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: And Happy Earth Day. Can you believe it’s Earth Day weekend, Leslie? It actually hit on a Saturday and Sunday.
LESLIE: Well, it’s – the best time to actually get stuff done for Earth Day is on the actual Earth Day, so it worked out great.
TOM: Absolutely. So if you’ve got an Earth-friendly home improvement project you’d like to tackle, now would be a great time to reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or online at the Money Pit’s brand-spanking-new community at MoneyPit.com. Just click on Community and post your question there.
We’ve got a great show coming up, with Earth Day in mind, starting with the fact that with every breath you take, you might very well be inhaling not only clean, fresh air but VOCs that can affect your health. We’re going to have some tips to help improve the air you breathe inside your home.
LESLIE: And also ahead, wouldn’t it be cool if while you’re driving back home from work, a trip or an errand, your home knew when you were getting close and could adjust the A/C or heat automatically to exactly where you like it? Well, that technology is called “geo-fencing” and it exists today in thermostats. We’ll tell you more, just ahead.
TOM: And few home improvements bring more beauty and value to a home than adding a solid-hardwood floor. We’ll have tips on advances in hardwood flooring that make this product easier than ever to install.
LESLIE: And if you call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you’ll have the chance to win DynaTrap’s Mosquito and Insect Traps.
TOM: There are completely nontoxic and can be used both indoors and out. So give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Luke in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LUKE: We recently just bought a limestone house. And the previous owners had completely remodeled everything and with new plumbing, new electrical, new windows, new – pretty much new everything. The only thing that they didn’t do to this house was the heating-and-air-conditioning unit.
And the unique thing about this house is the upstairs and the downstairs are both heated and cooled with two different units. The upstairs unit is an ‘84 model and the downstairs unit is a ‘93 model. And what I’m wanting to do is I’m wanting to take those completely out and kind of make it more efficient. But I don’t know, really, what to do or where to go or how. What should I do?
TOM: OK. So first of all, when you say more efficient, you want to remove these heating systems now and make it a single zone? Is that what you want to do?
LUKE: Yes. Since each of the floors are individually heated and cooled, I didn’t know whether I should take those completely out and put two brand-new heating-and-cooling units in or if I should try to make the whole house just one unit.
TOM: Yeah. No, you should definitely leave the two zone because this actually is a much more desirable way and frankly, a more efficient way. Because, typically, when you have one heating system, it’s always like the upstairs is a little warmer than you want it to be or the downstairs is a little colder than you want it to be. It may never – even if it’s reasonably well-balanced, you still get these inconsistencies based on weather conditions and wind. Having two zones – having two separate pieces of equipment running this – is definitely the way to go.
Now, I’m sorry, did you say this was forced-air? Gas-fired? Is that what it is? Or what kind of …?
LUKE: No, this is central heat and air. Central heat and air for both.
TOM: No, I understand that but what’s your fuel? Is it electric heat? Is it gas heat?
LUKE: Natural gas.
TOM: Natural gas. OK. Yeah. Perfect. So you have two compressors, you have two furnaces. If you want to update those, certainly go ahead and do that. Make sure you’re putting in high-efficiency ENERGY STAR-qualified units. And you don’t have to do them both at the same time. You might want to do that ‘84 unit first – from 1984 first, OK?
LUKE: OK. The other question is: do I need to change any of the ductwork for that?
TOM: Nope. Probably not. No, what you have to change is you have to change the outside compressor and the inside furnace and the evaporator coil, which is attached to it, at the same time. Because when it comes to air conditioning, the evaporator coil has to match the compressor outside.
TOM: So if it doesn’t match, then it’s not going to be as efficient.
LUKE: Well, what kind of efficient – should I go like a 90 percent, 95 percent?
TOM: I would say to get as – get the most efficiency you can afford. But remember that if you’re going to be there short-term, you may never get the payback on it. If you’re going to be there long-term, chances are you might. So, you have to really identify what the most important outcome of this is.
If you’re in a house that’s – you’re going to be there for five years because you’re expecting to move or to transfer to whatever, I’d probably, frankly, wouldn’t put in the very most expensive unit because I’m never going to get the payback on that. But if it’s something where this is the house that I’m going to be in for the next 20-plus years, then maybe I would. So, make the determination but just keep those numbers in mind.
LUKE: OK. And what about thermostats? There’s digital thermostats right now but should I just – since I’m replacing everything, should I just go ahead and replace the thermostats, too, just to …
TOM: I would. Not that you have to replace that as a control mechanism but there’s so many advantages to new thermostats today. You know, they’re Wi-Fi-enabled and so you could operate them kind of as a remote control, whether you’re sitting on the couch or you’re away driving home from work.
You can have thermostats that are geo-fenced today, which means you choose the perfect temperature setting for when you get in that house. And as you’re approaching your house, because you’re out on an errand or coming home from work – and you could set it so that, hey, when I get 10 miles from my house, I want the heat to be this or I want the air conditioning to be that so that when you walk in the door, it’s perfect. I mean it’s pretty cool what you can do with thermostats today.
So I think if you’re going to go for it and replace these heating systems, I would definitely replace my thermostats at the same time.
LUKE: OK. Alright, alright. Hey, thank you very much. Appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck.
LUKE: That gives me a good idea where I need to start now, so …
TOM: Perfect. Well, we’re glad we could help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Diane from Rhode Island on the line with a basement issue. What is going on at your money pit?
DIANE: Hi. I have a house; it was built in 1945. And in my basement, the cement walls – and it looks like once upon a time, they were painted white. And the bottom half of the walls, which are below the ground level, it crumbles and it leaves a lot of sediment. And I can see through the big things of pebbles in the wall.
TOM: So the reason that the bottom half of the wall is deteriorating is probably because of moisture. What are these walls made out of? Are they made out of concrete or concrete block or cinder block?
DIANE: Concrete. There’s no block.
TOM: There’s no block; it’s concrete. Alright. So I think what’s happening here is you’re getting water that’s leaking through the lower half of the walls. And you’re probably getting efflorescence. You could be getting some spalling, depending on the temperatures, that could be causing some of the wall to freeze and then basically chip off pieces of the concrete.
So, what I would do, in this case, is I would start by trying to reduce the amount of moisture that’s collecting in that wall by addressing the drainage conditions right outside of it. Generally speaking, this is caused by one of two things or more commonly, a combination of the angle of the soil at the foundation perimeter. If it’s too flat, if it’s sloped into the house, if there’s any kind of landscaping ties or brick edges or too much mulch, any of those conditions that are holding water around the foundation is a bad thing. And more importantly, the gutter system. Make sure you have gutters, that the gutters are extended at least 4 to 6 feet from the house. If you can keep that perimeter of your house drier, this problem will definitely stabilize.
DIANE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck. 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 repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, with every breath you take, you might be inhaling not only clean, fresh air but also VOCs that can affect your health. We’ll have tips to avoid VOCs in your home, after this.
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: Pick up the phone. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re going to keep you mosquito-free because we’re giving away the DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap.
I got one of these last summer and absolutely loved it. It protects up to a ½-acre. It’s going to guard your family and your pets from any of those nuisance insects that might bite and spread disease. The way it works is it actually produces CO2, which is actually an irresistible attractant because it smells like you. But it does that through a chemical reaction, so there’s no lures that are involved or attractants that are required. It’s nontoxic. It’s available at Bed Bath & Beyond but we’ve got one going out to one lucky caller at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can check it out at DynaTrap.com.[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Alright. Joyce in Missouri is on the line next with smoke damage. What is going on at your money pit?
JOYCE: Hi. I have a ceiling that got a bit of smoke damage from a propane fireplace. So, I don’t want to paint and have it bleed back through and then have to go paint again. Painting is a big enough job. I want to do it where it will stay white and not bleed through. So my question is: do I need to seal it, wash it? What do I need to do before I paint it?
LESLIE: If you’ve got smoke damage, generally, what is done – and that – are you seeing yellow stains? Is that what you’re seeing? Is it all over? Is it in a spot?
JOYCE: No. It’s a smoky color.
LESLIE: Alright. So because it’s a soot and the soot can tend to feel like a little bit oily or greasy, depending on what you were burning – I guess it’s from the propane – you might want to clean it a little bit first with TSP. You can find that in the paint center, in the painting aisle. It’s called “trisodium phosphate.” And you mix that up. And you can make it sort of a thicker consistency. And you want to wash those areas. See if you can get some of that soot off first.
And then once that’s all dry, you’re going to want to prime that wall. And prime the entire wall. And you can use an oil-based primer. That does tend to seal in those stains a little bit better and any sort of smoky odor that might have been there from whatever the damage was. And then once that’s dry, you can go ahead and put a latex paint over it. That’ll give you the color and that’ll, you know, ensure good adhesion of the paint to the primer to the wall.
And hopefully, then, if you’ve done a good job of sort of trying to clear away the extra soot and the stain and then sealing it with a primer, that shouldn’t bleed through. So that really does the trick.
JOYCE: OK. That helps me a bunch because I didn’t want to have to redo once I’ve already done it.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
JOYCE: Thank you very much. You all have a wonderful day.
LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors to their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
JEFF: I have a couple of feral cats that are running around in my backyard. I had a birdbath and the cats stop at that birdbath. And when the birds come in to take a drink and then splash, they jump up and they kill the bird. And what I’ve done is I’ve poured the water out of the birdbath to keep the birds away. But how do I get rid of the cats?
TOM: I mean there’s a lot of initiatives around the country, with organizations that will help deal with the feral-cat issue. Many of them run what’s called a TNR program, which is Trap, Neuter and Return. So, the idea is that they trap the cats humanely, like with a Havahart trap or something like that, they neuter them, then they return them to the environment but hopefully not in your neighborhood where they’re used to finding that source of food.
And so I would turn to an organization like that that can help you trap the cats and get them off of your property. And if they have the added support that they can neuter the cats – and that helps the overall community from stopping these cats from reproducing.
LESLIE: And you know what else? We had an issue years ago when – there’s a person on our block who feeds every cat in town. Has about 30 cats and kittens just living in their backyard. And the neighbor next door was doing a ton of work. There was a dumpster with food scraps and stuff in it. And so all the cats kind of just meandered into my yard.
And I had called the village because honestly, I didn’t mind the cats being there but they were killing a possum. And now, all of a sudden, I had to clean up a dead possum and birds. And I really don’t want to be doing that. So I called the village and the village referred me to the town. So, long story short, I made a bunch of calls to finally get to someone in the county who told me that where I live, feral cats have the same rights as squirrels, which means you can do nothing about them.
But if you do find a local cat rescue, they might be willing to come and help you take the cats, find them a place to be adopted by. And maybe if you find a place that you feel comfortable with, a donation might not hurt in helping them to get the cats off your property. So, you never know. I might make a call to your town or your village and see where that goes, too.
JERRY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, many products in our homes can contain VOCs, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. And that can impact your health. Now, VOCs are tough to completely eliminate but not so tough to reduce your exposure to if you know where to look. Now, we’ve got some tips to improve your indoor air environment, presented by Icynene Spray Foam Insulation.
TOM: So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? What products exactly do contain VOCs? Well, unfortunately, the answer is a lot. Ingredients in hundreds of household products that you use every day, from insulation to air fresheners to cleaning solutions to paint, can all contain those VOCs, which have been linked to health problems, from headaches to asthma or worse. So, it really makes sense to try to keep your exposure to a minimum.
LESLIE: Now, here’s one trick: when it comes to household chemicals, you want to avoid buying them in bulk. Stored chemicals can be a big source of VOCs, even if that container has never been opened. So, whenever possible, you want to look for those low-VOC versions of products. There are more and more green versions of products coming on the market every day and they’re quickly becoming the norm, meaning that they won’t cost much more than the original formulation.
TOM: And also, keep the super-smelly stuff outside. Kind of common sense but products like paint thinners and pesticides and gas cans are all big sources of VOCs. So the farther they are from your living space, the better. You also want to trust your nose. If you’re taking on a project, like painting, and the odors are strong, ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Even leaving windows open for a couple of hours, if you can, after that project is complete.
And lastly, check for GREENGUARD Certification. Now, GREENGUARD Certification makes sure that a product has met some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards when it comes to low emissions of those volatile organic compounds or VOCs that get into indoor air.
LESLIE: Today’s tip was presented by Icynene Classic Max Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene Classic Max is a high-performance, ultra-low-VOC, open-cell, spray-foam insulation product that provides both insulating R-value, as well as air sealing to maximize energy efficiency and the comfort of your home. It’s also GREENGUARD Gold-certified, which allows you to reoccupy your home just two hours after application.
TOM: Icynene is the leading brand of insulation and has insulated over 600,000 homes since 1986. Learn more at Icynene.com.
LESLIE: Kimberly in Delaware is on the line with an interesting question. I’m reading your bath mats got melted to the floor? How did that happen?
KIMBERLY: No, I clean houses for a living and I went to clean a house. And the lady asked me if I can get it up and she said it’s been there for two years.
TOM: Wow. Stuck to the floor, huh?
KIMBERLY: No, to the – inside the bathtub. It melted into – inside the bathtub.
TOM: Oh, the bathtub. And you couldn’t get it up? You couldn’t pull it off?
KIMBERLY: No, no, no. I tried. It’s stuck there. It’s like cement.
TOM: I’m thinking it might be glued in place and not melted. Did she buy the house with this bath mat?
KIMBERLY: No. She’s had the house for 20 years and they put it – and she put the bath mat there herself. And she said her husband just put it in there so they wouldn’t fall because they’re elderly people. And it’s been like that for two years she said.
TOM: Well, I guess she would know herself if it was glued in place. I don’t necessarily have a good solution for you here. Generally, if I find something that’s adhered and needs to be loosened up, I’ll use a product like WD-40. But I’m afraid to tell you to use that in the bathtub because I don’t want them to slip. But that tends to break any adhesive bond that is resulting but it’s also a lubricant. So I mean you could try very, very carefully under one corner of it, see if it loosens up. But you’ve got to rinse it thoroughly and scrub it thoroughly because otherwise, you’ll leave a very slick surface there.
I guess the other thing that you could try would be an adhesive – a citrus-based adhesive remover. There are orange-based products – citrus-based products that can – are used to remove adhesive.
But I have a hard time believing that this wasn’t adhesive that actually glued itself to it. And I don’t think it melted. I think there was some sort of maybe chemical reaction between the rubber mat and the bathtub that caused them to bond. Now, I will warn you that even if you get this up, it’s very possible that the surface of the tub could be damaged and you may be having something else that you don’t like to look at there, as a result.
KIMBERLY: And that’s what I’m afraid of. Because I’m her house cleaner and I don’t want to get blamed for the tub being messed up, either.
TOM: Yeah. Then I don’t think you should take that – I don’t think it’s your responsibility. I would say you tried but it’s stuck in place and leave it at that.
TOM: I agree with you. You don’t want to make the situation worse and get them upset and then – and be potentially responsible for finding a solution to an impossible problem.
KIMBERLY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Yeah, you’re welcome, Kimberly. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And have a great day.
LESLIE: High-tech thermostats that know when you’re coming home and adjust the temperature to your liking? It’s real, you guys. It’s not science fiction. We’re going to share those details, next.
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, Earth Day weekend is the perfect time to talk about ways to make your home more energy-efficient. And that’s something the experts at Honeywell have been doing for decades. Now, smart-home technology is making many of those products even easier to use, resulting in both convenience and energy savings. With us to talk about that is Ted Booth and Ted is the design director for Honeywell. That sounds like a fun job.
TED: Hi, Tom. It’s great to be here. It is a fun job.
TOM: So, connected products are a great way to sort of automate our lifestyle. They turn lights on or off. You can have the music pop on when you walk in a room. But now that technology is expanding in some big ways to thermostats, which gives us really unprecedented control over that home environment. So let’s start there. You guys have developed a geo-fencing technology that works with your thermostats. Can you tell us how that works?
TED: Sure, absolutely. Geo-fencing works by using what’s called “location services” on your phone. This is the same thing as when, say, you’re using a map application on your phone – Google Maps or Apple Maps – to find your way around.
Through our Lyric app, you can set two temperatures: you can set what temperature do you want when you’re home and then what temperature do you want when you’re away. And then you just come and go in your daily routine and your house adjusts accordingly. So you can save while you’re away and be comfortable when you’re home.
TOM: So does the system alert us when we’re getting sort of close to home? Would it trigger if I was, say, 10 miles away and adjust the temperature so they were perfect when I got there?
TED: Yeah. So, essentially, it works like that. It’s a user-adjustable setting. So if you imagine your home on a map, right, like Google Maps or something like that?
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
TED: And you just have a ring around it. And that’s an adjustable ring.
TOM: Ah. OK.
TED: So you can set it to be a ¼-mile, a ½-mile, 10 miles. You can set it to be at certain intersections, right, where depending on where you live, you want a bigger or smaller radius around your house.
TOM: Wow. That’s super helpful. So, a lot of folks, when they’re not home, they like to sort of turn their heating system – well, not so much heat because it’s winter but more air-conditioning systems completely off or at least drop it down to a ridiculously ineffective level, thinking they’re going to save money. Is it better to kind of set it and forget it, with some slight changes in home-and-away temperatures, or to try to maximize how warm you might like it to get in the summer or how cold you could stand it in the winter?
TED: That’s kind of the funny thing about that decision is it’s a little counterintuitive. If you turn your system off, it’s actually less efficient, because it uses so much more energy to either cool back down on a hot day or warm back up on a cold day.
TOM: Oh, that’s interesting.
TED: Yeah. And it’s – you know, I think for a lot of us, right, it’s a little counterintuitive. You think, “Well, if I turn it off, it’s not going to burn gas or electricity, right?”
TOM: Right. You’d think. Mm-hmm.
TED: But what you want to do is hold your home within a certain range. At Honeywell, really, we’re building our systems around – is to sort of have the thermostat constantly paying attention and just keeping you within a range of temperature, which you can adjust. You can set it high or low depending on your home and your life.
TOM: And keeping you informed is part of the thermostat does. We’re talking about the Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat. And this device also has smart alerts, correct? So it’s going to help you with things you typically forget like, for example, when it’s time to change a filter?
TED: Exactly. When it’s time to change a filter to keep your system running smoothly or there’s even been a high pollen-count day or a lot of stuff’s in the air, right? We can start to really understand how to keep your system running smooth so you avoid any of – unexpected or unpleasant breakdowns.
TOM: Now, what if my heating system were to, say, go off or fail in some way or my air-conditioning system was to completely fail? Would it tell me that? Could it stop me from, for example, in the winter having my pipes freeze when I was on vacation?
TED: So one of the things we do is we have high/low temperature alerts. So if you can set, say, at 45 degrees or 40 degrees, if it dips below that, you’ll get an alert on your phone. You’ll know that your house is getting cold.
TOM: Wow. That’s terrific. What does this retail for? Do we know yet?
TED: The T5 retails for 149.
TOM: Wow, that’s a great price. I mean you’ve got more choices than ever when it comes to smart-home technology. It’s great to see that you guys are taking advantage of everything that’s possible today and really looking to save us some money and to help us take care of our homes. I presume this will integrate with all of the sort of basic smart-home platforms now, like Amazon Echo or Apple HomeKit?
TED: Exactly, exactly. Those two in particular. Also Samsung’s SmartThings and then we’re working on integration with Google Home.
TOM: Oh, terrific.
TED: We are really focusing on those primary platforms.
TOM: Ted Booth, the design director from Honeywell, telling us about the brand-new Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat. If you’d like to learn more, you can go to YourHome.Honeywell.com.
Thanks, Ted. Have a great day.
TED: Great. Thanks, Tom.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, that is some cool technology we’re learning about today.
Hey, few home improvements bring more beauty and value to a home than adding a hardwood floor. We’re going to have tips on advances in hardwood flooring that make this product easier to install and more durable, too, presented by Lumber Liquidators, next.
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.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You are going to get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize for the spring and summer season. We’ve got up for grabs the DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap.
This is great because we all know how annoying all these insects can be as we’re enjoying more and more time outside. So what’s great about the DynaTrap is it’s going to protect up to a ½-acre and it really just uses its own CO2. It’s a natural attractant, so there’s no additional lures. Nothing else is added. It’s completely nontoxic. You can use it indoors and out. And it’s going to keep you guys mosquito and pest-free.
It’s available at Bed Bath & Beyond and you can check out their website at DynaTrap.com. It’s a prize worth 129 bucks. So give us a call with your question now.
TOM: 888-666-3974.[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Ian in North Carolina is on the line and wants to build a recording studio. We might be able to help with that.
IAN: Well, I am – it’s kind of a bucket-list project. I was given my grandmother’s old house and they built on an extension to the house and I’m trying to convert it into just that: a semi-professional recording studio. And I’ve done a little research on this acoustic-foam stuff but it’s ridiculously expensive. And I’m trying to figure out a different method to basically achieve the same effect.
TOM: First of all, if you want to soundproof a room in a residential home, you have to use materials that are specifically designed to do that. Probably the least expensive way to do it is with a material called “soundproof drywall” or “sound-resistant drywall.” There’s a couple of different brands that sell this product. But essentially, what you would do is you would put a second layer of drywall over the existing layer. And this new drywall has sound-resistant capabilities to it or qualities to it so it absorbs the sound and keeps it nice and quiet.
Where the rubber meets the road with this is at the penetrations to the wall. So if there’s a light, an outlet or a switch, there are some very specific steps you have to take in those areas to soundproof them. And there’s a putty that has to be installed around it. It’s quite involved. But that’s the least expensive way to probably – to do this.
You know, generally, when you have sound-resistant construction, you have kind of a wall inside of a wall so that the two walls are not touching each other.
IAN: Like floating?
TOM: Yeah, kind of like floating. Like a non-bearing wall.
IAN: Right, right. OK.
TOM: But you could do that to the walls and the ceilings but then, what do you do about the floor?
IAN: Right. OK.
TOM: So, take a look at soundproof drywall and see if that kind of gets you closer to where you want to go on this, OK?
IAN: That sounds great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it used to be that unless hardwood was installed when a home was built, it was darn near impossible to add it after the fact. But today, you’ve got the availability of very durable prefinished hardwood floors and that’s kind of made that project really doable and something that offers a lot of value to a home. And that’s why you almost always see real estate agents, Leslie – they’re always calling out the hardwood floors in their listing, in advertisements, because it means real value.
LESLIE: And it’s really pretty and it’s easy to decorate around.
Now, another benefit of hardwood flooring is that it’s not a dust trap like your carpeting might be, so it really is a better choice for any allergy sufferers out there. They’re also easier to maintain and they’re going to last a lot longer than carpeting will. And if you think about it, they’re really one of the longest-lasting floors because you can sand and refinish that flooring multiple times, really, depending on the thickness of the floor itself. That’s your only deterrent.
TOM: Now, when it comes to installation, solid-hardwood flooring can be installed on or above grade level but they’re not recommended for below-grade spaces, like basements. For those areas, there’s a special kind of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.” It’s made to really stand up to moisture levels that are common when you get down sort of below the finished first floor.
Finally, you want to keep in mind that solid hardwood, it really needs to fully acclimate prior to installation. So that basically means you should park it in the room it’s going to be installed in for a few days before you plan to actually do the installation. Let it expand, let it contract, let it get used to that environment. And this way, when you put it in, you’re not going to get that sort of size change. You won’t get those boards that will move much for that first few months that are in there, because it’ll already have sort of settled in to the level of humidity and heat and so on that’s in that space.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators. Choose from more than 100 top-quality, prefinished, ¾-inch solid-hardwood floors, including Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood, backed by a transferable 100-year warranty. Plus, get expert flooring help at every local store.
TOM: For locations, call 1-800-HARDWOOD or visit LumberLiquidators.com. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
LESLIE: Cherylyn (sp) in Delaware is on the line with a leaky pipe in a pool. What’s going on?
CHERYLYN (sp): Yes. We have a steel pool built right after World War II. They had a lot of excess steel and they found a lot of pools to build. And we have – it’s somewhere in the pipes we have a leak. And we’re not sure exactly what the material of the pipe is. It’s that we think it might be black.
TOM: This is the pipe that does what? This is the pipe that fills the pool? This is a drain line? What kind of pipe are we talking about?
CHERYLYN (sp): A pipe that either goes to the pool from the pump and returns back to the pool from the pump or use the pump pool to the – go to the pump.
TOM: I don’t have a good solution for you for repairing an active pipe like that, short of replacing it. Generally speaking, when you have underground lines like that that rupture, it’s not a matter of repairing it, it’s a matter of replacing it. And it may be that you can leave the other pipe in place and just basically disable it and then install a new line to do the same thing that the old line was doing. But repairing it is not an option.
CHERYLYN (sp): Right, right.
TOM: Unless you can get access to it by basically digging down and exposing it. But it’s usually easier to run a new line.[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Teresa in Tennessee is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you?
TERESA: We just finished re-decking our deck outside and with treated lumber. And we were going to stain it, so I was very happy going to try and pick out my color. And I was told that we’re supposed to wait about a year to stain it. Is that true?
LESLIE: It’s brand-new, pressure-treated lumber?
TERESA: Yes, it is.
LESLIE: Yes. So the – there’s a formulation that they use to create the lumber to be more weather-resistant, which is basically saturating that wood with whatever that mixture is that makes that wood durable. So, in doing so, you’re dealing with some very green, very wet wood. So if you were to apply a stain at this point, it would kind of just float on the top and not really saturate into the wood. And you’d end up with a strange, finished product and it also would not last at all.
So what they recommend for pressure-treated is a season, six months. It’s got to be dry. It’s got to dry out. And once it does dry, then you’re able to apply the finish and it will saturate – whatever the stain is, saturate into the grain of the lumber itself and therefore stay for a much longer period of time.
TERESA: Oh, OK then.
LESLIE: And the type of woods will depend on what that aging time is.
TERESA: Oh, OK. So six months, not a year.
LESLIE: Right. It’s generally a season, Tom, right?
TOM: Yeah. I mean it is going to end up being a year but I would just – if it’s brand-new now, I would go through a full summer with it. And then when next spring comes around, you could think about applying some solid-color stain then.
TERESA: OK. Well, thank you all very much for answering my question.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are you getting ready to dig in for some home improvement projects this Earth Day weekend? Well, before you use a shovel to dig anything, there’s one very important call you need to make. We’re going to share that tip, next.
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: Call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. But just as important, you can post your question now in the very colorful, brand-new Money Pit community. It’s live at MoneyPit.com. We are so psyched. It’s just launched just a couple of weeks out there now. Already getting lots and lots of great questions with photos and just super questions about details that people just don’t ask us about on the radio show. We’re able to answer them, give you links. And you should check it out because it’s a great place to go for info on your house.
That is exactly what Maria did.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, Maria’s question, it is very, very similar to something that happened to me a little while back. Maria writes: “I heard a noise outside my house, looked through the door and there were two squirrels in my screened-in patio. And they weren’t just hanging out. They were trying to find a way outside, let’s just say, making a huge mess in the process.”
Tom, I kid you not, this happened to me two years ago during a blizzard. And truly, there was a squirrel hanging on the screen to my kitchen window, which looks out into the screened-in porch.
TOM: Yeah. Oh, man.
LESLIE: And I, too, was looking outside thinking, “How the heck do I get them out of there without me physically going in there myself?”
TOM: And you don’t want to take any chance of opening the door, because the squirrel could jump right in your house and oh my, they can do a lot of damage.
LESLIE: No. I don’t want them in the house.
TOM: You usually can keep those little critters out, like squirrels and rabbits and groundhogs and those types of nesting animals out, with barricades that they can’t move on get over. Decorative fences and walls work well. So, decorative ways of closing up those animal tunnels are effective. Deer, however, can be a bigger problem but your local extension service or university can tell you which native plants are most deer-resistant.
We get deer destruction here at my house. And I get what I call the “lollipop trees,” because they eat everything from about 4 feet down and everything else on top is in full bloom. Looks like a lollipop.
LESLIE: Oh, they eat everything.
Maria, I hear you. Just get them out of the porch, clean everything that you can and then be sure to seal and fill any holes or openings or tears in the screens. Hopefully, they never come back.
TOM: Well, April is National Safe Digging Month and a good time to remind motivated do-it-yourselfers to call 811 before picking up a shovel. Leslie explains why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I feel like 811 is something that a lot of homeowners are still sort of learning about, which is really a surprise. Because 811, it’s a federally-mandated phone number. And it’s been designed by the FCC to consolidate all of those local call-before-you-dig numbers.
Now, keep in mind, guys, there’s millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of our Earth and these are vital to everyday living. It’s like your water, electricity, even your natural gases. And 811 is going to help homeowners and professionals avoid damaging these vital utilities.
Now, the call and the service are both free. You just have to make the call a few days before you plan on doing the digging. Tell the operator where you’re planning to dig. Your local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig. And they’re going to send techs to your site and mark the location of any buried lines, with flags or paint. And it is all at no cost to you.
Keep in mind though, guys, if you don’t call them and you do some digging and you hit something, whatever damage that you may cause is of cost to you. So it pays to make that free call to 811. Really, guys, whether you are planning a new addition or just installing a fence post, make sure you call before you dig and keep everybody safe.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Well, this has probably happened to you at least once or twice: you’re standing in your shower, you’re enjoying the warm water when all of a sudden, yikes, the water turns freezing cold or scalding hot. We call that “shower shock” and we’re going to tackle that topic and deliver solutions, 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.
(Copyright 2017 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.)