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: Standing by for your calls to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to hear what you’re working on on this fine day. If it’s a home improvement, if it’s a home repair, if it’s a home décor project, give us a call. We are here to help at 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, now that we are in the hottest part of the summer, we’re also at the peak season for ticks that can carry dangerous diseases. We’re going to have some tips on how you can avoid ticks and the health hassles that they can bring.
LESLIE: And hardwood floors are one of the most durable elements of your home. But even these need to be refinished from time to time. We’ve got Tom Silva from This Old House stopping by with his tips on the step-by-step way to take on that project.
TOM: And also ahead, if you’re planning to buy an air conditioner this summer, bigger is not better. We’re going to have some tips on how to pick the best one for your home.
LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away a handy product this hour that was named one of the best at the National Hardware Show. It’s called Bondic and it’s the only product that works where glue fails, because it’s a liquid plastic that only hardens when you expose it to a very special included UV light.
TOM: It can be used to fix dozens of things around the house. We’re giving away a 5-pack this hour worth $120 to one caller drawn at random, so make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Kendall in Arkansas is on the line with a question about carpeting. What can we do for you today?
KENDALL: Taking a porch and screening it in. And I’ve got 2x6s laid down as a floor over about a 3-foot-high crawlspace under my house.
KENDALL: And I’m going to put indoor/outdoor carpet down. And I just want – maybe concerned whether or not I need to put something underneath that, some sort of underlayment for maybe moisture barrier or even critter barrier.
TOM: So what are you constructing this floor of?
KENDALL: It’s a porch – it’s a covered area of my deck.
TOM: Oh, it’s a covered porch. OK. Yeah.
KENDALL: It’s a covered deck and I’m just taking in the covered area and making it a screened porch.
TOM: I see. OK.
KENDALL: But I don’t want water intrusion, nor do I want to lay down carpet that’s going to end up becoming moldy or something underneath it.
TOM: Yeah. Indoor/outdoor carpeting does tend to hold a lot of water and moisture and dampness against the wood. It certainly can contribute towards decay.
Is this porch going to be fully covered?
KENDALL: Yes. It is completely covered. In fact, I’m going to – I’ve set in Plexiglas on the bottom 3-feet of the height of walls for the sake of, you know, any potential rain to come in through the side. I think I’m OK there. My concern, I guess, is just if it’s going to develop a condensation issue or something beneath the carpet that I’m putting down.
TOM: Look, it’s always possible. I’ll give you one suggestion that is a little unorthodox but I think it would work: as long as you cover – you’re covering this with the indoor/outdoor carpet, why not lay down ice-and-water shield across the porch floor? It’s usually used on a roof and it provides complete moisture barrier between – right underneath the roofing shingles. But if you put that down and then covered it with the carpet, that would give you an additional protection for the structure. And you could always scrape it back up if you had to.
KENDALL: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to Mel in Arkansas who’s got a question about a shower. What can we do for you today?
MEL: Well, we need to change a tub into a shower. And it is for a handicapped person that uses a shower chair. And everything that we are finding so far is a fiberglass-type stuff that is not rated for the person’s weight that’s going to have to be using it. And they use a shower chair. Any suggestions on how to stabilize it so that it’s not going to break through when the shower chair goes in it?
TOM: You’re looking at zero-threshold showers that basically are flush with the floor?
MEL: Not necessarily. It doesn’t have to be the zero threshold but it needs to be a shower, not a tub.
TOM: Right. OK. So, when you put in a fiberglass shower pan, you’re right: there’s – sometimes there’s flex underneath of it. But there’s an easy trick of the trade to deal with that. And that is that you can mix up a concrete mix or a cement mix or mortar mix and basically, you put it underneath the pan while it’s wet and then you press the pan down into it. And what that does is it takes out all of the space between the pan itself and the floor. It provides a rock-solid base to that fiberglass shower stall. Does that make sense?
TOM: Alright, Mel? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Don in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DON: I’ve called in about installing assist bar in a fiberglass shower stall.
TOM: Now, the wall that this would be installed on, is it an exterior wall? Is it an interior wall? Any thoughts on that?
DON: It backs up to an exterior wall.
TOM: Hey, Don, I can certainly understand that problem with your fiberglass shower stall. There is a type of connector that I’m familiar with that’s made by Moen. And it’s called Secure Mount. And basically, it’s a system where you can essentially pinch that fiberglass wall and connect the grab bar right to it. Or you can go through it completely and connect it to the back side of the drywall that’s right below it. It’s actually strong enough for that. It’s a system that’s engineered for scenarios like this and helps you to avoid having to use a stud to connect that grab bar to.
I know that the Secure Mount anchors are sold at The Home Depot. The thing is you have to make sure that you buy – if you buy the Secure Mount anchors – and there’s videos online at HomeDepot.com. If you buy the Secure Mount anchors, you have to buy the grab bar that’s rated for Secure Mount, because it’s kind of like a system and they all sort of bolt together. So I would look for the Secure Mount-type of grab-bar anchor and see if you think that’ll do the trick, OK?
DON: Thank you. Have a great day.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home improvement question, whatever it is you are working on this first week of August. Holy moly, you guys, summer is almost over. So let’s get you money pit in tip-top shape before it’s autumn. We’re here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, I think it’s fair to say, Leslie, that we have officially reached the dog days of summer, the hottest month of the year.
TOM: And if you are finally ready to give yourself some relief and want to pick up a great air conditioner, we’re going to have tips on how to buy the right size for your home, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to hear from you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question if you call us now. Plus, this hour, we’re also giving away a very unique product called Bondic.
We’ve got five Bondic starter kits. They’re worth 120 bucks. And what Bondic is is – well, I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a glue. It’s literally a welding tool that uses a unique formula to build new plastic around two objects instead of gluing those two flat surfaces together. After the Bondic has been cured, it can be sanded, polished, drilled, filed, shaped, even painted to make a flawless repair on anything.
And what’s cool about it is the way it cures. Basically, you apply this product and then you expose it to a UV light that’s kind of built into the applicator. And it hardens, literally, in seconds.
You can learn more at NotAGlue.com. But it’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Taylor in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TAYLOR: I have a two-story house. I live in North Dakota. And I have a two-story house that has a forced-air system. And it’s just not getting the cooling up to the second floor and the heating up to the second floor like I feel it should. I had a contractor come in and they recommended a product to me that I was wondering if you guys had any knowledge on it. It’s a product called Aeroseal where they actually seal the ductwork from the inside. And they claim that it’ll seal up the ductwork and give me more airflow.
TOM: Is this guy an Aeroseal dealer?
TOM: OK. So my only concern here is the reason that you’re not having adequate heating and cooling on the second floor is due to a core error in the sizing of the system. And while duct systems can certainly be leaky, I doubt that that’s your entire problem, Taylor. I think that there’s an issue with the design here that’s at the core of this. And while that’s kind of a nice thing to do and yeah, it’d probably help a little bit, I don’t necessarily think that’s the first thing I would do at all.
I think you ought to talk to some other HVAC contractors and really, what they need to do is look at a heat-loss calculation here and figure out how much air you’re moving up there, making sure you have enough supply air going up there, making sure you have adequate return ducts, that nothing is blocked or disconnected.
TAYLOR: This is the second company that came in. The first company actually recommended for me to talk to this company because he felt the same way, actually.
TOM: Well, why did they think that your duct system is so leaky that it’s causing this problem? I mean certainly, leaking ducts can contribute to it but I don’t think – I really, really don’t think it’s the main cause here. I can’t imagine it’s so inefficient, that your ducts are so poorly put together that simply sealing them is going to solve this problem. You have a very significant issue with inadequate heating and cooling getting to the second floor of the house. So I think this is an issue of airflow, it’s an issue of design and I would explore ways that that can be improved.
And if you can’t easily improve it, then what you might want to think about is adding supplemental heating and cooling to the second floor vis-à-vis, for example, a split-ductless system, which could supply both warm air and cool air depending on the design of the model that you get. But I don’t think this is all about duct defects in terms of leaky ducts. I think this is a design defect that you have to – just haven’t nailed it yet. OK, Taylor? Does that make sense?
TAYLOR: Alright. Sounds good.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time now for a Cool Tip for a Hot Summer, presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and your expert in air-quality solutions.
If you’re ready to pick up, perhaps, another room air conditioner to help you get through these awful dog days of summer, you know, one of the most important considerations is to make sure that you buy the right-size unit for the area that you need to cool, because bigger is not always better. And that’s what people tend to do. They want to go big, big, big. But a unit with too much cooling capacity will actually waste a lot of energy.
LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, one that’s too large, that’s really not going to do a good job keeping you comfortable. Now, an oversized unit is going to cool quickly but it’s not going to run long enough to dehumidify your home. And that’s going to result in your house kind of feeling damp and just really uncomfortable.
TOM: So, determining the best size air conditioner for your home is really going to depend on a number of factors, like the type of air-conditioner unit you plan to install, the size of the room you need to install it in and the size of the window. So, the best first step is to use a calculator, like the Find Your Cool calculator tool at HaierAmerica.com. It’ll step you through the most important considerations and basically deliver the right recommendation for your home.
LESLIE: Yeah. From air conditioners to dehumidifiers, even to space heaters and kitchen ventilation, Haier is just the thing to keep every room in your house comfortable this summer and all year long. You can learn more at HaierAmerica.com. Now, that’s spelled H-a-i-e-r – America.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Janet in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JANET: My house is over 100 years old and there was a large, three-trunk tree in the backyard that had to be cut down. But it had so many nails in the tree that after using two chainsaws and losing the chains because there were so many nails in it, we have this humungous trunk left in the backyard. And I’d like to know how to get rid of it, because I can’t use the grinder on it.
TOM: Why can’t you use a – well, you mentioned chainsaws. But why not a trunk grinder: the type of grinder that tree services have that basically ground down or grind down the stumps to below-grade? That sort of grinder should certainly be strong enough to handle the nails that are in the tree.
TOM: So I would have a pro come out and use a stump grinder. And that’s the best way to get rid of that. You don’t have to get it all out; just get it down to below the surface and Mother Nature will do the rest.
Janet, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Eric in Hawaii on the line who needs help with a roofing question and Tom and I to come there and help in person.
ERIC: How are you guys doing?
TOM: We’re doing great. How can we help you with your cedar roof?
ERIC: Well, it is past its life, so I will need to replace it. It’s very expensive out here so I’m wondering, is there any other new products that I can put over – I’ve got skip-sheeted base.
TOM: Right. You have space sheathing.
ERIC: Yes, yes. So, is there any other product besides the cedar shake that I can go with that style? Or would I have to sheet it or – I’m looking for affordability.
TOM: Alright. Maybe is my answer. Is that definite enough for you? I’m thinking about a product that’s a composite roofing shingle that’s called DaVinci Roofscapes.
Now, these look more like a stone roof, like a slate roof, than they do a cedar roof. But they’re a tile product. So because they’re a tile-like product, I don’t know if you need to put a solid-plywood sheathing underneath. I suspect that you will not have to. So you may be able to put them on in much the same way that you have with your spaced sheathing on the cedar.
How old is that cedar roof, by the way?
ERIC: Unbelievably, 30 years old.
TOM: You know, it’s not unbelievable to me and here’s why. The fact that you have it on spaced sheathing means that it was able to dry out from the top and the bottom. Cedar is not waterproof so you wonder, “Well, why does it actually keep the water out of my house?” Well, because it absorbs that water and allows the – most of it to run off. But the way it lasts as long as it does is it has to be able to dry very easily. And so many people that put cedar roofs on today nail them against tar paper on top of plywood sheathing and you really can’t get any air underneath it, so that’s why those roofs last a very short timeframe.
So, I think your options are either to consider a composite roof, like the DaVinci product – you can look online, find them at DaVinciRoofscapes.com – or you consider replacing the cedar or you could go with plywood and a new asphalt-shingle roof that looks like cedar. I would price it out all three ways, do a little more homework and then make the best choice for you.
The nice thing about your roof is that it rarely is an emergency. I think you’re starting to identify the fact that it’s worn. I don’t know if you’ve had any kind of major damage. But generally, you can nurse a roof along for a year or two if you absolutely have to. But now is definitely the time to start looking into the options.
ERIC: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Eric. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cindy is on the line from Nebraska with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?
CINDY: Yes, I have central air but our upstairs does not cool very well. So we put in a window air and I’ve tried to seal it with some of those foam strips and tape and things like that. But now I’ve got some issues, like when it rains. For some reason, we’re getting water soaking through the tape and coming inside and dripping. What other thing can I use to seal that that would be more waterproof but still I’d be able to take it out?
TOM: Wow. So typically, when you install a window air conditioner, you have the window – the upper part of the double-hung window sits on top of the box and then it has sort of like wings that slide out the side of the air conditioner to kind of seal out the space between the air conditioner and the opening of the window, correct?
TOM: Alright. And so you’ve sealed those areas with tape? Is that what you said?
CINDY: We used some strips of foam that you put around it to fill in the gaps. So we’ve got – the wings are all stretched out and then we’ve sealed, where we have spaces, with the foam strips.
TOM: Here’s what I do. There’s a product that is a temporary weatherstripping that looks like caulk; it comes in a caulking tube. Now, typically, you use this inside your house – for really, really drafty windows – and you almost caulk them shut with this product. But you can use it in a scenario like this. I think for the summer it would probably last fine. When it dries, it kind of looks like a silicone caulk; it’s clear. But the cool thing is that when you’re ready to pull out that air conditioner, you can peel this temporary caulk off.
Now, it’s made by a number of manufacturers. I think DAP makes – Seal ‘N Peel is the brand name that they came up with. Seal – S-e-a-l – ‘N Peel. And so take a look for that temporary weatherstripping caulk, search it out online. You may have to order it at a hardware store or a home center. And that’ll be much more effective than the tape, because you’ll be able to get it into those tight places and it will really stick there and keep that water out, OK?
CINDY: That sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: There you go. Sometimes you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to an unusual problem.
CINDY: I figured there had to be something. I just didn’t know what it was.
TOM: Alright, Cindy. Glad to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey. Are you guys ready to spruce up your wood floors for the days ahead? Well, we’re going to have Tommy Silva from This Old House stopping by with the step-by-step for that project, after this.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is brought to you by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy.
JOE: Hi, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, have you jumped into any smart-home products for your house yet? Well, don’t wait. The water is absolutely fine. You know, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, there are more options than ever before for keeping an eye on your home security. There are a ton of security cameras, windows, door and motion sensors. There’s thermostats, lighting controls, garage-door controls. All of that work off your smartphone. And the nice thing is that with all these products, you could start with just one product and build out from there.
So, give it a try. I think you will find it is super convenient and a great way to improve the comfort and security of your home.
LESLIE: Henry in Illinois is taking on a driveway-repair project. What can we do for you?
HENRY: Where my driveway meets the asphalt road in front of my home, right where it meets – I have a hole forming there and it goes down about 3 to 4 inches deep and probably about 4 feet in diameter. And so it turns out that when I turn my wheels to turn into the driveway, well, the left front wheel hits it and it kicks that rock out. And I put new pea rock in there and it just kicks it out, too.
TOM: So you have a pea-gravel driveway and the force of the car running it over and over and over again is sort of wearing away a hole. There is a solution for that, Henry and that is – what I’d like you to consider doing is pouring a concrete apron at the foot of the driveway.
So what the concrete apron does – it doesn’t have to be very big: across the entire driveway, maybe 2 feet, maybe no more than 3 feet deep. But 2 feet will probably do. That concrete driveway – that apron then serves as the entry point for those tires.
So you hit that, you go over the concrete apron and then you go into the pea gravel. And the edge of the concrete apron will retain – acts as sort of the retaining wall for the pea gravel in the driveway. That’s the easiest way to stop that from happening. Otherwise, it’s going to be a constant maintenance hassle for you to replace what is really just a very soft apron now with the pea gravel coming right out and spilling out into the roadway.
You’ll also save a lot of stone in the winter when the plows come by and start pushing that snow around.
HENRY: OK.Hey, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Henry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of the biggest happy surprises in home improvement is pulling up carpet to reveal hardwood floors. Now, for some reason, in the 60s and 70s and even into the 80s, homes were constructed with beautiful hardwood floors, which were then quickly covered up with wall-to-wall carpeting, sometimes shag, usually in a nice shade of avocado.
TOM: That’s right. And most of the time, the floor’s been protected under all that carpeting and is in really good shape and just needs to be refinished. Here to walk us through the steps is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Now, is this a do-it-yourself project? Because I’ve seen this project done well and done really badly.
TOM SILVA: You’re so right. I have, too. I mean if you’re going to use – if you don’t have any experience with a drum sander, I would say stay away from the drum sander. They actually have sanders that have four heads on them with 6-inch pads that just about anybody can use. You won’t ruin the floor. It will take you a little longer.
TOM: Now, I’ve used that sander and that, of course, is the first step – is getting the old finish off. I believe it’s called a U-Sand machine.
TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. You’re right.
TOM: And I used it because I had Douglas fir floors, which were softer wood. But you’re right: with that drum sander, boy, I’ll tell you that is a destructive piece of equipment if you’re not used to using it every single day.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. All you have to do is stop for a half a second and you’ve just put a groove in that floor that you either can get out or it’s ruined.
LESLIE: Or lean.
TOM SILVA: Yep.
TOM: So, once you get the finish stripped off, first of all, do you really have to take all the finish off or are you just sort of taking the upper sort of layer off to get it ready for refinish?
TOM SILVA: It really depends on what you want to do. If you have a floor that looks good but you just want to clean it out, you don’t even have to sand it. You can actually use a buffing wheel with a mesh that will actually just take the surface layer off and clean it. And then you can vacuum it and then put your finish coat on top of that.
I tell people that if you have wood floors and they’re in good condition, you should service them every, say, 5 or 10 years depending on the areas, like in the kitchens. A lot of people like wood floors in the kitchen. Sand the area where the high-work areas are but you want to screen it. You don’t want to sand it.
TOM: Right. And those screens, as you say, they fit under what looks like a giant floor buffer like you might see at the mall or commercial building, right?
TOM SILVA: Yeah. With a pad underneath it. Yeah.
TOM: It just takes that upper surface off and preps it, really, for the new finish,
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
LESLIE: Now, all of this sounds really dusty and very messy, quite frankly. So, what can you do to control the quantity of dust and from it getting to other parts of the house?
TOM SILVA: It is very dirty and dusty and you’re so right. You want to basically tape off the area with plastic. You want to have a couple of fans. I always like to have a box fan in the window sucking the air out with another one on the other side of the room bringing the air in. So you create a pressure that goes right through the room as opposed to taking the negative pressure out of the house.
TOM: That makes a lot of sense. You basically depressurize the work area so all the dust that gets released to the air gets drawn right out.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. But the sanders that you can even rent today – they have great vacuum systems: a separate vacuum that you can put outside the window with a long tube in. Or you can actually use a shop vac connected to it. But again, you want to make sure that you have a good filter on it because that dust is very fine.
TOM: Now, once we have the floor sanded and ready for a finish, what’s your preferences on the type of finish to put on top of that floor?
TOM SILVA: Well, I like to use a urethane finish. We used to use varnishes but a urethane finish – if you’re going to stain it, you can get a stain on it. You can put the stain on with a buffer and a rag, because that you can really get it on quick and get the whole area done. If it’s an oil-based stain, you’ve got to wait a long time. I like to wait a day before I put my finish on.
But I always start with a couple of coats of high-gloss finish and then I think about what I want for a finish on top of that. So a lot of people don’t like that high-gloss wet look. But the higher the gloss, the harder the finish. So you want the floor to last. Two coats of high-gloss and then you decide on your last coat for the finish that you want: semi-gloss, satin or whatever. The idea of that is when you put the semi-gloss or the satin on top of a high-gloss, it actually magnifies the grain of the wood and it gives it a little, rich depth and it really makes the wood really, really shine.
TOM: And that’s why he is the general contractor on This Old House.
LESLIE: That’s really smart.
TOM: Great trick of the trade. Tom Silva, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Always my pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask 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.
Still ahead, don’t let ticks ruin summer fun. Learn how these bugs hitch a ride and how to avoid the bites they cause, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.
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.
Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s truly unusual and I guarantee once you get your hands on it, you’re going to try to find a million uses for it. We’ve got up for grabs five Bondic starter kits.
Now, that’s worth 120 bucks. But let me tell you about Bondic. It’s not a glue. It’s literally a plastic welding tool. And it really does use this unique formula and it kind of builds new plastic around whatever objects you’re trying to join. So it’s not really gluing together. It’s kind of rejoining them. I mean it’s really amazing. It cures with a special UV light.
Tom, when we found this at the Hardware Show last year, I was completely dumfounded. I think I fixed a million things just because I was like, “Ooh. What else can I stick together with Bondic?”
You guys are going to love it.
TOM: You can even fix a hole in a pipe with this stuff. You just put it over the hole and then zap it with the UV light and it’s done.
LESLIE: It’s really awesome. I’m serious, you guys. You’re going to get your kit, whoever wins this, and you’re going to be just thrilled with all the stuff you can do with it.
Check it out if you’re like, “What are you guys talking about?” The product is Bondic. The website is NotAGlue.com. And the prize pack is worth 120 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us right now. We want to hear about your home improvement or décor project at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ladonna in Colorado who’s got a gardening question. Welcome to The Money Pit.
LADONNA: Yeah, I have a sod issue. I laid some brand-new sod in my backyard and I’m watering several times a day to keep it so it catches and stuff but I have lots and lots of mushrooms. I’m picking mushrooms in the morning, picking mushrooms at night and they’re not even edible. I have dogs, cats and grandkids who are on the yard, so I don’t want to use anything, you know, that would be bad for them. So I need something organic to get rid of mushrooms. Any ideas?
TOM: Great question. Now, if you don’t want to use a commercially-available fungicide – because that’s what will take care of the mushrooms – you can also sort of make your own by mixing baking soda and water. If you put about a ¼-cup of baking soda per gallon of water and spray that whenever you see the new mushroom growth, that will help to deter it.
And the other thing that you could do is add lime, because mushrooms love acidic soil and lime can make that soil less acidic so that the mushrooms will tend to not grow. So there’s two ways to help limit or reduce the amount of mushroom growth on your lawn without turning to chemicals.
LADONNA: OK, great. Well, I will go ahead and try that.
TOM: Well, we are in traditionally what is the hottest part of summer. And it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. So it’s kind of important to take steps to make sure those ticks don’t ruin your summer fun.
LESLIE: Yeah. Ticks and the Lyme disease that they carry, those are major threats to your health. So you’ve got to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you’re out of doors. You always want to wear long sleeves when you can and tuck your pants either into your socks or into your boots. You’re not going to look great but it will keep the ticks away, because you do not want to get Lyme disease.
Also, try to remember that if you’re wearing a lighter color, it’s going to be easier for you to spot a tick that may have attached itself to your clothing.
And then once you’re all dressed up for the outside, layer on insect repellant that’s designed to be applied both to your skin and your clothing. That’s really going to help a lot, too.
TOM: And here’s another tip from my years of backpacking: try to stay in the center of those hiking paths. You want to avoid the grassy and the marshy areas because the ticks don’t jump. What they do is they kind of hang on to the shrubs and the tall grass just waiting for you to brush by. And once you do brush by, they just jump right on and cling and go to town.
So, just be careful with the hiking. And if you do get back home, make sure you inspect yourself and your kids for any of those clinging ticks. It’s easy to get rid of them at that point before the bites happen.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We’d love to hear what you’re working on in your money pit at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Catherine in Michigan is on the line with a basement-window question. How can we help you with this project?
CATHERINE: Yeah. I’m just wondering if block windows are the best option for a basement window, as far as security and energy efficiency.
TOM: Well, block windows are – they may be secure, because they’re block windows, but they’re certainly not energy-efficient. And most importantly, they’re not ventable; they don’t open.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Nor are they an egress. You know, you need to have a window that you can escape out of from a basement.
TOM: Well, if you have living space down there, you need a window that you have to escape out of. But if it’s a traditional basement window that’s a small window, it’s never going to be an egress window but it sure is nice to have one that you can open to – and you can get some ventilation when you have to, so …
CATHERINE: But we would get the vents that they put in the middle of the block window.
TOM: Yeah, still not very big. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about block as an option for windows. I would recommend a traditional basement window. You can get a thermal-pane basement window. Very energy-efficient. If you need security, then you can install window bars. But just make sure they have an escape mechanism that you can activate from inside so that you can get out through that window if you had to.
So that’s our two cents. If you like the block windows and you think you’re going to get enough ventilation out of it, then go ahead. But for me, I would never put a block window in a basement. I’d always use a traditional window. I think that’s what people expect in homes. I think doing something different like that could adversely affect my home value. I think I’m going to get the best overall results by doing just that.
I hope that helps you out. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, after a summer of barbecues and all those fun parties that you’ve been throwing, is your deck starting to look a little grease-stained and maybe grungy? Well, we’re going to have some tips for deck cleaning, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, here’s something you don’t think about too much: ladder safety. But you know what? Worn or improperly used ladders – probably more so than just worn ladders – they cause hundreds of thousands of serious injuries every year. So if you’re going to drag out a ladder to make a simple repair or maintenance or just to kind of inspect maybe a part of your house that you need it to get up to, be sure you stay safe.
Make sure your ladder has slip-resistant rungs and feet. Inspect it for any cracks in the uprights or split rungs. And most importantly, keep this in mind: if you’re using an extension ladder, make sure the bottom is pulled away from the wall by at least one-quarter of the height you need it to work at. This way, you’ll be sure it’s very, very stable and secure, because we don’t want you to get hurt doing those home improvement projects. All we want to do is help you make them better.
So, pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with those questions or you can also post your questions online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: That’s right. And Carrie is looking to make her project better by writing here on a post: “I’d like to buy a pressure washer for my deck but I’m nervous I might damage the wood. I found washers with different types of nozzles but should I also be looking for adjustable PSI? What do I need to know about adjusting the pressure for different surfaces?”
That’s a good question.
TOM: That’s a great question. And I’ll tell you what: the PSI, I think, that kind of gives you the volume of water that the machine can move through, Carrie. But the nozzles are really the most important part. And all of these pressure washers today have nozzles that are designed, for example, for mixing, right? To mix a solution in with the water so you’ve got sort of a soapier cleaning solution? They also have very, very sharp, narrow nozzles. Those are good for really, really hard cleaning jobs. But you couldn’t use those on a deck or even on a sidewalk because it will erode the surface away.
So the key is to buy a pressure washer that’s in your budget range that is going to be able to handle the kinds of projects that you want to handle. But don’t go too big. I mean you’re really not going to need it. I, for example, have two pressure washers because that’s the kind of guy I am.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: I’ve got a big Briggs & Stratton gas-powered pressure washer that I can use for big projects. And I have a smaller, electric-cartridge pressure washer, which is fantastic. I just redid a teak table we had outside. It was looking really worn from last summer. So I was able to pressure-wash it. It looked really clean. And then I restained it and it looks fantastic. Looks like a new set of furniture right now.
So, I think the most important thing is to choose the right nozzle when you’re doing these projects. And that’s going to get you where you want to go in terms of making the pressure washer tackle the project that you have in mind.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up here, we’ve got a post from Catherine who 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 underneath it. How can we fix this or keep it clean?”
TOM: So, I don’t think this has anything to do with the lack of what your husband is calling a “barrier.” This is just an installation error that was made by the original masons. Assuming it’s not cracked and it didn’t sag after you built it, it seems to me like they just didn’t pitch it properly. When you build any kind of slab like that, you need to pitch it for drainage. And if it’s not pitched for drainage, the water’s going to collect in the middle.
So what do you do now? You’ve got to add a concrete resurfacer product to it. You’ve got to build up some space in the middle there. And QUIKRETE has a wide variety of products designed just for this. It can’t just be basic concrete, because it won’t stick. In fact, it’ll split off. But once you clean it and prep its surface properly or if you have the right type of a concrete-patching compound there, it will stick well. And you’ll be able to get that drainage reinstalled and working properly and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Yeah, Catherine. And the key here is adhesion. So do the right prep, use the right product and then it’ll stick really well.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We have super enjoyed telling you about ways that you can make your home more comfortable, more energy-efficient and just plain more fun to live in. If you’ve got questions, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and always online at MoneyPit.com.
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 2016 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.)