Learn how to make a homemade fire starter with things you find in your yard, find out how to grow vegetables indoors in your own container garden, and get tips on bath safety to prevent accidents at home. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, Hot Water Heaters, water in the basement, adjusting doors, window efficiency, installing tile and laminate flooring, refinishing cabinets, plumbing noises, revive kitchen countertops and cleaning walls.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is 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, 888-666-3974. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you turn your house from money pit to castle, in one phone call. It’s all it takes. We are home improvement magicians. You see, you think it’s difficult, you think it’s challenging, you think it’ll never get done. But if you call us, magically, it will happen at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, we’ve got a busy show planned for you. First up, do you like roaring fires this time of year? I’m sure you do. We’ve got ideas, though, on how you can make a homemade fire starter that will make starting fires very simple. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s cheap to make. We’re going to show you how, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. Tom is getting crafty.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you like the idea of fresh, locally-grown produce but can’t get it during winter, why not try growing it on your own? We’re going to have advice on how you can create your very own container garden inside your home this winter.
TOM: Nothing says spring like having a garden in the winter.
LESLIE: I know. It really does; fresh fruit, lovely greenery. Why not start your own indoor garden? Just not near the fireplace.
TOM: And start spring early. And speaking of spring, green is more popular than ever these days. And in fact, green floor finishes are all the rage and they are for some very good reasons. But there are some manufacturers that have actually been creating green finishes for generations. We’re going to talk to an expert about the ingredients that make these finishes durable, beautiful and healthy, for both you and the environment.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, as winter progresses across the country, so does the trail of corrosion and rust. That is why, this hour, we’re giving away a Liquid Wrench sample pack that’s got everything you need to keep things running smoothly at your home.
TOM: It’s worth about 20 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dan from Arkansas on the line. What can we do for you today?
DAN: Thanks so much for taking my call. I appreciate – you guys are my only hope.
TOM: Well, that’s a lot of pressure.
LESLIE: OK. And not even Obi-Wan Kenobi can help you, oh goodness.
TOM: That’s a lot of pressure, Dan.
DAN: Well, I’ve already tried Obi-Wan and he can’t help me either.
LESLIE: Oh, the pressure’s on. Alright. What’s going on?
DAN: Hey, I built a house 20 years ago and I decided to put in some French doors. I put three sets of them in. And over the years, every season – every winter and every spring – they either go up or they go down; they rub at the top or rub at the bottom. And I have tried – I’ve reset them, I’ve put wedges in them and I don’t know if I bought the wrong brand or if it’s a common problem with French doors. What do you guys think?
TOM: Well, now, how are you resetting these things? Because if you have this kind of problem, it’s usually in the jambs themselves. Were the jambs really well-attached to the frame of the house?
DAN: Yes. They’re 2x6 walls.
DAN: They were double-studded all the way around.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
DAN: And [with tacks in] (ph) I built headers out of 2x10s instead of what they generally make them out of. Now, it’s some kind of old school the way I put that together.
TOM: Right. And it’s still moving. The doors are wood?
DAN: Yes, they are. Well, actually, they’re wood but they’re in – the frames are wood but they’re the metal-type doors or they’re like a Therma-Tru door.
TOM: OK. So that’s a very good door. So you can adjust the door.
Well, look, if it’s a Therma-Tru door, you know it once fit. So, obviously, the problem is with the installation, I hate to tell you. You know, it …
DAN: OK. Alright. You’re blaming me.
TOM: I am going to have to blame you, because they don’t make them out-of-square when they come out of the factory and that’s what’s happened. They’ve gotten – and listen, don’t feel bad. Hanging a French door is probably the hardest door to hang. It’s easy to hang when you only have one door that moves and that’s hard enough. But when you have two doors and they have to move together, that’s pretty tricky.
But what’s happening here is you’re getting some swelling, clearly, and that’s causing this seasonal rubbing of the doors. And so, what I would probably do is I would probably take all the trim off on the inside and I would take a Sawzall and cut all of the fasteners that are holding that jamb to the door and start again and rehang that whole thing.
DAN: OK. That’s too simple.
TOM: Well, that’s why you called us. But you know what? Wait for warm weather, just in case you get hung up.
DAN: OK. I will absolutely do that. Thank you guys so much.
TOM: You’re welcome.
DAN: Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cindy in Michigan, you’ve got a plumbing question. How can we help you today?
CINDY: I have a hot-water heater. I’ve always had electric and it needs to be replaced. I’m wondering, due to the fact that we have a lot of minerals in our water, would it be better for me to have gas or electric or tankless or does it not make a difference?
TOM: Well, it certainly doesn’t make a difference in terms of the minerals, whether you have gas or electric. If you have the choice of gas or electric, I would always recommend that you go gas because it’s going to be a less expensive way to heat that water.
Now, in terms of if you go tank versus tankless, there is some concern that if you have very hard water, that with a tankless water heater, it can get clogged. But that said, there are a wide variety of very simple water softeners out there that you can use and many that don’t require salt, that can be attached to the plumbing system, essentially, in a series with that water heater and allow you to have a tankless water heater, which is the most efficient way of heating your water, and have one that’s not going to clog up at the same time.
CINDY: Interesting. So water softener that does not require salt?
TOM: Yeah, there’s one called EasyWater. Their website is EasyWater.com. And basically, the easiest way to understand the way it works is – you know when you have two magnets, the positive sides repel and the opposites attract? Well, essentially, what it does is it charges the minerals in the water so that they repel each other and they don’t stick. They basically – the hard water flows right through without sticking to anything. It’s pretty interesting technology and it’s got great reviews and it works – seems to work pretty well.
CINDY: Alright. Well, thanks for your information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Cindy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randall in Alabama is dealing with a leaky storm shelter. Tell us about the situation.
RANDALL: Well, yeah, I’m remodeling a house that’s about 50 years old. When the guy built it, he built it out of blocks but he didn’t seal the blocks; he just painted them. And that water is coming in and I need to stop the water.
TOM: So the water is coming into the basement, Randall?
RANDALL: Yes, it is. Coming in through a storm shelter to the basement.
TOM: And does it get much worse after you have a rainfall?
RANDALL: Yes, it does. We had a big rainfall here the other day and I had about 3 feet in there.
TOM: Wow, that’s a lot of water.
LESLIE: Wow. That’s a lot.
RANDALL: Not seeing that my sump pump went out – so I replaced the sump pump but still I need – I’m trying to seal the walls, too.
TOM: Right. OK. So, whenever you have rain, Randall, and it gets into a basement and it gets much, much worse after a rainfall, we need to really look at not so much sealing the walls but stopping the water at its source, which is going to be at the foundation perimeter.
Now, does this building have a gutter system?
RANDALL: Yes, it does.
TOM: And the downspouts, are they dropping water like most do, right at the corners of the foundation?
RANDALL: Yes, it does.
TOM: Yeah. So those are like big hypodermic needles just shooting water into that basement. So you need to – first of all, make sure that gutter system is clean and free-flowing and make sure you’ve got enough downspouts. You need one downspout for every 600 square feet of roof surface. And you want to extend those spouts out at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation perimeter; farther if you can.
And you can do this temporarily, just to prove to yourself that it works. Just go get, you know, a couple of 8-foot gutter extensions and just run that pipe out. It could look sloppy for a while but you’ll see that if you keep that water away from the foundation perimeter, that you will have no more water in your basement.
LESLIE: What a difference it makes.
TOM: That’s the number-one cause of flooding. Second to that, you look at the grading around the outside and make sure soil slopes away. But 9 out of 10 times, it’s just the gutters.
RANDALL: OK. OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. 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, home décor, home get-me-out-of-the-house-I’m-going-crazy-from-the-winter-and-it’s-only-January question. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if you’re ready for a toasty fire to warm your house, we’ve got a cheap and easy idea for a homemade fire starter that you can create from stuff around your yard.
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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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and this hour, we’re giving away a Liquid Wrench sample pack, which includes 5½-ounce versions of the 6 most popular Liquid Wrench sprays. It’s kind of a must-have for your toolbox. This way, you’ll have the right wrench for every job.
The sample pack is worth 20 bucks. It’s available nationwide at Lowe’s and other major retailers but it’s going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you with your home improvement projects and maybe you are feeling a little bit crafty this wintery weekend and you want to sit by the fire and work on a project. Well, maybe you can’t start that fire and you’re thinking, "What can I do to get my fire going, inexpensively and creatively?"
Well, you can. Pine cones, they do dry out naturally when you leave them outdoors but it takes a little bit of time. If you want to speed up the process of pine cone drying-out, you can place your pine cone in the oven. You want to make sure, though, that there’s no debris in them; no little pieces of dirt or grass or pine needles or anything. Make sure they’re free of the debris, then lay them on a foil-covered cookie sheet and you can bake them. I mean not really, because you’re only putting them in a 200-degree oven for about an hour, but that’s going to dry them out.
And pine cones make fantastic fire starters. They really do when they’re truly very dry; start up very nicely and they will help catch your other logs on fire. And if you’re feeling extra crafty, you can actually dip your pine cones in wax. Take leftover candle stubs; do a little double-pot boiler on your stove. Use a pot that you’re not going to reuse again because let me tell you, you’re never going to get the wax out of that.
But you can melt down that wax and then dip the pine cone in there. This way, when you use your pine cone as a fire starter, the pieces that are covered in the wax will sort of release that nice fragrance into the air as it helps you get that beautiful fireplace going. It’s truly an easy craft that even Tom can tackle this weekend.
I trust you.
TOM: Yes, I can. And I certainly can enjoy the fire. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nathan from Georgia on the line who’s dealing with a window issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
NATHAN: My wife and I bought a 20-year-old house and moved in about 3 years ago. And even though it has double-pane windows, I don’t think they’re very efficient.
NATHAN: Instead of replacing all the windows, I was thinking of possibly purchasing storm windows; the storm windows that used to be popular 30, 40 years ago. And I was wondering if that would be cost-effective.
TOM: Certainly. It’s less expensive than a total replacement window but by the way, you can buy either exterior storm windows or interior storm windows. Both serve the same purpose of cutting back on drafts.
NATHAN: And the interior ones would probably look better.
TOM: Yes, that’s right. Mm-hmm. And they could probably be a lot easier to install, too. In any case, they’re going to be made to fit.
NATHAN: They’re custom-made.
TOM: Right. They’re pretty much all custom-made. You know, it’s not a situation where custom means expensive. They’re all custom-made, just like replacement windows today. They’re all custom-made.
NATHAN: Well, they’d certainly be easier to install, that’s for sure, so I don’t have to get on a ladder.
NATHAN: Yeah. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Terri in Mississippi who’s got a 1920s house and is looking to modernize the bath with river rock. How can we help with the project?
TERRI: Well, I wanted to know if it was feasible. What do you use to hold it down and do you grout it?
LESLIE: Hmm. I’ve used river rock on an exterior application. I did it in sort of a covered walkway up to a house in Florida. It’s beautiful. Is your bath sort of like an open shower? Does it have a spa-like feeling or are we talking about a half-bath off a kitchen?
TERRI: No, it’s a full bath but it’s a very, very old house and we’re having the problem of not being able to use ceramic tile or travertine or anything because it’s so unlevel. And we’ve tried to level it and the house is still sinking, evidently.
TOM: Oh, so it’s still moving.
TERRI: Yes, it’s still moving after all of these years.
TOM: Most old houses have uneven floors and the solution to that is the same solution that they’ve been using for probably close to 100 years and that’s the mud floor, where you pour a thin layer of concrete about an inch thick. It’s actually called …
LESLIE: To even out the space.
TOM: That’s right and it’s a mud floor or a mortar floor and that’s reinforced with woven wire mesh, which helps it absorb a little bit of the movement in the house. And that makes it perfectly flat. That’s why sometimes bathrooms have a little bit of a higher saddle when you walk up to them.
LESLIE: That’s why my kitchen is 2 inches higher than the rest of the house.
TOM: Yeah, in an older house. So that’s an opportunity for you if you want to do that. Of course, the river rock’s an option, as well, and it’s kind of cool but it has certain areas where it fits well and other areas where it doesn’t.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, when you’re doing a mud floor as your base for tile, do you use that as your mastic or do you let that set and then put a tile adhesive on top of that?
TOM: Yes. No, you let that set and dry – completely dry – and then you use a thinset adhesive on top of that and that adheres it to the mud floor. But I’m telling you, it’s a lifetime floor when you do it right. I mean it’s gorgeous.
LESLIE: And Terri, the river rock, it’s beautiful. You can purchase it from a variety of vendors. I’ve seen it at home centers; I’ve seen it online. I think when I got it I bought it online, because this was a few years back before it was kind of a mainstay and the trend.
TERRI: Well, I’m going to do it. Everyone thought I was crazy but I moved to this small town a few years ago and – because I liked the land – and I found this old house and I’ve been working on it for years but I think that would be beautiful.
LESLIE: It’s gorgeous.
TOM: Well, go with your gut, Terri. You will definitely be the talk of the town.
TERRI: I already am.
TOM: I believe it. Terri, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rod in Nebraska is calling with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?
ROD: I was wondering what you could put on your laminate floor to make them shine more.
TOM: Hmm. A laminate floor, huh?
ROD: Yes. I didn’t know if there was a varnish you could put on them or something like that.
TOM: No, no, no, no, no, no. You can’t varnish them; you can only clean them.
ROD: OK. What’s the best purpose for that?
LESLIE: Do you know, offhand, the manufacturer? Is this something that you put in or was it just …?
ROD: Yes, I put – I bought it from like the Lowe’s or Menards or something like that and I put it in myself.
LESLIE: OK. Is it their own brand or is it like Armstrong or …?
ROD: It would say T-a-r-j-e-t-t.
TOM: Yeah, Tarkett is actually a good brand and they have a cleaning solution that’s specifically designed for their floor. It’s called the Tarkett SureShine cleaning solution. And if you just go to Google and type in "Tarkett SureShine cleaning solution," you’re going to find dozens of stores that sell it.
ROD: Okie-dokie. That’s what it all – I’ll get on the computer and see what I can find.
TOM: Alright. There you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jane in Washington has a furnace that’s acting up. What’s going on?
JANE: Yes. My igniter went on my gas furnace and I wanted to know how much I should pay to get it fixed, if I’m going to be, you know – what’s being overcharged?
TOM: Do you have a service contract for your heating system?
JANE: No, I don’t.
TOM: Yeah, unfortunately …
JANE: I left it run – it’s about 15 years old but I left it run out last year.
TOM: Yeah, OK. Well, the biggest expense is going to be the service call itself and in your area, you’re probably talking at least 100 bucks, I would think, for the guy to come out; just to walk in the door.
The part itself shouldn’t be that expensive. I would imagine the whole thing could be fixed for maybe a couple hundred.
LESLIE: You know what, Jane? It might even just be worth it, once this is said and done, to renew your service contract. I’m a big believer in it. When we first bought our house, we did not have a service contract and we had some major heating issues that year and it cost a lot of money and we had to wait a long time for somebody to come to the house.
And with the service contract, which runs between 200 and 300 bucks for the year, you can have somebody at your house for hours upon hours; pretty much every part under the sun is covered. And for a nice tip at the end of the job, it’s done and it’s done fast and I never have to worry that if it’s 3:00 in the morning and something goes on, I can reach out. We have a 35-year-old boiler.
TOM: Have you talked to your utility company about whether or not they have any kind of amnesty program? Because some companies will let you renew a service contract when something breaks down, as long as you continue it.
JANE: Oh, really?
TOM: Yeah, you might want to ask that …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And have been a member for a while.
TOM: Yeah, you might want to ask that question.
JANE: Because, yeah, I’ve had it since – I mean I’ve had it forever and then I thought, "Oh, I just (inaudible at 0:18:55)."
TOM: Well, tell them it was an oversight and tell them that you had it for a long time and you didn’t realize it had run out and as luck would have it, you have a breakdown and see if they can help you address it.
JANE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Doesn’t hurt to ask.
JANE: I’m going to try that. No, I’m going to try it.
TOM: Alright. Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, refinishing your floors can be one smelly, messy job but it’s one that is less so if you choose a green finish. We’re going to have tips on how you can do just that, next.
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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. And thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. You know, we know many of you like to build wood projects; maybe you love to finish wood and make beautiful things.
And if you do, you’re probably very familiar with something called tung oil. In fact, it’s an ancient method of protecting and sealing wood, dating as far back as the 14thcentury and today, that very same ingredient, tung oil, is used for its natural qualities and its green sensibilities.
TOM: And one company, in particular, has been using this ingredient in stains and finishes for 100 years. Here to tell us about that is Kellie Hawkins Schaffner. Kellie is the vice president and fourth-generation leader of Waterlox Coatings.
KELLIE: Hello. Thank you for having me.
TOM: So you literally have grown up with tung oil, haven’t you?
KELLIE: I have, I have. You could say that it keeps us young.
TOM: Not too many people can say that. Well, Waterlox was actually created, as I understand it, by your great-grandfather, back in 1910. That’s some story.
KELLIE: That’s correct. Waterlox, back in 1910, was founded by my great-grandfather, R. L. Hawkins, Sr. Back then, we were named The Empire Varnish Company and as Leslie indicated, Waterlox, back then, discovered the values of tung oil and incorporated it into our formulas.
For the most part, we produce our handmade formulas the exact same way today, 100 years later. We are still a family-owned US company and my father, Jay Hawkins, is the current CEO and he’s worked at Waterlox for over 35 years.
TOM: That is so great to hear, especially in this day and age.
Now, we asked you to be on the program because tung is actually a very, very green finishing solution and we’re all very interested in being environmentally-friendly these days and also being very conscious of our environmental footprint. Talk to us about how – what tung oil is, how it works and why it’s a good finish for lots of wood projects around the house.
KELLIE: Well, the tung oil is pressed from the nut of the tung tree and of course, the tung tree is indigenous to China and South America. And the studies show that of all the drying oils – such as soya oil, linseed oil, (inaudible at 0:22:21) and other – tung oil has the best penetrating characteristics, so finishes containing tung oil can produce a penetrating coating that remains elastic and will not darken with age.
TOM: And that’s something that we typically have to deal with because when you use the old varnish finishes, they turn yellow pretty quickly because of all the UV exposure. But tung oil doesn’t do that?
KELLIE: Correct. The reason that a lot of the old oils yellow over time is because they contain linseed oil. And linseed oil is pressed from the flax seed, which is very available in United States and most US coatings are made from the flax seed. So that’s why you’ll see those coatings yellow over time, because most of them are based in linseed oil.
LESLIE: Now, do you all press your own oil from the nuts or do you receive the oil in oil form?
KELLIE: We actually receive the oil in oil form.
LESLIE: It was just so interesting to me. I’m amazed that this grows in China, it has such wonderful properties and your family has done a wonderful job of incorporating this into the stains and finishes.
Now, are you able to achieve different colors, different types of sheen using the tung oil or are you limited to a certain style of finish?
KELLIE: Well, tung oil itself – and I guess I should also preface this by saying tung oil is one of the main ingredients in our products. We add to that phenolic resin, which is a man-made resin. Back in the day, it used to be used to make utensil handles and pot and pan handles and ashtrays and buttons. So, ours is a resin-modified tung oil, which is different from other tung oils that you might see on the market; 100-percent tung oil or something of that nature.
And so, you’re going to get what we call a natural patina color of the wood. It’s actually going to bring out the beauty of the wood and it’s not going to look really sort of plastic-y or have sort of a surface finish, if you will, which you get from surface finishes like polyurethanes or waterborne urethanes.
TOM: OK. Got it.
KELLIE: Waterlox doesn’t actually make any products with colorants in them but they do go over top of any – an old-fashioned oil-based stain, for example. And we do manufacture three different sheen levels.
LESLIE: Are you able to apply this – I know so many more manufacturers are creating water-based stains. Can you sort of mix the two and put this on top of a water-based stain or do you really need to stick with an oil base?
KELLIE: No. Water or oil will work; you just want to try to stick with a stain that’s going to allow the pores to still be available, so that Waterlox can penetrate. So, typically, we suggest something other than a gel-type stain or a stain that would have a film former in it.
LESLIE: Any tips or tricks to how to get the perfect finish? Do you want to go several coats, sanding in between, or do you just go with one?
KELLIE: It’ll depend on the project that’s being done and the species of wood that’s being finished. If it’s a wood floor, for example, which is Waterlox’s largest market, you’d have somewhere between three and four coats of finish. An oak, for example, which is a harder wood, would be 3 coats of 500 square feet per gallon per coat. A pine or a Doug fir and some American cherry, because it’s a softer wood, would have one more coat or four total coats for the finish.
TOM: Well, very interesting. Kellie Hawkins Schaffner, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
The company is called Waterlox Coating. Kellie is a fourth-generation member of the family that started this company way back in the year 1910.
And look, you were way ahead of your time because, today, everyone wants to do green and you guys have been doing green now for 100 years.
KELLIE: Well, thanks so much for having me. Again, I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kellie. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
You like more tips on Waterlox Coating, you can go to their website at Waterlox.com. That’s Water – l-o-x – .com.
LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, we’ve got a great way to get fresh produce all year round. We’re going to teach you how to create an indoor container garden, next.
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TOM: 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 you should give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are going to help you get all of your home improvement projects done. Alright, we’re going to keep you to one question when you call in but if you’ve got more, we’ll give you follow-ups and we will help you get all of those projects done.
But one lucky caller this hour is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away a Liquid Wrench sample pack and it includes 5½-ounce versions of the 6 most popular Liquid Wrench sprays. Now this is really a must-have for your toolbox. You’re always going to have the right wrench for every job and the Liquid Wrench sample 6-pack retails for about 20 bucks – yours for free if you’re our lucky caller this hour – and it’s available nationwide at Lowe’s and many other major retailers.
TOM: Well, lots of us do our own form of container gardening, like house plants? But container gardening is not just limited to these decorative elements. With the right light, the right soil and the right pot, you can grow herbs and even some vegetables all year long.
LESLIE: That’s right. You’re going to need a location, though, with good lighting. Sometimes you have to have as much as six hours of direct sunlight a day for certain vegetables to grow and thrive. You’re also going to need room for these containers, because they’re going to be about 18 inches in diameter and some of them are going to be about 18 inches deep.
Now, watering is important, too. So you’re going to need to sort out some sort of drainage system. You can actually get mini-greenhouses available online these days and with more people container gardening, seed companies are working on vegetables specifically bred for containers to be grown indoors.
So if fresh veggies sound great to you in the middle of winter, why not give it a try? I mean what are you going to lose? Give it a month to get a fruit.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Jocelyn in Utah is looking to put her house on the market and wants to revamp her kitchen cabinets. How can we help?
JOCELYN: I have 1970s cabinets. They’re really, really dark. I’ve started taking the varnish off. Now I don’t know what else to do with them.
TOM: You got halfway through the project.
JOCELYN: A friend of mine told me to paint them and crackle but I’m not sure. I would like to resell the house and I want the best look possible and I don’t know what type of paint to use.
LESLIE: Alright. Are you at a point where the old cabinet is ready to accept a new treatment or do you still need some more work there?
JOCELYN: I’m still working on them. I have half a kitchen to go but I’m ready to start at least on the part that’s bare wood now.
LESLIE: OK. Crackling is a really nice effect. What you can do with a crackle paint is you would paint a base color – and it can be something in a similar tone; it can be something super-contrasty – like you could do a chocolate brown and then the crackle paint and then a white on top of that, so it gets an interesting sort of contrast underneath that crackle. It is a very specific look and if you’re dealing with a kitchen that sort of has a vintage-y, country feel, it could be very nice.
I think a big trend that we’re seeing in kitchen design are super-light, very clean cabinets. So I think if you have an opportunity to paint the cabinets a beautiful tone of a white or a vanilla –something in that off-whitish area – just to kind of make the kitchen space pop and feel bigger and feel much cleaner, I think that’s going to be very successful; plus, a neutral space is very nice.
And if you’re having a hard time with some of the doors, you might want to think about replacing maybe two of the doors, maybe in a key area along the line of cabinets, with something that has a glass front, also, just to sort of break up the space and give it something a little bit more focal-pointed or feature-y in that line of cabinets.
JOCELYN: Oh, OK. That sounds neat.
LESLIE: It’s a nice project and if you take the doors off, make sure that you label everything so you know exactly which door and which drawer front go where. And leave the hinges on one of the items – either on the door or on the cabinet box itself – so this way you know exactly what goes where; you’re not readjusting screws. You know, put some painter’s tape on the backside of the cabinet door and on the inside of the cabinet box and put like "Door A" so you know where things go.
TOM: And get it done, Jocelyn. And think of the good things about how much money you’re going to save on takeout food when you get the kitchen done.
JOCELYN: I know. I’m tired of eating out.
TOM: I bet. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nicky in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
NICKY: Hi. I have a question about banging/clanging in my walls when the heat is on.
TOM: Is it a poltergeist? Do you have ghosts?
NICKY: Hey, I hope not.
TOM: So, does it happen when your heat first comes on or goes off?
NICKY: The heating system is not on any kind of heating schedule.
NICKY: It’s just these units and we control them so they’re never touched, actually. They’re maintained at a certain degree and that’s it but at night, it seems to happen.
NICKY: So it’s not like …
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, is it a hot-air heating system, Nicky? Forced air?
TOM: OK. So …
NICKY: It’s the baseboard, yep.
TOM: Well, no, no. Now, if it’s a baseboard, it’s not forced-air. If it’s baseboard, it’s probably hot water.
NICKY: Oh. Right, OK. Sorry.
TOM: Hot water. OK.
NICKY: Yeah, that’s right.
TOM: Well, it’s important because if it’s a forced-air system, the banging can be caused by one thing and if it’s hot water, it’s different. If it’s forced air – for those that have forced air that are listening to this call – very often you get something called oil canning where the heating system goes on and fills up the duct system like a balloon and then the ducts expand and pop and make a noise. And you can reinforce the ducts with strips of metal on the outside to stop that from happening.
With a hot-water system, you either have – let’s see, baseboards; so it’s probably not steam. What’s probably happening here is you’ve got some pipes that are inserted through the walls to get to the radiators and what happens is when the heat comes on, the pipes expand and they rub against the studded wall; they rub against the wall where it comes through. And as a result of that, you get this really loud, creaking sound that resonates throughout all of the pipes and amplifies itself.
So, the solution there is to try to trace the hot-water lines where they’re coming through the walls. And there’s like a plastic bushing that can go around the pipe and sort of acts like a lubricant in a way that when the pipe heats up and expands, it doesn’t drag across the dry wood and make that horrible banging sound.
NICKY: OK. Sounds like a solution. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I don’t think Nicky was that confident in my solution.
But it’ll work. Try it.
LESLIE: I think she wanted there to be a poltergeist.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up, we’ve got ideas for changing the look of a dated kitchen countertop, without the work and without the expense of replacing it. You’ve got to love that, 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. And we are so thrilled to see that so many of you are posting your questions to us in the new Community section over at MoneyPit.com. It really is a great way for all of our listeners to connect with each other, share their own tips and ideas and it’s also a place where we can welcome guest bloggers. And we would love to see your before-and-after photos of all the projects you’re working on, so check it out, post your photos, write a tip, give some people advice. We’re happy to see what everybody’s working on, so make sure you check out the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
And while you’re there, post your question. Let us know what you’re working on and we can give you a hand. And I’ve got a post here from Quina who writes: "Is it possible to paint laminate-type countertops and what would I use?"
TOM: Well, it’s certainly possible to paint them and there’s actually a number of paints out right now that work for laminate countertops.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really depends on what you want the finished look to be. You know, Rust-Oleum has a counter paint product. It comes in a quart; it comes in about 12 or 15, maybe, solid colors. It’s a 2 or 3-step process; it takes several days to cure. But once it dries, it dries hard as a rock. Modern Masters has one that is a granite finish. It really depends on how crafty and how much you want to spend up-front but it could be an easy project. Just make sure you follow the directions and you’ll have a great job.
TOM: Now I’ve got a post here from – DoubleMommy is her user name – and DoubleMommy says, "I recently had a small kitchen fire confined to my toaster oven and had to use the fire extinguisher. The combination of smoke and chemical smell has not dissipated from the house. What can I do to clear the air?"
Wow. The problem with smoke is that it gets into every piece of everything: it gets into the cabinets, it gets into the clothes, it gets into everything.
LESLIE: It even gets into the filler on your upholstery.
TOM: Right. You really need, in terms of the kitchen, probably to repaint the walls because the walls tend to be very absorbent. And what I would do is I would recommend that you use a good oil-based primer. And then, also, make sure that you take everything out of the cabinets and clean them very thoroughly and those two things, I think, will take care of the smell in that area.
LESLIE: Alright. And be careful with that toaster oven, DoubleMommy.
TOM: She had her hands full with two kids.
LESLIE: I can imagine.
TOM: Well, January is officially Bath Safety Month and although there seems to be a month devoted to awareness for just about every problem, this one certainly deserves some attention. Falls at home injure millions of Americans every year and Leslie has some tips on how to prevent those accidents, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. There’s a bunch of simple things that you can do very inexpensively in your bathroom at home, that’s going to make it a lot safer. First of all, you want to make sure that you use a non-slip mat or even just install those adhesive safety strips or even the decals in your bathtubs and your showers. And if you do use a bath mat on the floor, make sure you choose one that has a non-skid bottom on the underside, so that when you do step out of the shower, it doesn’t go slippy-slidey (ph) across your tile floor.
You also can install grab bars in your bath or even in your shower stalls. Don’t use regular towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars, because they are not installed to support that amount of weight or pressure. I mean they’re pretty much just, ooh, band-aided onto the wall; not meant to really hold onto. If you’re going to use a grab bar, those things get really installed properly, very deeply into the studs on the wall and they will support a lot of weight. So don’t just grab at whatever’s there if it’s not actually a grab bar.
Next, you want to make sure that you keep the floor clean and dry. If anything happens to spill on the floor, make sure you clean them up, whether it’s grease or water or oils or soaps. Just get that up off of the floor right away.
If you use throw rugs in your bathroom or even anywhere in your home, you want to make sure that you place them over a rug liner or choose rugs that come with non-skid backings. This is going to reduce your chance of slipping, which really is a very common trip-and-fall hazard, so just watch the rugs around your house.
If you need some more ideas on making your whole house safer, why not check our article "Preventing Falls At Home" at MoneyPit.com?
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we are heading to the site of the latest This Old House renovation. It is the final shoot day and we will be there to capture it all. It’s a home on the banks of the Charles River, near Boston, and we’ll be talking to the entire This Old House team. Don’t miss another great wrap-party edition of This Old House and The Money Pit, next time on the program.
TOM: 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 2011 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.)