Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement projects.
So, Leslie, what do you think one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to lawn care is?
LESLIE: You mean besides ignoring it and thinking it'll just grow perfectly?
TOM: Well, that's you. (laughing) So you would know. You're actually very close. Actually, it's over watering. You know, a lawn needs a lot less water than you might think. Watering less often but for a longer period of time to give it that thorough root soaking is the hot ticket. Now, you know, in my house, I think we water about every third day.
TOM: And that seems to do the trick.
LESLIE: I water when it just doesn't look good.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. That ... by then, I think it's probably too late.
LESLIE: You know when our landscaper puts a note in the mailbox that's like, 'Try watering your lawn.' (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, hint. You need me. (laughing) Well, to help you get your lawn off on the right foot, we're going to give away, this hour, a great prize package from Vigoro. It's worth 100 bucks. It includes all kinds of lawn and garden care items; everything from garden tools to decorative stone to mulch. It's all in store for one caller to 888-MONEY-PIT. It's a great way to get a head start on your spring landscaping. So call us right now to get in on the give-away or to get a head start on your home improvement project. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: James in Indiana is having a flooring situation. What's going on?
JAMES: Well, I'm doing a remodeling and there's - I'm going to call it a parquet wood flooring. They're interlocking ... they ...
LESLIE: They're little tiles.
JAMES: They ... well, but besides the interlocking, they were actually glued to a concrete floor.
TOM: Ah, you see, oil and water don't mix and neither do wood flooring and concrete. (laughing)
LESLIE: And concrete. That sounds terrible.
TOM: Yeah. Usually the concrete is so hydroscopic, it holds so much moisture that it causes the floor to warp.
JAMES: Oh. Well, it doesn't ... it hasn't done that ...
JAMES: ... but I want to take it all up.
JAMES: I've taken kind of like an air chisel hammer type thing ...
JAMES: ... and I've been prying it up. But there's still a lot of glue on the concrete.
TOM: I bet.
LESLIE: Well, they probably needed so much glue to overcome the moisture in the concrete to make it adhere.
TOM: What kind of finish floor do you want to put down?
JAMES: Well, what I want to do is take all this wood flooring and glue up and I'm going to put a subflooring down then I'm going to put an oak (inaudible) on top of that.
TOM: Well, you know, I think, generally speaking, it's still not a good idea to put wood flooring on top of concrete unless ...
LESLIE: Unless it's an engineered hardwood.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. I think you might be ... I think ... there's probably an easier way to do this. If you can get as much of that glue off as you can, to the point where it's fairly smooth, engineered hardwoods go down on top of an underlayment that's usually soft and cushy and will take up some of the ... if there's any roughness left from the glue. And then they lock together. Think of ... think of hardwood plywood; that's what engineered hardwood floors are. It's like a laminated assembly of different hardwoods that go in angles that are 90 degrees opposed to each other. And when you do that, James, they become dimensionally stable and they won't rot or twist or warp. And they're pretty easy to put down because they lock together.
Now, there are different densities of finishes that you can buy on that. You can buy a residential grade or a commercial grade. And there is a huge - I mean huge - difference in durability between the different levels of finishes. So you need to pay close attention and buy the best finish you can afford if you want it to really last.
JAMES: Oh, okay. Now, do you have any suggestions of how to get this glue up? That's where I'm running into the problem. I mean I've tried a grinder but that just loads (ph) the wheel.
JAMES: And is there any kind of chemical that I can put on there? I mean, anything that would eat this glue up?
JAMES: Because there is a lot of it there.
TOM: I don't know, Leslie. Any ideas?
LESLIE: Well, I mean in situations where we've found things glued to concrete, I've used like a Goof Off product; something that's made to get rid of an adhesion. But it seems like you're going to just need a ton of it.
JAMES: Yeah. I mean ... the room's about 10x20, so ...
LESLIE: I mean, generally, we've used - you know, on the show; on While You Were Out or on Trading Spaces - we've used Goof Off and then just a chisel and just dug away at it. But it seems like there's a lot of glue on there.
JAMES: There is. There is.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean, how about ... how's your room with height? Are you able to just put a subfloor directly on top of all of it and call it a day?
JAMES: See, I'm on a slab home and if I do that, then that's going to cause me to raise up the exterior doors and ... yeah, really ... worse case scenario, I'm probably (inaudible).
TOM: Well you know, there are some earth-friendly products that actually will work to remove adhesive that you might want to try. There's one that's called Citrus King and the website for that is citrusdepot.com. And they have an earth-friendly, nontoxic, biodegradable adhesive remover that might work for a situation like this.
LESLIE: Yeah, especially when you're dealing with so much glue to get rid of.
TOM: Yeah, you don't want to use a harsh chemical. And that's why I think something that's a little less toxic would probably be a good thing.
JAMES: I was actually thinking of like a muratic acid or something to eat it up.
TOM: No. Let's go with a different direction, now, okay? (laughing)
JAMES: Okay. (laughing)
TOM: Put the brakes on. Let's put it in reverse. (laughing) Let's get away from the harsh chemicals.
JAMES: If I can avoid that, I definitely want to. Okay, (inaudible).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Yeah, Leslie, everybody wants to go with the high toxic chemicals.
LESLIE: Well, especially if you're working in an enclosed space. I mean it sounds like this is a basement situation or something where you're in an enclosed area. And if you're going to put something that harsh down, you're not going to be able to go back in that home for days.
TOM: I just think it's really funny that most people want to do things in a natural, pretty organic way; except when it comes to convenience. (chuckling) Then people ...
LESLIE: Yeah, and then they want like the most destructive thing.
TOM: The big guns come out. (laughing)
LESLIE: So, Ron in Rhode Island, you call us about a problem but you're doing a home improvement project right now?
RON: Yes, I am.
LESLIE: Yeah? What are you working on?
RON: We're painting the bathroom.
RON: And I ... this is the third time I painted it with ... we have like a peach colored shower stall and fixtures - toilet and sink - and not a hell of a lot will go with it. It was ... it was like a peach color on the walls and we wanted to change it. We painted it a light gray, then we went to a light green and now we're going to white and I don't know.
TOM: Okay. And the problem is this paint continues to grow mold?
RON: No, no, no, no, no. That's another problem.
LESLIE: No, he's just painting. He's doing home improvement projects.
TOM: Oh, okay.
LESLIE: And asking home improvement questions.
RON: (overlapping voices) And also we have a white house with wooden shingles. And I'm getting this black mold ... you know, little round spots in different areas. And I was wondering what would be good to get rid of it.
TOM: Bleach. Yeah.
LESLIE: Yeah, a bleach and water mixture.
TOM: Yeah. What you want to do is mix ... do a bleach and water mixture; probably - I would say - probably at least one part bleach - maybe two parts - to five parts water. And then you spray that down and you let it sit for a while so it kills the mold. And then you could clean it off. Now, with wood siding, you don't want to use a lot of pressure but you can use a pressure washer; that's an option. Now, you mentioned that it was spotting. That might be something called artillery fungus. And that's, traditionally, very, very difficult to get off. Have you put fresh mold - excuse me - fresh mulch around the house?
LESLIE: Because that would be (inaudible) ...
RON: As a matter of fact, you know, last spring I did it with, I guess, the pressure washer and I did it with bleach and also I put hydrogen peroxide in there. And my wife says maybe TSP.
TOM: Well, better be careful, this chemical cocktail that you're mixing up there. (chuckling)
RON: Oh, it's outside, though.
TOM: No, all you need is really bleach. Bleach is a great mildicide. There's one other product that I could suggest and that's called Jomax - J-o-m-a-x. It's really a house-wash material. And you mix it up with bleach and it helps the bleach actually last a little bit longer. It's made by the Zinsser company. So you could give that a try, as well, the next time.
RON: Where could I get that?
TOM: Oh, any hardware store or home center has that. It's a very, very commonly available product.
TOM: Also good for taking moss off of roofs. Okay, Ron?
RON: Very good.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, Money Pit listeners, did you know that controlling weeds is vital to the health and overall appearance of your lawn?
TOM: I know how to control weeds. It's called a weed whacker. (laughing)
LESLIE: I think that just destroys them.
TOM: Or is that the way I control moles? (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, terrible!
TOM: (laughing) No.
Well, you know, if you're like most homeowners, you probably are not using the right amount of products at the right time to keep the weeds away. We're going to help solve some of these magical garden mysteries ...
LESLIE: See, when you don't water the lawn, you don't get the weeds. (laughing)
TOM: Ah, is that right? But when ... but when you do water them, the first thing that grows back is always the weeds. Well, we're going to sort the weeds from the chaff (chuckling) when we come back.
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[audio timestamp: 13:54]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So you've probably had this happen to you. You mow the lawn only to have those cute little yellow dandelions pop up a day later. What's happening is most people fail to control weeds because they'll use a weed control product in the spring and then wonder why they have weeds in the summer. Did you know weed control products need to be used regularly, just like fertilizer?
TOM: And you can sort of kill two birds with one stone by using a weed and feed product. Another mistake most people make - bad timing. There are actually two types of weed control: one's called a pre-emergent and that prevents weeds before they happen; and the other one's called a post-emergent and that kills weeds after they've come up. So make sure you use the right product for the right weed at the right time and your lawn will look great; just like a putting green all season long.
LESLIE: Alright, I'm going to try my best.
And to help you develop that beautiful green lawn, one caller on today's program will win a great prize package that is sure to give you a green thumb.
TOM: That's right. It's 100 bucks worth of Vigoro products. It's got some Weed Stop mulch; it's got tools; it's got plant food; even some decorative stone. So call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT to get in on the giveaway.
Leslie, let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Denise in New Jersey is talking about cracks in the driveway. What happened?
DENISE: Yes. Oh, a little bit upsetting. I have a concrete driveway. And after a near record rainfall all through the month of October, I've noticed that there are cracks that have developed all the way across the width of the driveway. We did have - I don't know whether this has anything to do with it - before this record rainfall, we had an extremely hot and dry August and September. So, now these cracks are really pretty disturbing. And I'm wondering what I should do about it. I'm hoping it's not a case where I have to take the whole driveway up and replace it.
TOM: Well, how old is this driveway, Denise?
DENISE: That I don't know. I moved into this house this past summer.
TOM: Is it a newer house or ...?
DENISE: It was built in the 50s.
TOM: Okay. Well, you're not going to be able to repair the cracks. I mean, you're never going to put the concrete back together again. The best you can do is to caulk them. I would use a flowable urethane caulk with those cracks - available at home centers. And basically, you're filling them it with a caulk that's similar in color. The fact that you did have an incredibly hot summer, you know, means that the earth was very, very dry coupled with a very ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And then all that water caused it to shift ...
LESLIE: ... which caused the cracks. Like things were settling and moving.
TOM: Yeah. And once that water gets under those slabs, then it just has ... it just kind of slides down the hill, so to speak. Now, if the driveway is put in with expansion and contraction joints, that won't happen. But, you know, this driveway was not done that way and that's why you've got that movement. So the best you can do, right now, is just to seal those cracks. And you're doing that for cosmetics. You're also doing it so that you prevent the water from getting into those cracks and further separating the spots. Because if the water gets in there and then in the winter time it freezes, it'll push those slabs apart. Even though they're big and heavy slabs of concrete, it'll actually push them apart or the water can get under and push them up and cause what's called a frost heave and that's a big, stinking mess, too. So the best thing for you to do is to simply seal it up with caulk.
DENISE: Okay. And just make sure that it's level? Is there ... should you use something like those tools that level out the cement when you're doing concrete or cement work?
TOM: Well, you're kind of past that, now, because the concrete's already there and in and dry and hard. So all you're trying to do is just seal it. Now, if the slabs start to lift, then, you know, that's a different problem and we could talk about that a different time. But if you're just talking about a section that is just cracked, then all you need to do is to fill that in with the flowable urethane caulk and just maintain it that way. Okay?
DENISE: Okay, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol from Florida, how can we help?
CAROL: Hi, there. I have a problem in my garage, which is I live in Florida close to the ... very close to a sea wall on the intercoastal (ph) but I don't know if that has anything to do with my problem. My garage is on the same level as the street. There's no like elevation to my ... to my house in that area. However, the rest of my home is about a foot and a half higher than the garage level. The problem I'm having is that especially in the winter, I notice there are areas of moisture. It's a concrete floor within the garage floor. And I was looking at considering cleaning it up and having it painted but I look at those areas of moisture and it seems like it's more noticeable in the winter months.
LESLIE: Well, that's clear because what you're having is condensation because the air is cooler than the ground temperature from being warmed in sunny Florida all through the summer months. So when the temperature drops a little bit, as it does in Florida, you're going to get condensation. Is that true?
CAROL: Yes, I can imagine.
TOM: Well, what you want to do is definitely clean that up and then paint it. That's not going to help your condensation issue but there's no reason you can't. And if you use the right kind of paint, it will stick and it's going to make it look a lot nicer.
CAROL: Do you have any recommendations? Do I need to prime it?
TOM: Absolutely. What I would recommend is a product called EPOXYShield. It's an ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. This is fun.
TOM: It's an epoxy-based garage floor paint that comes in a two-part mix. So you get a gallon of this epoxy product and you get a quart of the hardener. And actually, the gallon is short-filled; there's like three-quarters of a gallon of material in there. So you open it up and you mix the two together, stir her up. And that has a chemical and an air-based cure. And they also include, in that box, this cleaning detergent that's designed to really kind of neutralize and sort of etch the surface so you get good adhesion. But I think if you do that, it's a real thick, durable surface.
We actually put it down in - believe it or not - the Boy Scout house here in my home town. The guys put it down in the kitchen because it takes a ton of traffic from all of those scouts. So they went out and picked up some EPOXYShield and put it right down and it looks great.
You can also put like this chipped surface in it so it kind of has this ... sort of nice, speckly look to it which hides the dirt, too.
CAROL: Excellent. Can I ask you when the moisture reappears - let's say, next winter - is that going to ... you know, what's the effect? It's going to counteract it?
TOM: Well, I'm afraid that it's not really going to have any insulating properties. You're going to ... you know, live in paradise, you're going to have pay the price (chuckling) now and again with some of those moisture issues in an unconditioned space like that. That's why your AC works overtime for the rest of the house; to try to dry it out.
CAROL: Okay. So is that paint that I put over top of the EPOXYShield or the EPOXYShield comes with this ... with these speckles in it?
LESLIE: Right. The EPOXYShield is the paint and then the sort of acrylic-y resin finish that goes on top with the speckles. You can also look into just a regular epoxy paint for concrete flooring and that will also seal it as nicely and best as you can. If you prime it and put that down. You can put down any color, paint any picture, paint the ocean, whatever you like. So ...
CAROL: Is EPOXYShield the name of the product? Is it ... or is that just a type?
TOM: No, it's a ... well, there is a product called EPOXYShield; it's made by Rust-Oleum. It's sold all over the place.
CAROL: Okay, guys. Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Carol. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Leslie, playgrounds should be a safe place for kids to play. But did you know that the wrong surfaces can spell tragedy for tots? You might know that asphalt is a bad material. You know, that's what we had growing up (chuckling); we had the asphalt on the playground. But you might be even more surprised to learn that grass actually can be a very unsafe surface for playgrounds.
LESLIE: Well, find out how to keep kids safe in your own backyard or public playground, right after this.
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[audio timestamp: 23:03]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Pella Windows and Doors. The Pella Windows Your Way Sale is going on now. Visit us at www.pella.com. Or call 1-800-TBD-PELLA today for a free consultation. Pella. Viewed to be the best.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
Well, playground surfaces made of asphalt are a dangerous thing of the past. But even grass can be too hard to prevent injury to kids. Today, materials like mulch or sand and recycled rubber provide a much safer alternative in the very, very likely event of a fall.
TOM: The very likely event of a fall. (chuckling) Because that's ...
LESLIE: Yeah, because sometimes I would go swinging to see how far I could jump off of that swing.
TOM: Absolutely. Well, for your own backyard play set, you need to use at least nine inches of wood chips, mulch or shredded rubber for equipment that's up to seven feet high. If you're going to use sand or pea gravel, you need about nine inches for equipment that's even up to five feet high. Or you can use mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials. Now the most important thing is that whatever safety material you choose, it's got to extend six feet in all directions from the play equipment. So not just under the equipment but out away from the equipment for those kids that like to launch themselves (laughing), just like Leslie did as a kid.
LESLIE: Yeah. And when you're at the school or the park, make sure you check your child's playground to make sure surfaces under the swings and the slides and the climbers are well covered. You want to look for a total depth of about 12 inches to be ideal.
Coming up in our next e-newsletter, more playground safety tips including a guide to the playground equipment that's safest for your kids as well as the most unsafe stuff that you still sometimes see at older parks.
TOM: And if you're not a Money Pit e-newsletter subscriber, you are missing out. There's tons of great advice and tips coming out of your inbox every week. Best of all, it is free. F-r-e-e. Free. Log onto moneypit.com to sign up today.
LESLIE: Alright, well listening to The Money Pit on KQKE is Don in California. And you want to talk about windows so how can we help?
DON: Well, I have some windows that have some condensation - they're double insulated windows - and there's condensation that sort of looks like ...
TOM: In between the panes of glass, Don?
DON: It ... it's ... it goes away.
DON: It's not between the panes, I don't think. I think it's ... I'm not sure but you know, we have ...
TOM: Yeah, I bet you it is. If it comes and goes, what that is is a bad seal. And the thermal pane seal is breached and so you get moisture inside that pane of glass. And depending on the difference between the outside temperature and the inside temperature, you get more or less condensation and fogging inside those windows. Now, the bad news is it can't be fixed. But the good news is it doesn't ... it's really cosmetic and it doesn't majorly affect your efficiency of that glass.
DON: Yeah, it only happens in the winter time.
TOM: Right. Well, that's when you have the different ...
LESLIE: Well, when it's cool outside and it's warm inside ...
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: ... and you get the differences in temperature clashing on the glass.
DON: So it's like a dew point or something. Is that how it ...?
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
DON: Yeah. Oh, because I was ... I was curious. I was like, 'I'm going to wipe the glass off,' but ...
TOM: Right and you keep wiping and it doesn't go away.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices)Well, it's like when ...
LESLIE: It's like when you have a cool drink on a hot day and the glass gets all moist and condense-y on it. It's the same concept there.
DON: Oh, on the outside of the glass (inaudible).
TOM: Except it's happening inside. Yeah, you see ...
LESLIE: Happening in between your panes.
TOM: ... the seal that goes between those two panes of glass, it's called swiggle.
LESLIE: I love that word.
TOM: Yeah, it's a great word, isn't it?
TOM: And eventually it breaks down and it lets the ... lets the ... it releases its vacuum.
TOM: And then you get moisture in there.
DON: Yeah. They're not low-e. Some are low-e. They have a film on ... I'm not sure those are low-e; they just are double-pane.
TOM: Probably not. And I'll tell you a quick way to tell. Especially if it's a south side, if you feel a lot of sun through those windows, if it's very warm, it's definitely not low-e. Because low-e reflects the heat of the sun back outside.
DON: Oh, okay. So for ... okay. For fading of things, it reflects the heat outside so that ...
TOM: Yeah, low-e is better at that. And you know, you might just want to put up with it. But if you decide to replace your windows, then you buy, you know, new thermal pane seals. They're probably going to have argon gas as the fill or it could have krypton gas. And then you make sure you get low-e coating. And that's the best, highest efficiency window that you can really put in today.
DON: Okay. So it's ... it's the seal that ... I forget what you ...
TOM: It's the seal that's bad and ...
DON: Squiggle or something, you said.
TOM: Yeah, it's the seal. Well, now you know you're not going crazy and your wiping that off and it doesn't come clean.
DON: Good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Don. Thanks so much for calling us at The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Addie in Illinois is having a plumbing problem. What's going on?
ADDIE: Well, I'm redoing a bathroom and there are three plumbing fixtures in the bathroom. On one side of the wall, there is a toilet and a sink. On the opposite side of the wall, there is a bathtub. When we opened the wall up, what we found out was that the toilet is vented to a pipe but the sink is a pipe that goes up, is capped off but is not vented into any type of vent pipe. And sometimes when you have the water going, you hear a gurgling sound when the water goes down in the sink.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
ADDIE: I'm trying to figure out, must that pipe that's - it goes up, it's capped off - should it be vented to a (inaudible) pipe also like the toilet is?
TOM: Yeah, it should. That's why you're hearing that gurgling. Because the sink is basically gasping for air ...
TOM: ... is what that sound is. So it should be connected up to the main vent pipe. Or it ought to have ... there's a type of a valve that can go on top of that vent pipe that basically lets air in but doesn't let sewage gas out.
TOM: But either way, whatever the easiest way is to vent that, it should definitely be vented. Otherwise, you're going to have a slow, gurgly sink for as long as you have that house.
ADDIE: Okay. Okay, so it must be vented. Okay.
TOM: Yep. Okay, Addie?
ADDIE: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mowing is a mystery to most folks. In fact, experts say it's the most misunderstood and poorly performed part of lawn care.
TOM: You know, when I was growing up, mowing was definitely a mystery to me and I definitely performed it very poorly (chuckling), because I was thinking that if I did a really bad job, my dad would commandeer the lawnmower back and take the job over.
LESLIE: And make you never do it again?
TOM: Exactly. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, but I bet it didn't work.
TOM: No, it didn't work at all. (laughing) But it was ... it was a good theory at the time.
LESLIE: Yeah, good try, Tom. Nice try.
LESLIE: Well, there is more to mowing than just cutting the grass every Saturday. Coming up, we're going to tell you the one most important thing you need to know about mowing your lawn, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
So here is the secret of lawn care; lawn mowing, in particular.
TOM: The secret is ...
LESLIE: When cutting the grass, so many people out there are setting their mowers too low and they're scalping the lawn.
TOM: Of course they are. Because they want to just do it once and like have it ...
LESLIE: Fall (ph).
TOM: ... you know, last for a while.
LESLIE: Exactly. So you cut it shorter; you think that's the key. But it's not the key. You never want to remove more than a third of the height of the lawn at any one mowing session, okay? This may mean you'll have to mow more often than weekly during prime growing times, which are usually the spring and the fall. Sorry, folks.
TOM: But you can go to the gym less often. (laughing) Think of it in a positive way. You know, the height is very important because the grass uses the extra length to absorb the sunshine it needs to grow. Think about it. If you're going to stunt the ... if you're going to cut it way down, you're kind of stunting the grass because ...
LESLIE: Or it's going to burn.
TOM: ... well, because there's no receptor there for the sunlight. So the grass really needs that full length of the blade. So don't take too much. Most grasses do best with a length of two to three inches. The only time it should be cut shorter is for the very last mowing of the season.
Well, to get some more tools and tricks for a great yard, call 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now and get in on our great prize package.
LESLIE: That's right. We're giving away 100 bucks worth of Vigoro products including Weed Stop mulch; it's infused with herbicide. And it's got some tools in that package, plant food and even some decorative stone. So that's certainly sure to inspire a fantastic yard.
TOM: Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Victor in California listens to The Money Pit on the Quake. And your question is a cleaning one. What can we do for you?
VICTOR: Yes, my question is how can I remove oil stains from granite? And then what kind of sealer is suitable to keep that from happening again?
TOM: Well, Victor, how did the oil stains get on the granite in the first place? Is there a story here?
VICTOR: Just from food, yeah. It's a ... it's a counter in the kitchen. Very nice. It's a beautiful surface and it's very hard. But it does, unfortunately, absorb greases and oils. And it probably wasn't sealed properly by the (inaudible) originally.
LESLIE: Oh, so it's beyond just the fact of the oil has sort of just created a stickiness. Because if you do have some stickiness on your countertop, I always clean up - if I spill oil or if I'm cooking and there's oil overspray - I tend to use some white vinegar on a rag to wipe that away. Because in the restaurant industry, you know, you know the two cancel each other out and if you ever had to fill an oil decanter and you got it on the sides, we would wipe it off with some vinegar. So I always think that's a good solution. But it sounds like you're beyond that.
TOM: You know, Victor, there is a website out there that specializes in cleaning materials for stone surfaces. It's called Stonecare. Their website is stonecare.com. And there is a cleaning material out there called Marbamist. And it's designed specifically to clean countertops. And once you rub the countertop down with this stuff, it does a really good job of taking out all of the old oil and the old stains. But the key thing here is that after you get it clean, you've got to seal it. And so there are also stone sealers that you can purchase that will seal it and that will stop some of the absorbative issues that's causing all this grease to soak right in. So I would take a look at stonecare.com and pick up some countertop cleaner, clean it really good then seal it. And then, stop spilling oil on it, will you? (laughing)
VICTOR: (laughing) Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Bud in Virginia's got a problem. You've got some heat pumps. What's going on?
BUD: Yeah, I have two heat pumps on my house. It's a single family home. It's 2,500-square-foot all on one level. And it has two heat pumps and one of them is really starting to make a lot of noise. And we're going to have that replaced but I was wondering if we can just get one whole system to replace both units with one.
TOM: Well, it's separated now into two zones, I presume. Correct?
BUD: That's correct, yes. There's two thermostats and two ...
TOM: Yeah. No, so you will always need two heat pumps.
BUD: Okay, there's no way to put that all into one? My only reason for that is the cost of one is (inaudible) cheaper than buying two and they're both about 20 years old.
TOM: Yeah, but then you would have to run ... let's say ... let's say you could, conceivably, do that. You would be running a much larger unit and spending a lot more money to run it more hours of the day. With two zones, you know, you run the different zones when you need them. So, a two-zone system is always more efficient than a one-zone system, even though the equipment cost is a little bit higher.
TOM: If you have a one-zone system, you can divide it up further by the use of zoning dampers that close off different parts of the duct system. But you generally can't take a two-zone HVAC system and turn it into one; nor would you want to.
TOM: Alright, Bud?
BUD: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. And by the way, one other way to try to save money on heat pumps, for those of you that have them, is to make sure you put in a heat pump clock setback thermostat. That's different, Leslie, than a regular thermostat because heat pumps ...
LESLIE: How so?
TOM: Well, heat pumps use really two systems to heat your house. They use the heat pump itself, which is kind of like an air conditioning system that runs in reverse. And they use an electric furnace as a backup heat; basically, straight resistance heat - a coil that air blows across. And if you set the temperature in your house to, say, 70 degrees, and it falls to 69 or 68, the heat pump works. But if it falls to 67 or below, the resistance heat comes on. So what most people do with regular thermostats is they're always bouncing that heat up or down, say, 10 degrees. Well, if you do that with a heat pump, as soon as you drop it or raise it back up 10 degrees, the electric resistance heat's going to come on and that costs twice as much or more to run than the heat pump.
So a heat pump setback thermostat, what that does is it very slowly inches the heat up or down so it doesn't sort of let that resistance heat come back on. So the kind of thermostat you use is really important.
LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you're thinking about a drop ceiling. Tell us about it.
LINDA: Yes, I'm looking to install a drop ceiling - acoustical ceiling - in my basement. And I was wondering if you had any tips or ideas on how to do that in the most painless manner.
LESLIE: Well, actually, drop ceilings, you know, it doesn't have to be those foamy-looking acoustic tiles anymore. There's some great new advances in that; particularly, by a company called Armstrong. And if you go to their website - Armstrong.com - you can see a variety of different tiles. So if you're looking for something different, that's a good place to start.
TOM: And the installation itself is fairly modular. You know, the secret is simply getting that first track up around the outside of the walls. And laser levels have come so far, today, that that really is the easiest way to do it. With a laser level, you can very easily get a level line all the way around the wall so that you get that track in the first place. And after that, Linda, it's just a matter of snapping the whole thing together. It's as easy as putting together LEGO blocks.
LINDA: Great. Sounds like it's a weekend adventure for me.
TOM: Yeah, well ...
LESLIE: (laughing) Well, enjoy it.
TOM: That's right but hopefully one you won't get lost on.
LINDA: Good. (laughing) Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, listening to us on WPRO in Providence, Rhode Island.
LESLIE: Have you ever wondered if your decorating decisions could reduce your property value?
TOM: Well, they could and we're going to tackle an email question about that very topic, next.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you're putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one - getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or email us by logging on to moneypit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright. Michelle did just that and she writes: 'Is tiling the bedroom a good or bad decision? I just tiled my daughter's bedroom even though my husband wasn't thrilled with the idea. We have pets and I chose the tile because of the pets' shedding and to make cleanup of the occasional accidents easier. My husband thinks tiling the bedrooms lowers the value of the house but other people that I talk to said it would add value. So please help me settle this debate and put my mind at rest that I didn't make a huge mistake.
TOM: I think the first thing that Michelle needs to do is get rid of the pet. (laughing)
LESLIE: Well, yeah, or train the pet.
TOM: That would solve it.
LESLIE: Or send it to a pet-training program.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I don't know, Leslie. I think that tiling the bedroom is probably a mistake unless you happen to live in an area of the country where that's very, very common - like say Florida.
LESLIE: Yeah, it's not very warm or comforting or cozy, which is what you want a bedroom to be.
TOM: Yeah, if you live like up near us in New York City, you certainly would never consider tiling your bedroom. I mean you might tile your kitchen, you might tile your foyer. Perhaps you might tile a family room or a rec room. But you would never tile a bedroom. So, if you had a tiled bedroom and you lived in the northeast, I think that a buyer of your home would probably frown on that particular situation. You live down in the warm southern climate, maybe that's a normal thing down there. But up here it's not. So really, decorating is a very personal decision but if you don't make the right one, it could detract from the value of your home and I think that you, perhaps, did make a mistake in this situation. But you know, look. The worst thing you're going to have to do here, Michelle, is you're going to have to maybe replace that tile with carpet or something of that nature when it comes time to sell the house. You're going to be in that home for a long time, you might as well enjoy it though. It's down now and maybe ...
LESLIE: Or she could advertise when the house is for sale, 'Home with five dens.'
TOM: (laughing) There you go. (laughing) You know, there are other kinds of decorating decisions, I think, that would take away from the value of the house. Generally, if you're remodeling the home and you make it ... you oversize the home for your neighborhood; if you put too big of an addition on or too many bathrooms or bedrooms or things like that, where it's inconsistent with the rest of the homes in the neighborhood, that kind of thing can not give you a great return on investment. If you want a good return on investment, you want to generally stay fairly neutral. And I think the two rooms in the house that give you the best ROI: kitchens and bathrooms. Every single time.
LESLIE: Yeah, but even in kitchens you can make mistakes by, say, putting in a countertop that's really good for your choice but not the best for resale; say, like an electric blue sparkly granite. That might not be the best for resale. Might work great for you but it might really detract a new owner or new buyer from, say, making that sale.
TOM: Yeah, neutral is really boring but neutral is what, really, new buyers want to see because they want to imagine their stuff in your house. And if it's neutral, they can do just that.
Well, this time of the year, we want to take the inside out; get out there and enjoy the fresh spring air. But on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word you've sort of got some counter advice on how to bring the outside right back in.
LESLIE: Well, spring is a great time of year to bring the outside in. Take clippings from outdoor ivy and root them in water indoors for some free house plants. Buy inexpensive shade annuals and pot them up for indoors. Fuchsias, impatiens, begonias and primroses are wonderful for bringing in color and do well in extremely low light. So that's a good option for indoors. And instead of storing away candles for the winter, why not take out the old glue gun and add some organic touches of twigs and leaves and potpourri; whatever you have lying around the house that says spring. So use your imagination and bring the outdoors into your home.
TOM: Great advice. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is our telephone number. Moneypit.com is the website and the home of the free Money Pit e-newsletter. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, it could happen when you're least expecting it. Each year we hear about children getting hurt or worse in accidents involving a fall from a second floor window. Now there's a simple step you can take to keep your family safe. We're going to talk about that next week on this 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 2006 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.)