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:
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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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are standing by to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Exactly what kinds of jobs can we help you do? Well, it's cold outside right now, except if you live in Florida and we're tired of hearing you brag, so ...
LESLIE: (chuckling) I've got a pool. How do I fix my pool deck?
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
LESLIE: Rrrr. (chuckling)
TOM: Or those in Hawaii.
LESLIE: Aloha. (chuckling)
TOM: We don't want to hear it anymore. For the rest of us, we're tackling all sorts of decorating projects inside the house. We're working on bathrooms right now. We can see it. We track these phone calls that come in year round and we know the projects you're working on now. We know you're working on the floors, you're working on the walls, you're working on the decorating. There's a lot of kitchen remodeling going on. We're here to help you get those jobs done. Pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Maybe you're sitting around enjoying a warm fire today. Are you sick and tired of the mess it takes to get that fire started? In today's program we're going to have a tip on a natural fire starter that can help you out.
LESLIE: And also this hour we're going to be talking about your master bedroom. I know it's your personal space and you don't just sleep in there. We want it to be your retreat. And if you want it to be your retreat, why the heck doesn't it look like one? We're going to help you master your master bedroom a little later.
TOM: And we're also giving away a set of garden shovels from Ames True Temper. They're worth 70 bucks. If you want to win them call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. All callers to today's program will have their names tossed in the Money Pit hardhat. If we choose yours they're going out the door to you.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Renee in Texas has a fireplace project. What can we help you with?
RENEE: Hi. Yes, I'd like to know if I can - I have a brick front fireplace and I'd like to cement over it so that it looks like stucco and matches the wall. Is that possible?
TOM: Sure. Why not?
RENEE: OK. So how would I go about doing that?
LESLIE: Are you sure you want to do it? Because once you put it on the brick you'll never be able to get the brick back again.
RENEE: Positive. We've changed the entire look of the house and it no longer matches.
TOM: OK. Well, I think that you can stucco right on top of the brick without any material underneath of it. So you wouldn't have to put in a mesh or anything like that because you usually get good adhesion to the brick. Has the brick ever been painted?
RENEE: No, it has not.
TOM: Alright, well I think you can stucco right over that. There's - you know, you can choose your stucco color, mix up the one that you want and go ahead and apply it right to the brick and it should adhere perfectly and you'll just stucco right over it. It's really a pretty easy project to do.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Is there anything special for the texture?
RENEE: Yeah, I like the texture. Because that's sort of what the walls look like.
RENEE: They kind of have that rough, cementish kind of a look.
LESLIE: Is it sort of spiky?
RENEE: Yeah, it is kind of spiky.
LESLIE: Is that done, Tom, with those brooms or how is that done? I know they have a lot of different stucco finishing products. You know, when it's done in a circle it's done with sort of a broom that's twisted. There's a lot of different techniques that you can use that sort of create that stipple.
RENEE: This one ...
TOM: Well, that's true and one way to do it is after you put the stucco on is to hit it with a wallpaper brush; one of those thick, wide brushes. And you do it sort of in short twists of the wrist and that gives you a different kind of a stipple effect to it. But generally, applying the stucco; pretty easy job. Mix it up. You might want to look into some of the epoxy-based stuccoes because you'll probably get better adhesion there. Mask off the floor. Mask everything off and put it on in thin coats and probably do a couple of coats to it.
RENEE: Well thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Good point though, Leslie. You want to be very careful about taking that step because once you go you can't go back.
LESLIE: Ooh. We're going to get a call 10 years from now, 'I just bought a house in Texas and the fireplace is stuccoed.'
LESLIE: 'How do I get rid of it?'
TOM: If we were doing this show 20 years ago we would get all these calls where people say, 'You know, that new textured paint out there, I just love it. How do we apply that stuff.'
TOM: And what do we get now? Everybody wants to get rid of it.
LESLIE: How do I apply paneling to my walls? (Tom laughs)
TOM: 'Hey, I was just out at the carpet store and I saw this great product. It's called shag. It's great.'
LESLIE: 'I'm looking at a three-inch pile. Is that a good idea?'
TOM: 'Instead of a door, I want to put in beads.'
LESLIE: (chuckling) 'I got a lava lamp.'
TOM: That's right.
LESLIE: Ed in Pennsylvania is looking to buy an old building and needs some advice. How can we help?
ED: It's a building I'm currently renting I'm thinking of buying. And what I'm concerned about is it's such an old building. I can't tell if there's asbestos in the basement. There's this nasty stuff wrapped around some of the pipes and, you know, other nasty things there in the ceiling.
TOM: Is it a steam heating system, Ed?
ED: Yes, it is. It's steam heating.
TOM: OK. It most likely is if it's an old steam boiler. That was very typical. The kind of asbestos that's wrapped around that is called air cell asbestos. It looks a bit like corrugated cardboard but it's whitish. And then around the elbows it's packed and it's looks a little like plaster. And that's very, very typical.
Now, if the asbestos is in tact - it's not deteriorated, it's not falling off ...
LESLIE: Crumbling in any way.
TOM: ... and crumbly, right - if it was in that condition we would consider it friable and that's the buzz word that means it's time to do something about it. If it's fairly intact then you can leave it alone and you are really at very little risk of exposure. However, if it's deteriorated or if that basement is an area that's going to have a lot of activity - like I wouldn't want to send the kids down there, you know, with balls throwing around and stuff like that where they're going to smack it and ...
LESLIE: Where they could crack it.
TOM: Yeah, and release it to air. But if it's not deteriorated then I think it's OK to leave it in place. Now, if you do want to remove it, it's definitely not a do-it-yourself job. It has to be done professionally. Fairly complicated ...
TOM: ... because asbestos fibers themselves are actually lighter than smoke. And so, when you release asbestos fibers to the air, if there was no wind it would take eight hours for them to hit the ground. That's how light and airy they are.
LESLIE: Wow, that's crazy.
TOM: Yeah, so you have to be really careful.
TOM: To do it, what happens is you have an asbestos abatement company come in and they actually depressurize that space so anything that gets into the air gets drawn immediately outside and has to be packaged properly and disposed of properly. So it's a fairly complex process.
What I would recommend that you do is hire a professional home inspector ...
TOM: ... to get that home inspected before you go any further. You can find a good one by going to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors, a non-profit organization that tests and certifies its members and that's at ASHI.org. That's the best way to really understand what you're dealing with there and know what steps need to be taken.
LESLIE: And you know what, Ed? It's also going to help you if you do decide to make an offer on the building because then you know exactly what needs to be fixed and you can use that as a negotiating tool. You know, perhaps maybe they'll fix it or you'll fix it or it'll reduce the price. It's good to know what's going on before you do invest such a huge chunk of change.
ED: Exactly, yeah. Well, it sounds like this is going to be a chunk of change to get rid of all this stuff, so I appreciate the thoughts.
TOM: You're welcome, Ed. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question; even your home design question. This time of year you want to spruce things up indoors, so call us anytime you like 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, they're plentiful, they're pretty and they're free. Learn where to find some natural fire starters for your fireplace, after this.
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[audio timestamp: 12:24]
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: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where hitting the nail on the head is not just a saying, it's a way of life. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. One caller we talk to today is going to win a great set of shovels from Ames True Temper worth 70 bucks. If you want to win it you've got to call right now. 888-666-3974. We will toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat. If we choose yours, they're going out the door to you.
LESLIE: Man, a shovel prize package just makes my back ache (Tom laughs) and it makes me feel tired from all of those potential digging projects.
TOM: No, you know Ames has those Ergo shovels that are like with the bent handles and stuff so they're really easy to use.
LESLIE: Ugh, still. It's making me sleepy just thinking about it. And you know, any time I think of a shovel - of course, me living in the northeast - I start thinking about shoveling snow and then that sort of puts my mind to curling up in front of a roaring fire on a chilly winter day. For those of you who live in the warmer areas, you're missing out with a fireplace. But if you have trouble with your fireplace where you live and you think, 'Oh, it's tough to find kindling' or 'I have a hard time starting the fire,' we've got a trick for you here. Dried out pine cones. They make a great natural fire starter. You can find them in your backyard, take a walk around the park, pick them up. They are free. They work great in a fireplace or even a wood-burning stove.
And if you're feeling a little crafty, creative, Martha Stewart-like, go ahead and dip them in some melted, scented wax before you use them. You can melt down old candles that you've got around the house. It doesn't matter what color they are because they're going to go into the fireplace. When you do melt candle wax, you want to use a double-pan boil system where you take a larger pot, fill it with water, get it boiling and then put another pot on top of that and melt the candle wax so that you're not actually putting the wax on top of the burner. And then don't use that pot again for anything that you're going to eat. Use that specifically for crafting. It's going to really help to keep your fire going and then all that beautiful wax that you've got on those pinecones are going to just release a nice, fresh scent into the air. So it's great for the holidays, birthday parties, any time of year if you want to put that nice, fresh scent into the air at home. It works great.
TOM: That's the smell of a good home improvement.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Marion in Massachusetts, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARION: I have a musty smell in my home and I've tried airing it out but it doesn't seem to help.
LESLIE: Where are you finding this odor? Is it in the basement? Is it ...
MARION: It's mainly in the main house. All on ...
LESLIE: So throughout the entire house on the first floor, second floor, even where you have ...
MARION: The first floor.
TOM: Have you had a lot of rain?
MARION: No, but I did have a leak in a Frigidaire that went down ...
MARION: ... probably through the floor.
TOM: What kind of heating system do you have, Marion?
MARION: I have hot water.
TOM: Hot water. So you have a very humid heating system, which is not unusual because you're going to have a lot of moisture in a house when that happens. So, the musty smell is pretty consistent with that.
I think what you're going to have to do is take some steps to reduce that level of humidity in the house and the way you do that is by starting on the outside of the house looking at the grading and the drainage. This is the angle of the soil around the house. You're trying to reduce the amount of moisture that gets around the foundation perimeter. If you reduce the moisture in your house, usually can reduce those odors as well. So, grading and drainage of the outside foundation, which means keep an eye on the landscaping, make sure the soil is sloping away from the wall. Keep an eye on the roof gutters. Make sure they're free-flowing, they're empty, they're not clogged and the downspouts are extending out well away from that foundation perimeter.
Inside the house, take a look at the roof ventilation. You want to make sure that you've got vents on the roof because what happens is you get moisture that traps at the foundation, it works its way up through inside the house, it builds up a vapor pressure and it kind of sits and it adds to that musty, moist smell that's going on inside the house. And if you can move some of that air through you're going to reduce that odor.
MARION: Oh, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Moisture management 101 here on The Money Pit Radio Show.
LESLIE: Marvin in Texas has something going on with the tiles on his project. What can we help you with?
MARVIN: My wife and I put saltillo tile in our townhouse about three years ago when we bought it and started trying to remodel it.
LESLIE: And these were the completely raw, unfinished ones. Correct?
MARVIN: Well, actually they were presealed. They had a sealer already on them but we came in and sealed, you know, the grout area around it later.
MARVIN: But rubber sticks to it, so we can't put any kind of pad under rugs to put them down on it. And we even put a mat by the back door and it stuck to it so bad that when you peel it up I had to strip all of that down ...
MARVIN: ... to get it cleaned off. And we haven't been able to find anything that'll work where we can even use our rugs. We just can't find any kind of a pad that's not rubber that will go under our rugs and stuff to put on there and that's the only thing that seems to have - we have trouble with ...
MARVIN: ... is just something rubber. I mean I can even put down a bag, like a rubber bag, on the floor and it'll stick to it overnight.
LESLIE: Interesting. Because these saltillo tiles - you know, Tom, they're those beautiful handmade Mexican tiles.
LESLIE: They're 12 square. They usually have little animal footprints in them. They're all handmade in Mexico.
MARVIN: That's it.
LESLIE: They're gorgeous. But you know, usually you see them and they're non-sealed. They're as porous as the day is long.
TOM: Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
LESLIE: Gosh, I've never heard about this rubber sticking to it. And really, if you're looking at a carpet backer, you don't want to use any other material because then you're going to skid.
TOM: Sometimes when you put rubber mats over different products you get a chemical reaction between the two. For example, if you tried to put a rubber mat on a vinyl floor, very often the vinyl turns yellow because of an oxidation that occurs between the two products. I'm wondering if you're having something similar to that between the rubber.
Well, why don't you try this? Why don't you try resealing just one or two tiles in maybe the corner of the room with one of the tile sealing products and see if that gives you that kind of release that you need for this?
MARVIN: OK. You have a particular sealer - just any sealer?
TOM: Any sealer that's rated for an unglazed tile. Even though it has a glazing on it I would suggest trying that.
TOM: But try it on just a couple of tiles because it may be that this existing sealer that's on there is just breaking down.
MARVIN: At times I even thought that it had never really dried.
MARVIN: But (INAUDIBLE) so it should have had time. And it's plenty dry but ...
TOM: Well, that's why I say it could be a defect in the sealer and that's why perhaps a second layer might help.
LESLIE: Yeah, there's a good company that actually makes a ton of products for saltillo tiles and it's a company called Aqua Mix. And they make two types of sealers. One is a Sealer's Choice Gold and the other is a penetrating sealer and they're both water-based, which means that they're going to allow moisture evaporation and they're going to dry quickly. So that could be a good option to give it a whirl.
MARVIN: Right. Alright. We're right near Amarillo, Texas so maybe they'll have it there.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you can't find it go to their website. It's AquaMix.com. I'm sure you can find a dealer locator there as well.
MARVIN: Thank you. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck. Unusual problem. Hope we helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We're going to talk to Dawn in North Dakota who's having a paint situation. What's going on at your money pit?
DAWN: Hi, we purchased a house recently and on the entryway, about halfway up - from the bottom halfway up - they put a textured paint. It's kind of like a velvet paint, I think is what they call it. Feels like there's sand in there.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah, yeah.
DAWN: And then from about halfway up from that point then all the way up to the ceiling - which is a bi-level, so it's quite a ways up - then it is just a regular, you know, texture that a person would put on the wall. And we're wondering - so then put a piece of wallpaper border in between the two and we'd like to take the wallpaper out and then just basically make it one color. But of course there's that line there, you know, between where the texture paint and the rest ...
TOM: You have - so you have a smooth wall and then a textured wall below it with a piece of wallpaper as a border between the two? (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: That's pretty creative. (chuckling)
LESLIE: It's the wallpaper chair rail.
DAWN: That's right.
TOM: You know, of all the texture wall horror stories we have heard, that's a unique one for me right there. (laughing)
LESLIE: Alright, Dawn, how is that wallpaper border attached? Any idea? Is it really firmly stuck on there or can you sort of peel it away in some places?
DAWN: (overlapping voices) No. In fact, we have started peeling away, thinking that we could, you know, do it and it's actually been peeled away for about six months now. And so yeah, the wallpaper border comes off fine but now there is definitely that ridge there, you know, between the two and I suppose a person could sand but I feel that you're going to have to really basically retexture that whole area. I'm not really sure though if there's another way to do it.
LESLIE: Well, I think the paint texture that you're talking about on the lower half is something called a sueded texture; which you're right, there's sand in there.
LESLIE: And I mean it does lay on a pretty hefty texture. So your best bet is to try some sanding. If that really becomes a major pain in the butt you might want to think about texturing the entire wall surface just to sort of even everything out.
LESLIE: If that's not an option for you, you can think about covering that lower portion with like a bead board wainscoting with some beautiful molding that maybe you cantilever out to make a little rail to rest, I know don't, a candle on or something as you enter into that front entrance area.
DAWN: That's a great idea. I've never thought of that. Yeah.
LESLIE: And that could help really, you know, given that you have such a high ceiling there you can do a paneling or the wainscoting to an even higher height and that could create sort of a nice entranceway.
DAWN: It would be. Yep. No, that's a great idea.
TOM: And it'd probably match the shag carpet underneath it, too. (all chuckle)
DAWN: No, we're not quite there.
TOM: Alright, Dawn. I'm only picking on you. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, let's talk master bedrooms. They should be your sanctuary. But why do they often seem like a cave? Find out how to master your master suite, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Soup to nuts and floorboards to shingles, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
What are you working on today? Are you planning out that bedroom or bathroom of your dreams? Well, face it. When it comes to your master bedroom, you don't just sleep there. It's your absolute retreat and oasis from your daily, hectic lives. So why doesn't it look like that? You know, is your master suite really fit for a king or that relaxing place you dream of?
TOM: Well, let's talk about the whole concept of suite. I mean it typically - we just think of it as a room, but a suite is really what it is and that's what people are building today. It includes not only the bedroom, the bathrooms, the closets. But even some sitting areas. You know, I've seen a lot of gorgeous homes recently where they had a lovely sitting area that perhaps could double as a nursery when the baby is small and then turn into a great space for the parents when the kid gets kicked out (Leslie chuckles), you know, over to their own room. You know?
But put all that together though to one neat package takes some skill. Here to help us master the master suite is Kevin Ireton. Kevin is the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
TOM: This is one of those projects that gives you a great on investment both financially and also psychologically. It's a nice place to have if you do it right, but how do you pull it together?
KEVIN: Well, you're certainly right. It takes space, if you've got it. But even if you don't have a lot of space, you can figure this out. And as you mentioned, the key is a closet, a bedroom and a bathroom and combining those things in a smart way.
Now, let's start with the bathroom. If people want everything then they want two sinks, they want a separate shower and a separate tub and they want to put the toilet in its own little water closet. But that takes a lot of space.
LESLIE: That does take a lot of space. But I mean some of the things to consider, especially with all of those sort of spatial areas that you mentioned is usage. It really gives you the opportunity for two people to sort of use the space independently yet together at the same time.
KEVIN: And you really have to think about that. I mean the two sink thing, I mean if you're going to be using the bathroom at the same time, OK, that makes sense. But then have the two sinks - make sure you've got enough room for two people to be in there at the same time. It's kind of like a kitchen for two cooks. I mean there's got to be space. But the first thing to go, if space is tight, I think is the second sink because you can use that space better for storage.
TOM: Yeah, that's kind of a luxury item.
What about the bedroom itself? How do you lay out the bedroom to allow plenty of space for everybody?
KEVIN: Well, the first thing to think about is not only the furniture that you've got now [on one end there] (ph) but somebody else's future needs. I mean if you've got a queen-sized bedroom, that's fine, or a queen-size bed. But the next owner might want a king-sized bed. So add a little extra space if you can and basically what you want is at least three feet on either side of the bed for your bedside tables and for walking around.
LESLIE: (chuckling) I'm laughing. I don't think I've ever had three feet on either side.
TOM: Yeah, you know it's funny. We had just bought some new bedroom furniture and we were having a discussion as to whether or not we go king or queen, which is what we've been accustomed to. But going with a king really cut back on the space and I figure I'd rather have more space to walk around it than to have to sort of crawl over everything to get to it.
KEVIN: Well, that's the key is to plan it all out ahead of time.
LESLIE: What about closets? I mean I know my husband and I are always fighting for space, so how do you create almost a dressing room that makes it work for both of you to use everything and store all of your clothing?
KEVIN: Well, it takes some careful planning and in the idea master suite what people want is a walk-in closet that doubles as a dressing room and in the best master suites that walk-in closet is open to both the bedroom and the bathroom. Because ...
KEVIN: Yeah, exactly. And I've seen some circular floor plans where you can move freely between those three spaces and it ends up being really practical. Especially if somebody is getting up early, they can go into the bathroom, into the dressing room without disturbing somebody who's still sleeping.
LESLIE: Hey, Kevin, one more question real quick. You know, we get a lot of calls about people wanting to sort of revamp the second story of their home or change the bedroom situations without expanding. Is it ever worth it to lose a bedroom to create this master suite to gain that space?
KEVIN: My answer to that would be absolutely. Now there's some realtors who may tell you that for resale value, you know, you want to maximize the number of bedrooms. But for the kind of spacious master suite that we've been talking about, you know, and you have an existing house, the best way to get that might be to sacrifice one of those bedrooms and to use that space.
TOM: That's a great tip.
Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you'd like to read Fine Homebuilding's story called Master the Master Suite, that is in the current edition of Find Homebuilding magazine on newsstands now or available online at FineHomebuilding.com.
KEVIN: Thank you, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright, well now you've got your juices flowing creatively about that master suite of your dreams and perhaps it includes a fireplace. Well we've got an easy way to make cleaning a fireplace screen part of your regular cleaning routine, right after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is 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: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where a tool belt is always considered high style. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And I'm Leslie Segrete. In fact, I'm wearing my fashionable accessory right now.
LESLIE: I like to go for a pink suede one. It was a holiday gift. I'm kidding. (chuckling)
TOM: Personally, I prefer my Prada tool belt.
LESLIE: Oh, really?
TOM: The Prada leather hammer loop. Yeah, yeah.
LESLIE: I love the logo all over my ... (chuckling). You're crazy. Folks, go with a nice, simple, brown leather one. Get it at your home center. There's no need to pick a fancy one, unless you want to be that tool belt diva who will remain nameless.
Well, we've got a great prize for you this hour. All you've got to do is give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because you ask your question on the air, you get the info you need to get the job done and you also get a pretty cool prize to help you tackle some things around the house and around the yard. We're giving away a shovel prize pack from our friends over at Ames True Temper. It includes three types of different shovels for tons of different outdoor works and it's going to help your back feel great after all that bending, digging, shoveling. It's worth 70 bucks but it can be yours for free.
TOM: Call us right now if you want to win. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us.
Well, after you get done using those shovels outside, you might be in the mood for a fire. And sitting by the fire is a perfect activity to relax you after you do all that outside work, but you want to make sure that your fireplace screen is clean and free of buildup so you can really enjoy it. So here's how you do just that.
Once or twice a season use a cleaning solution of an eighth of a cup of liquid dishwashing detergent per quart of water to remove that caked-on dirt. You gently want to scrub the screen with a soft bristle brush and follow up by wiping it with a lint-free cloth and that's going to help it avoid rusting.
Now, if you've got sections of brass there you want to polish those with a brass cleaner and lint-free cloth and if you don't want to use a brass cleaner here's another trick of the trade. You can mix up your own brass cleaner by taking some fresh lemon juice and crushing into that some salt. Those two things together - lemon juice and salt - makes a really great, natural cleaner for not only brass but also copper. If you've got those copper-bottom pans, that will take out the tarnish out of the copper. So, little lemon, little salt and you'll be on your way to a cleaner screen.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Heather in Maryland's got a concrete situation that's all cracked up. Tell us about the problem.
HEATHER: I had a concrete patio, like 30x30, poured not this past summer but the summer before. And even before the winter this year I noticed a crack that goes all the way across it and then a couple of smaller ones. And they haven't separated yet but I am concerned, because there's no rebar in it, that I'm going to end up with a split and like an unlevel-ness to it. What's the solution to that? What can I do without making it look, you know, not finished anymore?
TOM: Heather, repairing concrete patios is a difficult task because you have to use the right type of material and generally those are epoxies.
TOM: And there's a good line of products out from a company called Abatron. They're website is Abatron.com. And they're for residential and commercial concrete repair purposes. And what you're going to want to do is probably use one of the patching compounds on all of those cracks.
Now, in terms of the movement - as you mentioned, there's no rebar in there - frankly, there's not a whole lot you can do at this point. I would seal up the cracks and monitor it. If it gets so bad that it's moving a lot, one of the options that you could think about doing would be putting concrete pavers on top of that. The paver bricks come in a wide variety of styles. They're not very expensive and the old concrete patio could make a good base for those.
HEATHER: If, after filling it with the product that you mentioned ...
HEATHER: ... is it an option to stain it or would that be something that would be very obvious with the filler in there?
TOM: I'm not so sure staining would be a good idea but you could use one of the epoxy paints.
HEATHER: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because the stain, you know, depending on the translucency, is going to adhere differently to that patched area. So then it could become more obvious.
TOM: Yeah, but if you paint it with one of the epoxy paints, these are two-part epoxies. They're chemical cures and they work inside and outside. QUIKRETE makes one. Rust-Oleum makes one. Go find one that you like the colors and the texture of it and go with that. Because that can also be painted right over the crack repair and it'll all look nice.
HEATHER: Oh, great.
LESLIE: Well, you can even - instead of even using one of those epoxy kits, you can get basic, you know, concrete paint and tape out perhaps a terracotta tile pattern with maybe a little cobalt tile pattern in the center. Go ahead and paint a base color right over your taped lines and then once that dries and seals in the paint you can pick that terracotta color and paint in that area. You can do something really creative.
HEATHER: Great, thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Heather. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike needs some help cleaning the deck. What can we help you with? What's going on?
MIKE: I really enjoy your show.
I have a composite deck that I put down. This is actually the second season. And I'm getting some mold and I don't really understand why and I don't know what the proper way to clean it is. I mean there's no moisture accumulation. It's out in the sun all day long. Is it a propensity towards getting mold? Composite?
TOM: Yes, actually composite is part wood and because it's part wood it's going to get mildew. It's not really technically mold but it's a mildew; the same mildew that could form on a fence or a roof.
TOM: And it does need to be cleaned periodically. So not unusual and while composites are certainly more maintenance-free than any wood deck product out there ...
TOM: ... they do need to be cleaned. There's a number of different deck products that are available to do just that.
LESLIE: Yeah, there's actually a good one from the Flood Company and it's their DEKSWOOD Deck Cleaner and Brightener. And it's made for wood but it also works on vinyl surfaces and composites and it does a great job of sort of restoring and refreshing the color on the surface but also getting rid of mold or mildew or ground-in dirt and debris and that's really going to help freshen the surface as well. And you should do this seasonally. I would do it either at the beginning or the end of the season. Usually it makes sense to do it in the beginning because it's gotten all of the dirt and debris from the winter season. But if you've got the mildew growing on it now you want to tackle it before it's got all winter to sort of sit there and grow more.
MIKE: Gee, and here I went ahead and got composite because I thought all I had to do was hose it down every once in a while.
TOM: Well, you do. You just have to use a cleaner when you do that. It doesn't have to be a big deal. It's still a great choice.
LESLIE: I mean you're not refinishing it every few years, so that's good.
TOM: It's easy for us to say. We don't have to help him. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
MIKE: Right, right, right. I mean it's not a little - you know, it's like a 20x40 deck.
LESLIE: Wow, that's pretty nice!
TOM: I hear you. In the years that I used to be a contractor we called those aircraft carriers.
MIKE: Right. (laughing)
TOM: Mike, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
When we come back we've got tips for you on caring for all that natural stone in your home, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, are you tackling a home improvement project that involves paint or carpet and you're not sure how much to buy? Then head on over to MoneyPit.com because we have some of our most favored calculators there that will help you figure that out. They're available for free at MoneyPit.com and while you're there click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question because we know you can't always call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes you're busy. Sometimes you're driving. Don't drive off the road. Go home, get online and click on Ask Tom and Leslie at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got an e-mail here from Howard in Fair Lawn, New Jersey who writes: 'I have a marble counter top on the vanity in our bathroom and a cleaning solution was applied that has caused a small section to lose its sheen. How can I restore this section back to its original luster?'
Well, Howard, I can bet you that that cleaning solution that you used had some sort of vinegar or an acid in it.
TOM: And it etched it, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. Even vinegar, if you dilute it down so much, when you're dealing with a natural stone like that what happens is it sort of etches the top but then not only just etching. It kind of forms like an impervious film on top of the stone so now it can't breathe through its pores. I know it sounds weird. It's not living. But it can't breathe and so now all that moisture is getting stuck, causing it to cloud over. So remove any wax; anything that's on there that might be sealing it on top and then apply a new sealer. You're going to have to do it every so often but that will make the whole surface shine.
TOM: You know, there's a website called StoneCare.com. It's got a lot of sealer and polishing products for marble that I like and these guys really got the science down because it really is sort of a chemical equation.
TOM: If you use the wrong thing it can really ruin the product.
LESLIE: We've got a short one here from Paulette who writes: 'Is there any way to clean small, probably oil, spots from an asphalt driveway?'
TOM: Yes. Fix the car, Paulette. (Leslie chuckles) And after you get done doing that, mix up a solution of TSP - trisodium phosphate - available at most home centers and hardware stores; usually in the paint aisle because it's a good pre-painting cleaner as well. And mix it up in like a paste. Put it on that oil spot. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so and then rinse it off.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if it's giving you a hard time, take a good, stiff bristle brush and give it a scrub but that really does the trick.
TOM: OK, would you like to give your home d