Learn how to create a lush lawn with tips from This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook. Get tips on how to care for a wood deck, especially after taking a beating from the hot summer sun for the last few weeks. Get advice on mosquito proofing your yard so you can enjoy your outdoor spaces. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, GO heating & cooling, sump pump noise, eliminating woodpeckers, underlayment for new laminate flooring, installing a generator, how to fill in a pool, roof paints, finishing a basement.
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here. We are your summer home improvement helpers. It’s the time to get outside, to pick up the paintbrush, pick up the hammer, pick up the saw, get to work, enjoy the day, enjoy your home. Let us help you get the jobs done that’ll help you do just that. So help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Up first this hour, American yards cover more than 30 million acres of lawns, which will host all sorts of foot traffic this summer, from barbecues to picnics; don’t forget about those volleyball and Frisbee games.
LESLIE: And if it’s my yard, they’re all happening at the same exact time.
TOM: Exactly. And with the right lawn care, your yard can stand up to all of that. So we’re going to find out the best way to take care of your lawn – especially with this hot, summer sun that beats down and we have droughts in different parts of the country – from the guy who knows how to do just that. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House, will be by with tips, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead this hour, along with your lawn, your deck and your wood outdoor furniture, they really take quite a beating during the summer season. So we’re going to tell you how to protect your outdoor wood surfaces so they can beat the heat out of the hottest part of the summer.
TOM: And about right now, you’ve probably had it with the itching, the scratching, the burning of those mosquito bites. They are the most annoying summer pests, I think, well, except for those kids next door. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. We’re going to help you cut down on those mosquitoes in your yard with some simple advice, a little later this hour.
LESLIE: Alright. And also this hour, we’re giving away a Concrobium gift pack. Now, Concrobium is a great mold and mildew cleaner, so it’s really going to help you out this summer season. And that’s worth 56 bucks.
TOM: Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Randy in Oregon is looking to go green and thinking about geothermal heating and cooling. What can we do for you?
RANDY: Well, years and years ago, I had seen a house down in the central valley of California and it was 110 outside; it was 72 degrees inside the guy’s house. I said, "How do you do this?" He took me out and showed me that he had dug a trench about 8 feet deep, 18 inches wide and 72 feet long, if I remember right.
RANDY: And it had a little upright that came up with a little top-hat rain cover and some screening in it and he’d run that into his central air-conditioning system or his heating – central heating system and with just the blower fan on it and it kept it amazingly cool.
TOM: Yeah. Was he running water through those pipes or was that a – because it sounds like it was sort of a do-it-yourself geothermal system.
RANDY: It was – he did it all himself.
TOM: Yeah, well, he was a man before his time, because now we have much more sophisticated systems that use the same principal which is, essentially, to take the constant temperature of the Earth and both heat and cool your house based on that and a bit of a refrigeration technology behind it.
And geothermal is an excellent technology. If you’re an area that doesn’t have access to natural gas, I think it’s an excellent way to heat your house and certainly, it’s always been a great way to cool your house.
RANDY: Oh, so I could take – like my house now, we have central heat but no air conditioning at all, so it would be a viable solution that I could go out and dig a trench and throw in a corrugated pipe in the ground and plumb it up and – because we only – you know, here in Oregon, we don’t need air conditioning but about two weeks out of the year.
TOM: Well, I mean you sound like a very industrious guy, Randy. You certainly could try it yourself but my point is that we’ve got very sophisticated tried-and-true systems called geothermal cooling systems that work very, very well. You may want to think about buying a system that’s already manufactured and installing it yourself, as opposed to sort of recreating the entire thing.
Randy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Renee in Michigan is dealing with some sump-pump issues. Tell us what’s going on.
RENEE: Well, we have a sump pump that’s right underneath our kitchen and every time it empties, we can hear it. It’s not that bad but when it shuts off, it goes "boom" and it’s really kind of annoying. We don’t know what to do about it. We go in the basement and the noise isn’t that loud down there.
RENEE: But when we’re in the kitchen, it’s magnified.
TOM: Yeah, it all rattles, right? Is the sump pump discharging outside or is it discharging into the waste pipes inside the house?
RENEE: Well, I’m not real good at this. We have a water furnace and so it has been attached so that the water from the sump pump goes out the same way as the water furnace water goes out.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
RENEE: Does that mean anything?
TOM: Hmm. Not really. But I’m thinking it goes right to the outside; it doesn’t go to your plumbing system.
RENEE: No, no.
RENEE: It doesn’t. Mm-mm.
TOM: Well, part of the problem here is water hammer. It’s because all the water is being pumped out and then it stops and it sort of back-slushes down the pipe. So one of the solutions would be to put in a check valve, which is sort of like a one-way valve on the drain line of the sump pump. So the water will go one way and then once it gets past the valve, it can’t get back again and that can actually solve part of that problem.
TOM: Pretty simple. Now, the second thing is, when does your sump pump run? Is it all the time or is it just after a heavy rain?
RENEE: Well, see, the problem is we had a lot of water in the basement and so it has been running about every 20 seconds.
TOM: Right. Because you had a lot of rainfall?
TOM: Yeah. Alright. Because – well, my point is that what you want to do is to take steps outside the house to …
LESLIE: To reduce that moisture and that water that’s getting into the house.
LESLIE: And it’s not that difficult. You know, you can just monitor your gutters and your downspouts, make sure that they’re free-flowing and that the gutters aren’t overflowing. Clean them kind of regularly and make sure that where the downspouts deposit the water isn’t right up against the foundation wall. You want it to sort of go away from the foundation 3 feet, 6 feet. If you can bury them underground, then get it far away, go for it.
You want to look at the grading of the soil around the perimeter of the foundation and make sure that it slopes away from the house. If you can do these things to reduce the moisture, then you’re going to see far less water inside because what’s happening as it’s raining, the water is sitting right there against the foundation from all of those factors and then it comes right up into the basement.
TOM: Renee, 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, we are in full swing of the summer season so if you’ve got any home improvement projects that you need a hand tackling, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, would you like to take the bite out of your backyard barbecues? We’ve got advice to help create a no-skeeter zone in your outdoor space and that’s all coming up, after this.
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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 four 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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win the Concrobium gift pack; going to go out to one caller.
This includes the 32-ounce spray bottle and the gallon jug of Concrobium mold control. It’s an EPA-registered solution that eliminates mold and keeps it from coming back, without bleach, ammonia or VOCs. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. That’s a great prize and perfect for the summer season.
Now, another thing that we start dealing with in the summertime is getting bitten by those mosquitoes.
LESLIE: And we all know how quickly that can actually spoil your outdoor summer fun.
Now, mosquitoes, they can go beyond bugging you; it’s actually spreading some serious, dangerous diseases. But if you know a bit about them – mosquitoes themselves – avoiding them is actually not that difficult.
First of all, those mosquitoes? They actually only need two things to breed: standing water and a couple of days. Now, if you’ve got gutters and they get clogged with debris, that’s going to allow stagnant water to sort of form the perfect landing zones for those mosquitoes to nest, lay their eggs, do what they do best, which is just make more mosquitoes and then harass you. So you want to make sure that you clean those gutters several times a year or go ahead and install those leaf guards and that’ll keep your gutters dry and free-flowing.
TOM: Now, good point. Another thing you want to do is check your yard for anything that holds water. Now, we’re not talking about the big water feature: the big waterfall, whatever you built lately to spruce up the landscaping. No, we’re talking about the tiny things that you forget about: the empty flower pots, the buckets, the jars, the wheelbarrows, the kids’ toys, the old tires. If you have any of those things, you want to be careful because it only takes about seven days, as Leslie said, for those mosquitoes to lay the eggs and come out biting.
Now, if you’ve got trash cans or recycling buckets that you keep outside, good idea to drill some holes in the bottoms of those. And check kids’ stuff, like wading pools and sandboxes, making sure that any items covered by those plastic tarps are not becoming water catchers. The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes is simply, though, to stay inside at dusk and dawn.
You know, I discovered, when I researched this topic several years ago, that there really is sort of a biting hour or two of the day and …
LESLIE: And what time is that?
TOM: Well, it depends but you’ll kind of know it if you’re out during it.
But seriously, if you go inside for that hour or so and you come back out, they’re not nearly as bad as they were. And it’s because they just get – all get hungry at the same time. So that’s …
LESLIE: I know for us it’s around 4:00 and so we just avoid the yard at that time.
TOM: Yeah. I think it’s a little later for us: more like around 6:00 because – maybe because it always seems to coincide with eating dinner outside?
LESLIE: The best time.
TOM: We have a zone around our house with citronella candles. It’s like that.
LESLIE: Just short of being in a bubble.
TOM: Right. You could land a helicopter around my dining room table, there’s so many candles.
But whatever you do, you want to make sure that you don’t invite them. You can’t control what’s in the neighborhood but you can control what’s in your own yard. So don’t let that water puddle up, folks.
And if you want some more tips on the step-by-step of things that you can do in your own yard, visit MoneyPit.com or Google "money pit mosquito-proof" and our articles on those topics will pop right up for you.
LESLIE: Pete in Colorado is under attack by woodpeckers. Tell us what’s going on.
PETE: Yep, we’ve got a wood-sided house and it’s beautiful except that every spring the woodpeckers show up and in about 15 minutes max, they can drill a hole 3 or 4 inches diameter in the side of the house.
PETE: And I would love a way to get rid of them. And a slight extra complication, if you’re thinking of extreme measures, my wife is a naturalist and she wouldn’t want to be too upset.
PETE: So probably no .22s.
TOM: Yeah. So weapons are out of the question. Well, I’ll tell you, there’s an option, Pete, and that is – one thing that actually works very, very well is if you can attach something that’s very reflective to the siding and even have it blowing in the wind; like a couple of tin pie plates works really well. Hang it from the fascia or the soffit, in that area, when the woodpeckers decide to come and nest and that usually really freaks them out and sends them to the neighbor’s house.
PETE: How far apart would you place them?
TOM: Well, how wide is your house? Like 30 feet maybe?
PETE: Thirty feet wide and a hundred feet long.
TOM: And do they attack the 100-foot side, as well?
PETE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe every 10 feet.
TOM: Give it a shot. Try one side of the house and see if they stay off that side. You’ll know you have a solution.
LESLIE: And attack the other.
TOM: Then you just take them down when it gets a little warmer and they are not so into searching for bugs behind your siding.
PETE: Oh, yeah. Well, they mostly do it in order to attract a mate. So once they’ve taken care of that, we’re done.
TOM: Tell them you’ll build them a house and leave yours alone.
PETE: Yeah, really.
TOM: Pete, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Oregon, with Debra who’s dealing with a flooring issue in the bath. How can we help?
DEBRA: My bathroom had a problem. There was a leak and the particle-board flooring overlayment rotted away, so I’m attempting to do it myself. What I’d like to know is what type of overlayment should I be using and how thick?
TOM: I think you mean underlayment.
DEBRA: OK, underlayment? Yeah, there’s two …
TOM: Hey, some people call it over; some people call it under. It’s a floor, one way or the other.
DEBRA: Yes, I’m …
TOM: Well, is the leak under the toilet? Is that what happened?
DEBRA: And every – the wood rotted away and …
TOM: Alright, so here’s what you have to do. First of all, obviously, you have to remove the toilet.
TOM: Secondly, you’re going to – now, what kind of a sink do you have in there? Is there a vanity that’s going to be near the toilet?
TOM: Well, the best thing to do, believe it or not, will be to remove that, as well, because what has to happen – you have to cut out that rotted floor. And if you’re going to – is this only one layer of subfloor here? Is it an older house and you have multiple layers? Because if you’re going to cut through the floor joist, you have to cut something wide enough where it goes beam to beam. Do you follow me on that?
DEBRA: Yes, I do. Matter of fact, someone did repair that portion of it.
DEBRA: So that part has been done but now I’m going to do the – that other layer that’s on top of it.
TOM: OK. Do you have anything else that you have to match to it? Is it halfway there in some other part of the bathroom or has the entire floor been replaced?
DEBRA: Yes, it just – the part around the toilet, oh, there’s been like a couple of feet – 2 feet, 2½ feet – that …
TOM: OK, well, what you have to do here is you have to see what was there before, because you have to match the thickness. There are different types of underlayment material. Sometimes there’s plywood – like luan plywood; sometimes there’s waferboard.
TOM: OSB. So you need to figure out what was there before and match the height. And then what kind of finished floor are you going to put in?
DEBRA: I’m going to put a linoleum down.
TOM: OK, that’s one option. Another one that might be easier is laminate floor. Because laminate floor is going to be more forgiving of the unevenness of that repair job. And laminate floor can be installed pretty easily by yourself because all the pieces are locked together; they all snap together today.
LESLIE: Yeah, if you go linoleum, because it’s a sheet product, it’s going to sort of rest into areas where the floor – the underlayment – is uneven and you’re going to notice a lot of those dips and dives.
DEBRA: Yeah, I’m going to replace the entire thing because it was particle board and the water spread out quite a bit.
TOM: I think that you’ll find that the laminate floor is the best way to go because it’s a very sturdy floor; plus, it comes in just hundreds of different patterns. You can have one that has a pattern similar to a vinyl floor or you can go something that may represent a wood floor. And it’ll be permanent, it’ll be moisture-proof and it’ll look great.
DEBRA: OK. About the fixture – the toilet fixture – how do I get underneath that lip that’s there?
TOM: Underneath the lip that’s there?
DEBRA: The height.
TOM: Well, once you put the new subfloor in, then you’re going to make sure you raise the pipe so it’s flush with the finished floor. And that’s a plumbing project. And you’ll use a new wax seal between the drain and the toilet.
DEBRA: OK. And it has to be flush?
TOM: Yes. Well, fairly close. If it’s not flush, you may have leaking issues.
LESLIE: Tom in Virginia is looking for some help with a generator. What can we do for you?
TOM IN VIRGINIA: Well, I was just wondering if there are any alternatives to the generators that are run by diesel fuel, that you can get a hold of. The electric companies, they have their plans but I was wondering if there’s anything else out there.
TOM: Well, absolutely. In fact, my house is run by a Generac standby generator and I’ve used it twice today since we had some storms that rolled through the house. And it’s great because my Generac is powered by natural gas, so I never have to worry about fuel for it; it’s just hooked up to the gas pipe. And it comes on within about 15 seconds of losing power and then it repowers about half the house; that’s how we have it set up. And so you can use a natural-gas standby generator and the prices have come way down on them.
And I tell you what, there’s a lot of security to having a standby generator, because you don’t have to worry about losing food and losing your heating system and things like that and not losing lights on a dark, stormy night. So I really believe in standby generators. I think everyone should have one. I’m glad to see that the prices are coming down.
You might want to take a look at the Generac website at NeverFeelPowerless.com. There’s a lot of information about standbys there and also ways that you can calculate the size that you need.
TOM IN VIRGINIA: OK. That sounds good. Yeah, the last time we had a hurricane come through there, people thought my house was possessed because we had power.
TOM: Yeah, right? I know. Yeah, the neighbors will come down the street with their milk and eggs to borrow and put in your refrigerator.
TOM IN VIRGINIA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we had – for three days, we had breakfast at my house.
TOM: There you go. Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come, expert tips on how you can create a really lush lawn so that you can have that gorgeous yard all summer long, so stick around.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Founded in 1841 by a family of painters, Flood is the wood-care specialist, so you don’t have to be. Flood offers a full line of exterior wood stains and cleaners to protect, preserve and beautify your investment. To protect, preserve and beautify your investment, visit Flood.com for more information.
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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: If you love using your backyard pool and hate the idea of closing it up for the winter, you can learn how to use it a little longer with solar heat. We’ve got tips on how to do just that, on MoneyPit.com. Simply Google "money pit pool solar heat" to learn more.
LESLIE: Mark in Texas is looking for a way to fill in a pool and get his yard back. What can we do for you?
MARK: I’ve got a metal-wall pool with a vinyl bottom and it – when we bought the house, we had no desire to have a pool.
MARK: The water stays about 3 feet deep. Even if I drain it, the next day, it’s back.
TOM: Ah, OK.
MARK: And so, what we’re going to do is jackhammer up all the concrete around it, fill it in and then about 4 foot of dirt on top of that and get a yard back.
TOM: Right. Right.
MARK: But I’m afraid that the septic everywhere is what’s causing the water to come back all the time.
TOM: Hmm. Well, why don’t you do a dye test? What you can do is you can add septic dye to a sink or a toilet inside your house. It only takes a little bit; you could probably even order some tablets online. And it’s a very, very bright green, almost fluorescent-looking dye. And then you run the water and if you see that dye show up in the pool, then you know you’ve got a serious problem.
And of course, now we know why you’re not swimming in that pool.
LESLIE: I’m like – at first, I was kind of sad that you wanted to fill in the pool. Now, I’m like, "Yeah, I’m not coming over."
TOM: Now, I don’t think it’s a really good idea.
MARK: Well, see, we’re kind of at the bottom of a hill, so everybody’s septic, I think, is running down underneath my yard, probably about, I don’t know, 8 feet down.
TOM: Well, no, it doesn’t work that way. The septic should be draining in each individual yard. Now, it may feel that way but that’s not the case. What I’m concerned about is if your septic is, in fact, draining into that pool area, there could be a problem with the septic, too. But once we’ve convinced – once you convince yourself that the septic is not contributing to the water – it could just be water table – then I think your plan is fine. Just be very, very careful. Especially the more you take apart, the more dangerous that area gets.
MARK: Are you talking about collapsing or …?
TOM: Yeah, collapsing, sure. It could collapse in on you, so you’ve got to be very, very careful because you’re pretty much taking away the structure as you tear that out. And then I think filling it with clean fill dirt is fine and doing it in layers and tamping it as you go. That’s going to be important, because it’s going to settle and you want to make sure it ends up nice and flush, with a decent grade when you’re all said and done.
And doing it now is probably a good idea because the fall is the best time to plant a new lawn.
MARK: Oh, OK. Very good. So just the dye and make sure it’s not my septic and if it is, then I’ve got bigger problems than an old, nasty pool.
TOM: Now, then, we’ve got to tackle getting that fixed, OK, Mark?
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now we know why nobody wants to go to Mark’s house to swim.
LESLIE: Yeah, right? "Hey, you guys want to take a dip in my poo?" "Oh, you forgot the ‘L’." "No, I meant it."
Well, American homes boast more than 30 million acres of lawns, which will play host to countless barbecues, picnics and Frisbee games in the coming months.
TOM: And with proper care, your lawn can look great all summer long, despite endless hours of barefoot traffic and blazing sun. To find out how to do just that, we welcome This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook, with tips to make sure the grass stays green before, during and after the summer rush.
Hey, Roger. Welcome to the program.
ROGER: Great to be here.
TOM: Now, a lush, green lawn just adds tons of curb appeal, doesn’t it?
ROGER: Curb appeal and just feeling good about your house.
LESLIE: It certainly is a sense of pride.
TOM: Absolutely. But I mean we’ve had summers where we’ve had drought and we’ve had all kinds of issues that really affect – it seems like your lawn is constantly under battle, not only from nature but also from the foot traffic. So what’s the best way to make sure you always have a lush lawn?
ROGER: The most important thing you can do is a soil test on your lawn, because that is going to tell you what’s happening with the lawn, what you need to add and in what proportion.
TOM: Now, is that something you have to do more than once? Do the conditions change over the years?
ROGER: They change but usually if you do it once every two or three years, you’ll be on top of what’s happening.
LESLIE: Now, do they change because of things that you’re putting into the soil or is that just a natural process?
ROGER: Natural process and what you’re putting in. You want to make sure that everything’s in balance and some of that’s from the natural ingredients in the soil and some from the stuff that you’re introducing.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about fertilization, because that’s something that sometimes it almost feels like you have to be a chemist to get right. Are there easy ways to figure out what fertilizer you need?
ROGER: There’s a certain amount of nitrogen that your lawn needs to grow properly and that’s 3 to 4 pounds per growing season.
ROGER: The biggest problem we have is we put too much nitrogen on and we force that lawn to grow very, very quickly. In the spring, the lawn is going to green up and grow, so you don’t need an early application. If you do your first application mid-spring, that’ll keep you going.
You know what it’s like, Tom. You go to cut the lawn and it’s 6 inches long?
ROGER: We don’t want to do that.
TOM: No, we don’t.
ROGER: We want it to grow at a moderate pace.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, what about other things? I’ve always heard that calcium – the content – is really sort of important to the weed growth. Is there a way to sort of keep that in balance to minimize our weeds?
ROGER: It’ll show up in your test that you get and they know that about 90 percent of the weeds can be controlled by the amount of calcium in your soil.
TOM: Now, are there additives that you want to put on the lawn every year, like organic matter or compost, that sort of thing? Is it important to add that every year, even after your lawn seems to established?
ROGER: Depends on the texture of the soil and that comes from your soil test. Is there something bad about adding too much compost to the soil? Not that I know of. But what we do is we will actually aerate the soil and then put the compost on, so it goes down 2 or 3 or 4 inches into the ground.
TOM: Now, that’s a good point. You talked about aeration and how often do you have to do that? Is that where the landscaper comes through with a machine that sort of drills little holes in the lawn?
ROGER: Exactly. And I would do that once a year. There’s no chemicals involved; there’s simply a physical operation. You can rent the machines to do it yourself.
ROGER: It doesn’t take very long to do so the best bet is to split it with a neighbor or two or three neighbors and lower the cost.
TOM: Now, that’s a really good point. Everybody toss a little money in the lawn-care basket and you can go out and get a bunch of lawns done at once.
ROGER: We’ll have an aeration party.
LESLIE: But you have to divide the work evenly. One neighbor is not doing everybody’s property, correct?
ROGER: I don’t know. Sometimes, I get conned into doing everyone’s property.
LESLIE: Well, I can imagine; it’s what you do for a living. It’s why our neighbors ask us all sorts of home improvement questions.
So, Roger, what happens if the summer season brings a lack of rain and you find that there’s a drought? How do you keep the lawn in good shape?
ROGER: Yeah, we run into that situation where towns put on mandatory water bans and that’s no outside watering at all. So you can’t water the lawn? It goes dormant and that’s when – its way of making it through the drought season.
In the fall, when it gets cool or moisture comes, the lawn will green up and grow again. But don’t try to water the lawn and bring it out of dormancy; let it come out naturally. But the biggest thing is to stay off the lawn when it’s in that dormant state, because you can really do damage to the lawn.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Good to be here. Thanks for having me.
TOM: And for more tips just like that, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And 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: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors.
Still ahead, we’ve got tips on how you can protect your outdoor wood surfaces from the summer weather. That’s coming up, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by The Home Depot. Upgrade to a Philips 12.5-watt LED light bulb that lasts 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a perfect prize pack for this time of year. We’ve got the Concrobium gift pack up for grabs and that includes a 32-ounce spray bottle and gallon jug of the Concrobium mold control.
Now, what’s really cool about this – it’s an EPA-registered solution that eliminates mold and it keeps it from coming back and it’s totally green. There’s no bleach, there’s no ammonia, there’s no VOCs. It’s perfect for cleaning all of those outdoor surfaces, like your deck, your patio, siding, window sills. Whatever you see that mold and mildew growth on, it’s going to do the job. It’s a prize worth 56 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win and help with your home improvement project.
Well, now that we are several weeks into summer and that hot sun has been beating down on your home for, what, good month or so now, it is a very good time to check your exterior woodwork.
Now, the experts at Flood tell us that it can really take a beating this time of year because of all that UV deterioration: all those UV rays from the sun that can really dry it out. And if you find that it needs a little love – perhaps it’s fading, it’s cracking or it’s peeling – Flood does have a full line of exterior wood stains and cleaners that can protect, preserve and beautify your investment.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the Flood Company, they’ve been helping homeowners keep their outdoor wood surfaces looking great for over 100 years, so they’ve got the experience. They were founded in 1841 by a family of painters and Flood is the wood-care specialist, so you don’t have to be. Only Flood products contain Penetrol and Emulsa-Bond, which allows the product – whichever one you select – to really penetrate and then adhere to the wood surfaces.
Now, when it comes to those surfaces, you guys, you’ve got to remember that prepping those surfaces that you’re going to work on is really the most important step to any painting, staining whatever kind of project you’re taking on for a finish, because it’s really going to determine whether that paint or stain is going to stick or just wear away immediately and you’ll have to do it all again.
So you want to make sure that you remove dirt, grime, contaminates, prior stains, sealers on your wood deck, your siding or your fencing. And that’s going to really ensure that you have a flawless finish and a project that you don’t need to take on again for 5 years; 10 years; whatever it might be, depending on the surface.
So to learn which product is best for your project or to even get step-by-step project instructions, check out their website. It’s Flood.com. You’ll get a lot of help there.
TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT is our phone number and that number will deliver help to you, as well.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Juan in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JUAN: I want to ask you a question about elastomeric roof paint.
JUAN: I come from Miami and one of the things that I have done in the past, in Miami, to seal the tiles on the roof is to coat it with elastomeric paint.
JUAN: That not only seals the roof but creates a rubber barrier that basically makes the roof last almost indefinitely. Now, my question is: why would it not work here in South Carolina in regular shingles?
TOM: Well, you have hard tile shingles in Miami, correct?
JUAN: Well, yes. I was talking about, you know, ceramic …
TOM: Right. Right. Ceramic or clay. Right. OK. And in South Carolina, you have asphalt shingles? Yeah. Well, it’s not designed to bind to asphalt shingles the way it may have bound to the ceramic tiles that you had in Miami.
I will say, though, that with an asphalt product, there is a type of paint called fibrous aluminum paint, which is a silver paint. Very commonly used on flat roofs or low-sloped roofs where you have built-up tar. Because what that does is that actually makes the roof last longer, because it forces the sunlight to reflect off of it more so than absorb into it. And with less UV radiation getting to it, the asphalt stays moist longer, doesn’t crack, doesn’t dry out and hence, you can go many more years without having to replace your roof.
So, I wouldn’t use elastomeric paint, Juan, but I would consider using fibrous aluminum. Now, if the roof is very visible, you wouldn’t do that because, in that case, it’s going to look silver like a spaceship and not very attractive. But if it’s in the back of the house or it’s low-slope, you can’t see it very well, you could use fibrous aluminum paint and that will extend its life.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, making a basement into a finished space can add value to your home. But before you dive into that project, you want to make sure you follow all of the rules and the regulations set out by your town, your municipality, wherever. If you don’t, you could have a nasty surprise when it comes time to sell that house. We’ll give you tips on how to handle that situation, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.
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 would be very pleased, privileged and honored if you would visit us online at Facebook and Twitter. Both those sites accessible from MoneyPit.com. If you sign up, you will be the first to know when we head into the studio and give the inside hotline – the special-access pass – to ask us your home improvement question. And you can get to those sites from our site at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you are online, you can check out the Community section. Lots of great postings there from you guys, what you’re working on. You’re commenting on everybody’s projects. We’d love to give you a hand with that.
And you can also post questions if you just don’t know what the heck to do with an upcoming project. And I’ve got one here that Jennifer from Illinois posted and she writes: "My husband and I are getting ready to finish our basement in the fall and we want to understand the pros and cons of pulling permits, assuming that all of the work we do will be up to village code. Specifically, if we don’t pull permits, what might happen if we decide to sell our house down the road? We were told by a realtor friend that we could be fined and we would have to rip out all of the uninspected work. But of course, if we do pull permits, we know that our property tax is going to increase. Can you help us understand how the assessment process works?"
TOM: Well, good questions, Jennifer. Certainly understand now you’re trying to analyze this but let me just say first that the inspection process can be very helpful to you. The municipal inspectors, especially, are very helpful in terms of identifying things that you may do or if you end up using a contractor, that you may have your contractor do that may not be safe. So, it’s important to have that extra set of talented eyes looking over the work.
In terms of the assessments, sure, is it possible that your home value – well, your home value certainly would go up if you had a finished basement. Would your assessment go up? Well, considering the fact that assessments are only done every several years, it’s not like it’s going to happen instantly or even go back retroactively.
And if it does go up, I don’t think, the way most homes are assessed, that it’s going to go up all that much. I don’t think I would get too overly concerned about that; I would be more concerned with making sure it’s done once, done right, done safely. And as far as your realtor is concerned, she may have had this experience. Sometimes, when you go to sell your house, the town will require a CO before the new owners can take occupancy and that triggers an inspection. If they find out that you did all this work and you didn’t get a permit, well, that could get you in big trouble. Will they make you rip it out?
LESLIE: Well, yeah.
TOM: I don’t know. I think that’s a bit extreme.
LESLIE: I know of – you know, I work with different contracting firms locally, as a decorator or a designer, and I get hired on specific projects. And we were working on an old Tudor home in Queens that the same family had occupied for a gajillion years.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: They had a finished bathroom in the attic that they made a bedroom, which apparently was never permitted. They came in to start inspecting the additions that were going on, saw this bath, made them rip it out.
TOM: Made them totally rip it out, huh?
LESLIE: Completely rip it out and have it re-inspected, seal off all the plumbing and then, of course, I’m sure it went back in afterwards.
LESLIE: But that’s what happens and you don’t want to have those additional expenses.
TOM: I guess it’s possible. It depends on where you live in the country and how angry your municipal inspectors are in not having given the opportunity to do those inspections.
I mean realistically, do you have to rip something completely out before you can inspect it? Not really. You could take out enough so that it could be inspected or if areas that were not accessible could be inspected. But I guess the point is they could make it – your life difficult. So, I think for all those reasons, you really should just get a permit and be done with it.
LESLIE: Yeah and you don’t want that.
TOM: Do it once, do it right, don’t do it again, maintain your house value, increase your house value and don’t have any hassles when it comes time to sell your house.
LESLIE: Alright, Jennifer. Enjoy that extra space.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online 24-7 at MoneyPit.com and you can also pick up the phone and call us any time of the day or night at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
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.)