need to run to restore power.
We recommend that a licensed electrician install this system. You can buy this system either through us or through other distributors and make – get some great prices. One of the advantages of buying through us is we ship it directly to your door for free and there’s no sales tax if you live outside of Illinois, so there’s some cost-savings advantages from us.
TOM: And also, Jon, I would imagine that typically when people think about buying a generator is because they just had a major power failure. And when that happens, of course, everybody has the same bright idea but you can’t find one locally and if you can, the prices are high because of supply and demand. If you’re buying from a site like ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, though, you’re guaranteed, first of all, to get a fair price and secondly, practically, you can get it reasonably quickly. In fact, in some cases, you can get it quicker than you could find the time to go out and pick one up yourself.
JON: Oh, absolutely. I mean we – right now, we have, literally, hundreds of standby generators in stock and we have a system called "Priority Shipment." If you’re in a hurry, we can get it out the door the same day; it can be delivered to your house within two days.
The challenge with generators is that not only do you need to get the generator, which is hard to get during a power outage, but it’s also equally harder trying to find an electrician or somebody to help install it for you.
JON: So the key for buying a generator is to buy them between storms. That’s when you can get some savings and that’s when you can even have some people who have time to actually install this thing for you.
TOM: Good advice, Jon Hoch, the founder of ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com. Great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
JON: Thank you.
TOM: For more tips, you can go to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com or pick up the phone and call them at 800-710-7499. That’s 800-710-7499.
And even if you’re not ready to buy one right now, you ought to go to Jon’s website and use that sizing calculator and figure out what size you need. It’s a great exercise to really appreciate, you know, how you’re using your system and what it might take to replenish it if power goes out again, because you know it will.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. Coming up next, granite countertops, we love them. They look great and they last forever but boy, can they be expensive. Coming up, we’re going to share with you a solution for the same look with a way-more-affordable price tag, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win – I think this is a great prize. We’re giving away a rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth $199.
Now, there’s no installation required at all. All you do is plug in this ¼-inch-thick mat and then you suddenly get this quick and easy way to add warmth and comfort to any room in your home. You’re going to just put this sort of radiant heat pad, if you will, underneath your area rug and then your once-cold tootsies are suddenly warm and happy.
If you want to check it out, because it’s really cool, visit WarmlyYours.com to take a look at it or you can give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, natural stone is a great look for kitchens and baths. It’s easy to clean and it’s very durable but it can be very, very pricey. For a more affordable option in natural stone countertops, you can use smaller sections of stone, which are sold as large squares.
Here’s what you do: you simply put them side-by-side and then the joints are filled in with grout and these smaller stone squares, therefore, are very much less expensive. They’re easier to install and they can provide a very attractive look at a small fraction of the price of the solid stone tops; kind of a cheap trick for a cool countertop.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, you can also find some really great options in laminates. And if you’re thinking, "No way, man. It’s going to look like the 60s Brady Bunch kitchen," you’re actually way off.
Today, newer laminates come in thousands of colors and styles and assorted types to look like, you know, diamond-plated metal and all kinds of wood and bamboo and really cool grasses. I mean they’re just gorgeous and you can even find some that look like granite or any of those solid-surface counters that are out there, at a super-duper fraction of the price.
Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Peter in Alaska is calling in with a roofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
PETER: On the dark side of my house – actually, some parts are sunny; I thought it was bad – but I’m getting moss growing.
PETER: What’s the best way to get rid of that?
LESLIE: Is there any way to thin out the trees just a smidgen, to get more sunlight on there? I know you’re about to enter in zero sunlight (Leslie and Peter chuckle) but …
PETER: Yeah, I have but even in the sunny parts, I still get it there; it’s coming up, too, on the front of the house. I have a south-facing house and the front of the garage is still getting moss.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, it’s not going to pose any sort of damage to the roof structure, itself, although you might not think it’s that attractive. The best way to really get rid of it is with a mildicide, which could be as simple as bleach and water or a housecleaning product like a JOMAX or OxiClean makes one. I always go for bleach and water just because it’s what I keep handy in the house and I can sort of control how tough it is; aggressive, I should say.
PETER: So you just pour it on there?
LESLIE: You kind of pour it on there. I know when I deal with the trim around my windows on the side of my house that grows moss, I put some on there, I let it sit for a few minutes, I’ll take a stiff-bristle brush that’s more like a boat-deck-cleaning brush and give it a good scrub and wash it off with water and it really goes away.
Now on the roof, you need to be careful because bleach or any of those house cleaners are slippery. So you’ve got to put it on there. If you can do it on a day when the sun’s kind of getting to it the best it can, it’ll help to sort of help that process. It’s just a maintenance thing.
PETER: Hmm. So just bleach, huh?
LESLIE: Now, I think it works.
PETER: Yeah, OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Adrian in Michigan needs some help with a deck question. What can we do for you?
ADRIAN: Hi. We have an older deck that was recently gently pressure-washed because it needed to be refinished.
ADRIAN: And the contractor recommended going with a solid stain. They started painting it; about a third is done and, unfortunately, the color is not working out and it looks kind of taupey, almost like Silly Putty next to our sage-green, grayish house.
ADRIAN: So now we’re stuck with this taupey-colored solid, half-painted deck; the other half being kind of like a red cedar, gently-pressure-washed color and we’re wondering how to remedy the situation. Do we have to sand and start over or could we maybe go over the whole thing with a darker color without making it look too pasty? Where do we go from here?
LESLIE: And what they used …
ADRIAN: I’m sorry. The contractor had said we had to go with a solid stain to protect it more but now I’m even wondering about that.
LESLIE: Well …
TOM: Well, your contractor is right.
LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Is that taupey, putty-color solid stain or actual paint?
ADRIAN: It is solid stain.
LESLIE: Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend going over the half-stained and the half-unstained with another product because then the finished product is not going to look the same on both halves. It’s going to sort of adhere to both sides differently and sort of show its color differently because of what’s underneath.
What I would recommend is go to the home center, pick up a chemical stain stripper or a paint stripper. And be cautious of how you use it. Follow the directions, apply it to the surface where the solid stain is and let it sit there and do its job and get up as much as you can. This way, you’ll be back to a uniform surface of that unfinished, whatever wood you’ve got there that’s sort of in its clean state, ready for new surfacing.
And then, you’re right, solid stain is the proper thing; only because – especially if you’re dealing with an older deck and the graining is not looking so great and the planks themselves on the decking are kind of showing wear and tear – a solid stain is going to saturate that wood itself, deposit that color into the wood grain, allow you to still see some of the grain but give you a nice, saturated color appearance.
In a sagey-green family, I think mahogany tones – deeper reds that sort of have a purpley-brown base that are sort of in that natural mahogany range – would look gorgeous. And that really is something you can achieve through a solid stain. At this point, I wouldn’t go semi-transparent because you’re going to be dealing with too much difference in the surface.
ADRIAN: That’s what I was thinking. Actually, we were leaning towards even a darker brown maybe. OK. And what about the underside? Do we need to paint that?
TOM: No, absolutely not.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show moving now, straight ahead into the fall season. And they call it fall for a very good reason, because lots of things fall. They fall off the trees, they end up on the roof and then they clog your gutters. Want the solution? We’ll have that, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. Well, as we enter this autumn season, are you looking for ways to prepare for the winter with some easy fall fix-up? Well, if you are, head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got ideas there that are going to add style, sparkle and organization to your money pit. All you need to do is search "fall fix-ups" at MoneyPit.com and you will get a host of information there to help you get your money pit in tip-top shape for this winter season.
And while you’re there, you can e-mail us your question. And I’ve got one here from Hal in South Carolina who writes: "I just put on a new shingle roof on our single-story duplex six months ago. We have very large pine trees in the backyard and pine straw is piling up on the roof. How damaging can the straw be to the roof and do I need to clear it off periodically?"
TOM: Well, I don’t think the pine straw is going to hurt your roof. You could have quite a bit of it on there but what I would tell you is it’s going to totally clog the gutters and that’s a problem. Because if the gutters get clogged, there’s a lot of bad things that happen that will make you very sad, like cracked foundations, slippery sidewalks, leaky basements, leaky crawlspaces. All these things can happen when your gutters get clogged. So I would tell you to make sure that you have a good-quality gutter guard on there.
Now, there’s a bunch of different types and in fact, we’ve done an article on our website called "Gutter Guards: Are They Worth the Cost" that lays out the seven different types of gutter guards. But I will tell you that the ones that are – that rely on the water that sort of stick to them and roll off – there’s gutter helmets; there’s a bunch of different ones that are like that – they seem to work pretty well.
LESLIE: The ones that are sort of like overlapping shingles-type things?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. The only time I think that they don’t work is when you have a lot of water running down the roof at all. In heavy rain, you’ve got a lot of centrifugal force; I’ve seen them sort of overshoot it.
But I’ve got one that’s similar to that that’s sort of like a louver-style that I’ve had under a pine tree for about five years now, that still hasn’t clogged. So the ones that sort of louver-style are the ones that work on the water sort of sticking to the surface and then rolling into the gutters and therefore into the downspout. They seem to work pretty well.
The ones that are more meshy, well, that sort of acts like almost as a Velcro and the needles get stuck there and they never seem to go anywhere, so …
LESLIE: Yeah and then as you get a buildup of debris on those types of guards, you know, everything sort of gets mashed and chewed up and then gets through there and almost becomes a glue. It’s not a good idea. You’ll end up being more sad that you added one of those.
TOM: Now, while you’re at it, take a look at the downspouts and make sure they’re extended out well away from the foundation. Four to six feet, in the most cases, is going to keep that area around your house as dry as possible. And just make sure everything’s clean, free-flowing and ready right before the fall season sets in and this way, you’ll be good to go without any hassles.
LESLIE: Alright, Hal. I hope that helps. Enjoy the autumn season.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And now it’s time to turn to a quick, easy and cheap way to save money on your water bills. Those are three words that have never, ever been used to describe Leslie Segrete. And she’s got some tips on how to save money, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Ooh, the secret past that Tom may never know about. Muahaha. I’m always happy to make fun of myself.
Alright, folks. When it is starting to get chilly outside and that mercury is dropping, you always think about adding an extra layer to your clothing, right? Maybe you put on a sweater; maybe you grab a blanket. But why don’t you do the same thing for your water heater? Ah, suddenly, light bulbs are going on across this country.
Now, your water heater, it loses plenty of heat through the outside shell that they have. So, for about $10, you can actually buy an insulating jacket that keeps the heat from escaping. They’re really easy to install and they can really save hundreds of dollars on your energy bill over the life of the heater. I mean it’s really worth it. A $10 investment and a little bit of time in your boiler room and you have got a lower energy bill.
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’ve got great ideas for a safe and spooky fall season. Get tips on safe trick-or-treating and some easy decorating in, as well; even some easy cleanup tips, on the next edition of the program.
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 2010 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.)