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 question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. The summer home improvement season is here. What are you going to do about it? It’s a great time to get outside, pick up a hammer, pick up a saw, pick up a paintbrush. But don’t pick up anything until you pick up the phone and call us with that question, because we will help you with the inspiration, the education that you need to get started on that project. The number is 888-666-3974.
Got a great show planned for you. First up this hour, it is the time of year that those of us that live near the coast dread: it’s hurricane season. But if you remember Irene, you know that just one storm can affect you no matter where you live. So we’re going to have tips on protecting your home and your valuables from natural disasters.
LESLIE: That’s right. And if weather has tortured your walkway into a cracking, crumbling mess, there is a fairly easy way that you can remedy that. We’re going to tell you how to fix up that walk and add instant curb appeal, this hour.
TOM: You can also add curb appeal and complete your home’s exterior look with well-designed landscaping. That’s why we’re going to welcome This Old House master landscaper, Roger Cook. He’ll be by to tell us the right way to plant shrubs and bushes in your yard for some instant charm.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to get a tool bonanza from Stanley.
TOM: A bonanza. I love that word.
LESLIE: A bonanza. That’s right. It’s got eight Stanley products in it, including an IntelliSensor Plus Stud Sensor that will find studs in different depths in wood and metal. I mean it is a super-super-duper stud sensor. It also includes a 3-in-1 flashlight. It’s a prize pack worth $235 and we’re giving away one of these prize packages in each hour of today’s show.
TOM: So give us a call right now. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a set of eight tools from Stanley to help you get that project done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Scott in New Jersey is on the line with a flooring question. Tell us about your project.
SCOTT: Hi. I’m just moving into my first house on Monday; we’re closing on it.
TOM: Very exciting. Congratulations.
SCOTT: Thank you very much.
But during the home inspection – it’s got tile throughout the whole bottom floor. It’s on a slab. And the home inspector said that it’s 3-percent asbestos and we want to put a hardwood floor. And for most of it – and then tiles on the kitchen area. So half the people I talk to say that we need to remove the asbestos; other people say just build over it.
TOM: OK. So is this tiles that are on – it’s on a slab?
TOM: Well, first of all, you should not be putting solid hardwood down on top of the slab.
SCOTT: That’s another – that was my next part. (inaudible at 0:03:19).
TOM: Yeah, if you put solid hardwood down, it’s going to twist and warp and swell. So what I would do is I would recommend you use engineered hardwood, which will be indistinguishable visually. It’s going to look exactly like prefinished hardwood but it’s very – it’s much easier to install and it has lock-together capabilities, as well. So you can snap these tiles together, lay it in place. And I see no reason why you can’t leave the asbestos there and put the hardwood floor right – the engineered hardwood floor right on top of it.
You know, the risk is disturbing anything that has asbestos in it. If it’s not friable, it’s not deteriorated – and in a vinyl tile – on a vinyl asbestos tile, it certainly isn’t. I wouldn’t take it up; I’d leave it right there.
SCOTT: It’s chipping in certain areas.
TOM: Yeah, that’s minor, though. And even those chips, that asbestos is contained inside the vinyl. So I would tend just to leave it alone and I would put engineered hardwood right on top of that. Very frequently, you’ll put an underlayment in between. And I think that will do the trick.
SCOTT: Mm-hmm. Alright. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Scott, and good luck with that new house.
LESLIE: Shirley in Nebraska is on the line and has some issues with heating water. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve had 4 in 28 years? That is an amazing turnover rate and not in a good way.
SHIRLEY: No, it’s not a good one. It’s not. And when I talked to someone from our gas company – we have a maintenance thing with the gas company. And they said, “Well, the one thing is maybe” – I said, “I thought with a water softener, you were supposed to be able to prolong the life of your appliances.” And he said, “Well, maybe your salt level is too high.”
Our plumber does not think so, so I just kind of wondered what your take was on it.
TOM: OK. First of all, if you have city water, then you shouldn’t need a water softener; you should just be able to work with that water right out of the tap. I think you’ve had extraordinarily bad luck having to replace the 4 water heaters in 28 years. If you feel that the water, even the city water, is a little bit hard then, of course, you can use a water softener. And you might want to consider using one that is a no salt-water softener, if corrosion is a concern.
There’s a product called EasyWater that uses electricity to polarize the hard-water minerals inside and force them to not stick to the sides of pipes and faucets and fixtures. So that’s another option, as well.
But the next time you buy a water heater, I would look for one that’s got the best warranty, because you haven’t had very good luck with this and at least it’ll be covered.
SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and 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, we are past Memorial Day, which means it is officially the summer season. Hooray! Get outside, do some work, get your house in tip-top shape. And we are here to help you with anything that you could be imagining for the summer season. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, hurricane season starts this week. Are you prepared? What if you don’t live in the coast? Are you ready for the next big windstorm that comes your way? We’ll tell you what to do to make your home stormproof, 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 filthy.
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. And the number here at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, pick up the phone and give us a call, because we will help you with anything you are working on. Whatever home improvement question you’ve got, we can help you with that. But you know what? We can probably give you an answer to whatever might be plaguing you dilemma-wise for a Father’s Day gift.
You know, we’ve got an awesome prize up for grabs. We’re giving away a package of eight Stanley tools, in each hour of today’s show, worth 235 bucks.
TOM: And it includes the FuBar, which is that cool, next-generation hammer that lets you destruct like a pro so you can get to the construction part of your project. And it also includes a heavy-duty tool box that is water-sealed.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, if you want some other great ideas, head on over to our Father’s Day gift guide. It’s online at MoneyPit.com and it’s all sponsored, in part, by Stanley.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Sean, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SEAN: I was noticing – last fall, I was up cleaning my gutters out. And I’m getting mold or a mildew type of growth on my asphalt shingles. And I’m wondering if that’s a problem I need to deal with or just let it go and deal with it, I guess.
TOM: Well, it’s mostly a cosmetic issue. So it’s not going to affect the longevity of the roof. If it got really thick – sometimes we see moss that gets up there and can actually lift and crack shingles.
Now, if you want to try to get rid of it because it doesn’t look that nice, there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, the green solution is to get more sunlight on it because the more sunlight, the less chance that you’re going to have any type of algae growth on that roof surface.
The second thing is that you could use a product called Wet & Forget. If you go to WetAndForget.com, it’s a product that you mix up. It’s in a concentrated form that you mix it up, you apply it with a garden-type sprayer, let it sit there for a bit of time. And then eventually, the Wet & Forget product will completely destroy the mold, the mildew, the algae, the moss and clean that roof right up.
And then thirdly, a little trick of the trade is you could put a copper strip across the top of that roof, from end to end. And with a metal strip made out of copper, you can slip it under one row of shingles, as well. Every time it rains, it will release a little bit of that copper and that is also a mildicide and will keep the roof clean.
SEAN: Wow. OK. Alright. I think we’ll try the spray on it first, then maybe get a piece of copper and run it across the roof.
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Sean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time to start thinking about battening down the hatches. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1st and it runs through the end of November. And even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, spinning-off storms and flooding can strike just about anywhere in the country. And it only takes one hurricane to leave a trail of damage that can totally affect millions of homeowners.
LESLIE: That’s right. And the best way to prepare is to actually have the supplies that you need on hand to board up your windows and your doors. This way, you’re ready to go when disaster is looming.
Now, taping over your windows really isn’t going to do very much for you. It’s a good idea to use precut plywood and that’s something that you can get now before even that first warning goes out. And then you know what happens? The stores run out of everything.
Now, once you’ve measured and cut everything, you want to label which piece is cut for which window or door. This way, when the time comes, all you need is the hammer and nail and you know exactly where to go.
TOM: Now, another thing that you can do is to move all your important papers and photos into a sturdy, watertight container. You’re going to want to include photos of your electronics, jewelry or any valuables, just in case you need to provide them to your insurance company to document what you lost.
If you want more preparation tips, all you need to do is to log on to MoneyPit.com and search “hurricane preparedness.”
LESLIE: Julian in Louisiana is working on a tile-ceiling makeover project. Tell us what you’re working on.
JULIAN: I’m wanting to repair my ceiling. The old, Styrofoam, square – 12-inch square – tiles are in bad need of repair. Some of them are broken loose and some of them are stained. And I want to do something to cover that up but I’m not sure if I need to take those down or if I can cover – put something over the top of them.
TOM: I would recommend that you take the tile down and not sandwich them in between new drywall.
TOM: Now, when you take those down, Julian, what you’re probably going to find are wood strips underneath that. We call it “furring strips,” yeah.
TOM: It’s going to be a pain in the neck because you’re going to have hundreds of staples to pull out one at a time or un-flat (ph).
JULIAN: Right, right.
TOM: But when you do take them out, get all those staples nice and flat and then go ahead and add the drywall right to the wood strips. And I would recommend you use drywall screws to hold it in place, because sometimes those strips get a little bouncy if you try to nail into them. And the screws will be the easiest way to handle getting those sheets in place. And that’ll do a real good job and you’ll be very happy with it, I’m sure.
JULIAN: OK, OK. Is it very hard to do the design on the ceiling, like the “stomp and drag”? That’s what type of finish I was trying to get. Is that hard to do yourself?
TOM: Can I tell you how many calls we get from people that want to take that away?
JULIAN: Oh, really?
TOM: Seemed like a good idea at the time but we get dozens of calls every month from folks that want to remove textured ceilings.
TOM: So, we’d say don’t do it. Yeah, don’t do it.
LESLIE: Don’t do it. Do a good job with your tapes. Instead of doing just the paper tape when you’re doing the joints on the drywall on the ceiling, use the fiberglass tape.
JULIAN: OK. Alright.
LESLIE: Do thin coats. Do several coats and get wider as you go out from each coat. Let it dry well, sand in between, then prime it, because you’ve got brand-spanking new drywall. Prime it, let it dry. Then you want a ceiling paint, because it’s going to adhere differently. Use a flat paint, white, you’re good to go.
JULIAN: Thanks. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Julian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question. How can we help you?
SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the Fire Department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct: that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.
TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the Fire Department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”
SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.
SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”
TOM: No. I mean look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the Fire Department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.
SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?
TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.
TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?
SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.
LESLIE: Brian in Ohio is dealing with a settling house. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Ah, well, I have a real nice, 1930s, brick Colonial. And in a number of areas, you can see that the house has settled so that the doors aren’t square in the door frames. And the tile on one wall in the bathroom is about an inch below where the tile line on the other wall is. And there’s some cracks in the outside of the brick structure.
And I just wondered if it – if there’s a way to fix this to sort of square up the house. Because, among other things, if I redo the bathroom, I’m afraid that if the house is moving or twisting, so to speak, and I put new, beautiful tile on the floor or the wall, that it’ll crack that next.
TOM: Brian, did you have a home inspection done when you bought the house?
BRIAN: Well, I’m in the real estate business, so I kind of knew what I was getting into from the standpoint of the structure. So I did not have a home inspection done, no.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Or not.
OK, well, as a former professional home inspector, my first advice would be to determine if the home is still actively moving. And that’s the type of observation that takes a bit of a trained eye. You want to see if there’s anything that tells you that those cracks or active or not. It may very well be that in a 1930s house, this is just normal settlement that’s happened over time.
In terms of re-squaring the house, really bad idea; you never want to put a house back where you think it belongs. Because it took many, many, many, many years to get into that sort of skewed, settled state. If you try to lift up different pieces, you’ll end up cracking more walls, breaking wires, breaking pipes and that sort of thing.
So, what you would do, if you redid the bathroom, is basically just live with that. Chalk it up to another real estate word, “charm,” and just live with it, OK?
BRIAN: Thanks. Great. Great insight, OK.
TOM: Alright? There you go. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Britain (sp) from California on the line who’s got a question about a deck. How can we help you today?
BRITAIN (sp): Yes. My husband and I bought a house about two years ago and it’s a beautiful deck. However, it looks like it hasn’t been painted in probably 10 to 15 years. It’s white. The paint has been severely weathered and chipped and then on top of that, it’s very intricate. It’s not just a typical, plain wood: it’s ingrained and everything. And my husband and I are trying to figure out how to go about to strip the paint without harming the wood and – so that we can repaint it nice, clean white.
TOM: Well, first of all, you don’t have to strip it off 100 percent; you just have to get off all the loose stuff. And then after you get the loose stuff off, you can prime it. And the priming is going to take that old paint and really seal it in well and give you a fresh, new surface to put the top coat of paint on.
And if you do those – that sort of two-step process – with stripping it down and getting rid of all of the loose stuff, then priming and painting, I think you’ll have a deck that can last many, many additional years.
BRITAIN (sp): Thanks. My follow-up question would be: what’s the best way to go about stripping? It’s a two-tiered deck. I mean it has a lot to just have – be doing it hand – with my hand. Is there another way that I could do it without having to ask a professional?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. If you head over to any home center and go into the painting aisle, they’re going to have a professional stripping product, which comes in a can. And you roll it on with a roller and you usually let it sit for whatever time the specified directions tell you on the can itself.
And then you would go at it with a pressure washer and that’ll take off all of the paint. Or sometimes you have to scrape it off but there’s a lot of different approaches, depending on the type of chemical stripper that you get. And that’s really what you’re going to need; you just want to make sure that you protect any of your plantings around it, because some of it could be caustic to the natural items around it. So you want to make sure that you just do a good job of applying, following the directions and it’ll come right off.
You may need to do it more than once but it’ll come off.
BRITAIN (sp): Oh, my gosh. That’s so helpful. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, landscaping is an inexpensive way to improve your home and add curb appeal. But that project can deliver pretty disappointing results if the shrubs don’t survive. We’ll tell you the right way to take on this project, with a landscape that thrives, when we welcome Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House with those tips. And today’s This Old House segment is presented by new Trex Enhance Decking, now in stock at The Home Depot.
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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.
Well, we are still in what we like to call the “Goldilocks” time of year for home improvement: you know, it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold; it’s just right. So why not take advantage of this time of year by searching some great, spring home improvement projects and get a checklist, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
Now, you can literally beat the heat and be ready for the dog days of summer by getting to those projects right now.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to know to get our help on that next project. So give us a call right now.
LESLIE: Lyndon in Florida is on the line and needs some help with a water softener on well water.
Lyndon, tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
LYNDON: I have this water softener and it controls the water that comes in the entire house.
LYNDON: But it’s got a funny smell in the water sometimes because of the minerals. I’m looking for something that is inexpensive, that I can get rid of some of the minerals and be able to use my well water.
TOM: Well, have you had the well water tested recently?
LYNDON: No, I have not.
TOM: So, the first thing I want you to do is to have the well water tested.
TOM: And once you know what the components of the test are, then you – we know we can figure out from that what kind of treatment system you need. I suspect if you have odor issues, you’re probably going to need a charcoal filter as part of the system, because that will take that odor out – that sulfur-like odor out – and make it much easier on the nose for you to have a nice, fresh glass of water.
But the first step, Lyndon, is to have it tested so we know what the contaminants are. Then you’ll know exactly what to do about it.
Lyndon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, adding shrubbery to the front of your house can be a great way to add curb appeal.
TOM: And planting a shrub is something that most DIYers can handle themselves without a pro. Landscaping contractor, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House can tell us how.
Roger, this does seem to be the kind of thing that just about everybody can do. But it’s pretty easy to make a critical mistake when you plant shrubs and you’re only going to find out this problem several weeks later when they don’t start to grow.
ROGER: Several weeks later and several years later, when they grow too much and they’re all over your house.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s a good point. So, what’s the first step? Choosing the appropriate plant for the appropriate area?
ROGER: North, south, east, west. Sun, shade, wet, dry. All those factors that you need to look at before you even go to the nursery and think about what you’re going to put in the ground.
LESLIE: So it’s a good idea to walk in there with your list of criteria for that space, like, “OK, I’ve got this corner. It’s east-facing. We get a lot of sunlight, mid-afternoon shade.” And then your garden center can say, “These are good choices.”
ROGER: Right. You’ve got a lot of programs online that will help you with the appropriate plants once you plug in that information. But it’s great to go to a garden center and talk to someone who has real knowledge of your area and can help you out with a plant just right for that sunny corner.
TOM: But sometimes it’s difficult, though. For example, we have one line of bushes that go down the side of our house that are Manhattan Euonymus. They go from 5 feet down to about 18 inches under the tree, because once they hit the competition from the tree and the root system and stuff, no matter what we do, you’re never going to get anything that fills in in a spot like that.
ROGER: Well, that’s what I call micro-factors that you have to take in, like the root system underneath a big tree like that. You have to find a plant that’s aggressive enough to still grow under there. It may not be the Manhattan Euonymus; you may to first go to something real aggressive, like an ivy or something like that.
LESLIE: Now, I know when it comes time to actually plant whatever it is you’ve selected, I hate to say it but I tend to get lazy. Digging holes is not my most favorite chore around the yard. And as soon I’m like, “Meh, that looks deep enough” – how do you know what the proper depth, width should be for a hole for that plant?
ROGER: Well, what I find is people do a great job on the first hole, not so good on the second. And then the third hole, they’re jamming the plant in and stepping on it. Two-and-a-half to three times the size of the container or the ball. Do …
LESLIE: Deep, wide.
ROGER: Wide, wide. And depth is always 2 to 3 inches shallower than how that plant is in the container or the ball.
LESLIE: OK. So you want part of it to stick up, actually.
ROGER: Just be mounded up a little bit. Because in nature, when you look and see a tree growing, they’re never down in the ground; they never look like a telephone pole going in the ground. There’s always a mound on the edge called a “root flare.” And that’s supposed to be at the top of the ground. Too often, we find that the root flare on a shrub or a tree is buried.
ROGER: So one of the things you have to do is look at the top of that and maybe peel a little stuff back until you find the root flare. And that’s where you make your measurement, too.
LESLIE: If you do cover that, can that sort of invite root rot and cause some illnesses?
ROGER: It can do – yeah, it can do a lot of things. Number one, it won’t grow as well as it should. Number two, it won’t mature into the specimen it’s going to be. And then down the road, it’ll start to show disease, insects and problems like you were talking about.
TOM: Now, once you actually dig the hole and set the shrub in place and you’re conscious to make sure you have the root flare where you need it, what about the soil that you put back in? Should you condition the soil that you took out in any way? Mix it with fertilizer or anything like that?
ROGER: I always do. This is the one opportunity to give that plant some good soil to grow in.
ROGER: So I add compost and I add loam. And in some cases, I’ll even add sand to the mix so that I get a good draining mixture that the roots can grow out into. And I’ll use some of the existing topsoil that’s good and mix it all together and then I backfill with that.
LESLIE: What if the shrub has one of those burlap-wrapped balls? Keep the burlap on?
ROGER: Take everything off, yep.
LESLIE: Take it all off. Because I’ve seen people plant them right in the ground with the wrap on them. I’m like, “That can’t be right.”
ROGER: No. I’ve seen professionals do that.
ROGER: And the new specifications that are coming out say take everything off you can. If you leave a little bit of wire or a little bit of burlap on the very bottom, that’s not critical. What we do now is we remove everything and then we go around the ball with a claw or a fork and we loosen up all the soil.
Those trees have been dug and put on trucks and hauled all over the place.
LESLIE: Possibly for months.
ROGER: Right. And they’re really compact. So you want to free the roots; let them grow out.
TOM: Loosen them up a bit.
ROGER: Exactly. And it also helps moisture to get down into where the roots are.
TOM: So, Roger, how much water do you actually really need to give that shrub to give it a good start?
ROGER: I like to see the shrub soaked and that means laying a hose down and letting it run for maybe a half-an-hour at a slow drip, two to three times a week on a new shrub for the first two or three weeks. After that, once a week for the first season.
Now, if you have a lot of rain, you don’t need to water. If you have real dry conditions, you should add in some extra waterings.
TOM: Speaking of soaking, what do you think about soaker hose?
ROGER: I love it. It’s a great product. You can bury it down in and make sure you get it all – put it right around the base of the plants, out a little bit where the roots are, not around the trunk. And then just leave it there. It can stay there for a year or two until the shrubs get established. Then you can take it up and use it on a new bed.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, with your help, I know that our shrubs will be surviving and thriving. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step video on how you can plant a shrub and even other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. Home Depot, more savings, more doing.
Up next, have your sidewalks seen better days? We’ll have an easy DIY way to get them back into shape, after this.
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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.
Hey, do you want a great Father’s Day gift for the father figure in your life? Well, pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour – and next hour, for that matter – is going to win a great prize package from Stanley Tools worth 235 bucks. It’s got eight awesome products in it from Stanley.
TOM: And one of the tools in the package is the IntelliSensor Plus Stud Sensor. It can find studs at multiple depths in both wood and metal. And you’ll also get a Mechanics Tool Set with 201 pieces.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, you can also find some more great gift ideas in our Father’s Day gift guide on MoneyPit.com, which is sponsored by Stanley. Just head to our website right now. Again, it’s MoneyPit.com.
Well, it’s time now for our Project of the Week, presented by Sakrete, makers of concrete, mortar and stucco mixes.
You know, this is the perfect time of year to fix up your walkway. You can build a walkway using stone or brick pavers that can add value and become a stunning detail. And of course, this is a project that you can totally do yourself.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, you’ve got to start with a very level work area. That really is the key area of importance to keep in mind. Now, also, the right materials are super-important.
Sakrete makes a polymeric sand that’s designed to be used in paver joints, instead of the regular sand that you’d normally go for. Now, the polymeric sand will kill any weeds that are trying to pop up and it also creates a super-strong bond between those pavers. Way stronger than sand. Now, it’s also flexible enough to move and shift so that the pavers don’t crack from any pressure that just happens with a normal winter season.
Now, you’re going to want to lay the pavers out with your proper spacing. Then power-wash your pavers and scrub them with a cleaner. Then you want to wait about a day or two until they’re dry, then go ahead and pour that polymeric sand right over your pavers, all into the cracks. And tap on your pavers to make sure that the polymeric sand is really going to settle in.
TOM: And then it’s really important to get any leftover sand off the top of the walk or it could possibly stain. So you can sweep it off but a leaf blower will probably do a better job.
Now, after you’ve cleared off the excess, you want to spray water all over the surface with a fine-mist nozzle, wait a few hours and spray it again. Then just keep the kids and pets and neighbors off the walkway for a day or so and voilà, you just added some value to your home.
If you’d like more great ideas just like that, you can visit Sakrete.com. They’ve got a wide range of products for any concrete, stucco or masonry job you might need. That’s Sakrete.com – S-a-k-r-e-t-e.com.
LESLIE: John in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Being that I’m trying to be more conscious of the energy that we use and most times that we don’t use, as far as wasting – so one thing that I’m contemplating whether or not to do is putting on a timer for my water heater in my home.
JOHN: Being the fact that we only really need the hot water in the early morning, taking a shower, or in the evening times when we come home, is it doable? Is it worth investing and putting a timer in your system for that? And is that something that the average homeowner can do or is that something that you have to get a licensed contractor for?
TOM: Well, first of all, it is a good project to do because you’re right: you don’t need your water heater heating water to 110 degrees 24-7. You only need it when you are home, when you’re showering, when you’re bathing, things like that. And it will stay warm for the rest of the time, so setting the water to heat only for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening makes sense.
TOM: That said, unless you’re very experienced with electricity, it’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project because it is or could be quite dangerous. You have to turn off the power at the breaker panel and then you have to install an electrical box between the water heater and the panel.
And there’s a type of timer made by Intermatic called – the Little Grey Box is what it usually says on it. It’s the Little Grey Box.
JOHN: OK. Well, that’s great. Well, thank you. Hey, it’s a great show. I enjoy listening. Getting a lot of ideas.
TOM: Appreciate the call. 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, the sun is shining and the birds are singing and bugs, gross. Bugs! Bugs and other critters. They’re having a great time in your house right now. We are going to jump into questions about pest control, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: On air, online and in The Money Pit community at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got some posts here to tackle. We’ve got one here from Chris in Oklahoma who’s dealing with a bug issue.
LESLIE: That’s right. Chris writes: “My neighbors just told me that they found termites in their wood trim. Does this mean that I’m more likely to get them? And what should I do?”
TOM: That’s a really common question. Sometimes we see termite swarms in a neighborhood and people think that that would increase the risk of them coming into your house. Termites don’t move through property like a flood; they’re there. I mean you just are not seeing them but I can guarantee you they are part of Mother Nature’s perfect plan to get rid of dead wood like trees and that sort of thing. And unfortunately, we also find that dead wood very handy to build houses and so they don’t know the difference and they will get in there eventually.
So, it’s a good idea to do a couple of things. First of all, have your home inspected by a qualified termite inspector. Could be a termite inspector that works for a treatment company or it could be a professional home inspector. But have it very carefully inspected. And if you find termites, have it treated.
Now, the good news is that the treatments for termites have gotten far smarter and more sophisticated than they were many, many years ago. The treatments today are undetectable to termites, which is a good thing. Because as they apply these termiticides in the soil that surrounds the house, they provide an invisible barrier. The termites don’t know it’s there, so what do they do? They go through it on their way back to their nest, because termites won’t live in your house. They come in to feed and they go back to the soil, down deep in the soil for water.
And as they do that, they go through the termiticide. It spreads from insect to insect, they pass it around the nest and just like germ warfare, they’re all gone. So you can control them but you should be inspecting for them and be very wary.
But just because your neighbor got termites doesn’t mean you would necessarily have them. I think your risk has probably always been there; it’s just perhaps more top of mind because the neighbors have …
LESLIE: Alright. Now Melinda from New Jersey posted: “I have stink bugs in my house that won’t go away. Is there any way to get rid of them?”
Do not squish them.
TOM: Yeah. Because then you’ll know why they’re called “stink bugs.” The best way to get rid of stink bugs is to vacuum them up.
Now, what you can do – it’s a little trick of the trade. You can take a – like a stocking, an old stocking, and stick it in the end of the vacuum hose so it becomes a filter, sort of like a catch.
LESLIE: Not one with a run in it.
TOM: Yeah, right. Or maybe, yes, one with a run in it so that it’s an old one, you know?
LESLIE: If you’re not putting it in the runny area.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right.
LESLIE: You want to contain these suckers.
TOM: And then as you vacuum them up, they’ll be trapped in there, which is a good thing. Otherwise, you have to throw out the bag right away. And then you can sort of pull out your homemade filter there and toss them away.
Now, if you want to get rid of them on a permanent basis, you’re probably going to have to have the area treated by a pest-control firm. But between now and then, if you vacuum everything up and if you seal up any small gaps and cracks around your windows and doors, that’ll go a long way towards at least cutting down the population.
LESLIE: Alright. Along the same lines, we’ve got a post from Bill who writes: “Mice are coming into my home and eating my pet’s food. What can I do about this?”
Get rid of your pet’s food. At the end of the day, take it off the floor and put it away. Seriously, you should not be leaving it out for long periods of time.
TOM: And you know what else? A lot of time, for example, we have dog food that’s stored inside of a standard dog-food bag. That’s not a good thing; you have to get that off the floor. You have to keep it in sealed containers.
LESLIE: And in a plastic container.
TOM: Exactly. Otherwise, they’ll chew right through it and have a never-ending supply of food to stay healthy and active inside your house.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So you need to contain your pet’s food, clear away their dishes at the end of the day, clean up any crumbs that you might have on your countertop, seal up any holes under your sink where they might be coming in from, plan ahead, be tidy. I’m not calling you messy, Bill, but a couple of steps of preparedness and those mice are gone.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Happy Summer Home Improving, everybody. Hope we’ve given you some great ideas, some inspiration, some tips, some education on how you can get these projects done on your own. Hope you are enjoying them, enjoying the day, enjoying the work and getting a little satisfaction from updating your money pit on this weekend.
If you’ve got questions 24-7, we are accessible online at MoneyPit.com. You can simply post your question there in The Money Pit 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.)