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Create a Living Privacy Screen, Back to School Tool Box, National Garage Sale Day and more

  • Transcript


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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your summer home improvement projects. Or maybe you’re planning a project for the fall, which is not too far away. We’d love to hear about that, to help you get the right gear in place to get that project done whether it’s advice, it’s tools, it’s information that we have at our disposal. And we are here to share it with you. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us with that question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, are neighbors’ prying eyes watching your every move? Being in your own backyard doesn’t have to give you the creeps. We’re going to have tips on how to create a living privacy screen to keep your outdoor activities to yourself, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’re just about halfway through summer – can you believe it? – which means it’s garage-sale time. Now, each year at this time, we celebrate – perhaps it’s a little-known Hallmark holiday. But it actually exists and it’s known as National Garage Sale Day. It’s a great time to clear your clutter and maybe make a few bucks. We’ve got some tips to help you make your garage sale a success.

    TOM: Plus, it’s almost back-to-school time with college-bound students soon to be heading off to a dorm room. We’ve got tips on which tools should accompany your young student, when they head back to their dorm room, to make sure they’re well-prepared to fix anything that might pop up.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour will win an Orchard Park Ceiling Fan from Hunter. It’s a great way to help you cut your cooling costs.

    TOM: It’s worth $200. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Pat in Michigan, tell us what’s going on with the leak.

    PAT: Yes. We had some shingles that blew up and the water got underneath and it leaked and then onto my ceiling. And we had high winds with – like we call “side,” you know.

    And so I’ve had the roof repaired but I still have some leak water stains on my ceiling. And I’m trying to figure out how to cover them up without having to paint all of the ceiling. And my ceilings have never been painted; it’s just raw drywall but it’s been textured.

    TOM: Now, since this was storm damage, did you think to call your homeowners insurance company?

    PAT: No. Because it’s only three little – like one is a dime size, one is a quarter size and the other one’s a dollar-bill size.

    TOM: Well, just for future reference, whenever you have shingles that blow off and leaks occur, that is why you pay for homeowners insurance. So small or big, that’s the kind of thing that’s covered.

    If it was a worn-out roof, that’s one thing. But if you have storm damage where shingles blow off and water gets in, then you could have had that whole ceiling repainted at the expense of your insurance company.

    But OK, we’re past that now. So the question is: how do you deal with those stains? Whenever you have a water stain on a ceiling, you have to prime that spot. Since they’re small spots like that, you can spot-prime it, which basically means just to prime over those little spots themselves. And then you’ll paint over that.

    You’ll have to – if you don’t have some of the original paint, you’re going to have to pick up something that matches.

    PAT: There is no paint. This is just drywall – textured drywall – and they did not paint the drywall.

    TOM: They never painted the drywall?

    PAT: No. Ceilings here are not painted unless you ask for it.

    TOM: OK. Well, all I can tell you is if you want to get rid of the stain, you have to prime it. You have to prime on top of it. If you don’t prime on top of it, anything that you put over that is going to leak right through. So it might be time to think about painting the ceiling, Pat.

    PAT: Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you very much. I certainly do appreciate your time.

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

    LESLIE: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question. What are you working on?

    DAVE: I had a couple plumbing and heating contractors go ahead and come give me estimates and now I’m – PEX piping put in. And they discouraged me from it because they were told that it was made with soy oil so that they could put a green label on it. And they already had to replace, in some homes, the PEX piping because rodents had been chewing on the pipes.

    TOM: Yeah, I guess I could see that. I mean I can see rodents potentially chewing on plastic pipes. But I will tell you that I have not heard that as a long-term – as a widespread problem. PEX piping is really quite good and enables you do things that you can’t do with metal piping – with copper piping. And it’s just a lot less expensive to install, as well.

    So, I don’t think it’s a wide enough problem that I would stop using it. I would continue to use it.

    DAVE: But you don’t know if they make it with soy oil or not.

    TOM: No, I don’t. But I tell you what, rodents will chew anything. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe they had some rodent issues with it. But I don’t think it’s a problem that would prevent me from using PEX.

    DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.

    TOM: Alright, Dave. Well, good luck. 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. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are here to help you wrap up all of your summer projects so that you can actually call them “done” before autumn hits. We’re here for you at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, summer is always the best time of year for a good yard sale, a tag sale, a garage sale. Whatever you might call it, you know it’s an opportunity to turn your trash into someone else’s treasure. We’ll have those garage-sale tips to help you get started, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Raid. The Raid Defense System uses a combination of products and tips that work together to better battle bugs in your home. Each system is customized so you can confidently attack, control and prevent bugs. Visit RaidKillsBugs.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Orchard Park Ceiling Fan from Hunter. During those hot summer months, ceiling fans definitely help keep you cool and can also help save you energy.

    LESLIE: In fact, homeowners can see as much as a 47 percent decrease in their cooling costs by simply using a ceiling fan correctly. Now, fans like Hunter’s Orchard Park are ENERGY STAR-rated, which means even less energy output to operate.

    The Orchard Park Ceiling Fan from Hunter is worth $200. Check out their website, HunterFan.com, to learn more. And of course, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with all of your home improvement adventures.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

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

    RICH: Hi. I’ve got a drywall question. My house is only about nine years old but a lot of the seams between the sheets of drywall have – where the tape was – the tape is cracked and it’s curled up a little at the edges.

    TOM: Yep.

    RICH: It’s especially bad out in my garage – the unheated garage – on the ceiling pieces but even some in the house. I don’t know if – I’ve heard different things: that they could have put it in when it was cold and it froze before it set or …

    TOM: Let me tell you what’s going on, Rich. Nine years ago, as they do today, the builders will drywall the garage for one reason and one reason only: because they’re required to to maintain the fire separation between the garage and the rest of the house.

    But being builders, they only do what they absolutely have to do to get past code. I always tell these guys, “It’s like you guys are proud of being – of getting a D, not an F. You want to get a D. Nobody really strives for an A.” It’s like how would you feel if your kid came home from school and said, “Guess what, Dad? I got a D. Ain’t you proud?” The builders just do the absolute minimum.

    So in the drywall situation in the garage, that means this: they put on the tape and one coat of spackle. Only one. Where in the house, they put on three because that’s the normal thing you do. So they save a few pennies by only putting on one coat of spackle and you’re faced with tape that – what a surprise – falls off over the years.

    RICH: OK. Yeah.

    TOM: So, in this case, Rich, if it’s loose and separating, you really can’t put spackle on top of that because it’s not going to get between the paper tape and the drywall underneath. I would cut off any loose tape and then I would put another layer of tape on top of that or in lieu of that. And I would use perforated drywall tape, which is very forgiving, especially for somebody who’s an amateur spackler, because you don’t have to worry about getting the paste underneath the tape. It actually goes through the tape; it’s more like a netting.

    RICH: OK.

    TOM: And then you do that with three coats and sand it out in between. Take your time; it’ll take you a little while to kind of get used to it. But that’ll do the trick there. Then prime and paint.

    And as for the areas inside the house, it’s not at all unusual for a nine-year-old house to get some cracks in the seams or where corners come together or above windows or doors. And you pretty much handle those the same way. If the tape is absolutely loose, you have to take it off and replace it. But if it’s just cracking, you can actually put that same type of drywall tape on top of that, three coats of spackle, prime and paint and you’re done, OK?

    RICH: OK. Sounds good.

    TOM: Well, with the last blast of garage-sale season just ahead, it’s a good time to clean out and clean up by selling what you don’t need. National Garage Sale Day takes place around this time each year and it’s a great reminder to dig into the crammed storage spaces, to get organized and to make a profit in the process.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Lightening your load is much easier when you have a system. So, as you’re going through your belongings, you want to sort them into piles of things to keep, things to trash and things to sell. Once you’ve taken out the trash and reorganized your keepers, you need to team up with neighbors and some friends to come up with a really good selection of good-quality items.

    TOM: Now, serious shoppers often come early, so be prepared with your best wares a few minutes before the start time listed in your ad. Be careful about selling things that may have updated safety features, like baby furniture and car seats. And furniture housewares, electronics and kids’ sporting equipment always seem to sell very well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you might be surprised at how much new space you’re going to create simply by cleaning out and how much money you’ll make by letting go of what you do not need.

    Good luck and happy selling.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We are standing by to help.

    LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground. What can we do for you?

    ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.

    TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?

    ERIN: I believe so, yes.

    TOM: Because, you know, pressure-treated lumber is sort of falling out of favor as a playset because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.

    But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.

    You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.

    ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?

    TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.

    ERIN: And the same – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.

    TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.

    Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?

    ERIN: It’s about the same age. I believe it is.

    TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.

    ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?

    LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flowerbed. And from the flowerbed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.

    And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.

    LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.

    Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.

    And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.

    And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.

    LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    STEVE: Many years ago, my wife and I moved into a very small cabin way out in the woods. Very wooded. There’s a lot of – every fall, a lot of debris and leaves and such. And we built onto the cabin a nice, 12×12 bathroom with a flat roof. And that was not really my idea; that was – a buddy just said this was the way to go.

    We are now – and granted, it’s given us good service. We did that in 1995. But now, it is – with these last monsoons we’ve had here in North Carolina, we have leaks. And my – I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea, anyway? And then what are the pros and cons of a metal versus shingle roof?

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, is a flat roof a good idea? Well, depends on your perspective.

    Look, there’s a lot of commercial buildings that have flat roofs that last a long time but they’re also very, very well-installed and they don’t have any leaks as a result of that. I will say that a flat roof is one of the leakiest roofs, generally speaking, because very often, when they’re put in residential homes, they’re not put on by pros. And certainly, since you have a flat roof that’s 20 years old, that’s really, really old.

    STEVE: I’m no pro but yeah, I put it in.

    TOM: Yeah, in 1995? I mean you’re talking 20 years ago and that’s a really old roof at this point in time. It would be old if it was a pitched roof. It’s really old if it’s a flat roof, which generally lasts about half that time.

    So, it’s time for a new roof. Your options are to put another flat roof on it, which there’s nothing wrong with that. The new materials today, especially the torch-down flat roofs, work very, very well. I just put a flat roof on my house. But what I did before I put it on there was I added a slight pitch to it.

    You can buy foam underlayment that basically will give you a slight pitch to a flat roof and that helps the water run off. Because you really don’t want anything that’s flat-flat; you really want to have something that’s got at least a low slope to it. So if you add a little bit of slope to it and then put a new torch-down roof on it, it should be fine.

    You asked about metal. Metal is certainly an indestructible roof. And if that’s something you’re considering, I would also encourage it. Because if you put a metal roof down once and you do it right, you’re not going to have to do it for 100 years and then who cares, right?

    STEVE: Cost analysis. Is a metal roof – and I’ve sort of looked at it. But is a metal roof more expensive than a shingle or – it is, isn’t it?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. It’s about four or five times as expensive. So it’s very expensive, comparatively speaking.

    STEVE: Is that labor or is it really the material?

    TOM: It’s both. So if you’re going to do it yourself, you’re going to save some money. But it’s really the kind of thing that’s kind of tough to do yourself unless you really have some experience working with metal.

    STEVE: OK. Great. And one request. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I wish your trailer music – just let it play. We love it. We love it.

    TOM: We’re going to have to put that whole – we’ll have to put the entire theme music online for those that care to listen to that.

    STEVE: I wish you would. We love your show. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

    LESLIE: Still to come, keep your backyard activities to yourself. We don’t want to know what you’re doing back there. You need to create a living privacy screen. This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook is going to tell us how to keep our business to ourselves, next.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And time is running out to enter The Money Pit Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Sweepstakes. Just like us on Facebook to enter, then share the sweeps for bonus entries. The prizes include a set of ceiling fans from Hunter, a Craftsman Quiet Lawn Mower and a grill and propane combo to fire it up, from Blue Rhino.

    You can visit Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit for all the details.

    LESLIE: Sandy in Iowa is on the line and she has got a problem where the stairs meet the wall. What’s going on there?

    SANDY: In my stairwell, where the sheetrock meets the floor joist, when they originally did that, they put that – you know how they use that heavy paper stuff and then they mud over that? Well, that cracked. And I peeled that off and now I’m trying to figure out how to smooth that over there between the sheetrock and the floor joist in the basement. Because it’s sheetrock to wood, I don’t know what material to use to fill that crack so that I can paint over and it look smooth.

    TOM: So, what you want to do – it sounds like you pulled the old tape off – the paper tape off. Is that correct?

    SANDY: I did.

    TOM: Well, that’s OK. Because what you want to do now is you want to go out and buy some fiberglass tape.

    Now, fiberglass drywall tape is perforated. It’s kind of like netting; it’s a little tacky. And you cut a piece off, you put it on top of that seam. And what that’s going to do is bridge the gap across the seam. And then you cover that with spackle.

    And you want to do about three very, very thin coats. Don’t put too much on. A little bit of spackle goes a long way. Sand in between in each one and then just build it out and build it up over those three coats. And that’ll be fine. And because you put the tape over – the fiberglass tape – it shouldn’t crack again.

    SANDY: That sounds like something I can do.

    TOM: I think you can, Sandy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re craving more privacy in your yard but you don’t like the idea of fencing out the world, you might want to consider a living privacy screen.

    TOM: That’s right. A living privacy screen is an attractive option that adds to your landscape and your sense of solitude. Here to tell us more is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me here.

    TOM: Now, this is a really good alternative to a fence, which serves the purpose but it’s not always the most attractive or cost-effective option, is it?

    ROGER: Well, a fence is a fence. It needs maintenance. You put it in at 6 feet tall, it’s never going to get taller than that. And it’s there.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: You see it all the time.

    TOM: So, shrubs and bushes are a better option?

    ROGER: Yeah. Well, even a combination of both, yeah.

    LESLIE: And do they make good sort of neighbor-dividers? I mean is it best to have something structural to sort of divvy up spaces between neighbors and then mask it with greenery?

    ROGER: Some people always want to divide and conquer, don’t they? We all want to know where our boundaries are, I guess.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: “And he’s not going to put any of his stuff on my stuff.”

    LESLIE: I just don’t want my neighbors watching me relax in my yard. It’s weird.

    ROGER: Combine a fence with some plants and it makes all the difference in the world. As I said, a fence is 6 feet high; it’s not going to get any bigger. The plants are going to grow and spread and give you even more privacy.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, I always think it’s weird. You know, I have neighbors who just have greenery as sort of a boundary divider. But I have a small dog and she can easily get under a Leyland cypress and get into the next yard and then be gone.

    ROGER: Right. There are a lot of things you can do. The fence will do that but a black mesh fence can do the same thing but disappear into the landscape.

    TOM: I love black mesh fences, especially around pools, where people put in expensive pools and then they cover them with these really awful-looking, white, chain-link fences or silver chain-link fences.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: But the black fences literally disappear. A little bit of green in front of it, you can’t see it after it’s up.

    ROGER: Right. And if you have a small pet, like you have, if you bury that fencing a little bit into the ground, it makes it even more dog-proof. They sometimes will make a little hole to get in and out of the fence, so that’ll take care of that real quick.

    TOM: Now, if you don’t really have this kind of yard where you could really plant things, could you create a privacy screening with plants, using a planter?

    ROGER: You can, you can.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And it’s very easy to locate some large planters and then put some material into them. And the thing is, you can move them around. In the summertime, they could be used to screen the pool from a recreational area or some view you don’t want in the fall or the winter. And you can fill them with branches and do something totally different with them.

    TOM: What kinds of greenery are best suited for privacy screening? What’s going to give you the best coverage, so to …?

    ROGER: Pretty much the same plants that you are – you use as a screen. But I like to use yews because they’re prunable. They get to a certain size.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: But bamboo is another one you can plant in a container that will do really well.

    TOM: Now, that’s interesting. My yard used to be surrounded by bamboo and we spent many, many years, when I was a young boy, cutting it down to kind of reclaim the backyard. But now, it’s more fashionable. And if you use it strategically like that – especially in a planter, where it really can’t get out of control – sounds like a good option.

    ROGER: Well, the key with bamboo, there are two different types: there’s runners and bunches.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And it’s just as it says. The runners will run forever; they’ll come out on the other side of the asphalt driveway or through the asphalt driveway. The bunches kind of stay controlled and they won’t be as big as the runners were.

    LESLIE: It’s interesting with bamboo. I know in some areas of Long Island, they’ve sort of banned the further planting of bamboo because it just tends to just grow and grow and grow.

    TOM: Takes over.

    ROGER: Right. And then that’s a problem we should have learned a long time ago. It doesn’t take long to recognize that it’s going to run around a little bit, so we should have stopped planting it. But that’s why I like putting it in a container. Not going to go anywhere.

    LESLIE: Now, I think it’s important. A privacy screen – we’re being light and talking about using it for between neighbors as sort of a boundary divider. But what’s more unattractive than an air-conditioning condensing unit or garbage cans? This really sounds like the best solution when you’ve got something like that to look at.

    ROGER: Right. And the perfect solution is that it could move to one or another, depending on how – if you’re looking out of the house and you see the air-conditioning units, you can block them. In the summertime, if you’re outside, you could block something else just simply by moving them around.

    Another trick is that if you plant them up, you can use perennials around the bottom. And then take the perennials out and put them into your garden. So you’re reutilizing a plant and then the next year, follow up with a new crop. If you want to put in some annuals, then pop those out and put in more perennials.

    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook. He’s the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Roger, one more question before we let you go. What about vertical gardens? They’re also very popular. They can add to the privacy, as well. Any experience with those? I know there’s different manufacturers that make vertical-garden devices, so to speak, that you can sort of create plants that tier up a wall.

    ROGER: Right. There are – I’d say in the last, what, three or four years, this big blossoming of a vertical wall where you can attach – the one I’m used to has almost pockets in it.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: And you attach it on the wall and then you plant in the pockets.

    TOM: In the pockets.

    ROGER: And it already has irrigation. You attach a hose to it and it waters the individual pockets. And that’s just a great way to cover up a wall that you wanted to hide.

    TOM: Yeah. And kind of – you know, if you’ve got the privacy screening on the outside and maybe some green against the wall, against the house, it can really be a quite attractive outdoor space.

    ROGER: Yeah, it’d be a beautiful use of that space.

    TOM: Great tips. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Roger.

    ROGER: Again, my pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    ROGER: It pays off.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Still ahead, dorm-room essentials include more than bedding and books. Find out which tools are important for college-bound kids to have on hand, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Orchard Park Ceiling Fan from Hunter. During these hot summer months, ceiling fans will help keep you cool and help you save energy.

    TOM: In fact, homeowners can see as much as a 47 percent decrease in their cooling costs by using a ceiling fan correctly. And fans like Hunter’s Orchard Park are ENERGY STAR-rated, which means even less energy output to operate.

    LESLIE: The Orchard Park Ceiling Fan from Hunter is worth $200. You can visit HunterFan.com to learn more. And of course, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Blair in Virginia who’s taking on a painting project. Tell us about the ceiling you’re working on.

    BLAIR: I pulled out my power washer and decided to clean off the deck and the walls and the ceiling. But now the ceiling needs to be repainted. And it was originally painted with an oil-based paint. I would like to not use oil base; I would like to go over it with a water base. But I don’t know, first off, if I can do that or – and what would be the best brand to look into?

    TOM: So, the first question is adhesion. What’s the ceiling made out of? Is this a drywall ceiling? A wood ceiling? What is it?

    BLAIR: It’s a wood ceiling.

    TOM: What kind of wood?

    BLAIR: It’s just a plywood.

    TOM: The first thing I would do, now that you’ve got this all cleaned off, is I would prime it. And I would use either an alkyd primer, which is water-based, or I would use an oil primer. Just the primer.

    The primer, it’s important that it sticks really, really well. And it’s also important that it adheres to whatever was there initially. And through the life of that ceiling, it may have had different paints, different finishes on it. We want to make sure we get primer on there that’s going to have a real adhesive effect. Because once you get primer that sticks really well, then you could put latex ceiling paint or any type of solid stain or something like that on top of it. But you’ve got to use a good-quality primer. That’s really critical.

    So do the primer first. On top of that, since it’s wood, you could use solid stain or you could use exterior paint. I would stick with a flat, though, if you’re going to use the paint.

    BLAIR: Right, right. OK. So as long as I prime it well.

    TOM: You’d probably be more tempted to use that than oil-based but honestly, oil-based works better than anything else. I just repainted my entire house and I have a cedar house. And we used solid stain, which I’m always promoting on the radio show, because it has the most pigment in it. But what I don’t mention is that we had to prime this – prime the entire house. And the last time – you know when the last time was I painted my house?

    BLAIR: When?

    TOM: Fourteen years ago. Fourteen years because I used oil-based primer back then and solid stain. And I did the same thing all over again because I want to get another 14 years out of it. But that’s what you’ll get if you do it right.

    BLAIR: OK. I can do that then. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, back-to-school shopping is definitely amped up when college is your destination. Along with the linens, the dorm décor and your study supplies, it’s also a great idea to make sure your student has a trustworthy tool kit.

    TOM: So, here’s what you need. Start with basics, like a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench and a socket/ratchet set. And then also include a pack of nails and screws, a utility knife, a tape measure and some electrical and duct tape.

    LESLIE: You want to add a flashlight, picture-hanging supplies, putty and a plastic putty knife. And don’t forget to toss in super glue, wood glue, adhesive remover and magic erasers for wall marks.

    TOM: And once you’ve got that tool kit assembled, a little how-to review with your scholar might get you a few eye rolls. But they’ll thank you from afar when they use their college tool box and become the go-to person for the entire dorm.

    We’ve got that complete list of the college go-to tool box, on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darlene in South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a dishwasher situation. What’s going on over there?

    DARLENE: Whenever you turn it on, turn it on pots and pans, it fills up and then it stops. Does nothing. And you can turn the knob around to the different cycles and everything and it does nothing.

    TOM: Have you checked the float, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, to see if maybe it’s become clogged?

    DARLENE: No, I didn’t know there was …

    TOM: Yeah. Because if it’s clogged, it might think it’s – it might think that it’s about to overflow and it might shut the machine off. So in the bottom of the dishwasher, take a look at the float. And it’ll move kind of up and down – it’ll pop up and down a little bit – and a lot of times, it gets filled with food and grime and stuff. And if you clean it out, that might just be the thing to do it.

    And here’s a little trick of the trade: if you’re trying to clean out food from places you really can’t get to, you can use a wet/dry vacuum for that. It’ll sort of draw it right out.

    DARLENE: Oh, OK. [That I have] (ph).

    TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Darlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, when your project list is bigger than your budget, it’s important to break down tasks and prioritize your to-do list. Find out which projects take precedence, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, it’s hard to think about cold temperatures during these hot days but it’s never too early to start thinking about prepping your house for the cooler months ahead. Things like adding insulation, sealing gaps and cracks and making your home more energy-efficient can really help cut those heating costs.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Be sure to visit our website at MoneyPit.com for all your fall fix-up ideas that will really help you get your home ready for the cooler weather just ahead.

    And if you’re online, why not throw us an e-mail or post a question in the Community section? And I’ve got one here from John in Montana who writes: “We recently purchased a home that needs some TLC. We want to replace the aging furnace and water heater. We also need to rip out carpeting and replace the hardwood floors. Finally, one of the bathrooms is in bad shape. How do you prioritize these projects? And we want to have all of these completed over the next two years.”

    TOM: Well, I think that I would have to put the mechanical ahead of the cosmetic. Wouldn’t you, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Agreed.

    TOM: So, I would deal with the furnace and the water heater first. Because if one of those fails, it could become an emergency. You know, aging carpet doesn’t become an emergency. A leaky water heater becomes an emergency. So, I would deal with the mechanicals first. And you’re probably going to find that doing both furnace and water heater at the same time is the way to go, because you’re going to use the same contractor for that, most likely. And you might have a bit of a savings in terms of not having to do two separate projects.

    After that, things like carpeting and replacing hardwood floors, maybe even the bathroom, those are optional remodels: remodels that you don’t have to do but you can do. I would try to push those off a bit. But do the furnace and the water heater first. Do the cosmetics and the remodeling of the bathroom second.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? I might even think, depending on where you’re wanting this hardwood floor to occur and where those bathrooms are located, you might want to tackle the bathrooms before you tackle a beautiful hardwood floor. Because, granted, people try their hardest to be tidy but something gets dropped and wood gets damaged. So, you might want to do the bathrooms before you put those hardwood floors in.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Margie in Maine who writes: “In our area, would you recommend central air conditioning? Could we get away with window units?”

    Margie, my question to you is: you have no air conditioning at all right now? I know Maine is cool but come on.

    TOM: Really. I mean look, certainly could you get away with window units? You can. But adding central air conditioning is a really important way to add to the value of your home. So, I don’t think it’s even in the same category. It depends on whether or not you want to make that home improvement or not.

    Now, there is a third option: it’s called split ductless. Leslie and I both own split-ductless systems and they’re very good. They’re very strategic. It’s kind of like a mini air-conditioning system. You don’t have ducts. What you have is an air handler that hangs inside the wall of your house and you have a very small compressor that’s outside. And it can actually handle a pretty large area, perhaps as big as the first floor of a house, depending on how it’s configured.

    But one way or the other, either a split ductless or central system is definitely going to up the value of your home. But if you can’t afford it, then look, you just make do with the window A/C until that can happen.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Margie? Another thing that’s interesting with the split systems or the ductless systems that Tom was just talking about is that some of the exterior condensing units that are associated with these split systems can actually accommodate more than one ductless unit in the house.

    So, say if you needed one for the first floor and one or two for the second floor, depending on the layout of your upper floors or bedrooms, it could all accommodate one unit outside. So you’re not dealing with a bunch of different condensing units on your exterior. And they really work fantastically well and they can also offer you some extra heat and dehumidification if you buy a model that does so.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this summer hour with us. We hope that we’ve given you some tips, some ideas, a bit of inspiration to tackle your home improvement project. If you do need help, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and always 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.


    (Copyright 2014 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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