Learn how to find and fix roof leaks. Get insider secrets on how to clean windows just in time for your spring cleaning checklist. Find out how to seal air leaks to avoid another chilly, drafty winter at your house. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, deck materials, appliance repair, duct cleaning, water heaters, wood floor installation, Preparing walls near tubs, gophers and moles, repairing a porch, drafty windows, cold basements, mold.
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: Time to pick up the tools and get to work. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We know as you look around your house – as you look around your yard – there are many things that are on your spring to-do list. Let us help you get them done. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with that project. We’ll talk you through it, give you some tips, some advice, some ideas, maybe some places to go to find stuff that you need to get it done once, get it done right. And then you can spread out the lawn chair and just hang out when it starts to get a bit warmer out.
We’ve got a busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, a wet, rainy spring season that we have had can sometimes lead to a leaky roof. Actually, the leak was probably always there but you needed a good soaking to find it. That’s a sure-fire way of finding leaks; just give a really heavy rain with a wind behind it and it will show up where you never knew it existed.
TOM: Which makes finding those roof leaks and trying to figure out what you need to do to fix them pretty tricky. But we’ve got some tricks of our own to help you pinpoint where that water is coming in and we will have those for you, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, right now, a spring-cleaning frenzy is going on at my house and maybe you guys have spring-cleaning fever, as well. Well, if you do, you just don’t want to forget that one part of your home that takes a beating all year long and that’s your windows. I’m going to share some great cleaning tips so that you can see that beautiful, spring sun as clearly as possible.
TOM: And whether you are a weekend warrior or a full-time contractor, your phone is an important part of the job. But DIYers and contractors alike know that their phones need to be able to take a beating like no other. And believe us, we have tossed our phones quite a few times on projects that we have tackled around our money pits.
LESLIE: In places they should not have been.
TOM: But we’ve got details, though, on a brand new mobile phone that is made specifically for home improvers, that is so tough it’s considered military-grade. We’re going to tell you all about that, a little later in the show.
LESLIE: Plus, the month of April means Earth Day and we are giving away a great prize that will help you green your home and save some money, too. It’s the do-it-yourself, home-energy-and-water-saving kit from AM Conservation and it’s worth more than $60.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Don in Michigan is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you?
DON: Hey, guys. I’ve got a 20-foot by 18-foot Trex deck.
DON: A first-floor deck, so it’s about 5 feet off the ground.
DON: And in the winter, I get a rise in the middle of it.
TOM: When you say a rise, you mean it sort of swells or what?
DON: Yeah. It sort of seems as if it’s pushed up right in the middle, about 4 feet from the house; straight up, right underneath one of the 4x4s that holds it up. There are 4x4s under the middle and then around the periphery. And it – I mean only in the winter and it rises up about 2 inches.
TOM: Right. So, I wonder if the footing that’s right under that isn’t deep enough. Because if it’s not deep enough, when it freezes, it’s going to raise that 4x4 post. And as it raises the post, it’s going to push it up and pick up the deck at the same time. That footing has got to be 3 foot below grade so that it gets down below the frost line.
DON: Interesting, interesting. None of the others do that but this one might.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe it was the one that was the hardest to dig or something and it stopped a big short and – yeah.
LESLIE: So they just gave up. "That’s good enough."
DON: Yeah, it’s the one closest to our house. Yeah, interesting.
TOM: What you’re describing is – could be the frost cycle.
DON: Oh, OK. Terrific, terrific.
DON: So I guess the idea would be to maybe dig that post up and reset it or would it …?
TOM: Reset it, exactly. Reset it, yep. Mm-hmm. Yeah and the nice thing about the Trex deck is you could probably pull a few of those boards off and work from the top if it’s easier to get in that way or – can you get under this deck, since it’s about 5 feet off the ground? So you’ve got enough room to get under there and work?
DON: Yeah. It’s where I store my lawn tractor and …
TOM: Oh, OK. Alright. So then, yeah, if you can get down there and – you know, what you want to do is dig a hole right next to the one that we think is not deep enough. And then, once it’s plenty deep enough, you could sort of move the post over there, assuming there’s no seam on top of it.
DON: Oh, yeah. No, no seam.
DON: Terrific, terrific.
TOM: Alright, Don. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Marley from South Carolina on the line with a refrigerator so cold it’s freezing everything in there. Tell us what’s going on.
MARLEY: It’s the bottom drawer; the lower drawer. I cannot use it. I can’t put vegetables in there because they all freeze.
TOM: OK, well, have you adjusted the temperature? Have you tried to make the temperature a bit higher in the refrigerator itself?
MARLEY: Yes, I have. I went from the center, which is five, to four and that made no difference.
TOM: OK. OK. OK. Now, the second thing is, have you taken the drawers all apart and have you cleaned behind them? Because usually there’s a vent back there that helps to circulate the air. If it gets clogged, then that could cause the freezing problem. Because refrigerators work just like heating systems or cooling systems in the sense that they do circulate some air. And if the vents are …
LESLIE: To keep things evenly temperate.
TOM: Right. If the vents are clogged or shut, then that could be the problem. So I would take everything out of there, do a real thorough job cleaning it and see if that solves it. And if it doesn’t solve it, then the next thing that you may have wrong with this is you may have a bad thermostat. And with respect to that, can you tell me how old the refrigerator is?
MARLEY: It’s probably six years old.
TOM: Well, it might be worth the cost of a service call to get the thermostat fixed or replaced, because it’s fairly new.
MARLEY: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very 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. Well, spring is definitely in the air and thank goodness for that. If you are working on your spring home improvement projects, let us give you a hand with that. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we’ve got your insider secrets for making window cleaning easy. We’ll have steps to help you get rid of all of that winter dirt and grime, coming up after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And we want you to be part of The Money Pit fun, so pick up your phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we will help you with your home improvement question. But we’re also giving away a great prize.
We’ve got up for grabs a do-it-yourself, deluxe home-energy-savings kit. And nearly half of your home’s energy bills are spent on your heating and cooling costs and that’s a lot. But the switch-plate energy saver can help. It not only seals out those drafts but it includes a thermometer to make sure that your home’s temperature remains in the optimum green zone.
Now, the kit is worth more than 60 bucks and it includes several energy-saving products from AM Conservation, so give us a call …
TOM: They’re morning people.
LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. All the time. They’re super-chipper, so don’t be surprised if you call them and they’re like, "Hey!" But give us a call for your chance to win, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, are you ready for spring cleaning? What? You haven’t started yet? Well, if you haven’t, don’t forget those windows because after a long winter, a lot of dirt, grime and even salt and sand from your driveway can accumulate on those windows. And it’s not just the glass that gets dirty; it’s the vinyl around the glass that can get kind of nasty-looking. You know, it really gets pretty gross, especially if they’re in that very popular color of white which, of course, shows everything.
But one thing that you can do to help get them ready to clean is to use cotton socks, one of my tricks of the trade. I like to put those on the hands, because you can get in all of those corners and the grooves as you work your way around those frames. So you clean the glass with the towels but when it comes to the vinyl frames, cotton socks do really well.
LESLIE: You are super-smart when it comes to all those cleaning tips. When are you coming over to do the windows at my house, Tom?
TOM: Oh, just to test the theory to see if it really works?
LESLIE: Yeah, I’d like to see since, clearly, I can’t do it since it’s your theory.
But really, guys, that’s a great tip and it’s really helpful, so you don’t have to throw away any of those socks that you’ve got kicking around that are looking a little worse for the wear. Darn up any holes, stick them on your hands and get to cleaning.
Now, the experts at Simonton Windows say that you can use just about any multi-purpose, household cleaner on vinyl windows, such as Fantastic, Formula 409, Lestoil or even a liquid cleanser. But to get the glass on your windows sparkling again, you can use window cleaner. But if you feel like trying something a little different, you can use a light combination of white vinegar and water. And then what you want to use to clean it, newspaper really works the best but paper towels will do just fine.
If you want some more ideas on keeping your windows at your home clean, visit Simonton.com.
TOM: And by the way, if you’re thinking about new windows for your home, stop by MoneyPit.com because right on the home page, we have our free replacement-window guide, which is actually a free bonus chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. And you can download it right there from the home page of MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Paul in Arkansas is on the line with a leak from the garage. Tell us what’s going on.
PAUL: When we have snow and ice on our vehicles and we pull into the garage and shut the door, the – all that snow and ice melts and turns into water; puddles on the floor. And the garage is sloped just a bit, I guess, towards the house. And I guess it’s seeping or running underneath that wall that separates the house from the garage and it’s soaking our carpet.
TOM: Wow. Boy, you must have a lot of stuff dripping off that car.
PAUL: Well, at times we do. And we’ve lived here two years and just recently started having this problem.
TOM: Right. Well, there should be a sealer underneath the wall plate when that wall is framed and it might be that that’s missing and giving it an easy entrée. What I think I might try to do is pull off the baseboard molding, if you have it on the garage side. And I would use expandable polystyrene foam, like the GREAT STUFF? And I would try to foam that gap between the floor and the wall.
And the trick here is to let the foam dry, because it’ll be really gooey and puffy. Then after it’s dried, you can come back with a utility knife or a file or a rasp and sort of clean it up against the wall. Then you could put the trim back up. And that should seal that gap nicely, at least enough to keep the water puddles from getting under the wall, until they have a chance to dry out.
PAUL: OK. So that foam is pretty much waterproof then?
TOM: Yes, absolutely.
PAUL: OK. Great.
TOM: It’s pretty much indestructible. We’re pretty sure it’s going to be here for the next millennium.
LESLIE: It’s going to outlive all of us.
PAUL: Well, that sounds great. I sure appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DONNA: We had the most unseasonable cold in record history in our part of the world this year and we’re looking at doing wood flooring downstairs. We’ve completed the upstairs.
DONNA: And on the upstairs, where we had subflooring, we put cork between it and the preattached foam that went on back of the boards.
DONNA: On a slab – and I know there’s varying things but on a slab is – what can we do, aside from that flimsy, little piece of foam that’s glued to the back of those boards? What else can we do that can insulate against cold on the slab?
TOM: Well, you can first put down a vapor barrier and then you – there’s special types of underlayment that’s designed for – what kind of flooring are you putting down? Laminate floor?
DONNA: We did laminate upstairs because there’s not that much traffic.
TOM: Right. But what do you want to put downstairs?
DONNA: But we were thinking about doing real wood downstairs.
TOM: You want to put real wood on top of concrete?
DONNA: Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah, you can’t do that. You have to use engineered hardwood. You can’t use solid hardwood on top of concrete, because it’s too damp and it’ll buckle. So, underneath the engineered hardwood, you’re going to use an underlayment there. And that sort of comes in a roll and it’s like a thin insulation and that’ll help a little bit. But if it’s that uncomfortable, because of the temperature, then I think you’re going to have to supplement this with some area rugs.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Warren on the line who is building a deck in his yard. How can we help you with that project?
WARREN: Well, I appreciate you taking my call. We’re building a 12x12 deck over the grass in the backyard. And I don’t want to be – it’s only going to be about 18 to 22 inches off the ground – and I don’t want to be worrying with the grass underneath the deck, about growing and everything. What can I do to stop that grass from continuing to grow underneath the deck?
TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, you could spray all of the grass with Roundup before …
LESLIE: Just kill it.
TOM: Right. Just kill it off before you build the deck. Then secondly, after the deck is done, you can spread some mulch down there. And between that …
LESLIE: And would you want to use weed blocker right below that?
TOM: I guess you could. You could probably lay some weed block down and then put mulch over it and that ought to do it. And since it’s only 20 inches off the ground, the hot ticket would be to do this after you frame it but before you deck it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Just pour it right through.
WARREN: Ah, yeah.
TOM: Alright? Because that’s when it’s easiest to work around it.
WARREN: How long would it end up – kill it?
TOM: It’s one shot does it.
LESLIE: It’s not coming back, yeah.
TOM: Just be really careful, because it gets right into the plant; plant itself. It gets down to the roots. Just be careful of overspray or you’ll end up killing the grass on the other – where the deck is not going to be and that’s not what you want to have happen. So be careful, especially if it’s windy out when you spray this stuff.
WARREN: Well, I’ll wait until it’s not windy.
TOM: That would be the idea.
WARREN: And I appreciate it. I thought I’d have to dig up all that grass and things.
WARREN: I really appreciate it. I love the show.
TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for saying that.
LESLIE: Rita in Illinois is calling in with an HVAC question. What can we do for you?
RITA: Yes. I was wondering how you feel about having someone vacuum out your hot and cold furnace vents.
TOM: Your heating ducts.
TOM: Yeah, I – we don’t really feel strongly about that. I think that what we do recommend is a good-quality, electronic air cleaner on your system. But unless you’re having construction done in the house, where you’ve generated a lot of – an excessive amount of dust, I don’t really feel like duct cleaning is necessary.
RITA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much. My husband will be glad to hear that.
RITA: Save us some money.
TOM: Alright. Tell him he’s got some more money now to take you out to dinner. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: I tell you, all those advertisements you get in the mail can really be alarming.
TOM: Yeah. It’s excessive.
LESLIE: You see these dirty, dirty ducts and oh, my gosh, everything’s in danger if you don’t clean them out.
TOM: Yep, exactly.
LESLIE: And that’s your first instinct is to follow them but don’t.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And a lot of times, they’re warning you about mold and things like that.
LESLIE: And health risks.
TOM: And if you had mold in your ducts, about the worst thing you would want to do is vacuum it and loosen all that up and send it – make it airborne.
LESLIE: Rod in Colorado needs some help with a water-heater purchase. What’s going on?
ROD: Well, I have a gas hot-water heater that’s about 21 years old.
LESLIE: Wow, OK.
ROD: And it’s starting to slow down on recovery, so I think it’s time to replace it. So my question is, I’m looking at replacing it with another gas hot-water heater or maybe switching over to either an instantaneous or – I’ve read a little bit about a heat-pump water heater but I’m not sure about those. I want the most efficient but that also has good recovery.
TOM: Right. OK. So, right now you do have natural gas, correct?
ROD: That’s correct. Yes.
TOM: Alright. So then, what we would recommend is a high-efficiency, gas water heater or a gas tankless water heater. And that’s going to supply an unlimited amount of hot water – a tankless will – properly sized and installed. And that would be the most efficient way to go.
Now, the heat-pump water heaters are new on the market and they’re an excellent option. But I don’t think that I would recommend that you forgo a gas water heater to put an electric heat-pump water heater. If you have an electric water heater now, that’s a way that you can get something that’s two or three times as efficient. But since you already have gas, I would continue with the gas but I would install a tankless water heater.
ROD: How efficient are those?
TOM: Incredibly efficient. They only heat water as you need it; they don’t store water. That’s the difference.
ROD: Wow. And then with those, basically you don’t have to worry about recovery. It should – you would have unlimited hot water, correct?
TOM: You absolutely would because that’s the way it works. You call for hot water, it bakes the hot water right there – heats the hot water right there – sends it down the pipe and then it stops heating.
ROD: Does it require a larger supply of gas than I currently use for my hot-water heater?
TOM: It requires a slightly bigger pipe but it uses less gas.
LESLIE: It just uses a burst of it.
TOM: Instead of a ¾-inch gas line, it needs a 1-inch gas line, so there’s a little bit of replumbing involved. But overall, it uses less gas.
ROD: Wow. OK. I hadn’t even thought of that one and …
TOM: Yeah. That’s what – I would look at the water heaters that are made by Rheem – R-h-e-e-m – or Rinnai. Both good brands, OK?
ROD: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, a wet spring can lead to a leaky roof. But to fix it, you’ve got to find it. We’re going to show you how to do that, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.
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 we’d love for you to join The Money Pit community. Not only are we on air, we’re also online. And there you’ll find all of your fellow DIYers posting their home improvement questions and helping each other answer those home improvement questions.
In fact, we have a whole cadre of professional home inspectors stopping by now, Leslie, thanks to our friends at the American Society of Home Inspectors. You will see many, many new experts on the site, beginning pretty much immediately. Those guys have been doing a great job answering your home improvement questions.
LESLIE: That’s great.
TOM: So if you’ve got one, head on over to MoneyPit.com, post it right there and we or one of our crack team of home improvement experts will get back to you with an answer.
LESLIE: Mike in North Carolina has a tub question. How can we help you take a dip?
MIKE: My question deals with these prefab, vinyl bathroom or tubs that are put in houses and I’m getting ready to buy one.
MIKE: That the drywall matches up against the top of the tub.
MIKE: And I’m 6’3", my son is 6’3" and when you take a shower, water splashes and I’ve noticed that – become my passion that these – all these bathrooms have like water damage where the drywall has been rotted or fall apart. So, I’m trying to find out what’s the best thing I can do to prevent this? Tile it and then grout it or is there some other solution?
TOM: Well, how old are the houses that you’re looking at, Mike? When were they built?
MIKE: Oh, they’re five, six years old. They’re not very old at all. They’re pretty new houses but they all have the same type of vinyl tub in them.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that’s exactly what I expected. Anything that’s between 5 and 10 years old, they may have used greenboard; it’s like a "waterproof" or water-resistant drywall. But it absolutely isn’t because, as you’ve noticed, the water hits it and it eventually disintegrates.
So what you’re going to end up doing is taking the drywall down and putting up a tile underlayment product like Dens Armor or something like that that is water-resistant and then retiling on top of that. That’s option one.
The second option is to put in a liner. And even though some liners can look really cheap and kind of junky …
LESLIE: Like the vinyl surround liners?
TOM: Yeah but what I was going to say is you can buy a high-end liner made of Corian. And if that’s the case, that could go on top of the existing drywall, as long as you have enough of it to sort of secure it, which doesn’t take that much. And it’s pretty thin Corian, too.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s actually really beautiful.
TOM: It is pretty.
LESLIE: And all of them make it: Silestone, CaesarStone, Corian. They all have a tub surround.
MIKE: Great. OK. Well, I appreciate that. That’s very helpful and I really enjoy your show and thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, nothing signals the start of spring better than those fresh blooms, like daffodils and tulips in full color. But if you want to enjoy those beautiful, spring blooms, you kind of need to get planting right now.
TOM: And to find out just how to do that, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscaping expert on TV’s This Old House.
And Roger, the secrets to successful blooms all starts with the timing, right?
ROGER: Absolutely. But to be a gardener, you have to have an absolute leap of faith because when you’re talking about bulbs, you’re talking about putting something in the ground over the winter and it’s going to bloom in the spring.
TOM: It just doesn’t make sense.
ROGER: Doesn’t at all, expect when you figure out where these bulbs come from and the mountains where they freeze for the winter and then bloom. This is the only way they can survive.
LESLIE: So really, with all blooms, the secret is put them in in the fall, with all bulbs. There’s really no other opportunity to plant later in the season and have them come up, say, in the summertime or …?
ROGER: There’s two different categories of bulbs. The spring flowering bulbs all have to be planted in the fall. Summer flowering bulbs like dahlias and things like that are planted in the spring.
LESLIE: A great mystery.
ROGER: So confusing, isn’t it?
LESLIE: It really is.
TOM: Yeah, it really is.
Now, what are some basic rules that sort of apply to all bulbs? Like starting with the type of soil that they like.
ROGER: Well, bulbs hate wet soil and some of them won’t do well in shady areas.
ROGER: They’ll bloom the first year but they won’t reset for a second year if it’s too shady. The biggest mistake people make is not planting bulbs deep enough.
LESLIE: Well, because they’re a squirrel’s favorite food, right?
ROGER: No, they’re not. That’s – no.
LESLIE: Really? Then what are they doing in my garden all the time?
ROGER: If you plant a bulb with a bone meal, bones are something that squirrels eat naturally. They go after that particular product. But that’s planted underneath the bulb. They’ll actually dig, throw the bulb out of the way and eat the bone meal out of the soil.
TOM: Oh, so it’s not the bulb, it’s the bone meal they’re looking for.
ROGER: Right, right.
ROGER: So that’s why we use a product called "superphosphate," which encourages root growth in the bulbs but it’s not attractive to rodents.
LESLIE: And what’s the trick? I mean we had wonderful success with tulips one season – there was a bajillion of them – and then the following year, maybe like a third.
ROGER: Yeah. Wow, that’s the thing with tulips is especially if they’re planted shallow, they’ll only bloom one year and they won’t follow that up. They won’t keep reblooming or – naturalizing is the term we like to use.
So what – the trick with tulips, plant them deep and every year, supplement that bed with the same-color tulips you put in before.
LESLIE: OK. And how deep? Am I going down a foot or just, you know, a couple inches?
ROGER: Basic math formula is two-and-a-half times the size of the bulb.
ROGER: That’s how deep you dig the hole. So in most cases, for a tulip, you’re going to be at 5 or 6 inches.
TOM: Now, what about daffodils? Those are sort of the workhorses of the spring flowers.
ROGER: Daffodils are my favorite. They seem to never fail. They thrive, they naturalize, they come back year after year. And for the money, I think they’re your best bang for the buck.
TOM: How do you plan a garden that’s going to be all bulbs? Do you bunch the colors together? Do you mix them up? Are there considerations about height?
ROGER: Absolutely. And more important than all is sequence; is when they’re going to bloom.
ROGER: Because you don’t want a tall one blooming in front and have a short one behind it and not be able to see it. It’s all about sequence and massing of plant material. I love to mass bulbs; a whole bunch of them planted together.
LESLIE: Now, so many mail-order catalogs flood our mailbox at home and you see these beautiful blooms and you’re like, "Oh, I’m going to order these bulbs." Is it better to get them from a catalog or head to my local home center and really see and touch?
ROGER: I do both. I love to support the local garden centers but sometimes I can’t get what I need at the garden center, so I have to reach out and get it someplace out. The key to remember is that when you buy bulbs, they’re all bought by size. So you have to look and compare size. If you’re going to buy a 12-centimeter bulb or an 18-centimeter bulb, there’s a different in price. And the bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower or the more flowers it’ll have.
LESLIE: The bigger the height or …?
ROGER: No. Just the bigger the flower; the bigger the plant itself.
ROGER: Within each species of plant, you can buy little, short ones, medium and tall. And then the sequence goes with that: early, medium and late.
LESLIE: Oh, goodness.
ROGER: So one thing that you can do is you can always buy bulbs in a naturalized mix, meaning that when you buy it, there’s three or four different types in there. So when you plant it out, they sequence themselves; you don’t have to do the math and figure it out.
LESLIE: But do you need to physically look at the size of the bulb and sort them based on the size of the bulb, so that you can see everything in the bed?
ROGER: No. No, when you buy a bulb, you’re going to know what height it’s going to be. And these mixtures, you just throw the whole mixture out and they’ll all pop up at different types and they’ll all be about the same height.
TOM: So buy the mixture and they kind of do the work for you.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
And for more tips, including a video of how to plant bulbs, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And remember, you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: Thanks, Roger.
ROGER: Oh, you’re welcome.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Still ahead, weekend warriors and seasoned pros alike need a mobile phone that can stand up to a beating on the job. We’ve got info on one that can do just that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:27:24]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement question and we’re giving away a DIY, deluxe home-energy-saving kit from AM Conservation.
Did you know that the average household spends $2,200 a year on energy bills?
LESLIE: Wow. That’s a lot of money.
TOM: Twenty-two hundred buckarooskies (ph) on those energy bills. But there are all kinds of things in this kit that can help you cut those costs.
Check this out: they’ve got a fridge/freezer thermometer that will keep food fresh in your refrigerator and make the fridge efficient by making sure it stays in the green zone, which is the optimum temperature for energy-efficiency. It is a prize worth more than $60. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question, so what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call us right now. 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Linda in Texas who has got gophers and moles living in the yard. Tell us about it.
LINDA: Well, these are not the kind of pets I want to have. I live on seven acres and sandy soil.
TOM: Wow. Mm-hmm.
LINDA: And I tried to have a garden once and they took care of that problem and I haven’t planted a garden since.
LINDA: I have about 30 to 40 runs of moles and the same about gopher hills; about 30 to 40. I’ve tried the poison, I’ve tried putting the little whirly-dirly (ph) things out there to scare them off. I’ve done everything but stand out there and try to shoot them.
TOM: Have you used grub control?
LINDA: I put fertilizer on and pre-emergents, so I’m not sure what grub control is.
TOM: No, that’s different.
LESLIE: Yeah, different.
TOM: Yeah, see, what we want to do here is not treat the grass. We want to treat the bugs that are in the grass because that’s the food that they’re eating, OK?
LESLIE: That’s the food that they want.
TOM: They’re eating earthworms, they’re eating grubs. And while we like to keep the earthworms, we don’t like to keep the grubs. So what you need is grub control. There’s a number of products out there. Bayer Advanced has a grub control. Scotts has a grub control. Spectrum has a grub control.
But you’re going to need a season-long, grub-control product, which is going to cut down on all of the grubs that are in your sandy soil. And it will send the moles looking elsewhere for their next meal.
TOM: Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when you’re working on a home improvement project and you need to stay connected, you need a phone that’s tough enough to stand up to some pretty heavy-duty use. And now, there is a new one on the market that can do just that, that we think is kind of cool. It’s called the Motorola i886.
And it gives you Nextel Direct Connect functionality in a phone that meets military specs for – check this out, Leslie – dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures and humidity, which pretty much sounds like …
LESLIE: That’s amazing.
TOM: Yeah. And it pretty much sounds like the average home improvement project condition, you know?
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s like a job site right there.
TOM: Pretty much a job site. Apparently, this thing can even take being immersed in water, which is just amazing.
LESLIE: I don’t want to test it.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t test it but it’s pretty cool that it can do that. And it’s got one-touch control, so you can switch between voice. You get the full, QWERTY keyboard. You can also listen to music. You can even access your e-mail, your calendar, your contacts, your voice-mail messages. It will like – it’ll kind of be like having your office on the job site.
But I mean for those of us that are just heavy-duty do-it-yourselfers, this is the phone I need, because I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped phones on projects. Or sometimes I’m doing a job around the house and where do you put your phone? I put it in my nail pouch, which is probably not the smartest thing to do.
LESLIE: Me, too.
TOM: But that’s where it fits, right? Because you don’t want to go …
LESLIE: Well and it gets so dusty in there.
TOM: And the thing is, you don’t want to reach under the nail pouch to get it out of your pocket, so you put it in the pouch because that’s where you can access it.
So, anyway, it’s pretty cool, the i886. You ought to check it out. It even has a camera, so you can take pictures of those home improvement projects at the same time. And you can learn more about it at Motorola.com.
LESLIE: Hey and when you take those pictures of your home improvement projects, you can post them at MoneyPit.com, so we can all see and comment on what you are working on and share the fun of home improvement.
Well, spring is in the air but memories of a drafty, chilly winter? Let me tell you, they are still fresh in my mind, so I can imagine that they are in yours, as well. Well, it’s time to seek out those drafts, wherever they’re hiding, and we’re going to seal them up once and for all. We’re going to tell you how to do that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:29]
TOM: Where home solutions live, 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 with your home improvement question. We’re standing by for your do-it-yourself dilemma. 888-666-3974.
Hey, if spring cleaning is on your money pit to-do list these days, be sure to check out the tips and advice at MoneyPit.com, including Consumer Reports’ best ways to clean those hard-to-clean items in your home, like the decorative pillows, ceiling fans and upholstery. It is all online right now at MoneyPit.com. Just search it by entering "spring cleaning" into the search box.
LESLIE: And while you’re at MoneyPit.com, if you’ve got a question or you want to find out what other people are working on, you can head on over to our Community section. And while you’re there, you can post whatever you want. You can post videos of your projects, you can brag about something that’s going great or if you’ve just got a question, you can post those there, as well.
And I’ve got one here from Mark in Indiana who wrote: "I have a case" – I’m sorry – "I have casement windows. All my windows are leaking at the covers for the cranks. How do I seal this area? All winter, the house was very drafty just from these leaks."
TOM: You know, Mark, if the casement window is drafty, one thing that I suspect is that the window might be out of square. So I’d like to eliminate that first by telling you to close the window very, very carefully and check the reveal around the window. The reveal is the gap right around the window, where it sits into the frame and it needs to be even on all sides. If the window is …
LESLIE: Like the window itself? Would the trim work hinder you from seeing if it’s square? Can’t you cover that with trim and kind of hide that or no?
TOM: No because I think – what I’m talking about here is when you – when the window closes inside the frame itself, where it strikes the seal. That part you can see, even if you have trim around it. And if this window is slightly out of square, that could account for those gaps.
The second thing is to check the integrity of the weatherstripping that’s built into the window. I bet something is broken off, worn out or missing and that would let the wind come right through. Because remember, the window can be weatherproof in terms of keeping the water out but not be draft-proof. Check those two things and I bet you one of those is causing the issue.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And once that seal on the inside fails, really, there’s nothing you can do except replace that window, right?
TOM: Well, you may be able to find replacement parts if you contact the manufacturer. So I wouldn’t give up at that point but if the windows – I think you’re talking about the glass. If the glass happens to fail, that would make the glass somewhat inefficient and mostly, it’s a cosmetic defect but that wouldn’t account for the drafts.
LESLIE: OK, good. Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Darlene in Utah who wrote: "My basement is very cold. I have a laundry room and guest area down there. How do I insulate to make it more comfortable?"
TOM: Well, insulating the basement is going to make it a little more comfortable but remember, you need heat to make any space comfortable. I mean you can’t just insulate it. Insulation will keep the – whatever ambient heat’s in that room inside. But if you’re going to turn an unfinished basement into a finished basement, you have to add heat.
And the easiest way to do that would be to add, in a basement, electric resistance heaters. Sure, they’re expensive to run but you’re not going to use them as much as you would use the heat upstairs, so why not use them? Put them on a couple of zones and just run them when you need them and that, coupled with the insulation, will do a good job.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Jean in South Carolina who wrote: "I have a problem with mildew in all of my closets and some of my lower cabinets. What can I do? Help. It’s driving me crazy."
TOM: Ah, ventilation, ventilation and ventilation. Very common in closets and sometimes in cabinets to get a mildew buildup. And if you add vents to that space, that will take care of it.
Remember, you also need to treat all those surfaces with a bleach-and-water solution. Kill the mildew first, get ventilated and it probably won’t come back.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, get rid of it. Mm-hmm. And in your closets, once you get rid of that mold and mildew, prime those walls and paint them, because you want to get rid of that mold once and for all.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we’ve helped you get started with those spring cleaning and those spring fix-up projects, with a few ideas to help you get going. If you’ve got questions 24-7, remember you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And please, head on over to the website at MoneyPit.com and post your questions there, as well, in the community.
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.
[audio timestamp: 0:37:07]
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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.)