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  • Transcript

    (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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 – because we are here to help you get the job done around your house. We’re going to help you sort of tick off all of those to-do lists; that honey-do list that your spouse has been bugging you about. I know I have my list, Leslie.
    LESLIE: And it seems to get longer and longer and longer every weekend?
    TOM: It does. And as the weather gets warmer, more …
    LESLIE: More things.
    TOM: … more projects get piled on. So we’re going to get a few of our projects done this weekend. Let us help you on a few of yours as well. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    Well, it’s the time of year when we all want to feel a little lighter, so it’s time to clean up and clear out all of that clutter that’s been accumulating since last spring. And it turns out that spring cleaning isn’t just about getting organized; it’s also about being safe.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it’s true. Think about it. You know, the more paperwork and clutter that you have around, the bigger a fire hazard that your home can become. So coming up in a little bit, we’re going to tell you where to start and what to toss.
    TOM: Now another place to be safe, your ladder. You know, a fall is the number one reason for accidental injuries and even death at home. Ladders can be tricky. We’re going to give you a few rules of the road on how to avoid the risk and be safe while you’re up there getting those projects done; like, say, cleaning out your gutters.
    LESLIE: That’s right. And also ahead, do you want to shave a few bucks off your grocery bills – speaking of lightening up? We’re going to teach you about planting a garden so that you can enjoy fresh veggies that are way less expensive and probably more nutritious than the ones you’re going to pick up at the store anyway. We’re going to have your list of garden tool essentials with everything you need to plant the garden of your dreams.
    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away some paint tools to help you get those projects done around your house because one caller we talk to this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT is going to win the eco-friendly paint kit, worth 100 bucks, from Purdy. You get an EcoPro set which includes a brush, roller, tray and frame; plenty of tools to get the next painting project done around your house in an eco-friendly way.
    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Larry in Schenectady, New York is finishing the basement and needs help with a project. What can we do for you?
    LARRY: Hello, I love your show. You guys do a great job.
    TOM: Thanks, Larry.
    LESLIE: Thanks, Larry.
    LARRY: What I’m doing is I’m – I have started framing out my basement with 2x4s and r13 insulation in between the 2x4s.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
    LARRY: But I’m wondering if I need to treat the walls with any kind of a vapor barrier. Or is it OK if I just leave the walls a couple inches away from the actual concrete block?
    TOM: Yeah, good; that’s the right thing to do. You want to leave some space. You know, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use a so-called damp-proofing paint because what it’ll do is it’ll stop some of the evaporation of moisture in the wall. Because the concrete block is very hydroscopic, it’s very absorbent and you will get some degree of moisture that wants to sort of draw into that; it can evaporate into the basement. So putting a layer of the damp-proofing paint on the inside of that block wall is not a bad idea. Now that’s not going to stop a flood; if you have bad drainage outside, the water will still get through. But for the most part, it’ll stop some of that sort of surface transfer of humidity into the basement.
    Building the wall a few inches away – you know, maybe a hand-width away from the wall so you have some air between the block wall and the frame wall – is a good idea. I hope you’re using pressure-treated studs or metal studs, because you don’t want to use – I mean for the sill plate, at least; pressure-treated sill plate or metal studs for the whole thing.
    And then the last thing is that when you get done with the wall, put a couple of fake vents in it – couple up high, couple down low – to let some air sort of circulate behind that wall back and forth.
    LESLIE: To keep things dry.
    TOM: It can look like a heating duct but it’s not really a heating duct. It’ll circulate some air behind the wall; keep it nice and dry.
    LARRY: Oh, OK. Great. Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Larry. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Carol in Illinois is boosting her curb appeal with a fresh coat of paint but needs some help. What can we do for you?
    CAROL: Well, I think I need the procedures of how to go about it. I have a garage with a porch attached to it and the other part of the garage is vinyl siding and the original siding is still on the porch side. And I’ve caulked last year, the area of the sides as well as next to the windows and the door area. But I don’t know as to what the next procedures are to go about – because you mentioned primer to some lady and I thought, “Well, it must be something besides primer; besides doing something else to it.”
    TOM: Now what kind of siding is this again, Carol?
    CAROL: It’s regular wood siding.
    TOM: OK, so it’s regular wood on both the porch and the garage?
    CAROL: Yeah.
    TOM: OK. Well, the first thing you want to do is to wire-brush the surface to get off anything that’s loose; scrape it, wire-brush it. You want to get off any loose paint because you can’t put new paint over bad paint because it’ll simply delaminate again. And yes, priming is the next place to start after you get all the loose paint off because primer is essentially the glue that makes the paint stick; so no matter what’s underneath this – how old the old paint is, how deteriorated it is – putting a good-quality primer on is going to really stick to that wood surface and then give you a nice, even surface for you to put the topcoat over that. So that’s why the primer step is important, especially with old work like this when maybe the surface is a bit deteriorated.
    So we would start with the scraping and the wire-brushing and then we would prime it and then you’d put a topcoat of paint over that.
    CAROL: OK. Thank you very much and I appreciate your time on the show. Thank you very, very much.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. And now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I mean it is springtime so we know that your list is getting longer and longer as the weather gets nicer and the days get longer. So give us a call any time you like at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, clearing clutter and getting organized at home is the best way to stay safe. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.

    (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. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    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.
    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now for a chance to get in on our weekly prize giveaway. This hour, we’re giving away the eco-friendly paint kit, worth 100 bucks, from Purdy. You get an EcoPro set which includes a brush, roller, tray and frame. Now, the EcoPro rollers are made from recycled plastic bottles. There are a lot of other paint and prep tools, including roller covers, a professional-grade extension pole and a six-in-one prep tool, all going out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. Hey, maybe it’s a painting question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Or maybe it’s even a cleaning question because this time of year we’re all diving into those cleaning projects around the house to help us feel fresh and anew like springtime does. But when you think about spring cleaning, keep in mind that it not only helps to organize your home but it actually helps to keep you safe as well. Because if you’ve got too much stuff around your house, you can cause trip-and-fall hazards, you can block exits in case of an emergency and you can even cause fire hazards.
    Now, when it comes to decluttering, you want to start with your kitchen. It is the one room in your house where a fire is most likely to start and if you keep grocery receipts, homework folders, notes, coupons, whatever right by your stove or even your toaster, that is just a recipe for disaster. So start in the kitchen.
    And then, clear out your closets so that when you start to organize the rest of the rooms in your house you’re actually going to have a space to put all of those things that you’re going to keep. So first make room, then organize.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Hey, if you want more information about decluttering for safety, head on over to MoneyPit.com and just search “clear unsafe clutter.”
    LESLIE: Bob in Iowa has got a situation with a refrigerator. Tell us about it.
    BOB: Well, I got an older, 70s-model refrigerator that works; freezes everything and keeps everything cold. But the problem I have is some mold and the seal is sort of hardening a little bit. I was wondering if I can restore that or clean that up somehow.
    TOM: So you’re talking about the gasket?
    BOB: Right, right.
    TOM: Yeah, well you can replace that refrigerator door gasket. They have appliance – that’s called appliance gasket. Essentially, it’s an easy-to-find product; you can usually get it at a hardware store and certainly an appliance store or you can go to a site like RepairClinic.com and order some new appliance gasket and just basically replace the seal all the way around the refrigerator.
    BOB: OK. Well, the gasket is still in good shape. It’s not cracked or …
    TOM: I thought you said it was starting to get hard.
    BOB: Yeah, it is. It is starting to get hard and stuff. I just didn’t know if it could be – if there’s something you could use to clean it up and soften it up or would it be better just to …
    TOM: No. No, because what happens is you get some – you get degradation from UV light over the years and it deteriorates the vinyl or the rubber; so you can’t bring it back but you can replace it and it’s not expensive. I will say, though, this inherited, old fridge is not doing you a lot of favors energy-wise because the new refrigerators today – even the real inexpensive ones – run on about the same electricity as about a 100-watt light bulb. A 1970’s fridge, on the other hand, is costing you quite a few dollars to run every month. So you know, if …
    LESLIE: And now, isn’t there that whole like cash for clunkers appliance system going on?
    TOM: Yeah, but the money comes and the money goes and I don’t know if there’s going to be money left very long in that program, so I don’t think we can really count on it. But frankly, the energy savings alone is enough to warrant replacing this thing. If it costs you any money more than just a couple of dollars, you really want to think about just getting a new one because they’re very wasteful, the old refrigerators.
    BOB: OK, well I appreciate that.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Bob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Vince in California is looking to spend his leisure time playing shuffleboard and wants to build one himself. How can we help?
    VINCE: I’m a homeowner with average skills. You know.
    TOM: Mm-hmm.
    VINCE: And I’m looking to build a shuffleboard court which has got to be 70 feet long and 5 feet wide.
    TOM: Wow.
    VINCE: Obviously with a very smooth surface.
    TOM: Right.
    VINCE: The soil is slightly on the acidic side and it’s well-drained. Other than that …
    TOM: Well, I mean don’t you want to create a slab for this shuffleboard surface? So it wouldn’t essentially be a concrete slab? And by the way, you said it’s 70 feet?
    VINCE: Yes.
    TOM: I thought it was 39. Is that incorrect?
    LESLIE: Well, 39 is the playing area. I think 60 feet is like the whole surround and you know, the cheering sections.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, with the warm-up area. Yeah. Yeah.
    What I would do is – pouring a concrete slab is not an easy do-it-yourself project; it’s something that should be done by a pro. So what I would do is kind of split this into two tasks: the stuff that you have to hire out and the stuff you can do yourself. Getting the ground ready, getting the forms built so that it’s absolutely, perfectly level and properly reinforced is really the job of a pro and you’re going to have a reinforced concrete slab because it will crack. So the ground is going to have to be well-tamped; the concrete is going to have to be poured with a woven wire mesh inside of it; it’s going to have to be the right type of concrete and that’s all stuff you should leave up to a pro to do and they can certainly make it very, very smooth.
    Now, once the slab is poured and the forms are removed, then you can set about framing it in to contain the pucks. You can also – there are shuffleboard templates available that can help you do all the painting to get it to align properly and have all the scoring right and all of that sort of thing. But I don’t think pouring the slab yourself is a real good idea because it’s very difficult to pour a slab to begin with and to get one 70 feet long and straight, not a job for a first-timer.
    LESLIE: Yeah. Well, and you know what? Also, Vince, if you’re looking for something that perhaps can sit on top of your well-drained yard without major construction, there’s a website called Shuffleboard.com – I mean it’s as simple as that; or PlanetShuffleboard.com; they both take you to the same place. And it’s basically a set that you just sort of lay out. I mean it’s kind of pricey – it’s in like the $1,000 range – but when you get to all the details of it, it might end up being the same thing by the time you have concrete poured and paint and everything.
    VINCE: Right. OK. What kind of a paint would you recommend over the top?
    TOM: An epoxy paint. It’s going to give you the best adhesion.
    LESLIE: Yeah, you want it to really adhere.
    VINCE: OK, thanks. Well, you guys have been a wealth of information. Thank you.
    TOM: Alright, Vince. Good luck with that project.
    LESLIE: Yeah, have fun.
    TOM: What a fun project; building a shuffleboard court.
    VINCE: You bet.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Denise in DeKalb, Illinois who’s calling in with something going on in the water at their house. Tell us about it.
    DENISE: Well, we have a foul odor and I can only smell it really, I guess, with the hot water but maybe that’s just because, whatever, the fumes. [At which point] (ph) we replaced our water heater, took the rod out of it, and it’s still that way.
    TOM: Do you mean the anode rod?
    DENISE: OK. I guess that’s what I mean. I’m sorry.
    TOM: (chuckling) OK. (Denise chuckles) Because the most common cause of water odor is when you have bacteria that reacts with the sacrificial anode that comes in the water heater. The sacrificial anode actually stops the water heater from rusting out but the basic type of anode is made of magnesium and aluminum and that can react with the bacteria and cause it to form a hydrosulfide gas – a hydrogen-sulfide gas – which is basically that really stinky, rotten egg odor.
    DENISE: Right.
    TOM: And draining the water is only a very temporary fix, as you’ve probably noticed. There’s a different type of anode rod that you can replace it with that’s not made of magnesium. It’s made of aluminum zinc. And that will not react with the bacteria and will not smell. So if you pull out the anode rod that you have and you replace it with an aluminum zinc alloy anode, that should solve the problem.
    DENISE: OK. OK. And I have just a question about tankless water heaters.
    TOM: OK.
    DENISE: Will that solve the problem at all?
    TOM: That would definitely solve the problem.
    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. (Tom chuckles) Nothing would sit in there.
    TOM: It works completely differently.
    DENISE: Right, that’s …
    TOM: Yeah. Tankless water heaters are on-demand water heaters, so they only heat the water as you need it. So as fast as it gets into the water heater, it would leave it and be heated.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s out.
    DENISE: Right, right.
    TOM: How old is the water heater that you’re talking about now; the one that stinks?
    DENISE: One we have now?
    TOM: Yeah.
    DENISE: Well, we’ve replaced it two times in like two years.
    TOM: Oh, man.
    DENISE: So this one is not that old.
    TOM: No, it’s really that old.
    DENISE: Because they told us to replace it first and then they said, “Well, take the rod out,” so my husband did that. And then they said, “If that doesn’t work, then replace it again,” and we’re thinking, “That’s not right.”
    TOM: No, because you didn’t solve the problem. You didn’t solve the problem. Unfortunately, the advice you got was just, “Buy another one. There must be something wrong with what you have.” The problem is that your water is reacting with the anode rod there and that’s what’s causing the odor. So if you replace the anode with an aluminum zinc alloy anode, that will actually fix it because the magnesium and aluminum anodes that are in most water heaters will produce this hydrogen sulfide gas.
    So you can either replace the rod – and since it’s so new, I’d say go ahead and replace the rod.
    LESLIE: And just see what happens.
    TOM: Yeah, I mean you’ve got nothing to lose. And I think that that’s going to solve it. You can always replace the water heater. And next time you get ready to replace it, go tankless. I think you’ll be happy with it for a whole bunch of reasons; not as much the odor but everything else.
    DENISE: Right, right. OK, well thank you very much for all your information.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Hey, do your spring chores have you getting up on a ladder to handle some of that cleaning? Well, if you are, then you need to watch your step because falls from ladders send hundreds of thousands of homeowners to the emergency room every, single year. When we come back, we’re going to have all your safety tips, so stick around.

    (theme song)
    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.
    TOM: And hey, are you thinking of redoing your kitchen this spring? If so, you want to make sure to visit MoneyPit.com for great kitchen makeover ideas. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on “Home Spaces” and then “Kitchens” and you will see tons of great ideas right there for the taking.
    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. If you have a kitchen project in mind, we’d love to help you out. Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Bob in Michigan is dealing with a water pressure issue. What’s going on?
    BOB: Oh, I have a house that I’m having pretty weak water pressure.
    LESLIE: OK. Is it happening in just one faucet or are you finding it in all the faucets?
    BOB: I’m finding that when I take a shower I’d better not have the dishwasher on or the laundry going. It’s happening pretty much in all of them.
    TOM: Hmm.
    BOB: I have a 3/4-inch …
    TOM: Are you on well water or city water, Bob?
    BOB: It’s city water. I’m the last house, pretty much, in the line of travel from the – that’s what I’ve been told; I’m pretty much the furthest out.
    TOM: OK.
    BOB: And they’ve metered it at 50 pounds pressure at the manhole.
    TOM: Right.
    BOB: And what happened is there’s a main there that there was a 3/4-inch line coming to the manhole from an old house that I demoed. And I hooked up a new house 100 feet away and connected a one-inch line to that 3/4-inch line to my house and now – you know, being by myself, I didn’t have a problem, but trying to sell this house later, I’m thinking, “OK, if there’s a family here, there’s going to be a problem.”
    TOM: Right. Well, how about adding a pressure-boosting pump to that house?
    BOB: I’ve been looking at that.
    TOM: Yeah. I think that’s probably the best solution because that can bring the pressure back up where it needs to be.
    BOB: OK.
    TOM: You’re at such a far – you’re so far down the line there, I’m afraid that there’s nothing that you can do inside the house short of adding a piece of equipment that builds pressure back up that’s going to solve this. But if you add a pressure-booster pump, I think your water pressure is going to be where it is; everything is going to function normally. Because you know, even some appliances don’t function well if you don’t have the right amount of water pressure behind them.
    BOB: That’s correct. My question was I looked into those pressure pumps or the booster pumps at the local hardware.
    TOM: Yep. Yes.
    BOB: And there seems to be some difficulty. You’ve got to have it right in the first part of the line.
    TOM: Right.
    BOB: Have you heard of maybe putting a pressure tank from like a well system where it contains water and then it pressures water from that point?
    TOM: You’ve still got to have the pump.
    BOB: Oh, OK.
    TOM: Otherwise, there’s no way for you to build up the pressure. That would essentially be a holding tank.
    BOB: OK. That sounds good. Yeah, well thanks a lot.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Hope that solves it. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    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.
    TOM: Well, one of the most common home improvement tools is a ladder; unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous. In fact, over 160,000 people go to the emergency room every year as a result of ladder accidents. Here with some tips to help keep us safe is a guy who knows all about tools, Kevin O’Connor from This Old House.
    Hey, Kevin.
    KEVIN: Hey, Tom.
    TOM: Now staying safe on a ladder really doesn’t have to be that complicated but there’s an awful lot of people that are being dangerous.
    KEVIN: No, it doesn’t have to be complicated and the tips are really simple. The first one you start you with is that it is important that you choose the right ladder for the job. Think about the ladder’s weight rating and its length. Because you know, most ladder accidents are caused by overreaching.
    Also, look for a ladder that has levelers and stabilizers because they can make a big difference. And here’s one thing: never use a metal ladder near power lines.
    TOM: Now every time I go up a ladder, I always think of what I forgot down below, but wearing a tool belt is probably a pretty safe tip as well.
    KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely, because you want to keep your hands free. You want your hands to be holding onto the ladder, not holding onto your tools; so that’s a great tip.
    And if you want more great tips about ladder safety, you can go to our videos on ThisOldHouse.com.
    TOM: Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, great tip. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
    KEVIN: My pleasure.
    LESLIE: You know, those are all really good tips but also keep in mind, if you have a project where you need to get up on a ladder, why not invite a friend over. They can actually help you to do your project safely. They’ll anchor the bottom, they’ll let you know if you’re climbing too high, they’ll hand you the tools that you drop. It’s always good to do home improvement projects with a buddy anyway.
    TOM: Or they could just videotape your fall and put it up on YouTube.
    LESLIE: Or if you don’t have a ladder, you can always get on their back. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
    TOM: Well, if you’d like more information from our friend Kevin O’Connor, you can watch him on This Old House, which is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
    Up next, save money and eat fresher with your own vegetable garden. We’re going to tell you what basic garden tools you’ll need to get the job done, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. 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 and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to get in on our great prize giveaway. Because one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win an eco-friendly paint kit worth 100 bucks from our friends at Purdy. Now, you’re going to get an EcoPro set which includes a brush, roller, tray and frame and the EcoPro rollers are made from recycled plastic soda bottles. How great is that?
    TOM: Very cool.
    LESLIE: Yeah, and there are a lot of other paint and prep tools including roller covers, a professional-grade extension pole and a six-in-one prep tool which come in super-duper handy during all of your home improvement projects. So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    And when you get done with that painting project, you might be ready to head outside and do a bit of gardening. You know, there was a story earlier this year about a vegetable garden at the White House where, apparently, Michelle Obama was growing all her own veggies to serve her White House guests. So, a lot of …
    LESLIE: Yeah, she was even on the Sesame Street show talking about her vegetable garden.
    TOM: Yeah. And a lot of people are really getting interested now in gardening as a result. It’s a great way to save money on grocery bills and just simply help relieve stress. You just want to make sure that you’ve got your garden tool basics.
    First, you need a good spade – and that’s a really sharp, flat, shovel; if you’re wondering what a spade shovel is, it’s the long, flat one – because it helps you get in there and dig in narrow spaces and edge; whatever you need to do. It can be used for many lawn and garden chores and if you invest in a good-quality tool, it’s going to last a lifetime; so don’t go cheap.
    You also want to get a spading fork. Now this can be used to aerate and break up the dirt and both the spade and the fork should be comfortable to hold. There are many tools now with ergonomic handles; so that’s one thing that you’d look for in your new garden tools.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You also want to make sure that you have a good pair of gloves. Now, the old-fashioned, cotton, garden gloves, they’re inexpensive and they certainly do the job but you might want to actually invest in the newer, high-tech styles that shed water and fit – and I mean fit well. You’ll actually be able to see your fingers and not just be like, “Hey, where’s my hand in this odd, flower-cover bag.” (Tom chuckles) But they really do help to keep your hands clean, protect your nails, protect your hands from any thorns, protect you from getting cuts. So you can really do the jobs around the yard that will really ensure a successful garden because you’re not worried about your hands.
    So if you plan your garden early, you’ll be harvesting your veggies for a fresh-picked salad by midsummer. Enjoy.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get right back to those phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Craig in Texas has a question about sheetrock. What can we do for you today?
    CRAIG: Yeah, I just barely caught the tail end of one of your shows and you were talking about painted sheetrock of China.
    TOM: Yes, mm-hmm.
    CRAIG: And I’ve looked it up online and I mean I’ve looked everywhere. I couldn’t find out anything about it. What brand was it or is there any in Texas at all, do you know?
    TOM: Well, you know I think it’s spreading across the country. I mean it started with Florida homes that were built between 2004 and 2005. The reason it was discovered is because the heating and air conditioning systems started to fail prematurely as well as folks having odors and other air quality issues. And it all came down to this Chinese-sourced drywall made by Knauf Plasterboard. And basically, because it had such a high sulfur content to it, it was causing some corrosion issues.
    CRAIG: Wow.
    TOM: Basically, the drywall was releasing sulfur-based gases and it was corroding the air conditioning coils, the computer wiring and, some say, even metal picture frames that were hung on the drywall surfaces. There also is somewhat of a rotten egg smell to it that’s released when the drywall is cut into for repairs and for structural investigations.
    Now the Florida Department of Health has been testing it to try to determine whether it poses a health threat. They’ve not discovered that it poses any immediate health threat but it certainly is an ongoing concern to homeowners and I do think we’re going to hear more about this, especially all along the Gulf Coast.
    If you want some more information, there is an article that I wrote about it and it’s on WalletPop.com. So go to WalletPop.com and search on Chinese drywall. It should pop right up.
    CRAIG: Hey, hey, thanks. I appreciate that.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us, Craig, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Sharon in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    SHARON: I have a five-year-old nubuck leather loveseat that has urine stains on it and I don’t know how to get it out. I’ve tried just a mild dishwashing detergent …
    SHARON: … and it may have taken the urine out but there’s still like a water mark on it.
    LESLIE: OK, because the problem with leather, especially when you need to clean a stain off of it, is that you can’t use too much water – and I know a lot of these online sites will recommend using a mild detergent and water, but the trick is when you mix the detergent and the water you need to use like an electric mixer because you want to create such an emulsion of foam that you really only want to work with the foam. So this way you would take the foam and you want to use a very brand, spanking new sponge – a clean, new sponge – and you want to scoop up just the suds and then wash the entire area and you need to make sure that you wipe and don’t scrub. And then you just want to keep doing that until you clean the stain completely and then you need to really let it dry and you want to place a towel on it and really sort of get up as much of that moisture as you can. 
    Now that you’re dealing with a water stain, you know it could be something that requires a professional cleaning because a water stain is very difficult to remove from leather. But what you want to do is – you know you just really need to be careful and you want to sort of dampen the leather. You want to kind of extend the water stain, if you will, to make the entire cushion appear as if it’s slightly changed. It should then match …
    SHARON: (chuckling) Yeah.
    LESLIE: You know what I’m saying? 
    SHARON: Yeah.
    LESLIE: So you want to make sure. What you can do is you can take a new sponge again – you always want to work with a new sponge with leather because leather will absorb odor and if you’ve been washing dishes it could smell kind of mildewy. So you want to take a new sponge, then you want to take room-temperature water and you want to wring that sponge out as much as possible and you want to start at the spot where your water stain is and you want to dampen the leather until you reach the edges of the cushion. And you want to wet the leather less and less as you get further and further away from the water spot and then that should sort of even out the coloration. And then head to the store and pick up some sort of leather conditioner and just apply that in the same way that you would the manufacturer directions recommend; you know, once it’s dry. This way it’ll all sort of help to change the texture back to smooth and get rid of that water spot.
    And worst-case scenario, flip it over.
    SHARON: There you go. (Leslie chuckles) Thank you very much.
    TOM: Sharon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Up next, painting over wallpaper. Good idea or bad idea? We’re going to answer that question, after this.

    (theme song)
    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 and online at MoneyPit.com. You can also follow us on Facebook. Simply text “Fan TheMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 from your cell phone. You’ll be instantly added as a fan.
    LESLIE: That’s right. And while you’re online, you can e-mail Tom and I your question just by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon. And I’ve got one here from Eileen in Hawaii who writes: “I’m removing wallpaper and I noticed how easily the top layer peels off. Can I paint over the remaining backing or should I remove all of the paper and how exactly should I do this?”
    TOM: Hmm. Good question. Well, my first choice, Eileen, would be to tell you to remove the wallpaper. Now, the best way to do that is, first of all, you have to score the wallpaper. And there’s a little tool called a paper tiger that puts little, tiny holes in the wallpaper and helps you get a wallpaper remover paste or even a wallpaper steamer sort of behind the paper where it can separate the glue from the wall beneath and hopefully peel that paper right off. So I certainly would try, if at all possible, to remove the old paper.
    Once you get that off, you’re going to want to prime the wall. Use a good-quality primer and then a good-quality topcoat after that. And if you do it properly, it really will look like the wallpaper was never, ever there before.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And since she’s gotten the decorative layer of paper off, usually when it peels apart in two layers like that, it’s a vinyl paper.
    TOM: Right.
    LESLIE: She should be able to remove that backing either with the scoring or even with a combination of fabric softener and water; it’s like a 50/50 mixture. And if you saturate it – and I mean like get that backing pretty wet – you might be able to just peel that off as well and that really gives you a great job of helping you to remove that. And you do want to remove it because if you paint over the wallpaper, you’ve got to skim coat over the seams. I mean it can be like a huge mess. So when you can, just get it off.
    TOM: Absolutely. And Eileen, make sure when you do paint it, you use a flat paint; nothing with a sheen. Because if there’s any glue left over behind any defect in the wall whatsoever, you’ll see it if there’s a sheen.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, you’ll see it.
    TOM: So make sure you use a good-quality flat.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Heather who writes: “Thanks for your article on wet basement scams. My husband and I are in the researching stage of finishing our basement. We live in a 1920s bungalow with limestone basement walls that get leaky in only one area during heavy snow melts or heavy rainfalls. My question is, once we tackle the leakage issue, how would you recommend we keep our basement leak-free? And are we more susceptible to leaking with limestone walls rather than cement walls?”
    TOM: Not necessarily. I mean all walls can leak given the right conditions. And Heather, as you read in the article, most basements leak because water collects right outside the foundation wall; especially if you’ve gotten leaks, say, this past winter after snow melt or after heavy rainfalls. That’s because the soil around the house is sloping into the building. It’s not pitched away or the gutters are non-existent or they’re not extended away.
    So if you maintain the drainage on the outside, regardless of the type of foundation wall you have – whether it’s limestone, brick, block, solid concrete – it should stay relatively leak-free. And if it doesn’t, go back out, start at the beginning and look at that grading and drainage again because I can’t tell you how many times that absolutely is the total cause of wet basement problems.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Bill who writes: “Our contractor poured a cement slab for the new porch stairs during the winter. The smooth surface has cracked and peeled, revealing the aggregate under part of the slab. What can we do to fix this?”
    TOM: Ah. Well, when you have any kind of a deterioration like that, what you do need to do is use an epoxy patching compound. You don’t want to use more concrete, Bill, because it will peel off; it’ll freeze and pop off probably the next winter. So use a good-quality epoxy compound and that will adhere very well to the deteriorated surface.
    And if you’re worried about color, you can really actually almost stucco the entire surface and it’ll be nice and even.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it’ll stick so you really don’t have to worry about it coming off from any portion of the surface. And then your steps will look as good as new; well, as good as they were supposed to look the first time around. (Tom chuckles)
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas, some inspiration so that you can get out there and take your money pit and turn it into the house, the home, the castle that you know it can be.
    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 2010 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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