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Clear Up Insulation Myths and Get the Facts, Learn How to Decorate for Fall, Get Advice on Maintaining Your Fireplace and Chimney, Wedding Registry Ideas for Today’s Couples and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. Now, it’s the fall season, it’s the fall fix-up season. We call this the Goldilocks season because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s just right. So whether you’re working inside your house, outside your house, we want you to pick up your phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT so that we can get in the house with you and help you get those jobs done.

    Whatever you’re working on, let’s talk about it. We’ll tell you how to hire a contractor. We’ll teach you how to buy the right paint. We’ll teach you how to estimate the cost. Whatever project is on your to-do list, we will try to make it simpler and assure success in that project. Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We’ve got a busy show planned for you. Even though the summer has officially come to an end, it is definitely time to start thinking about cooler weather. And that means sparking up a roaring fire if you are so lucky as to have a fireplace. But how do you do that safely? We’re going to give you a review of fireplace safety, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, the fall season is upon us and it’s one of the most beautiful times of the year, which makes it a great time to redecorate. We’re going to have a few ideas for fall décor to spice up your home with the colors, smells and sights of autumn.

    TOM: And fall is also a good time to think about adding more insulation. But when I say that, do you think of the scratchy stuff that you need special tools to cut and gloves to handle? Well, it turns out that that is not today’s insulation. We’re going to have a highlight on updates in insulation that have made it far easier to handle. And if you get it installed, it’s really the single best way to trim those energy costs.

    LESLIE: Plus, one caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a Home Depot project card, which comes preloaded with 100 bucks.

    Now, the project card is really a new concept here at The Home Depot and it’s designed to help all of those do-it-yourselfers out there stick to a predetermined budget.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joe in Delaware is having an issue with the kitchen flooring. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOE: I have water leaking from the cabinet onto the kitchen floor. And it’s got black spots and also some black lines in the floor.

    TOM: OK.

    JOE: I’m kind of a handyman or whatever you want to call it. I thought I’d grab my sander and want to sand it right out. Well, it didn’t work.

    TOM: Right. Because it’s deep.

    JOE: It’s deep, yes. Is there something that one can use to, well, take the blackness out?

    TOM: Well, my first question is: did you fix the leak?

    JOE: Yes. Oh, I say yes.

    TOM: OK. So leak is fixed. What happens with the hardwood floor is it gets oxidized. And the staining that you’re seeing can get quite deep. It’s possible that you could maybe, using a bleach solution, lighten that oxidation up. But the problem is that it may still not match the floor that surrounds it.

    What’s the color of the finish of the floor?

    JOE: Well, I guess you would call it “white.” Yeah, it’s [kind of blond] (ph). And I – when I sand it down, the wood would also – when I got through the finish, it’s a kind of hard finish. It was also very light and I thought, “Well, I’ll just some clear polyurethane on.” And then it turned reddish on me.

    TOM: And did you sand down the entire floor or only the area where the stains …?

    JOE: No, just the area where it was black, yeah. It’s like maybe 10 inches wide and about 18 inches long or …

    TOM: Alright. Well, look, it’s going to be difficult for you to patch this. What you might want to do is have the entire floor professionally sanded. With the right equipment, you can cut through that and make sure that it all matches. If some additional staining is needed to touch it up, a floor refinisher could do that. It’s either that or buy yourself a nice throw rug and forget about it.

    JOE: Right. OK.

    TOM: Joe, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ruth in California is on the line with a patio question. How can we help you today?

    RUTH: I’m wondering how I can get rid of the mold – permanently get rid of the mold – on my patio. It’s a pebble surface. And I’ve tried Roman Cleanser, you know, Clorox? And it takes care of it for a while and then it comes right back.

    TOM: There’s a product on the market called Concrobium Mold Control and their website is CureMyMold.com. Now, they have a deck wash that I think would work for this. And the nice thing about the Concrobium products is they leave a protective barrier on the surface when it dries. So not only does it kill and help clean up the existing mold but it leaves a protective barrier that makes it a lot less likely for the mold to grow back.

    Concrobium Mold Control. Just go to CureMyMold.com and that is a great product that’s non-toxic and works very well.

    RUTH: OK. So it won’t bother the grass or anything around the patio.

    TOM: Correct. Exactly.

    RUTH: OK. Thank you 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 or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, before you crank up your fireplace for the season, it’s really important to make sure it’s safe. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, celebrating their 170-year anniversary. At Stanley, making history is our future. To learn more, visit StanleyTools.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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to answer your home improvement questions right here on the air.

    And one of you lucky caller-inners – I know I made up that word but I like it – is going to win a preloaded $100 project card from The Home Depot. And it’s great because the project card, it’s kind of a convenient, new way to sort of help you stick to a budget. Because you preload your money amount on there and you’re not going to spend a penny more, right?

    TOM: Absolutely. But according to a recent survey, 43 percent of homeowners will exceed a project budget this year. So, to make it a lot easier to stick to that budget, The Home Depot’s project card enables you to load the card with a very specific budget amount. And then you can share those funds between two DIYers working on the same project.

    LESLIE: Now, for example, if you’ve got a $100 project card, you can tackle some energy-saving projects, like adding some weatherstripping to your windows and doors or maybe you want to add some insulation that will help you sort of cut back on those heating bills this winter.

    If you want some more ideas, why not check out the workshops that are offered at The Home Depot stores across the country? And the project cards are also available at your local Home Depot’s gift-card center. Now, the cards don’t ever expire and they don’t have any fees. And if you want your chance to win one, pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Ron in Florida is on the line with a leaky water heater. What’s going on? Tell us how old it is.

    RON: Well, the breaker had thrown a couple times and I turned it back on. And it stayed when I turned it on and then I’d gone in, took a nap, came back out. When I did, the entire garage was full of water. I guess the pressure-relief valve that’s up top was just – it was just spewing out water extremely, extremely hot. Hotter than we’ve ever experienced having (inaudible at 0:08:44). What I thought it was – it just continued to heat.

    And so, any rate, I turned the breaker off, I looked in the panel where the thermostats were and the elements and they were just fried; they were burnt. They were burned up. I got a good scare because the insulation was blackened and could have been worse than it was, I guess, it catching fire. But I just wondered what would have made the hot-water heater do that.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s see. The pressure/temperature relief valve, which is what that’s called on the side of the water heater, is set to go off at about 150 pounds of pressure. And theoretically, the way it works is if the water heater doesn’t shut off, because there’s something wrong with the control circuit, it will continue to heat and heat and heat and build up pressure to the point where to prevent the tank from rupturing, the pressure/temperature valve will open up.

    Now, I will say this: very often, those valves fail and they will open up way before they’re designed to open up. And if that’s the case, you just replace the valve. But it sounds to me like this thing got so wet that the water got on the elements and that’s what caused a short, which caused the breaker to trip.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But is this associated with an age of a water heater or is this just a random, fluke problem?

    TOM: Not really. I’ve seen new pressure/temperature valves that can pop open, as well. And sometimes, you get a little bit of debris that’s stuck under them, too, when you try to close them and that makes it even worse.

    Now, where are we at right now with the water heater? You’re still there with it or have you replaced it? What’s your – where are you at with the project?

    RON: Just the – what I was looking at didn’t look like it was even worth fixing with all the – like I said, with all the burned …

    TOM: Well, it may not. If it’s more than a few years old and you’ve got that much going on with it, I’d probably replace the water heater myself.

    But what I was going to say, the one thing that you can try – and assuming that the coils were still OK. You mentioned they were burned out. Burned out is – with a coil, it’s kind of hard to do. If they just got wet and shorted, that’s a different situation. You can clean out the contacts and it’ll work. But if the coils were OK, otherwise, what you could do is you open and close the pressure-and-temperature valve several times.

    And by the way, there’s supposed to be a discharge pipe on that that stops within 6 inches of the floor. And sometimes, the plumbers don’t put that on. But if you open and close that a bunch of times to try to sort of clean out that valve, sometimes it’ll reseat itself. And this is assuming that it didn’t open because there is something electrically wrong with it. But I would do that.

    There’s things that I would check but there’s – these are things you probably couldn’t check. For example, I’d check the amperage on the coils to see if they were drawing normally and things like that that tells me sort of – the circuit is working correctly. So, I guess what we’re coming to here is if you’ve got this much going on with – you’re probably going to have to replace it and you’re going to need a plumber for that, anyway.

    But that’s probably what happened. It probably started with the pressure/temperature valve leaking, that water getting in there and causing a big mess electrically. Because water and electricity do not mix, as you have learned, my friend.

    RON: Right, right. OK. OK, guys. Well, listen, I really appreciate you taking my call and appreciate the help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re getting ready to spark up a toasty fire for the cooler months, you need to first make sure it’s safe.

    First of all, guys, you’ve got to have a certified chimney sweep inspect and to clean your chimney. Now, your chimney should be checked at least once a year or after about 80 fires. But be careful about choosing a chimney sweep because these guys are notorious for unnecessary repairs and scare tactics which really try to get you to spend some more money on things that you might not need. So you want to check the Better Business Bureau and some referral sites, like Angie’s List.

    TOM: Now, you want to clean out the firebox at least once a week, during the months that you plan to use it, when the ash builds up. Try to leave about an inch of ash, though, because it acts as insulation and it allows the coals to heat faster and retain the heat easier.

    You also want to keep the firebox completely clean during the months when the fireplace is not in use.

    LESLIE: Now, before you guys even start to make a fire, please, please, please check that the damper is open. So many times you just – you know, you just forget. So just check. Make it a point of starting every single fire. Open everything up, check the damper, then go ahead and put your kindling inside.

    And when you start the fire, start small. The initial heat from that flame is going to warm the chimney and that’s going to help improve the draft as it heats up. So it’s going to pull the smoke up the chimney.

    TOM: And lastly, if you’ve got a prefabricated fireplace – one of those metal fireplaces; they’re called “zero-clearance fireplaces” – you want to limit your use of the wax manufactured logs because they can leave a buildup, inside of that chimney, that’s kind of hard to clean. It’s OK once in a while. I mean I call those the “lazy logs” because when I don’t want to tend to the fire, I just throw one in and forget about it. But for the most part, you don’t want to use them all the time. Supplement your wood fireplace burning with the wax logs now and again.

    If you want more tips on how to make sure your chimney and your fireplace are safe all season long, check out MoneyPit.com and just search “chimneys” and you’ll have all the information that you need.

    LESLIE: Evelyn in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    EVELYN: Yes, ma’am. I have wanted to redo my – they call it a “living room” now but it’s mostly your front room? And I wanted to know if I wanted to have it made over – the whole room – do you have any suggestions about how I could go about getting that done? The exception is I have this really big, huge desk that I have to keep in the room.

    TOM: So you’re looking for a decorator to help you sort of redo the room. Is that correct?

    EVELYN: Yes.

    LESLIE: Well, there is an association of interior decorators; it’s ASID. And these are folks that are registered with the Interior Decorating Society. And they’re listed by zip code. You can go to the website, ASID – I don’t know if it’s .org, .com. And that way, you can find a decorator in your area.

    I will let you know that pricing ranges from decorator to decorator. Some will do an hourly consulting fee, some will do a flat fee, some will do a percentage of the items ordered. It really depends on the project. I think if you start at that website and start looking for people in your area, visit their websites, take a look at the style of work that they do. This way, you can find somebody that matches your décor. And then that’s a good way to find somebody that’ll fit well.

    EVELYN: OK. Well, listen, that was what I wanted to know. You think that would be worth the while?

    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. I think it makes sense to start that way.

    EVELYN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Eric in Michigan is on the line. How can we help you with your water problem? What’s going on?

    ERIC: I’ve listened to you guys’ podcasts many times and have heard you talk about the basements and having your eavestroughs clear and downspouts 4 to 6 feet away. Well, I’ve done that. I keep them clear and I still keep getting water in the basement: just a teeny little bit around the corner.

    And I was wondering if maybe you guys had an idea if the water is coming in just because the ground is getting so saturated when it rains. I don’t have very good grading and there’s no real way to get any better grading because I’m so close to the neighbors. I didn’t know if you guys had any ideas besides going through and putting in that really expensive thing that they put in basements.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, first of all, let’s just review what you have done. So you have gutters and the gutters are clean and they’re free-flowing. Is that correct?

    ERIC: Correct.

    TOM: And the downspouts, they are extended out from the foundation?

    ERIC: Yeah. About 6 feet.

    TOM: About 6 feet. And once that water drains from the downspout, does it continue to move away from the building or does it – circling back towards the foundation?

    ERIC: It’s very level right where it’s at; it doesn’t really slope away. So I mean I don’t know if it would circulate back towards the foundation but …

    TOM: Let me ask you this: the leakage that you are getting, is it consistent with storms? In other words, you get a pretty nasty storm, bad rainfall and you get more water?

    ERIC: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. So we absolutely know that it’s sourcing from surface drainage; this is not a rising water-table situation. It’s going – the solution is going to be in this drainage in the foundation perimeter. And you say you can’t improve the grading. What do you have around the foundation now? Is it grass? Are there plants? Mulch? What?

    ERIC: It’s just grass.

    TOM: It’s just grass? And you’re so – and how close are you to the neighbor?

    ERIC: Oh, 15 feet maybe?

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’ve got room to grade. What you want to do is just deal with the first 4 feet away from the foundation. That first 4 feet needs to pitch down 6 inches.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: So to do that, you would add clean fill dirt, not topsoil.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: Topsoil is very organic and it’ll hold a lot of water. But clean fill dirt added to the foundation perimeter, tamped in place with a tamping iron – you know, it’s that stick with a big metal plate at the bottom of it – so it’s solid, really packed-in well. And then on top of that, you can plant more grass, you can lay some sod. Now is a good time of year to do this because it’s cool and it’s damp and it’s not hot. And so that means that the roots have a chance to really take hold before next summer happens.

    The purpose of that is just to prevent erosion. If you don’t want to put grass, you could put stone or mulch. But that first 4 to 6 feet is the most important area to make sure it slopes away from the building. And this way, if you do have any water that’s ponding back – because I suspect that’s what’s happening – it’s going to stop that from getting too close to the foundation.

    Now, the other thing to do here is you could take the downspouts and pipe them underground, away from the locations, and then discharge the water somewhere else. If your yard has any type of a slope where you could get away with this and actually pitch away the underground pipe and then have it poke out somewhere so that it discharges to grade somewhere else away from the house, then that’s another option.

    ERIC: OK. Do you think it matters – the windows in my basement are – the bottom of the windows are level with the ground. Would you recommend putting in a window well around them and then …?

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, in that case, you would put a window well around it because this will enable you to get the soil up higher.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: Because you don’t want to cover the windows. So you would put a window well. Don’t worry about covering the window well; just put the window well against the foundation, throw some stone in the bottom of it. And this way – and frankly, if the soil is level with the sill, you probably should take some of that soil out so it’s a few inches down. Throw some stone in the bottom of it and that actually will keep your windows cleaner because when the rain hits it, you won’t have mud splatter up on the window.

    ERIC: Sure, sure. Well, I think that answers my question. I really appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit. Up next, we are clearing up the myths and explaining the facts about insulation. It doesn’t have to be a very hard project and you can do it yourself. And we will tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Diamond Crystal Salt. The benefits are bigger than you expected. After all, you’re worth your salt. Diamond Crystal Salt. A brilliant choice since 1886.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And with the cooler weather right around the corner, it’s a great time to start thinking about your attic. Have you been up there lately? If not, you should. And this truly is the right time of year to do so because soon, it’s going to be colder and you want to keep all of that nice, warm, heated, paid-for air inside your house.

    TOM: And the best and most cost-effective way to do just that is with attic insulation. And it’s a project you can do yourself. But you’re saying, “Wait. Insulation is itchy. It’s hard to work with,” right? Well, not anymore. We’re going to clear up some of the most common insulation myths, with the help of Gail Tedhams from Owens Corning.

    Welcome, Gail.

    GAIL: Thank you. Glad to be here.

    TOM: Nice to have you back on the program. And I’ve got to say that Owens Corning has been a leader in insulation for as long as I’ve been in home improvement radio, which is a long time and probably much longer than that.

    And you guys have a new product out that I like, called EcoTouch. And it’s interesting because insulation is typically thought of as very itchy. And certainly for consumers that are up in their attics now, perhaps in the fall taking a look at what they have, they’re all afraid to touch that stuff. But this product is quite soft to the touch. How do they achieve that?

    GAIL: Well, there – our EcoTouch insulation has a new formulation and it’s very soft to the touch. And also, our loose-fill insulation called AttiCat has no binder at all, so it is also very soft to the touch.

    LESLIE: Gail, I think a lot of people also think that fiberglass insulation just tends to be very dusty.

    GAIL: Well, our EcoTouch insulation and also our AttiCat insulation has very low dust. And we’ve done testing, particularly compared to other products, and shown that our product is very low dust and is not messy at all when you apply it.

    TOM: Now, in terms of the installation of the insulation, typically there’s a – I envision a big ramp-up for that because people have to wear long sleeves, wear gloves, wear safety glasses, wear dust masks. Because before, fiberglass would get in the air and it was kind of an irritant. Has that installation procedure changed with a product like EcoTouch because it is just so more – such a friendly product to handle?

    GAIL: Well, we still recommend that people wear dust masks and long sleeves, mainly because there’s a lot of other contaminants that are usually in the attic. There could be leavings (ph) from rodents, there could be dust, there could be sawdust, there could be a lot of different things in your attic. So we still recommend that you take those proper precautions. But I think people will find that if they try out EcoTouch Insulation, they’re going to find it a much different product than what they might have used in the olden days.

    And it’s much easier to install. The batts are precut. And again, if you’re using the AttiCat machine and blowing insulation in, it’s a job that you can do in half a day. And all the instructions are available and it’s really very easy.

    LESLIE: I think so many homeowners are just concerned about being green or using products that are eco-friendly in their home. And when they think about insulation, they don’t always think of it as a green product.

    GAIL: Well, Owens Corning has done a lot of work to improve our insulation. Our EcoTouch insulation is a new formulation. It’s bio-based, it has high recycled content. And the energy used to make the product is recovered in the first month of use as it’s been applied in an attic, for example. So, fiberglass insulation is really a good solution for people that are looking to have a greener home.

    TOM: And it’s an easy weekend project. You can tackle it today. If you go up in your attic and you take a look at your floor joists and perhaps you don’t see insulation going over the top of them, you just don’t have enough. And you’re going to get a great return on investment, not to mention that you’ll be more comfortable and save energy all winter long and then all summer long, as well. Because remember, what keeps us warm in the water keeps us cool in the summer. All great reasons to look into doing an insulation project this fall season.

    Gail Tedhams from Owens Corning, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    GAIL: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks.

    TOM: If you’d like more information about EcoTouch and all the Owens Corning products, you can call them at 1-800-GET-PINK.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, more and more couples today, guys, are signing up for their wedding registry at The Home Depot, not Bloomingdales. The Home Depot, guys. How awesome is that? We’re going to tell you why, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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: The number to call is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 project card from The Home Depot.

    Now, the project card is a very cool, new way for you to track your project budgets. The Home Depot found that more than half the people who purchased gift cards were using the cards to stay on budget for a very specific project. So, these cards are created for do-it-yourselfers looking to do just that.

    LESLIE: Now, it turns out that more than 70 percent of homeowners are going to spend an average of $4,000 on home improvements this year. So you want to make those dollars count by making sure you’re spending exactly how much you plan to and not a penny more.

    If you want some great project ideas, The Home Depot offers a ton of different workshops at their local stores across the country. And for example, with a $100 project card, you can update your lighting by replacing a few light switches with dimmer switches or even just upgrading to energy-efficient light bulbs to help save with electricity.

    TOM: And the card never expires and it has no fees. The project cards are available at your local Home Depot’s gift-card center.

    For your chance to win, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pat in Illinois needs some help with a leak. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAT: I got new, enlarged gutters and downspouts on. And they cut a trough out to the – my field, which is OK. We’ve had some torrential downpours and this hasn’t, obviously, been lately but I got flooding in my basement. And I was told that there’s a trough that is next to my block basement that is either inside or outside. I could see, visually, it coming in underneath my stairs as I cut away the drywall and I’m not sure – because, unfortunately, the company that did it is out of business – if my trough is inside or outside.

    TOM: Does the rainfall precipitate the flood? In other words, does it always flood after a heavy rain?

    PAT: You know, it never flooded. I built the basement on in an addition 12 years after I built the house for, really, a storm shelter. And it never did until I put the new, improved, larger gutters/larger downspouts on.

    TOM: Right. So, obviously, it’s – the issue is with the drainage of these spouts. And when you have an area that’s susceptible to flooding, you need to discharge the water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation, if not further. I mean I – if it’s possible, I like to run the pipes out underground and take them to a dry well or take them to daylight somewhere if the property is set up such where you can get away with that. But you’ve got to manage the drainage.

    And it’s great that you got the bigger gutters because they’re not going to clog as easily. But wherever these downspouts are hitting, that water has got to get far away from the house.

    PAT: I think that was the case. I think what has happened is the abundance of rain that came over the gutters, based on the mass that it came down – and again, it probably has happened before but it never flooded down there.

    TOM: Pat, whenever you get a flood that’s consistent with rainfall, it’s always, always, always drainage, OK? It’s not rising water tables or any of that other kind of stuff. It’s always drainage, always. So, it’s a clogged gutter, it’s a downspout that’s dropping water too close to the house, it’s soil that’s sloped back into the wall. Fix the drainage, you’ll fix the flood, guaranteed.

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

    LESLIE: Well, fall is becoming a very popular time of year to tie the knot. So you may be finding yourself in the market for some gift ideas.

    Now, just keep in mind that many couples are forgoing china and crystal for some more practical items. Now, brides and grooms of today, they want gifts that they can use on a daily basis, so anything, really, from electronics to office supplies. Plus, more couples are getting married later in life, so they have all the essentials already in their homes.

    Now, really what they need are the extras for entertaining, relaxing and getting organized.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. Newlyweds and engaged couples are really among the nation’s largest consumers of major appliances, furniture, consumer electronics, you name it. So, to get some of these items, what the folks are doing is instead of going for a traditional gift registry, they’re registering at non-traditional retailers. So don’t be surprised if your next wedding invite includes a registry at the local Home Depot or hardware store or even an electronics store, instead of the fine-china store. Because how much of that stuff can you use anyway?

    LESLIE: I don’t know, Tom. The stuff at Bloomingdale’s is pretty sparkly and fun, though.

    Now we’ve got Debra in Texas calling in to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DEBRA: We bought a countertop – the granite countertop – a year-and-a-half ago. And we sealed it with a sealer we bought from the company and we had a warming plate – not a warming plate, a hot pad – by the cooktop. Moved the cooktop and it has changed colors. Under the cooktop, it’s the natural color – under the warming plate/hot plate, it’s the natural color. Beside that has turned darker.

    And then on the bar area where we sit, it has turned darker. And I don’t know if it’s the oils from the cooking, the oils from us sitting here at the bar.

    TOM: Have you done any cleaning of the granite surface since this has happened? Have you tried any additional products on it?

    DEBRA: No. Just that one.

    TOM: Well, we do know that granite needs a lot of care, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: It really does. And also, depending on the color of the granite – if it’s a lighter granite, it needs more maintenance than a darker-toned granite as far being sealed and resealed.

    Now, I usually don’t recommend sealing the granite yourself because the materials that are available for a do-it-yourself sealing job are not as durable and effective as something that a pro might put on. So you may have put something on that has discolored due to, perhaps, the heat of the warming plate. It’s hard to say. Is that truly the natural color under the warming plate and everything else has darkened or has it lightened under the warming plate because of the heat?

    DEBRA: That was the natural color.

    LESLIE: It could just be that the sealant that you’ve put on is reacting to the moisture in your kitchen.

    TOM: Yeah. I’m thinking that whatever finish was applied here is what’s discoloring.

    Now, since you haven’t tried anything to clean this yet, I’m going to recommend a website that specializes in granite care. And they have a lot of products that are designed to help restore granite and it’s called StoneCare.com. What I would suggest you do is take a look that website, search by the type of surface, which is granite, and take a look at the products that are available there. And then contact them directly and ask them which one they would recommend for this specific situation.

    My first thought is that we need to make sure that what you have is clean. And these products can help draw out anything that’s contributing to the color change. And if not, then you may have to refinish the surface again and remove what’s there.

    DEBRA: And how do I do that?

    TOM: Well, I have to tell you, as Leslie said, I don’t think it’s a good do-it-yourself job because – I’ll give you the example of finishing a floor, alright? When you think of a hardwood floor, one of the greatest examples is the gym floor, right? And you think of the basketball games and the gym floor and they’re always shiny and hard and they take all this abuse. But the floors that we have in our house don’t ever look that way. Do you know why? Because most of the time, we finish them ourselves and we don’t get access to the same kinds of products they use professionally.

    Professionally, when they finish a gym floor, they use a two-part, sometimes epoxy-based product that hardens in place – chemically hardens. We use air-dry products and the air-dry products just don’t – aren’t as tough as some of the ones that are based on chemical reactions.

    So the same thing applies to some of the sealers that are out there. The ones that we may use as consumers aren’t the same as what a countertop shop might use. So, if that’s the case, you may want to have it professionally refinished and this way, you’ll get a proper surface on there and you can start again from scratch.

    Alright, Debra. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, great, all-natural, decorating ideas to bring the colors and the smells of autumn into your home.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.

    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 we are going to jump right into our post questions from MoneyPit.com, with Joe in Indiana who writes: “I have several cracks and gaps in my driveway. What is the best way to repair them?”

    TOM: You know, driveway repair is a great fall project. It’s the perfect time for it. You want to get your driveway in good shape before the winter season because once the salt starts falling off your car – that road salt – it really erodes it even quicker.

    So, the first thing to do is to clean the driveway thoroughly. The second thing to do is to use a crack sealer. Now, all these products are latex today. They’re formulated perfectly. They work really well.

    So you want to seal all of those cracks next with a latex sealer. It comes in big caulking tubes, so it’s easy to apply. And then you want to put a driveway sealer on top of the whole thing, including the freshly-repaired cracks. And if you do that, it will really look nice. Give it a day or two to dry before you roll the cars back on it and you’ll be protected for the season.

    LESLIE: Plus, now that it’s made from a latex formulation, it does spread much more easily. It’s not that difficult. I mean it really used to be a hard project when it was oil-based but now it’s a snap. And being that it’s the fall season, it’s great weather to work outside.

    TOM: Well, fall is one of the most beautiful seasons for home decorating. You’ve got the rustic colors and the iconic images from harvest time. But how do you pull all those ideas from the natural world into your home for the season? Leslie has the solution, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It’s my favorite time of year. I really do love the fall.

    First of all, you’ve got apple- and pumpkin-picking, all of the leaves are changing and of course, the super-fun Halloween. Now, if you plan it right, guys, there are ways to have your décor take you from this month all the way through to Thanksgiving.

    First of all, you can use all of those late-summer harvests to spruce up your front entry to the kitchen table. We’re talking pumpkins, squashes, apples, gourds, you name it. I even like to go around the garden and as the hydrangea and as certain pincushion plants – as certain things are starting to dry out, I clip them, hang them upside-down, really let them to sort of dry well. And then I can use them as centerpieces or just decorative accents for this time of year, as well.

    Now, you also want to pull those colors for these accents all around your home. You can think about tablecloths, your linens, your hand towels, even throw pillows, vases, cookie jars, other accent pieces, whatever, throughout your house. Because it’s really a great way to sort of continue that theme.

    You also want to think about your senses because this time of year is just brimming with fantastic smells. You’ve got pinecones, cinnamon, pumpkin, just spice and flavor. The texture of a few pinecones can even just evoke the feeling of the season, as well.

    So if you use what’s on the outside of your money pit and bring it into your money pit, you can truly have the sense of fall, without spending a lot.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, a very special Money Pit broadcast that is close to home because it’s all about a subject that is very close to our hearts: the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

    All summer long, the team from This Old House has been here in New Jersey helping homeowners rebuild homes along the Jersey Shore for their 34th season, I might add. And we’ve been with them every step of the way. So next week, The Money Pit kicks off a special eight-week series as we cover This Old House: The Jersey Shore, presented by Red Devil, makers of a new line of GREENGUARD-approved construction adhesives.

    Now, we’re going to be broadcasting from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, one of the towns that was hit particularly hard by the storm. So join us – along with Kevin O’Connor, Norm Abram, Richard Trethewey and Roger Cook – as we tell the stories of the devastation and a recovery that truly defines what it means to be Jersey strong.

    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 2013 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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