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  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, you got a home organization question? You got a home cleaning question? You got a project that absolutely, positively has to get done and you’ve been asking your spouse for months and he or she won’t tackle it? Well, why not do it yourself? We’ll help you get it started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    Well, we’re celebrating Earth Month here at the Money Pit. We’ve got lots of info to share with you this hour and you can find even more at MoneyPit.com. We’ve created an entire section; all green information designed to help you ferret out the best green ideas, green practices, green tips that will help you save money and save energy around your house.
    Coming up this hour, we’re going to have green ways to clean your home; including some tips on all-natural products from your pantry that you can mix up to make your own cleaning products and some new green products from trusted names in the industry.
    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are you looking for ways to save money? Well, how about thinking about ways to shave a few bucks off your grocery bills. Why not try planting a garden and then take advantage of all of the fresh veggies that are way less expensive and far more nutritious than the ones you’re going to get at the store. Again, all of this and more green ideas we’ve got online for you at MoneyPit.com and our special online green section is being sponsored by the folks at APC and they’re the makers of a great product that you’re going to hear more about this hour.
    TOM: Yeah, it’s called a Back-UPS ES-750G. You’ve heard us talk about energy vampires; you know, those electronics in your home that use energy all the time – even when they’re off. This is a power strip and a battery backup that will protect your most important electronic equipment and cut down on those energy costs as well. We’ll have more tips on that, coming up.
    LESLIE: And even our prize is green this hour. We’re giving away the Wonder Wash from Laundry Alternative and this is a manual mini-washing machine which is perfect if you go camping or if you go traveling around in an RV or if you live in an apartment or even if you’ve got a college-age kid who lives in a dorm room. This way, you won’t have to do their laundry; they can actually do it themselves.
    TOM: It’s worth 43 bucks. Going to go out to one caller we talk to this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: John in New York has a problem with the copper pipes in his home. What can we do for you?
    JOHN: Basically, I was looking for some information on something that my plumber called white brass. He came in to check some pipes and said that because they were installed during war time, they were made with a lower copper content – mostly zinc – and that, therefore, they were brittle and they probably had a service life of about 80 years; after which they would start cracking and spewing. So I’m wondering if your experts have ever come across this problem and any advice on how to handle it.
    TOM: And are you having some problems with them now or is your plumber just predicting that you’re going to have issues?
    JOHN: Well, what happened was they were given a hit. They took a little hit and it cracked; the riser that brought hot water in.
    TOM: OK.
    JOHN: And that had to be fixed right away. I had to turn off the main valve and bring in a plumber. And by the way, one other piece of advice: if you open up your main valve and it’s 40 years old, it’s going to throw a lot of scale into the pipe. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, I bet, right?
    JOHN: Just a little something to avoid or you may want to replace that preemptively when you get a chance. What he said, basically, was that the pipes were what he called white brass. It was made with a very high zinc content and less copper.
    TOM: Right.
    JOHN: He said it was common during wartime. Most of the copper was diverted to war production and that he’s seen that in some of the houses in brownstone Brooklyn and that it was something to watch out for.
    TOM: Well, it probably is but I wouldn’t necessarily tell you to replace all your plumbing prematurely. If they’re a little more fragile, I think that you should probably just live with that and replace them as incidents occur.
    JOHN: Right. No, that sounds reasonable. That’s reassuring.
    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t – you know sometimes you get plumbers that – in any part of the country; Brooklyn or anywhere – that will predict imminent failure and what they mean is they need a new job. (Leslie chuckles) So I just want to make sure that’s not what’s going on here. Sure, there are pipes out there that are a little more brittle than others but, in this particular case, I would only address it as the leaks form.
    JOHN: OK, great. Great. OK, I thank you both.
    TOM: You’re welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We want to help you celebrate Earth Month by doing something green in your money pit, so give us a call and we’ll help you get the job done right. All you need to do is pick up the phone and dial 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we are here to help you.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Coming up, tips to help you clean your home without using chemicals. You can do this yourself. You can save lots of money. You’ve got the products right now in your cupboards. We’ll prove it, next.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we are talking green all month long here at The Money Pit because it is officially Earth Month and we want to help you save a ton of money and make your house environmentally responsible. And so this hour we’re giving away a prize that’s also going to help you save money and energy. All you need to do is give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you could win the Wonder Wash from Laundry Alternative. Now the Wonder Wash is going to clean your clothes in a seriously compact, portable and affordable machine and it uses 90% less water than a traditional washing machine and can fit on your countertop. It’s great for camping or dorm rooms. It’s super-affordable – it’s only 43 bucks – but the Wonder Wash could be yours for free if we pick your name out of the Money Pit hardhat, so give us a call for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Now, speaking of cleaning, now here is a way to clean your pots and pans without spending very much at all. Instead of using tarnish remover to polish up your copper-bottom cookware, you can cut a fresh lemon in half and sprinkle some salt on it. Then, using the lemon, rub the salt into the copper and you will be amazed at how fast the tarnish absolutely scrubs away.
    To clean your oven without harsh chemicals, you can use a paste of baking soda and water and then scrub the stains with steel wool.
    LESLIE: Yeah, and a quick mix of one teaspoon each of vinegar and lemon in a cup of water is going to freshen up your microwave. All you need to do is cook that mixture on high for two minutes and every odor that’s sticking in there from things you’ve cooked will be gone in an instant. And here we’ve got something from a name you trust in cleaning your home and they’ve got a green cleaner as well and we’re talking about Clorox. And they’ve got a whole new brand called Green Works and their cleaners are all plant and mineral-based and 99% all natural and they work great, too, and they cost about the same as those chemical cleaners.
    TOM: Well, for a complete list of all-natural cleaning recipes, you can check out our next Money Pit e-newsletter. It’s free. Sign up now at MoneyPit.com. And also, you can visit our special green section at MoneyPit.com/Green for all the tips, all the info you need on how to be green in your house.
    888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now if you need a way to help green your house a bit. We’ll help you at The Money Pit. Give us a call.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Robin in Utah needs some help with a basement remodel. What’s going on in your project?
    ROBIN: Well, my husband and I are planning on finishing (ph) our basement. We have a rambler home …
    TOM: OK.
    ROBIN: … and we’re currently – we have about a 20-foot section of wall that I want to remove so that I can open up the basement a little bit. And I was wondering if it’s possible to put a beam because it’s a load-bearing wall.
    TOM: You can pretty much remove any load-bearing wall and replace it with a beam if you have the money. It’s very expensive and fairly complex to do that. I mean look, we can lift houses off foundations if we need to; we certainly can take a wall out and replace it with a structural member like a beam. But it’s pretty complicated because it depends on how much weight that particular section is holding but generally the process is that you have to support the section of the house that you’re disassembling the load-bearing wall. So that means building temporary walls on either side of the load-bearing wall; then you disassemble that load-bearing wall and you replace it with an appropriately-sized beam and that size would be determined by an architect or an engineer in specing out how much weight it has to support. And then you put the whole thing back together; you take out the temporary walls and you’re good to go.
    If you do it all correctly, it stays in place without your house falling down around you. But it’s a pretty complicated project, so it’s really going to be important for you to want to pick up that additional space to do this.
    LESLIE: Going out to California to chat with Ed about water hammer. What’s going on?
    ED: We have a problem with copper pipes.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    ED: We installed copper pipes to replace the galvanized about 40 years ago. No problems until about five years ago. Now, when we flush the toilet or turn off the tap there’s a sound like water hammer.

    TOM: It’s probably happening because the brackets have loosened up. You know, water is very heavy as it flies through the pipes on its way to your fixture and then you turn the faucet off and that centrifugal force keeps moving forward and shakes the pipes and the more they shake the looser they get and that’s what can cause this water hammer and the rattling sound. So, a couple of things.

    First of all, I would examine all of the accessible areas where you can check the brackets that attach the pipes to the framing area. And the second thing you can do is have what’s called a water hammer arrestor, which is kind of like a shock absorber for your plumbing system, installed by a plumber near the fixture and that will solve this problem and quiet it down. The good news is that water hammer rarely causes any type of a leak. It’s more of an annoyance, but that’s the way to solve it.

    ED: Great, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ed. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Roger in Michigan has a question about his garage. What can we help you with?
    ROGER: I have a new house and I do want to seal my garage because it’s probably the first heated garage we’ve ever had and we’re coming in now with the snow and everything and it’s – you know, water is [in it] (ph) just laying there and I’ve got to push it out and then it freezes and all that stuff. So, I do want to seal the floor. The garage is 28×25 and what do I need to do; what kind of preparation do I need to do to do this so – having listened to you guys over the years – to do it right so it lasts?

    TOM: I think the best finishes today for garage floors are the epoxy paints.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and the good news is a lot of these products come with their own sort of preparatory step product either built into phase one or as a separate, stand-alone product on its own in the kit.

    TOM: You might want to take a look at either QUIKRETE has a garage coating system and also EPOXYShield; two leading brands ..

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, both are great.

    TOM: Both work very similarly. They’re two-part epoxies, Roger, so that you have the base and then you have the activator. It’s all inside of the same can. So you have a gallon that’s like short-filled. It looks like it has about three-quarters of a gallon in it and then you have this quart which is like the activator. You mix the two together and then you have, you know, a couple of hours to work with this. Before you do that use the cleaning product to clean the floor and get it ready to go. And I’ve found that those epoxy paints can really last a long time. I’ll tell you, we used it at the Boy Scout house. We have a concrete floor there. And man, those kids, as you can imagine, put it through its paces; much worse than any car or road salt could and they – it really stood up very well.

    LESLIE: Now since Roger is probably going to need to buy two kits because he’s dealing with 700 square feet of floor surface, is it best to sort of put both components; like both of the epoxy and the resin compound into a five-gallon bucket and mix it all together?

    TOM: No. Nope, nope, nope. Not unless you work really fast.

    LESLIE: OK. (Roger chuckles)

    TOM: No. (Tom laughs)

    ROGER: You know me. OK, alright. (chuckling)
    LESLIE: Edith, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you in Georgia?
    EDITH: Yes, I have a question. My living room has two large windows in it and my den is at the other end of the hallway and when I’m sitting at my computer I get a cool draft down the hallway and I was wondering if I could use, maybe, folding doors or a curtain. I would just like to know which one would look better.

    LESLIE: To go in front of your windows or to separate the two rooms?

    EDITH: To separate the two rooms.

    TOM: First of all, the windows seem to be the source of the problem here?

    EDITH: Right.

    TOM: OK. Have you – how old is the house?

    EDITH: I live in an apartment.

    TOM: Oh, it’s an apartment. OK. So this is predominantly a wintertime issue for you?

    EDITH: Right.

    TOM: Alright. Now, do you need to open the windows in the wintertime?

    EDITH: No, not really.

    TOM: Alright, I’m going to give you a couple of suggestions here. If you don’t have to open the windows in the wintertime for any reason – and this includes emergency egress in the event of a fire or something like that – you can use a product that is a temporary caulk and it’s a clear caulk. Actually, what you’re doing is sort of caulking the windows shut with this clear caulk so it’s invisible when you’re done, but it’s a temporary caulk so that in the spring it peels right off. Edith, you know when you get like a new credit card in the mail and it’s kind of stuck to the paper with like a clear, gooey stuff?

    EDITH: Right.

    TOM: Well, that’s what it kind of feels like. It’s sort of a temporary sticky material like that that dries smooth and then in the springtime you peel it right off; comes all off in one piece.

    Now, in terms of the next step and maybe separating these rooms, then I’ll turn it over to our in-house decorator here.

    EDITH: OK.

    LESLIE: Now, I think if you’re going with a folding door, that’s going to require quite a bit of carpentry or at least screwing in of hinging or a track system and you might not be able to do that; especially since it’s an apartment. But if you’re looking to do something more of – you can get a good-quality tension rod that can go in that doorway that separates the two rooms …

    EDITH: Right.

    LESLIE: … and then you can get a good, weighty curtain to sort of hang in there and it’ll make a nice transition between the two rooms so even in the springtime you can sort of tie them back into that doorway to sort of create a nice entrance between the two rooms; but in the winter you can close it up.

    EDITH: OK.

    LESLIE: And make sure that they are a little bit longer so you get a little bit of puddling on the floor because if you get them flush with the floor, where they’re almost even floating above it, they’re still going to allow that draft through. But make sure that you get a good tension rod that can really support the weight of that drape that you’re going to put in there.

    EDITH: OK.

    TOM: Edith, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Thomas in New Jersey needs some help removing a rust stain. What can we do for you?
    THOMAS: I have a problem. I have a recurring problem. I’ve been getting water coming in, in the carpet. And I checked the walls; it’s not from the walls. It’s got to be coming from underneath the foundation.
    TOM: Is this a slab foundation? Do you have a concrete slab?
    THOMAS: (overlapping voices) Yeah, concrete slab.
    TOM: OK. And is it getting wet near the exterior wall or middle of the house? Where?
    THOMAS: An exterior wall; right …
    TOM: OK.
    THOMAS: Right on the exterior wall.
    TOM: Alright, the source of that water is going to be a drainage issue outside the house. You want to look at your gutter system and your grading. Because what happens, Tom, is the water will pile up around the outside. It may not be so obvious to you in the sense that a puddle forms, but it gets very saturated and then it gets into the slab and solid concrete is very hydroscopic; it’s very absorbent to water. And so what happens is it’ll start drawing that water from the outside straight through to the inside and dampen the carpet at the same time.
    LESLIE: Now as for that rust stain, if you’ve got any sort of residue of rust on the carpet fibers itself, take a dull utility knife blade and try to scrape off as much of that rust that you can. And then once you’ve done that, you want to saturate the entire stain with lemon juice. Now you can use the fresh kind or you can use the bottled kind of lemon juice but you want to …
    THOMAS: Like ReaLemon?
    LESLIE: Right, real lemons or even the – you know the store bought lemon in the jar; whatever you’ve got.
    TOM: I like the ReaLemon. I think it works a lot better for stain removal.
    THOMAS: Oh, fine. Do I mix it water or anything or I just …?
    LESLIE: Nope, straight up lemon juice and you want to saturate the stain area and you want to let the juice sit right there for at least five minutes but no more than ten because if you go more than ten you could bleach the rug. So no more than ten …
    THOMAS: (overlapping voices) OK, no more than ten minutes.
    LESLIE: Right. Then you want to blot the stain with a white paper towel – don’t rub; blot – and that should do the trick. And if that doesn’t do the trick, then you want to work with about a 1/4 teaspoon of like a liquid dishwashing detergent and a quart of water and you want to apply the detergent to a clean, damp, white towel and then blot the stained area until the stain is removed. And once you’ve got the stain out, you want to spray the area with water and then blot until all of the detergent is gone. But the lemon really should do the trick and, once it’s dry, vacuum the area and you’ll never know it was there.
    THOMAS: OK. Well, thank you for what you’ve told me.
    TOM: You’re very welcome, Tom. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to have some tips to help you with your home computing. You know, we pretty much can’t survive these days without a home computer but what happens when the power goes out? Is there a way to help protect the computer, the hard drive and all the data you’re working on? Well, there is. It’s called a Back-UPS and we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to know to get one in your house, next.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And you’ve heard us talk about energy vampires. Those are the electronics, like your computer, that suck energy from your home whether they’re on or whether they’re off and they also steal dollars right out of your wallet all the time. But now there’s a great new product to help out with those vampires and help protect your computer’s hard drive as well.
    LESLIE: And here to tell us all about Back-UPS and how you can win one, we’ve got Andrew Bradner who is the product line manager.
    ANDREW: Thank you, Leslie. Thank you, Tom.
    TOM: Andrew, tell us about a Back-UPS. Now I have had backups and, in fact, APC Back-UPS for probably a good ten years now and they’ve protected my computers. But for those that are unaware of what a battery backup does, can you talk about how it helps you?
    ANDREW: Sure. So battery backups provide power protection and this can be a various number of anomalies that may travel over your power lines. It could be something as simple as what you would expect – a surge or a transient that’s an over-voltage – or it could be something as serious as a blackout or an under-voltage, a brown-out, that could damage your electronics; most specifically is with equipment that has a hard drive or internal memory that could be corrupted.
    LESLIE: So now is this giving us enough backup power, in the event of this outage, to just turn off everything or can we continue working?
    ANDREW: At the entry level it’s something that would just allow you to gracefully shut down your system. And by “graceful shutdown,” I mean APC operating software that works with your operating system that would allow your computer to automatically shut down whether you’re at the computer or not.
    ANDREW: We also offer products that have more run time; that allow you to actually work through the outage.
    LESLIE: And are these backup units – I mean are they similar in size to a surge protector or are we looking at something quite enormous to add to our home office?
    ANDREW: They’re not enormous. They are slightly larger than a surge protector. They do include a battery in them, so they’re a little bit larger; about the size, I’d say, of a shoebox.
    LESLIE: But I mean being someone who has lost pretty much everything on a hard drive due to a power outage once when I was switching from an old computer to a new computer in the process of switching over all the information …
    TOM: Bad timing. (chuckles)
    LESLIE: It was terrible timing. So I mean the whole concept of this Back-UPS is just fascinating and delightful and also makes me angry. But I’m thrilled to learn about it.
    TOM: You know what I love about the Back-UPS that I have in my house is they’re usually the first reason I know we’ve had a power failure. Because the power goes out during the day – you may not have the lights on – my computer doesn’t even blink. But for the alarm on the Back-UPS telling me that I’m on battery-backup power at this point, I wouldn’t know that we have a power outage. So definitely an important thing to have and now, Andrew, it seems that these are getting smarter and smarter because now you’ve actually improved these to the point where they can help prevent energy leaks. Talk a little bit about the vampire power issue and some of the technology that prevents your computer now from losing that kind of energy and costing you lots of money.
    ANDREW: Sure. So many of us have desktop or even laptop setups where we have all these peripherals attached to them and what happens is we generally are only on a computer for several hours during the day; especially if it’s a home user. So you may be there before work, after work, three or four hours a day; but many people either keep their computers on or they put them into a sleep mode and think that they’re saving electricity or being energy efficient. The problem is a lot of peripherals that connect to your computer don’t have that same savings or, even when they’re turned off, their transformer blocks or their power adapters continue to use power. And generally, even if the equipment isn’t on, they’ll dissipate that power as heat.
    So what our new products do, both a surge protector as well as a battery backup, is offer an automatic shutoff to those connected peripherals. So each of these units offers one master outlet, which we recommend is connected to a desktop computer, and three controlled outlets. And those controlled outlets will automatically shut off all the power to the connected peripheral that you plug in to those three outlets.
    TOM: So the controlled outlets aren’t actually protected by the battery backup but then you really don’t need the controlled outlets to be on the battery backup. The main outlet just really protects your computer; everything else, it really just prevents you from losing that vampire power. Is that correct?
    ANDREW: Correct. So we would recommend peripherals that don’t require battery backup protection, as you mentioned. So when your computer goes to sleep or you’re not using it, what we do is shut off any power to those outlets and when you come back and you start using your computer again, they’ll automatically turn back on.
    TOM: So Andrew, how much can you actually save when you’re using a Back-UPS 750G? I mean if we’re going to stop all those energy leaks, what does that add up to in real dollars?
    ANDREW: Sure. So what we believe is that average user will save about $40 a year. This is split between the actual savings that you’d have by shutting off the connected equipment which runs about $20, $25 a year depending on each user’s setup and then about $10 to $15 in savings from the efficient design that we’ve included in the unit with the battery charger and the way that the product is designed. So the $40 a year, what that allows you to do is actually have, essentially, free power protection for your home computer because this unit will end up paying for itself over the three-year warranty period.
    TOM: Yeah, easily, easily, easily. Well, it’s a great unit. It’s great technology. I love the fact that we’re finding ways to stop those energy leaks because, let’s face it, nobody remembers to unplug all of their peripherals when they’re not using it and this is an easy way to do just that.
    Andrew Bradner, product line manager for APC’s Back-UPS, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
    ANDREW: Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie.
    TOM: And I know APC also has a promotion going on right now, so if you head on over to MoneyPit.com you can enter their promotion and perhaps win an APC Back-UPS for your house.
    LESLIE: Well, speaking of green, up next we’re going to help save you money by growing your own vegetables. We’re going to explain how to cultivate cash in your garden, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    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. You might just win the Wonder Wash from Laundry Alternative. Giving that away this hour. It’s a compact and portable washing machine that fits on your countertop. Perfect for dorm rooms, apartments and RVs and it uses 90% less water and it’s worth 43 bucks. So give us a call right now if you’d like to ask your home improvement question. We will toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat and you might just win yourself that Wonder Wash; then you can clean all your stuff by hand and save lots of energy at the same time. Maybe burn off a few calories as well.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s right. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call for your chance to win but you’ve got to ask us a question to win that great prize. And maybe you’re thinking about ways to save money outside of your money pit and you’re starting to think about, hmm, grocery bills. They are always very expensive.
    Well, if you’re dealing with expensive grocery bills and you love to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, why not plant a garden and then this way you can harvest your own vegetables. You know just a $50 investment in seeds and fertilizer can result in a bumper crop of groceries that are worth about $1,250 according to research done by the Burpee Seed Company. Now, home grown vegetables, they are fresher, tastier and far more nutritious than those you would buy in the grocery store, but the key is proper planning. Because too often, home gardeners plant an item such as lettuce early in the season and then leave the site uncultivated after harvesting a month later. You can get much more successful results when you extend the season from early planting to late harvesting. And let me tell you, if you’ve got a green thumb, it really is a fantastic way to enjoy the wonderful, nutritious benefits of fresh vegetables and they’re so good.
    TOM: For more great green ideas, visit MoneyPit.com for our special Earth Day coverage sponsored by APC. It’s a month-long look at ways to be eco-friendly in your home.
    888-666-3974.   Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Mary in Ohio is needing some help with a painting project. What can we do for you?
    MARY: I removed wallpaper off of my stairway going upstairs. Now I would like to know what to use to wash it real good because I took off the wallpaper with vinegar but I couldn’t get all of it off. So what would I use to prepare it for painting?
    TOM: Do you still have some of the paste on there or is it pretty flat?
    MARY: I think probably.
    TOM: OK. Well, what I would do is I’d first wash it with trisodium phosphate – TSP; available at home centers, hardware stores, paint stores, that sort of thing.
    MARY: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, I have some.
    TOM: OK, good.
    LESLIE: Oh, good.
    TOM: So do a good job of washing that out. Make sure you rinse to get all of the old soap off and then it’s going to be really important, Mary, that you prime the walls.
    MARY: Should I sand it first? I’m going to have to patch some of the holes.
    TOM: Only – well, OK. Do all your patching and stuff and, yes, do all your sanding; but don’t sand too hard, now, because if you’ve got drywall there you’ll go right through the paper surface.
    MARY: Oh, no. I have plaster, which is good.
    TOM: Oh, yeah; plaster. Sanding it lightly is not a bad thing but it’s real important that you prime it. You can use – probably an oil-based primer would do the best job. When you have a somewhat unknown and inconsistent surface, you’re usually better off using an oil-based primer. But you can also use the alkyd primers, which dry very fast, but the only thing I don’t like about those, Leslie, is they tend to leave brush marks or roller marks because they do dry so quick.
    LESLIE: Yeah, you get a lot of brush marks or roller marks.
    Another thing, Mary, to keep in mind is since you’re dealing with possibly an uneven surface or you know areas where you might have some of that sticky stuff still there that might show, if you go with a flat finish on your paint, any sort of inconsistencies on that wall surface really won’t stand out. If you went with any sort of gloss or sheen, it would really make it obvious; so go flat to sort of hide those imperfections.
    MARY: OK. So the best thing to do is to wash it with the TSP.
    TOM: Exactly.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, then prime then paint.
    MARY: Yes. OK. Thank you. I was going to do that, so I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.
    TOM: Well, you’re absolutely on the right track, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Up next, we are going to answer an e-mail about a worn-out brick chimney which is in need of desperate help. Well, there are two options but we’re going to uncover the best one for our homeowner, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And hey, folks; you know Mothers Day and Fathers Day are just around the corner and Money Pit fan-wear is the perfect gift for the DIY mom or dad in your life. We’ve got Money Pit shirts, hats, all kinds of accessories in the Money Pit propaganda center (Leslie chuckles) live at MoneyPit.com, so check it out.
    LESLIE: That’s right. And don’t forget – here’s one more pitch – we’ve got our book; we’ve got the My Home, My Money Pit. It’s your guide to every home improvement adventure. It’s available now at MoneyPit.com. You can click on our online store tab. It is full of shut useful information that will really help you make smart and informed home improvement decisions around your money pit.
    TOM: Including how to get your spouse to do the project they’ve been putting off.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly. That’s on page one. (laughs) Well, while you’re online, folks, why not shoot us an e-mail with your question. We’ve got one here from Victor in New York who writes: “I have an 80-year-old Tudor home with a brick chimney. The chimney has not been pointed in 30 years and now leaks when it rains. Should I have it pointed or could I have it stuccoed to match the rest of the house?”
    TOM: Well, you could have it stuccoed to match the rest of the house but it’s still going to leak, Victor (Leslie chuckles), because stucco – being a masonry-based product – is not going to seal out the water. Look, generally the reason chimneys leak is because they crack; the chimney crown cracks. Now that’s the area of mortar between the chimney liner and the outside edge of the structure itself. Typically, you get cracks in that area because the concrete cap – the mortar cap is very, very thin and it will crack and if you caulk it, that will stop it from leaking. But adding stucco to the outside is not going to change that dynamic at all, so you need to get on top of that chimney and examine that area for cracks. If you do find them, seal them up with silicone. That ought to solve the problem.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one here from Bill in New Jersey who writes: “We have a Silestone countertop that is about four years old. We’ve been cleaning it with Windex – the type that contains vinegar – and it seems to have lost some of its shine. Is there a way to restore it?”
    You know what? With all of these countertops – whether they’re a natural stone or the Silestone, which is the manmade quartz product – you really need to be careful about how you clean it; basically just soapy water is the best thing that you can do for it. But a lot of times, you’re going to end up with – if you’ve used a product over time – a very dull surface. And there’s a good website; it’s Stonecare.com and they have a product called Marbacream and that is really for restorative purposes. It’s going to help you bring back that shine; it’s going to make it look like brand, spanking new.
    And then once you’ve got it back to the way you like it, you want to use something to help maintain the polish on it and they’ve got another product online at Stonecare.com called International Stone Polish. And with those two and just maintaining the surface and cleaning as you go along with nice, soapy water and drying it well, will help your countertop look fantastic.
    TOM: Gail in Florida says: “We have a house in North Florida that we built 23 years ago and need to replace our roof. We’d like to go with shingles again. What’s the best time to replace the roof to give the shingles the best chance of sealing, especially before hurricane season? We are inland but get some winds.”
    Well, Gail, it is a good point that – and Florida, however, doesn’t really make much difference because it is so warm year-round; the shingles are going to seal. However, up northern parts of the country, I generally prefer to recommend a roof replacement in the spring so that the sun comes out a couple of months later and has those – gives those shingles a good chance to seal; because there’s like an adhesive in between the shingles and the shingle does have to get pretty warm to be able to seal. So spring is probably the best time but in Florida it doesn’t matter much because it’s warm enough for most of the year.
    In terms of wind resistance, I would recommend the high-wind-resistant shingles. There are shingles out there that will stand up to over 100 miles an hour and if I was in Florida, those are the shingles I would put on.
    LESLIE: Yeah, check out the shingles by Owens Corning. They have got a great wind-resistant one for you.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com and, while there, check out the Money Pit’s special green section. All this month we celebrate Earth Month with tips, ideas, solutions to make your home more energy efficient.
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.

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    (Copyright 2009 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.)

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