TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement project. We will help you solve that do-it-yourself dilemma, whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re directing a project and are hiring a pro to get it done, give us a call first. We’ll help you get started off on the right foot to get that done easily, simply; help you save some money along the way; help you figure out what materials you need, perhaps what tools are best to invest in.
That’s what I love about home improvement projects: every time I start one in my house, Leslie, I always come up with a reason to buy a new tool. At least that’s my story; I’m sticking with it.
Hey, we’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. Coming up, one valuable part of any window is its screen. But if your windows are not a standard size or shape, getting a properly-fitting screen is tough. We’re going to have a solution in just a bit.
LESLIE: And it only takes one misdirected baseball or hailstorm and the next thing you know, your windowpane is in pieces. But fixing it is really not as hard as you might think. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is going to be stopping by with some pointers.
TOM: Also ahead this hour, we’re going to talk about a trend in bathrooms. You know, more and more people today are converting those rarely-used bathtubs into showers. Makes sense, right? We’re going to tell you one quick and easy and inexpensive way to get that project done.
LESLIE: And have you ever had someone dump red wine or something equally as colorful on your light carpet?
TOM: Well, not on purpose.
LESLIE: Well, that’s what you think.
TOM: It has happened.
LESLIE: But it does happen. And I always try not to sort of go overboard at a party cleaning it immediately but it’s the only thing I can think of. Because you guys know it can actually take hours for those liquid stain removers to dry. So one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win 50 bucks worth of ARM & HAMMER Dry Carpet Cleaner. And that’ll really do the trick.
TOM: And you can also have a lot of parties, because you’re getting 50 bucks worth.
TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Cindy is on the line from Nebraska with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?
CINDY: Yes, I have central air but our upstairs does not cool very well. So we put in a window air and I’ve tried to seal it with some of those foam strips and tape and things like that. But now I’ve got some issues, like when it rains. For some reason, we’re getting water soaking through the tape and coming inside and dripping. What other thing can I use to seal that that would be more waterproof but still I’d be able to take it out?
TOM: Wow. So typically, when you install a window air conditioner, you have the window – the upper part of the double-hung window sits on top of the box and then it has sort of like wings that slide out the side of the air conditioner to kind of seal out the space between the air conditioner and the opening of the window, correct?
TOM: Alright. And so you’ve sealed those areas with tape? Is that what you said?
CINDY: We used some strips of foam that you put around it to fill in the gaps. So we’ve got – the wings are all stretched out and then we’ve sealed, where we have spaces, with the foam strips.
TOM: Here’s what I do. There’s a product that is a temporary weatherstripping that looks like caulk; it comes in a caulking tube. Now, typically, you use this inside your house – for really, really drafty windows – and you almost caulk them shut with this product. But you can use it in a scenario like this. I think for the summer it would probably last fine. When it dries, it kind of looks like a silicone caulk; it’s clear. But the cool thing is that when you’re ready to pull out that air conditioner, you can peel this temporary caulk off.
Now, it’s made by a number of manufacturers. I think DAP makes – Seal ‘N Peel is the brand name that they came up with. Seal – S-e-a-l – ‘N Peel. And so take a look for that temporary weatherstripping caulk, search it out online. You may have to order it at a hardware store or a home center. And that’ll be much more effective than the tape, because you’ll be able to get it into those tight places and it will really stick there and keep that water out, OK?
CINDY: That sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: There you go. Sometimes you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to an unusual problem.
CINDY: I figured there had to be something. I just didn’t know what it was.
TOM: Alright, Cindy. Glad to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Michael in California on the line who wants to start an A/C debate. Let’s hear it.
MICHAEL: I had a question with regards to a window unit changing out to a split system and what your feelings are in regards to cost saving.
TOM: Yeah, Leslie and I both have split-ductless systems in our homes. Now, I have one in my office and I actually have a central air-conditioning system but on this side of the house, in the west side of the house, it gets so much sun that the central A/C can’t keep up with it. And so as a result, it gets really hot, especially on the super-warm, summer days.
So I use split-ductless there. It can handle a bigger area than a window unit. It’s going to be quieter than a window unit and it’s actually more energy-efficient than a window unit.
LESLIE: I mean, Michael, they truly do kick butt. We have one in our basement at home because, apparently, we’re the only house in the northeast of the United States that has a super-hot basement in the summer. Every other person I know, you go down in their basement it’s freezing; ours, it’s like a sauna. So we put a split system down there and it cools fantastically. And to be honest, ours sort of works as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier and we also have the optional heat pump so that we could have supplementary heat in the basement in the winter months.
And in the summertime, I practically never even put it on air condition, just because the dehumidification option cools the space fantastically. It’s super-quiet; you would never even know it’s on. The condensing unit, which will go outside, is slim and small; it does not occupy a large footprint. I thought it was an affordable option and it works fantastic.
MICHAEL: And do you have a recommendation for any particular brand?
TOM: Yeah, take a look at Mitsubishi Electric’s Cooling & Heating System. They are one of the leaders in the split-ductless category. Their systems are very energy-efficient and they have a technology that works like a cruise control in a car and then it ramps up to the cooling temperature that you want very quickly. And then it maintains there without turning on and off and on and off; it kind of slows down and speeds up. It actually feeds that cool temperature, leaves it nice and steady. Super-quiet system and also has a couple of cool features.
For example, it has a smartphone app that you can use to run it. So if you like gadgets, like me, you like good-quality, energy-efficient equipment, take a look at that Mitsubishi system.
MICHAEL: Alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate the info.
TOM: You’re welcome, Michael. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s hard to believe but summer is about halfway over. It’s like you wait for it all year and then it’s gone. Are there some projects that you just have to get done before autumn comes knocking on your home’s door? Well, pick up the phone and give us a call, because we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, the right window screens can keep out that harsh sun, as well as the bugs. But what if you have odd-shaped or very large windows? We’re going to tell you how to find the right screens to cover those tough spots, after this.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filth
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might be the single caller who gets on the air with us and wins a great prize for doing just that. We’re giving away $50 worth of ARM & HAMMER Dry Carpet Cleaners. No waiting for the carpet to dry; you will be back on your carpet in less than an hour. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. You can also visit ARMHAMMERVac.com to learn more.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Annette in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a boathouse project. Tell us about it.
ANNETTE: The deck on top of the boathouse – flat roof, has a bladder. I have removed the carpet that was originally on there 10 years. Want to know what I can put back on there, on the bladder, that will do better than carpet.
LESLIE: And this is on the roof, so it’s exposed to the elements 24-7?
ANNETTE: It is a flat roof.
LESLIE: Now, a carpet – exterior carpet – is probably not the best choice, just because it does tend to wear and tear quite quickly, even though you got 10 years out of it.
TOM: Rapidly, yeah. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: You know, it’s probably not the best choice.
Now, Tom, would you consider a composite decking material or can that not really sit directly on top of that bladder, to get that water away?
TOM: Well, actually, what I was thinking was to create a deck-like surface on top of that bladder.
LESLIE: Like a platform.
TOM: Right, a platform where the deck – you really wouldn’t have the traditional floor joists or even 2x4s. You might have a, say, 2×6 on the flat that lays flat on top of that deck. And then the deck boards sort of lay on top of that on – with 16 inches on center. So it’s kind of like just making the top surface of the deck as the wear-and-tear surface on top of that bladder.
Is there some sort of a railing system here, as well, Annette?
ANNETTE: Yes. It’s all railed. Mm-hmm.
TOM: OK. So then I would just create a composite deck that lays flat on top of that.
Now, you can’t just lay the composite decking boards on the bladder; you’ll need some way to keep them together. That’s why I said that what I might do is take a pressure-treated 2×6, lay it on the flat and use that sort of, in essence, as if it was a floor joist that you were attaching these decking boards to. And then lay the decking down on top of that.
Now, there’s also interlocking wood – and I think it’s made out of teak.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I’ve used, actually, teak tiles like that.
TOM: Yeah, there’s teak tiles that interlock, right? Then I know – I’ve seen them; people can put them down on top of patios. I suppose you could probably also put that down on top of the roof as long as it wasn’t too soft. So any type of wood decking surface like that would be a good choice.
LESLIE: And those are interesting: the teak tiles that snap together. Do you have a Christmas tree store near you? You know those stores: it’s not really a holiday store, it’s like …
ANNETTE: No. Lowe’s is the closest to – I’m 18 miles from any town. I’m way out in the woods.
LESLIE: OK. Because there’s several different companies, actually, that sell them online. Locally, for me, I found them at one of those discount home decorating stores. But they’re 12×12 teak tiles that almost look like a parquet tile, like a floor tile? And they’re set on a plastic base and they snap together. And you can also get an edging tile to sort of complete the border and that could sit directly on top of the bladder, because it’s got the little plastic base that creates that platform.
TOM: A good website to take a look at is SwiftDeck. SwiftDeck.com is a company that sells patio deck tiles. They have Ipe tiles. It looks like they also have a composite version. So a couple of options there. Great photos. You can see exactly what this looks like, at SwiftDeck.com.
ANNETTE: Beautiful. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, are you counting the days until you can turn off that air conditioner and throw open your windows? That fresh breeze certainly is a welcome relief. But the bugs that might come in with it, not so much. If you’ve got screens, they might help but not if those screens don’t fit properly or they’re made poorly.
That’s why it’s important to go with quality screens, like those made by Phantom Screens. And they’re a proud sponsor of The Money Pit.
TOM: Now, Phantom’s sole focus is making screens and that’s why they are just so good at it and can even offer a lifetime warranty. They make retractable screens that fit neatly into a housing when you’d rather have an unobstructed view. And these can be mounted on the exterior or even the interior of your home and they could be custom-built to fit. Your windows can get measured by a professional and the screens can also be installed by a pro, as well.
Now, Phantom also specializes in screens for larger openings that may not always be easy to fit, like a doorway, a sunroom, a porch or any other odd-sized opening.
LESLIE: For more information, go to Phantom’s website at PhantomScreens.com or give them a call at 888-PHANTOM.
TOM: That’s 888-P-H-A-N-T-O-M.
LESLIE: Don in Wisconsin is dealing with a window-well retaining wall that’s coming apart. Tell us what’s going on.
DON: We have a window-well retaining wall that has – have railroad ties in there. Been there for quite a few years. Has started to deteriorate and I’m just now – I’ve been trying to check on what to do and been told to try to use retaining blocks and put blocks on there. And then you have to put some kind of a pea gravel in front of the block to hold the sand back, because we have sand here; it’s a sand country.
And I’m not sure. I never did this before. And I was just wondering if it’s something that a person – because I’m handy – be able to do myself or is there something that you should actually have a professional landscaper do?
TOM: At the highest part of the wall, from the distance between the ground and the top of the wall, how high is that?
DON: Thirty-two inches.
TOM: OK. So it’s fairly low to the ground. Alright. I think this is project you can do yourself. Concrete blocks – the interlocking, retaining-wall blocks – are a terrific option because they’re very easy to install. Because it’s only 32 inches off the ground, it’s not a lot of soil for you to deal with. You’re going to take the wall apart one sort of area at a time and build the blocks as you go.
The thing that’s going to be different about the concrete blocks, though, is you’re going to have to have them on a bit of a solid footing. Now, that’s one that you might want to create yourself. You could probably create that out of stone that’s well-tamped down. But you’ve got to get them sat nice and level; you can’t just put them right on the dirt, OK?
And then as – after you assemble them, then you can add the pea gravel behind it and the sand behind that. But I do think that that’s a good option and it’s going to be – literally, if you do it right, you’re going to get a lifetime’s worth of satisfaction out of that because, of course, the blocks are not going to rot.
DON: Oh, OK. It sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Don. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ladonna in Colorado who’s got a gardening question. Welcome to The Money Pit.
LADONNA: Yeah, I have a sod issue. I laid some brand-new sod in my backyard and I’m watering several times a day to keep it so it catches and stuff but I have lots and lots of mushrooms. I’m picking mushrooms in the morning, picking mushrooms at night and they’re not even edible. I have dogs, cats and grandkids who are on the yard, so I don’t want to use anything, you know, that would be bad for them. So I need something organic to get rid of mushrooms. Any ideas?
TOM: Great question. Now, if you don’t want to use a commercially-available fungicide – because that’s what will take care of the mushrooms – you can also sort of make your own by mixing baking soda and water. If you put about a ¼-cup of baking soda per gallon of water and spray that whenever you see the new mushroom growth, that will help to deter it.
And the other thing that you could do is add lime, because mushrooms love acidic soil and lime can make that soil less acidic so that the mushrooms will tend to not grow. So there’s two ways to help limit or reduce the amount of mushroom growth on your lawn without turning to chemicals.
LADONNA: OK, great. Well, I will go ahead and try that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sean in Tennessee is on the line who needs some help restoring a door. Tell us what the project is.
SEAN: Yeah. Actually, when I bought a house – I’m just fixing to sell it and whoever lived in the house before me had started trying to paint the door facings white to match the walls, I guess.
SEAN: And what I have a problem with is they used the wrong kind of paint and I guess they realized it halfway through the project, so they didn’t even finish. And the paint that they used is peeling off of the doors and stuff like that. Well, I’m going to sell my home and so that’s one thing that I would like to fix up.
SEAN: I have a Dremel tool and it has a little-bitty, old sanding head on it and I kind have been trying to do that but needless to say, it’s very tedious and time-consuming.
TOM: Well, that’s a really tiny tool to be using for a big sanding project like that. Get a bigger Dremel.
LESLIE: I mean the Dremel sanding disk is an inch in diameter; they’re little.
SEAN: Well, I guess this is my deal. I have a bigger bit to use and I actually borrowed somebody else’s tool – somebody else’s bit – but it actually started kind of getting into the actual wood of the door.
TOM: What you might want to do is get a palm sander or a ¼-sheet sander. Or they have sanders that are designed for details like that. I know that Black & Decker makes one; I’m sure there are others. They’re kind of in the shape – they look like a small iron.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re triangular.
TOM: They have that kind of triangular – so that pointy shape? You can get in the nooks and crannies with that kind of a tool. And then start with a very coarse grit and work your way down.
Now, if you’re going to repaint this, you don’t have to get all the old paint off, just the loose paint off.
LESLIE: Just smooth.
TOM: And then you want to prime it and repaint it and that should be all you need to do, Sean.
SEAN: I’ll keep listening to the show and I appreciate you all’s time, man.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a broken windowpane will not only let in the elements, it can also be a big security risk and needs to be fixed quickly. We’re going to get tips on how you can do that job yourself, when we’re joined by Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, next.
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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.
Well, of all the possible remodeling projects, painting really is still the most popular project to tackle. So if you’re looking to step-up your game and add some faux finishes to your next paint job, head on over to our website, MoneyPit.com, and search “how to apply faux finishes.” You’re going to get tips on everything from sponge painting and ragging to wet blends. I mean you can really create some beautiful, customized looks without spending a ton of money. So head on over to MoneyPit.com today and check it out.
TOM: And while you’re there, why not post a question in our Community section?
LESLIE: Well, what do you get when you mix a sunny, spring day and a neighborhood ball game? How about a baseball right through your windowpane?
TOM: That’s true. But whether it’s an actual break, a crack or other types of damage, you can replace that windowpane yourself. Somebody who’s not a pain is here to tell us how to do just that: it’s Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Hey, guys. How are you?
TOM: Now, what’s the best way to take the pain out of the windowpane project?
TOM SILVA: Well, the best way to take the pain out of the windowpane project is first of all, you want to make sure you have safety equipment on: safety glasses and gloves a must. Alright?
TOM: Now, can you replace a windowpane? Is there a difference here between, say, a typical, single-pane window and a double-pane window? Is there one you can do, one you can’t do?
TOM SILVA: Single-pane windows shouldn’t be a problem.
TOM SILVA: Double-pane windows are insulated windows. Usually, you have to get it custom-made to fit the opening and in some cases, you can’t even do it. You have to get – if your window sash is broken, you’re not going to replace the pane; you’re going to replace the sash.
TOM: So that might be a situation where you have to, essentially, order the part.
TOM SILVA: Yes.
TOM: But if we just have some single-pane glass in a wood window, what’s the best way to extract all those pieces and then sort of reset the pane?
TOM SILVA: Once you have your equipment on and you’re ready to roll – you have a rag and a hammer is always nice – you can go up there with the rag and a hammer and tap the rag. I like to sometimes put duct tape on the glass, too.
TOM SILVA: And that keeps the shards from blowing all over the place.
And once you’ve got pieces that you can grab and take out, always start at the top of the window and pull the pieces out. So if you start at the bottom and you pull a piece out, you don’t want the upper piece to fall out and cut you.
TOM: Right. It can stab you.
TOM SILVA: Start at the top, work your way down.
TOM: Gravity counts.
TOM SILVA: Exactly, exactly. And you get in all the window – all the glass out of the sash and now you’ve got to start cleaning up the glazing or the putty. Clean that all up, drag a scraper in there and get all the putty out, nice and clean, down to the raw wood.
Now, before you set the window in there, you obviously have to measure for the glass. You want to make the glass a little bit smaller than the opening. Now you’re ready to start putting the glazing in.
But before you even do that, you want to prime the wood. Now, you can use a wood primer or you can use a linseed oil to oil the wood. The reason you want to do that is because you don’t want that raw wood to draw the linseed oil out of your glazing. It will dry it out and cause it to crack.
TOM: Oh, interesting. So you’re really just stopping the absorptive qualities of the wood at this point and making sure that once you apply that glazing putty, that it stays pliable and does the sealing job and the adhering job that you really need it to do.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Exactly, exactly. The glazing is doing a couple of things: it’s holding the glass in place – well, actually doing three things. It’s holding the glass in place, it’s keeping the rain out and it’s keeping the air out between the glass and the sash. So that’s important that it’s a nice, tight fit. And you don’t want the glazing to fall out.
LESLIE: And now that you’re getting ready to put in the new pane of glass, what do you do with that putty? Do you, essentially, need to make it into a roping?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you want to work it with your hands; roll it back and forth just like you make dough, you know? Make a snake, roll it back and forth. While it is soft and warm, you can just push it right in that – that’s called a “rabbet.” You can lay it right into that rabbet and then you’re going to have a nice bead. Push it around with your thumb, whatever you have to do. Take the glazing and lay it into that wet glazing compound or putty and work it back and forth until you get a nice seat there. You want to make sure that you have a nice, even size on the inside. You scrape away all the excess putty.
Now you want to take these little, metal points; that’s window points.
TOM: Points. Yeah, the window points.
TOM SILVA: And you just slide them right in on the surface of the glass, right into the wood. That holds the glass in position.
TOM: Those are very handy to have, too.
TOM SILVA: Very handy, yeah.
TOM: And they actually embed themselves into the final glazing (inaudible at 0:24:06).
TOM SILVA: Looks like a little arrowhead with points going in both directions.
TOM SILVA: And there’s a couple …
LESLIE: And that’s acting like a wedge.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, it acts like a wedge that drives into the wood. That’s right.
TOM: We use them in picture-framing, too, sometimes, yeah.
TOM SILVA: Sure, absolutely. And there’s different types. They actually have a type that’s totally flat and there’s another type that actually is flat with two, little pieces sticking up that you can actually take your putty knife and push the tip into the wood.
TOM SILVA: So they – once that’s in place and it’s holding it, now you’re going to reglaze, again, the outside of the window, on top of the glass and covering the points.
TOM: Now, you mentioned a putty knife. A glazing tool comes in pretty handy if you have to do a bunch of these, doesn’t it?
TOM SILVA: And a glazing tool is pretty nice, yeah.
TOM: Because it helps you with the putty-knife function of being able to push those window points in and then also sort of a troweling function of pressing the – getting the angle to get the clean edge when you’re done.
TOM SILVA: Holding it. Yeah, nice angle. Right, right.
But if you’re like me, a Yankee, you’re cheap; you don’t want to go buy that tool. So you’re going to use whatever you’ve got.
But then you’re just going to force the glazing compound into the window and then you’re going to take the puttying tool and hold it about a 45-degree angle, start in the corners and work your way out, make it nice and smooth.
LESLIE: Now, Tommy, what about finishing the project? Do I have to wait a certain amount of time to let everything cure and really adhere well or can I go right ahead and paint it?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you want that glazing compound to skin over; you don’t want to paint right away. That oil is in that area and the paint is not going to stick very well anyway. So you want to make sure that it skins over, so usually a couple of days is a good idea.
But you also want to make sure that when you paint over the glazing compound, a little bit of a line about – not even a 1/16-inch of the paint should actually touch the glass.
TOM: And then the final thing you should do is find the baseball and give it back to the kids, right?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
TOM: And send it through your window. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some great step-by-step videos on projects you can do around your house, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley, make something great.
Up next, is your bathroom a bit outdated? Has it lost some of its usefulness? Well, one way to snap it into this century is to convert an old, rarely-used bathtub into a beautiful, new shower. We’ll tell you the quick-and-easy way to get that project done, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by BATH FITTER, the one-day bathroom remodeling company. Call 866-654-BATH today for your free, in-home estimate or visit www.BATHFITTER.com.
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. The number here to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win a brand-new product that makes carpet-stain removal fast and easy. We’re giving away $50 worth of ARM & HAMMER Dry Carpet Cleaners. So invite over your messiest friends with all their kids and pets and really give it a test. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win and check out their website, ARMHAMMERVac.com, and you’ll learn all about it.
LESLIE: Catherine in Michigan is on the line with a basement-window question. How can we help you with this project?
CATHERINE: Yeah. I’m just wondering if block windows are the best option for a basement window, as far as security and energy efficiency?
TOM: Well, block windows are – they may be secure, because they’re block windows, but they’re certainly not energy-efficient. And most importantly, they’re not ventable; they don’t open.
LESLIE: Nor are they an egress. You know, you need to have a window that you can escape out of from a basement.
TOM: Well, if you have living space down there, you need a window that you have to escape out of. But if it’s a traditional basement window that’s a small window, it’s never going to be an egress window but it sure is nice to have one that you can open to – and you can get some ventilation when you have to, so …
CATHERINE: But we would get the vents that they put in the middle of the block window.
TOM: Yeah, still not very big. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about block as an option for windows. I would recommend a traditional basement window. You can get a thermal-pane basement window. Very energy-efficient. If you need security, then you can install window bars. But just make sure they have an escape mechanism that you can activate from inside so that you can get out through that window if you had to.
So I mean that’s our two cents. If you like the block windows and you think you’re going to get enough ventilation out of it, then go ahead. But for me, I would never put a block window in a basement. I’d always use a traditional window. I think that’s what people expect in homes. I think doing something different like that could adversely affect my home value. I think I’m going to get the best overall results by doing just that.
I hope that helps you out. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, by far, more Americans start their day with a shower instead of a bath. Man, I barely have time for a shower in the morning. Imagine trying to run a bath, racing out the door.
And as a result, we’re seeing the trend reflected in bathroom remodels really accounting for this. Now, more and more homeowners are taking out their tubs completely and replacing them with some luxurious showers. And there’s a lot of good reasons, including the fact that it’s just safer.
Now, a shower is easier for people with limited movement to get in and out of. You’re also going to get more room to move around and it’s easier to clean and it gets you clean faster.
TOM: Now, the experts at BATH FITTER, who are a proud sponsor of The Money Pit, can make that conversion much easier with a way to create bigger showers without a major bathroom renovation. BATH FITTER can simply remove your bathtub and replace the tub surround with a durable, extra-large shower. The pro installers at BATH FITTER take precise measurements for a seamless insert that they can install in a single day. And there’s no need to disturb the existing plumbing or the flooring.
Your new shower comes with a lifetime warranty, it’s easy to clean and super-durable, as well.
LESLIE: That’s right. And these showers really do come in some gorgeous designs. You should take a look at them and really start thinking about what you can do in your bathroom, on their website, BATHFITTER.com.
TOM: That’s BATHFITTER.com.
LESLIE: Henry in Illinois is taking on a driveway-repair project. What can we do for you?
HENRY: Where my driveway meets the asphalt road in front of my home, right where it meets – I have a hole forming there and it goes down about 3 to 4 inches deep and probably about 4 feet in diameter. And so it turns out that when I turn my wheels to turn into the driveway, well, the left front wheel hits it and it kicks that rock out. And I put new pea rock in there and it just kicks it out, too.
TOM: So you have a pea-gravel driveway and the force of the car running it over and over and over again is sort of wearing away a hole. There is a solution for that, Henry, and that is – what I’d like you to consider doing is pouring a concrete apron at the foot of the driveway.
So what the concrete apron does – it doesn’t have to be very big: across the entire driveway, maybe 2 feet, maybe no more than 3 feet deep. But 2 feet will probably do. That concrete driveway – that apron then serves as the entry point for those tires.
So you hit that, you go over the concrete apron and then you go into the pea gravel. And the edge of the concrete apron will retain – acts as sort of the retaining wall for the pea gravel in the driveway. That’s the easiest way to stop that from happening. Otherwise, it’s going to be a constant maintenance hassle for you to replace what is really just a very soft apron now with the pea gravel coming right out and spilling out into the roadway.
You’ll also save a lot of stone in the winter when the plows come by and start pushing that snow around.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, outdoor living is a big topic in The Money Pit community this week. We’re going to have some tips to improve decks, porches and patios, after this.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And all of you tech-savvy Money Pitters out there, did you guys know that, get this, there are more than 500 million users on Twitter right now? So if you’re one of them, why not follow us here at The Money Pit? Because you can get quick, current articles and home improvement advice sent right to your computer or mobile device. You’re going to find us under the handle @MoneyPit. And really, it’s a great way to get super-fast information and learn all about what’s going on in the home improvement community.
And while you’re online, you can go to the Community section at MoneyPit.com, post a question there. We answer them, other pros answer them, you guys answer them for each other. It’s a great place to sort of learn about what’s hot in home improvement and get your project answered.
And I’ve got one here from Blake in Tennessee who posted: “Part of my front porch never gets sun. Moss and mold are growing on my wood railings. How do I get rid of it and is there a way to prevent it from coming back?”
TOM: I think that’s a great application for Wet & Forget. Wet & Forget is a solution that you mix up. It comes in a concentrate. You mix it up, you put it in maybe a pump sprayer and you simply spray down those railings, spray down that porch area. And then Mother Nature pretty much does the rest. As it gets sunlight, any bit of light, it’s going to activate. And it starts to break down the algae, break down the moss and it doesn’t come back. So a real easy way to clean up that moss, that mildew, that algae. Also works well on siding and on roofs. I think their website is WetAndForget.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Min (sp) in Vermont who wrote: “I live in the mountains and get lots of snow. This summer, I want to build a deck myself but I’m worried a big, flat, elevated deck won’t be able to withstand the weight of the snow. I’ve seen more than one crumble. What should I do?”
TOM: Not build it yourself, OK? If this is your first deck project and you’re asking questions like that, I suspect that you might not personally have the design experience that you need to know how to build one that won’t crumble under the weight of snow. If you build a deck properly, if it’s built in accordance with national construction standards – if it’s properly secured to your house, if it’s properly supported, if it has the correct kinds of footings, if it has the correct length of floor joists, girders if necessary and so on – it’s not going to collapse; it’s as strong as your house.
But if you’re asking a question like this, Min (sp), what you might want to do is perhaps find a contractor or a carpenter to help you with this or just subcontract it out. Because really, if you get that kind of level of snow, you don’t want to take a chance.
Every summer here at the Jersey Shore, close to where we live – and we get lots of folks that have parties outside. And they invite 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 of their closest, personal friends to be on the deck at the same time and it’s the same kind of thing: you get a lot of sudden weight like that, you get a collapse once or twice a year.
So, if you don’t know how to build this, I definitely would not recommend you do it yourself. Get a pro. If it’s built correctly, it could stand up to that weight and more.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Frank in Kentucky who wrote: “I have hardwood floors with an area rug in my living room. A friend with their cat visited a few months back. I’m just realizing that it wet on the rug and there’s a blackish stain on the wood below. Can I remove that without stripping the floors?”
I don’t think so, because that sounds like a reaction.
TOM: Yeah, your cat visit – the cat visited and left a little bit of himself behind, huh? So, it’s an acidic reaction and what you have to do is actually resand those floors to get out that stain. Sorry but it’s not going to come out …
LESLIE: And you can’t spot-sand it.
TOM: No, you can’t. You can – well, actually, I’ve done that. If it’s a clear finish, you can spot-sand it out and apply a new finish. What’ll happen is the area will be lighter until the UV gets to it. And it might take a few months to kind of even out in terms of color and blend in with the rest of the floor. And there’s always the throw rug, right?
LESLIE: True. A bigger throw rug, a different one, a waterproof mat underneath it. Don’t invite that friend over again.
TOM: That’s right. Institute a no-more-cats policy in your house.
LESLIE: Alright, Frank. Now we know you’re going to have some new visitor policies on your houseguest list.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this summertime hour with us. We hope that we’ve motivated you to step outside and take on a home improvement project this weekend or maybe even stay inside in the cool of your air conditioning and do one there. If you’ve got questions 24-7, remember we are always standing by for those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post them to our Facebook page or log on to MoneyPit.com and post them right there in our Community section.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2012 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)