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. What are you doing? What are you working on? Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We've got a great show in store for you . You know, keeping branches cut back helps trees grow and keeps them away from the power lines around your home. We're going to tell you how to prune those trees safely, the right way.
LESLIE: And you're going to find out how you can wake up to a warm house every morning this winter without keeping the heat up all night.
TOM: Got to learn that. Energy costs are going to be really high.
Plus, if you're wondering what happened to the lush lawn you started with in spring, you are not alone. At this time of the year, grass does tend to get dull, weak and turn yellow or brown. We're going to tell you how to fix it.
LESLIE: That's right. In a few minutes, we're going to hear from the lawn care experts at Scotts to find out what not to do and the right way to bring your lawn back to life.
TOM: And we have a big announcement. You know, starting this weekend, The Home Depot is running Home Show '06. It runs through September 24th. It's a nationwide home show.
Leslie, this has to be the largest home show in the world because it's happening simultaneously in every ...
LESLIE: Well, in every store.
TOM: At every store.
LESLIE: You know, Tom, you and I are participating in a clinic called Innovative Paint Applications about some new products and new techniques; all about painting your home. But this event is going to happen in every store all across the country. So you'll be able to attend a clinic no matter where you live.
TOM: They're going to have clinics. They're going to have product reviews. They're going to have demos. All of their vendors are going to be out demonstrating new product. They're going to be highlighting 100 of the most innovative products that Home Depot sells and it's all happening all this month at Home Depots all across America. You can learn more by going to HomeDepotClinics.com and you can even participate - check this out - in a virtual online clinic complete with a toll-free 800 number where you can actually call in your questions while this clinic is actually happening live online. So no matter where you live, you can go to a Home Depot or you can do it right from home. Check it out. HomeDepotClinics.com for Home Show '06. It's got to the most fabulous ...
LESLIE: It's huge.
TOM: ... home show in America. It is huge. And we're so excited because we're going to be broadcasting next week from Atlanta, Georgia; right from Home Show '06 in the Atlanta area. We're going to be doing some clinics and broadcasting our show and talking about all these new products that are being rolled out.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you find out that Tom and I are going to be in your neighborhood, come and say hello. We'd love to meet you.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We're also giving away, this week, some bling for your kitchen sink. One caller we choose is going to get a chrome finish single-handle faucet from Peerless. It's worth 138 bucks so call us now. You must have a home improvement question to win. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Linda in Tennessee is thinking of remodeling. How can we help you?
LINDA: I have a 1988 model mobile home that I bought last year.
LINDA: I'm an over-the-road truck driver so I don't get to spend much time at home. I'm doing the maintenance required to keep it up, but I'm wondering - now mobile homes, I know, they don't hold their value like a regular house does. But it would - would it still be worthwhile to do some renovations and change things around or with that kind of a setup, would it better to just do the maintenance and then after a few years get a new one?
TOM: Oh, I don't know, Linda. I mean, with all those hours you're spending on the road, I think you want that place to be as comfortable as you can possibly make it. So, while I wouldn't spend a lot of money on remodeling, I certainly would not hesitate to put a new kitchen or bathroom in that space.
LESLIE: Change the flooring.
LESLIE: New paint. Why not freshen up? It's your space now.
LINDA: Mm-hmm. That's what I want to do.
TOM: Yeah, well we knew that. (laughter) That's why we're giving you our blessings.
LINDA: Oh, I - then I will. Then I definitely will.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joe in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WJFK and you're having a plumbing situation. Tell us what's going on.
JOE: Yes, hi. I just recently bought a house that was built in 1992. And the water supply pipes are known as polybutyl or quest piping. It's plastic. It's a gray color.
JOE: And I was told that those pipes had been recalled and there's a class action lawsuit. And I have a bit of concern as to how I go about remedying the problem, as far as do I get those pipes removed or as I look to file for the class action suit ...
TOM: Yeah, the class action suit was called Cox vs. Shell and it was a nationwide class action settlement. It's administered by a group called the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center. Their website is PBPipe.com; as in polybutylene. PBPipe.com.
TOM: And all the information about the suit, about the claims process, the claim forms are there. But you're correct. You know, there has been a long history of problems with this type of piping and unfortunately, a lot of people have been trapped by this. But I'm curious. You say you just bought the house. Did this not come up in your home inspection?
JOE: No, sir. My home inspector was not up to par, according to what me and my wife have found out. He didn't check half the things he should have checked. Well, you know, I think that you may have an action against the home inspector if that's the case. What I would recommend you do is to hire an experienced home inspector to re-inspect the home and find out what else may have been missed.
TOM: Because perhaps the home inspector may have a professional liability policy that could be a shorter road to a claim for these issues than going through this class action process.
JOE: OK. That sounds pretty good.
LESLIE: We're talking to Joe in Arizona who's thinking about changing a window into a door. Tell us about the house and what you're working on.
JOE: I have a house that's about 30 years old; a block home. And I was replacing my single-pane windows with dual-pane and I made the mistake of talking to my wife and saying, 'A window - or a door would look great here instead of a window.' (laughter) So, now I'm obligated.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And it was your idea so you totally have to do it.
TOM: Yeah, way to make your own honey-do list there, Joe. (laughing)
JOE: I know. I'm sorry.
TOM: So you mentioned it's a concrete block home?
TOM: Alright. Well, the window that you have in right now, is it as wide as the door may be? For example, is it, you know, a good three-foot wide window?
JOE: It's a six-foot wide slider window. So it will work out.
TOM: Oh, perfect. OK, well that's good because the challenge here, Joe, is you have to support the weight above it. But if you've got already a wide window, with this new ...
LESLIE: Then that header's already there.
TOM: And the header's already there, then the structural problem is solved. Now it's simply a matter of carving out that block below to make room for it. So are you thinking about putting in a sliding glass door?
JOE: Or a French door. Either one, yes.
TOM: Or a French door. So you want to use the full space. In other words, you don't want to close it down any.
LESLIE: Well, and also if you need to fill extra space, you can put side lights in.
Well, hopefully the height is right. So, that's the first thing. So you don't have to mess with the header. That's what makes this complicated, is the header. If the height is right, it's just a matter of cutting out the block. Then really, frankly, it's a very, very simple project because that area of block wall right now, below the old window, is non-supporting. So it's a simple matter of cutting that out with a masonry saw and then cleaning up the opening and then putting the new door in. I mean it's really, frankly, a pretty simple project. So you didn't get yourself in too deep.
JOE: Oh, thank you. (laughing) Where do I get a masonry saw at?
TOM: You can rent one or you can use a circular saw with a masonry cutting blade. It's a messy job. You need respiratory protection and eye protection before you start it.
JOE: OK. It seems like I could do that, sure.
TOM: Absolutely. Joe, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Squeaky floors are driving John crazy in Florida and he listens to The Money Pit on WGUF. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: I've got a problem with a condominium that we purchased that was called a gut rehab.
JOHN: And the downstairs has the bedrooms and the upstairs has the kitchen and the family room and bathroom. And it's all hardwood floors on the upstairs.
JOHN: What they did in the basement is they made it a downstairs three-bedroom situation. But they put - they drywalled the joists; so you can't get to the joists.
LESLIE: OK. So, it's strictly the floors on the second level, where you have the hardwoods, that are creaking and squeaking.
TOM: OK. Well this is actually pretty easy to fix. You don't necessarily have to get under the floor to deal with the squeak. The key here, John, is identifying where the floor joist is and you can do that with a stud finder. So, if you can figure out, in the areas that squeak, where the floor joist is, using a stud finder, then sort of chalk it out for yourself or use like a wipe-off marker so you can use mark exactly where this is. The next thing you want to do is you want to take a finish nail - a #10 or a #12 finish nail - and I like to use a finish as a drill bit by sort of chucking it in the drill itself and then using that to sort of drill pilot holes through the hardwood floor.
What you want to do is use two or three of these to put them in at about a 30-degree angle. And then, once you get them in there, you reset them right under the floor surface; use a wood filler on top of that. I would recommend a wax stick. Minwax has one that's like a - looks like a freezer pencil or a grease pencil.
TOM: And then you sort of rub that away and it disappears right in there and it should be nice and tight and quiet.
JOHN: So you're basically screwing the finishing nail into the joist?
TOM: Well, you're not screwing it in but instead of using a drill to pilot it, which cuts the wood fibers, I like to use the finish nail as the drill bit ...
LESLIE: Because it sort of just spreads the fibers open ...
LESLIE: ... and allows for it to disappear underneath it.
TOM: Yeah it spreads them and it's a lot tighter that way.
JOHN: Oh, that sounds great. Well thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You're welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Now you can call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Up next, trimming your trees might be the first step for your fall yard work projects. We're going to have some tips from the Tree Care Industry Association on how to make sure your trees end up a cut above.
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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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your home repair question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let us help you out. You'll get the answer and you could win a great prize.
Well, you know, pruning your trees is important for proper growth and safety.
LESLIE: You know, this time of year, Tom, it's always so shocking to me that as things start to die off, you just go right up to some of your plantings and just completely lob them off and then they come back.
TOM: I know. We have some bushes that are that way that almost like block the paths. And every fall we do the same thing. We completely cut them down - and it looks terrible, like for a few months - but they always come back and they come back better. And the same thing applies to trees. Not only is it a healthy thing to do but it also helps keep those limbs from falling on your house and your car and things like that when the winter storms come.
You know, my very first car - the first one I ever bought - it was a brand, spanking new pickup truck. It was parked in my parents' driveway next to a tree that had been in our family - we feel like it was a member of the family ...
LESLIE: Was it the first day that you had the car, too?
TOM: It was like the second week, to be honest with you. (chuckling) This tree came down - this was a tree that was like three foot in diameter - and it smashed this car like a pancake.
TOM: It was flat. It had one of those beautiful fiberglass caps on it. You know, I used to put my tools in there as I was running around doing my work. And it just crushed it. I was crushed when I saw what happened because I didn't know what to do.
Here's some things to think about. You know, first of all, it's a good idea to speak to a professional arborist or a landscaper before pruning trees so you know what you're cutting. An arborist is going to know how and when to prune your species of tree. For information on exactly which ones, you can visit the Tree Care Industry Association to learn more at www.NATLARB.com; that's NATLARB.com.
LESLIE: Well I think that's for National Arborists. You know, it makes sense; National-Arb.
LESLIE: So, Tom - and maybe you can give everybody advice as to where exactly to park their cars by those trees before they get to ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, not under the tree. (laughing)
LESLIE: And Tom, next time, when you get to pruning, park your car far, far away from those trees just in case. (laughter)
Alright, folks. Looking around your house, thinking you might need something new in that kitchen? Well, we've got a great prize this hour. It is some free bling for your kitchen. It's worth $138. It's a single-handle, pull-out faucet in chrome finish from the folks at Peerless. It is gorgeous. It features a pull-out spray spout - whoo! Say that five times fast. It features a pull-out spray spout which can help make any kitchen job easier; not to mention make a fantastic indoor water fight. But it can be yours absolutely free if you call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Utah's on the line. Marjorie, what can we do for you?
MARJORIE: Hi. What I'd like to know is I have a basement floor and it's built on a foundation of clay; the house. And it's heaving. It's cracking and I believe it's moving because of the seasons of the year. But it's not noticeably real deep; the cracks are but they're many. And I wanted to know what kind of a floor I could put in. And then, could I put in tile and ...?
TOM: No, I definitely wouldn't put tile floor. If you suspect that this concrete is moving and cracking, if you put tile in it's going to move with it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Then the tile is going to crack.
TOM: Yeah, Leslie, I think this is a perfect opportunity for a laminate floor; something that's going to float on top.
LESLIE: Yeah, laminate floor in the basement is fantastic because it withstands moisture situations; which is exactly what you're going to find in the basement. And because it's made from plastic, it's really going to stand up to all of those conditions and be flexible and stand up to high traffic, any sort of water situation. It can look like tile. It can look like slate. It can look like brick. It can look like a variety of species of wood. It's very affordable and it looks fantastic. So it's a great choice for the basement.
TOM: Yeah, and Marjorie, when you put this is, you're going to put down an underlayment and then - it's just like sort of a foam or a felt - and then the laminate pieces lock together and sit on top of that and they don't actually physically connect to the floor; which means if the floor expanded and contracted, it would have no effect on the laminate. On the other hand, if you put ceramic tile in and the floor expanded and contracted, it's going to move with it. You follow us?
MARJORIE: Uh-huh. What exactly is a laminate floor made out of, though? I mean what ...?
TOM: It's made out of medium-density fiberboard and then it has a color coat - which is the one that looks like stone or looks like wood - and then it has a laminate finish. It's like Formica countertops - Formica is a laminate - except that when it comes to a floor, the density of the laminate is much, much thicker. It's actually 20 times tougher than a countertop.
LESLIE: Carrie from D.C., you're on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
CARRIE: I have a brownstone that was built in 1847 in Washington, D.C.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Ooh, sounds nice.
LESLIE: Oh, that sounds great.
CARRIE: Yeah, it's fabulous. (chuckling) But I'm having some water problems. The north facing wall on the first floor is having some water issues and the plaster is starting to ...
LESLIE: Now, is this north facing wall - is it attached to a building next door? Is it the end?
CARRIE: No, it's the free-standing north facing wall. However, the east wall - they just built some construction and they did tie a wall into that wall.
TOM: So when you say you're having water issues, Carrie, what exactly are you seeing?
CARRIE: The plaster is buckling at the top framework - the top moulding plaster.
TOM: OK, but I mean do you know that this is from a water issue or could it be a problem with the plaster separating from the lath?
CARRIE: I definitely think it's a water issue. It could be a problem from the plaster but I really think it's a water issue. I did have the back wall re-pointed and I was wondering if they had trapped water, maybe, into the wall when they ...
TOM: It would be dried out by now. But here's what happens if you get a leak with plaster lath. The plaster pushes through the wood lath, generally, and has sort of like a finger that attaches to the back of it. And if that gets wet, the plaster will release and buckle. In a house that's that old, it wouldn't be unusual for the plaster to come loose and it might just be that what you're seeing is deteriorated plaster. If it's buckled, regardless of whether it's caused by age or by leak, it has to come down. Because that stuff is really, really heavy. And if it comes down unexpectedly, it could really hurt somebody.
So you're going to need to remove that damaged plaster to the point where you are back to having solid plaster and then you're going to have that area repaired. And in doing so, you could also, at the same time, further investigate whether or not there was evidence of water leakage in that particular area. For example, a roofing contractor or a tradesman with the right tools can use a moisture meter to see if there's excessive dampness behind that and then rebuild that area. But considering the age of the house and the fact that you're not seeing dripping water, it might just be that the plaster needs to be repaired.
CARRIE: OK, well you've been helpful.
LESLIE: Adam in Virginia listens to The Money Pit on Free FM, WJFK. And tell us what's going on in your yard.
ADAM: Well, I have a really bad problem with what my neighbor calls ground hornets and yellowjackets.
ADAM: And also huge, huge swarms - I mean it's bazillions; I can't even think of the right name - of ants.
ADAM: Not just outside in the yard but also in the house.
ADAM: We've used everything we can think of - the Ortho Max. We even used some of the expensive stuff I ordered offline and I'm not keeping them out of the house. But the yellowjackets in the yard - the yellowjackets and the ground hornets in the yard is a big problem with the kids and dogs.
TOM: Listen, this is not a job for a do-it-yourselfer. This is a job for a professional. Because the professionals are going to have access to the right pesticides that could make this problem go away in, literally, one visit. The type of pesticide that use on the hornets, of course, is different than the ants. For the ants, you're going to use an undetectable pesticide, such as Termidor that's, professionally applied. The ants march through it; get it on their bodies; carry it back to the nest, where they're completely eliminated because they pass it from insect to insect. For the hornets, they're going to probably use a powder and they're going to spray that right into the nest and that's going to wipe the whole nest out.
It's not something you want to do yourself because you're going to apply a lot of chemical - which is dangerous in itself - and you're probably not going to eliminate the problem. But this is a matter of population control, when it comes to insects that have infested at this level. And that's what you really need to do, Adam. OK?
ADAM: Alright, I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, Money Pit listeners, if your lawn is looking like a worn, brown rug instead of a lush putting green, don't fret. Up next, Scotts lawn care expert, Ashton Ritchie, joins the program with late summer lawn care tips to keep you smiling.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Making good homes better.
Now, speaking of making good homes better, if you're staring at a lawn that is really suffering this summer because of all the heat and you're thinking it's never, ever going to come back, you are not alone. Most of us see brown patches and yellowing and think the lawn is just dead.
LESLIE: Yeah, but there are ways you can bring your lawn back to its lush, green splendor. Well, how about some late summer lawn care tips that will carry you through the fall season? If you're looking for those, we've got Ashton Ritchie who's with us and he's a lawn care expert from the Scotts company.
ASHTON: It is always good to talk with you folks. How you doing?
So Ashton, what's the biggest mistake you see folks making when it comes to lawn care; especially this time of year.
ASHTON: Well, the biggest mistake I see is people mow their grass too short. You should mow your lawn around two-and-a-half inches. If you mow it shorter than that then it really restricts the root growth and it's all about the roots. So you want to make sure the lawn is healthy by mowing it a little bit on the taller side.
LESLIE: So don't try to save time by just cutting it down real short so you won't have to do it again.
TOM: Is that especially damaging in the summer because you're letting the sun get closer and closer to the roots?
ASHTON: Yeah. And plus, you know, you're exposing the crown of the plant to a lot of abuse from the sun, but you're also weakening the roots; crab grass gets a chance to take over; there's a lot of weeds that like to move into a thin lawn, so the lawn does get insect problems; the lawn is going to be thinner. So if you have a lawn that looks kind of tired right now, coming out of the summer, the thing that you really need to do is to - is think about feeding the lawn. Now, obviously, I work for Scotts and we sell fertilizer so you would expect me to say that, but it really makes a big difference; especially in the fall.
LESLIE: But why is it that watering the lawn just isn't enough?
ASHTON: Well, if you - you can give the lawn the water and that's fine. It does need - it does need water. But the soil that we have around our homes is just not enough to supply the kind of nutrition that the lawns could use to maintain that healthy growth and especially with the root system. So, what we found in the fall is if you can feed your lawn twice - once in early September and then once about six weeks later - your lawn just pays off with quite a bit of root growth. It really is a lot healthier; not only this fall but also next spring.
LESLIE: So Ashton, are the treatments that you might use in the spring the same as what you would use in the fall or are they two completely separate things?
ASHTON: Usually in the fall, we're thinking about feeding the lawn with a Scotts Turf Builder coming - say, around the Labor Day weekend or sometime in September. And then, about six weeks later, you would feed it with Scotts Turf Builder with Winter Guard. Now, if you have weeds in the lawn - which, sometimes if the lawn is thin you might have clover or creeping Charlie or maybe some young dandelions that germinated from all those seeds that blew around in the spring - if you've got those weeds in there, then either one of those feedings you can substitute the Weed and Feed; like the Scotts Turf Builder Plus 2 or the Scotts Turf Builder with Winter Guard and Weed Control.
TOM: We're talking to Ashton Ritchie. You have seen him on television. You have heard him before. He is the Scotts lawn care expert.
Ashton, we get a lot of calls on the dreaded moles that seem to really ravage lawns. What tips do you have for controlling those? Does it really just come down to something like GrubEx and getting those bugs out of the lawn so they have nothing to eat?
ASHTON: Well, the GrubEx does a good job of getting rid of grubs but, unfortunately - or actually fortunately, either way you look at it - GrubEx doesn't take care of earthworms that can be in the soil and earthworms are (inaudible) ...
TOM: Ah, another delicacy, huh?
ASHTON: Yeah, that's part of the primary diet for moles. So, really, the only way to get rid of the moles is to trap them using one of these mole traps.
TOM: Really? So not - so the grub control alone is not going to get rid of the moles?
ASHTON: No, the GrubEx is very targeted against grubs and it, you know, doesn't harm the earthworms - which is a good thing. But unfortunately, those earthworms are there and the moles like to feast on those.
TOM: Interesting. I had a lot of success with it my lawn. Maybe I just got lucky or maybe the worms don't care for my property. (chuckling)
ASHTON: Well, you know, the key with the moles - if you've got moles - is to set the trap into an active run that they use very frequently. Because some of those tunnels they only use maybe once. So you step on a raised tunnel in your lawn, in about six or seven places, and then check it 24 hours later and find out which ones have been raised back up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, good tip.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, that's smart.
ASHTON: That way you're finding the active run and that's where you set the trap.
LESLIE: Because they're trying to get one over on you. (chuckling)
ASHTON: Yeah, they've got all these little county roads that they only use occasionally and one time and you set the trap and it just sits there and sits there and it doesn't catch the mole.
TOM: Now Ashton, what if the lawn is in really terrible shape when it comes to the fall? We had a very bad lawn once and did a complete Roundup restoration where we basically killed off the grass then planted some good seed that came up through the dead grass and the dead weeds. Is that rather a drastic step but effective one if your lawn is really in bad condition? Or should you just - are you better off taking several seasons to bring it back?
ASHTON: Well, you can take the approach of total lawn renovation; especially if you have a real old lawn that has always been subject to problems. The newer grass varieties we have today are so much better than the ones that we had 10 years ago. So, you have the opportunity to get those planted. You kill off the existing lawn and within seven days you can come back and seed. Because the Roundup doesn't do anything to hurt the soil.
ASHTON: And you know, you can just seed into the dead area but probably the most success would come by using something called a slip seeder that you can rent ...
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
ASHTON: ... and that actually plants the seed in rows on the lawn. And then you put the starter fertilizer down and you'll get new grass.
LESLIE: Are there any precautions we should take during the winter while the lawn, you know, is under the snow? Should we think about, you know, not overly stepping on certain areas or, you know, being cautious as we shovel?
ASHTON: Just keep mowing the lawn as long as it's growing in the fall. You don't want to let it go real long going into the winter. So you keep mowing it the same height - around two-and-a-half inches - and then, you know, wherever you pile that snow with the salt that's in the snow, you want to make sure that, you know, you don't make huge piles right there beside the driveway. You know, kind of spread it out a little bit.
TOM: Great advice. Ashton Ritchie with the Scotts company; the lawn care expert. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Thanks, Ashton.
TOM: For more information, you can log onto www.Scotts.com.
LESLIE: Well, coming up, want to conserve heat at night but avoid waking up to a cold house in the morning? Learn how the hands of time can save your dimes, quarters and dollars, next.
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[audio timestamp: 32:47]
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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project.
So, we were talking about how to conserve heat.
LESLIE: Yeah, and save your money while staying warm. Sounds like a tricky thing to do but you can conserve heat at night and avoid waking up to a cold house in the morning. The best thing you can do to get the best of both worlds is to install a clock thermostat. Clock thermostats have a setback feature that can automatically lower your heat at night while you're sleeping and then it automatically raises it for you in the morning. They're smart thermostats because they conserve heat; they save you money; and they give you all the warmth and comfort that you need when you need it, so you're not wasting heating dollars when you're not enjoying those warm, toasty spaces.
TOM: Good idea. For more ideas on things you can do now to keep your home warm this winter without breaking the bank, sign up for our free e-newsletter because next issue we're going to have some more tips on how to do just that. Sign up today at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Next week we're having a very, very special show. Tom and I and The Money Pit are going to be in Atlanta to help kick off a major event. It's the Home Depot's Home Show '06. It's very exciting.
TOM: That's right. It runs through September 24th nationwide at all Home Depot stores. It includes clinics, product reviews, demos. Lots of fun, lots of information, lots of excitement. We'll be broadcasting live from Atlanta next week, covering all that. But you can participate, too. All you've got to do is go to HomeDepotClinics.com and find out where a clinic will be held in your area. And, if you don't want to get out of the house or perhaps you're not near a Home Depot store - I can't imagine that because they're everywhere -
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) They're everywhere.
TOM: - you can actually participate online. They're even going to have a toll-free 800 number that you can call so that you can participate while these clinics are being held. So check it out. Home Show '06 available at HomeDepotClinics.com.
LESLIE: And Tom and I are very excited to be participating in Atlanta during an innovative paint application clinic. So come and visit us there if we're in your neck of the woods.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now if you need an answer to your home improvement question and some bling for your kitchen sink because we're giving away a brand new faucet worth 130 bucks from Peerless. Call us now to qualify. You must have a home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Lynn in Virginia's in a sticky situation. You've got some stain on your vinyl siding. Tell us what happened.
LYNN: Yes, ma'am. We recently bought a five-year-old house and when we cleaned the vinyl up, it looked like some of the old deck stain is on the vinyl. And we were wondering what to use to get the old stain off the vinyl.
TOM: Hmm. That's a tricky one. Was the deck stain latex or oil based?
LYNN: I have no idea.
LYNN: I guess the first homeowner stained it and it - the deck needs to be redone. So I don't - I don't know what it would have been. It didn't last very long. (chuckling)
TOM: Alright. Well, I'm going to try it. We're going to start with a basic cleaner. There's a problem out there called Jomax; J-o-m-a-x. It's available in home centers. It's one of my favorite cleaners. It works really well. And you mix this up and you apply it to the siding. You're going to really have to let it sit and try to work on the stain for a while and then rinse it off and see if it lightens up.
LESLIE: Lynn, have you tried to use - lightly use - a paint scraper? Because if it's an oil base, it might just be sitting on top of it like a little gel of nail polish.
TOM: That's a good point.
LESLIE: And if you can approach it gently, you might be able to just sort of lift it up. Because the vinyl siding is very delicate.
LYNN: It doesn't look like it's sitting on top. It looks like it actually stained the vinyl. We cleaned the vinyl with Simple Green and that's when we noticed it. Because the house was so dirty (chuckling), we didn't know what the orange spots were. We just thought it was, you know, red clay. But it's actually stains from the deck because that's the same color the deck is.
TOM: How old is the house, Lynn?
LYNN: It's about five years old.
TOM: OK. Well, if all else fails and it turns out that you cannot get this stain off of the vinyl, one of the things that you could do is you could have a siding contractor remove those sections of vinyl. And you may not be able to find the same piece that matches, but what you could do is you could trade out the stained piece with another good piece that's somewhere else on the house; perhaps an area that's not as visible, like behind bushes or something like that. So you basically are going to swap out pieces of vinyl that are on the same house to try to put one that's clean where you can see it and one that's dirty where you can't see it.
LYNN: OK, that's a good idea. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Lynn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we're talking to John in Nevada who listens to The Money Pit on KBZZ. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Well, a few months ago I had a radon test done in the house; the first level of the house. And the level came back about 4.1 and I know they say anything above four you should probably look into it having it mitigated. Well, I thought possibly I could put a couple more vents in the crawl space in the house to help maybe alleviate the radon.
TOM: Where was the radon test done, John?
JOHN: It was done in the first - in the family room on the first level of the house.
TOM: Huh. Wow. That - you know, that's very unusual when you're over a crawl ...
LESLIE: Because usually they're below-grade rooms.
TOM: Yeah, when you're - when you're over a crawl space, it's very unusual to have an elevated radon level. Do you have any stone fireplaces or anything like that in there?
JOHN: No, uh-uh.
TOM: Hmm, OK.
JOHN: I live - where I live, outside of Reno, is a very rocky area.
JOHN: And some of my neighbors have had the test done and one of my neighbors has had it as high as 10 in his living space.
TOM: Well, you're kind of borderline and what you're going to find is that those short-term tests - if you did a charcoal canister test -
TOM: - those are short-term tests and normally you'll get a 50 percent swing in the reading. So when it's cooler out and the house tends to be sealed up more, sometimes it's going to be - that'll be your seasonal high. And in the spring and the fall, when you have the windows open a lot, it'll be at its lowest point.
Repairing this, though, is the same thing you would do if you had a basement. The way it's done is the surface of the soil on that floor will be sealed. Now, do you have a concrete slab in that crawl space or is just dirt?
JOHN: No, it's dirt. Now, what I did is put some viscuine over it ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) That's a smart thing to do.
JOHN: ... when the house was built.
TOM: Yep. If you put viscuine over it and if you sealed the viscuine to the block walls, so you actually have sort of a gasket ...
TOM: ... that would be a smart way to do it.
TOM: And I would do that first and then I would retest. I don't - not so sure that you need to put in additional vents.
JOHN: OK. Alrighty. I just - is there anything about code? Do codes vary throughout the country, as far as the number of vents you can have in your house?
TOM: You couldn't really have too many vents.
TOM: So you certainly could do that. But before we start telling you to cut open your block wall, I think if you cover the entire surface up which that radon gas is emanating through, that this problem may go away.
JOHN: OK, I'll try that then.
TOM: Alright, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Up next, humidity in the basement can spell trouble. You know how? M-o-l-d; mold. Want to learn how to get rid of it? The answer, next.
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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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Also available online at MoneyPit.com, where you will find everything we have ever written about home improvement. It's all there, very conveniently searchable at your fingertips; as well as a link to get a question to us by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
Our first email comes from Sue Choo who listens on WPRO in Providence, Rhode Island and she says: 'Is insulation needed for basement walls? I have a 70 to 79 percent humidity level in my basement.' Pretty damp there, Sue. 'How can I lower this? I've got a dehumidifier and two exhaust fans running all the time for the last six weeks. It's just not helped. What do I do?'
LESLIE: Well, Sue, it sounds like you're on to the right track with doing things inside your house, but let's talk about some things outside of your house that can really reduce the moisture you're going to find in the basement. Do these things and you should correct that problem right away.
First, let's look at the drainage all around your house. You want to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are completely clear of debris. If you can, put a gutter guard on top once you get them nice and clean so things aren't building up in it. Look at your downspouts. Snake them out. Make sure there's nothing in them. And then make sure they deposit the water about three to six feet away from the house; get it away from the foundation. And then, look at your grading. You want to go down about four inches over six feet. So it's not very steep but it will do the job of keeping that water away. If you correct outside, you should correct that moisture inside as well.
TOM: And once you get it dry, you can certainly add some insulation. Generally, the soil is a pretty good insulator but it's the area right above the soil - that first couple of feet of the wall - that can get mighty cold. So not a bad idea to insulate the walls, but fix the moisture problem first.
OK, up next we've got an email here from Sharon Casper Williams in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Very long. Bottom line, she says they purchased their dream home; a few months later they started to smell a bad smell emanating from the finished powder room in the basement. They've had a zillion people tell them what to do so far ...
LESLIE: And each one's given them different advice.
TOM: Yeah, plumber says to put gallons of bleach down the drain; but, of course, that'll kill their septic tank. Somebody else said they weren't running enough water down the drain - which could be, if the trap is dried out. Somebody else told them to flush the septic system. It's not working. 'What'll I do?' I tell you what. If you've got a stinky problem from a bathroom, it's almost always a problem with the drain pipe; the actual waste pipe that's going out of that bath.
Sharon, I would suspect that you don't have a trap in that line or that the trap is broken. If that's the case, you're not going to have any seal and the odor that you're smelling is what's coming back up from the septic tank. So you've got to get somebody like a Roto-Rooter company to go there and run a camera down that pipe and make sure it's not cracked and broken and that a trap exists.
So when you wash your clothes, are they getting really, really clean? You always think that when they come out of the washer they're really, really fresh. But it turns out that's not true if you don't maintain your washer properly and that's the subject of today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's very true, Tom. Actually, your washing machine might not be washing the germs out of your family's clothes. Over the years, washing machines can become contaminated with a bacteria that's potentially leaving millions of germs behind in your laundry and then on your family's clothes. Gross. Such a scary thought to think about. You think you're cleaning the clothes, you're doing a great job. But there's a couple of things that you can do to make it all back to better and you'll see, everything will be great. You'll be really confident using that washing machine.
So, to correct this problem, run the washer without clothes using just hot water and one half gallon of bleach. The bleach is going to sanitize the machine and all of its plumbing components, killing any bacteria that's been left behind. So wash with confidence, folks, and know that your family is clean on the inside and out.
TOM: Excellent advice. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are available 24/7/365 at that telephone number.
Coming up next week, The Money Pit is broadcasting live from the flagship Home Depot store in Atlanta, Georgia. We're going to be taking part in a very huge event. It's called Home Show '06 and it's all about innovation. All the Home Depot stores across the country are going to be highlighting new and innovative products to help you save energy, save time, save money, keep you safe and make your life just a little bit easier. Now, it's a month-long event so you can participate, too. Just go to your local Home Depot or check out the clinic schedule on HomeDepotClinics.com. We're also going to be doing a seminar on paint applications which will be fun, too. So if you're in the Atlanta area, please feel free to stop by.
That's all the time we have this hour. 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.)