- Environmentally-Friendly Concrete: A new carbon-eating concrete will make truly green buildings possible.We’ll discuss this new earth-friendly construction material.
- Space Heaters: Would you like to warm up a chilly area of your home? We share innovations in space heaters that can increase your comfort like never before.
- Stink Bugs: It’s stink bug season, when these creepy pests try to head indoors. We’ll share tips on how to keep stink bugs from invading your home.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Hard Water: What is the best system to use if you’ve got hard water in your home? We’ll tell Brian why a traditional salt-based water conditioner is better than a salt-free type to treat his whole house.
- Cement Stains: The uncovered portion of Linda’s cement porch is peeling and looks terrible. We suggest a product she can use that’s quick, easy, durable, and much more attractive than repainting the cement surface.
- Roofing: Randy wants to know if his metal roof is ventilated well enough after the contractor removed some vents. We reassure him that it should be fine with the proper insulation and venting already in place.
- Countertops: Is it possible to smooth down the surface of a countertop with a leathered texture? Ann finds out that a granite countertop would be easier to replace, but she may be able to refinish a laminate surface.
- Home Improvement ROI: Tom wants to know how to calculate the return on investment of home improvements. We discuss the cost vs. value analysis to determine ROI.
- Water Heaters: Is a tankless water heater a good option? Pete finds out that tankless water heaters are dependable, affordable, and offer high energy efficiency.
- Windows: Should you try to repair old double-pane windows that won’t open or close properly anymore? Donna would be better off replacing her 20-year-old windows instead of trying costly or ineffective repairs.
- Heating: Bob is trying to decide between natural gas heat or oil heat. With oil prices rising, natural gas heat is a good optionthat’s more efficient and more affordable, with rebates and free utility installation often available.
- Pocket Doors: The sliding pocket doors in James’ bathroom are starting to wear out. We’ll share tips on how to lubricate the rollers or remove the doors to replace the mechanisms.
- Concrete Stains: Trees are dropping acorns that are staining the concrete driveway. Gail will need a bleach solution and a scrub brush to stay ahead of the dark stains.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for you. We are sort of your home improvement experts. We are your coach, your counselor. We are your home improvement therapist when things are not going so well. And if you’ve got problems or you’ve got projects or you’ve got questions, well, reach out to us and we will do our best to help. The way you do that is by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask, click the blue microphone button – it’s pretty much on every page – and record your question. And then we will answer you the next time we produce our show. Or you could also call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, the number-one building material in the world is concrete. But did you know the cement in concrete is actually a big contributor to CO2 emissions? Well, now there’s a brand-new product on the market that’s coming out. It’s called a carbon-eating concrete block. It’s just weeks away from commercial use. We’re going to share the details on this big step forward toward creating truly green buildings.
LESLIE: And also ahead, do you have a chilly room or maybe two in the house that just doesn’t seem to ever feel that comfortable? Well, we’re going to share a new technology in space heaters that can make that discomfort disappear. And it looks pretty darn good, too.
TOM: And speaking of being chilly out, you know who doesn’t want to be outside? Stinkbugs. They’re coming in now in big numbers. This is the season when they really invade our space looking for warmth. So we’re going to share a very sweet way to stop them from getting in, as well as a stink-free way to get rid of them if they’ve already joined your nest.
LESLIE: And they look so weird and prehistoric. It’s so strange.
TOM: They do.
LESLIE: It’s like those and cave crickets. Weird bugs that stuck around. How odd.
But first, guys, what are you working on this chilly fall weekend? Let us help you make your money pit the best home ever. So give us a call, reach out however which way you like with all of your questions so we can lend a hand.
TOM: And if you do, we’ve got a handy set of Arrow 5-in-1 Staple Guns to give away to one caller drawn at random. So let’s get to it. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Brian in Delaware is on the line looking for a water-softening solution.
Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: I have hard water in my house. I need a conditioning system. I don’t know a ton about them. I know there’s a salt-based system that has been around forever and I need to research some ionized-type systems. I’m not sure which one is the best route to go.
TOM: So, if you’ve got hard water, that’s really tough to live with because it is not good on your clothes. It doesn’t feel good on your skin. It always feels like you came out of a salt-water bath when you take a shower.
LESLIE: And you can’t get the soap off of yourself. It’s terrible.
TOM: Right. Yeah. Shampoo and soap. It doesn’t suds up, right?
So, you’re right: you are going to need a water softener. And there are two types, generally. A salt-type water softener, which is traditional and has been around for a long time and it works really, really well – basically, the way a salt-based system works is it uses sodium to reduce the mineral concentrations. And in particular, it gets rid of the calcium and the magnesium that is what could damage your plumbing system or your boiler or your skin or your hair. It’s also really bad when you have a tankless system, because the tankless tubes are really, really small and they can get caked up with the hard water.
So, salt-based systems are good. They’re tried and true. There’s a misconception that using a salt-based water softener adds sodium to your drinking water. It really doesn’t. It’s a chemistry thing. Just take my word for it; it doesn’t do that.
The other option, of course, is salt-free. What that really does is it crystallizes. It doesn’t remove those minerals. It crystallizes them so that, theoretically, they won’t be embedded into the water. The best way to think about is if – you know when you have magnets and you try to touch the positive side against the positive side of another one, it bounces it away? That’s kind of what it does: it charges the hard-water particles and causes them to repel each other. So, you don’t have that persistent feeling of the hard water in the water.
But in terms of the entire house, generally, I would use those if I had maybe a smaller house. But if I had a whole home and I was dealing with this, I would definitely use a salt-based system. So I think that’s the best solution.
LESLIE: Heading over to Alabama where we’ve got Linda on the line.
How can we help you today?
LINDA: A couple years ago, we stained our porch with some – well, it was a dark stain. We had etched it before and then we put a polyurethane on top. Now, part of this porch is not under cover but the majority of it is. Well, the stuff is peeling off, looks terrible. So what we want to do is get this mess off and maybe use some cement paint. Just paint it with cement paint.
TOM: So I’ve got some other suggestions for you that would be much more attractive than paint. There’s a manufacturer that makes products for covering concrete that look like stone because they actually have stone built into them.
LINDA: Oh, OK.
TOM: And they’re absolutely built beautiful. They have a terrazzo version of it, they have a product called RollerRock, they have a product called SpreadRock.
I would take a look at DaichCoatings.com. It’s D-a-i-c-h-C-o-a-t-i-n-g-s – DaichCoatings.com. These products work really, really well. We’re getting great feedback on them, especially this terrazzo product, which is just gorgeous. You could apply this terrazzo product literally in an afternoon and be ready to walk on it the next day. And it’s going to look a heck of a lot better than paint and it really stands up.
LINDA: OK. Now, what do you do to prepare for that?
TOM: There’s going to be instructions with all of these products. But basically, you have to get off the loose paint that’s there, whatever the material is you put before. If it’s binding, if it’s stuck in there and not coming off, then it’s fine. But if it’s loose and flaky, all the loose stuff has to come off. And there’s also some products that they offer that you can use to clean those surfaces and etch the surfaces before you actually apply the product. So follow the instructions.
Again, go to DaichCoatings.com. Check them out. We’ve worked with these guys for many years. They’re really, really good at this stuff. And I think you’ll be surprised with all the options you have.
LINDA: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.
LINDA: OK. Thank you.
LESLIE: Randy in Missouri is on the line.
Now, Randy, you’ve got some questions about a new metal roof. Alright, what’s going on over there?
RANDY: Yeah. I had a metal roof put on. A few years ago, we decided – my wife and I decided to go with a metal roof.
RANDY: The contractor came and the first thing he wanted to do is take out the two whirlybirds on top of my roof.
RANDY: Does that sound – do you know what that – I guess you know what that means.
TOM: I know what it is, yeah. It’s a vent. And it was the right thing to do.
RANDY: He covered up the two holes of the whirlybirds and now I have nothing. There’s no ventilation to the top at all. My two outside vents …
RANDY: They were there when I built the house. Is that safe or is that …?
TOM: So, you’re talking about the gable vents at the ends of the building?
RANDY: Right. Yes. Yes.
TOM: That’s what you have now? Yeah.
So look, first of all, I will tell you that what you’re calling that whirlybird – that vent that spins on top of the roof – is the least efficient, least effective vent you could’ve possibly have had. So I wouldn’t think twice about covering those up, period, because they really just don’t do that much.
Now, if your attic is really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, you know, it might be that you need additional venting. Now that you have a metal roof, I would’ve told you to put in a ridge vent down the peak of that roof. But the fact that you don’t have one now is not kind of a dealbreaker. Just make sure that if you don’t have it, that you add this and add soffit vents at the overhang, where the roof overhangs the exterior wall. Because you want to let air in low and then exhaust it up high.
RANDY: I think I do have some of that soffit – has holes in it.
TOM: Yep. With holes in it, yes.
RANDY: But the insulation runs right up to it.
TOM: Right. So the solution there, Randy, is something called an “insulation baffle.” It’s kind of like a cardboard sleeve or a foam sleeve and it’s designed to be pressed underneath the roof sheathing, right up against that exterior wall frame. So it sort of pushes the insulation down, squishes it on purpose right where those vents are. And this way, the ventilation gets past that insulation and works its way up into the roof. Because the air that blows across – the wind blows across your house and it blows in those soffit vents and it will go up in that attic space and exit at those gable vents that you have on the end.
So I don’t think you lost any efficiency taking out those whirlybird vents. I only suggest that you install these baffles to make sure that your soffit vents have the access that they need to do the job.
RANDY: OK. Well, that answered my questions.
LESLIE: Whatever you are working on, reach out so we can lend a hand. Plus, we’re maybe going to give away an awesome prize to you. That’s right. This hour, one lucky Money Pit listener is going to get a set of two Arrow 5-in-1 Manual Staple and Nail Guns. And you can keep one and give the other one away as a gift. I mean this is like regifting at its finest, you guys. It’s like …
TOM: But it’s not regifting the worst gift you got.
TOM: It’s like regifting the cool stuff. The good stuff. Right.
LESLIE: I know. It’s the best. I guess you could always keep two for yourself.
TOM: You could.
LESLIE: But you don’t need to.
TOM: Well, you would. I know you – when you’re holiday decorating, you could use two guns, so to speak.
LESLIE: Yep. Double-handed. That’s right. I’m totally at it. They’re really awesome. The T501 is such a great multipurpose tool for a ton of projects, like crafting, wire stapling, light carpentry, all the perfect holiday stuff. So definitely reach out with a question, guys, and get a great gift for yourself and a perfect one for your buddies.
TOM: They’re worth 86 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or go to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: We’ve got Anne in Texas on the line with a question about a countertop.
Tell us what’s going on.
ANNE: I wondered if my countertop, if I could – they have a leather look to them and I would like to have them smoothed down. Is that something that can be done since they’re already installed or do they have – do I have to change them out?
LESLIE: Anne, if this is a leathered-look granite, which is a very specific finish to give it that sort of rippled texture – I don’t think it actually looks like leather. It just looks like it has a very matte sheen and a lot of texture to it. I don’t think you can smooth that down at all, especially if it’s installed. This is something that would have to go through extensive machinery to be smoothed and resurfaced completely.
TOM: It’d probably be cheaper to replace it completely than it would be to smooth out what you have.
TOM: If it turns out that it’s not granite, you just have a leather pattern – just, say, a laminate – there are great countertop-finishing kits out there that use real stone. There’s one called SpreadStone, which is a countertop kit that when you apply it, it takes about a weekend and it gives you a good-looking top. It’s heat-resistant. It’s water-resistant.
But again, you can only use it on laminate. If this is granite and it has that textured, rough pattern, then no. You cannot, definitely, smooth it out.
So, wish we had better news for you but that’s the situation, Anne. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Tom in New Jersey is on the line and has a question about return on investments when it comes to projects. And it’s not you, Tom. We actually have a Tom.
What’s going on?
TOM IN NEW JERSEY: I hear you talking about return on investment when it comes to renovations. And for example, if you say a big bathroom has a 50-percent return on investment for a renovation, I assume that means that if you sell your home, you’re going to get back 50 percent of what you put into that – extra on that bathroom. In other words, different than [what it looks like] (ph) in the world of finance, where if someone says you’re getting a 50-percent return on investment, you would get back your – the full capital that you put up front plus another 50 percent. So I don’t know, is the definition different when talking about renovation budgets?
TOM: That is a really excellent question, Tom. And yeah, what it means is kind of how you first described it. In other words, if we say that a bathroom gives you a 50 percent return on your investment – actually, it’s higher. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, it’s 50 percent. That means if you sell your home – and if you sell your home within a pretty short period of time, by the way.
And the National Association of Realtors started this cost-versus-value survey idea a while ago with Remodeling Magazine. And that’s kind of how they determine – they said, “Well, if I put $10,000 into a bathroom and then I sell my house in a year, I will technically be able to charge $5,000 more than if I hadn’t put the 10 grand in.” So that’s what they mean by return on investment when it comes to remodeling.
But generally speaking, we have these numbers so that they could be compared relatively to each other. In other words, sometimes people think that everything – that every dime they put into a house is going to give them a good ROI.
But I have sad news, Leslie. The man caves, they don’t really give you much of an ROI. The bathrooms, yeah, definitely.
LESLIE: But they bring happiness. Doesn’t that matter for something?
TOM: I think so. I think it definitely does.
Well, you know I read a lot of stuff from the industry. And I actually saw a post in a publication called Interesting Engineering which, I agree, was very interesting. Because it was about how the world’s first carbon-eating concrete blocks are now weeks away from commercial use.
Check this out. The company behind them is called CarbiCrete. And they’re – sounds like a diet, doesn’t it? Like a no-carb? CarbiCrete. And they’re producing an alternative concrete that absorbs carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Now, these blocks use a cement-free process and that’s actually going to help remove 330 pounds of carbon dioxide for every ton of concrete produced. That’s a lot.
LESLIE: That’s really a lot. How cool is this? Now, the blocks are up to 30-percent stronger than conventional cement-based blocks. And the carbon-tech company is set to increase manufacturing to 25,000 units per day. So I mean they’ve got really big goals to get this green building underway quickly and effectively.
Concrete truly is the most widely-made construction product on the planet. It’s used for foundations for homes, commercial buildings, bridges, the roads that you see around us. So it’s pretty awesome. Even the curbs that you see under your feet. It’s an essential construction material, so to keep it super green is outstanding.
TOM: Here’s something I didn’t know. Interesting Engineering also points out that a key ingredient in concrete has always been cement, the production of which accounts for around 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Now, the cement sector produces more than 30 billion tons of concrete each year, so turning all that into a carbon dioxide-eating concrete machine can definitely have a very positive effect on the environment.
I love stuff like this. Even when you think nothing can change with concrete, here we go with CarbiCrete making it possible for our foundations and our roads and our sidewalks to all be greenhouse gas emission-free.
LESLIE: Pete in Ohio is on the line and has a question about tankless water heaters.
How can we help?
PETE: I am getting ready to replace the current water heater and was curious about your thoughts on a tankless water heater. Do you seem to be getting a lot of different opinions about whether they’re worth it, whether they’re reliable, if they’re mechanically sound, those types of things? So I was just curious as to – what your thoughts are on it and if you would recommend a particular type of tankless heater or brand or even things to look for. I do have gas heat.
TOM: Well, Pete, I would say that you have little to be concerned about, about the technology behind not only tankless water heaters but frankly tankless boilers, as well. In my home, about a year or so ago now, we replaced an old boiler, that used to provide our hot water and our heat for our old cast-iron radiators, with something called a “combi unit.”
Now, we used a Weil-McLain – W-e-i-l-McLain – unit. That was the manufacturer and that’s a brand that’s been around forever. I knew it very well from my years as a home inspector. And in my case, we get both domestic hot water and the water that heats our home through the radiators out of the same unit which, by the way, is about the size of a kitchen cabinet. I mean a small kitchen cabinet. It’s amazing how much technology has changed the size and the shape of these things.
So I think that if you are ready to replace your water heater now – if you have hot-air heat, of course, you don’t need the boiler side of it. You could just use a tankless water heater. You will find that that technology is very, very dependable right now. It is incredibly affordable in terms of what those costs used to be when they first came out. And the efficiency is really through the roof.
And in fact, in a lot of states, you may find that there are rebates available. So I would ask your heating companies about the available rebates. When we bought our boiler, there were actually two rebates and I think they totaled roughly around $1,500 altogether, which was about – roughly about 20, 25 percent of the cost of the whole project. So it was a pretty big discount that we were able to enjoy, as well.
And in fact, I just got my gas bill. Of course, it’s winter now and my gas bill for last month was $28. So I’m sure it was probably 128 or more than that before we did this system. So, really happy with the technology and I would definitely recommend it.
LESLIE: It’s the fall season, you guys, so you’re probably working on a bunch of projects around your Money Pit. And maybe you’re thinking, “Boy, I wish I had some more tools. Maybe even a workshop full of them.” Well, guess what, you guys? You can enter The Money Pit Fantastic Fall Fix-Up Sweepstakes presented by Arrow.
Get this: one grand-prize winner is going to receive $750 – woo! – worth of Arrow tools. And it includes the T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and the Pneumatic Brad Nailer.
TOM: There’s also going to be five runner-up winners who will receive the Arrow Holiday Light Helper Prize Pack. Basically 100 bucks worth of tools. You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. And you can also earn bonus entries for additional chances to win. Just go to MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Donna in Tyler, Texas is on the line and has some questions about windows.
Tell us what’s going on.
DONNA: We have double-pane windows that we replaced our old wooden windows with about 20, 25 years ago and now I have some that don’t close. And I have one that has – that I can’t open. The mechanism in the side of the window broke and I didn’t know if there was any hope for repairing them or fixing them or if I just need to get new windows.
TOM: Well, you really, Donna – 20 to 25 years?
Leslie, I feel like she got a lot out of those windows.
LESLIE: For sure.
TOM: That’s a pretty good life, right, for windows. And certainly, you may be able to repair some of the mechanism if you can locate the parts. But frankly, it might just be better to replace those windows, especially because windows today have become less expensive and they’ve become more efficient.
And if you go with replacement windows where you’re only really replacing the operable part of the sash – the part that slides up and slides down – and you leave the old sash in place, they’re really pretty affordable and easy to install, because you basically order them to fit inside that space.
And they can be installed in a really quick – I could do a window like that inside of an hour, easily. So they’re not that difficult to replace these days and especially if you have bad seals, because the seal – it would definitely not be worth at all taking out the window that has the bad seal and having the seals replaced. That would be much more expensive than getting a new window. So I think you ought to be happy with the 25 years you got out of that window and think about replacing them.
And you know what? If you want to approach this in a way that kind of keeps the costs in check, I would think about whether or not I was more concerned about my heating bills or my air-conditioning bills. If it was the air-conditioning bills, then I would do the south side of the house first, followed by the west. And if it was the heating bills, I would do the north side of the house first, followed by the east. You don’t have to do the whole house at once; you can do them one or two sides at a time.
Well, everyone has a chilly room or two that never quite gets as comfortable as you’d like it to be. The folks at EdenPURE have a solution and they recently sent it to Leslie and I. It’s a new space heater they designed. And I’ve got to say, I was really impressed by this thing.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, yeah. It’s called the GEN40 Heater and it works by combining infrared heat and convective heat to warm a room. And I’ve got to say, it looks really great.
Now, these two technologies work together and they heat those chilly areas of your home better than conventional space heaters. The unit’s got a fan that oscillates, which circulates the heat that covers the entire space.
TOM: Yeah. Now, traditional heating technology lets heat collect at the ceiling. That means that your floors in your home have a temperature that’s usually 7 to 10 degrees colder. But the GEN40 Heater is designed to heat a room evenly, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, literally. So there are no more cold spots in your space.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also completely safe around pets and children because there’s no exposed heating elements that can be touched. And it also has multiple safety shutoffs to help prevent a fire.
Now, you can use the GEN40 all year long, too, because it has a fan-only function that’s going to keep you cool in the summertime and then help you reduce your air-conditioning bill.
TOM: Now, heating costs are expected to go up this winter but the GEN40 Heater is guaranteed to start saving you money on your heating bill, literally, as soon as you turn it on.
Check out the EdenPURE GEN40 Heater at EdenPureDeals.com. And right now, Money Pit listeners can get an additional 50 bucks off the sale price – the lowest sale price – by using our discount code, MONEYPIT50.
Let me tell you what a great deal that is, because the retail price on this is 447. It’s on sale for 247 and you get another 50 bucks off. So you’ll be paying 197 for a $447 heater. That’s the kind of deal you can only get on The Money Pit. So, go to EdenPureDeals.com, enter the discount code MONEYPIT50. MONEYPIT50.
LESLIE: Heading out to Massachusetts. We’ve got Bob on the line who needs some help updating his heating system.
What’s going on? Besides being chilly, I’m assuming.
BOB: Would it be cheaper at all to run natural gas versus Number Two fuel oil? I want your professional opinion.
TOM: So, Bob, I think that switching from oil to gas is a smart thing to do. Oil prices certainly have continued to go up. I think gas is more – potentially more efficient and especially since you were going to be replacing your boilers. The new boilers, say, that run on gas are really, really efficient. In fact, they’re so efficient there’s a lot of rebates out there that are available. So I would not have any hesitation about making that switch to gas.
If you don’t have a gas line to your home yet, generally when you are installing a heating system or a large appliance like that, at least in our part of the country, the gas companies here will run the line into your house, set the meter up at no cost because you’re going to become a customer of theirs.
So I think that you would be well served by putting in natural gas. And you’ll find, also, that a lot of the boilers today are what’s called “condensing boilers,” which are the most efficient. In fact, I have a condensing boiler in my house and it’s so efficient. I no longer need a metal vent pipe. All of the exhaust gas from my system goes out of a plastic pipe. And it doesn’t even have to go up the chimney; it goes out the side of the house so that I never have to deal with the issue of cleaning anything anymore once it’s done this way. So, I think a condensing boiler or gas-fired boiler would be a good choice.
LESLIE: James in Oregon is on the line and has a question about pocket doors.
What’s going on at your money pit?
JAMES: The wife and I had a house built 20 years ago. She designed the house and we had it built. And we had this small mistake. We’ve got two of the sliding pocket doors on one of our bathrooms. And the pocket doors are beginning to act like they want to hang up. I don’t know whether it’s a lubrication problem or a mechanical malfunction or maybe just parts wearing out.
LESLIE: You know, James, I feel like a lot of people love the look of barn doors these days, which is basically like a pocket door for the outside of the wall. But barn doors, I feel like, take up a tremendous amount of space, because you lose the other section of the wall that, once you close the door, that would’ve been open to do other things.
Pocket doors are great but I mean you have to have the space internally in that wall cavity for it. It can’t be a loadbearing wall. If it is, you’ve got to sort of restructure everything. But for the right style house, a pocket door is beautiful.
TOM: Yeah. And it sounds like – I love the fact that you designed the house for pocket doors, because they’re a lot harder to put in when it’s a retrofit.
Because as you said, Leslie, you’ve got to double the size of the header, essentially, because you have to be able to carry the load for twice the width of the door.
Now, in terms of the wear and tear on this, of course I would try the easy stuff first, right? I would certainly use a white lithium grease on the rollers that control this, because it may just be that it just needs to be lubricated. But after all these years, if it’s starting to fail, usually what you can do to repair this is you need to take the trim off from the outside.
And there’s usually, on one side of the pocket door – because you don’t have a full jamb on the side that’s open, where it slides into – you have kind of a jamb that’s maybe – if it’s a 2×4 wall, you might have an inch-and-a-half, then an inch-and-a-half, then a space where the door slides in and out. Typically, if you just take out the jamb on that operable side of the door, you can completely lift that door out of the wall and replace the hardware. And if you have to do any more wall surgery than that, just plan for that because you can fix it back up again. You can use a slightly wider trim, for example. But you need to look at how it was put in in the first place, then figure out how to disassemble it.
The most important part of that project, as it is with many of my projects, Leslie, I call it the “sit and stare.” Just stare at the thing for a while, try to figure out how it was put together. And then all of a sudden, an idea pops in my brain: “OK, I know what I’m going to do.” And you figure it out. But I would do the easy stuff first before you start trying to disassemble the jamb.
Well, they’re pretty darn creepy to look at and they aren’t any better on the nose. Stinkbugs is what we’re talking about. They are pests that emit a distinct odor for protection against predators.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, they’re harmless but that doesn’t mean you want them and their smell around your house. So, now is the time of year that you’re going to see those stinkbugs. They come in because it’s chilly out. They’re looking to your house for shelter and warmth. So take a few steps now that you can use to keep them out of there.
TOM: Now, first thing to do is to seal all cracks and crevices in and around your house. And as an extra measure, install weather-stripping under interior doors, as well.
LESLIE: Now, protect your vents in your attic spaces and even the crawlspaces with screening. And you also want to make sure that all the screens on your windows are in good shape. Also, store any outdoor chopped firewood on a rack away from your home’s exterior walls. And remove any boards, boxes and really any other possible stinkbug hideouts from your yard and garden.
TOM: And finally, here’s a tip for cleaning up stinkbugs: don’t smash them, vacuum. If you crush them, you’re going to get that stink all over you and the house. But if you vacuum, they will just dry out and go away. So always vacuum them when you see them in your house.
LESLIE: Gail in St. Simons Island, Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today? Something about acorns?
GAIL: We’ve just moved into a new house and we have a lovely concrete drive that is underneath a lot of live oak trees that are now dropping all their nuts. And the acorns are putting stains all over my concrete. I’m wondering if I should stain this concrete brown.
TOM: Well, listen, I think those beautiful oak trees are a part of the beauty of living on St. Simons Island, which is a gorgeous place.
Now, I can sympathize with your thought that – “Hey, why don’t I just restain the driveway to match the color of the acorn stains?” That is one way to do it for sure. But then again, that stain is going to fade over time. And then you’ll have stains and a driveway that has to be stained at the same time.
So, what I would suggest is that you just take on the maintenance that this is going to require. It’s not difficult. You just need some oxygenated bleach or you could mix up your own bleach. I would do about maybe a cup of bleach to about a gallon of water. Pretty strong bleach solution. And then when you put that down, you let it sit for a while and then you can scrub it off with a floor brush. You will find that those stains will come up if you stay on top of it that way.
I would be cautious about using a pressure washer; it’s always an option. But if you want to put down a solution first of the bleach and then pressure-wash it, you could do that but do not use too much pressure. Because concrete, as hard as we all think it is, it’s like butter to a pressure washer. The pressure washer will actually wear away the surface of it and you’ll see indentations from where you ran the pressure washer over it.
But it’s a pretty common problem. You’re just going to have to stay on top of it by using a cleaner. So, like I said, oxygenated bleach. There are driveway-cleaning products that are formulated for this. They are very similar to the deck and house-cleaning products that are simulated for these sorts of stains. And if you stay on top of it, it won’t be terribly bad.
Justin reached out and says he just bought a new range. Sounds like he wants to paint it, huh?
LESLIE: Yeah, it sure does. He says, “I just bought a new range. And now my other kitchen appliances are looking a little tired, even though they’ve got plenty of use left in them. Is it possible to paint major appliances?”
That’s kind of a maybe, right?
TOM: Well, you can, for the most part. It’s not an easy project. First of all, you have to take off all the handles and stuff that’s outside of that surface. Be careful to mask off anything that you wouldn’t want the paint to get into, like the gas jets and that sort of thing. And the type of paint you use should be epoxy appliance paint. Now, it’s available in spray cans in some very basic colors. I’m thinking probably just white and black. But I’ve used it and I like the epoxy paint.
And here’s how I determine if it’s really good paint, Leslie: if it takes a long time to dry. And that’s what that stuff does. It takes a good day to dry. But once it does, it settles in perfectly and it looks like a professionally-applied finish. So yes, you can paint appliances. It’s just a bit of work, especially on the prep side, to get ready to do it.
LESLIE: Yeah, Justin. Tom’s right. Prep really is key here. If you take the time in the beginning to do all of the prep in the proper order and thoroughly, as you’re supposed to, then once you apply the paint it’s really going to apply beautifully and stick and you’ll be thrilled.
TOM: Well, if you’re only using your microwave to heat up leftovers, you might be missing out on some other very handy uses. Leslie has tips for more, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? What do you got?
LESLIE: Yeah. So you know, your microwave, it really is a handy-dandy appliance. You can heat up leftovers and you can heat up leftovers and you can pop popcorn. But also, you can do a lot of other things.
So, a lot of people don’t realize that you can disinfect your kitchen sponges and get rid of that funky smell, that they get after you’ve been using them a while, in the microwave. You just soak those sponges in water-and-vinegar mix and then zap them for a minute. I will tell you, they come out super-duper-duper hot. And that doesn’t mean you can use this sponge for a year now. But you can get a couple of extra days, weeks out of it. OK, guys? So don’t be gross. Replace that sponge eventually.
Now, you can also do the same with a cutting board. If you rub a little lemon juice on it, heat it for a minute. Then you can totally say goodbye to all of those gross, raw poultry germs that may have been lurking around.
If you go to get honey out of the cabinet, for example, and it’s kind of crystallized and solid, you can bring it back to life if you can set your microwave on a medium setting for about 30 seconds.
Now, you love baked potatoes? I love baked potatoes. But sometimes, they take forever to bake in the oven. So you can actually take your potato – even if your bell peppers. This is a great tip if you want to put a bell pepper on a grill or maybe if you’re even grilling the potato. Go ahead, put all your veggies that you want to put on the grill in the microwave, set it for about 2 minutes, use oven mitts to take it out. Then you can go ahead and either grill that potato in the peppers or put the potato in the oven for the remainder of the time.
And here’s another great tip for the microwave. You can use it to warm up citrus fruits. Now, not only is this going to help that fruit release the juice when you’re using them in a recipe, but it also helps release the oils in the skin for zesting or even fleshing out pleasant scents when you’re just displaying that citrus fruit in a pretty bowl on the counter. It kind of makes it a nice air freshener, too.
So, lots of things that I bet you are not using the microwave for. I will tell you – Henry, my oldest son, do not melt chocolate in a plastic bowl in the microwave for 8 minutes. I don’t want another microwave fire.
TOM: Oh, my gosh.
LESLIE: We had a little fire. But that is not a good use.
TOM: Oh, that didn’t go well. Yeah.
LESLIE: Everything else, great.
TOM: How many weeks did you smell melted plastic for?
LESLIE: It was a little while. I almost just went and bought a new microwave and then I was like – I kept the windows open for ages and ages and ages.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk fireplaces. They are great for ambiance and for cutting home heating bills. But then also account for almost half of all home heating fires. We’ll share some tips on how to make sure your fireplace is both toasty and safe, on the very 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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