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 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why would you want to call that number, Leslie?
LESLIE: Well, maybe I'm working on something and I'm just not quite wrapping my head around how it needs to be done.
TOM: Exactly. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you've tackled a project and you're stuck in the middle of it.
LESLIE: Or maybe you need some ideas for a new project.
TOM: That's right. We are very good at keeping you busy (laughter) around the house. Because that's what we do. You know, if you've ever nailed your work glove to a project, then you're probably one of us.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Or glued your fingers together.
TOM: That's right. Or checked a ...
LESLIE: Not that I've ever done that.
TOM: (laughing) Yeah, or checked to see if a hot glue gun was hot with your finger.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. (laughter) I cannot tell you. Biggest tip folks: keep a glass of ice water around when you're using a hot glue gun. Not because you're thirsty. But you know it; when you get that glue on your finger, man ...
TOM: It hurts.
LESLIE: ... it is hot. So dip your finger right in that ice water and then you'll be able to peel that glue away. This way, you're not just trying to peel away burnt hot glue and then you're like, 'Ooh. Now burn my other finger and then burn my other finger.'
TOM: And see, that's just a small sample of the tips that you might get this hour on The Money Pit. But if you're maybe working on a roof leak, floor squeak, want to add something to your house, you want to build an addition, remodel a bathroom, pick up the paint brush ...
LESLIE: Boy, you're keeping them busy.
TOM: Whatever you want to do, call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you're working on something outside your house. You know, outdoor living is a trend that is here to stay in a very big way. It's more than just a decorating trend and many homeowners today are considering outdoor rooms a great way to increase their home's value.
LESLIE: That's right. In fact, a recent study by the Propane Research and Education Council found that Americans consider outdoor rooms second only to kitchens as a solid investment for their home. So that's major. So, if you're ready to expand into the great outdoors, what should you keep in mind? Well, we're going to talk to an outdoor living expert, in a few minutes, who's got some great advice on those outdoor rooms.
TOM: And, as always, we have a fabulous prize to give away this hour. It's going to be from Tomboy Tools. It's a plumbing kit worth 50 bucks. It's got all the tools that you need to take care of all the plumbing things inside your house. It's a kit that's designed for women by women. Guys, you can call, too, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT and give your wives or girlfriends a great gift as well. 1-888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: We're on our way to Michigan to talk to Rod about paint. What can we do for you?
ROD: OK. I put a floor down using the QUIKRETE product, which is really great. However, you know, it's not a cheap product and I put two coats on and followed all the instructions. And now I have some darker spots and what I'd like to do is go over it with some different paint that's not the epoxy. And I really want to know if I can do that.
TOM: Rod, this dark spot - is it dark because the paint didn't cover it all the way? Why do you have an area of the floor that's a different color than the rest?
ROD: That I don't know. It was brand new concrete. I followed the instructions implicitly; didn't deviate a bit. But it's kind of like where you double rolled it or something; it came out heavier. What I would like to do now is to put another coat over it but I don't want to use the epoxy paint again. Do they have another product? And if so, can I do that over the epoxy paint.
TOM: I'm not sure that there's another product that's designed to go over that. Did you also use the color flakes in that product?
ROD: Yes, I did.
TOM: Because you would lose all that by painting on top of it.
ROD: I know. But I don't want the different colors here now. I don't mind losing that. But it is good paint and I ...
TOM: And I can't recommend a specific product to go on top of it.
LESLIE: Well especially because the top coat of it is made to have such a sheen and to be so durable, it probably wouldn't even have anything adhere to it. How about an area rug and a plant? (laughter)
ROD: (laughing) It's for my '59 Chevy is why I built this garage; a place to put it in. I have oyster and everything.
TOM: Oh, boy. Well, your '59 Chevy's probably not going to mind the dark spot. But the only other thing I could recommend you cover it with is another epoxy paint. And if you don't like the one that you started with, then perhaps, you know, you could use a different type of epoxy paint. There are a variety of air-dry epoxies out there made by almost every major manufacturer; as opposed to the chemical cure type. But my concern is that you're going to have something that's less durable than the chemical cure epoxy you have right now.
ROD: So you think I should just live with that.
TOM: I think you should live with it.
ROD: I mean it isn't that bad but it's just - I wasn't trying to strive for perfection, you know? (laughter)
TOM: Rod, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Moisture management is on Jim's mind in Mississippi. How can we help?
JIM: My question was we pulled some drapes out of the wall and the screw, when it came out, had rust on it so it led me to believe that there was moisture in between the walls. And I was wondering how I would be able to get rid of the moisture or find out where the leak would be coming from.
TOM: Maybe; maybe not. I don't necessarily believe that you have a moisture in your walls just because you pulled out one rusty screw. There could be a lot of humidity in the house ...
TOM: ... to cause that; especially in Mississippi.
TOM: So I wouldn't go searching for it just based on pulling one screw out. Was it a really long screw? Was it in the middle of the wall? I mean ...
JIM: It - of course, the original walls were wood and then they were sheet-rocked over. And we had installed the drapes when we moved in and we were moving the drapes and when we pulled it out, the screw had rust on it. And I didn't know if I was going to need to actually go into the wall to figure that out or not.
TOM: Yeah, I can see how, living in Mississippi, that you need to watch every source of moisture because you never know when it's going to sneak up on you.
LESLIE: And it's most likely just condensation from using your air conditioning.
TOM: Yeah, it's probably just condensation, Jim. I wouldn't get too worried about that.
JIM: Well, thank you so much because there is an air conditioning vent right up under the window.
TOM: Well, there you go.
LESLIE: Oh, that's totally what it is. (laughter)
TOM: Yeah, Leslie's psychic, Jim. She knew that.
JIM: Oh, very good. Thank you so much.
TOM: Either that or she's been - either that or she's been stalking you. (laughing)
LESLIE: And the new drapes look fantastic, Jim. I love where you put them.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and by the way ... (laughing)
JIM: Thank you so much. (laughter) Thank you so much.
TOM: Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David from New York has a question about mildew on siding. Let's see what's going on.
DAVID: I have a house that's - it's a Gambrell (sp) with a full dormer on it. My deck is built right off the back and I don't have a gutter on the top. So obviously, I have mildew - I have cedar clapboard siding, so I have mildew about -- almost three feet up on the house and about 18 inches out onto the deck. A friend of mine had a pressure washer and he just tore up the siding with it.
LESLIE: Ooh, yeah.
DAVID: I was wondering if, number one - if there was a recommended pressure setting for using it or if I should not use it at all and just use something else.
TOM: It's a two-step process. You have to apply a mildicide first if you're trying to get rid of mildew.
TOM: You can't just blast it off because: number one - you'll damage the siding; and number two - you don't really attack the - sort of the spores that attach it to the siding and it grows right back. So use a mildicide first. Spray the mildicide on and let it sit for 10, 15, 20 minutes. Don't let it dry on there but just let it sit and then rinse it off.
LESLIE: And a mildicide can be bleach and water; it can be Jomax; it can be a variety of things.
TOM: It's OK to use a pressure washer after you have a mildicide on but just use like a fan spray attachment on it. Like don't use the ...
LESLIE: And stay like 12 inches away.
TOM: Yeah, don't blast it away. Because it does - it is going to wear off the more worn, more weather damaged upper surface fibers of the wood. And so, if you get too close, then you could damage it. So you just have to use it very carefully. But it is a great tool for getting that off; as long as you apply the mildicide first, Dave.
DAVID: Alright, terrific. Hey, thanks a lot.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we're going to talk to Caroline in North Carolina who has something going on with the carpet. How did it get wet?
CAROLINE: We thought the hot water heater had sprung a leak. But instead it was a leak from the outside of a brick wall. Our den is where our old garage used to be.
CAROLINE: So the carpet's on top of the concrete.
TOM: So it leaked in from the outside, Caroline?
CAROLINE: Yes, that's correct.
CAROLINE: And my husband's a good handyman and he did all of the things that he knew. He used a dehumidifier and he used a wet/dry vac. And where the most moisture was, there seemed to be something of a cloudiness ...
CAROLINE: ... on the carpet after he had done all that he knew to do and we ran fans as much as we could to try to move the moisture as - remove it as much as we could.
LESLIE: Is there carpet padding underneath the carpet?
CAROLINE: There is. I was just wondering, once we have cleaned that on the surface, do you suggest that we do anything further? There's no evidence of any mold or mildew forming.
TOM: Well, do you have odor now? Does it smell?
CAROLINE: No, not now.
TOM: OK, you know what I suggest you do, Caroline? It sounds like you've done all of the right things. I just want to ask one question. Have you fixed the leak?
CAROLINE: Oh, yes.
TOM: OK. Then the last thing I think that you need to do here is to steam clean the carpet. Rent a commercial carpet cleaner and get a mildicide additive. There are different mildicide additives that won't affect the color of the carpet.
LESLIE: And that's something you really need to be careful about because sometimes, any type of cleanser could change the coloring of the carpet and then you'll be real sad.
TOM: That's why you want to use one that's designed for this purpose. And basically, by using a steam cleaner, you're going to push clean water through that carpet and then pull up any dirt or debris that's still in there. Because that can be causing odors and that can be giving the organic material that's stuck in the carpet from everyday wear and tear, is something that could grow into a mold issue. So, I would suggest that you might want to think about steam cleaning with a commercial cleaner using a mildicide and that's probably the last thing you need to do. And it sounds like everything else that you've done is OK.
CAROLINE: OK. Well, I thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Caroline. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it could be thunder; it could be lightning. If it is, it's probably another summer storm. You know, they can do a lot of damage and some of that kind of damage you may not realize or see it right away.
LESLIE: Well, obvious damage like a broken window, you know, that's very easy to spot. But if you don't look closely, little problems could be missed and develop into huge repair bills later. So what are you going to look for? We'll tell you, next.
[audio timestamp: 10:50]
[audio timestamp: 13:05]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So, if your house has been through a summer storm, there's a couple of things that you might want to look out for. First of all, heavy accumulations of water can definitely cause house foundations to become weak and to fail. So what do you do? You need to check yours carefully. If there's been a lot of rain around your house, look outside, look inside. You're looking for cracks that may form because remember, when the soil around your house gets weak from all that rain, the foundation can shift. And it may not show, actually, for weeks or longer after the storm. But just be mindful of checking your foundation after severe storms to make sure that no shifting is going around.
Also, watch out for interior walls that might crack or doors that get stuck because this could be an indication of some movement as well. And if you see anything, especially with your foundation, that's troubling, don't try to make those repairs yourself. Call in a professional - a home inspector or an engineer - for further analysis and take it from there.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's some great ideas, Tom. You know, you really need to be cautious; especially if, all of a sudden, you're just getting a surge of heavy, heavy rainfall and your property might not be used to having that much water around it.
Well, if you want some more tips on what to look for after a storm hits your neighborhood, including more spots to check for damage that you might not spot at first glance, you should sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter. It's every week, it's free and you can sign up for yours now at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: You have a question about your home improvement project? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We've got a great prize to give away to one caller this house. It's a Tomboy Tools plumbing kit. Tools for women by a woman. Worth 50 bucks. All the tools are there you need to perform common plumbing repairs. It's designed for comfort and includes stuff like a seat wrench, water pump pliers, utility knife, caulking gun, adjustable wrench and it comes in a black and blue nylon zipper bag.
Leslie, why do you think they chose the colors black and blue? Is that so that you [if you're] (ph) injured to hands while you're working with these tools, (chuckling) it won't become quite so obvious?
LESLIE: You can - so your bruise can match your carrying case? (laughter) No, I know that it's really important, when you're creating tools that are specifically designed for women, that - you know, people kind of think, 'Oh, let's go kitchy. Let's make things pink.' And while that can be a fun idea, it tends to make women feel a little bit inferior about doing these tasks. So if you get tools that really look like they could be anyone's, you know, you have the confidence and you feel capable of tackling these things. And I think the bag choice was just one of those.
TOM: Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: We're on our way to New Jersey to talk windows with Christine. How can we help?
CHRISTINE: We have old windows in our basement. They're like those jalosy windows. And we were wondering what were the best windows to replace them with because we were thinking about replacing them with the glass block or just regular, I guess you'd say, basement windows. And we weren't sure which would be the most energy efficient.
TOM: Well, glass block windows are only going to be slightly (chuckling) more energy efficient than a jalosy window; which is like a window that's constantly open. You know? It's almost impossible to seal a jalosy window.
You know, Leslie, those are the kinds with the panes of glass ...
TOM: ... and like horizontal slats; look like a shutter.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And then ...
TOM: They're awful.
LESLIE: And then even when they're closed, they never permanently seal against the one below it ...
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: ... so you're still letting in a ton of air. I mean great if you live in Hawaii and you want breezes to come through. Bad if you live in the northeast.
CHRISTINE: Right. We used to - but we - in the winter, we'd have to put insulation around them to, you know, stop the drafts.
TOM: Why don't we solve that once and for all. Leslie, I would recommend an Energy Star casement window.
LESLIE: I think you're absolutely right. You know, Energy Star, when you're thinking about a window, that's what you want to look for. You want to look for something that's Energy Star qualified. And the reason why they are Energy Star qualified is that they have two or more panes of glass; there's a warm edge spacer between the window panes; they're made from improved framing materials; and they feature low-e coatings which help to keep heat inside during the window and outside during the summer. So it doesn't really matter what type of window you go for, as long as you go for something that meets these standards and you'll know you'll stay warm.
TOM: Yeah, I think that's going to be much more efficient than the glass block windows, Christine.
TOM: Yeah, and Christine, one more thing. You may also be able to qualify for an Energy Star tax credit if you replace those windows; because there's a tax program right now - a tax incentive that offers a credit of up to $500 for installing Energy Star windows.
LESLIE: You just have to do the repair in '06 or '07.
CHRISTINE: Oh, well that's good to know. OK, then I'll make it a point to do this ASAP then.
TOM: Alright, Christine. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Michigan's got some moles around the yard. Let's try to help you get rid of them. Tell us what you see.
BOB: (laughing) Well, I've probably got about - oh, I don't know how many moles it takes to make about two dozen mole tracks across my yard. (laughter) I've got a mole problem. I was trying to find some solution that wouldn't be harmful to pets. I have some small dogs and I didn't want anything that, you know, would involve them and where it would be harmful to the animals.
TOM: Well, there's a couple of things you can do. First of all, generally (ph) remember that the moles are trying to find food in your yard via grubs. They love to eat the grubs. So anything you can do to ...
LESLIE: And grubs are actually the larvae of a type of beetle, correct?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So, if you can use a grub control in your lawn care program, that's going to help eliminate the food. And frankly, that's the way I got rid of just dozens of mole tracks around my yard; by using grub control.
There's also a natural solution that we've heard that involves dropping a transistor radio down there and playing rock music.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because they hate the loud sounds; they hate the vibrations so it makes them run away.
TOM: And then, our screener Amy has had a lot of success with a product called Ramik Green, which is a rodenticide and it's basically designed for rats and mice and roof rats and things like that.
LESLIE: Squirrels and things.
TOM: But Amy tells us that everyone in her neighborhood has just used this Ramik Green. And it's weather-resistant rodenticide so, basically, you could use it outside. Poke a couple of holes in the tunnels, drop these pellets down, cover the holes back up and within three days, no more moles.
BOB: Oh, great.
TOM: That's not going to help you with the pets because they could find this and eat it.
TOM: And I do know that when you're talking about rodenticides, they're designed to taste good to small animals because they're basically - the poison is basically a food. So be very careful with those pets.
LESLIE: Even in the middle of home improvement projects, we'll take your call. Linwood just got off the lawn mower to talk with us. How can we help?
LINWOOD: Oh, yes. I have a two-story home with adequate water pressure on the bottom floor and the shower unit and tub unit combo upstairs, when I go to put the hot water on, the pressure drops dramatically.
TOM: How old is your house, Linwood?
LINWOOD: It was built in '81.
TOM: Ooh, that's not that old.
LESLIE: And how about the other fixtures upstairs? Everything runs OK?
LINWOOD: Yeah, the faucet upstairs runs relatively well.
TOM: But it's everything that's feeding that one particular bathroom.
LINWOOD: Yes. As far as I know, yes.
TOM: Have you identified a supply valve to the plumbing in that part of the house that could possibly be partially closed even if it appears to be open?
LINWOOD: I haven't, no. I do have a water filtration system, down in my cellar, that has been disconnected. And by what I can see, everything's being bypassed.
TOM: Is it just the shower or is it everything in there?
LINWOOD: The tub and the shower only. The faucet, relatively, has decent water pressure.
TOM: Because I'm wondering, also, if you eliminated the possibility of a water restrictor in the showerhead.
LINWOOD: Yep, I actually removed that when I first bought the house.
LESLIE: Don't tell everybody.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, a man after my own heart. I do the same thing myself.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Me, too. I'm always like, 'Can I remove that low flow? OK, great, I'll take it.'
TOM: 'OK, so that's out. Because I want to pay for that water at a recreational budget.'
LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly.
TOM: Linwood, if you have just one fixture like that, that's performing poorly and everything else works pretty well, most likely the cause of that is a valve somewhere on the way that's partially closed. Sometimes, if you have supply valves to different bathrooms and different parts of the house, even if the valve is sort of backed off all the way and seems to be open all the way, it could be partially closed. Generally, the bathroom that's the farthest away from the main is going to be the one that has the least pressure. But in a 1981 house that's rarely the case because you have copper plumbing throughout the whole thing. So I think you need to get to the bottom of where these fixtures are restricted and I suspect that it's in a valve somewhere between the main supply and this upstairs bath.
LINWOOD: Now, the one thing I was wondering is I have a Simmons Model A control valve. It's a single knob that controls both the hot and cold water.
LINWOOD: And I was wondering if the little rubber gasket that controls the ports that are open in the knob, if those could have been clogged over the years.
TOM: Quite possibly. It could be. Or it could just be a bad valve altogether. That's not a bad idea and a good place to start. But it's - you're on the right track here, Linwood. You've got a problem with a valve somewhere that's stopping the water from getting to that. You took the showerhead out of the equation by removing the water restrictor. So now, it could possibly be the diverter valve. And if you're going to replace that diverter valve, look for one that's pressure balanced. Because a pressure balanced valve will stop you from getting scalded if somebody else opens up the hot or cold water tap somewhere else in the house.
LESLIE: Or flushes the toilet.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: Now, get back to mowing.
TOM: Linwood, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, we'll tell you how to take it outside. An outdoor living expert joins us with tips on how to plan an outdoor room.
TOM: Plus, find out how to add extra value in making your new room usable all year round.
[audio timestamp: 22:48]
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 this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website, MoneyPit.com. You got a question about your home improvement project? Need some help solving that do-it-yourself dilemma? Did you buy an old house just so you'd have something to fix up? (chuckling) Well, you are in the right place. Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, according to a recent survey, more and more homeowners are considering adding outdoor rooms. That certainly tracks well with this audience. We get lots of questions on those patios and those decks and those garden spaces outside. Are you thinking about improving them? We've got just the expert to help you out.
LESLIE: That's right. So if you're ready to expand your living area to the great outdoors, what should you keep in mind? Well, joining us to talk about that is Katherine Whiteside, an author and an expert on outdoor living trends.
KATHERINE: Thank you.
TOM: Well, we're glad you could join us. I see that you're called the Garden Goddess.
KATHERINE: I was the Garden Goddess for House Beautiful. And I think you were there as well, yes?
TOM: Yes, we were. Yes, we were. For many, many years. Welcome to the program, Katherine.
So tell me, what's the number one thing you should consider when you're thinking about creating an outdoor space?
KATHERINE: Well, you know, I think that there's actually sort of five areas that you've got to concentrate on. And it sounds complicated but it's not.
TOM: Alright. Where do we start?
KATHERINE: Number one - the most important thing is ambience. If your garden or your outdoor space gives you an opportunity to have a nice view, well definitely set up your outdoor room to take advantage of that view. I always tell people, you know, think about it. It's no more different than how you arrange your furniture inside your house. You don't put the sofa facing the wall; you put it facing the fireplace.
TOM: What about issues of noise and things like that. Is that planned in the design?
KATHERINE: Yes. Because you know, the oddest things can become irritating; traffic, air conditioner noise from next door. You know, a simple little fountain - which they now even have solar powered ones - or even wind chimes can help with the - with noise issues.
LESLIE: What if you live in a crowded suburban or even a crowded urban area? How do you deal with the issues of privacy?
KATHERINE: Privacy is important. You don't want to feel like you're sitting outside in a goldfish bowl. (laughing) In the suburbs it's very easy to build a simple privacy fence. And if you want to sort of soften up the look, you could just plant a row of sunflowers. Sunflowers can be sown as late as June and they will be 12 feet high by August.
KATHERINE: So they really are a quick hedge. In an urban area, a lot of times your lack of privacy actually comes from above. And when I lived in an urban area, I got a great big old market umbrella and put that over my space. And that gave me all the privacy we needed.
TOM: What about protection from the elements; the rain and things of this nature? What's your take on like a California roof; one of these open trellis roofs or something of that nature? Does that give you any real protection or you're pretty much stuck with umbrellas?
KATHERINE: You're really going to need some kind of fabric covering over you in the rain. It's actually lovely to sit outside in the rain if you're not, you know, being dripped on. But more often, it's cold and you know, just sort of that chilliness, that can come even on a summer night, that keeps people from using their outdoor rooms. I mean most of us work all day. We want - we want to use our outdoor rooms in the evening. And I have discovered these adorable little propane tabletop heaters. They're small but they definitely will keep anyone within a five-foot radius just cozy as heck.
LESLIE: What are some other tips for keeping, you know, the extended usage of your outdoor space?
KATHERINE: Well, I think, you know, as the - as the seasons go on - I live in the northeast and some of our most beautiful weather comes in September and October. However, it starts getting dark early. So I have had - we - you know, we had years of fussing with candles and lanterns and things like that. This year we put a beautiful gas light on a post outside and it has all the ambience of a candle, but none of the hassle.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they don't blow out in the wind.
KATHERINE: It's very thrifty. Very, very thrifty.
LESLIE: So Katherine, what have you done in your outdoor space in addition to putting in that beautiful propane post light?
KATHERINE: Well, I have to say we have an old house. We had what probably was a money pit. And I wanted to - our kitchen is very small, but we have a stone house. So increasing the footprint was just going to be crazy. So what we did was we enclosed - semi-enclosed, I should say - a porch. And it has become an auxiliary kitchen. We put all appliances out there, a small-scale fridge. And then we have it heated. And we can either have the doors - all the French doors open with the screens in them or closed if it gets too cold, so that we can use that outdoor space - I mean I plan to do a lot of the Thanksgiving cooking out there.
TOM: It sounds to me, Katherine, like what this is, is a tradeoff between a lot of things. First of all, you want to consider the noise. You want to consider the privacy issues. You want to consider - for example, if you're going to put a kitchen, you can't have the cooking appliances too close to the siding and things like that. But there really is a lot to think about before you stick that shovel in the ground or decide to lay that first patio block.
KATHERINE: This is true. I tell you where I got the idea for this outdoor room thing. I mean of course it's been around forever. But I was out - I work a lot out in California. And people there use their outdoor spaces as much as they use their indoor space.
LESLIE: Well, their weather's a lot different as well than most in the U.S.
KATHERINE: It's a lot different. But you know, it can be chilly and people are still eating outside and hanging around outside. And that's where I saw, years ago, the first patio heaters; those propane patio heaters. And so, I did some research and found this totally nuts and bolts website called UsePropane.com. And it actually gave me all the information - all the information on appliances that I needed for building this kitchen.
TOM: And that's part of the whole process.
Katherine Whiteside, outdoor living expert and author, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit with your tips on outdoor rooms.
KATHERINE: Thank you.
TOM: For more information on how to make your outdoor room usable all year long, you can check out the website of the Propane Council and that's at www.usepropane.com.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well now your outdoor room - possibly an outdoor kitchen - is well on its way to looking fantastic. But what if you're looking for a new look for your indoor kitchen. You know, the one you spend all the time in at home. Next up, a great alternative to replace your worn out countertop that's cheap and easy to do.
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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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: This is the show that takes your home improvement questions from coast to coast and from cracks in your front sidewalk (chuckling) to your semi-level back deck. Whatever's going around in your house, we want to help you tackle those home improvement projects. Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Perhaps you're working on tiling your kitchen countertop. That's a great home improvement project. It's a great do-it-yourself job.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it's easy to do.
TOM: It is, it is. And you can really spruce up the kitchen by doing this. Tile is inexpensive and it can be installed by a handy homeowner and it's very easy to maintain.
Now, to avoid the hassles of grout cleaning, which is the only hassle associated with this - once, of course, you get it down - choose darker colors, seal the grout right after you're done, use a grout with an antimicrobial additive that resists mold or use an epoxy-based grout.
Have you ever used the epoxy grouts?
LESLIE: I have not. But that's people's most common complaint, when they're dealing with a tiled surface, is that the grout lines are filthy; they change color too quickly; they don't match the tile; how do you clean them.
TOM: It's a harder grout to work with when you first install it ...
TOM: ... but it's absolutely impervious to stain. So those are all good things to think about if you're going to tackle a tiling job for your kitchen countertop.
LESLIE: Good to know. And while you're at it with your new countertop, you're going to need to do some plumbing to get that sink out and we've got a great prize for that. It's the Tomboy Tools plumbing kit. It's tools for women by women. It's worth $50 and it has all the tools you'll need to perform common plumbing repairs around the house; including a seat wrench, water pump pliers, utility knife, caulking gun, adjustable wrench and a nylon bag to throw everything in so you can keep all of those things handy the next time the toilet runs without you telling it to.
TOM: Call us right now if you'd like to get in on a chance to win that prize. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller this hour is going to win the Tomboy Tools plumbing kit worth 50 bucks.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: David in New York's cleaning. What can we help you with.
DAVID: I have a deck. It's pressure treated wood.
DAVID: Wood stain. And I've got a few stains, on the deck, of vegetable oil from a deep fryer ...
DAVID: ... I got for Father's Day. And I'm going to be re-staining the deck and I've tried everything to try to remove the stain, but I can't. I was wondering if there was anything that I could do to remove those stains or if a stain will cover it.
LESLIE: Since you're planning on refinishing, David, have you thought about sanding down those areas just to get some fresh wood showing?
DAVID: No, I haven't. But I don't know how deep the - I guess I could do that.
LESLIE: I mean because if you were going to try to use a bleach or something like that - like a heavy duty cleaner - you have to be really careful. Because it's natural wood - it's not a composite - you could actually, with the bleach, cause a discoloration in the wood which would then show up as well. So I think your best bet is really to try to sand it down a little bit; see how that goes. You know, don't go too deep, too crazy. See how sanding it does. And then, when you're getting ready to refinish, really use a good cleanser; don't just use water and a pressure washer; use something that's specifically made to clean wood decks. Clean that - because you've got to get rid of all of that dirt and debris. Get rid of any flaking surfaces that might be sticking up that might hinder the adhesion. And if you're looking to go with a clear stain or something that's a semi-solid, you want to really try your best to strip that old stain off and get to a fresh wood surface.
TOM: And David, when you choose your stain, remember that stains come transparent, semi-transparent and solid color. And the solid color and the semi-transparent have the most pigment in them. Of course, transparent ...
LESLIE: Well, the solid color is really almost like a paint, even though it has a stain ...
TOM: Yeah, except that you can see the grain through it.
LESLIE: Well, not always. You know, a solid can be really as thick as a paint; if that's what you want. If you want to see the grain, go with a semi-transparent because that will give you a wash of color but a heavy enough deposit of color that will allow you to see the grain but not be sheer.
TOM: I don't know. I kind of like the solid color because it seems to last a lot longer; more pigment, the longer it lasts.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And it's better if your deck is older and in not the best condition because it covers up those imperfections. If you've got some beautiful wood, go with the sheer because you won't see it.
TOM: And you know what you could do, David. You could always start with semi-transparent and if it doesn't work, you can go solid on top of that. But you can't do it the other way around.
LESLIE: And remember, with proper surface prep, a solid stain should be lasting you five years on a floor.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Keith in Virginia, you're on the line. How can we help?
KEITH: Yes, I'd like to know how to remove some small scratches from my Formica countertop.
TOM: Uh, get a new countertop? (laughing)
LESLIE: Errr - unfortunately.
KEITH: Oh, yeah? There's no like a rubbing compound or pumice or anything I could maybe rub on there to see if I can get some of those out of there?
TOM: No, because the laminate surface is too thing for any abrasion that could sort of eliminate a scratch. If you get a scratch in a laminate, the scratch is in the laminate. It's in the color right away. It's not like solid surfacing material like quartz or a natural material, where you could abrade it or grind it out.
LESLIE: To bring up that fresh layer underneath it ...
LESLIE: ... because with a laminate, there isn't one.
TOM: Exactly. The only thing you could do is use a laminate polish. And if you use a laminate polish, it tends to sort of mask those scratches a little bit. But it's a maintenance issue where you have to keep repolishing it.
KEITH: OK, well where would I get such a polish?
LESLIE: Keith, what type of finish does your Formica countertop have? Is it matte, satin, semi-gloss?
KEITH: Oh, my - say it was satin.
LESLIE: Satin. Is it a dark color or a light color?
KEITH: A dark color.
LESLIE: Errr. If it were a light color - depending on what your definition of a dark or a light color is - the folks at Formica, for a satin finish, they're recommending you sand with a 320-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. And then you use a circular motion until the scratch is gone and you want to blend the finish with Soft Scrub and a gray Scotch-Brite pad. Make sure it's the gray Scotch-Brite pad. They're not recommending this for dark colors, though. So, there are other choices for you to try to make that scratch less visible.
TOM: The other thing, Keith, that you could try is to use a laminate polish which is - gives it sort of a semi-gloss finish to it. And it will wear off so you'll have to reapply it. But the laminate polishes tend to blend in with those scratches and sort of hide them the same way, say, an Old English might blend into a scratch on wood furniture.
So that's probably the best thing for you to do, Keith. Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, Tom, we're always telling our Money Pit listeners about the benefits - whether you're saving money in energy - about programmable thermostats. So, can you install them yourself or are they tricky if you're not so careful?
TOM: Well, they could be if you don't do it right. Up next, we'll tell a listener exactly how to handle that home improvement project.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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 price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where we're available by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT and also by logging onto our website at MoneyPit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie. Many, many, many of you do every single week. We try our best to get back to as many listeners as we can; including via this program. Now, we've got several emails here that came in this week. Leslie, let's get right to it.
LESLIE: OK, this is from Sylvia in Washington, D.C. who finds The Money Pit on WJFK. And she writes: 'I want to install a programmable thermostat. Is this a do-it-yourself project and if so, how should I get started?'
TOM: Yes, I think it is. And first of all, a programmable thermostat is a great home improvement project to do. You know that installing one and using one properly will knock about 10 percent off of your heating bill. And of course, the way you use it is by having the heat go down at night, when you're tucked snugly under the covers under all ...
LESLIE: When you've got all the blankets.
TOM: ... all those blankies on. Right, exactly. And also, of course, when you're away at work. It's best for people that have regular schedules. Because if you leave the house at the same time, come home the same time and so on, you can really take advantage of that. And they're very smart today because they actually know when a weekend occurs and they can keep your heat up to an even keel all weekend long as well.
LESLIE: Really? That's very, very smart.
LESLIE: Is it as simple as changing a light fixture? Like is the wiring that easy to understand or is it a little bit more complicated?
TOM: A little trick of the trade when you're changing these things. First of all, most of them are low voltage so we want to first confirm that you have a low voltage thermostat in your own house. It would have the very small wires coming out it. And, of course, you turn the power off first.
Now when you - when you remove the thermostat and sort of pull it from the wall, you will find with the old thermostat that the wires are connected to certain terminals. And they're going to be labeled. And when you take these wires off, you want to label them where they came from. If it's, you know, a red wire or a green wire or a white wire, you want to label the terminal that it came from. The way you do that is by taking a piece of masking tape and wrapping it around each wire.
LESLIE: Like a little flag.
TOM: Yeah, make a little flag. Because it's really just a wire-for-wire kind of replacement. The other thing to watch out for is once you get these wires out and the old thermostat's disconnected, don't let them fall back into the wall. You will hate yourself.
LESLIE: Oh, God. Then you'll be snaking things out.
TOM: Yeah, just take the wire and wrap it around a pencil so that the pencil can't be pulled through the wall.
LESLIE: Very smart.
TOM: Easy way to do that. Then go wire for wire on the replacement and when you put it up, make sure it's nice and level and nice and pretty. You will be saving money on that heating bill all winter long.
Ants. No, not the kind that are your relatives. (chuckling) The kind that crawl around and get into your picnic basket and crawl all over your kitchen countertop. They can be a real nuisance. They can not only be harmful but, of course, they are very, very annoying. And on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word - from Leslie, who's not very annoying (laughter) - she's going to tell us how to get rid of them.
LESLIE: (laughing) You're a piece of work, Tom. (laughter)
Alright, folks. Well, if you've ever accidentally left spilled coffee or even cookie crumbs around or whatever kind of food you're snacking on, you know that ants seem to just materialize out of nowhere in just a couple of hours. They can seek out those smells and they want those things.
Well, you can get rid of the food and the ants you see, but pheromones that the ants leave behind will send a message to the colony to keep coming back. That's right; they all have mini-Blackberries and they are texting like crazy. (laughter) It's just like you, Tom. You and your ...
TOM: Pheromones, huh?
LESLIE: You and your Crack-berry, if you will.
LESLIE: Well, to get rid of ants ...
TOM: That's a new word for me. (chuckling)
LESLIE: ... for good, you want to use a 50/50 ammonia and water solution to clean the area. If you find that the odor is too strong, cut back on the ammonia. Some people are very sensitive to that; it's very stinky. And the ammonia will help clean those pheromones which is texting all the other ants and it'll stop those ants from coming back for another snack.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you can reach us at 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Always a live screener standing by to take your home improvement question and Leslie and I will call you back the next time we are in the studio.
Hey, coming up next week on The Money Pit, find out what you can do to stop mold before it starts. If you've ever had water damage and need to replace moldy drywall, you're also going to want to hear about a great new product that will ensure no mold growth. Because guess what? It's not made out of paper like the old-fashioned drywall is. We're going to tell you all about that next week on 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 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.)