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 we are in the anti-money-pit business. That’s right. If you feel like you’ve got a money pit, all you’ve got to do is pick up the phone and call that number, 888-MONEY-PIT, and we will help you get you out of money-pit status. We’re going to help you turn your house from house to home to castle, with a few, simple, home improvement projects or maybe even a big one or two that you need some help getting started with or finishing. Maybe you’re stuck in the middle of it. Pick up the phone and give us a call; we are here to get it done. The number is 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, a kitchen makeover offers one of the biggest returns on your home improvement investments. But renovating your kitchen can also be pretty expensive. That’s why we’ve got tips on how to do a makeover of your kitchen by spending just a few dollars but getting major results.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you think that dead or brown grass is just going to be the norm for you this summer, think again. Because there’s some new research out there that could lead to drought-resistant grass that’s going to put an end to your brown lawn this summer. We’ve got those details, coming up.
TOM: And speaking of grass, we love to look at it but we don’t like to mow it so much. And that may not be part of your weekend chore just yet but you may be surprised at what Americans are doing while they’re mowing. There’s a new survey out from the experts at Consumer Reports. Peter Sawchuk, the lead tester, is going to join us with his findings on the best lawn mowers, including a really interesting statistic on what people are doing while they’re mowing their grass. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s not listening to an iPod.
LESLIE: Well, they might be doing that but they’re also doing some other things, which …
TOM: They’re sipping on something they shouldn’t be sipping on, in a surprisingly high number. We’re going to talk to Peter about that, in just a bit.
And we’ve got a great prize we’re giving away.
LESLIE: That’s right. We are giving away a fantastic prize pack from ODL, worth $117. And we’re giving you some Add-On Door Blinds, which is great and you can probably cover a front and a back door with this great package.
TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Jim in Georgia with a plumbing question. What can we do for you today?
JIM: Yeah, I do. Listen, I do a lot of remodeling. We have rental homes and we buy them in disrepair. We’re doing everything in basically in CPVC in the house and PVC to the house.
JIM: And you guys recommended PEX and I walk by PEX in the hardware store all the time and never consider it.
JIM: Can you give me some advice on it? What are your thoughts on PEX compared to CPVC?
TOM: Well, I think it’s a very convenient product because it’s easy to run. I mean you run PEX like you run wiring. It’s very, very flexible.
And of course, for those that are not familiar with PEX, PEX is short for cross-linked polyethylene, which is a type of plumbing pipe. Easy connections to make, not a lot of specialized equipment, no torches involved. You can take PEX and heat it and stretch it and it’s got memory; it comes right back to the same shape it was before, so it’s really durable stuff. And I just really like working with it. I just think it’s a great product and a lot easier and a lot more durable than other products that are out there. And so for remodeling, it’s perfect because you can twist and turn this stuff and basically get it anywhere you need to go.
LESLIE: Get around things.
JIM: So we don’t have to wait on all those glue joints to dry from all we do. We put in a lot of elbows and Ts and …
TOM: Right. No. Once you put it in, you’re completely good to go. And in fact, you know, with those glue joints, too, if you don’t clean them right, you don’t get them …
LESLIE: It doesn’t stick.
TOM: It doesn’t stick and it leaks. You can develop leaks and there’s no way to fix a broken joint like that; you have to rip out the pipe and put a new piece in.
LESLIE: And the PEX is like a crimping system.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: So it just locks it up.
TOM: If you’re doing a lot of remodeling, I would invest in the tools and I think you’re really going to find that you love this stuff and it’ll be one of those things where you wonder why it took you so long.
JIM: OK. Well, based on that, I’ll give it a try. We’ll see how it goes. I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright, Jim. You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Evy in Ohio is dealing with a concrete garage floor that’s got some issues, to say the least. What’s going on?
EVY: We have a concrete floor and it’s separating from the outside wall.
EVY: The wall does not seem to be bowing on the outside; it’s just coming loose from, supposedly, the wall.
TOM: Yeah. And this is your garage floor, right?
TOM: So let me tell you how these floors are poured. Typically, they use concrete blocks to build the foundation for the garage walls. And the very, very last thing that happens, before the masons head out for life, is they pour the garage floor.
And typically, the garage floors can be poured on soil that’s perhaps not compacted as well, there could have been some construction debris that was tossed in there, it may not have been reinforced properly. But the key here, Evy, is that it’s not a structural problem, generally, when that happens. Could be a problem with the floor itself but think of that concrete as sort of a floor covering over the dirt.
EVY: OK. How do I fix it? Just put QUIKRETE in it or something?
LESLIE: If it’s really bothering you, since there’s nothing structural about this, you can get an epoxy patching compound. Comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes you’ll find it in what looks like a caulking tube; sometimes, it’s in a tub. If you can get it in the caulking tube, go for it because that’ll be the easiest to apply in this situation. And that’s the only thing that’s going to work because that’ll really adhere to the concrete; nothing else will.
EVY: Wonderful. That is awesome. You saved me big bucks. They wanted …
EVY: OK, thank you so much for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome. 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. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, décor, renovation, addition. Whatever you are working on, we are here to help you with those home improvement questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, got 100 bucks? Want to makeover a kitchen? You can. We’ll tell you how, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.
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: And the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and call us right now with your question because one caller that gets on the air with us this hour is going to win the Add-On Door Blinds from ODL. These are worth 117 bucks.
This is a very cool prize if you’re lucky enough to have a front or a back door with glass. You know that it’s great for watching the kids play and letting in lots of light but when the summer sun gets too strong, don’t you wish you had a way to sort of just turn it down a little bit? Well, that’s what the ODL Add-On Blinds allow you to do.
These are blinds that are enclosed behind tempered glass so there’s no dusting, no exposed cords, no swinging and no banging blinds. It basically, as the name suggests, adds on to the existing door.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the coolest thing is that you’re going to get fingertip control to raise and lower the blinds. And the frames on these blinds, you can paint them or you can stain them, so you don’t have to worry about them matching what you’ve got going on with your door already; they just add on and really do a great job.
And they come in two very popular door sizes. You’ve got a half-light at 36 inches and a full-size light at 64 inches, which is what our winner is going to get today. So head on over to ODL.com for more information and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, now it’s time for this week’s Fresh Idea presented by Trewax. And today, we’re going to talk about remodeling your kitchen. You know, that can easily add to the value of your home and provide among the best returns on investment.
But kitchen remodeling can also cost you a bundle of dough and we don’t mean the kind that you make pizzas with. But if you choose products and projects carefully when planning that remodel, you can refresh a room with smart improvements that don’t cost much at all.
For example, why not just change out the cabinet hardware? You can have fun with color, with style and design and you might even consider different hardware for upper and lower cabinets. Another easy upgrade is to simply change out your faucet. New WaterSense fixtures not only look great but they also save you water and money.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Another great idea is to reorganize your cabinets and your countertops by simply adding better storage inside your cabinets. There’s a lot of space available if you plan the use of that space correctly.
Finally, if your kitchen cabinets are simply looking grimy and greasy from years of your cooking adventures, cleaning them can bring new life and you might realize that you don’t need to replace them after all.
At our house, we have solid-cherry cabinets and I use Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner on the cabinets, because it’s safe for wood and even laminate cabinets. It doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals or residue and I’m not the only one who loves it. It actually earned the Good Housekeeping Magazine’s seal of approval.
And that is your Trewax Fresh Idea of the week.
TOM: To learn more about the Trewax All-Natural Floor Cleaner and other Trewax products, head on over to their website at Trewax.com. That’s T-r-e-w-a-x.com.
LESLIE: Jim in Ohio, you’ve got the Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JIM: Well, thanks for taking my call. I have a house I purchased about 11 years ago and when I purchased it, there was a small crack in the basement wall at the top cinder blocks and along my back wall and my side wall.
And it really hasn’t moved for a number of years and then, recently, I noticed that on my one side wall, the very top blocks, the gap is starting to get bigger and they’re actually starting to lean out. And what worries me the most is there is a metal beam that one of them is under and it’s leaning on that. And so I’m just kind of wondering what type of fix or what – who do I get to look at it? A basement person or what?
TOM: Yeah. Well, not a basement contractor. You have two options. I would suggest either a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Because if you’ve got a visible crack or a serious crack like that, you really need to make sure it’s evaluated by a professional because when it comes time to sell your house, Jim, you want to be able to say that you had a report done and this was the diagnosis.
And in the worse-case scenario, if it turns out that you need a repair, at that point you would only be working with a structural engineer who would specify what has to happen, step by step. Then you’d have a contractor make the repair, you’d have the engineer come back and recertify that it was done correctly and then that becomes sort of a pedigree so that if you go to put the house on the market and anybody sees that you’ve got a crack in the basement, you could say, “Hey, I saw that. I was concerned. I hired a structural engineer. He or she designed a repair. I had a contractor do it and then the engineer certified that it was done correctly.” And if I saw that as a professional home inspector for a potential buyer, I would be completely satisfied.
JIM: OK, great. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright? So that’s the way to handle it.
JIM: Thanks very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Oklahoma needs some help in the garden. How can we help you today?
JUDY: Yes, I bought a place that was – a house that was moved out into a pasture and it’s been 30 years and I have been fighting pasture grass. I’ve got about probably 6 to 8 inches of soil and after that, it’s just nothing but clay.
JUDY: And I just can’t get rid of the pasture grass to get a green grass growing. I put out Bermuda grass seeds and some of it grows but it’s just killed out by the weeds.
TOM: Have you considered trying to use Roundup on that pasture grass?
LESLIE: Just to kill it?
TOM: Let me tell you that when you have wild vegetation like that, if you were to spray Roundup on that entire surface, what you’ll find is that you can spray that and literally, a week or so later, you can plant seeds right through the Roundup. And the pasture grass will die off, yet it will still sort of hold the seeds in place and the new grass will come up around it because the grass seed is not affected by the Roundup.
JUDY: Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s called Roundup restoration. I actually did it to an entire lawn once. Really freaked out my neighbors because …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You had a lot of success with it, though.
TOM: I had a lot of success but the whole lawn went dead at the same time. It looked like the whole house was nuked or something. But I tell you, it works great. The grass seed comes up through the old grass, totally weed-free. It’s fairly thin the first year but you’ve got to make sure that you’re set up to water it because it’s going to need a lot of water.
But I’ll tell you, the best time to do it is the fall because this way you have a full year for the roots to really take hold or at least nine months until the summer comes, when it really is easily dried out. So, best time to do this is in fall and you want to do a restoration of the whole surface, OK?
JUDY: OK. OK, great.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project.
JUDY: I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Ron who needs some help with insulation. What can we do for you today?
RON: Well, I was – I’ve had radiant barrier-type stuff – it’s called E-Barrier from Sherwin Williams – sprayed on my roof decking. And I have R-38 insulation and I was just wondering if it would be cost-effective to add anymore insulation to the R-38 factor I have already.
TOM: It sounds like you’ve got enough.
TOM: So R-38, you have, what about – well, let me think about this. You’ve got, what, about …
RON: Fifteen-and-a-half inches.
RON: Yeah, 15 inches of …
TOM: It’s batt? Is it batt or is it blown-in?
RON: It’s blown-in.
TOM: Oh, it’s blown-in. Well …
TOM: And typically you want 19 inches of batt or 22 inches of blown-in. So you probably, if you’ve got the room, could add a little bit more blown-in and still get some return on investment.
RON: OK. And one other question, though. How about foam insulation? How does that stack up to the other type: the blown-in?
TOM: Well, at this point, you’re already committed on the fiberglass blown-in, so I would not switch to a foam product. But if you were starting from scratch, it’s a good product.
TOM: You’re talking about the expandable products like an Icynene product. Typically used more so in new construction than a remodeling application. But they’re good products, they do a good job and they also seal out drafts, as well as insulate at the same time.
RON: Alrighty. Well, I appreciate your time.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Audra in New York has a question about a koi pond. Tell us what’s going on.
AUDRA: Hi. I have a 2000-gallon koi pond with a small filter on it. Have some fish in there but I’m really having a hard time keeping the algae down, so I wanted to know how to treat it without killing my fish.
LESLIE: Which is always a good question.
TOM: So hard to explain that to the kids.
LESLIE: I think what’s important here is – you may have even answered this yourself when you said you have a 2000-gallon koi pond and a small filter.
Now, the reason why you keep getting algae forming in the koi pond is algae forms when the nutrient levels get too high in your koi pond, causing the algae to bloom. And the nutrients come from two places: one being the koi food and then the second, of course, being the koi waste themselves. You know, they have to go to the bathroom and they have to eat.
So what happens is the filter acts as the remover of the koi waste and then the food residue from the water, to keep those nutrient levels sort of normal or low. Now, when the filter is not doing its job properly, you’re going to get a higher level of the nutrients and then you’re going to see the algae blooming.
So what you need to do is you need to make sure that you have an appropriately-sized filter for the pond size, which might not be the right thing. And if you’re in the market for a new filter anyway – if you find out that it’s not properly sized for the amount of fish, for the amount of water, whatever it might be – you want to make sure that you’ve got a mechanical filter, which is going to remove the waste and the debris and then get it sort of trapped in the fiber. Then you want to make sure that the filter itself has an area that can manage chemical filtration, so that you can add something to the filter that will help to adjust the levels in the pond.
And then some filters are even available with a UV light, which is great because what that’ll do is that’ll kill any sort of floating algae or bacteria before it even enters the main filter. So all of these three parts sort of work together to help you create a clear environment. Because a koi pond, I mean they’re gorgeous and they’re supposed to really reflect all the hard work that you put into it. And if you can’t sort of manage the levels, it’s just going to look not so great.
Julian in Louisiana needs help with some siding. What can we do for you today?
JULIAN: Yes, ma’am. I was calling to find out what the best type of product or what can I use to clean my vinyl siding?
TOM: Well, what’s going on with the vinyl siding? Is it covered with moss or …?
JULIAN: I’ve been having it, oh, for over a year now and I just want to do a little spring cleaning on it, kind of get it back looking new again.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, OxiClean is probably a good choice.
JULIAN: And I heard something. Some guy told me something about Murphy’s Oil Soap; you make a mixture of water and spray it on and (inaudible at 0:18:06).
TOM: Oh, I’m not aware of that for vinyl siding but usually there’s a – there are various types of house-wash products. Because what gets on vinyl siding is you get dust and dirt and pollution from the air; sometimes you get moss that will stick to it or mildew. And usually, an oxygenated bleach works very well, like OxiClean or a product like JOMAX.
And you want to saturate it, let it sit for a few minutes and then gently rinse it off. You don’t want to – if you use a pressure washer, that’s OK; that’ll save some time but don’t go too stiff on the pressure or you could actually poke some holes in it.
JULIAN: So the OxiClean – you mix the OxiClean with water and then use that as like a washing or a scrubbing compound or …?
TOM: Yep. That’s correct. And if you have a pressure washer, there are also special detergents that work with the machines to clean siding. So if you have one or you rent one, that’s another way to go, as well.
JULIAN: OK, great. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, have you ever been guilty of an MUI? That’s mowing under the influence. We hope not but apparently, it’s not that unusual, says a new survey from Consumer Reports. We’ll have that result, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Mowing the lawn might seem like a chore most of you would rather avoid but according to a new Consumer Reports survey, nearly a third of those asked found mowing the lawn to be a relaxing activity, good exercise or even quality, private time.
LESLIE: That I kind of get but what was a little tougher to swallow, literally, was that close to 10 percent of those surveyed drink and mow at the same time.
TOM: Oh, no.
LESLIE: Now, that could kind of be dangerous because don’t folks know that you’re not supposed to operate heavy machinery while you’re under the influence of anything? I mean you’ve got toes to think about.
TOM: Yes. Hot weather, sharp, flying blades of steel and alcohol, what’s wrong with that? Here to tell us is Peter Sawchuk. He is the lead test engineer from Consumer Reports.
PETER: Hey. Yeah, definitely. No drinking while driving.
TOM: Yes. You could be busted for MUI: mowing under the influence.
TOM: Well, all kidding aside, you guys have done a lot of work, once again, on testing all of the mowers that are coming in across the country. It is the mowing season. For those of you that have ignored this, you cannot ignore it anymore. The neighbors are going to start to complain.
If you’re going to get out and buy a mower right now, what’s the best approach? What’s state-of-the-art in the industry, Peter?
PETER: OK. Well, let me kind of jump to the bottom line; let me start with walk mowers. There’s a Honda mower. Clearly, the Honda HRX at $700, best mower out there. Most of us don’t want to pay $700 but I’ve got to tell you that the Toro – the Toro Recycler, the 20332 at $350; get it at Home Depot, get it at a Toro dealer – that’s the best value in a lawn mower out there.
LESLIE: Now, you instantly start out with the best mower out there but say you’re just like me, the average homeowner, with a small yard. What’s really the best approach to choosing one, besides thinking about price point? It feels so overwhelming when you step into a center that sells lawn mowers, because there are so many varieties. How do you know what the best choice for your home is?
PETER: Again, one size makes a difference and you need to decide whether you want a self-propelled mower – and we’re talking about walk mowers – or whether you want a push mower. And in some cases, people want an electric-powered – a battery-powered – mower. So that’s probably the first choice: am I going to do push or am I going to go self-propelled?
And if you go self-propelled, it is going to be more expensive. And generally, the rule of thumb is if you mow your lawn – if you’re behind the mower more than about half an hour, you’re going to want a self-propelled mower.
LESLIE: OK. That makes sense.
TOM: Now, is that because of the battery life?
PETER: No, no. It has nothing to do with the battery life. It’s just that a self-propelled, walk-behind mower just makes the chore a lot easier.
LESLIE: It’s a pleasure to mow the lawn; it really is. When I was growing up, we did not have a lawn mower and any time I was at a friend’s house and their parents were mowing the lawn, I’d ask to help. And everyone thought I was crazy; it’s actually a fun chore.
TOM: Hey, I made all my spending money mowing lawns. That was my summer job, as it is for so many young people growing up.
We’re talking to Peter Sawchuk – he’s the lead test engineer for Consumer Reports – about the latest mower surveys that they’ve done.
Now, Peter, one of the top performers that you found was the Black & Decker in the cordless-mower category and that also has self-propelling wheels. Talk to us about that machine.
PETER: Well, that’s the first time we’ve seen that. Now, that Black & Decker has been a top-rated unit and they’ve come out with self-propelled and they did a really good job. It’s got a speed control that you can adjust the speed on it and it’s a pretty good mower. It’s a little pricey at $450 but if you’re interested in a battery-powered unit, that is a unit that’s a lot quieter. You do trade off some cutting performance. That’s your best choice.
LESLIE: Now, what about if you have a lot of interesting plantings around the yard and you’ve got a lot of stuff to maneuver around? Have there been some advancements as far as turn radius, so that you’re not running over your gorgeous landscaping?
PETER: Well, certainly in walk-behind mowers, going with a smaller mower – there are some 19-inch mowers out there – that would be an advantage if you have tight spaces to mow around.
Certainly if you are into a riding mower, they’ve made some significant advances in the ability of those riding mowers to turn sharply and maneuver in and around tight areas.
TOM: Now, Craftsman did pretty well in your surveys this year. What did you like about the Craftsman products?
PETER: Well, let me talk specifically about the lawn tractors. They’ve come up with a tighter-turning lawn tractor. Their lawn tractors turn as tight as these more expensive four-wheel steers in a lot of the ZTR units.
A good example now – very popular – is this John Deere unit. The John Deere, it’s now called the D110 and $1,700. Very popular. Lowes, Home Depot, you can buy it. There’s a Craftsman unit that we tested; it’s a 28856. At $1,600, its cutting performance is identical to that of the Deere. Actually, it puts a little more clippings in the bag but it comes with a twin-cylinder engine, a better seat on it and it’s got that tighter turning that the Deere doesn’t have, all for $100 less.
TOM: Wow. That’s terrific. I tell you, you can’t beat the Craftsman ingenuity.
PETER: Yeah. So that’s really a better value than the Deere.
TOM: Peter, I see you as the Jay Leno of lawn mowers. You have this immense garage and you choose one of 15 or 20 different mowers every time you want to take a ride around your yard.
PETER: Well, I’ve got to be perfectly honest with you. I have a service doing my yard now.
TOM: Yeah, well, you work with these things all week long; you don’t want to see them on the weekend. I could certainly understand that.
Peter, what surprised you about your latest findings, in terms of what consumers think about the process of mowing lawns?
PETER: Well, I did find it interesting. There’s a certain group of people who you suspect don’t like to mow lawns, as well as another group that do. And certainly, what we’re trying to do – or my job – is to try and get the best mower out there for you, so you pick the right mower in all of these numbers that you have to work with.
TOM: Well, you’ve certainly provided us great information and lots of terrific options. Peter Sawchuk, the lead test engineer from Consumer Reports, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
To read the full report, you should subscribe to Consumer Reports. You can also visit them online at ConsumerReports.org.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks, Peter.
Still ahead, guys: you know, a brown lawn, it doesn’t have to be a necessary part of your summer. It could actually be a thing of the past, with some new, drought-resistant grass seed. We’re going to tell you more, 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. And you should give us a call today at 888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We’ve got, up for grabs, an Add-On Door Blind from our friends over at ODL and it’s worth $117.
Now, the ODL Add-On Blinds, what’s great about them is that the blind itself is sort of enclosed behind tempered glass, so the blind – you never have to dust it, there’s no exposed cords, there’s no swinging, there’s no banging blinds every time you open and close that door.
TOM: Plus, you get fingertip control to raise and lower the blinds. You can have a full view or you can tilt the blinds to any angle to control the amount of light or the amount of privacy that the blind delivers. It’s a very easy DIY project to install, as well.
Now, two of the most popular door sizes are available: that’s 36 inches or a full 64 inches. You can visit ODL.com for more info and one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the full door-glass size. So give us a call; that could be you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to help you out with whatever it is that you are working on.
And being that we’re about a month shy of the official start of summer – maybe a month-and-a-half; I’m having a hard time with my calendar from here – but just because summer is super-duper hot, it doesn’t mean that once you sort of get into the heat of summer and you end up with those watering restrictions that the towns always enforce due to a lack of rain, it really doesn’t mean that you have to have a dead, brown lawn, because researchers have been working on drought-resistant grass. And the idea is growing in popularity among homeowners who really enjoy having a healthy lawn but still want to save water. I mean that’s really everybody out there.
Now, the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance, they want to save billions of gallons of water each year by creating awareness of our nation’s growing, water-resource concern.
TOM: Now, one thing that the Turfgrass folks are working on is a Good Housekeeping-style stamp of approval on plants and other living products. If you utilize the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance-endorsed products, you can save time, you can save money and you can help conserve water. So look for the TWCA endorsement on whatever lawn and landscaping material you choose to use. It’s one way that you can know for sure that the product really does what it claims: it uses less water, it saves you money and also helps to save the planet.
LESLIE: Frank in North Carolina is dealing with carpenter bees. Tell us about the problem.
FRANK: Well, I was walking around outside the side of my house one afternoon and all of a sudden I was buzzed by about six or seven of these – they looked like …
LESLIE: Giant monsters?
FRANK: Yeah, giant.
TOM: They’re like low-flying attack helicopters, aren’t they?
FRANK: Attack helicopters. I don’t know. Some people said they really are bumblebees but I call them carpenter bees.
LESLIE: Well, the carpenter bee has the black bottom. Correct, Tom?
TOM: Yeah. And the thing is – you know why they’re so aggressive? Because they can’t bite.
FRANK: They can’t bite?
TOM: They can’t sting you. No.
FRANK: They’ve never stung me and I …
TOM: Right, they can’t. They’re physically unable to do that, so they just kind of freak you out by flying around your face. What they’ll do is they’ll drill up into the fascia and the soffits and the soft wood around the house. And they’ll go in across the grain, then they’ll go with the grain, sort of deep in for a few inches, and lay eggs. And they can be tough. We’ve had carpenter bees on fascia areas around my house and …
LESLIE: We have them on soffits all the time.
TOM: And eventually I just tore out the wood fascia and replaced it with AZEK, which is a PVC – extruded PVC trim product.
FRANK: How do you – what is that? A …?
TOM: A-Z-E-K. It looks just like 1×6 wood fascia but it’s made out of plastic and it’s incredibly durable stuff and not that expensive.
LESLIE: And they don’t like to eat it.
TOM: They hate it, yeah. When I first put it up, the bees would swarm around it and I could just see that they’re going, “Hmm, looks like wood. Doesn’t taste like wood.”
FRANK: “It must not be wood.”
TOM: Yeah. So you can treat them, you can spray for them but they end up coming back every year, so I just gave up and then decided – went with the AZEK and it worked great.
FRANK: Well, thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Frank. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Delise (sp) is calling in from Hot Springs, Arkansas. What can we do for you today?
DELISE (sp): Hi, Tom and Leslie. I’m calling about – we just bought a large amount of ChrisWood furniture and I was reading about the off-gassing of formaldehyde from that and I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to how we can minimize the health risks to us.
TOM: Well, generally, I think you want to vent it. Right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And first of all, welcome from New Zealand. I don’t know how long you’ve been in the states but welcome aboard.
With new furnishings, you’re right; a lot of the finishes do have formaldehyde. It will off-gas and it will off-gas for a bit of time. You’re also going to find formaldehyde in new cushions for certain types of upholstered furnishings. You’re also going to find it in carpeting. So you have to be really careful about when you bring this into your home.
Generally, with a new piece of furniture, if you’ve got a garage or some area that is covered from the elements, that can give it some time to circulate and off-gas, I would leave it there for a week. Let it …
DELISE (sp): A week?
LESLIE: Yeah, I would let it completely off-gas before bringing it into my home.
Now, if I was putting in wall-to-wall carpeting – and we did this when I was pregnant with my son. We put it in the baby’s room and we spoke to the showroom that was installing the carpet for us. And I asked them specifically to unroll that piece of carpet that was going to be installed in my house in some sort of warehouse area for three days to a week, whatever they would accommodate, to allow it to off-gas outside of our home. Because new carpets have that smell and that’s exactly what it is.
Now, they could have been blowing smoke up my you-know-what but they told me they did it and I noticed that there was not an odor. So you really do have to be careful because it is in a lot of things.
DELISE (sp): OK, well that sounds great. We can do that.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to teach you how to harvest rainwater so that you can water your lawn and your garden when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. That’s coming up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, 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.
TOM: And you can head on over to The Money Pit’s Community section and post a question to you if you don’t choose to dial it in to 888-MONEY-PIT. Bonnie did that from Nevada City, California.
Let’s take that one first, Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright. Bonnie posted: “My gutter is leaking at a corner, right above the front entry. I’ve noticed a small hole and I’ve tried to caulk it but it still seems to leak. Is it possible the seam is leaking, as well? Is it possible to fix this leak myself with more caulk? If so, which kind?”
TOM: Caulk it. Caulk it. Caulking is the solution to everything. No, only kidding.
Listen, Bonnie, in – with the gutter system, what you want to do is make sure you clean it really, really well. I would use a bleach-and-water solution to make sure you get rid of all the mildew and the mold and the gunk that’s in there. Clean it, let it dry very well and then use silicone caulk, the same kind of caulk that you might choose to use around a bathtub or a kitchen sink. It doesn’t have to be pretty and it’s hard to make it pretty, I will tell you, because the silicone does not behave.
But just smear it in there across the hole; get it in the seam. They definitely both could be leaking and that really should solve it. And the silicone, if it’s clean, will last you several years if you just make sure it’s clean before you put it on the first time.
LESLIE: And Bonnie, the reason why gutters really do start to leak over time is that they just become loose. So while you’re up there, check all of the connections and make sure it’s really secure to your roofing surface. You want to check if the spikes are backing out or they don’t seem to be doing their job. You can use gutter screws, which will really hold it in place for a long time.
Give the gutters a good cleaning, caulk everywhere you can, make sure those downspouts are free-flowing and you’ll be in good shape for a while.
TOM: Well, when it rains, it pours. But when it doesn’t rain, your lawn and garden can really suffer. Leslie has the solution, however, for some ways to save water for a not-so-rainy day, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. We all love the look of a beautiful, green garden and a beautiful, lush lawn but we don’t always have the water that we need to keep it looking that way. So if you live in a drought-prone area or you know that you’re going to have some restrictions as far as watering is concerned, a rainwater collection system, it’s a great way to reduce those water costs associated with keeping your lawn and garden looking green.
Now, a rainwater collection system, it’s going to gather all of that water that sort of falls off your roof and collect it into some sort of device, like a barrel or a special container. And then you can use that to water your lawn on a not-so-rainy day.
Now, when you think about it, because it’s hitting your roof, most roofing materials, they’re going to be safe for contact with water that you can use for your outdoor watering chores. But keep this in mind: if you’ve got a vegetable garden or an herb garden, you want to plan to water those areas from another source. Because some roofing materials – like asphalt shingles, which we know are very popular – can leach toxins that shouldn’t come in contact with food. So you don’t want to put that on your vegetable or your herb gardens.
Now, think about your gutters because gutters, piping and downspouts, they are going to carry all of that rainwater to your collection barrel. And gutters that are kept clean and in good repair will help you get the most out of every single drop of rainfall. But you need to be aware of your gutter’s construction.
Now, gutters with soldered seams are typically older and they might leach lead into that water. So for best results, you want to get a container – you know, a collection barrel – that’s made especially for rainwater collection. And these are usually made of toxin-free resin, they’re concrete or they’re fiberglass and they’re going to have really thick walls that can hold up to temperature changes and then really inhibit algae or mildew growth that’s going to happen on the interior.
Now, most storage tanks come equipped with a spigot to which, then, you can easily rig up a hose or a garden soaker for your watering chores. So go ahead and harvest all of that rainwater so you’ll have an endless supply for your lawn and garden and make your neighbors jealous on a really sunny day.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Coming up next week on The Money Pit, it’s Murphy’s Law, Leslie, that when your air-conditioning system goes kaput, it’s always on the hottest day of the year.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: Well, one way to avoid that breakdown is by making sure that you maintain it properly, well before the summer heat sets in. We’re going to have tips to do just that, 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 2011 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.)