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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project. We are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. What are you working on this fine summer weekend? We’d like to hear all about it at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, concrete is a very durable surface. But after many years of neglect, it can really become worn, it can become cracked or even crumble under your feet. If that describes a problem in your house, you might be thinking that replacing it is the only option. Truth is it’s not. There’s another option now called “resurfacing.” We’ve got tips on how you can do that. And guess what? It is a do-it-yourself project.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you really want to set your home’s entry apart, you might want to consider a decorative driveway marker. You know, it could be something really beautiful at the base of your driveway that lets people know exactly what your home number is. It can be made of natural materials. It can look really organic and gorgeous.
So we’re going to tell you how you can build one, with help from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.
TOM: Plus, over a quarter of a million injuries happen every year due to a task that millions of us do every weekend: yard work. We’re going to have tips to keep you safe, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a whole-room air-freshening system called AirQ. It’s similar to the high-end fresheners that you see in spas and hotels. And you’re also going to get a scent cartridge.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $300. Going out to one caller, drawn at random, that calls us with their question on today’s show. So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Michael in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: We’re trying to remove paint from a concrete floor and we’re not sure what type of paint it is. But the paint thinner and the really high-dollar paint removers have no effect on it. We painted on top of it and the paint that we put down on top of it was made for concrete and it’s supposed to be the high-durable paint but it just will not stick to it. You can just wipe it off with your fingernail.
TOM: Wow. What kind of top-quality concrete paint did you put down? Was it an epoxy paint?
MICHAEL: Oh, you’ve got me there.
TOM: Was it a two-part? Did you have to mix two parts of paint together to get there?
MICHAEL: No, sir. Well, they did the mixing at the store.
TOM: A couple of things. First of all, I would give it another shot with a good-quality paint remover. We’ve had very good success with Rock Miracle, which is one that is a pretty good paint stripper. So you want to get as much of that old stuff off as you can.
But in terms of the concrete floor, the sort of state-of-the-art way to finish a concrete floor today is with epoxy paint. And there’s a number of manufacturers that make this. Rust-Oleum makes one, QUIKRETE makes one, a few more manufacturers make them.
The way epoxy paint works is it’s a two-part mix. You get a can – a gallon – that’s short-filled; it usually has about two – about three-quarters paint and then an air space. And then you get a quart can that’s got the hardener. And you dump the hardener into the gallon, stir it up and then you apply that as the paint. And they usually also come with color chips that you can put in there to give yourself some texture, some finish to it. And then through chemical reaction, it will dry.
And you will find that the epoxy paint is a lot stickier than, certainly, a latex paint is. And so I would do the two things: I would strip off the paint that’s coming through – the one where you feel like you don’t have a good base – and then I would consider putting an epoxy paint down on top of the whole thing. Because I suspect that the paint that you did put down may not be that durable.
MICHAEL: Alright. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dawn in Florida who appears to be a texture junkie looking to retexture a ceiling.
Dawn, I think this a first. How can we help you?
DAWN: My house is about a year-and-a-half old and when they textured the ceiling, it’s a light orange peel, same thing they did on the walls. And they said it would be easier and more economical to do that than to try to do a slick coat on my ceiling. I don’t think that’s true. Instead now, a year-and-a-half later into it, then I noticed that you can still see the mud marks.
Well, I’ve been doing a lot of research on painting and they have all this Venetian plaster and all these different techniques. And I often got to wondering if I could do that on a ceiling – the same wall technique on a ceiling.
TOM: What does the ceiling look like right now? Like how deep is the texture that you have?
DAWN: Very light. It is a very light orange peel but you can still see the tape and the mudding. Late at night, I look up there and I’m like, “I can still see the lines where the drywall goes together.” So, you can definitely see it raised.
TOM: I’m concerned that even if you do put the Venetian plaster kind of paint on that, that it might not be thick enough. Because if you can see the tape and the mud, it means that the ceiling was never properly spackled. And if it wasn’t properly spackled, you’re likely to see that through no matter what you do.
DAWN: Well, what do you think I should do? You think I should hire somebody to come in and just redo my ceilings? It’s not a very big house. It’s actually an ICF-construction house. It’s got solid concrete walls with rebar. And so it’s very solidly built and I went through a lot of trouble to have it done so a hurricane couldn’t blow me away. But I want it to look good on the inside, as well.
TOM: ICF stands for insulated concrete forms, for those in our audience that have never heard that term used. And it’s a tremendous way to build a house because it is hurricane-proof. Literally, all the things that get thrown around in a hurricane will not pierce the outside of the house. You’d be surprised how quick a 2x4 could be jammed right through a building that’s made with wood siding or even vinyl siding. Could be even worse.
And the ceiling itself, if it wasn’t completely spackled, I’m concerned that if you put anything on top of that, it’s going to show through. So I would suggest then – what you might want to do is to sand – have somebody come in and sand those areas that are not properly spackled. Do a good job spackling them and then lightly sand the whole thing, put a good coat of primer over it and then – because this is a repair, it’s not going to be as smooth as if it wasn’t a repair. So then you could use a plaster paint – a Venetian plaster or a textured paint – as a final step. Does that make sense?
DAWN: OK. Well, I think we’re on the same page and I appreciate it.
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, we’ve just crossed the halfway point of this summer season. So, if there’s something you’re working on and you want to complete before we start racing toward Labor Day, give us a call. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if your house has some old, cracked concrete walkways or driveways, that can really bring down the curb appeal. And if you’re worried that replacing it could be cost-prohibitive, I’ve got good news: there’s a less expensive fix. We’re going to tell you about concrete resurfacing, 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.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win the AirQ Room Air-Freshener System.
It’s a very cool product. It’s kind of a cube that includes computerized controls for the duration and the intensity of the scent. And AirQ can replace aerosols, plug-in air fresheners, reed diffusers, scented candles and other old-fashioned, low-performance air fresheners that often pose health and safety risks.
LESLIE: Now, this product is going to erase, rather than mask, those odors with a combination of air neutralizers and aromatherapy scents, just like the systems used in high-end hotels and spas. The winner is going to get one AirQ cube, plus a scent cartridge.
It’s a prize worth $300, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Charles in Ohio is on the line and is dealing with some dogs that like to just eat away at the yard. What’s going on?
CHARLES: I was wondering if there’s an economical way to fix my problem I’m having in my backyard. I have a fence that’s square-shaped in the back of my yard, if you count the back of the house. I have two dogs and they like to run from one side of the house to the other, leaving a mud path – hardened, baked path – from one side of the house to the other. And I’m looking for a way to fix that that would be easy on my pocketbook.
TOM: OK. So, can we control the dogs so that they won’t wear it out again if we restore the lawn?
CHARLES: No. The dogs, they – any time they see anything come across in front of our house, they like to run from one side to the other. So without chaining them up, which defeats the purpose of our fence, we like to let them run free.
TOM: You know what? A couple of things come to mind, one of which is that the kind of grass that you have there – I was thinking, Leslie, that something like a zoysia grass might be a little bit tougher.
LESLIE: It is very, very durable.
Now, the other thing I was thinking – is this directly in the front of your house or is it on the side of your house?
CHARLES: The fence is in the back of the house, so basically it’s a big smiley face from the left side of the house to the right side because they run around the – my deck.
LESLIE: I was going to say if there’s a way to make a slate pathway or some sort of stone that obviously would change the look of the yard itself but would give you an area that’s not going to be constantly scratched away at.
CHARLES: That sounds very feasible.
LESLIE: And that’s not difficult to do. You can completely create a pathway using some edger or you can get remnants of slate at any sort of stone yard. You can think about a ton of different ways to do it. Pavers. You can pick a price point and stick to it.
CHARLES: That sounds great. Will the dogs, because I put stone back there, stay off of that and create a new path or will that not affect the dogs at all?
TOM: I don’t think so. I think the dogs want to run against that fence, so they’ll probably try to get as close to it as possible.
CHARLES: That sounds great. I sure do appreciate it. I’ll look into some stone work then that – where I can make a smiley face going – back of my house.
TOM: Alright, Charles. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Juanita in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a kitchen-cabinet painting project. How can we help you?
JUANITA: I have wooden cabinet and it had oil-based paint on it. And I put some water-based paint not knowing what I was doing and I want to remove the water-based paint. How do I do that?
LESLIE: Now, Juanita, when it came to prep work, did you remove or prep that surface of the existing finish on the cabinets in any way? Or did you just go ahead and apply the new paint to the old?
JUANITA: I just applied the new paint to the old.
LESLIE: Now, I think that’s what the problem is and not so much about water-based over oil-based. The issue is with the oil base, you’re dealing with a sheen, so you’ve got a slippery surface on the cabinet there. And then you’re dealing with years of use, so the kitchen cabinets are going to be a little dirty and slippery themselves. So, when you put the new paint on top, it didn’t really have anything to adhere to and just sort of slicked right off. So I imagine it’s probably peeling and rubbing off in areas, right?
LESLIE: So what you want to do at this point is – I mean because you’re dealing with different mixtures of paints here, you might want to invest in a stripping agent. One that I like to use when it comes to cabinetry is called Roc Miracle and it’s R-o-c Miracle. Comes in what looks like a turpentine can. And you apply it because it’s kind of – I would take all the doors off.
Did you do the boxes, as well?
JUANITA: No, I did not take the doors off.
LESLIE: OK. It might be easier for you, just because you’re going to be taking off the finish, to just unscrew the cabinet door from the hinges and leave the hinges on the box themselves and sort of label it. If you’ve got one door off, put a tape on the back that says “A” and put a piece of tape on the inside that says “A,” just so you know exactly where they go back to. It makes life a heck of a lot easier.
Lay them down on a flat surface, apply the stripper, let it sit there. Then you’re going to scrape it off. You’re going to give them a light sanding, clean them off well. And then I would personally use a very good-quality glossy paint because that’s going to adhere well at that point. And it’s going to give you a good finish that’s very cleanable.
JUANITA: Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: Well, if you have concrete surfaces in your home that have become worn and deteriorated, replacing it can be very costly. But there is another option: resurfacing it with concrete resurfacer. It’s an easy-to-use product that’s made by QUIKRETE.
LESLIE: QUIKRETE Concrete Resurfacer is a blend of Portland cement, sand, polymers and other additives that create an economical solution to replacing existing old, deteriorated concrete. It’s designed for making thin repairs to concrete that’s still sound but just needs a little surface facelift.
TOM: Yeah. It provides a very durable, wear-resistant surface that can really stand up to heavy traffic – both foot traffic and vehicle traffic – if you used it, for example, on your garage floor or your driveway. So it really is perfect for surfaces like that, including sidewalks and patios.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You actually apply the concrete resurfacer with just a trowel for smaller areas or a masonry brush for your curbs and steps. You want to make sure that the area is completely clean. A pressure washer is going to work great. And that will ensure that the resurfacer adheres to your original concrete.
You also want to make repairs to any pits or cracks. And you can use this product to fill in those areas, making sure it’s completely dry before you put the new surface layer on.
TOM: It’s definitely a do-it-yourself project. And for more guidance, you can visit QUIKRETE.com for complete instructions, with photos and step-by-step tips.
LESLIE: Robert in Michigan needs some help with a composite deck. How can we help you?
ROBERT: I was just wondering, have the composite materials for the deck – have they come up with anything yet that is good for not fading? I’ve run into some problems with the materials I have available to me here in Northern Michigan. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the sunshine or what but the composite materials seem to fade real bad up here.
TOM: That’s interesting. You know, I’ve not seen that and I’ve used composite decking for many, many years. There is a company out called Kleer – K-l-e-e-r. It’s got a product called Kleer Decking. They’re one of the new sponsors of our show. And I had a chance to look at their product up close at the Remodelers’ Show just a few months ago and I was pretty impressed by it.
And the Kleer Decking is made of PVC. And so the color is solid through this. It comes in seven different colors and I don’t think you’d see any fade with that. And they’ve got a lifetime warranty, so I doubt they’d put that on there if there were any fade issues.
TOM: I think that the newer products are probably pretty good and going to protect you against fade. Take a look at their website. It’s KleerDecking.com. It’s a good place to start. K-l-e-e-r-Decking.com.
ROBERT: OK. I’ll do that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Delaware who’s looking to install a new roof. How can we help you with that?
BILL: What I’m looking for is some – a little guidance in the type of roofing material and the – as to the ventilation that they talk about. I’ve talked to a couple of people and they – one had talked about a roof vent which is, I think, in the peak of the roof. And the other contractor that I talked to said that you needed a thermostatically-controlled thing in there that would control the heat and the humidity in the – in your attic.
TOM: Yeah, Bill, that’s a great question. You’re talking about the difference between a ridge vent, which goes down the peak of the roof, and an attic fan, which is mounted in the roof and is controlled by a thermostatically-controlled switch, as you said.
TOM: Now, what we would recommend is passive ventilation, so that’s not the attic fan. It’s a continuous ridge vent matched with continuous soffit vents. They’re actually far more effective than the attic fan. But there’s one additional, major benefit and that is the ridge and soffit vents working together are not going to steal air conditioning from your house.
You have central air conditioning?
BILL: Yes, I do.
TOM: Well, if you turn that attic fan on, it will not only depressurize your attic but it can also dig deep into the living space of your house, because there’s all sorts of nooks and crannies where wires and pipes come through walls. And they’re all connected, thermally speaking, to the inside of your house. So what we’ve seen is that when you turn the attic fan on, it can actually depressurize into your house, as well, and steal away some of the air-conditioned air.
So, attic fans are only recommended in the rarest of circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that – this contractor probably started putting them in when he first got in business and just never stopped and certainly is another profit center. But I just don’t think it’s a good idea except in very limited circumstances. I think what you want is continuous ridge and soffit ventilation. That will do the best job.
BILL: OK. Alright. What about the type of roofing material? I’ve seen some that look like thatch and some that look – that they give a kind of appearance of being thatch even though they’re the asphalt or whatever type of it.
TOM: Right. Well, they’re all going to be asphalt-shingle roofs but you’re – what you’re talking about is something called a dimensional shingle. And a dimensional shingle can look like a wood shake, it could look like a slate tile, it could look like red-clay roofs. They’re all good – all made of asphalt. And they’re very good today at the way these shingles are produced to give you that effect.
I would take a look at some of the roofing products made by Owens Corning. They do a really good job with this. And they’ve got roofs – especially in the coastal area of Delaware where you live, they’ve got roofs that can stand over 100 mile-an-hour winds.
BILL: OK. I’ll look at that. And I appreciate it and I thank you for your time.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, do you want to make your house stand out from the crowd? Why not create a decorative driveway marker? We’ll get tips on how to do just that from Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And have we got a contest for you. We’d love for you to get in on our Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes. We’re giving away three great prizes, including a propane grill, plus enough propane for a backyard bash, from Blue Rhino. It’s a prize worth $178.
TOM: All you have to do is visit our Facebook page, hit Like and fill out the entry info. If you share the sweeps with friends, you can also get bonus entries. Check it out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stan in Oregon who’s dealing with a hot-water issue. Tell us what’s going on. It doesn’t come out that great or that hot? What’s happening?
STAN: It comes out but it just makes a lot of noise. It does a lot of spitting, kind of like there’s air in the lines just, you know, like when you purge the line sometimes and then you put the pressure back on, it takes a while to get the air out? It makes the same kind of a sound. And it only does it on the hot-water side and it does it in every faucet in the house: the tubs and the sinks. All the same, only on the hot-water side.
TOM: Does it do it when it’s off for a while?
TOM: Now, what kind of water heater do you have? Is it gas or electric?
STAN: It’s electric.
TOM: OK. Have you checked the heating coils?
STAN: No, I haven’t.
TOM: Sometimes if you have a bad heating coil, this can be a condition that occurs. Is this fairly new in terms of you seeing the air spurt out of the faucets?
STAN: No. It’s been like that. I just bought the house about a year ago and the house has been sitting empty for about two years.
STAN: It was a foreclosure that I bought, so I have no idea.
TOM: Here’s what I would do. Now, there’s an easy way to test this but you need to kind of know what you’re doing. So this might not be a do-it-yourself project, alright? I’m warning you, because it involves electricity.
But the way you check an electric water heater out is you turn the power off at the panel and then you expose the – you open the – take the covers off so you can see the coils. And then what you can do is with a continuity tester, you can check each coil to see if the power passes through it. You have to take one wire off of one side; otherwise, you’ll be checking it sort of backwards. But you could check continuity on each coil to see if the coil isn’t working.
TOM: So you’ll still have hot water even if only one of the two coils is working but you’ll run out quicker.
STAN: Right. Uh-huh.
TOM: And this may be the norm for you: maybe you don’t know that you’re only using your water heater at half its capacity. But I would check the coils first because that could be what’s causing so much air to be in the system. It’s just not heating the water enough.
STAN: Thank you. I appreciate your time and thank you for the information.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you may have noticed that the homes that really stand out are the ones that have a little something extra at the end of their driveway. I’m not talking about a fancy car. I’m talking about a driveway marker.
TOM: Besides adding curb appeal, driveway markers can serve a practical purpose, too. Here with tips on how to build one that will stand up to the elements is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.
ROGER: Thank you for having me.
TOM: So, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to add a driveway marker, right?
ROGER: Yeah, sure. I mean first of all, for a basic reason is if you’re in a rural area or you just need someone to know where your house is. You can put in a solid marker and either mount or etch in the numbers of the house. And it makes a real difference for people trying to find you.
TOM: And of course, there’s the aesthetic reason, too. Having a driveway marker at the end of the driveway – even if it’s not a long, long driveway – can really sort of set off your property, right?
ROGER: That’s right. And you can use anything as simple as a 4x4 with numbers on it to – we’ve even used pieces of granite, where we had the number etched and painted on it. Now, you want to talk about a statement, that made a statement. But I’ve even done it with boulders: put a number on a boulder at the end of the driveway.
TOM: And of course, having that number readily visible is important from a safety standpoint, too. Because if you had an emergency, you certainly want EMTs and fire and police to find that house very, very quickly.
ROGER: Right. And one thing you want to do is make sure that it’s far enough away from the road that the delivery truck doesn’t wipe it out on the way out or the plow guy or assorted other people don’t whack it when they’re coming in and out of the driveway.
LESLIE: Should you be lighting this, for obvious reasons, that you can see it in the evening hours? Or do you just trust that ambient lighting is going to do the job?
ROGER: I love when people light it up, especially if it’s incorporated with some plants on the side. It really makes a huge difference.
Sometimes, instead of uplighting, we’ll downlight it, too.
TOM: So let’s talk about maybe a couple of do-it-yourself options. Is there a project that maybe you could do over the course of a weekend that could add a driveway marker?
ROGER: You could do something as simple as putting in a 4x4 post into the ground.
ROGER: And then you could either carve in the numbers or just paint them on the side of it. Same thing if you found a piece of granite post that had a flat side on it. You could probably paint the numbers on that.
A rock will be a little more challenging but you could probably do that. Bring it over, set it in place and put a number on that.
LESLIE: Now, if you are using a 4x4 post – you know, traditionally, if you were using a 4x4 post for anything structural, it’s got to go a certain amount of depth into the ground and be secured a certain way. Because you’re just using it as an address marker, do you have to follow those same rules?
ROGER: I don’t think you do at all but I would like to have it enough into the ground that – so snow or maybe a slight bump isn’t going to knock it all askew.
TOM: Now, speaking of setting posts into the ground, there is something important you have to do before you set that post into the ground, especially given the fact that you’re up against the street. And that is to call for any utility mark-outs, right?
ROGER: Right. The 811 number is essential in having the services marked out. You think about it: most of the utilities run right along the street in an area where you’re going to put these markers in.
TOM: So you simply call 811 and they’ll be able to send somebody out to mark off where the utilities are. And this way, you can hopefully miss them.
ROGER: Right. They are not the utility companies. They represent them and they send people out to mark out – tell them where to mark out all the lines.
LESLIE: And it doesn’t cost you anything. However, if you were to dig and did do some damage, you are responsible for all of that.
ROGER: Never mind you could even hurt yourself.
LESLIE: Or everyone else.
TOM: And if you don’t call 811, you could end up calling 911. We don’t want that to happen.
ROGER: You’ve been waiting for that one, weren’t you?
TOM: Alright. What about – you had mentioned wood posts, you mentioned granite markers. We talked about lighting. What about landscaping around these? Is that an opportunity for maybe to create another little landscape bed and cut back on some of the maintenance?
ROGER: One thing you can do is put in a white picket-fence style with it sort of at 90 degrees to each other so that they have the big post right there that you can number. But if I do that, I want to take and make a plant bed all around that so it doesn’t become a hard thing to trim. And that’ll help set off the fence and make it look beautiful.
TOM: So putting in a driveway marker is a fairly simple project: one that you can accomplish yourself; one that adds to your curb appeal; one that adds to your safety and your security, as well.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for being a part of The Money Pit.
ROGER: Remember to call 811.
LESLIE: That’s right. Call before you dig.
You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Still to come, danger in your backyard. Over a quarter-million injuries happen every year. We’ll have tips to help you stay safe, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller who asks us their home improvement, repair or décor question on the air is going to get a chance to win a fantastic prize from AirQ. This is a whole-room air-freshening system, just like the ones used in high-end hotels and spas.
TOM: It’s actually a 5-inch cube that comes in pearl or black. And it can be programmed for both scent intensity, duration and even come on automatically. Now, how it works is AirQ will erase, rather than mask, bad odors with a combination of neutralizers and custom-made scents. It’s even much more efficient and safe and economical than candles, diffusers, plug-in fresheners and more.
LESLIE: And the winner is going to get one AirQ, plus a cartridge, for a total value of 300 bucks.
Give us a call. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Paul in Hawaii has got a leaky bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.
PAUL: Yes. In my master bathroom, there’s a granite countertop sink with – it’s a countertop with two sinks. The left sink, underneath the cabinet, constantly has a strong mildew smell. Now, I’ve cut the back of the cabinet out to check the drywall. No leaks. I’ve cut a hole in the floor of the cabinets to look at the concrete. No leaks. I don’t know where it’s coming from. I’ve got a bucket right now of those crystals that absorb moisture. The thing is full of water. I’ve had a friend of mine who’s another contractor – I’m also a contractor – and we can’t figure out what’s going on.
TOM: So you have high humidity in this cabinet, is that what you’re saying?
PAUL: Yes. High humidity in the cabinet. I live in a very dry area so it’s not like there’s moisture in the air from the outside doing it. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s causing it. I …
TOM: And you’re on a slab?
PAUL: On a slab floor, correct.
TOM: Slab floors are very hydroscopic. They pull moisture up from the dirt, up through the slab and into the cabinetry itself. You might just want to think about venting this cabinet. Have you ever left the doors open for a week to see if it made a difference? Because I bet it would.
PAUL: It does. It actually does.
Now, here’s one thing I must tell you: there’s an outdoor shower on the opposite side of that wall but it’s all granite, sealed to the tile. So, I can’t imagine how it would be coming in from that side but anything’s possible.
LESLIE: Yeah. But could it just be a condensation issue, like when you’re running cold water and the warmth and humidity of just being in Hawaii, moisture forms on the cold-water pipes, drip, drip, drip?
PAUL: I don’t think that’s it. It just doesn’t seem to – that doesn’t seem to be the problem. The only thing I can think of, somehow moisture is, like you said before, is coming underneath the ground and up into the cabinets somehow. I guess that’s probably what’s happening and (audio gap) how to solve that. But your idea of venting that cabinet is probably a really great idea and there’s a way I could do that. I could put a small, round vent in the – to the outside from that cabinet wall there.
TOM: I think it’s moisture that’s coming up through the cement slab and it’s congregating in this unconditioned space of the cabinet. And it’s building up to the point where you’re noticing it, vis-à-vis a moisture smell, which you’re calling mildew. And I think if you vent the cabinet, that that’s going to go away.
PAUL: Alright. Well, listen, I’ll definitely consider that venting. That was a very good idea. Thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, working in your yard provides a great opportunity to combine exercise and the pursuit of outdoor beauty. But it can also lead to injury if you’re not dressed for the job.
So, start with gloves. Sturdy work gloves give you a better grip and they shield your hands from painful blisters. And if you’re going to take a stroll behind the lawn mower, you want to wear work boots, long pants, gloves and eye and ear protection. That is so important. Even a quick pass with a string trimmer or an edger can call for a good reason to protect your eyes and your ears. The noise can hurt your hearing and flying debris can permanently damage an eye. It can happen, so be careful.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, if you’ve got a chore that involves pesticides or other chemicals, you want to wear long pants, long sleeves and rubber gloves to protect your skin. And you need to add a breathing apparatus and safety glasses.
After you suit up and before you get started, you need to take one more prep step: you’ve got to do a little stretching. It’s going to minimize the muscle soreness that will result from hours of outdoor activity.
TOM: And this is especially true if it’s been a while since you’ve done any intense yard work. Always pays to stretch first.
LESLIE: Martha in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARTHA: I had thrown rugs on my kitchen and bathroom floor. And the backing had turned yellow from being washed so many times. And the yellow from the backing went onto the linoleum and I cannot get it off.
TOM: It did. Yeah. And you know why, Martha?
TOM: Because the yellow didn’t go from the throw rug to the linoleum. When you put a rubber-backed throw rug on linoleum, you get a chemical reaction called “oxidation” that physically changes the color of both products.
TOM: And so what you have is a stained – a permanently-stained floor. You’re not going to be able to clean it; you have to replace it. And when you buy new linoleum, some of the manufacturers even warn you about this, because so many of us like those rubber-backed throw rugs as a place to stand on near the sink and whatnot.
LESLIE: And you’re not going to go slipping and sliding.
TOM: Exactly. But it’s really bad for that kind of floor.
MARTHA: I see. OK. I guess I’m stuck.
LESLIE: Well, you can always get a bigger rug.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. To cover the stain.
MARTHA: Yeah, OK.
TOM: Martha, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, every year, we hear about those backyard decks that collapse. And that’s usually when they’re built badly or just badly worn and then, of course, loaded with 50 or more of your closest, personal friends. We’re going to have solutions to keep you safe, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And there are many ways to get in touch with us. You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question on MoneyPit.com or on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, just like Min (sp) did in Vermont.
LESLIE: Alright. Min (sp) writes: “I live in the mountains and get lots of snow. This summer, I want to build a deck myself but I’m worried a big, flat, elevated deck won’t be able to withstand the weight of the snow. I’ve seen more than one crumble. What should I do?”
TOM: Not do it yourself.
LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. That needs to be properly engineered.
TOM: Yeah. I mean a deck’s a fun project but it’s more fun when it’s 6 inches off the ground. To build an elevated deck as a first-ever deck project is really not smart. Look, we are the first ones to tell you when you can do it yourself. You can’t do it yourself because it has to be – as you said, Leslie – properly engineered, properly designed, properly secured. And frankly, even the construction process of building an elevated deck can be dangerous.
Take it from me. I’ve built many of these in my career. I’ve had beams drop out of the sky during that process. So of course, we’re always cautious to keep the area where the beams can fall clear. But you know what? An amateur that doesn’t do this every day is not going to know how to take that caution.
So my advice is, first, don’t do it yourself. However, to the question of can it be strong enough, it absolutely can be strong enough. We have the technology, we have the materials, so it can be strong enough to stand up to snow. Look at all the beautiful decks that are built in the mountains where there’s just tons of snow, not only in Vermont but Colorado and places like that. Look, it can be done. It just has to be done right.
So don’t do this yourself. You want to get it properly designed and have a pro do it. Have a pro who will help you. Maybe you can be an assistant; maybe you can be on the job, get some on-the-job training. But just don’t do it yourself. It’s not a good place to start, Min (sp).
LESLIE: Alright. Frank in Kentucky writes: “I have hardwood flooring with an area rug in my living room. A friend’s cat visited a few months back and I’m just realizing it wet on the rug and now there’s a blackish stain on the wood. Can I remove that without stripping the floors?”
TOM: No. Because what’s happened here is that the acid has basically soaked into the wood, it’s reacted with the wood and the finish and it’s caused the wood to discolor. So the only way to repair that blackish stain when it gets into the wood – and I’ve seen this before; it happens with oak a lot – is to sand down through it.
Now, if it’s a lighter-color floor, of course, this is much harder to do. If it’s a darker-color floor, sometimes you’ve just got to get it, you know, light enough to be sort of – blend in with the rest of the floor. But you absolutely have to sand it. I’m afraid there’s no easier way.
If you catch it quick – if this ever happens again and you catch it quick, then you stand a chance of not having it stain.
And then there’s – what’s that product, Leslie, that neutralizes the acidity?
LESLIE: It’s called Just Rite. It’s Odor – 1•2•3 Odor Free. There’s a whole line of it that will work if you have an area that’s on a rug or in rug padding that will neutralize all of those enzymes.
But really, when you’re on a wood floor like that that’s had the chance to sort of change its composition, you really do have to sand it.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on this fine summer day. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some great tips, advice, some suggestions and perhaps some motivation to take on your next home improvement project. We are here to help you, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And remember, you can always post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page. Thousands of you do just that and it’s so rewarding to see all of the advice that follows, when those questions pop up, from the rest of the community. So, if you’ve got a question, we are here to help. Our community is here to help and we want to help you get that project done.
That’s all the time we have. 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 2014 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.)