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    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 declare the summer home improvement season officially open for business.

    LESLIE: Yay!

    TOM: So, pick up the phone, give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. And then you could pick up your tools and we will help you get the job done. 888-666-3974. If you’ve got a project on your mind – a to-do you’d like to get done, something that your significant other has been nagging you about – why not nag us with a phone call at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will all tackle it together?

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, one project you might be thinking about doing is improving your kitchen. If you need some additional space there, whether for storage or work, we have got an idea that may help. We’re going to show you how to create a kitchen island using just about anything from stock cabinets to old furniture. It’s not hard, it’s pretty creative, it looks great and it’s easy to do. And we will share with you how to do that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s totally personal. And when you’re making a custom island, you might want to think about including multiple levels, because that’s an easy way to make your kitchen more accessible. And that’s great for everybody from your kids to your parents who come over for a visit.

    But there are actually many other places in the house that you can do the same, all without sacrificing your decorating style. So we’re going to share some tips to help you add accessibility around your house for all.

    TOM: And now that warmer weather is here, has that – does that have the tendency to make your windows fog up? We’re going to have both the source and the solution to curbing that condensation problem, coming up.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great prize. We’re giving away a $50 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors.

    TOM: And that’s enough to get you a little jump-start on your next summer project. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Arizona is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: We just got a new roof put on our house and it’s a two-ply, peel-and-stick, modified bitumen roof?

    TOM: OK. Yes.

    NANCY: And the guys came in and laid the sheets down and then rolled a big, heavy, 100-pound roller over it to adhere the two sides.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.

    NANCY: But we earlier – what they took off our roof was a five-ply tar and – a five-ply roof.

    TOM: Gravel?

    NANCY: And I understand it was an industrial roof, almost, on our house.

    TOM: Right, right. Yeah.

    NANCY: And my husband and I are wondering if we’re looking at half of the roof that we used to have or if it’s a good one, because they keep bragging about the new technology and how good everything is. But we get up there and we look at it and we’re looking at this teeny, tiny, little, almost-immeasurable amount of roofing product on our roof and we’re just wondering.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, well, it is kind of the lightweight version. Now, the reason you had to have five plies is because you needed five plies for it to be waterproof. I mean five-ply roof is five plies of tar paper with tar in between.

    But a modified bitumen roof is a combination roof that actually has sort of a rubberized quality to it that makes it very, very durable and very UV-resistant. So you just don’t need to put multiple plies of that. You would never take that and put multiple layers; you would install it just the way you described.

    So I think it was probably a good choice but of course, only time will tell. As long as the workmanship was done well, then you should have no worries about that.

    NANCY: And that’s kind of under question at this point. But let me throw this in: they came back over because we were a little unhappy and they sprayed on two coats of that snow-roof kind of stuff on there?

    TOM: Ah, I don’t …

    NANCY: And they told us that it was going to help seal it and help bond it and help reflect the sun because as you might or might not know, it gets really hot here in Phoenix?

    TOM: I’ve heard that. You know, I heard that. Yeah.

    NANCY: And it’s a rumor but it’s true. And …

    TOM: Did they put a – was it sort of like a gray-like, silver-like kind of …?

    NANCY: Yes. It’s almost polar-white, actually, up there now. Blinding.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah.

    NANCY: And we’re really hoping that that hangs in, so …

    TOM: Well, that – there used to be a product called fibrous aluminum that they would paint on roofs, that did the same thing. So those white coatings are not a bad idea as long as the coating is designed to work with the modified bitumen roof, as long as they’re comparable and compatible.

    So what they did does not sound like it’s the wrong thing to do, as long as they use products that are designed to work together and secondly, again, as long as the workmanship was done well. That means that it’s sealed properly around the flashing where the pipes come through the roof, if you’ve got any types of curb walls or knee walls or anything like that. As long as that was installed correctly, those – all of those joints, that’s where the rubber hits the road. If that’s not really done well, when you do eventually get some rain there in Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll find out about it.

    NANCY: Well, usually, when we get it, we get a lot of it. So, we’ll find out soon enough.

    TOM: Yeah. You know what? You can always go up there with a hose and test it out.

    NANCY: Well, we could. That’s a good idea. I hadn’t thought of that.

    TOM: Yeah, give it a shot. Yeah, it’s not a very green thing to do but before the roofers get sort of too far out of mind, you could go up there and give it a shot.

    NANCY: Right, right. Yeah, give it a try.

    TOM: OK?

    NANCY: Well, thanks. Thanks so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Nancy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And if you’ve got a project that a contractor did for you, you’re not just – not quite certain that they did the right job, that’s a good reason to call us, just like Nancy did, at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call because we would love to help you with this first, official, summer home improvement weekend. That’s right. Shorts on, work boots on, tool belt on, let’s get to it. 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to give you a hand.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, why not create more storage and workspace in your kitchen? We’re going to show you how you can build your very own kitchen island, perhaps out of stuff you’ve got around the house. And we’ll do that, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced, 100-percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain, snow and ice. The line offers long-lasting beauty and excellent durability. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available 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.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question and you might just win a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru Doors.

    Therma-Tru’s Benchmark line is exclusively available at Lowe’s. They are durable and attractive doors that will add to your curb appeal and even to your home’s value. And one caller we talk to on the air is going to win a $50 Lowe’s card, that you might want to put towards the purchase of just that. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, now it is time for this week’s Fresh Idea, which is presented by Citrus Magic. And I’ve got an idea for those of you who would just love to have a kitchen island but you really don’t have the budget for a major renovation. So, let’s get crafty.

    Now, a piece of furniture, if you build it up properly, can easily serve as a kitchen island. If you’ve got an eat-in kitchen with room for a table and chairs, you can almost certainly create an island in that space.

    So you want to think about maybe putting two small sideboards back-to-back; this way, you’ve got the pretty sides facing out. And then you can create some sort of top for it, maybe out of butcher block. You might even need to bring that base up just a little bit to bring it up to counter height but once you do, you’re going to have the storage.

    And remember, when you’re looking for tops, go to your local granite yard. They might have smaller pieces – remnants, if you will – that you’d be able to use to create a top for this island. Think out of the box; you can really create something beautiful.

    TOM: Now, you can also attach two square pub tables that you could probably find fairly inexpensively. Attach them side-by-side and then cover them with tile. Or think about using an old desk that perhaps you could bring up to the right height. You can even buy stock cabinets to create a really custom look, with the exact drawers and cabinets you need.

    For example, Leslie and I did a home improvement makeover in a house for the folks at AARP. We wanted to create a counter that was very accessible for the entire family, everyone from the kids to the grandparents. So what did we do? Well, we purchased, actually, some wall cabinets at IKEA – some tall wall cabinets – and we put them on a wood base that we built and then we covered the whole thing with a countertop and it worked fantastically.

    LESLIE: Yeah and it was a good custom height and it was something that’s truly unique that you can make your own. And you shouldn’t be afraid about mixing colors. It’s interesting with a lot of kitchen designs I’m seeing, your cabinets will be one finish and your island is something completely different. So if you’re repurposing something, you can actually have it be totally unique.

    TOM: And that’s your Fresh Idea for this week, presented by Citrus Magic. Now that kitchens are designed really as a more open part of the house, odors are something you might have to deal with quite frequently.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And a great product to get rid of that cooking smell that really tends to take over your entire home and your kitchen …

    TOM: Like day-old turkey smell and stuff like that?

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. It just tends to linger. It’s on the towels; it’s everywhere.

    So you really want to get a good product that’s going to make the odor go away. And Citrus Magic Odor-Eliminating Spray, it really does just that. It’s 100-percent natural; it’s made from the oils in the zest of citrus fruit, so you don’t have to worry about using it around food or your pets or your kids. They’re packed in a unique, non-aerosol, continuous-spray container and you really just need one spray.

    My problem is I love it – how it smells – so much and I end up going crazy with it. But you don’t need to – that’s why I buy more – but it’s a really great product that makes the odor just go away instantly.

    If you want to check it out, visit CitrusMagic.com and you’ll learn all about it.

    TOM: Or if you’ve just got a home improvement project that stinks, well, give us a call and we will help come up with the sweet solution for that, as well. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jason in Texas is calling us with a crafty painting project. Tell us what’s going on.

    JASON: Yes, I’m getting ready to paint my 80-year-old brick house. And I’ve heard of filling the mortar joints with epoxy but I was wondering if you’ve ever heard about anybody using the – like the foam filler to fill the cracks with.

    TOM: Now, are you talking about mortar that’s become loose and deteriorated in this 80-year-old brick?

    JASON: Exactly. And it’s – I can tell it’s old stuff that people have already tried to repair, that I’m going to have to take out.

    TOM: Well and that would be an enormous mistake because as good as GREAT STUFF is and other types of expandable foam fillers, it’s not a replacement for mortar.

    JASON: OK.

    TOM: OK? So you have to do this right. You have to scrape out the loose, deteriorated mortar, you have to mix up new mortar and then trowel it back in place. It’s not an expensive job if you do it yourself but it’s not simple, in the sense that it takes some time and some patience.

    JASON: Right. Have you heard of filling it with the concrete crack filler?

    TOM: Well, what you want is simply mortar mix.

    JASON: Do I need to mix that with lime? Have you ever heard of that? People mixing that with lime?

    TOM: Yeah, yes and – right. And did you know the reason that people do that? They do it to make it stickier. To make the mix stickier.

    JASON: Oh, OK.

    TOM: If you’re going to make your own mortar, you mix up concrete and you put a lot of lime in there and it makes it sticky. But if you buy the premixed mortar mix, it’s pretty good as is.

    And the other thing that you’re going to need is something called a pointing trowel, which is a very skinny trowel that gives you sort of that curved, concave joint in the bricks.

    JASON: Yeah but – right, right. Alright. Well, I appreciate it. So don’t use the foam filler then to fill the …

    LESLIE: No. Because it’s not going to take the paint correctly. It grows quite exponentially and you can’t really control that and it’s going to seem wonky.

    JASON: Right.

    TOM: In fact, I know that QUIKRETE has a new product out, Jason, that’s called Zip & Mix Repair Mortar, where it actually comes inside of a plastic bag. And all you’ve got to do is to add water and sort of knead it inside the bag and it even has a trowel.

    JASON: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

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

    ROB: Thank you very much. I purchased a rental property in Illinois here and I noticed that I didn’t have any water coming into the sump pump from either one of the tiles around the perimeter of the dwelling or underneath the dwelling. But upon further exploration, I found out that there was a hole in the bottom of the pit and water was either percolating or because of the water table, entering the pit from the bottom rather than the tiles. And as a result, the sump pump’s running all the time.

    TOM: Right.

    ROB: And was just wondering if that’s a problem that I should be concerned about.

    TOM: Well, when you describe the water percolating up, I mean generally what happens is water will collect around the foundation perimeter and it’ll push down and then kind of come up into the floor.

    ROB: OK.

    TOM: It usually doesn’t go in the walls and then fall down; it goes under the soil and it pushes up. And so, what you’re describing is pretty typical. What I would do, Rob, is look to the outside of this area and make sure that the grading is sloping away from the wall, make sure that you have gutters and the downspouts are extended and away from the wall and do everything possible to keep that area right around the foundation perimeter as dry as possible.

    ROB: OK. Now, we’re – I understand that we’ve got a drainage problem where we’re collecting water off of other lots and that the water table is high. I’m thinking about getting a city engineer to come in and look or the development. But I don’t think it’s coming from downspouts; I think it’s coming from the water elsewhere in the area: the drainage to this property.

    TOM: Right. I think what you need to do is think about something called a curtain drain. A curtain drain could be installed around the grading – the bottom of the grading – around your house where the water sort of collects. And it’ll absorb that water and run it through a pipe and discharge it to where – basically wherever you point it to.

    The way you build a curtain drain is you dig a trench – and it’s about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep – with stone in the bottom of it and stone surrounding the pipe and then some filter cloth and then more dirt. And the water comes, say, from an adjoining yard, hits this trench, falls down to it, comes up into the pipe and then runs off. So that’s the type of thing that would correct this problem.

    Go to MoneyPit.com and search on curtain drains and you’ll find the solution to it.

    ROB: What about a swale? Somebody mentioned a swale like where …

    TOM: Well, a swale is basically a grading term and that’s the low point in the grade around your house. In other words, if you have soil that’s sort of humped up around the foundation perimeter and then there’s a low point where it swales or tilts away, the swale is that bottom low point. It’s the – swale is sort of a term that determines – that explains how the water is supposed to run around your house. And the low point is the swale. And that’s where, frankly, the curtain drain would go, too.

    ROB: Very good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Vicki in Texas is having a hard time keeping the attic cool. Tell us what’s going on up there.

    VICKI: Well, we added a room. We had enough space to put a 22 by – it’s about 17-inch room. It’s got a half-bath and a closet. And we’ve got 6 inches of insulation, batting, Kraft-faced on the – all of the exterior walls.

    TOM: OK.

    VICKI: But we have a metal roof and it’s about 6 inches from that metal roof. And we’ve only got maybe a couple of inches left in between the joists to put anything further to help insulate that room, because it is very hot in the summer. Is there anything, any product that we could use that is out there that would work to fill that tiny space, that would be effective?

    LESLIE: And you’re using that space as living space?

    VICKI: Yes, it is a bedroom.

    LESLIE: It’s a bedroom and it’s 8,000 degrees up there.

    VICKI: Yeah, it’s had air conditioning and we know we’re paying for it with – in electricity and so we’d like to bring our utility cost down.

    LESLIE: There is a paint-additive product. You’re going to have to search for it online; it’s something called Insuladd.

    VICKI: OK.

    LESLIE: I-n-s-u-l-a-d-d. And it was developed from NASA and it’s a coating that they use on the ceramic tiles that surround the space shuttle so when it enters the atmosphere and it gets crazy hot, those sort of reflect …

    VICKI: I have heard of it.

    LESLIE: Well, they market it now to the public and it’s sort of just on its way up in – I mean the research is behind it; it’s very scientific. It’s just having a hard time breaking through to the home ownership. But what it does is, whether you’re trying to heat or cool that space, it’s an additive you put in paint and you paint all the walls, the ceiling, everything with this. So it helps to either keep the heat in or it helps to keep the coolness in the room by sort of creating a barrier from that exterior.

    VICKI: OK.

    LESLIE: It’s worth a shot.

    TOM: The website is Insuladd.com, so it’s I-n-s-u-l-a-d-d.com and I think you can order the product right online.

    And I’ll also point out that metal roofs today, the newer metal roofs, are being coated with a low-E paint, which solves this problem by reflecting some of the heat of the sun out.

    LESLIE: To reflect everything away.

    TOM: So the concept of adding a paint that’s going to reflect some of that heat is definitely a good part of the solution here because you can’t work it from the underside, which is the way you would normally handle it, because you have such little space to work in.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    VICKI: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you very, very, very much. We will definitely look into that and try that. Because it’s just been – it’s just such a pain. So, it’s certainly worth it.

    Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, more Americans than ever are aging in place, which means retiring to Florida or any other retirement destination is the exception rather than the rule.

    TOM: We’ve got great ideas to help make your home more accessible as your aging abilities change, coming up, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: If you like us, you might want to like us on Facebook, because our new Facebook page is getting new fans every day. I think it’s crazy we got 1,200 new people signed up last week.

    LESLIE: It’s so exciting.

    TOM: It’s very exciting.

    LESLIE: I didn’t know we were so popular.

    TOM: I am so psyched that people are getting into all of the content that we put up there and sharing their home improvement questions. I’ve been on there every day this week answering home improvement questions for folks that have posted them.

    So please do join us on Facebook and Twitter. You can get to those links by heading over to MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Joseph in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JOSEPH: I have a well and the water is excellent; it tastes good and we love it. But it’s got a lot of lime in it and everything is covered with lime all. We would – I can live with that but I’m on my fourth hot-water heater in 12 years.

    TOM: Wow.

    JOSEPH: We open up the bottom and try to spoon the stuff out. It burns up the elements. I bought those special, wavy-type elements that are supposed to last so much longer but they don’t and I’m on the verge now – the fellow that cleaned it out the last time told me that it’s not going to last much longer.

    TOM: Now, do you have a water-treatment system?

    JOSEPH: No. All I’ve got is just the well water.

    TOM: OK. But the well water has never needed any type of treatment? So you – OK.

    JOSEPH: No. Well, the lady that lived here before, she had some type of old-fashioned softener that took a liquid of some kind but they went out of business.

    TOM: Right.

    JOSEPH: And when I moved in here, we liked the water so we just didn’t do anything.

    TOM: Alright.

    JOSEPH: And now the lime has become a big problem on water heaters. It’s down in a crawlspace; I can’t get to it, so everybody always has to go down there for me.

    TOM: OK.

    JOSEPH: But I see this thing advertised, called ScaleRID, put out by EdenPURE and it’s an answer to all of my problems.

    TOM: OK. Well, I’m not familiar with that one. I am familiar with one that’s made by the FREIJE Company, called EasyWater?


    TOM: And that one, they actually sent me one a couple of years back and gave it to a friend of mine that had a well system and got very good results out of it.

    JOSEPH: Really.

    TOM: Yeah. So you might want to take a look at their website. I think it’s EasyWater.com.

    JOSEPH: EasyWater.com.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOSEPH: Well, I appreciate it. It’s probably pretty close to what EdenPURE has got out here. They do a lot of things where they …

    TOM: Yeah, I think the FREIJE guys were there first. I suspect the other one is a – came after the fact.

    JOSEPH: Right.

    TOM: OK?

    JOSEPH: Well, I will certainly look that up.

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

    LESLIE: Well, more and more Americans plan to stay in their homes as long as they can. It’s a practice known as “aging in place.” But as your family’s needs change from having kids to your aging parents moving in, to your own golden years, your home can change, too.

    TOM: Here to share a few simple ideas that could help make your home more accessible for any age in any stage of life is Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: It’s great to be here, guys.

    TOM: And Kevin, it used to be that these kinds of changes were thought to be very sort of hospital-esque. But today, accessible design can actually be very, very attractive, right?

    KEVIN: Well, attractive and also very sensible. You don’t have to be physically impaired to actually benefit from accessible design; there are a lot of things that you can do that are going to make just living in your house that much easier. So they really make sense for everybody, no matter what age, no matter how mobile they are.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it really works for a house with kids, as well. So, you’re right, regardless of your situation.

    I know one of the practices that goes into this accessible design is – takes place in the kitchen, where you have countertops of varying heights. And that’s great because you can sit down to work, you can stand to work. What are some of the other things that you see going into kitchens?

    KEVIN: Well, in kitchens, you can have things like foot-lever faucets or touch faucets, right? So now you can actually turn the water on by pushing down with your foot on a lever that’s near the floor or you can just touch anywhere on the faucet and it’s going to go on.

    Lever faucets are actually easier to use. Think of that big paddle that you can actually knock with your hand or your elbow and you don’t actually have to put your hands around something that is round and turn it. It’s just a good way to get the water on and off and they can look great, too.

    LESLIE: You know, we also saw, when Tom and I did that work with AARP in the home makeover – I think it’s Rev-A-Shelf makes a cabinet insert which, when you open the upper cabinets, you grab a lower lever that’s at that lowest level of the upper cabinet and sort of pulls the entire contents down to an area that you can actually reach, which is great whether you’re a smaller person or you’re impaired or you’re a kid.

    KEVIN: And why would you want to give up all that upper storage space? Why would you want to sit there and say, “Well, I can’t reach it so I won’t use it.” So you don’t have to give up that space.

    We actually were doing a job in Tom Silva’s house where we were installing a new master closet. And the upper shelves where the shirts hung? There was a lever on that, as well, so that you can pull them down and you have great access to it. So there are a lot of smart tips like that that’ll give you access and they’re super-functional.

    TOM: Now, it’s not just the physical things; I mean lighting really plays into this, as well. More lighting is always better.

    KEVIN: More lighting is better because you’re going to be able to see what you’re doing better. It’s going to be nice and bright; you’re going to be able to find things. And how you turn those lights on and off are something you should consider, as well. A lot of us are familiar with these toggle switches but a rocker light switch is a great one because you can tap it very quickly with the back of your hand or knock it with your elbow. They’re just a little bit easier to operate.

    TOM: Now, that’s a great point.

    Now, let’s talk about doorways. If you have the option to design a doorway, wider is always better because besides fitting a wheelchair, you also want to get that stroller through it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And not to mention everybody’s furnishings, TVs, they’re getting bigger and bigger. So you’ve got to get those in the house somewhere, right?

    KEVIN: Yeah, you’ve got to think of the moving men or those strollers. If you’ve got twins like I do, they get pretty big.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Those are huge.

    KEVIN: So you’ve got to be able to push them through there. So wider is definitely better but also how you open the doors in those doorways is important, too.

    Round doorknobs are difficult to use when you compare them to, say, a lever doorknob: something that you don’t have to put your hand around your fingers, grab and turn; something that you can open with your elbow or your arm, like you could with a lever doorknob. It’s a great addition.

    LESLIE: You know what I think is interesting? Tom and I saw a spec house with accessible design. And the front door looked like an average width and there were two sidelights on either side. And one of the sidelights was stationary but one of the sidelights was on hinges so that the door folded back and the sidelight folded back.

    KEVIN: Wow.

    LESLIE: So it really didn’t look like it had the special feature but it truly did.

    KEVIN: That is a cool idea. I have never seen that but that is a cool idea.

    LESLIE: It was truly fantastic. It looked gorgeous and it was truly functional.

    TOM: Now, Kevin, these are all great ideas. Is there a place that we can go for more tips?

    KEVIN: Sure. The AARP has a great website, with checklists for each room, at AARP.org/HomeDesign. And they also have a program with the National Association of Home Builders and that program certifies contractors as aging-in-place specialists. So they can actually team you up with a contractor that specializes in these kinds of projects.

    TOM: That’s a very, very cool idea. You have more tips like that on your website, as well, at ThisOldHouse.com. Kevin O’ Connor, host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Great to be here, guys. Thank you.

    LESLIE: And of course, make sure you watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by Stanley.

    Still ahead, if you’ve got windows that are just dripping, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a leak but it could signal a very fixable condensation problem. 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 four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love to hear what you are working on, so give us a call right now with your home improvement question and you might just be the lucky winner of a $50 gift card from Lowe’s. And that’s courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru.

    Now, Tom and I have been lovers of Therma-Tru for years and they actually make a door called Benchmark, which is sold exclusively at Lowe’s. They’re durable and super-attractive and they really will add to your curb appeal and then even to your home’s value. People see a gorgeous front entry and they think that house is worth way more than it actually is.

    So one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that $50 Lowe’s gift card. And that’s a great head start on purchasing a new door or any supplies that you might need for your first summer-weekend home improvement project, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, is it getting so warm outside right now that you think your windows might be sweating? Well, they’re not. It’s called condensation and it is a natural occurrence on all windows, to some extent. And it’s caused by excessive humidity or the invisible water vapor that’s present in the air. Now, when the water vapor comes in contact with the surface, which is at a cooler temperature, the vapor tends to turn to droplets of moisture and that’s where you get the condensation.

    So, there’s no such thing as a completely condensation-free window when the humidity is high. But you can control the amount of moisture in your home to reduce that condensation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s right. To do that, you want to remember to use the fans in your bathrooms, even in your kitchens and your laundry rooms, because that’s going to circulate the air in your home and get that moist air out.

    Now, you can also use either a portable or a whole-home dehumidifier. And finally, if you happen to love plants and keep a lot in the house, try to move some of those outdoors during the warmer weather, because you’ll then immediately lower your home’s humidity levels.

    If you want some more tips on condensation and your windows, visit the experts at Simonton.com. They’ve got tips there to make your life and your home more comfortable.

    TOM: And those experts at Simonton Windows also helped us put together our replacement-window guide. So if you’re in the market for replacement windows, head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on the ad on the home page. You’ll be connected to a place where you can download the replacement-window guide for free. It’s actually a bonus chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And it is totally free.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Linda on the line from Honolulu, Hawaii. Welcome to The Money Pit.

    LINDA: Hi. Thanks. Quick question. I have this white residue on my glass shower door and I have tried everything to try to get it off. I just – it’s making me crazy and it’s in good condition, so I don’t want to replace it. So, any ideas?


    TOM: Well, I would think that the reason you’re getting white crust is a mineral-salt deposit; you probably have hard water. And the solution to mineral-salt deposits is white vinegar. So before we get too crazy with other chemicals or other solutions, I want to suggest that you mix up a solution of about a cup of white vinegar to about 3 cups of water, spray it, let it sit and then wipe it down and see if we can get it to clean up.

    LINDA: OK. Perfect. Thank you guys for your help. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Darryl in Iowa is on the line with a patio question. How can we help you with your project?

    DARRYL: Well, I have a paver walkway from my driveway to my front door and it’s about six, maybe seven years old. And all of a sudden, last summer, it disintegrated.

    TOM: Wow.

    DARRYL: And I don’t – and here where we live, we have four distinct seasons, pretty much. But I didn’t use salt; I never have. I don’t know – that’s what I want to ask: is there any kind of a sealant or protectant that we could put on that to help it a little bit or …?

    TOM: No, not really. Now when you say disintegrated, do you mean the concrete surface is disintegrating?

    DARRYL: No, the thing just went by like mush.

    TOM: The brick just fell apart?

    LESLIE: Weird.

    DARRYL: Yeah, the brick. Yes, yes.

    TOM: Wow.

    DARRYL: I was just flabbergasted.

    LESLIE: Like completely through and through? Not just the colored layer on the top?

    DARRYL: Well, there – OK, let’s put it this way: probably half of them are mush and then the other half are just the skin on top has come off, yeah. You might say that.

    TOM: Well, here is what I suspect. I suspect that because of the most recent winter that occurred before this, they may have gotten very, very wet and then froze. And in doing so, they would have expanded and cracked internally, which made them very weak. And add to that, the expansion and contraction of another few months of weather and they can start to really show that and actually start to fall apart.

    That’s the only thing that I think would make sense that happened here. There is no repair for that but because they’re pavers, you should be able to replace them. Are they all deteriorated or is it just certain ones?

    DARRYL: No, it’s pretty much the whole walk. The whole walk, you just, well – no more than I could say about – just go ahead and redo it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DARRYL: But in doing that, then I wonder if there’s any way I can help it or not, really?

    TOM: Nah, you shouldn’t have to. I mean how old was that walk now?

    DARRYL: I’d say six, seven years old. Maybe seven.

    TOM: Yeah. Typically, you don’t put any kind of sealant on them. You just don’t. So I would replace it with concrete pavers.

    DARRYL: Yep, that’s it then. OK.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are weeds sprouting right through the cracks in your driveways or in your patio? We’re going to tell you how to get rid of those, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we would love for you to be part of The Money Pit fun. So why not join The Money Pit community? And you are going to be instantly put in contact with do-it-yourselfers just like you. You can find out what everybody else is working on, you can get expert advice from Tom and myself or you can just run an idea by your home improvement peers to see: “Hey, is this going to fly? What do you think? Is this going to work out or ho-ho, don’t even try it?”

    It’s all in the Community section at MoneyPit.com. And while you are there, you can post your questions in that Community section and we get to answer them on air like we’re going to do right now.

    TOM: James in New Jersey says, “How do I get rid of weeds between my pavers?”

    So that’s a pretty common problem and I have had that many times myself.

    LESLIE: Indeed.

    TOM: You know, the area between the pavers is moist and filled with lots of organic material that …

    LESLIE: It’s a perfect place for things to grow.

    TOM: Perfect place for things to grow, exactly. But the problem is that when you spray this, especially when it’s close to the rest of the grass, you can easily get overspray. So we’re talking about using something like Roundup, for example. You can easily get overspray on that Roundup.

    So the solution is to take a milk jug, cut out the bottom – or another similarly sized and shaped …

    LESLIE: Like a soda bottle, too.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Soda bottle. Cut out the bottom, cover the weed with now the open-bottomed jug or bottle and then spray the Roundup through the spout. So you’re kind of creating a little container that contains the spray. Gives you a very strategic application to just the weeds but helps you avoid all of the overspray that would take out large swaths of your lawn.

    Of course, the devilish thing is that you never notice until about a week later. You’re like, “Wow. Why is my grass dead in a stripe?”

    LESLIE: In this arc pattern.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: Another thing that you could do, James, is once you’ve gotten everything cleared out to your liking, there is a polymeric sand out there called JOINT-LOCK.

    Right, Tom?

    TOM: Yeah. Yep, mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And what you can do with this JOINT-LOCK is you sort of put the sand all across the paver patio, sweep it into your grout lines, if you will, then dampen it with a hose and that sand sort of locks in place and creates almost like a glue or a grout that holds those stones together, so nothing can grow.

    But if you need to change one, if something gets damaged, you just sort of rock it back and forth and it’ll pop out. But it does keep all of the bugs from getting in and out, the weeds from growing up, so that’s just a good, helpful, little next step.

    TOM: And that is one of the QUIKRETE products, so you can find information at their website at QUIKRETE.com.

    Alright. Let’s take this e-mail from Brenda in Pickering, Ontario. She says, “I’m selling my home and we have some downsides, which I thought we priced accordingly. Regardless, the people that are looking at the house want an updated kitchen, bathroom, et cetera.”

    Well, I bet they do.

    LESLIE: Of course.

    TOM: “What are the cheapest fixes for updating these spaces?”

    You know what? I think that a lot of times when you think of improvements to kitchens and bathrooms, you think they always have to be very expensive renovations. But there are a lot of very inexpensive things that you could do to give those spaces a facelift.

    For example, in the kitchen? Lighting. Lighting makes a big difference, so adding lighting. Replacing just the countertop makes a big difference; it’s sort of the largest horizontal space. Adding new hardware for the cabinets is sort of like new jewelry for the kitchen; that makes a big difference. Changing out just the appliances with those that are more energy-efficient or a combination of these, even replacing your kitchen faucet and painting, of course. New flooring.

    These are the types of things that can make a big impact without costing you a whole lot of money.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? If you want to update your light fixtures but say you’ve got an island and all you’ve got are high-hats over it. There’s actually an adapter that several people sell out there. Ballard Designs is one of them.

    And it actually screws into the light-bulb socket and then it hangs a pendant from the light bulb and then there is a cover plate that goes over the high-hat. It’s super-affordable. For less than 100 bucks, you can make a high-hat look like a beautiful pendant and it really does make a big difference.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com.

    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.

    (theme song)


    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And do that before you pick up the tools. Why? Well, because we can probably save you a step, save you some hassle as we kick off this official start to the summer home improvement season.

    That’s right. It is in season to do work around your house. Not that it’s ever out of season but I mean now is a great weather time to do those projects.

    LESLIE: It’s always in season.

    TOM: I love early-morning summer projects like painting and deck-building and doing stuff like that. We’re installing some doors here. I’ve been waiting all winter to get my doors in, because I didn’t want to tear the house wide open while it was in the depth of all the deep freeze that was going on.

    But now that it’s nice weather, it’s a great time to do lots of projects and we are here to help you get your projects done. For example, now that the heat is here, there are some easy things that you can do to cut down on those cooling bills and we’ll tell you what that is, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And summer season also means that hurricane season is unfortunately underway. And the experts are predicting a very active season, so we’re going to tell you what you can do to protect your home in case a hurricane is forecast in your area, a little later.

    TOM: And also ahead, if your concrete sidewalks and driveways are showing cracks, we’re going to have an expert stopping by with advice on how to fix them once and for all, without worrying about the cracks ever coming back.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Raid prize pack from SC Johnson worth $55.

    TOM: It’ll help keep you bug-free this summer, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us for this show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get started.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Tony in Des Moines has got a question about a townhouse. What can we do for you?

    TONY: I have a townhome that I am living in right now and we are – my wife and I are moving into our first home together. And we were considering finishing off the basement to my townhouse and renting it out.

    And I was just curious if it would be worth it to finish the basement, because I don’t know how much more it would add to the monthly rent the people would be willing to pay for the – for that finished basement. It’s going to cost me, I’m estimating, six to eight grand to finish the basement with carpet and drywall and everything. I was just thinking that maybe I should leave it unfinished or if I should actually finish it off. I’m pretty handy, so I could probably do most of it myself.

    TOM: But Tony, you are missing a very important opportunity here, my friend. And that is that eventually, you’re going to want to turn that into your man-cave.

    TONY: My man-cave? No, I’m going to have my own man-cave in my house.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: Oh, the entire house is going to be the man-cave. Well, what’s your wife going to say about that?

    TONY: Yeah but (inaudible at 0:04:27) this old property that I own or it’s going to be sold.

    TOM: Alright. OK. Well, I’ll tell you this: a finished basement does add significantly to the amount of usable space. And so, it will be more attractive if you have the finished basement. If you can do it yourself and keep the costs in line, I think it probably is a very good idea for you to do it. Are there any moisture issues with the basement, in terms of dryness or flooding or anything like that?

    TONY: Not at all. I live in Des Moines, so we don’t have a lot of flooding issues.

    TOM: OK.

    TONY: I do have a dehumidifier down there that runs straight into my pump; my added pump that runs it into my tank. So, I haven’t had any problems, as far as moisture goes, at all.

    TOM: Well, what I would suggest is just make sure you do it right, in terms of the heating and cooling and make sure you extend it to that space properly. And then make sure you have plenty of wiring down there. Just do it like you would do any other room in the house; don’t cut corners. You can do this without spending a whole lot of money, I think, if you do it yourself.

    And I think it would add to the value to – of the place and make it more competitive, too, in a tight market, that you have a finished basement like that where folks can create a rec room or a family room, a place for the kids to hang out.

    LESLIE: Anything. Extra office.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s a good idea to have it.

    TONY: OK. Absolutely. Then I appreciate your input, guys. I listen to you guys all the time.

    TOM: Alright? Alright.

    TONY: I really appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Good luck with that project and call us back if you get stuck at any point.

    LESLIE: Alright. Rachel is calling in from South Dakota with some windy issues. What’s going on?

    RACHEL: Well, a while back, last fall we had some hail damage and the wind starts taking over and started blowing some of the shingles off.

    TOM: OK.

    RACHEL: So we need to replace the roof – the whole thing – but I look around and I see that all these barns have the metal roofs and nothing is happening to those roofs. And neighbors and everything are all having trouble with their shingles, too. And I was wondering, is a metal roof better than going with just your average shingle or …?

    TOM: Well, it depends, OK? Let me tell you why. First of all, if you have a high-wind situation, you want to install high-wind shingles. There are storm-resistant shingles. There are some asphalt shingles out there that are designed to stand up to, I think, near 100 miles an hour. I know Owens Corning …

    LESLIE: I think even higher. Owens Corning is like 130.

    TOM: Yeah. And there are other manufacturers, as well.

    That said, a metal roof is an excellent roof. And the metal roofs today have low-E coatings on them, so they reflect heat in the summer and keep you warm in the winter but they’re very expensive. You know, they’re called investment-grade roofs because they do cost quite a bit of money to install.

    So either is a good choice but I just don’t want you to think that you – that there’s no alternative for standard asphalt shingles; there is and they’re called high-wind shingles.

    RACHEL: OK. And you said Owens Corning was …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They make a good one.

    TOM: Yes, they make one. Mm-hmm.

    RACHEL: They make a good one? OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

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

    LESLIE: Gene in Georgia is dealing with some cracks in the concrete. Tell us what’s going on.

    GENE: I have a problem in my garage and in the outside. I have some small cracks that need to be sealed in the garage and in the outside.

    TOM: OK.

    GENE: And I was trying to figure out what the best way might be to get that done.

    TOM: So the cracks are in the concrete surface, the floor, the – what about the …?

    GENE: Yes. Concrete surface, yes.

    TOM: OK. So we’re talking about the floor or the foundation or what?

    GENE: The floor.

    TOM: The floor? Alright, well, there’s a couple of options here. If they’re wide cracks, you can use a product called a flowable urethane. If they’re narrower cracks, you can use silicone or you can use an epoxy patching compound. But you don’t want to use regular concrete because that’ll simply crack and fall off.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Won’t ever stick in there.

    GENE: And do they carry something like that at The Home Depot?

    TOM: I’m not sure if they have it at Depot but if not, you could find it at a lumber yard, I’m sure.

    GENE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    GENE: Alright. You’ve been very helpful. I really appreciate your help.

    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. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, summer barbecuing ideas. Whatever you are working on around your money pit, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to have some tips that can help you shave an easy hundred bucks off your summer energy bills. That’s all coming up, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’re giving away a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. The winner of this kit also gets a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit, and a $25 gift card for The Home Depot. It is a prize pack worth 55 bucks. Going out to one caller we talk to on the air this hour, so give us a call right now with your question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with what you are working on. And since it is officially the first weekend of summer, we know that many of you are already feeling the heat. And keeping cool during the summer could be a challenge when you’ve got a budget to consider. So, you want to save energy by taking advantage of periods in the day when your home doesn’t need to be kept as cool.

    Now, a programmable thermostat, if you set it and use it properly, can save about $100 in energy costs every single year. And Energy Star models have options and settings that can keep you comfortable without actually wasting energy.

    TOM: Now, if you have ceiling fans, you want to use them to help cut costs, as well. You can turn up your thermostat several degrees while using those fans to deliver the extra cooling comfort. And if you’re adding or replacing ceiling fans this summer, keep cool with Energy Star models; they really are more efficient. They move air more efficiently and the ceiling fans also have lighting that uses a lot less energy. And the fans are designed to really, very strategically move that air through the house.

    And remember, if you are using ceiling fans, they actually cool you and not the room. What does that mean? Well, the moving air actually initiates what we call evaporative cooling; that’s the coolness you feel on your skin as the breeze blows over it. So, when you leave the room, turn the fan off; you really don’t need it anymore.

    888-666-3974. Let’s back to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mark in Georgia could possibly be dealing with a flooring issue. What happened? There was a flood?

    MARK: There was a flood. Ended up with about a ¼-inch baptizing my condominium. But the issue is is that the adjuster from the insurance company – the first adjuster came out and was adamant that all the floors were going to have to be replaced.

    TOM: OK. Now, this was a private adjuster or the adjuster for the insurance company?

    MARK: This was actually a company adjuster.

    TOM: Really? OK.

    MARK: Yeah. Then, one of the private firms that they contract through came out and said that the floors could be saved.

    TOM: OK.

    MARK: And I just – how do you know? They are very expensive. They’re the real, genuine-McCoy Il Parquet floors.

    TOM: Right.

    MARK: And I had them done when I moved into the unit about nine years ago and …

    TOM: OK. And these are parquet floors, not strip-hardwood floors?

    MARK: Correct.

    TOM: Well, because they’re parquet floors, I’m a little more concerned about water damage.

    LESLIE: Because there’s so many small nooks and crannies and the boards themselves are so little, right?

    TOM: And also, there’s some degree of adhesive at play here. You know, the adhesive gets – glues each little piece of hardwood down to a subfloor in a parquet design. So, if the adhesive was disturbed by the water, it could look fine and a year later, you start getting all these little pieces or chunks that are going to come up. And you’d have a devil of a time convincing the insurance company it was related to the flood.

    So, I would think that if they’re offering to replace it, I might take them up on that or at least take the money, so that you can do it at your own accord later.

    MARK: Alright. Thank you. That I needed to hear. Nobody else has said that.

    TOM: Alright. Great, Mark. Glad to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    CATHERINE: Yes. Well, I have a historic brick home that was built in the 1820s and I’m trying to figure out how to vent the attic without compromising the historic – the integrity, I guess, of the house.

    TOM: OK. So you are talking about an attic. Is this an unfinished attic that you need to vent?

    CATHERINE: Yes, it’s an unfinished, third-floor attic.

    TOM: Alright. So, why not add a ridge vent down the peak of the roof? And I mean it’s going to be expensive but if you want to preserve the historic character, you could make that a copper ridge vent.


    TOM: And that would be very attractive and that would let plenty of warm air out.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Patina really nicely, too.

    TOM: Exactly.

    CATHERINE: OK. Would that suffice to take care of the whole issue in the attic or do you need an inflow and an outflow or …?

    TOM: Yeah. You should match that with soffit vents. Do you have an overhang on this roof?

    CATHERINE: Yes. You mean like – are you thinking along the lines of a soffit?

    TOM: Yes, a soffit. Do you have a soffit?

    CATHERINE: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we do but it’s decorative and it’s brick and so it’s curved and …

    TOM: A brick soffit that’s curved?

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    CATHERINE: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a real funny, old house. So it – yeah.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s assume that you don’t have a soffit that you can do anything to. So then what you do in that situation is you use something called a drip-edge vent.

    Now, a drip-edge vent goes at the edge of the roof and it essentially extends the edge of the roof about 2 inches and creates a mini-soffit. And it would be invisible from the street when you look up but it would let air into the underside of the roof sheathing, it would ride up under the sheathing and then exit at the ridge.

    CATHERINE: Wonderful. I knew you people were the right people to call.

    TOM: OK. Well, you’re very welcome. It sounds like a lovely home. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Larry in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    LARRY: Yeah, I’ve got an old house – it’s about 100 jillion years old – and we moved into about – oh, about …

    TOM: A hundred jillion. That’s a lot.

    LESLIE: Is that what you said?

    LARRY: Everything about this house is old. I’ve had satellite TV put in, I’ve had drills – and then they tried to drill through the walls. “This is pure oak.” I said, “Well, I can imagine.” It’s just an old house that built – it’s sturdy; it’s a nice house.

    And the problem I have is I’ve got a central-air unit downstairs and it doesn’t seem to want to – the air doesn’t seem to want to go upstairs. I’ve had a ceiling fan at the top of our stairs, tried to draw the air up. Doesn’t seem to work.

    When I had the house rewired, I had a 220 line put upstairs in the attic just in case I need to put a unit – I guess some old houses have roof or attic units that have central air, since the central air doesn’t go all the way upstairs.

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: I have one vent that goes upstairs: goes to my daughter’s room. She loves it. Well, the rest of the upstairs has to suffer because she shuts her door. It wouldn’t – it really wouldn’t circulate anyway, so …

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: I guess one of my options is – do I try to pipe another pipe upstairs to go to the attic to distribute the air or do I get an attic unit to do the job for the upstairs?

    TOM: Well, it depends. I mean if the duct system is installed correctly – and that means you have the right number of supply and return registers – you can have one central system that handles both floors.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the dampers have to be properly adjusted from the air handler in the basement or the attic.

    TOM: But that really depends on whether or not the system is big enough, first, and secondly, whether or not you could run the right-sized ducting. Obviously, having one supply with your daughter is not going to do the trick.

    LARRY: I was told the central-air unit wasn’t really that big enough, so he was trying to sell me one upstairs in the attic. So …

    TOM: Well, having two zones with two separate systems is not a bad thing to do but it’s an expensive alternative. I would want to know if there’s a way that I could run enough duct work, supply and return to that second floor to avoid that, because that’s going to be the least-expensive thing to do right now and the least-expensive system to run. Because remember, if you have two systems, you have two compressors, you have two air handlers and you have two bills to run it.

    LARRY: Right. So do I just call somebody up that does heating and air conditioning and ask their appraisal of it and see what I need to do with that from then on or …?

    TOM: You would need to have a good HVAC contractor to help you with this, yes.

    LARRY: OK. OK.

    TOM: It’s not a DIY project.

    LARRY: OK. Well, I sure appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in Michigan is calling in with some kitchen guidance. What can we do for you?

    BILL: Yes, I’m just getting ready to start a remodeling job and I was …

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: We’re looking at knocking out the existing wall in between the kitchen and the dining room, trying to make more room.

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: So is that something that we should do? And we’re looking at resale.

    TOM: So you want to – you have two separate rooms now. You have a kitchen and dining room and you want to consider creating one room that basically encompasses both spaces.

    BILL: Exactly. And both rooms are very small, so that’s the problem.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BILL: The dining room is almost too small; the kitchen is almost too small. Get rid of that in-between wall and we’re hoping that’s going to make a more usable space.

    LESLIE: Is there anything on that in-between wall that would then hinder your kitchen operation? By taking away that wall, are you losing valuable countertop space, cabinets, appliances?

    TOM: Cabinet space.

    BILL: No, it’s a blank wall. As far away from the sink as possible is where you’re – and then there’s a little, small doorway that goes into the dining room.

    TOM: Right.

    BILL: The dining room is kind of – I don’t know. I want to say it’s maybe 10×10, something like that, so …

    LESLIE: OK. Now …

    TOM: Well, could you take that wall and cut it down in half and …?

    LESLIE: Yeah, make like a pass-through.

    TOM: Right. And kind of have it look all wide and open but you still sort of retain that sort of dining – official dining-room space?

    LESLIE: I feel like you’re going to be sad if you take that wall away and now you’re sitting down to a formal family dinner and you’re looking at the kitchen.

    BILL: Well, (inaudible at 0:19:37).

    TOM: Yeah, the other question that I would have, too, is it really depends – you’re really asking a house-value question and really, it’s going to depend as much on what else is available in the neighborhood. If you know any realtors, that might be a good question to ask them because they see a lot of houses. And I tend to think that a bigger, more functional kitchen is going to outweigh a dining room every day.

    BILL: Alright.

    TOM: But if you don’t have a functional kitchen or a functional dining room, in this case, I think that I would probably just go for the kitchen.

    BILL: OK. Yeah, the contractor has come and he sent us two different plans, with and without that wall, and we’ve got to make a hard decision here coming up. So I was hoping that you guys could give me some valuable insight and you have. So thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, after the long, cold winter, I am willing to bet that your concrete driveways and your sidewalks might be showing a few cracks. So we’re going to tell you how to fix those so they won’t come back, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And concrete is one of the most durable building materials around. But that does not mean it’s indestructible. If you are noticing that the years are not being kind to your concrete – we’re coming out of some awful winters all around the country. If you’re just now discovering that your sidewalks and your driveways are – leave a little bit to be desired, we have got some solutions for you.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And here to tell us about those solutions and how we should go about doing those is Bob Schmidt from Sakrete Concrete.

    Welcome, Bob.

    BOB: Thank you very much, Leslie.

    TOM: So, Bob, we had a really rough winter on our concrete surfaces and that has to have had an impact. I think the types of issues that most of us are concerned about are the deteriorating surfaces but in addition to that, just the uneven concrete sections and also the cracks that form. So let’s talk about battling that winter, to begin with.

    Now, if there – although there is – we have been, for years, telling people not to use sodium chloride and rock salt on their surfaces of your concrete, we know there are people out there that have done that. As a result, they’re looking at very pitted surfaces. What do we do about that?

    BOB: Well, Tom, my recommendation for that is a resurfacing material that’s specifically designed to bond to concrete.

    TOM: And that’s the key, right? Because it’s the bonding issue that – where I think a lot of people make the mistake. When they try to repair concrete, they try to just use normal concrete so – to do that and it just doesn’t stick, correct?

    BOB: It does not. Materials that are specifically designed for that have a polymer in them that are designed to help cementitious materials bond to concrete material. If you simply put down a normal concrete or mortar, it will not bond; you need a special bond in there.

    The important thing for something like that is really in the preparation. If your surface is not properly prepared, it’s very much like painting your house. If you paint it over a dusty wall, it might look great for a very brief period of time but after that, it’s going to come right off. It’s critical that you prepare the surface properly. You need to – in most cases, a garden hose with a good amount of pressure can blow off the material that’s on there. In some cases, you might need a pressure washer but preparing the surface is absolutely critical.

    TOM: Alright. And the types of products that we use on top of this, you mentioned that they have to bond. Are we talking about epoxy products here or are there different formulations that give you that bond?

    BOB: No, typically not. Typically not epoxies. These are polymers – a variety of polymers – but not epoxies. Epoxies are a very different type of material. Typically, if you go into a hardware store or home center, you would not find epoxy coating materials. You’re going to find materials that have a – different types of polymers to them: either latexes or acrylics but not epoxies.

    LESLIE: And would the same sort of – go if you’ve got a crack within your walkway or your sidewalk? Do you want to also reach for a product like that? And what would be the prep? Because I know sometimes those cracks are kind of small. Do you need to make it larger before you can actually fill – there’s always a lot of confusion and I think people think concrete is so durable, which it is, but they just don’t know how to go about repairing it.

    TOM: And there’s also a lot of junk in those cracks.

    BOB: Yeah, it’s very important to get all the material out of the cracks and typically, you can just do that with a garden hose. Now, the type of material I would fill a crack with is a little bit different; it depends on the size of the crack. There are materials that come in tubes – acrylic materials, polyurethane materials – that you would put in a caulk gun and squeeze out into those cracks.

    Leslie, you make a good point. Some cracks are actually too small and you do need to take a hammer and chisel and make them a little bit wider and then squeeze that material in there. There are also different types of materials. The caulk-tube materials are not sanded products. There are, however, sanded products.

    When you have a crack that’s, say, a ½-inch wide, there are sanded products; typically they come in a quart container that you would simply squeeze into the cracks. If they’re deep enough, you can put backer rod or even fill the bottom of the crack with sand and then squeeze the material on top of it so it’s – you’re not putting in more than about a ½-inch in depth.

    TOM: Talking to Bob Schmidt – he is an expert with Sakrete Concrete – about how to tackle some pretty common concrete repairs around the house.

    Bob, I have a question for you about these cracks. Now, one of the issues with repairing these cracks is the patching material inevitably doesn’t match the sidewalk or the step or whatever you’re working on.

    Now, years ago, I used to have a little trick of the trade that I did where I would take a masonry drill and I’d find a spot in the sidewalk or in the side of the step where it wasn’t that obvious. And I’d drill out some concrete, because the dust would be the same color and then I would sprinkle that on top of the patching material. You got any more sophisticated ways to keep the color consistent?

    BOB: No, not really. Tom, unfortunately, that is a problem. You’re patching a material typically that – either you’re patching a sidewalk that’s been down for 10 years or 20 years. It’s oxidized; it’s very light in color and the patching materials tend to be darker. Your suggestion is an excellent one.

    The only thing I tell people – if they’re patching the repair so that the repair – so that the crack doesn’t get worse – and the worst thing that happens is you leave a crack, water gets down in it, you go through a number of freeze/thaw cycles and now a little crack is a huge crack. If you’re just trying to do that and you’re not concerned about aesthetics, then you don’t need to worry about it.

    But if you are concerned about aesthetics and you use a powder-type material like we have, like the Top ‘n Bond, what you can consider doing is coating the – go ahead and patch it and then take, with a very – a thin coat, almost a paint-on consistency and paint the rest of the sidewalk so that it’s all the same color.

    TOM: Good advice. Bob Schmidt, Product Manager for Sakrete Concrete, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    BOB: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, hurricane season has officially begun so when a storm is forecast in your area, are you going to be ready to protect your home? We’re going to tell you what you can do to shore up your windows and doors, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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 pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’re giving out home improvement advice, always, but we’ve also got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away, this hour, a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. And the winner of this kit is also going to get a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit, and a $25 gift card for The Home Depot.

    It’s a prize pack worth $35, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your help with your home improvement project and also your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, hurricane season is now officially underway and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is urging coastal residents to prepare for above-normal activity this season. And that is millions of you, from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard. And even if you don’t live on the coast, a storm system that includes a hurricane can affect areas far inland.

    One way, though, to get ready is to board up the windows and the doors. Taping over windows is not going to do very much to protect them, even though that the video you see in just about every storm-prep story on the news – not so much a very good idea.

    What is a good idea is to use precut plywood to cover those windows. Now, you can precut this well in advance of the storm and label it as to which window it goes to and then it’s really easy just to hammer it up when it’s time to get ready for that storm. But don’t wait for the storm, to have to go out and buy the plywood because what’s going to happen?

    LESLIE: There’s going to be none left.

    TOM: Well, there’ll be none left.

    Now, hammering those fasteners all over your windows can definitely take its toll but there is a new, cool tool on the market that can help. They are the Stanley-Bostitch hammers and they can make the job a little bit easier because, first of all, they’ve got a 75-percent larger strike face – that would be the head – and they’ve got AntiVibe technology.

    Now, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been using Stanley hammers with this AntiVibe technology for many years and it’s amazing. It totally minimizes the vibration and the shock at impact and it really gives you a lot less stress on your arm as you swing those hammers over and over again.

    You can get more information on Bostitch.com.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, another area of your house that you really need to reinforce in storm preparation is your garage, because your garage door is probably the biggest and potentially weakest opening of your home. And when those high winds blow in your garage door, the force is so strong that it can literally blow the roof off of your house. Now, there are braces that are made specifically for this purpose or you can actually create a makeshift brace from 2x4s.

    If you want to learn more about what you can do to prepare for a hurricane in your area, head on over to MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to reach us, so call us right now with your home improvement question.

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

    GAIL: Oh, hello. Thank you. I’m calling because I like to feed the birds and I have two birdfeeders hanging on a planter pole, on each side of a planter pole. It’s about 4 feet above the ground. And I have all kinds of birds; cranes sometimes come and eat. And the seeds end up on the ground and they’re growing, of course. And my husband put down plastic and rocks on top and that’s not working because it’s making such a mess with the seeds growing and I was wondering if you had an idea for me of what I could do for a platform there.

    TOM: So what’s the surface that you have right now?

    GAIL: It’s grass but he put down plastic and then he put large rocks, pretty rocks on – you know, make it pretty there.

    TOM: Right.

    GAIL: And the birds eat between the rocks most of the time but the thing is is they – the seeds grow when it rains and …

    TOM: What if you created a little paver patio there? Is that a possibility?

    GAIL: A paver patio?

    TOM: Yeah.

    GAIL: Well, I was thinking of concrete. But see, the pavers would have in-between places.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well …

    TOM: Yeah but if you do the base properly, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    GAIL: What would you suggest?

    LESLIE: Well, here’s something else in addition to pavers. There’s something that you can find – I don’t know if you can get it at regular pet stores or bird stores or if you have to look at it at a home center – but there’s something called a seed catcher.

    GAIL: Seed catcher.

    LESLIE: And it looks like – it almost looks like a colander; it’s like mesh screen material but it’s on a rigid, circular round. And some of them are made to slide up posts and some are made to hang from the same hook that you would hang one from a tree and they sort of sit below.

    GAIL: Oh. OK.

    LESLIE: That might be an easy fix. It might not look attractive with your birdfeeder so that maybe a paver area beneath it is the better solution there. But it’s worth a search just to see what you can find in your area.

    Now with pavers, you want to make sure that you prep the area below it, which means you kind of have to dig down. Maybe if you’re making a little square around your post, you want to remove the soil and the grass and go down a couple of inches. And then you want to put some aggregate, which is basically just a loose stone of assorted sizes, and then sand and then your paver on top.

    And there’s a great product by QUIKRETE called JOINT-LOCK, which is a locking sand that you sort of brush over the pavers and then wet with a hose and it sort of locks all the pavers together. So whatever seeds do land on there, you can just sweep right up rather than sort of getting …

    GAIL: That sounds good. Oh, well those are all good. I appreciate it very much.

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

    LESLIE: Jody in Rhode Island needs some help with a fireplace project. What can we do for you?

    JODY: Yes, I was wondering if you have an easy idea regarding taking off the soot from the walls so I can repaint it.

    LESLIE: Oh, soot from the walls. So it’s not on any of the masonry. It’s actually on the drywall?

    JODY: Yeah, right.

    LESLIE: Have you tried – there’s a solution that you can get at the home center. It’s usually in the painting aisle and it’s called TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s basically like a wall cleanser. It’s a prepping project that a lot of professional painters use. And if you mix it according to the directions, it should get that right off. Because it’s also – it’s like a degreaser. It’s a good cleanser.

    JODY: OK.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit. Well, “safety first” is a good motto, especially when it comes to one of the biggest fall hazards at your home: your stairs. We’re going to tell you what type of railings that you really need to have at home, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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 are insects starting to bug the heck out of you? That’s always the sign that summer is here, when the insects sort of take over. If you’ve got those kinds of problems, you can search the answer at MoneyPit.com. All you need to do is search for pests. We have lots of resources on how to deal with things like bed bugs and the mosquitoes and carpenter ants and termites and all of the summer-season pests, all online for free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question in the Community section of MoneyPit.com. And I’ve got one here that Andrew in Wisconsin posted. And he writes: “I have outside doors that go into a basement. The stairs do not have a handrail. Is it required by law to have a handrail for all stairs?”

    That’s a good question because I think there’s a lot of gray areas, especially if you’re in a stairwell that seems kind of confined by walls, you know? What are the rules there?

    TOM: Well, if you have generally more than two risers – so that’s one step – you generally do need a handrail. So it’s a good idea to have one. The height on a handrail, typically about 30 to 34 inches off the nose of the stair. The nose of the stair would be the front edge of the stair. So if you measure from the front edge of the lower stair up to vertically about, say, 30 to 34 inches and do the same at the top of the stairs, that would sort of be the line that the handrail needs to follow.

    So, important to have a handrail, even if you have sort of walls on either side and certainly, absolutely, if you have open stairs do you need a handrail. So, you really can’t go wrong adding a rail, Andrew.

    LESLIE: Alright. Ron in New Jersey writes: “I love your show and need your help. I’m installing a cedar picket fence and would like it to be white. Will it last longer as a good white paint and primer or a solid-white stain?”

    TOM: Actually, a combination. I would use a primer and then a stain on top of that. In fact, we used an oil-based primer on the last picket fence we put up, followed it with a solid-color white stain and I’ve got to tell you, it’s lasted about 14, 15 years.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: The other important thing is this: don’t put it too low. You want to leave about 6 inches between the bottom of the pickets and the grass, because that makes it drier and that’s where it rots. Fences rot from the bottom on up.

    So, fight the temptation to put it close to the ground. Leave it up so there’s air that gets under it – it’s for decoration; it’s not to keep anything in or out – and you’ll find that it’s going to last an awfully long time.

    LESLIE: Alright, Ron. I hope you enjoy that fence project and have a great summer.

    TOM: Well, home gardens are increasing across the country and even the White House has its very own vegetable garden. They are a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, stay healthy and save money, all at the same time.

    But now there’s actually one more reason why a backyard garden may help your family and Leslie has that insight in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Gardening is indeed taking the country by storm and it’s got lots of great benefits besides the obvious of saving money and of course, eating healthy.

    Now, some studies actually show that it helps kids with attention and learning disorders. Among kids with learning disabilities, gardening was linked with enhanced non-verbal communication skills, cooperation and relationship-building skills, so that’s a big help.

    Now, because kids with high-functioning autism like Asperger’s Syndrome – they tend to be extremely picky. So gardening is a good way to get them to try new foods, because it’s foods that they’re actually cultivating and harvesting themselves. In fact, a number of studies have actually shown that physical activity and gardening time can significantly reduce those ADHD symptoms and increase focus in these kids.

    Now, even kids with no disabilities can benefit, because these studies have shown that kids score higher on achievement tests and then they learn valuable life skills. And lots of great evidence really point out that you can’t go wrong with gardening with your kids, so go ahead, get your hands dirty, have some fun and then enjoy the harvest.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, speaking of getting your hands dirty, do you have an area in your lawn where the grass just doesn’t grow? We’re going to teach you how to fill in those bare spots and make them green again, 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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2011 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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