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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects.
Been a busy week here at my money-pit home, Leslie. Everything seems to have gone wrong this week. We lost the washing machine, then the boiler started to leak, then I had a car repair.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: It was a big repair week.
LESLIE: All in the same week?
TOM: All in the same week. That’s what happens: things happen all at the same time to us, just like it does to you. And so if this has happened at your money pit or if you’ve got a project that you’re planning to tackle this spring or this summer – this upcoming summer –give us a call, we’re here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up this hour, if you love a backyard swimming spot and this is the year that you’re going to do something about it, maybe build a pool, we’re going to share a very cool option to traditional hardscape pools that use chlorine. They’re called “natural inground pools.” Have you seen them? They’re beautiful and we’ve got the scoop on these pond-like, gorgeous and very Earth-friendly options for swimming pools.
LESLIE: Oh, they’re amazing. I think there’s like an entire program dedicated to it on one of the makeover channels. And I’ve seen a few episodes and they’re gorgeous. I mean the use of landscaping and they’re sort of free-form – and rocks. They’re gorgeous. So we’ll tell you more about that in a bit.
Plus, it’s the time of year for cleaning up outside, really, everything from your car or your boat, if you’re lucky to have one, siding, windows, you name it. Now, it could all use a really good scrub-down after the winter season. And those chores can actually be a breeze. And we’ve got a hot, new product that attaches to your hose and makes outdoor cleaning jobs a lot easier that we’re going to tell you about.
TOM: And as you enjoy the great outdoors more and more, keep in mind that there are pests out there with you and some of them can make you really sick. We’re going to have some tips this hour on how to protect yourself from ticks that carry a new virus. Hooray. Because it’s even deadlier than Lyme disease. Isn’t that crazy?
LESLIE: Oh, yippee!
And on a positive note, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a new wardrobe from Dickies, including a Cooling Crew Tee and a Cooling Polo. And both have a UPF sun protection built into it and mesh side panels so that as you’re working outside and getting all hot and sweaty, it sort of lets the air flow through, which really makes these shirts perfect for outdoor jobs or even outdoor sporting events.
TOM: It’s a prize pack worth 55 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Gary in Virginia is on the line and is dealing with some odor coming from the sink. Tell us what’s going on.
GARY: We do have a problem in the bathroom. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I don’t know whether it could be trapped gases or whether it could be – I don’t think it’s anything in the water, because it’s just in the bathroom. But a lot of times when we take a shower, get out and – now, if we get dried off and everything and leave the bathroom or come back in, it’s a terrible odor in there. It smells like you – kind of like a sewer, I guess, maybe.
GARY: But we’ve had our septic pump (inaudible at 0:03:49) last year and it’s not that. And it not only happens in the shower. It can happen if we use the tub or sometimes if we’re at the sink, you know, like we shave – or if I shave or something like that and finish up, it’s like it comes up through the pipe. But it doesn’t happen every time. It could happen twice a week, it could happen no time.
TOM: It sounds like something we call “biogas.” You get bacteria that will form in the drains and in the traps and in the fittings around there. And the bacteria itself has an awful odor to it.
TOM: So what I would do is I would the trap apart for the bathroom sink, because you can get to that. I would use a bottle brush and scrub the heck out of all of that. I would put it back together and fill the entire trap with oxygenated bleach and let it sit.
I would do the same thing for the bathtub. I would take the drain cover off and I would use a bottle brush to get down there and scrub the insides of those pipes. And I would fill those with oxygenated bleach and let them sit. Because the bleach is going to kill those microbes, kill that bacteria.
TOM: And that should make a difference. If it is biogas, it smells terrible and …
GARY: Then why wouldn’t it do that at every time?
TOM: Well, sometimes it’s more active than others is all I could say. But it depends on a lot of things, including the air pressure in the room. If the room happens to have a lower pressure because of other things going on in the house, it may draw out or not. So, it’s probably there all the time; it’s just that you don’t smell it because of the airflow.
GARY: Yeah. Well, we’ve had a plumber look at it and he’s just – he can’t find the answer, either, so I had …
TOM: I think if you Google biogas, you’ll see that there are a lot of folks that have the same issue. And this is how you solve it.
GARY: OK. Alright. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright, Gary. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Laura in Michigan.
Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
LAURA: Hi. Well, I recently removed my – some carpeting from my bathroom floor. And it’s ceramic floor and I’m having a hard time getting some of the – I think – what is it? – glue and part of the back of the carpeting on – it’s still on the floor. Not a lot but I want to get it up. It’s mainly around the edges. And I thought maybe you had a way of doing that that would take less elbow grease, I guess.
LESLIE: Alright. So, Laura – and you’re trying to get rid of this adhesive from the carpet that was over ceramic tile, which is so crazy but at least you’ve got a nice, smooth surface that you can work with to try to remove the adhesive.
Now, some of the things that you could work with are citrus-based and there’s one called Citrus King Mastic Remover. And there’s actually a website you can go to: CitrusDepot.net. And if you go to that website, you can buy a trial container. I want to say it’s like $10 for a pint, so you can just try it out and see if that’ll do the trick. And that’s worth it and that’s a good product to use that’s not going to be stinky and it’ll be good to work with. I’d say give that a try and see how that works with the adhesive that’s from your carpet.
LAURA: That sounds great. I’ll definitely give it a try.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We hope that you are enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend and maybe taking a break from some home improvements and enjoying some of the things you’ve been working on all spring.
And maybe you’re thinking about a new project. Well, let us help you plan that. So give us a call. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, there’s a lot of buzz lately about the effects Lyme disease has but another virus, also carried by ticks, is even more lethal and it’s popping up now in the United States. We’re going to teach you how to protect yourself when The Money Pit continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are giving away a Dickies Prize Pack this hour and that’s going to include for you two UPF-resistant shirts. It’s got the Cooling Tee and the Cooling Polo.
TOM: And true to their name, their built-in sun protection and mesh side panels will keep you cool in those hot, summer days as you’re outside swinging a hammer or enjoying a cool drink.
It’s a prize pack worth 55 bucks but it’s going to go home, free, to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Elvis from Texas is on the line. He is in the building and he has a question about plumbing.
Elvis, what can we do for you?
ELVIS: My wife and I had a house built. Started back in early 2005 and it’s in Lubbock. Houses are made on concrete slabs.
ELVIS: Before they poured the slab, they put in a – with all the plumbing was installed. And instead of copper plumbing, which was in kind of short supply back in 2005, the going thing then was called Kitec. I think it’s K-i-t-e-c. And it’s a double-walled plastic pipe with aluminum in the center, instead of regular connections that use, if I’m understanding, a bronze connector. And we’ve had a couple of small problems with the plumbing but it seems as though I’ve read that the bronze can cause a delinkification (ph) in the copper.
And I’m wondering if there’s been any studies done, if there’s different fittings that can be replaced. If the plumbing has to be replaced, it’d be very labor-intensive to go underneath the house. And we get down to fairly low winters, maybe to zero and I don’t think I’d want any plumbing overhead for it to freeze. Or if you have any suggestions or thoughts.
TOM: Yeah, Elvis. The problem with Kitec plumbing is, as you suspect, the fittings will leak.
Now, what’s interesting is that Kitec starts with PEX, which is cross-linked polyethylene, which by itself and as installed today is actually an excellent plumbing pipe with fittings that don’t leak. But the Kitec system has definitely had a history of leaking. In fact, there are many class-action lawsuits over that product that are active and going on around the country. And you certainly should investigate those that you may qualify to join.
Unfortunately, your solutions only include, really, replacing it. And what I would advise you to do is to only replace it where it’s accessible. I mean I wouldn’t create the emergency if the emergency doesn’t exist, so I’m not going to tell you to tear open your walls and pull all the plumbing out and start from scratch. But I would say that if you do happen to be doing a bathroom renovation or you open a wall and you find Kitec, it should be sort of a matter, of course, where you always replace it. Because it’s not going to get any better; it’s only going to get worse.
ELVIS: Not news I wanted to hear but kind of what I suspected.
TOM: Yep. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Every once in a while, we get a building product like that and I’ve seen it happen many times over the years. And there’s just no way to make it better because at its core, it’s a defective system.
ELVIS: OK. No way to just replace the fittings. It’s going to be the type itself, too, that’ll have problems.
TOM: That’s correct. So I would attach it to a plumbing – to copper piping or to traditional PEX piping.
ELVIS: OK. So I can talk with some local plumbers and discuss it from that point.
TOM: Exactly. I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?
SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had – some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.
TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably five or eight years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.
I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.
SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product – locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.
TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.
SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?
TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.
SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sheila. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, spring is finally here and as it warms up in your part of the country, the only drawback is this: bugs. They love that warm weather, too. And whether they want to take a bite out of your plants, your foods or even you, bugs can really make the spring and summer season quite unpleasant.
LESLIE: Yeah. But here’s some good news. Let’s not get all Debbie Downer on the bugs. They do their job for the environment, maybe not so much for us. But let’s talk about them.
Getting rid of the bugs, it doesn’t have to include toxic or expensive chemicals and pesticides. There are actually a number of natural alternatives that are much safer for you, your pets and our planet and they’re just as effective.
TOM: Yeah. And here are a few good examples. First off, if mosquitoes are the bane of your summer existence, you can plant some lemongrass and some basil. Now, lemongrass contains citronella, the same chemical that’s found in a lot of those bug-repellant candles. And you can even mash up the inner leaves of lemongrass and rub that juice on your skin for the same effect as bug spray.
LESLIE: And it smells really, really good. I just absolutely adore the smell of lemongrass.
Now, you can make your entire home less appealing to ants if you plant a barrier of mint around the entire foundation of your home, because ants hate mint and that also smells fantastic. Another thing: bay leaves. They’re another spice that many bugs dislike, so you can set whole bay leaves around your kitchen and cabinets or sprinkle crushed bay leaves along your windowsills and that’s going to keep a lot of bugs away, as well.
TOM: And if your pests are, say, a little bigger and furrier, you can still catch them the natural and the humane way. For example, for mice, you can make a mousetrap out of a soda bottle, so set it out at about a 20 degree angle. You want to drop some peanut butter inside and the rub vegetable oil around the inside of the lip. The mice are going to hop in but they will not be able to crawl back out. And maybe you can perhaps then take that bottle of mice out to a remote location and let them go.
LESLIE: Priscilla in Massachusetts is on the line and while we all love birdhouses, guess who else likes them? Squirrels. Let’s help her keep them out. What can we do for you today?
PRISCILLA: They’ve chewed away at the holes of it so that they actually have made it – the holes bigger. And because of that, the birds are not going in there, because the squirrel can go in there. So I’ve already tried PVC piping, because I figured that’s something I can put in there – insert it in – just in the hole and it’s not too big, kind of narrow. But I can’t find one that fits.
TOM: OK. Most of the solutions for bird feeders or birdhouses are really in two categories. One, they make it rather unpleasant for the squirrel to be able to get up that high, with things like cones or plastic bottles or slippery pipes or ducts or Slinkies or things like that that slide around and make a lot of noise.
PRISCILLA: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Or simply move it completely away from where squirrels can get to it. So, for example, if you were to string a wire between two trees and not have overhanging branches above, the squirrels would never be able to get to that birdhouse.
PRISCILLA: Could I have – do you know of something I can insert in the hole, though?
TOM: Right. But if you insert it in the hole, the squirrels are still going to hang out in that birdhouse and they might try to chew their way in via another area.
TOM: So that’s why I’m saying that I would not focus on reinforcing the birdhouse as much as I would focus on moving it to an area that’s less likely to be attacked by squirrels.
Priscilla, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wes in Utah is on the line and has a question about a very common form of cooling over there: a swamp cooler. What’s going on?
WES: Yes. I’m wondering if a cooler – the old-fashioned swamp cooler, evaporative cooler – works better in the sunlight or in the shade?
TOM: Well, it certainly would work better in the shade. You’re going to get better cooling action without having the added evaporation of all of that direct sunlight on the water. So, it’s a good idea to shade those units when it’s physically possible to do that.
And you’re right: it’s known both as a swamp cooler and an evaporative cooler. And that’s, essentially, what happens: as the water evaporates, it lowers the temperature of the air and that’s why it becomes more comfortable. And in particularly dry climates, like Utah, swamp coolers are very, very common and very popular and have been for many years.
WES: OK. So it works better in the shade.
TOM: Better in the shade. If the opportunity presents itself to shade it, do it, Wes, OK?
WES: Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, I remember we did a lot of episodes of While You Were Out in Utah and that was really my first sort of introduction to a swamp cooler. I’d never seen them and they are very popular in the Salt Lake City area.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you know how if you have like the state bird? Well, they have the state air-conditioning units: the swamp cooler.
LESLIE: The state cooling device.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. So as we’re heading into the summer season, are you looking to install a pool? Well, why dig up your yard, essentially removing all of nature and then adding chemically-treated water? You know, you can keep that natural look and feel and still get your swimming spot. We’ve got the scoop on natural swimming pools from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook, after this.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Stanley TLM99s Laser Distance Measurer, featuring Bluetooth connectivity via the Stanley Floor Plan app. Taking measurements in your home has never been easier or more accurate.
For more information, visit StanleyTools.com.
ROGER: Hi. I’m Roger Cook, landscaping contractor for This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. If you want to grow more confident in taking care of your money pit, tune in to Tom and Leslie every week for great ideas on saving money and maintaining your home.
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, do you ever feel like you’re in a constant battle with your house and maybe your house is winning? Well, The Money Pit can help. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com for tips and answers to home improvement dilemmas, both big and small. And while you’re there, sign up for our e-Newsletter and stay ahead of home maintenance year-round. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Rob in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROB: Calling to get you guys’ opinions on the – I’m having my deck partially repaired and it’s got some cedar trim and cedar boards that have gone bad, so they’re going to be replaced. So they’re going to look newer compared to the rest of the deck. I was looking into getting one of the epoxy, composite-type, deck-coating systems. Rust-Oleum Restore is one brand. Behr makes one, too. I’m just curious what you guys think about these products. And are they worth it?
TOM: How many decking boards are deteriorated, Rob?
ROB: Well, oh, it’s the majority of the steps. It’s a cedar deck with a green, treated wood underneath baseboard support. The cedar is just dying out on me and it’s about seven years old. The railings are going bad, too, so we’re looking at replacing a lot of the boards on the steps of the railing. But up to the same platform are the main boards. They are doing fine. So it’s mainly the steps up.
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily consider completely sealing in all of that cedar with a product like that.
Here’s what I would do. First of all, the deck boards that are cracked or checked or deteriorated, one thing to try is to flip themover. Because the underside of those deck boards is usually as good as the day it went down. Even though it’s cracked on top, the side that was not exposed to the sun is usually in pretty good condition. So you try to do that as much as you can. For ones that are really bad – just have to be replaced. Just replace those with new cedar decking boards. And yes, it’s not going to match.
And then once all the repair has been done, then you want to use a deck-washing product like the one that makes – that Flood Wood Care makes. You run a deck wash across everything and then you want to hit it with at least two coats of solid stain. So not paint but solid stain. Not semi-transparent, not transparent but solid-color stain. And a good-quality solid-color stain, that’s going to look all the same. It’s going to maintain its wood quality, so you’ll see the grain through the stain and it’ll look perfect.
So, I don’t think you need to go with some sort of really thick – super-thick – coating right now. I think you just need to do some basic repairs.
ROB: OK. What stains would you recommend that …?
TOM: Good-quality stain. So, yeah, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams. A good-quality stain like that.
ROB: Alright, alright. OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rob. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a new trend in alternative swimming pools and it’s not the saltwater pool, either. It’s called the “natural swimming pool” and it’s a kind of high-end pond in your backyard.
TOM: Yep. Rather than chlorine, these pools use a living ecosystem to actually clean the water and keep it healthy for swimming. It’s sustainable and eco-friendly and it’s very popular in Europe where it originated about 30 years ago. Here to tell us more is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.
So Roger, how exactly do these pools work?
ROGER: They work naturally. That’s the whole key to these pools is you’re actually using plants and water to clean the water for the main pool.
TOM: So kind of the way nature cleans its water, you’re basically creating that same sort of functionality in your pool.
ROGER: Exactly. Think about it as having a water feature. When a water feature or water pond is perfectly balanced, there’s no algae, there’s no smell, there’s no nothing. It’s all natural. Now we’re using that principle to clean the water in a swimming pool.
LESLIE: So if you have to have some sort of filtration system, if you will – so maybe it’s like a waterfall that comes down a couple of natural rock steps with the plants and everything to sort of help clean that, you still need to put a recirculating pump in it to get it back up to your filtration system.
ROGER: Right. You’re going to complete a loop so that the water goes from the swimming pool into the natural area where it’s cleaned and then pump back up to the pool again.
TOM: So there’s really two zones here. There’s sort of a regeneration zone, which is sort of the shallow water garden where the cleaning happens, and then there’s the swimming pool itself, right?
ROGER: Right, exactly. And what we’re doing is we’re eliminating the chlorine. We’re using the natural biotics of this pond to clean the water and pump it back up again.
LESLIE: So you don’t have to worry about too much rainfall or snowfall or anything sort of throwing things off balance?
ROGER: No. You have to monitor the water level. There’ll be evaporation, especially if you have a waterfall, so you have to have what’s called an “auto-fill” in place, which keeps the water level at the perfect amount.
But no. This is a natural area that, as long as there’s enough water in it, it should be fine. It should be cleaning itself and your pool.
TOM: That’s a really cool idea. So what’s the construction and sort of maintenance cost of this? It’s got to be more expensive than a traditional pool. Is it?
ROGER: Well, the construction end is you need two ponds, ideally: one to swim in and one to clean the water with.
TOM: Clean it, yeah.
ROGER: So you’re going to have about the same or a little more initial cost. But when it comes to the maintenance, all that pumping and chlorine is all eliminated. And if this is balanced properly, it shouldn’t cost you anything.
LESLIE: What do you do for the winter months? Do you cover it?
ROGER: You cover it, you keep it clean like you would any water feature. You want to put a net over it to keep the leaves from getting in it. You want to cut back vegetation and just set it, get it all cleaned out so that in the spring you’re ready to go. And the same thing with the swimming area itself: you want to vacuum that out and get any debris out of that before you go into winter.
TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, about building a natural swimming pool. So, if this really is like nature, aren’t we going to have insects, like dragonflies or mosquitoes or things like that, to contend with?
ROGER: That’s so cool, though, you know?
LESLIE: I think so.
ROGER: I love when you hear croaking on there in the middle of the night and a big bullfrog in the pond. It makes it feel natural. But again, think that all the mosquitoes that are coming in and stuff will be eaten up by the dragonflies and by the frogs you have in the pond.
TOM: The dragonflies eat the mosquitoes and the frogs eat the dragonflies.
LESLIE: Now, I think we skipped over this, because I’m so fascinated by the idea of it being like a pond-like scenario. In the swimming side, are we lining it? Is it like gunite? What is the …?
ROGER: It can be anything you want it to be.
ROGER: It’s a regular pool. It’s a regular pool. It could be lined, it could be cement. But even the same thing with your water feature: it could be lined or cement, depending on which way you want to go.
LESLIE: True. This sounds lovely.
TOM: So it’s a really the filtration system that the natural part sort of replaces. Instead of having the pumps and the filters and the chlorine, you have sort of a second pool where it all happens naturally.
ROGER: Yeah. Right. So it’s a cycle. We’re taking water that we deem is dirty – which isn’t really that dirty, anyway – and running it through this natural filter and then pumping it back up to the pool again.
LESLIE: You know what? I think to better clarify this, Roger Cook, you’re going to have to come to my house and build one so that I can really understand how it works and speak more clearly to it.
ROGER: And build one? Yeah, that’s a …
TOM: There you go.
ROGER: And you are not the first one to suggest that.
TOM: Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on natural pools. And you don’t have to stop by Leslie’s house. It’s OK.
LESLIE: You can go to Tom’s.
ROGER: I can go to Tom’s instead?
LESLIE: Alright, guys. You can catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing. Up next, do your wallet and the planet a favor by cleaning paintbrushes rather than tossing them away. We’re going to tell you how, with this week’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group. That and more when The Money Pit continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.
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: Well, the warmer weather feels great but as we all know, it’s soon going to go from warm to hot. Well, one lucky caller is going to get some heat relief headed their way, because we’re giving away two Dickies shirts featuring innovative cooling technology.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s the Dickies Cooling Crew Tee and Cooling Polo and they both feature UPF protection and mesh-y side panels. And those are really great for those super-hot days that you spend outside.
TOM: And they look great, too. It’s a prize pack worth 55 bucks but it’s going to go home free with one caller this hour.
You can learn more at Dickies.com and call us, right now, for home improvement help and your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randy in Illinois is on the line with a kitchen-cabinet question. How can we help you today?
RANDY: Yeah, I recently purchased a home and it had some all-wood cabinets in the kitchen. And they’re half bisque-colored and they’re half of a whiter color, depending on which part of the cabinet you look at. And I’m trying to figure out how – a way to get them back to either all one color or the lighter version.
TOM: What’s the material that your cabinets are made out of?
RANDY: I believe it’s oak but it could be pine.
TOM: Well, assuming that the oak is finished, one of the issues that you’re going to have is that you can’t really stain it and change the color. So you’d have to either paint it or you’d have to sand it down. Since most of those cabinets are covered with veneer, it makes it also difficult for you to be able to sand enough of that finish off to have it accept stain.
So, your resulting options would be to reface the cabinets, which is adding new veneer to it, or to paint the cabinets to get that consistent look.
RANDY: OK. OK. That sounds good. I’ll do that. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, if you’ve been outside to tackle some outdoor cleaning projects this season, you know the first one is fun. But after that, it’s all a hassle. Juggling hoses and soap isn’t exactly how you’d like to spend all those days off. And now there’s a product on the market that we really like because it actually helps you clean decks, siding, walkways, cars, whatever a lot faster and a lot easier.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s called the Pivot Pro Water Wand and it’s for outdoor cleaning. And what it does is it eliminates all of that back and forth between your bucket and the hose.
TOM: Yeah, it’s really easy. What you do is you attach the Pivot Pro to a standard garden hose, you add liquid soap to the reservoir, you set the desired soap-to-water ratio. Then it’s just point and shoot. It’s as easy as that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s got an adjustable nozzle, so it’s going to let you wash and rinse as you go along, all without putting down that hose. And if water alone simply just doesn’t cut it, the Pivot Pro comes with a stiff, adjustable brush so you can really sort of get at those tougher jobs.
TOM: Yep. It’s made by Hyde Tools. It’s one of the top products we’re featuring in our online gallery from the National Hardware Show, so you can check it out at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Christine in Washington is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CHRISTINE: I have a chimney that’s for a wood or a pellet stove. And the former owners put duct-taped cardboard in the opening. And it leaks when I have heavy rain and wind.
TOM: I bet it does.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. How do I close off the opening so it doesn’t leak?
TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about a wood-stove chimney that’s been sealed up with cardboard and duct taped. Does anyone think there’s something wrong with this picture? I mean just maybe, right?
TOM: So, are we still using the wood stove, Christine?
CHRISTINE: No. It’s empty and I put a table and lamp under it.
TOM: So you’re not using the wood stove at all. You don’t want to use it? Why not just take it out?
CHRISTINE: There’s no wood stove there; it’s just an empty space. That’s why I put a table …
TOM: Oh, OK. So the chimney is left over from the wood stove.
TOM: Then take the chimney out.
CHRISTINE: Oh, really?
TOM: The chimney is a hole in your roof. If you’re not using it for the wood stove, then you don’t need it, right? There’s nothing else that uses the same chimney? Is it a metal pipe?
CHRISTINE: Yeah. But the – inside the house, it’s part of the design of the living room. It looks like a space for a fireplace. So that’s why it’s all bricked in and that’s why I put a table and chair in it and made it sort of decorative.
TOM: Right. But if you’re never going to use it. OK, I don’t really care what it looks like inside your house; I care about the penetration where it goes through the roof, because that’s where the leak is. And your options are either to properly flash the chimney, whatever that takes – which is not going to include duct tape and cardboard, by the way – but to have it professionally flashed so that it seals the intersection between the roofing shingle and the chimney or vent pipe.
But if you’re not using it, just remove it and you’re taking that headache away. You can patch the roof and you’ll never have to worry about leaks in that area again.
CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Christine. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we all love our patios and they should really be for collecting your friends and family, not rainwater. We’re going to have some tips for keeping water off of your outdoor space, when The Money Pit continues.
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TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And home improvement doesn’t have to mean getting up out of your desk chair. You can like us on Facebook and get a steady stream of home improvement tips, answers and more. And you can also post your questions to our Facebook page or pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to those questions right now.
LESLIE: Yep. Heather from Vermont writes: “I have a concrete patio. It holds water when it rains and then turns green in the middle. My husband seems to think that the builder did not put a barrier – a plastic one – underneath. How can I fix this or keep it clean? Thanks for your help.”
TOM: Well, you don’t really put plastic under patios. You only use plastic under floors when they’re inside your home like, for example, when cement slabs are poured into basements and crawlspaces. But for patios, you want the water to drain off.
So I think your problem is that your patio isn’t sloped properly. And unfortunately, this is rather impossible to fix at this stage. You could put on an additional layer of epoxy compound to re-slope the uneven surface for drainage but it’s a pretty difficult and messy job and the effects won’t last that long.
So if I were in your shoes, I would pretty much live with it. I’d accept the current maintenance hassles and just be ready to replace the patio in full when you’re ready to tackle that part of the project. And when you do, you want to make sure the patio crowns in the middle. That is, so it comes to a slightly higher point in the middle. This way any moisture will run off and that will reduce the amount of moisture that lays on the surface and the potential for that ugly, green algae growth and slippery ice and that sort of thing. Make sense?
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Jake in Massachusetts who writes: “I have plaster walls in my house and they have cracks. I’ve tried to fix the cracks with paper tape and nylon wall tape but the cracks keep coming through the mudding. How can I fix them permanently?”
TOM: Well, cracks in plaster walls are pretty typically. So, first off, it’s not indicative, typically, of a structural damage. When the plaster is first installed, Jake, it’s basically troweled through – I guess you can describe them as wood sticks. It’s called “plaster lath.” It’s sort of like a wood strip. It looks sort of like a tomato stick, the kind you stick in your garden to attach your tomatoes to.
LESLIE: Or a shim, kind of.
TOM: Yeah, like a shim. It spreads behind the lath and that’s how it kind of sticks to the wall.
Now, if it cracks – and it often does as the structure settles – you can do a few things to fix the plaster. Plaster washers are one really good solution.
Now, a plaster washer, it kind of looks like a fender washer if you know what that is. It’s a really wide washer except it’s got holes in it and it’s usually cupped. And you basically put them on both sides of a crack and then the plaster washer does really two things: it pulls the plaster tight to the lath and then it holds plaster or fresh plaster or spackle as you apply it over the top of it.
So, I would do that. I’d put the plaster washers on. I would apply nylon tape and then replaster over that. This is going to address both the structural issues, Jake, and the cosmetic issues. And nonetheless, though, remember when you get this first one fixed, you’re probably going to get some additional ones. Don’t panic. It’s kind of an ongoing thing when you have an old house. Just, some of the cracks, chalk them up to charm, right? Got to get to love them.
LESLIE: But, Tom, what if the plaster is really a mess? I mean is it worth it to sort of just fix or is it a big overhaul?
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t tear it off. That’s kind of a messy mistake. I’ve done it both ways in my house. I find it’s better off, though, to put the new drywall over the old plaster. It’s a lot easier and it really looks terrific when it’s done, with half the mess.
LESLIE: And you know what? It always gives you an opportunity to freshen the paint.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thank you so much for spending some time with us this hour. We’ve got tips and advice online at MoneyPit.com, where you can also sign up for The Money Pit’s free podcast.
And remember, you can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT any time you have a question that pops to mind. Pick up the phone, call us. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
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 2015 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.)