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: Here to help you tackle your do-it-yourself dilemmas, your direct-it-yourself dilemmas. Any project that you want to get done around your house, we will make sure you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer by taking a wrong step. The first correct step, though, is to go to your phone right now, pick it up and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because it’s time to get your fix and we’re here to help you do just that. So give us a call with your question; we will help you get the project done the easy way, the safe way, the least expensive way.
Coming up this hour, it’s time to throw open the doors to spring, literally, with a brand-new fiberglass door. Now, this was my project for this past fall and I am so glad that I did because these doors are durable and have amazing curb appeal. And one of the fiberglass doors that we’ve talked about on this show has gotten a huge thumbs-up from the folks at Consumers Digest. We’ll tell you about that and how these doors can save energy in your home, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, here is a brand-new trend that we are picking up on and it is the woman cave.
TOM: The woman cave?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. It’s the opposite of those dark, cozy man caves that you might find in your basement or the garage. The woman cave is more likely to be outside, say, in a greenhouse or a garden shed. We’re going to tell you more about this trend and how you can incorporate it into your money pit, coming up. And hey, with Mother’s Day right around the corner, this could be a nice idea.
TOM: How can a greenhouse or a garden be a woman’s cave? I mean doesn’t a cave have to be underground?
LESLIE: The Earth is your shelter, Tom.
TOM: I see. Alright.
And you know, speaking of green, we’re going to hear about another kind of greenhouse this hour. We’re going to talk about modular green housing that can help you decrease your carbon footprint and live comfortably. And specifically, we’re going to talk about a technology that is new to the market, where you could actually order a house online. Yes, we have finally gotten to the point where you can order a house online.
LESLIE: It’s amazing.
TOM: And it’s delivered to your doorstep, except the doorstep comes with the house.
Alright, folks, do you find this time of year that the one project on your to-do list is spring cleaning? Well, if you’ve already started, give us a call because if you give us your home improvement question and we answer it on the air, one lucky winner is going to win a spring-cleaning enhancer. We’ve got Easy Liner Shelf Liner to get all of your cabinets looking clean, pretty, organized.
I find myself organizing my cabinets a gajillion times a month, practically, so this would be great.
TOM: It’s a prize package worth more than 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random this hour, so pick up the phone and call us right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Darren in Delaware is on the line with a carpet-removal question. Tell us what’s going on.
DARREN: We have wool rugs down. They’re, oh, about 40 years old and they’ve wore like iron. And the situation being now, you can see – start wear patterns in them. Well, we picked some up – we’re going to replace the rugs – and the padding underneath, going back 40 years, was like a rubber-type padding.
DARREN: And it was taped in place and it’s all stuck to the oak hardwood floors.
TOM: Oh, boy.
DARREN: And we can pull some of it up but most of it is stuck down. Do you have a remedy for removing that without damaging the floor and getting it ready for new padding and carpeting?
TOM: Well, there’s no way you’re going to be able to do it without damaging at least the floor finish. But if you’ve got beautiful oak floors, why are you going to recarpet?
DARREN: Well, unfortunately, they had area rugs in this home all that time. I don’t know. Easy maintenance. And it was beautiful around the perimeters and the rugs, they did their job.
TOM: Well, I mean easy maintenance, you get that with a hardwood floor, too. I’ve got to tell you, if you want to do something that’s really going to add some value to your house, I would show off those beautiful hardwood floors and not put carpet back down.
But if we can’t talk you out of that, you’re going to have to scrape that padding off. There’s no easy way to do this. You can get a big floor scraper. It looks like the same tool they use to scrape roof shingles off houses; it’s like a long, metal pole with a flat blade at the bottom. And just get as much off as you can.
But if you did want to refinish those floors, you get as much off as you can and then you hire a floor-refinishing company. You don’t do this yourself, because they’re going to need a real big belt sander that does this job. And it’s the kind of thing that you can rent but unless you use it every day, you’ll ruin your floor. And you can sand the floors down and bring them all down to the original wood and then stain them and finish them and they’ll be beautiful.
DARREN: I see. Now, let me ask you: if you leave it bare floors, there’s no carpeting or rugs or – how about area rugs?
TOM: Yeah, you put area rugs on it. And you – it could be a beautiful décor element, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. And I feel like nothing makes a room feel larger, more elegant, more well-put together than a beautiful wood floor. And then add on top of that a fantastic area rug, then you’ve really created and complimented the look of the space.
And Tom’s right: when it comes to value, people love wood floors.
DARREN: OK. Sounds good. We’ll give it a try. Looks like we have a lot of work ahead of us.
TOM: But it’ll be worth it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carolyn in Arkansas is on the line with a septic-system question. How can we help you today?
CAROLYN: OK. I have a septic system and we’ve had a lot of rain here. Oh, probably the last maybe three months or so it’s been a lot of rain. And I’m in the kind of the rice land of Arkansas. It’s very wet ground. OK.
So, anyway, I was having trouble. When I would flush the commode, it – now, it never ran over, which I’m very grateful for. But the water wasn’t going down, OK? And it would go down eventually but maybe take 20 minutes or more.
TOM: OK. Does everything else in your house drain normally? Is it only the commode that you’re having a problem with?
CAROLYN: Well, the commode and the sink in the bathroom.
TOM: But do we know that it’s the septic system? There could be an obstruction in the drain and that’s the first thing I’d look at.
CAROLYN: OK. I did have some fellows out – a reputable company – and they did pump out 120 gallons.
TOM: Well, that’s – but you’re always going to have 120 gallons. The septic tank fills up with water, it overflows into the field. So, pumping out 120 gallons doesn’t really tell me anything. What I want you to do is to have the lines checked, because I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your septic, that you may have an obstruction.
Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a toilet that was having a slow drain problem. This guy was having a party and was doing this big cleanup for – before all the relatives showed up the next day. And so the toilet backed up and so he figured out that he thought it was a root problem.
And so he got up early the next morning and dug this huge hole in his ground to get down to this pipe and then snaked it one way, snaked it the other way, couldn’t find any roots in the way. Went back into the bathroom, decided that the obstruction had to be between the hole that he had dug in his ground and the bottom of the toilet. And so he took the toilet tank off of the floor and looked down into it and tried to snake that out and couldn’t find a problem. But in the process of taking the toilet off the floor, he happened to look into the bottom of the toilet and noticed that there was something blue there.
Now, there’s nothing that’s really supposed to be blue that’s in a toilet. It turns out that his darling son had dropped a toy phone down the toilet and that’s what was slowing the whole thing down. So, this guy had dug up his whole yard, took his toilet apart, all to try to find out what was causing this problem and hurried to get it done before all the relatives showed up. And it turned out to be a toy that was stuck in the toilet itself.
So, I’d say that guy was a real idiot and that guy was me.
CAROLYN: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: I’m like, “I’ve heard this story before.” I’m like, “Why do I think this was you, Tom?”
TOM: I was completely wrong on why I thought that that – I figured I was smarter than the average homeowner and knew that it – thought it was the willow tree that had clogged the pipes. It had nothing to do with that.
TOM: It was just a simple toy that was stuck in the crux of the toilet that I couldn’t see and finally got that off, put the whole thing back together, threw the dirt back in the hole and then headed off to get ready for the party. So you never know why your toilet is clogging.
CAROLYN: Well, that’s true.
TOM: And I wouldn’t always think it’s the most expensive possible thing, which is your septic system. Have the lines checked.
TOM: Who knows? And maybe you’ll find something that got stuck in there.
CAROLYN: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Want to learn how you can save money, energy and maybe do your part to save the planet, too? Just in time for Earth Day, take a look at our green product guide right now at MoneyPit.com, which is presented, in part, by Lutron.
TOM: With a C?L dimmer from Lutron, you can dim incandescent and halogen bulbs, as well as compact fluorescents and LEDs. So the dimmer you install today will work with tomorrow’s energy-efficient bulbs. Choose Lutron and visit www.ChooseLutron.com.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can be part of the fun. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, spring cleaning. Whatever you are working on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we are here to give you a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, are you facing an old, warped, wooden door or maybe it’s just one of those old, ratty, steel ones? That kind of door does not spell “welcome.” What does is a fiberglass door. They deliver more energy efficiency and durability.
This is a project that I did. I’ve been thrilled with the results and I’m going to tell you more about how you can do the same, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:10:21]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.
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 the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Call now for help with your home improvement projects and your chance to win. Because this hour, we’re giving away 3 rolls of Smooth Top Easy Liner in white, in 6-feet-by-20-inch-size rolls and 3 rolls of the 2x10-feet size, as well. So whatever you’ve got – cabinet, drawers, bathroom closets – you can organize, have beautiful, tidy shelves once again. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your project and your chance to win.
TOM: The best thing about giving away shelf liner is because you have to clean your shelves to use it.
TOM: So, there’s sort of a built-in spring-cleaning project involved, as well. Fifty bucks of this shelf liner going out to one caller who reaches us with their question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Art in Pennsylvania is on the line working on some storm repair. Tell us what happened.
ART: About a month ago, we had a wind storm and it took off three sections of shingles off of the roof. And I was able to retrieve them. They were, ironically, in pretty good shape.
But I remember seeing a program on PBS where they were redoing homes down in Florida, in the section where they get a lot of storms down there. And I think there is a requirement for the way that shingles are to be installed down there and I’m thinking, if I remember it right – and I didn’t have a chance to see the whole program. But on mine, when I took mine off, there was only like three nails in each of these shingles there. And I think, if I remember correctly, that down there they were requiring that there be more nails than that used to install shingles.
TOM: Well, Art, your goal now is to replace the shingles that you lost. And did you save the shingles? Were they intact enough to use the actual shingle for the repair? Because this way, the color will match.
ART: Yes. Yes, they were; they were in very good shape, yes.
TOM: Alright. So then what I would do is I’d get back up there and – assuming you can do this safely – and you’ll nail the new shingles back in. You want to put nails – you can put them pretty much where the old nails were but of course, not in the same holes because they’re going to be broken-through now.
You can’t really put too many nails on them. If you want to put an extra nail or two, that’s fine. But the key is after you get done nailing all of these down again, what I want you to do is to get an asphalt cement. And you can get it in a caulking tube and put a little dab under the loose end of the shingles so that the tab presses down and reseals. Because when shingles are new, they have an adhesive on the back of the tab that seals it to the shingle below. But when they’re torn off, that adhesive is gone. So you put a little dab of asphalt cement in there and that will keep it in place and stop it from sort of lifting up the next time you get a strong wind that comes across.
Does that make sense?
ART: OK. Well, I thank you very much. You’ve been very helpful.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, you know, we’ve been very lucky to have some of the best companies in the business as sponsors of The Money Pit, with products that we really feel like we can stand behind without question. And we want to take an opportunity to throw out a huge congrats to our friends at Therma-Tru Doors.
Consumers Digest Magazine has just designated Therma-Tru’s Classic Craft line of doors as a Best Buy in the fiberglass entry-door category. It’s really a terrific door. All five collections of Therma-Tru Classic Craft Fiberglass Entry Doors were included: American style, Mahogany, Rustic, Oak and Canvas. They all have the Best Buy designation and we’re really thrilled for them for achieving that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? This is actually the first time that Consumers Digest has ever even focused on reviewing fiberglass entry doors as its own category. In fact, the magazine writes: “No other door that’s in this price range replicates the look of a wood door better than the Classic Craft Series does.”
And it’s true; I mean they’re gorgeous. Not only are the Therma-Tru Classic Craft Fiberglass Doors beautiful but they’re energy-efficient, they’re strong, they’re secure and they really are indistinguishable from wood doors. We’ve seen them up close; it’s amazing.
TOM: I’ve got three of them in my house and you cannot tell the difference between fiberglass and wood; it’s just that good. You’ve got to see it to believe it. And you can do that at ThermaTru.com. They’re all backed by a lifetime warranty. Take a look at them online at ThermaTru.com. That’s T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kay in North Carolina who is dealing with a cracking, concrete porch. Tell us what happened.
KAY: Well, back in the wintertime, of course, we had it and last summer, we had it repoured. And during this wintertime, of course, it snowed and we had ice put down on it and the ice had salt put down on it, to melt it and not knowing that it would crack it. Now, I know it does that with the highways but I wasn’t thinking about my front porch at the time.
And so when the snow all thawed off, I saw the damage. And I didn’t think much about it but here it is springtime and I was out sweeping the leaves off of it the other week and the more I swept, the more the crumbles came off.
TOM: Right. Right, right.
KAY: And I just wondered, what could I do? Do I need to re-pour the whole thing again or what do I need to do?
TOM: No. The deterioration on the surface of the concrete or the cracks can be repaired with something called an epoxy patching compound. Now, this is a product that’s designed specifically to stick to a deteriorated concrete surface.
Essentially, you get rid of all the loose stuff, you trowel this patching compound on, let it dry and it really does adhere quite well. You will have, perhaps, some color issues where it doesn’t match exactly what was there before. But you could fix the cracks and then you could use an epoxy paint over the rest of the surface and make it all look even again.
KAY: OK. OK. Well, good, because I didn’t know. It was so nice and smooth at first and then I – all the damage came about and it made me sick to my stomach.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it was a rough winter, so these things happen.
KAY: Oh but thank you so much. I appreciate all your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kay. 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 ahead, are your energy bills making you see green? How about a green home? We’ll tell you about a modular green home that is so well-put together that you can actually order it online and have it delivered to your door, except that your door would actually come in the delivery. So, I guess more delivered to your plot of land? That makes more sense.
LESLIE: But how awesome.
TOM: Delivery with your door.
LESLIE: Exactly. So stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:02]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Right now at The Home Depot, all special-order Andersen windows, patio doors and accessories are 10-percent off. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Saving 10 percent on Andersen and lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen makes replacing your old drafty windows easy, with a new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Now 10-percent off at The Home Depot. Valid through April 22nd, U.S. only. See store for details.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And in home improvement, the buzzword is clearly “green,” as more and more consumers look for ways to save energy and live in a healthy environment.
LESLIE: Well, what if your whole house was green in every way imaginable, from the way it got energy to the materials used to build it? It’s what Blu Homes is doing and here to tell us more about the company’s prefabricated, modular and yes, green homes is Maura McCarthy.
MAURA: Hi, guys. Thank you for having me.
TOM: You know, Maura, years ago, when the internet was just invented by Al Gore, people said, “One day, you’re going to probably be able to order an entire house on the internet.” And everybody said, “Nah, not going to happen.” But that’s almost what you guys have brought to total fruition. Your company manufactures super-efficient, green, prefabricated homes and you’ve got a phenomenal site at BluHomes.com, where it all starts. So tell us about the process.
MAURA: Thank you. Yes, we’re really proud of it. Blu was founded because the American family was paying too much for houses that use too much energy and were not necessarily well-designed and certainly didn’t allow the family to have much input into the design, not to mention being stressful to build. So, obviously, that goes with your philosophy at The Money Pit.
What we wanted to do was to bring more transparency to the home building process. And Blu Homes, which is actually spelled B-l-u with no E on the Blu, is essentially a technology company that builds houses. We try to build at a fixed price in a way that is designed by you, online, for free.
And what we’ve done is essentially you use the technology that was designed for aircraft. Every car that you buy now, you can go online and actually customize if you buy a new car. And that is all done in a pretty sophisticated software that’s essentially an engineering software.
We do the same thing with homes. You can go online and what you see is what you get. You can actually choose all your upgrades; choose your finishes; choose your countertops, finishes and fixtures; design them all by yourself and get a fixed price that’s right in front of you and available and delivered by our company.
TOM: You guys have a tool that I’ve been really impressed with and actually having some fun with. It’s called a “configurator.” And with this configurator, you have enabled your consumers to select a house, customize that house and actually sort of travel through the house – both outside and inside, any angle imaginable – to really get a feel for what that space is going to look like.
And I think that’s very important because Leslie and I know, from being in construction these many years, that you can draw plans all you want but there are just some folks that have a very difficult time looking at a 2-D drawing and understanding how that space is going to feel around them. You’ve completely solved that with this configurator technology and made it easy to make changes to that space so you can really go back and forth until you have sort of the perfectly designed house.
And you know all the while what it’s going to cost so that if you add an upgrade to the kitchen or the bathroom, the price is automatically changed to reflect that. It really gives you a tremendous power to be able to go into this process – this very exciting but intimidating process – with that much less fear, because you really are not going to have the surprises that come so often when building a home from scratch.
MAURA: Yes. And what people are looking for is they want to understand what it is that they’re actually buying, what they’re getting. When you have a spec list that you get from a – in a traditional building scenario, you might – contracts with an architect, if you can afford an architect. Ninety-eight percent of Americans can’t. So you don’t get – typically, you don’t get an architect-designed house; you might get a floor plan from some floor-plan book or something like that.
Then you don’t really know what’s in the floor plans. So, then you’re – and asked to essentially imagine what this is going to look like in 3-D. You don’t actually know what the specifications are and if you do, it’s listed in the most fine print ever. And then you have to look up product numbers to actually go online and see what is this light bulb going to – what is the light fixture going to look like? What does the flooring look like?
So it’s just an immense amount of work to ask people to do. And in a way, we use more technology in ordering Indian food online right now than we do in building homes. We’re building homes the same way we were building homes 200 years ago, essentially. And the idea that we only have 2-D floor plans to look at is just immensely crazy given how much money people spend on their homes and the importance of it in their lives.
TOM: Excellent, excellent. Maura McCarthy, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Blu Homes, I’ve got to tell you, just a tremendous product, very well-made.
And the website is spectacular. You really should check it out: BluHomes.com – B-l-u-H-o-m-e-s.com.
Maura McCarthy, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MAURA: Thank you very much, guys.
LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, details on the new trend of woman caves. Not a dark basement like man caves but a greenhouse or a garden shed where a girl can relax and unwind in solitude and do her gardening and have a cup of coffee and just be on her own, which is all we’re asking, please.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:17]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board and brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project. If you do, we will help you take the first step towards clearing the shelves in your house, because we’ve got 50 bucks of Smooth Top Easy Liner. It’s shelf liner in white. It’s going to go out to one caller with a name drawn at random from those that have the courage to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Because if you do, just think about all the good things will happen: you’re going to win the shelf liner, you’re going to clean your shelves. It’s like the white-whale project: you just have to get done. We’ll take all that stress away and help you have a clean start this spring. So pick up the phone and call us with 888-MONEY-PIT, because the bonus is you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Jan in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAN: Yes. Thank you for taking my call. I have an older brick home in the neighborhood 70 years. I would like to know the R-factor between double-pane windows and triple-pane. I have to make a choice. Which would be best?
TOM: Yeah. You know, that’s a great question: whether it pays to go with double-pane or triple-pane. Certainly, triple-pane are a little more energy-efficient and in an area like Michigan, that’s something that we’re very concerned about. But they’re more expensive.
Now, one of the things that you might want to consider here would be to use a good-quality brand first. So I would kind of concentrate on the brand rather than the panes, because it’s all relative.
And then when you look at the brands, the next thing you want to look at is something called the National Fenestration Rating Council label. The label on the glass actually tells you how energy-efficient the window is. It will tell you what the heat gain coefficient it is, it’ll tell you what the U-factor is. And you can compare apples to apples, Jan, by using the National Fenestration Rating Council label.
And I will tell you that on our website, at MoneyPit.com, we actually have a replacement-window guide. It’s a free download, actually, from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. There is an ad right on the home page that will take you right into the page where this exists. And you can download this guide and in the guide, we actually have a picture of the label and we explain how you use it to try to sort out what the best window is for your home.
So I wouldn’t concentrate so much on double versus triple; I would concentrate on glass quality and that NFRC rating.
JAN: Perfect. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, most guys I know need a place to retreat to: a man cave, if you will. They’ve gotten a lot of attention over the years. Seriously, a lot of attention. And they’re almost a staple in some interior-design plans. But there is a new trend literally cropping up all over and it’s all about being outdoors.
Avid gardeners are building backyard greenhouses more than ever but it’s not just a spot for gardening. We’re going to call it a “woman cave.”
Now, this is a spot for relaxing, meditating, lounging, crafting or reading. It’s a place where women are creating as a retreat for themselves from their own hectic lives. And it goes hand in hand with a new trend towards growing your own produce, which is an economical option for all of your grocery shopping and it’s also super-eco-friendly.
TOM: Yeah. But I don’t think you can really call it a cave, since we’re talking about sort of a plot of land that you like to hang out in.
LESLIE: Well, I mean if it’s an awesome, beautiful greenhouse, we could call it “my cave.”
TOM: I guess you could.
And according to recent reports, the International Greenhouse Company is seeing commercial sales slumping but the residential sales of greenhouses have gone up 30 percent from 3 years ago.
Now, think about it: 30 percent in the recession that we’ve had, that’s pretty impressive. So if you’re interested in getting back to nature and getting back some time for yourself, you might want to consider a greenhouse or maybe an inexpensive version of that: a garden shed or even a covered patio that you can decorate with lots of greenery and a cozy reading space. You can modify this trend, make it your own, make the woman cave of your dreams and reap the benefits of simple stress relief that will follow.
Now, another way to reap the benefits of simple stress relief is to take one project off your to-do list and give it to us to help with. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Let us help you get that project done. Give us a call right now.
LESLIE: Alright. Jessica in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JESSICA: Hello. Well, I have two problems. And my first one is that I have a back deck, like probably a lot of people do. And it’s just maybe 5 or 6 feet wide and then it goes the length of the house. And it’s got a roof over it and it’s just real standard. And it’s probably a couple steps down to the ground.
Well, underneath, every year, for some reason trees start growing underneath the deck: small saplings.
TOM: OK. OK.
JESSICA: So my husband has to crawl under there with a Sawzall and cut them down. And there’s plants and ferns and these insane climbing vines that come out of it. And I don’t know where they’re coming from, first of all, like how are they growing in the dark? But second, how can I stop them?
TOM: Well, here’s what you want to do. Very simple. There’s a product called Roundup. Are you familiar with this?
JESSICA: Yes but it’s super-bad for the environment and I have dogs and …
TOM: Oh, come on. It’s not that terrible.
TOM: It’s not that terrible. If you’ve just got one thing that’s coming up, like one little section of fern or something like that, you can take a funnel and you can cover the plant with the funnel and then squirt the Roundup down through the top of that – the narrow end of the funnel – and you kind of create a little way that sort of keeps that chemical just on that plant.
But if you spray them down with the Roundup, then it’s going to go down to the roots. It’s going to kill them at the roots and they won’t come back. So that’s going to be a lot easier than having your poor husband go down there every year to chop down your mini-forest.
JESSICA: Agree. OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, flickering lights can be spooky and dangerous. We’ll tell you the causes, next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And why don’t you fan us on Facebook? This way, you can ask Tom or me your question online. You can also see what other fans have to say about it, too. And you’ll get a sneak peek at our most recent articles, shows and blogs. And you’ll be one step ahead to creating those perfect projects around your money pit.
And while you’re there, check out our Community section. You can post a question, just like Kevin in New York did, who wrote: “My upstairs light sometimes flicker when first turned on. My home was built in 1969. The downstairs lights do not flicker. The flickering always stops after a few seconds.”
TOM: OK. One big concern I have from your e-mail, Kevin, and that is that in 1969, many homes were wired with aluminum branch-circuit wiring, which is potentially very unsafe. What happens is the wire overheats and that overheating can actually cause the connections to loosen and arc and spark and cause fires. So, the first thing I want you to check is to make sure your home doesn’t have aluminum wiring.
Second of all, the wires don’t break down in the body of the wire; they break down at the connection points. So you need to check each connection point. Switches are cheap. I would replace the switches in that room. I would open up the light fixture, check each connection at the fixture itself to make sure that there’s nothing loose in either end.
So number one, check to make sure you don’t have aluminum and number two, check the connection points at each end. And when I say “check,” I’m presuming that you have the electrical ability to do this. If you don’t, hire a pro.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Annie in New Jersey who writes: “I need help with my kitchen sink. It’s so annoying to hear the pipes vibrate and shake. It’s both the hot and cold water and the only way for me to stop that noise is to use a lower stream of water. What is it?”
TOM: The valve. The valve in the kitchen sink is wearing and you’re getting the vibrating – it kind of is almost like a chirping kind of a sound.
Now, you can rebuild the valve but frankly, it’s so much work to find the parts and do it yourself. Kitchen faucets are so inexpensive these days. Plus, the valves are better; they’re ceramic-based and they never wear out. I would just replace the faucet and be done with it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright, Annie. This way, you’ll have peace and quiet in your kitchen.
TOM: Well, you probably have some well-loved furnishings that still have plenty of wear in them and could take a starring role in a room if you show them a little love with a fresh, new finish. Leslie has got the how-to to get that project done, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, furniture refinishing and upholstery are definitely do-it-yourself projects. And they can really turn into statement pieces, from items that really kind of blended into the background of your home.
So, what you need to do is first determine your approach and choice of materials by carefully checking the piece that you’re going to be updating, because construction and materials are super-important.
For example, laminate is going to require different prep and treatment than solid wood. And great bones means that reupholstery will be well worth the time and the trouble. And it’s really not that much trouble. It’s a great project to tackle; you just need the confidence to start and try.
You also want to take a look at the existing surface. Unless it’s chipped or loaded with layers of old finish, there’s really no need to strip the piece. A good sanding will really do the trick.
Now, if your piece does require stripping, that’s something you might want to outsource. Don’t be afraid to look at an old piece of furniture in a new way and you’ll soon have refinished furniture that’s better than anything you can buy, because you did it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, if you’ve got an older house with beautiful but perhaps drafty windows, then adding storm windows might be a smart move. But is this a job that you can take on yourself? We’re going to get the step-by-step on this project next week, from the experts at This Old House, when Tom Silva joins us on the next edition of the program.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2012 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.)