TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And welcome to the first of two weekends of Fourth of July celebrations. It’s not an Independence Day; it’s like an Independence Week, because Fourth of July hitting in the middle of these two weekends gives us a nice, 10-day spread to really take some time off. A lot of folks on vacation right now. Or maybe you’re just taking a staycation: staying at home and tackling a home improvement project. That’s where we come in. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will help you get that project done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And speaking of Independence Day, if you’re ready to celebrate, you want to be very careful to not let those fireworks turn that fun into a disaster. So we’re going to have some safety tips just ahead.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you plan on watching those fireworks from your deck, make sure that that deck is safe, as well. We’re going to have some tips on maintaining the wood for a longer-lasting deck.
TOM: And also ahead, summer sun can not only be bad for your skin but it can also fade-out furniture, walls and even floors. So we’re going to teach you how you can cut that glare of the sun with some very affordable and attractive remote-controlled, cellular shades.
LESLIE: And also this hour, it’s pool season. Hooray!
LESLIE: Those of you with a swimming pool know just how much hard work it actually is to take care of them. Well, one lucky caller this hour is going to get a wireless way to a smarter, healthier pool: it’s an ePool Smart System.
Now, it’s a wireless, floating sensor that’s going to transmit the status of your water to your computer or smartphone, which is pretty awesome. And it’s worth 229 bucks.
TOM: So give us a call right now if you’d like to win that ePool Smart System and have your home improvement question answered. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s up first?
LESLIE: Now I’ve got John in New Jersey on the line who’s looking to build a ramp. How can we help with that project?
JOHN: Hi. I’m looking to have an elevated deck off my house and the house is built on a slab, so we’re about a foot above grade. And I’m looking for some advice as to how high I should make it and what the best way would be to get up to it.
TOM: OK. So you definitely need a ramp to get up to this deck that’s going to be about a foot off grade?
JOHN: Well, I use a wheelchair or a walker and it would be easier than trying to navigate the steps.
TOM: Oh, OK. Sure. OK. So, you’re about a – do you think the finished height’s going to be about 12 inches off grade?
JOHN: Well, that’s where the foundation stops: where the door frame is and so forth.
TOM: OK. So let me tell you why that’s important to know. Because the ramp – I mean the pitch for the ramp is 1:12. What that means is that to drop an inch, you need to go out 12 inches. So if you need to drop 12 inches, that means you need a 12-foot ramp. So it’s important to know that because now you know how long you have to count for the ramp space.
So, for example, if you were going to build a deck and then have a ramp be sort of to the end of one side of it, you could have a deck that’s maybe, say, 15 feet deep, 3 feet for sort of a landing. You take the ramp; bring it up the side. You go 12 up with the ramp, another 3 feet for the landing and you’re there. So that’s the kind of thing you need to think of when you’re planning this out. You need a 1-inch drop over 12 inches for a safe ramp height.
JOHN: OK. So the further I had the deck away from the house, the more gradual the incline should be.
TOM: Higher. The higher on the house.
LESLIE: The higher.
TOM: Yeah, the higher it is on the house, the longer the ramp you’ll need.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think, probably, to accommodate this sort of run of the ramp, you might want to put it on the side rather on the front edge. You know, this way it can sort of run that same length or depth of the deck, if you will.
JOHN: Right. And the deck itself would absorb some of the run then. OK. Great.
LESLIE: Well, it would end up being – exactly. It would end up being on the side; this way, you don’t have to have something so much larger along the front edge.
Now, I wonder, Tom, if you’re expanding a deck like that, do you need any sort of special permitting or variances with the town or your neighbors to …?
TOM: Well, you certainly need permits, no matter what you do. I would not do this without a permit. And the ramp space itself is going to sort of count towards the maximum decking space. There could be some relief, depending on your situation, but I would definitely start with a call to the Building Department to find out what you’re allowed to do, John, before you just build it.
JOHN: OK. I will give them a call and we’ll go from there. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Linda in Texas on the line who’s got a flooring question. How can we help you in your money pit today?
LINDA: We had carpeting and we had a flooded floor, so we put laminate and tile down to replace it. The area in the kitchen is all tiled and then it runs it from the kitchen into the dining area and then in front of the fireplace. And right in front of the fireplace starts the laminate; we put laminate there.
And so there’s an area of 16-inch tile in front of the fireplace that’s tile and then there’s a running board thing that goes down between to separate the two things. Well, that thing came up and we can’t get it to stay down for anything.
TOM: So this is wood, correct?
TOM: This running board is wood?
TOM: And what’s the subfloor underneath this? This is wood or concrete or what?
LINDA: No, it’s concrete.
TOM: OK. So why don’t we mechanically attach it? The adhesives are not working anymore. Why don’t we mechanically attach it?
So, how thick is this piece of wood?
LINDA: Oh, about – I’ve got my fingers up. Can you see it?
TOM: Three-quarters of an inch?
LINDA: About a ½-inch or ¾-inch.
TOM: Half inch? OK. Because what I would suggest you do is pilot-hole this out and you want to do this in such a way that you can counterbore the screw below the surface and then use a wood plug to cover it over, because we want this to be invisible when we’re all done.
But if you drill a counterbored hole – and what I mean by that is you have a pilot hole and a clearance hole. And then you have sort of a ½-inch or 3/8-inch hole that sinks down below the surface and then that fits a wood plug that you can stain. So now you have the hole in the wood, right? And you have those strategically across this piece. Then you use something called a Tapcon screw, which is designed to go into concrete.
When you buy a Tapcon screw, it comes with the actual masonry drill bit and the screws in the same package. You pilot right through that – those holes that you lined in the wood. It goes right in the concrete. It takes a little bit of work because you’re obviously drilling into concrete. When dealing with that masonry bit, you’ve got to push a little bit.
And then you pull it out and you use this Tapcon screw, which actually screws right into the concrete. It’ll pull that piece of wood right down. And then once it’s nice and solid, you can put those wood plugs in, touch them up with a little bit of stain and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can call in your home repair, home improvement, outdoor décor, plumbing, heating, cooling. Whatever you are working on at your money pit, we are here to give a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just dial that magic number: 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, your deck could become a safety hazard if you don’t take care of the wood. We’ll teach you how to keep the deck safe the easy way, after this.
ANNOUNCER: Finish wood-staining projects in just one day with new Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish. Better yet, let us do it for you. If you win the Take It Easy Sweepstakes, we will. No purchase necessary. See Flood.com for official rules and to enter.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get the latest technology to help take care of your above-ground or even your in-ground swimming pool: it’s the ePool Smart System. It’s a very cool, floating sensor that sends pool updates to your computer or your smartphone. It’ll tell you about the pH level, the sanitizer, the temperature and more. Call us right now if you’d like to win but you have to have a home improvement question to qualify. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. John in Michigan is on the line with a water question. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Well, I have an older house that has a well pit sticking out underneath the house.
JOHN: And I want to abandon that because it’s letting water into the basement.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
JOHN: So I want to know, what do I have to deal with – how would I go about demolishing that old well pit and still putting up a new basement wall?
TOM: Is this a wide well? Like 3-feet wide, so many feet deep?
JOHN: Yes. It’s a well pit that’s probably 3½-foot wide by 3-foot deep or so.
TOM: Oh, OK. Well, then I would just fill it up. I would fill it up with stone first. Does it have a concrete lip that comes above the surface?
JOHN: No, it’s flush with the surface and the basement wall is non-existent at this point.
TOM: Hmm. It’s flush?
JOHN: It goes right into the well pit where the pump and stuff used to be.
TOM: Used to sit? Yeah.
JOHN: I have city water now so we don’t have …
TOM: It’s really – this is really just a recessed area where the well equipment is, right? We’re not talking about – it’s only 3 feet deep; you’re obviously not pumping water from 3 feet deep.
But in this case, what I would do is I’d just fill that in with stone right up to the top. But if you see water that collects in there, what you’re seeing is that’s the first place the water collects. But you can eliminate that, if it’s happening during heavy rain, by taking a look outside the house and managing the exterior drainage conditions: making sure that the gutters are clean and free-flowing, making sure the soil slopes away from the walls.
The water gets in there below the soil. You’re seeing it because that’s the lowest spot but that’s not causing the basement to flood; that’s just evidence of the flooding.
JOHN: Right. OK. Well, thanks.
TOM: Well, wood needs protection from the elements. Otherwise, it will not only look bad, it could become a real safety hazard if it becomes weak. And that is especially true if we’re talking about a deck.
Now, the experts at Flood Wood Care, who are a proud sponsor of The Money Pit, have some advice about that topic. And they suggest that you need to be careful when removing dirt, grime and even old stains and sealers because you could weaken the wood even more.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Flood has several products that can help get the job done without damage, like a wood-finish remover or a wood cleaner and brightener if you’re just looking to spruce up your existing surface.
Now, the remover is really easy to use. You just follow the instructions on the packaging, then wait a couple of days to make sure it’s completely dry before you stain the deck. And this way, when you do stain, maybe try using a solid-color stain. This way, you’re going to get the best, long-term results.
TOM: And it’s a fairly easy job to do when you use Flood. But if you want to make it even easier, you can enter the Take It Easy Sweepstakes at Flood.com.
Pretty cool sweepstakes. Not only will Flood Wood Care provide all the supplies needed to refinish your deck, they’ll also supply the labor. So you can go to Flood.com for the official rules and to enter. Again, that’s Flood.com.
LESLIE: Susan in Texas is on the line, who doesn’t really have a taste for popcorn when it’s on a bathroom ceiling. Tell us, Susan, how much do you hate it?
SUSAN: Just disliking it comes off the ceiling above the shower.
LESLIE: Yeah. Because it’s not really a good application in the bathroom.
TOM: Not really a good application for anywhere.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you’ve already accidentally stumbled upon how to get rid of it, if that’s the goal: it’s moisture, actually. And since you’re in the bath, it’s probably getting pretty saturated up there. But generally, when I’ve removed it for a client or during a makeover, I take almost like – you call it a Hudson sprayer; it’s a water pump sprayer that you can use for gardening or painting projects.
And you do kind of have to saturate that ceiling. I mean not tremendously but you want to wet that popcorn and then take a really wide paint scraper and gently and cautiously just go across that ceiling surface. And you’re going to make a big hunk of gathered-up popcorn texture.
SUSAN: OK. What about if you have the sheetrock around the top of a fiberglass shower that looks like it’s got the tape, from where the sheetrock was taped, curling backwards?
SUSAN: When I try to tape that sheetrock, should I come back in with cement board?
TOM: Well, if your paper tape is separating, then you may need to take that off and replace it. Does that mean that you have to – is there – is this drywall above the enclosure or is it tile?
SUSAN: It’s drywall. Yes, sir.
TOM: OK. So, you can peel off the tape and then re-spackle it or what you could do is you could put another layer of drywall over that. You can use a type of drywall called greenboard, which is water-resistant, and just go right on top of that with a second layer if you’re concerned about the condition of the original layer.
SUSAN: OK. Well, actually, the condition’s really good; it doesn’t get wet up there but I could just see that that tape was peeling. And so if I can try and see if I can go in with some new tape and spackle, that would be great.
TOM: Yeah. Peel off the loose paper tape, replace it with perforated fiberglass tape – which has a grid in it; it’s easier to push the spackle through – and then just flat-tape it right against the edge of the fiberglass and you’ll be good to go.
SUSAN: OK. Perfect. That’s a whole lot easier than I thought.
TOM: Alright, Susan. Glad we could help. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Fred from Georgia on the line who’s dealing with a bug issue. Tell us what’s going on.
FRED: Well, I have an exterminator to take care of everything on the inside of the house and my wife is really scared about poison around the kids and the pets.
TOM: OK. OK.
FRED: And this year, we have – I call them red bugs but I guess down here they’re chiggers and they are really bad in my yard.
TOM: OK. Yeah.
FRED: And I wondered if there is a way to control that without using poison.
TOM: Well, I mean chiggers need moisture and shade so, generally, if you cut your grass fairly short, that becomes sort of a very bad habitat for them. And over time, if you do that, you’ll have fewer and fewer chiggers in your lawn.
FRED: OK. Like what kind of time?
TOM: Well, I can’t tell you for sure. I would expect that over a season, you’re going to start to thin them out.
In terms of putting in a pesticide, yeah, I agree that it can be an issue. I know a lot of folks will use aerosol sprays, like permethrin-type sprays, and put them on their clothes that they wear outside. So it’s not exactly on your skin but it’s on your clothes and that stops them from attaching. An insect repellent that has DEET in it will also work.
FRED: OK. Alright. We’ll, I’ve got fescue in it. It’s the top of summer here, so I don’t want to lose my lawn for the rest of the year.
FRED: So, I’ll try to cut it a little bit short and just deal with it, I guess. I was hoping there was some way to do it bio or naturally that would give them an element they didn’t like, so …
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, try to keep your lawn as dry as you can because it’s really the moisture that they like. So, if you can water less frequently or shorter spouts more frequently just to keep the lawn maintained but not saturated, if that makes sense. This way, as it dries out in the soil, they’ll just burrow deeper and deeper or find somebody else’s yard.
FRED: OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate it. Thank you, guys, much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Tim in Colorado on the line dealing with two thermostats and two zones and how to keep it all working right.
TIM: Hi. I just wondered if there’s any strategy on either saving wear and tear on the two separate units or saving energy by – or just keeping both set the same and so it’s comfortable.
TOM: Well, it really comes down to your sort of lifestyle. Now, upstairs are your bedrooms, I presume?
TIM: Well, assume – yes. But assume the home is equally occupied. Because my wife is home with the kids and so she’s up and down all the time.
TIM: So, yeah, I was expecting you to say, “OK, go ahead and make the upstairs bedroom sleeping area hot during the day.” But no.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I was going to say that because, typically, if you have areas of your house that are less occupied, then you can reduce the heating and cooling load in those spaces. So, if you don’t, then the same advice applies, too, to both areas and that is use a clock setback thermostat. Set them to pattern your use. So if – when you go to sleep at night in the winter, for example, the heat goes down, stays down all night, comes up.
Now, when you do go to sleep at night – for example, if you’ve got your bedrooms upstairs, then downstairs is going to obviously be a lot cooler and upstairs a little bit cooler and then you bring them back up before you get out of bed. In the summertime, generally you want to set the thermostat around 80, 82 and leave it alone. It doesn’t always make sense to bring it up and down but you can have it go up higher if you’re away on the weekends.
Now, there is a new type of thermostat out there called ecobee, which I think is really cool. Do you happen to have a wireless network inside your house?
TOM: Yeah, these work on wireless networks. And so you can – and they actually will pattern the weather …
TIM: So I can set it – oh, that’s cool. I get it.
TOM: Yeah, you can set them on your own sort of web page and you can – and they’ll alert you when temperatures go above or below certain levels. And they even have the ability to reach out and sort of read the weather in advance and make adjustments based on that. You might want to take a look at those. It’s e-c-o-b-e-e is the website – ecobee.com. I just contacted them to get a couple of units to try out in a home that we have.
But I did speak with one of the folks on my team that told me about it and he has been using it very successfully now for several months and is thrilled with its functionality. In fact, it was referred to him by his local heating-and-cooling contractor.
TIM: Uh-huh. Great. OK, thanks.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, we’ve got tips to help you cut down on cooling costs and the summer sun’s harsh glare in one shot. We’ll have the latest info on an affordable, battery-operated, cellular-shade system, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, we all know the damage that sun can actually do to your skin but did you know that it can also damage the inside of your home? Well, strong sunlight, magnified by your home’s windows, can actually fade fabric and paint, it can drive up your cooling costs and it’s really harsh on wood surfaces, like your floor and even your furniture.
TOM: Well, the experts at Lutron have a solution. It’s a way you can stop sun damage just by pushing a button and it’s a very attractive system. Here to tell us about the Serena Remote-Controlled Cellular Shades is Melissa Andresko from Lutron.
MELISSA: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
TOM: Now, automated cellular shades are traditionally very expensive, kind of a high-end product. You guys have really changed the way consumers will be looking at this product going forward, because you now have a very affordable system so that consumers can truly have these in their own homes. So, tell us about it.
MELISSA: So, Lutron has been in the light-control business for 50 years. And believe it or not, we’ve actually been doing motorized shades for about 20 years. And to your point, exactly, they have been in that $1,000-per-window price range historically. And we were really on a mission to bring down those prices and really make it a product that any homeowner could put in their home.
Because it’s really not just about being a luxury product; it’s a problem-solver. It’s a great application for that hard-to-reach window above a bathtub or that pesky window in your family room that causes glare on your television. So, the new Serena Shade starts at, believe it or not, $299.
MELISSA: And it’s actually self-installed and it runs on standard, D-size batteries. So it really couldn’t be any simpler.
TOM: Now, that’s very cool. And to our point in our open, I think folks don’t understand the impact that sunlight has. I mean we all know that glare is uncomfortable; certainly, sometimes we feel the heat coming through the window. But that sun going through the windows really is very harsh on your fabrics, on your carpets, on your wallpaper, on your furnishings. And it really causes everything to fade out very quickly if you don’t manage it. And these shades give you a way to do that.
MELISSA: Absolutely, Tom. You know, people don’t realize how much damage sun can do, day after day, beating down in that same spot for hours at a time. So, by having a remote-controlled window shade, you’re really able to control how much sunlight is coming into the space. It’s almost like sunscreen for your windows, when you think about it. It’s going to help protect those fabrics and those furnishings and artwork.
And again, to help with heating and cooling costs, it’s going to keep that heat in when you want it and keep it out when you don’t. So, great way to save energy and keep your space comfortable at the same time.
LESLIE: Now, Melissa, tell me a little bit about the remote options. If you’re doing a room with multiple shades, are you able to have one remote sort of do everything or are you limited to a remote per shade?
MELISSA: You can actually do it either way. So if I’ve got three shades in one room, I can control every shade with one remote or I could do one shade per remote. It’s completely up to you the way you do it. The technology, it’s a radio-frequency technology; that’s the most common remote-control option. So it gives you the flexibility of being able to control one or many shades per remote.
TOM: Now, is there a way to preprogram the shades so that they move up and down based on a certain time of day?
MELISSA: With the Serena Shades, not right now. You can open them all the way, you can close them all the way and then you can jog them up and down to a desired position. If you use a honeycomb-style shade with one of our light-control systems, like a RadioRA system, then you do get some more sophisticated programming capabilities.
But for the non-system version, right now you can go up, down and then jog it up and down to your favorite position.
LESLIE: Now, tell us about the color options. And this is really exciting for me because I work with a lot of private design clients and remote shades are very popular, they’re very expensive. We’re customizing them in pretty much any fabric under the sun and we’re looking at thousands upon thousands of dollars for not a tremendous lot of windows.
So, what are my color options? Because I may have a project.
MELISSA: That’s good to hear. We currently have about 100 different color options, believe it or not, and all kinds of different textures. We have one that’s called a “crush” fabric that’s really a very rich-feeling fabric.
And not only do we have about 100 different colors but we’ve got different opacities. So depending on how much light you want coming into your space, you’re going to choose from what’s called a Room-Darkening shade, which is obviously great for places like a bedroom to help with sleeping, or your TV room to really help cut down on the glare. Or we have an optioned called Single-Cell Light-Filtering. That’s going to let the most amount of light in. And then there’s one in between called Double-Cell Light-Filtering. So that’s going to be halfway between your maximum amount of light and your blackout.
So, just depending on how much light you want in your space, each one is available in many different colors. So, hopefully, we’ll get some shades on that project of yours.
TOM: Lots and lots of options. We’re talking with Melissa Andresko about the Serena Remote-Controlled Cellular Shades. You can learn more at ChooseLutron.com.
Melissa, I want to ask you about the battery. You mentioned that these work on a D battery. That’s pretty incredible to think that you can have a D battery that will last, did I understand, for three years on a single battery?
MELISSA: Yeah, can you believe that? We’ve engineered a technology called Triathlon Battery Technology and we guarantee that your batteries are going to last for three years. And that’s based on the shade going up twice a day and down twice a day. And so we guarantee that with that amount of usage, the batteries will last for three years, so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries every three or four weeks or every month and thinking, “Oh, boy. That’s going to add to my cost.” No, it’s every three years.
And when the battery life is starting to get low, there’s a little LED that’s going to blink to let you know, “Hey, it’s time to pick up some batteries next time you’re at the store and replace them.” So, we’ve taken all the guesswork out.
TOM: The product is called Serena Cellular Shades, available now from Lutron, starting at just 299 bucks. Check it out. A really great option for you to have automation in your window shades in your home. The website is ChooseLutron.com.
Melissa Andresko, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MELISSA: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.
LESLIE: Well, with Fourth of July this week, it’s a good time to think about firework safety. Fireworks are responsible for tens of thousands of serious injuries every year. We’re going to tell you how to celebrate safely, after this.
ANNOUNCER: Finish wood-staining projects in just one day with new Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish. Better yet, let us do it for you. If you win the Take It Easy Sweepstakes, we will. No purchase necessary. See Flood.com for official rules and to enter.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we are giving away the really coolest and latest technology when it comes to taking care of your backyard pool: we’ve got an ePool system.
Now, it’s a sensor that floats in your pool and then sends wireless updates on your pool to your computer or your smartphone. So you could be at work and check and see how the pH level is doing in your pool, find out what you might need to do when you get home, what you’ve got to add. That’s pretty awesome. It really takes the guesswork out of it.
So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win the ePool.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to go to Texas, where Bubba wants to do some air-conditioning maintenance. How can we help you?
BUBBA: Yeah, I was wondering, on your outside A/C unit?
BUBBA: You cut it loose and you want to put it back together with the two, little copper fittings? Is the best way to solder that back together with that little torch kit that comes with acetylene and oxygen bottle or if you can use one of the little propane …?
TOM: Why did you cut it loose, Bubba? What were you doing?
BUBBA: I moved.
TOM: You moved. And you took our A/C unit with you?
BUBBA: Yeah. It’s on a big, manufactured home, 16x70 feet.
TOM: Oh, I see. Yeah, I see.
Well, the thing is, those lines have to be recharged with refrigerant, don’t they?
BUBBA: Well, not in this particular case. It has a way that you can trap the refrigerant inside the unit.
TOM: Yeah, you know what? I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be soldering that yourself, especially with a refrigerant inside the lines. That’s a job for a pro that does it every day. I would hire – I would have a service contractor come out and do that one part of the project for you, pay the service charge and make sure it’s done safely and efficiently so it works well for you.
Bubba, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, America will be 236 years old this July 4th and as usual, Americans will be celebrating from sea to shining sea with food, flags and fireworks. To make sure that you do that safely, here are a few, simple, firework safety tips to make sure that you don’t add a 911 call to that Fourth of July activity list.
TOM: Well, that’s right. So first, you want to know the laws where you live, because fireworks are illegal in some places, like where we live in New Jersey, for example. We only get to use sparklers but they’re still fun.
And if they are legal, you want to make sure that you use them outside with a garden hose and a bucket nearby. Because you want to be able to toss any used fireworks in the trash and soak them in water first so that they don’t ignite.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, here’s some things that you really should keep in mind. Fireworks, they’re totally awesome but use them safely as they are intended. Don’t try to change them or combine them or see what would happen if you put these two together. It doesn’t work out well, I promise you that. Light only one firework at a time; you’re not Grucci over there, OK? Maybe you are but you’re most likely not Grucci so let’s be safe. If you’ve got a dud, don’t try to relight it. And really, you just want to use some common sense.
If you want some more thorough guidelines, because there are quite a few, go to MoneyPit.com and search “firework safety” and that will really help you make sure that you have a safe but still spectacular Fourth of July.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your summer home improvement project.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dale in Texas on the line, looking for a fun and easy way to refinish furniture.
Of course, I think refinishing furniture is fun. Dale, you might not. Tell us what’s going on.
DALE: Oh, heavens. I love refinishing old furniture. I’m not rich enough to finish, oh, antiques so I just call it old furniture. But anyway, I – one of the things I’ve always done is use alcohol with steel wool in taking off the old shellac or varnish base coatings on the old furniture. Works tremendously.
But when it comes to people painting furniture and I’ve got to strip it off, it is a very difficult thing sometimes to get it all off. But I’ve been using alcohol and, say, Number 3 or Number 4 steel wool and I just wondered if – I got to thinking about it later. As bad as stripper is with all the chemicals and all, am I running a risk of mixing alcohol with it to strip it off?
TOM: Dale, why don’t you use one of the gel strippers? You know, Rock Miracle has a version that’s called UPTA-6 – U-P-T-A-6. It’s a very environmentally-safe sort of gel stripper where you apply it, the gel sits and then you peel the gel off and the paint comes with it.
DALE: Oh. So it – you put it on and then it kind of – you said you peel it off or you scrape it off or what?
TOM: Right. It works – right. Yeah, you …
LESLIE: It really depends on the type of furniture. Like when you’re working with something that has a flat run or a trimming edge or the edge of a cabinet, then you sort of lightly scrape it away with a paint scraper. Don’t dig, because you just want to peel it off, kind of, that way?
But in areas when you’re dealing – like I did cabinet doors with it once and when I was dealing with the recessed panels and the routed edges, I kind of used a sponge sander to help me get in there and lift all that stuff up.
And I like it because of the gel. It sits there; it doesn’t run. And the UPTA-6 – the U-P-T-A-6? I’m not sure how they say it but that is their environmentally-friendly product. And Rock Miracle, good company. Been around for ages and they really do work and I’ve used them myself.
DALE: You call it Rock Miracle?
TOM: Rock Miracle.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. R-o-c-k Miracle.
DALE: Oh, OK.
TOM: And that’s their website: RockMiracle.com.
DALE: Rock Miracle. RockMiracle.com, OK. Well, I’ve got that. That’ll be a big help.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us on this first weekend before the Fourth of July, where we’re celebrating, really, a week’s worth of Independence Day the way the calendar worked out.
Coming up next in the program, we’re going to talk about what this hot summer can do to the beautiful lawn. It can turn it into a field of brown needles. But there is a way to keep your grass green in the heat and we’ll share that tip, after this.
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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 we make good homes better.
Hey, you can join The Money Pit community for great project ideas, info and advice from your fellow DIYers, as well as Leslie and I, too. And that is on MoneyPit.com. Just register for the site and you will be welcome to post in our community.
LESLIE: Alright. And Jim in Oklahoma posted: “Is there anything I can do to my hardwood floors to make them less noisy? They constantly squeak and creak.”
TOM: Yep. That’s the wear and tear of those floors, Jim. And what happens is when they’re first installed, assuming they were installed correctly, the nails were driven at an angle through the tongue part of the board. And over time, those nails will loosen up and they’ll slide in and out and the boards will slide with them. And that’s what causes the squeak and the creak.
Now, repairing this, when you have a hardwood floor, is a little tricky because you’ve got to be a pretty good woodworker. The idea here is that we have to resecure the wood to the floor or the subfloor and there are a couple of ways to do that.
First off, if it’s just one or two loose boards, you can predrill and then drive a very large and hopefully galvanized finish nail through that board into the floor joist below. You’ve got to find the joists, as well. You can do that with a stud finder. And you drill the hole because you can’t nail into wood without cracking it when it’s hardwood. And then you use the finish nail at a slight angle through the board, into the subfloor and into the joist below. And then you can countersink it and use a wood filler to top it off. I say that you can do that in a couple of small places, because you don’t want nail holes all over the place.
If you’ve got a really big, noisy area, then what you really need to do is to screw those floorboards down. To do that, you’ve got to counterbore the wood surface, drive the screw in below it and then fill it with a wood plug and refinish the floor. That done properly, those plugs will be completely invisible. But it is a bit of a project and rest assured, though, it’s mostly annoying. So you’re not damaging the floor of the house but if you really want to quiet it, you’ve got to attack it in one of those two ways.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Mickey posted: “I’m redoing parts of my kitchen. I want to add a glass-tile backsplash. Do I need to put anything on the wall under the tile or can I just put an adhesive straight to the wall?”
TOM: That’s probably a good situation for Bondera, don’t you think?
LESLIE: Yeah, Bondera is a great product. It’s actually called Bondera Tile MatSet. And it’s basically like a super-duty, sticky contact paper but it’s non-porous. It’s perfect if you buy the one for a wall surface; it sticks right to that wall where your backsplash would go. It’s got a grid on it so you know you’re putting your tile on correctly. You just stick your tile to the Bondera and then you can grout immediately and you’ve got a beautiful, beautiful, mosaic-tile backsplash.
TOM: Well, the dog days of summer are coming and that means that this is the time of year you can watch your beautiful green lawn turn into a brown disaster. Leslie has got some tips on keeping it looking good through that summer heat, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, I’ve seen one too many lawns turn into a hay field when that true hot weather really does roll in. So to keep this from happening to you, first cut back on the mowing. Cutting too often can actually cause that grass to lose moisture. Once a week is probably about right.
Now, it’s also a good idea to water very early in the morning, because that’s going to give your lawn a chance to actually dry out before nighttime, when a wet lawn can attract bugs and diseases. Now, it’s also a good idea to water deeply a couple of times a week, rather than lightly every single day. This is actually going to encourage deeper root growth.
If you follow these simple rules, you will be enjoying your lawn for months to come and it will be green and not brown, I promise.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, the buzz, the sting and the ouch, which is followed by the itch. If mosquitoes are making a meal of you this summer, we’ll have some tips on how you can cut down on those annoying and downright dangerous pests, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
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 2012 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.)