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Check Your Home’s Doors And Windows From Any Location, Deer-Proof Your Plants And Shrubs, And The Questions To Ask Yourself Before Installing A Pool

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. Help yourself first, though. Pick up the phone and call us, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’re here to talk how-to and how not to, because we don’t want you to take the wrong steps. We’ll help you get the project done the right time or give you some tips if you’re going to hire it out.

    Coming up on today’s program, have you ever left home and wondered if you left your windows open? Well, you can put that worry behind you, because we’re going to tell you about a new technology that lets you check your windows and doors from any location and know exactly what position they’re in. It’s kind of cool.

    LESLIE: And we’re right smack in the middle of your kids’ summer vacation, so are they at the point where they’re complaining, “I’m so bored”? Well, hold the puzzles, everybody. Let’s give them something actually useful to do. We’re going to share some tips for tackling home improvement projects with your kids, coming up.

    TOM: And if your yard has become an all-you-can-eat buffet for, say, deer and wildlife, you can try out Money Pit’s humane ideas for stomping all that chomping. We’ll have those, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour has cooler, quieter days ahead with a Haier Serenity Series Quiet Air Conditioner.

    TOM: And not just a little bit quieter. The Serenity Series is more than 50-percent quieter than most window air-conditioning units. It’s a prize worth $299. How do you win it? Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Leslie in Tennessee – I feel like I’m talking to myself – welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Yes. I’m an avid listener of your show. We really love it.

    We have a question. After several years of having an outdoor pool and enjoying it but not being able to use it because of the full four seasons here in East Tennessee, we were wanting to add an addition on the house. And we’d love to put a small indoor pool, just like a little lap pool, only about probably half the size of our outdoor pool. And we were wondering what would be the best type of construction.

    Our house is a frame house with brick but you have moisture problems, I know, with an indoor pool. So, for an addition, I want to see if you all had any recommendations for certain materials or a certain type of system to reduce the moisture in the home or how – what would you do?

    TOM: Well, there are dehumidifiers that are designed for pool rooms. I mean they’re similar to whole-house dehumidifiers, where they take out a lot of water from the air. I would definitely isolate the area where the pool is, from the rest of the house, so that the moisture is contained into one space. And that makes it easier for you to manage that level of moisture. You know, it could maybe just be a sliding glass door or something like that that separates it.

    But in terms of the material, you have to be very careful with the venting. For example, in the roof above, you have to choose materials that are mold-resistant in terms of the surface. For example, instead of using paper-faced drywall, you might use fiberglass-faced drywall. That doesn’t grow mold because it’s not organic. So with a few things like that and the right mechanical system – and the pool manufacturers that you’re talking to, the installers, they’ll be very familiar with this because these pools are being put into inside spaces. You’ve got to deal with the evaporation.

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Alright. Well, that’s helpful there. And so, just – so more or less probably a pool manufacturer or a pool place around here would have that recommendation then.

    TOM: Well, they would. And generally going to probably talk about mechanical dehumidification. And then in terms of the construction of the space, just be mindful to choose materials that are not easily going to grow mold and certainly one that’s – materials that are cleanable, OK?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: That’s great. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate you all being on our radio here in Northeast Tennessee.

    TOM: Alright, Leslie. Thank you so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Pat in Georgia who needs some help with a cleaning project. What’s going on?

    PAT: I have granite countertops. And I am wondering if there is an advantage to using the store-bought cleaners versus a homemade cleaner. And what would that homemade cleaner be?

    TOM: So I guess you don’t have a recipe for a homemade cleaner. Is that what you’re saying?

    PAT: No, I don’t.

    TOM: If you happen to run across one that you like, tell us about it because I have not found one. But I will say that the commercial cleaners are usually very well-developed and are designed to give you a longer-term protection than you can probably get out of anything that you could mix up on your own countertop.

    There’s a website called StoneCare.com that specializes in these types of products. And our listeners have always had good success with them, so I would take a look at that website.

    But the thing about granite tops is a lot of folks buy them and think, “Well, it’s stone. I’m not going to have to do much work to the top.” But the truth is it’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Pat?

    PAT: It very certainly is.

    TOM: It really is. And if you don’t stay on top of it, it gets pretty nasty-looking. So, you are going to have to invest in some regular cleaning and I would just buy a good-quality product from a good brand manufacturer and just accept it as reality, OK?

    PAT: Thank you so very much.

    TOM: 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. Now you can call in your home repair question, whatever-you’re-working-on question – pretty much, we can help you with anything that involves the home – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, now is the time of year you might be wishing for a pool but don’t dive into buying one just yet. We’re going to have some crucial questions you’ll need answers to before taking that pool plunge, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

    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, the soundtrack to your summer shouldn’t be, really, the sound of a very obnoxiously-loud air conditioner. So, that’s why we’re giving away a Haier Serenity Series Quiet Air Conditioner. It delivers all that cool that you want and expect from a window A/C unit with less than half the noise.

    TOM: Plus, it’s ENERGY STAR-qualified and uses about 15 percent less energy than conventional models. It’s a prize worth $299 but it’s going home free to one caller we talk to on the air this hour.

    You can learn more at Haier Serenity Series. That’s HaierSerenitySeries.com or give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ron in Virginia on the line who’s got a flooring question. Number-one topic on The Money Pit, my friend. How can we help you?

    RON: I have a ceramic-tile floor that’s been down for almost 20 years. Put it down myself. The tiles are all intact. None of them are loose but I have some tiles that are cracked. And I was wondering, rather than take the tiles up, if I could put a laminate floor over top of it.

    TOM: Absolutely. The nice thing about laminate floors is that they’re floating floors. And so you certainly could put a new laminate floor together. Most of them are lock-together boards these days. And you can lay that right on top of the tile floor below as long as it’s solid, which it sounds like it is.

    Now, of course, it’s going to make that floor that much thicker. I don’t know if that’s an issue.

    RON: No, I don’t think that would be a problem. Do I still need to put down that thin layer of the foam? Put that right over top of the ceramic?

    TOM: I think it’s a good idea because it cushions the floor and it also quiets the floor. It’s not quite as click-y, you know what I mean, when you walk on it? Now, keep in mind that some of the different laminate-floor manufacturers have the underlayment attached to the bottom of the actual floorboard. It sits sort of like a sponge on the bottom of it. But you definitely want to follow their instructions.

    But to answer your real question – can you put it on tile? – yes, you can.

    RON: Oh, great. Well, that would certainly save a lot of time and headache trying to take that tile floor up.

    TOM: Well, buying a pool is something that most people probably only do once in their lives, which means most pool buyers are pretty wet behind the ears.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That’s why it’s important to not let the lack of experience get the best of you. You have to ask yourself a few key questions before you fork over all that money and begin breaking ground.

    TOM: First question is: how long will you be in your home? Now, you ask this because some potential home buyers see pools as a risk, which basically means they don’t always increase your home’s resale value.

    Now, if you’re looking for an investment with solid returns, a pool is probably not it. So make sure the enjoyment you’ll get from it is definitely worth the price you’ll pay.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Speaking of cost, you’ve got to ask yourself how often are you going to realistically use the pool. Now, pools can make for a great day outside but if you’re only able to squeeze in five or six of those days each year, a membership to your local pool club, you know, might make more sense.

    TOM: And finally, make sure you have the budget for not only the pool but also for accessories that make it safe. Pools pose risks, not only to your kids but to your guests and the kids in the neighborhood. So, a safety fence, an automatic pool cover, door alarms, pool alarms, other types of prevention devices should be a given and not an afterthought.

    LESLIE: Diane in Minnesota has got a steamy bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.

    DIANE: Yes. The exhaust fan, it just does not seem to take the steam out of the bathroom at all. It just doesn’t work, for some reason.

    TOM: Well, where is the exhaust fan mounted? It’s on the ceiling and goes into an attic? Is that correct?

    DIANE: Yeah, it’s in the ceiling. I just live in an apartment, so I’m not exactly sure where it goes but …

    TOM: OK. Well, see, that would be a good place to start. Because you want to make sure when you turn on an exhaust fan that you can see it actually exhaust somewhere. And generally, it’s going to be a vent outside the building somewhere. And you can turn on the exhaust fan and see that vent open. So you need to figure out – or if it’s an apartment, you need to have a super figure out where it’s exhausting. Because it could be obstructed, it could be crushed, it could be blocked, it could be terminated. There could be a lot of things wrong with it.

    And the other thing that you might want to think about – and you may or may not want to do this, because it’s an apartment and not a condominium that you own, but there’s a different type of exhaust fan that’s out now. Broan and NuTone make it. Same company. It’s called ULTRA. And what’s cool about it is it has a moisture-sensing switch built into it – a humidistat – so it runs whenever the room gets moist. So, you can kind of set it and forget it. And you take a shower, it’ll just stay on until all the moisture is evacuated out of the room and then go off again.

    DIANE: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, Diane. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Steve in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    STEVE: Yeah, we’ve got a square fire pit out in the backyard. It’s really nice. We bought it about a year ago. It’s got nice Southern tile on top. And in the middle of it, it’s got a round Lazy Susan. And then you take off the Lazy Susan and it’s a fire pit with a stainless-steel fire ring. And we’ve got a bunch of fire glass in there. It’s really nice.

    And the – one of the things that we’re disappointed in, somewhat, is that the flame isn’t really very high on the thing. It’s really a nice kind of romantic, low fire but we’d like to figure out if we could find some way to make that a little more robust. And I’m thinking about just drilling out the holes in the fire ring to – and I’m wondering if that might solve the problem or if I’d be creating more problems than solving.

    TOM: Generally, you don’t want to modify a gas burner like that. Was this a manufactured unit that you purchased and installed?

    STEVE: Yes. Yeah, it was – it all just came – all we really had to do was just pretty much plunk the thing down and hook up the gas.

    TOM: Well, you certainly don’t want to mess with the manufacturer’s design because that was very specifically designed to do a certain job. And if you start drilling bigger holes in it, you could create something that’s very dangerous.

    But let me just ask you this: is this natural gas or propane?

    STEVE: It’s natural gas. Yeah, when we landscaped the yard, we had a natural gas line run out to the area of the yard. Then we poured a really nice, big, oh, 18-circular-foot pad out there. And then the – and then stubbed it right in the middle, so that’s where the fire pit is.

    TOM: Alright. Have you checked the gas pressure to make sure that it’s where you expect it to be?

    STEVE: No. I’m not really sure, no.

    TOM: I would have a plumber check the gas pressure to make sure that the gas pressure is correct. If you have low gas pressure, that could account for the low flame.

    The other thing I would do is contact the manufacturer to find out what flame level that’s designed for, because it might be doing exactly what it’s intended to do. And if you add more – if you try to modify that, it could be, certainly, dangerous. I would not encourage you to drill out the burner or anything of that nature. I would encourage you to check the gas level – the gas-pressure level – as well as the valves that service it because something is partially closed or you just don’t have enough pressure coming through that line, for whatever reason. That could also be the solution, as well.

    Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ann in Florida needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you today?

    ANN: I’m going to rip up my carpet. I have concrete underneath and I want to put down the ceramic tile that looks like hardwood. And are you familiar with the product?

    LESLIE: I am, very much so. I’ve actually used it on several projects.

    ANN: Oh. And my question was, also: should I wait and not do it right away? That they’re going to even have better-looking – the wood look? I was told that it’s supposed to get even better.

    LESLIE: I imagine that with all things, when you wait things get better. But wood-grain tile has actually been quite popular for probably four or five years now, so I’ve seen it greatly improve. Depending on how much you want to spend on it – and I’m not sure what manufacturers you’ve looked at but a good price point is a manufacturer called Daltile: D-a-l – tile. And they’re sold through tile stores, so it’s – you can call Daltile and take a look.

    And they have one line called Yacht Club, which is fairly new for them. And it’s like a 6-inch by 24-inch wood plank but it’s a ceramic tile. It comes in a couple of different colors. I think it lays really nicely. It has a good texture of wood and it comes in some color palettes that I think are very realistic. And the way it fits together, it looks as if it were a real wood …

    TOM: A lot like wood, yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, like a wood floor. It doesn’t have a big grout line. They have another one in their line called Timber Glen and that’s a really big plank. But the way it pieces together, you see a lot of a grout line, so that kind of looks weird. Not as realistic wood, as you might expect.

    So if you do go with a wood-look tile that does have a predominant grout line, I would choose a grout that’s similar in color to the tile.

    ANN: Uh-huh. I’ve seen the tile where the tile is like wood planks.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s exactly what this looks like; it looks like wood planks. And I will caution you, though, that you’re talking about – any tile that’s 24 inches long in one direction like this is going to need an extraordinary amount of support underneath it.

    So you have to be very careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to prepping the floor before the tile is laid. If there’s any flex or bend or unevenness in that floor, eventually this tile is going to crack. You don’t want that to happen, so you want to make sure that the floor is properly supported to take a bigger – big tile.

    When we used to have mosaics years ago, it didn’t really matter if the floors were flexible, so to speak, or not because there was a joint every 1 inch in a mosaic tile. But a 24-inch-long tile, that’s not going to bend; it’s going to break. So you want to make sure the floor is really strong before you do that installation, OK?

    ANN: Yes. OK. Great.

    LESLIE: Joe in Texas is looking to collect some rainwater. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JOE: Alright. Well, we have a ranch near Stephenville, about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Dallas/Fort Worth. And it can get pretty arid out here. So, we have some rain barrels – or some black, large barrels – hooked up to our rain gutters. And we’re trying to get it to where it’s actual potable water that we can use and drink in – just in our ordinary, daily lives. So we were kind of wondering what type of filtration system to put on to run that water through and also how to keep the junk from our gutters blowing in there.

    TOM: Well, rainwater harvesting is something that’s actually gone on for centuries. And there are modern systems that are available to help you both collect the rainwater and purify it, because that’s the key and you want to make sure it’s safe.

    A good place to start is RainHarvest.com. That’s a website for a company that has specialized in this area for many, many years. And they have everything from small, home-size systems up to industrial-size systems. And they also have the specialty filters you asked about keeping the gunk out of the water. There are special filters to keep out the leaves and the tree droppings and things like that from getting down in there.

    So it sounds like you’re kind of well on your way but what you’re going to need to pick up is a purification system. And that’s a good place to start: RainHarvest.com.

    LESLIE: You know, another good site that’s out there is HarvestH2O.com. A lot of articles on there about filtration, purification, some products. Good list to resources and inventors, as well, there.

    JOE: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: So, has a sudden summer storm ever left you just wondering if I left the windows open? “Is that window open? Is that one all the way open?” You start to really wonder if that water is getting into your house.

    Well, never worry about that again, because there’s an app for that. We’re going to have tips on that smart-home technology that checks on them for you, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and a leader in air-quality solutions. Haier is a new kind of appliance brand, focused on home solutions designed for each stage of the emerging consumer’s life.

    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.

    So, you’re out and about running errands. Then all of a sudden, you start to have this conversation in your head because, uh oh, it starts to rain and then it’s pouring. And then you’re thinking, “Did I leave my windows open? Do I need to go home and check?” And on and on, the cycle of doubt continues.

    TOM: Well, wonder no more with Pella’s new Insynctive technology. You can learn whether your windows are open or not, instantly, and a whole bunch more. Here to tell us all about the new product is Bridget Lind from Pella.

    Welcome, Bridget.

    BRIDGET: Thank you, guys. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So, leave it to Pella to make windows and make them smart.

    BRIDGET: Yes.

    TOM: So that’s kind of cool. So how does the Insynctive technology work? As Leslie was saying, it’s kind of cool that it will tell you the position of your windows. What else does it do?

    BRIDGET: Pella Insynctive technology is really of the smart family of products for your windows and doors. So, it delivers great things like security, comfort and convenience. And we do that through sensors for your window products that will let you know if your windows and doors are open, as you mentioned. But we can also do that for your garage doors. And we can even tell you if your entry doors are locked or unlocked.

    So, there’s great benefits that way. But we also have shading technologies, as well, that allow you to open your blinds and shades with a touch of a button to keep that light from coming in your home or allow the light in when you want that heat on that cold winter day.

    TOM: So, how does the – how does it work? Does it all start with an app?

    BRIDGET: It all starts, actually, with the Pella Insynctive Bridge. And that’s really the brains behind the Insynctive smart family of products. You know, all the products communicate to the Bridge and you can connect that to a compatible home automation system. And then use that remotely, when you’re on the road and you wonder, “Hey, did I forget to leave my shades open so it looks like I’m home or allow that heat in during the day?”

    Or I can also go through the process of making sure that all my doors are locked and closed, when my kids leave for school in the morning, and making sure that they didn’t forget to actually shut the door, as they do sometimes.

    LESLIE: I mean that really is amazing that you can control so much. Because I have to tell you, as I’m getting older with small kids, I keep forgetting things. And I come downstairs after getting the kids to bed and the front door is wide open. So, something like this would be hugely helpful, I think, in every busy person’s life.

    BRIDGET: Yes. And another great thing is even when you’re not on the road and you’re at home, you also get that great audible from the Bridge that says, “Hey, somebody just opened your front door.” So either your kids went outside or they’ve let somebody into the home. So that you know right away – that security and peace of mind as you’re thinking, “I’m in a different room and my kid just went out the front door. What does that mean?”

    TOM: We’re talking to Bridget Lind from Pella about a new product that Pella is just rolling out now called Insynctive technology.

    So, will this be built into the Pella products? Will they come sort of pre-wired for this or is this something that could be added, say, if you already had Pella windows or doors and wanted to add this to your home? Is that possible, as well?

    BRIDGET: Yes. One of the great things about the Pella Insynctive portfolio and smart family of products is that it really can be added to any window and door. So if you want to add blinds and shades to some of the windows that are already in your home and get the benefits of Pella Insynctive technology, you can do that just by adding the shades to your windows.

    You can also then get some things directly from the factory. So, as you mentioned, the entry door sensor specifically is built into the panel and frame from the factory. So you can continue to get that premium aesthetic on your front door and not have to see the sensor, as you’re looking in from the outside or even looking at your door from the inside.

    TOM: Fantastic. And Bridget, is the product available now?

    BRIDGET: The product is available today. We just recently launched back in January and we do have a great portfolio, as I mentioned, with sensors, shading and are continuing to innovate here at Pella to bring you more solutions from Pella Insynctive.

    TOM: And we can learn all about that at Pella.com/Insynctive. That’s Pella.com/Insynctive – I-n-s-y-n-c-t-i-v-e.

    Thank you so much, Bridget Lind, from Pella.

    BRIDGET: Thank you.

    LESLIE: And you can learn more about all of the newest smart-home technology when you visit MoneyPit.com and check out our Smart Home Gallery, presented by Pella.

    TOM: Up next, are deer munching on your mums and devouring your dogwood? Well, The Money Pit can help. We’ve got advice for keeping deer out of your garden, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is sponsored by Pella Windows And Doors. Pella products with Insynctive technology can connect with compatible home automation systems so they can be programmed to help keep your home in sync with you. Learn more at Pella.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.

    TOM: And hey, even if you’ve got central air conditioning, there’s always one room that won’t stay cool.

    LESLIE: Well, you can kill the heat without killing peace and quiet, with a Haier Serenity Series Quiet Air Conditioner. It’s more than 50-percent quieter than most standard A/C units. And it’s ENERGY STAR-certified and it also comes with an LCD remote, so you can operate it while being totally lazy.

    TOM: It’s worth 299 but it’s going to go home free with one lucky caller this hour. To learn more about the Haier Serenity Series, simply go to HaierSerenitySeries.com. That’s H-a-i-e-r-SerenitySeries.com. Or pick up the phone, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole in Illinois on the line who needs to fix a crack in a wall. And you’re saying it’s from an earthquake? When did you have an earthquake in Illinois?

    NICOLE: Well, it was just a really small earthquake. We get them just randomly, about one or two a year.

    TOM: Wow.

    NICOLE: Because we’re right on – there’s some fault that’s down south of us.

    TOM: And now that fault has worked its way up into your wall. So what does it look like? How big of a crack is this that we need to fix?

    NICOLE: It’s about an 18-inch crack and then that’s going down from the ceiling. And then it goes like – it goes diagonally up the wall and then hits the ceiling and then just moves horizontally on the ceiling for a couple of inches.

    TOM: So it’s 18 inches long altogether?

    NICOLE: Yeah.

    TOM: How old is the house?

    NICOLE: It’s not very old, like ’99.

    TOM: OK. So it’s a drywall crack then.

    NICOLE: Yes.

    TOM: Many people will simply spackle that but the problem is that if you spackle that crack, the wall is now always going to move and they’ll – walls always do move but now that the wall has a crack, the two sides of that are going to move at different rates. And so that crack will reform. The way you stop that from happening is by taping over that crack with drywall tape and then spackling it.

    Now, taping with paper drywall tape can be a bit tricky, so there’s a product out that’s a perforated drywall tape that looks like a netting. It’s like a sticky-backed netting. And that type of perforated tape is the best one to use because you put the tape on first and then you spackle over it. You want to do two or three coats, starting with smaller coats and then working wider as you go.

    And remember, the thinner the coat the better; I’d rather you put on more coats than put on too much spackle, which too many people tend to do. Then it kind of gets all gooped up and piled up on your wall and you’ll see it forever. So, thin coats – two or three thin coats – and that should do it.

    NICOLE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, whether it’s the best-looking flower bed on the block or it needs a little work, deer kind of look at your garden and your yard and they think one thing: lunch.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Keeping deer away from your plants and flowers, it really can feel like a losing battle sometimes. But there are plenty of humane, chemical-free ways to keep them moving on to the next green field next door.

    TOM: Yep. Commercially-available deer repellants, like Deer Off, are effective at making your garden a bit less tasty. They’ve got an odor that’s kind of like rotten eggs and your deer will find plenty of other available greenery much more appetizing, hopefully at your neighbor’s yard.

    LESLIE: Right. And it’s pretty much stinky, as well. But if you’re looking for a fresher-smelling approach, soap is another deer deterrent. So you can buy a few fragrant, strong bars and then hang them from the branches of the plants and trees that you’re trying to protect.

    TOM: And another approach is fine, mesh, nylon netting. You just drape it over the hedges and the gardens and it also will keep wildlife from munching. Or you can kind of take the high-tech route and install a motion-detector sprinkler. This is kind of tricky. When the deer moves in on your plants, the water turns on, freaks them out and sends them running. I kind of like that idea. It’s kind of like payback but it doesn’t really hurt them.

    LESLIE: That’s true.

    TOM: Plus, it waters your garden at the same time.

    LESLIE: Bob in Illinois is on the line and working on a kitchen makeover. What can we do for you?

    BOB: Oh, we’ve got kitchen cabinets – they’re probably close to 30 years old – and we’re wanting to remodel our kitchen and I’m wanting to strip them down. And I was just wondering what was the best way – what to use to do it with.

    TOM: Well, the good news is that 30-year-old cabinets are usually very, very well-built. You can’t really strip down a 10-year-old cabinet, because they pretty much fall apart. But if it’s a 30-year-old plywood cabinet, you can definitely strip it.

    Now, what do you want to do after you strip it? Do you want to paint it or do you want to go with like a clear coating?

    BOB: I’d like to go with a clear coating on it. Maybe put a pecan finish on it or something.

    LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Are they just stained or are they painted?

    BOB: No, they’re just stained.

    TOM: It’s hard to change the color of a stained cabinet. I’m just telling you just be prepared for that. But what you might want to do is use a good-quality stripper. Like Rock Miracle, for example, is a good one.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Another thing that’s good to do is head over to your local mom-and-pop paint shop, because sometimes there are newer products that are out there.

    I was just getting some wallpaper paste but in that section, there were some really nice paint strippers. They apply a little differently, they go on more easily, they work more quickly. So I always just pop into the shop to sort of see what they’ve got in there that they’ve worked with.

    But Tom and I have both used Rock Miracle and I like that because it goes on more like a paste, so you can really see where it is, you can see it start to work. And I guess it depends on how much stain is on there, how dirty they are.

    I would start by giving them a good cleaning. Then make sure they’re dried very well, then put the stripper on them. Follow the directions. And you’re going to want to use a wire brush and a paint scraper. And that’s going to get that finish off of there.

    Now, it’s important to work on them on a flat surface, so take all the doors and drawer fronts off. Label them as you take them down, with a piece of tape on the back side of the cabinet door and one on the cabinet box itself so that you know exactly where things go. Leave the hinges on the box sides so that you can have the doors flat. These are things that are just tricks of the trade that will help you be more successful.

    And if your doors are full overlay – are they or are they not?

    BOB: Are they what now?

    LESLIE: When your cabinet door closes, do you see any of the cabinet box around it, like a frame? Or does the door cover it?

    BOB: Yeah, it does; it flushes up against the frame of the cabinet.

    LESLIE: So, that’s a blessing and a curse. Because then you can ignore the box or you can also work on the box while it’s in place, to strip that down, as well. And in that case, the Rock Miracle is really good because it’s really thick, so it’ll stay on in a vertical position, as well. So, those are some good things.

    And you may have to apply it more than once, depending on how well-adhered your stain currently is. I mean you’ve really got to see. And then keep in mind that depending on the species of wood, the type of color that you might get from the stain that you’ve selected to go on there might be a little different. So you might want to work on a back side or a smaller area, just so you can see how it will react and what color you’ll actually end up with.

    BOB: Thank you, then.

    LESLIE: Going out to Wisconsin, right now, where Beth is dealing with a stinky refrigerator.

    Beth, you’ve tried everything. What’s going on?

    BETH: I’ve had the stinkiness for about a month now. I keep washing it down and the stink still stays. I put baking soda in it. Nothing’s getting rid of it. I was wondering if mold could grow in the walls of the refrigerator or if there’s some sort of filter in there or …

    TOM: Well, bacteria can certainly grow. And sometimes when – especially if you’ve had a power failure or if a refrigerator sits outside and it kind of gets damp and moist, you get bacteria that will grow in the foam that’s in the wall or the insulation that’s in the wall. If the insulation got damp, that could be causing it.

    The one suggestion that I might have for you, if you want to try this one more time, is to take everything out and clean the whole thing down with oxygenated bleach. So not just a simple kitchen spray but true, oxygenated bleach, because that has the best chance of killing any bacteria. But the problem, again, is if the bacteria is in the insulation, you’re not going to get to that. So, I would give it a good cleaning with oxygenated bleach and see if that will solve the issue.

    BETH: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Beth. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, could you use an extra hand around your house? Well, chances are you’ve already got a few of them. We’re going to give you some advice for involving your kids and maybe even your grandkids in home improvement projects. And you can teach them a few things in the process. Imagine that. All coming up, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    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.

    Hey, if the thought of heading inside when the summer is over turns you cold, well, keep your porch warm and cozy so that you can use it all through the fall. I mean that’s the best time to really enjoy your porch.

    Head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’re going to give you some easy, affordable ways that you can transition your porch into the next season. And it’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And you can also post your question to our Community section or post it to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Tony did just that and says, “Every year or two, I take the time to remove the bottom element on my water heater and suck out the calcium deposits.” So, Tony has got a hard-water problem. His first challenge is that he has to rig up a piece of copper pipe to do that. “Is there any better way to accomplish the task? And I love your show.”

    Well, thanks, Tony. And I think you’re working too hard. Now, that internal drain valve should be more than sufficient for removing the calcium deposits from your water heater. And by the way, the only thing that you’re really gaining by removing calcium is a bit more efficiency. Because the calcium deposits – the mineral deposits – can act as an insulator between the flame and the water but it has no effect on corrosion.

    Now, the valve on your water heater has threads on it for a garden hose. So just hook up that hose, run it somewhere where the water can run off and open the valve and that should take care of it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Andrew who writes: “I’ve seen several adds for DIY solar power. They claim to be able to reduce your utility bills by 75 percent. Is this true?”

    Seems awfully high.

    TOM: Listen, well, solar utility solutions are becoming more common and more efficient. I would be very suspicious about such dramatic claims. There’s just way too many variables to back up a blanket promise like that. Plus, I don’t think that installing solar panels is a do-it-yourself project. Hire a pro. There’s lots of rebates out there. And this way, you’ll get the job done right.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And then you’ll see how much savings are. It’s not going to be 75 percent but it’s going to be something.

    TOM: Well, if someone gave you a buck every time your kids complain they’re bored this summer, you could probably hire a contractor to do all of your home improvement work for you. But that’s probably not going to happen, so why not let your kids help with projects around the house, instead? Leslie has got tips for teaching home improvement, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, with school out for summer and a list of seasonal projects ahead of you, don’t underestimate what your kids could bring to the table and what they can learn in the process.

    A great starting point for home improvement togetherness is planning and shopping. So you can talk through your project solution and shopping needs with your kids and then head for the hardware store together. Then go ahead and read the signs and the product labels for the items on your list. And pick up a pair, even, of youth-size safety goggles and maybe even work gloves when you’re there. Because your child should get in the habit of wearing all of those safety devices before they work on any job like that. And that’ll really get them in the practice of it.

    Now, when you’re back home, you can work together on the project prep. You can put safety front and center. You want to let your child pass you materials and help with measurements. And then let them take on more age-appropriate responsibilities once they’ve proven that they’re interested and that they actually have the skill for it.

    Many a handyman and handywoman got their start when an adult let them help. Tom and I are both living examples of that. So, if you really take an opportunity to teach your kids, they’re going to find whether it’s just a hobby or just a useful skill to have around their house when they’re grown-up people. This is a valuable life lesson.

    Once you’ve got a sense of what your kids can and can’t do, you might even consider delegating easier projects around the house, maybe like sprucing up your outdoor furnishings, planting flowers and vegetables, even touching up paint or trim in a room. And don’t forget to take a before-and-after shot so your kids can feel really proud of all their hard work and the results.

    TOM: Good advice.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, they catch splashes and spills but can add the perfect design touch, too. We’re talking about kitchen backsplashes. We’ll have tips to install one yourself, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2015 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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