Creating a Homework Station, Alternatives to Traditional Grass, and Avoiding Break-ins
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas, your whatever-the-heck-is-on-your-to-do-list project. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll slide it right over to the done list for you with some advice on how to get that project done right the first time quickly, easily so you won’t have to do it again.
Got a great hour planned for you. First up, if homework time in your house is a constant battle of wills, there are, believe or not, a few easy changes that you can make to get those pencils moving once again. We’ve got tips, coming up.
LESLIE: And if you just can’t seem to get that lush, green lawn of your dreams, here’s some good news: grass isn’t the only option you’ve got. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is sharing some tips for choosing and planting the best alternative groundcover for your outdoor space.
TOM: And one lucky caller is going to win 40 square feet of Timberchic. This is a very cool product. It’s a peel-and-stick version of actual salvaged wood that you can use for some great decorating options.
It’s a prize worth 480 bucks. So pick up the phone and give us a call because it’s going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ryan in Georgia is in hot water, literally. What’s going on at your money pit, Ryan?
RYAN: Something kind of bested me for a little bit. I’ve got an idea of what it might be but I’m not 100-percent sure. I’ve got something that I have, which it’s very – it’s always very hot in Georgia about 80 percent of the time. And every time, when we turn – during the day, we turn on the cold water. It’s scalding, scalding hot for about two to four minutes and it depends – there’s a length on, I guess, what time of day it is. But the – I could even turn on the hot water and the hot water will be a lot colder than the cold water. And eventually, it will get colder. But I checked every other water source in my house.
I checked the shower and the showers are fine; it’s not affected whatsoever. The only thing, assuming – that I think it might be, which you guys probably know more about this than I do is – the reason why it’s not doing it in the showers – because that has the – I don’t know if you want to call it the “thermostat” or a “temperature gauge” that controls the cold water and the hot water that makes sure it’s not too hot. And I think, since we’re in Georgia, a lot of the pipes are in the attic and attics. When it’s not even 100 degrees out, they – gets pretty hot in our attics.
TOM: Well, I think you’re right on track with that theory, Ryan, because I’ve seen that in my own home in New Jersey. I know it’s not in every fixture, of course, because it really depends on how the pipes are run. But I know that the way my kitchen is built, it was sort of an – it’s an addition that was done in the early 1900s. And the plumbing on that is sort of the – on the furthermost southern wall.
It gets very, very warm there during the day and sometimes, when we don’t use it all day – and then I turn it on, I do get hot water through the cold faucet. And I know that’s just because the pipes in that area are being exposed to a lot of heat. And the pipes are just warming up and it’s warming the water in turn. But after that warm water that’s in those pipes that are right in that surrounding area runs through the system, it gets cold again.
So I think that’s exactly what you’re seeing here. I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem. It’s more of an annoyance and yes, it does waste a little bit of water. But does this happen in the winter or is it just a summer issue?
RYAN: No, no. Not 100 percent if it happens in the winter. But it might but I know even our attics sometimes, in the winter, does get pretty decently warm, too. But the – I know it’s definitely in the spring, fall and summer.
TOM: I mean the only thing that you could do is you could insulate those pipes. If you can get access to them, you could put fiberglass insulating sleeves around your cold-water pipes and that would prevent them from overheating as they are right now.
RYAN: That’ll even make a difference, even though they’re – all the piping is all in the attic? The attic’s pretty hot.
TOM: Well, right, wherever they’re heating up. And that water gets to your faucet from the attic really quick.
RYAN: Alright. So just a fiberglass sleeve? I’ve seen a little – looks like foam – black foam sleeves. Does that work, too?
TOM: Yeah. You could do that, too. I think the fiberglass sleeves are a little bit more expensive but they’ll work better.
RYAN: OK. Yeah, I’ll definitely do that then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Ryan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Glad we were able to solve that mystery.
LESLIE: We’ve got Rebecca from Kansas on the line. What can we do for you today?
REBECCA: We have a room that has the old wood paneling in it with the grooves and such that we’d really like to not remove it. But is there some way we can get the drywall look without putting up drywall, with putting on mud by hand or splattering it and kind of doing a knockdown or would it stick or – what do we need to do?
LESLIE: Well, I feel like whatever you put on top of it – whether or fill it with mud or you use something to make the grooves go away and then try to smooth out the surface – you’re going to get so much movement from the walls, just in general. Not that your house is moving but it does. And it gets a lot of movement just from people walking by that none of that’s going to stick in there. And it’s going to end up falling off and looking weird and you’re going to have to do it again.
So, my suggestion is either embrace the paneling look, as far as the grooves, and paint it to give it a different effect. Or put a ½-inch drywall over it.
REBECCA: If you painted it, would you have to put some kind of a primer so it’ll stick or would you need to do a light sand on it or …?
LESLIE: Yes and yes. You want to make sure that the surface is clean, obviously.
LESLIE: So, if there’s anything sticky or gross on it, you want to give it a good cleaning. You could use something like TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s a good wall-prep product. Or you can give it a light sanding. But if you give it a nice – if there’s a sheen to it, you may want to give it a light sanding but not necessarily.
And then I would use a really good, heavy-duty primer: something perhaps like a B-I-N or a Zinsser; something that’s hard core that’s going to stick to anything. And then let that dry and once that’s done, you can go ahead and put a latex topcoat on it.
REBECCA: OK. If we elected to do the ½-inch drywall, we’d just treat it like a normal drywall: tape it, put the mud on and sand it and paint it.
LESLIE: Absolutely. The only thing to consider is that any electrical outlets – your boxes, things like that – are going to have to be pulled out a little bit.
REBECCA: Oh, we’re going to have to bring them out.
LESLIE: Yeah. Trim, as well.
REBECCA: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, we are barreling into autumn. What are you working on? Let us give you a hand. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, would you believe that nearly a quarter of all residential break-ins happen from a first-floor window? We’re going to have some tips to help you keep your home safe from burglaries, after this.
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, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, is there a room in your house that is especially out of date? Well, one lucky caller is going to get the opportunity to transform their behind-the-times space with today’s prize, because we’re giving away 40 square feet of Timberchic.
Now, Timberchic is a natural, salvaged-wood veneer product that attaches easily and securely to just about any wall in your house.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The wood’s harvested in Maine and the best part is it’s formaldehyde- and chemical-free. And it’s got a 3M-adhesive backing so it makes the installation super easy. But you should check out their website because they really have some beautiful ways that you can install it. And it looks quite gorgeous behind those bedroom pictures. They’re really fantastic.
TOM: It’s a prize that’ll spruce up any room. It’s worth 480 bucks, so give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathy in Arizona is on the line and needs some help cleaning the garage. What can we do for you?
KATHY: Well, we bought this house last fall and the [grad floor] (ph) is – I’m sure grease from the cars but I don’t know how to clean it up. I’m just wondering if I can do that myself or if I’ve got to hire somebody to do that.
TOM: I think you can do it yourself. What you want to do is pick up some trisodium phosphate. It’s known as TSP. You’ll see it in the hardware store or paint aisle of a home center. Mix that up into a paste-like consistency and cover the area of the stain. Let it sit for a while and then wash it out. Now, old oil stains are among the most difficult to take up but it will brighten it up a bit.
And if you want it to be cleaner than that, what I would do is I would wash the floor, let it dry really well and then paint it. You could use an epoxy painting – garage-floor painting system. It’s a two-part epoxy that’s chemical-cured. So you mix the two parts of the paint together, you apply it to the floor, then you wait an hour or two and it basically hardens right up for you. And then it’ll be a lot easier to clean after that.
KATHY: OK. So I can still put that epoxy over if I don’t get all this grease up?
TOM: No. Once you lean up the grease, as I mentioned, you may – it may – the grease may be up but it might still be stained. And if you wanted to make it look nicer, then you could paint it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Because the beginning part of this kit is usually like an etching compound that sort of prepares the floor to receive the coating. So if you can just get the actual grease off, even though the stain is there, it’ll prepare it so that it will adhere to it.
KATHY: Alright. OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: OK. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, about 2 million residential burglaries are reported each year, so we thought we might share some tips with you to help you keep your home safe.
First, believe or not, that thieves gain access to homes, in nearly a quarter of those, at the first-floor window. So you can help prevent break-ins by just keeping bushes and shrubs near windows trimmed back, to avoid those hiding spots that those burglars love to hide in.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Also, guys, you’ve got to close and lock your windows when you’re out for the day, even if you’re out for a couple of hours. Now, I know this one seems like a no-brainer but you’d really be surprised at how easily a thief can find an open window on the first floor in so many of these cases.
TOM: And having a good security system in place is also a great idea. And one that we really like is SimpliSafe. Now, this is a system that installs in 30 minutes without any wiring or drilling and there are no long-term contracts. I mean for less than 15 bucks a month, you can have a professionally-monitored security system protecting your home 24/7. And that can give you a lot of peace of mind.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And SimpliSafe offers three different starter kits and they come with so many different components that you can really customize exactly what you need for your home. For example, a glass-break sensor, that’s going to trigger the alarm when the sound of breaking glass is detected.
TOM: And the best part is that Money Pit fans will get an exclusive 10-percent off deal. Now, to grab your discount, visit SimpliSafeMoney.com. That’s SimpliSafeMoney.com. SimpliSafe is spelled S-i-m-p-l-i-SafeMoney.com. You can try it risk-free with a 60-day, money-back guarantee by visiting SimpliSafeMoney.com.
LESLIE: Nathan in Alaska is on the line and needs some help heating up a chilly home.
NATHAN: I’m looking at – actually, I put an offer on the home. It has in-floor heating and the only utility bills that the home has is electric, so there’s no electric boiler for the in-floor heater. The house also has a wood stove, so I was curious if using the wood stove to heat the in-floor heating would be a feasible option.
TOM: So, basically, you want to know if you can have a wood-fired boiler.
TOM: Wood-fired boilers are used to heat entire homes. I see them a lot in rural parts of the country. Sometimes when I’m driving down the road and you see what looks like a shed that’s 15, 20 feet from a house except it’s got a little chimney on it and it’s blowing out some wood smoke – and that’s a wood-fired boiler.
So, they’re usually outside the house and they’re pretty much like regular boilers except that they’re just fired – they’re operated by wood. They usually can be – have to be fed, obviously, once or twice a day to keep that heat up. So it’s a lot more work than having a fuel system, like oil or gas, but certainly it’s an option.
NATHAN: If you had to make a choice between investing in a wood-fired boiler or investing in an oil-fired boiler or staying with the electric, which would you suggest?
TOM: I would go with an oil-fired boiler. If that was my choice – as you put it between wood, electric and oil – electric’s going to be prohibitively expensive. Wood’s a lot of work and also, I’m concerned – I would be concerned that, even though I may enjoy the benefits of a wood boiler, if I want to sell my house in the future, a future buyer may not find that quite as attractive as I do.
Because now they’re thinking that they’ve got to buy wood or they’ve got to cut wood and they’ve got to be around to feed the boiler and so on and so forth. They just might not be at all into that and that could make them buy someone else’s house instead that doesn’t have that. So I would use a traditional oil boiler.
NATHAN: OK. That’s something I will look into then. And I guess the second part of my question would be: do you recommend putting or having a percentage glycol in the heating lines or do you think sticking with 100-percent water would be a better option?
TOM: Well, most homes just have 100-percent water. So, I – unless there’s something unusual about your home and if it’s very prone to freezing and have a centralized – if you have a centralized heating system and you’re not going to be sort of moth-balling the home for any point of time, I don’t see any reason to have any type of a glycol additive to your heating water.
NATHAN: I was just asking because I’m up here in Alaska, north of Palmer a little bit, so it gets pretty cold in the wintertime. And I just didn’t know if it would be a better option with the outside temperatures.
TOM: Well, is it – I would talk to a local HVAC contractor. Is it typical for them to use an additive in a hot-water system there?
NATHAN: I was just doing some research online and people didn’t seem to be a fan of it because of the glycol being thicker. It puts pretty good wear and tear on the pumping system.
TOM: Yeah, I’d be interested. It’s an extreme environment and so, obviously, I don’t have experience in that. If I was moving into that area, I would do a little research with local HVAC contractors and find out what the best practice is.
NATHAN: OK. I can definitely look into that.
NATHAN: Alright. Well, thank you for your time.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Nathan. Stay warm up there in Alaska.
NATHAN: I’ll work on it. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Margie in Maryland needs some help with a kitchen incident gone awry. What happened?
MARGIE: What happened is – it’s sort of like a barbecue gone bad inside my house.
MARGIE: I had some deer meat in a big pot on the stove. It was – it had a cover on it. And it – I stepped out for a while and I came back and there was smoke everywhere in my house. And we opened everything; we opened all the windows and doors and all of that. And what I need is to find out how to get rid of the smoke smell. It is just disgusting; it’s terrible.
And I – we’ve done what we can. I’m washing – my poor washing machine is going nuts. I just wash, wash, wash everything. And we Febrezed on the furniture and – but my wood furniture I don’t know what to do about my walls and my painted woodwork. Because the day that it happened, I washed up the floor with vinegar and water. But it seems like the longer it goes, that it’s getting harder on the surfaces that it’s touched. And I just need some help to figure out how to clean it up, especially on the wood furniture, the walls and the painted woodwork.
TOM: Well, on the furniture, on the woodwork, I think something like Murphy’s Oil Soap would be a good choice. That’s a mild solution that smells pleasant and it’s designed specifically to clean wood surfaces.
However, I suspect that the source of most of the smell is going to be in – because of materials that are harder to clean, like fabrics, rugs, couches, upholstery, the pillows, that sort of thing. And for those, you really need to have a professional company come in and clean them. There are companies like – I think ServiceMaster is one of them that specializes in fire-and-smoke cleaning and water cleanup. And they have the right equipment, with the right types of chemicals, to take the odors out of those sorts of things. What you can do is clean those hard surfaces on your own.
As far as the walls are concerned, I would mix up a fairly weak TSP solution – trisodium phosphate. You can pick that up in the painting section of any hardware store or home center and wash the walls down with that. OK?
MARGIE: Yes. Thank you so very, very much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Margie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, are you having a hard time keeping your yard looking lush and thick and green? You know that beautiful yard that you envy that everybody else might have? Well, stop fighting an uphill battle. You can replace all of that grass with another type of groundcover. Roger Cook from TV’S This Old House is going to be here to tell you how you can have that beautiful lawn of your dreams, but in a different way, after this.
JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And let me tell you, it’s no fun getting sacked, believe me, especially by your home improvement project. Stay in the game and listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
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: Hey, have you ever wondered if all the chemicals and the cleaning supplies that you use in your home are safe for your family? Well, it turns out that you might already have everything you need for a clean, healthy house in your kitchen cabinets. We’ve got do-it-yourself recipes for natural cleaning products, using ingredients that are safe enough to eat, on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ron in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RON: I have an 1865 farmhouse that is in very good condition, with about 2-foot-thick stone walls that are the basement walls. And from what I understand, those old, stone walls are made, basically, of stone and sometimes they put rubble in the middle. Somehow, field mice have found their way through from the outside and I’m trying to figure how to maybe parge or put cement in between the stones to protect that from happening.
TOM: So, the mice, you think, are coming right through the foundation wall?
RON: Oh, yeah. They’re finding their way through. It’s been 150 years.
TOM: Why can’t you point the openings up? By pointing I mean add mortar to those cracks or those crevices in the foundation wall, to try to seal those gaps up?
RON: My biggest question, I guess, is: how do I get that part cleaned out so that I can point that up? I guess I should use air rather than water to try to blast it out, to get the dust out of there so that the moisture would – so that the whatever cement I use will adhere. Would you recommend water or air to try to clean that?
TOM: I think you could probably do it with a pressure washer but you’re just going to have to make sure it dries really well, you know, before you go ahead and point it up.
RON: Is there any particular type of concrete product you would recommend or cement you would recommend for that?
TOM: I would take a look at the products that are made by QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. And you can find a mortar patching compound that QUIKRETE makes and use that. Because it usually has sort of a stickier component to it, so it’s easier to press it in those places.
But listen, aside from just sealing up those gaps, just keep in mind that there’s a lot of different places that mice can get into your house. It might not just be those gaps in the foundation. They only need the space of about the width of a nickel to squeeze through.
RON: It’s amazing – pretty amazing – how easily they can get in. We don’t have a lot of trouble with them now as we did a little bit earlier. But I’d like to try to make those walls nicer again. They have the old horse-hair glass.
TOM: Yeah. Well, of course, and that will basically handle both of those challenges. Generally, you want to avoid doing anything around your house that could be a nesting site. So that could be stacks of firewood or newspapers or things like that. You want to make sure you’re careful with food in the house, especially pet food or types of food products that you keep on the ground, where it’s accessible. You want to make sure those things are in sealed containers.
You want to look for all those gaps. If you find any little gaps like that, another little trick of the trade, just temporarily, is just to put steel wool in there. Because mice can’t get through steel wool.
And then you want to use rodenticides. You want to be careful if you have pets. If you do, there are bait stations that the bait can be held by that pets can’t get into. But keeping those in and around the interior perimeter of the home, especially if it’s up on a basement or a crawlspace, are effective, as well.
RON: Yeah. Alright.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, lawns, they are so beautiful when they’re thick and lush and green. But keeping them that way is a lot of work.
TOM: If you’re ready to throw in the towel, hard grass is not the only plant that can deliver a lush, green look. Groundcovers are another good option. Here to talk us through those options is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.
ROGER: So you’ve given up on your grass, huh?
TOM: Well, I tell you what, in some places, it seems like the grass has given up on us, especially if we’ve got a real shady place where you just can’t get it to grow. Is it OK to kind of give up and then you look to a groundcover plant as an option?
ROGER: We’re not giving up; we’re doing the wise move and we’re using something that will fit in that area rather than fighting it. It’s a smart thing to do.
TOM: So kind of going with the flow then.
ROGER: Go with what’s there if it helps you.
LESLIE: I have to tell you, I saw on an Elle Décor magazine a few years back, they talked about a moss garden: an intentional moss lawn. And it was gorgeous. It really was so beautiful and lush. What do you need to do that?
ROGER: Well, practically nothing. Moss is very good at growing on its own. It doesn’t really have a root system and it loves shade, so that’s where you’re going to put it. And you can go out and collect it in the woods. You can order it online and just push the Buy button.
LESLIE: Do you just sit it down on top of the dirt and walk away?
ROGER: Yeah. I’d loosen the soil up a little bit and then just set it in place. But it really doesn’t need a lot of water and it doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer.
TOM: Yeah, that’s really interesting.
TOM: And I guess that’s good for the shady yards and also where you have acidic soil.
Now, let’s talk about groundcovers. First of all, define a groundcover for those that are not familiar with that type of plant.
ROGER: It’s literally – it’s pretty aptly named. It’s something that covers a lot of ground for us.
TOM: It basically just grows flat on the ground and it’s not grass.
ROGER: Right. And it doesn’t have the maintenance of what a grass needs, either.
TOM: So how about clover? That’s a great groundcover, right?
ROGER: It is. And a lot of people don’t like to see it in the lawn. I love to see it in the lawn. It does a bunch of different things. It’s very attractive for bees. And also, it’s a nitrogen fixer, which means it takes nitrogen and fixes it in the root system. So it’s putting nitrogen into the ground.
TOM: So why would you want something that’s attractive to bees?
ROGER: Oh, I love having bees around the garden. In fact, I’ve been setting up a lot of beehives for my clients. And we just got done collecting the honey at a few of them.
LESLIE: Oh, wow. That’s really great.
TOM: That’s really interesting. Is there any maintenance associated with clover or groundcover like that?
ROGER: You know, it’s tough as nails. When it gets established, maybe cut it once or twice a year but that’s about it.
LESLIE: Gosh, that sounds really great. Is there an optimal time of year to plant a groundcover as opposed to when you might seed for a lawn?
ROGER: It depends. If you’re doing it by seed, obviously, in the spring is the best time, once the ground warms up a little bit, to get it in and get it growing. If you’re doing plugs or containers, you can do groundcovers almost any time of year.
TOM: Now, if you don’t want to use clover, are there other options for groundcovers?
ROGER: Actually, there’s more groundcovers than you could ever imagine in your life, in everything we talked about, from ferns to Vinca to anything exotic, low-growing we can play with.
ROGER: Yep. Sedges is another one. It almost looks like grass and it’s a pretty tough plant.
LESLIE: And what if you’re just over the whole green-growing nature thing? Can I go with a patio?
ROGER: Patio or stone?
LESLIE: Stone. Patio. What can I do?
TOM: But don’t forget to water it.
LESLIE: I’m like, “Can I just do that?”
ROGER: No, we actually have people who have stone gardens, where they weave in big rocks and little rocks and things like that. The only thing when you do that, I would suggest, is to put a weed barrier down before you put the stones down, to keep any weeds from coming up.
And also, be prepared to do a little bit of touch-up spring, because you’re going to get weeds that come in between the stones.
TOM: Now, if you’re going to plant a groundcover, do you plant that much the same as if you were planting a lawn?
ROGER: A little shallower because the roots of a groundcover never go down as deep as a lawn does. So you don’t really need it that deep. But you do want to loosen up the soil and prepare it. You only get one chance to prepare the soil, so always take time and do that before you plant anything.
TOM: Great advice, great options. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. 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.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.
Still ahead, do you and your kids dread homework time? It doesn’t have to be a chore. Get easy design tips that add focus and fun, when The Money Pit returns.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by SimpliSafe Home Security. SimpliSafe has no long-term contract and the award-winning, 24/7 protection is just $15 a month. Money Pit listeners, save 10 percent when you visit SimpliSafeMoney.com today. That’s SimpliSafeMoney.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: Hey, it’s that time of the year when you want to start to bring patio furniture indoors. But one lucky caller gets to bring nature indoors, too, because we’re giving away 40 square feet of Timberchic. It’s a peel-and-stick, reclaimed-wood veneer that transforms any room.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Timberchic’s prefinished wood is sealed in a non-VOC coating and it’s fire-retardant, so it’s safe. And let me tell you, it looks great. And each plank’s 3M-adhesive backing is going to stick firmly and securely to almost any interior wall.
TOM: Learn more at Timberchic.com. That’s Timber – c-h-i-c – .com. And call us, right now, for your chance to take home this $480 prize. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where David is on the line. What can we do for you today?
DAVID: I just had my 120-year-old house sided with new vinyl siding. I got relatively new vinyl windows. And I’m curious, do I caulk between the J-channel and the window frame on the outside?
TOM: No, you don’t have to.
DAVID: OK. That’s not necessary?
TOM: Nah, it’s not necessary. It should be watertight the way – if the installers put it in correctly, it should be watertight as it is. If they need – if it needed to be caulked, they would have done that. I know it looks like there’s a big gap there but that’s pretty typical. And you generally don’t have to caulk between the back of the J-channel and the side of the window.
DAVID: Yeah, I was just worried about if it rains from a certain angle it’s going to, you know, wick down through that gap and then run behind the siding?
TOM: Usually, that’s pretty tight and it won’t happen. I mean there’s no reason you can’t caulk it but I don’t necessarily think you have to do it.
DAVID: OK. That’s all I wanted to know.
TOM: OK. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, is homework time in your house a constant battle of wills? With a few simple changes, the only homework problems to be solved might just be the ones on the page.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, guys, you have to define the space that you’re working in. So whether you’re working with an entire room or just a fraction of one, you’ve got to establish the borders of homework territory and then do your best to really use it only for homework.
TOM: And if your house includes a home office, consider designating a small area of that space for the kids.
Now, if it’s already set up for concentration, it’s a space that you love to work in, the kids will enjoy sharing that special access to sort of your grown-up work space.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? The fewer distractions, the better. You want to tone down sights and sounds that can take the attention away from the books. And consider opening a window. After a long day in the classroom, fresh air is really good for the spirits and for concentration.
TOM: Great advice. And just like the classrooms, homework areas are most appealing when they include a bit of fun. So you can think about adding some personalized touches. Maybe you could add some colorful bins. You know what I like are those old, school-style lockers. They’re really cool-looking. You can even divide up a cabinet and make assignments that feel sort of like less like a chore and hang up some good grades that might give your kids an extra boost when they need it.
It’s all easy to do, right there, in your very own space. And you can make homework fun by doing just that.
888-666-3974. We try to make home improvement fun. Pick up the phone, give us a call. Let’s talk about your next project.
LESLIE: Zelda in North Carolina is looking for some help with a renovation. What can we do for you?
ZELDA: Yes. I’ve done a lot with my floors but I put some laminate in everywhere, because I have a little Chihuahua dog and didn’t want to get scratches on real wood. But there is a bathroom upstairs and a small hallway in front and I didn’t want laminate there, because you don’t want it in a bathroom. So, what else would be good? Because I didn’t want the grout issues of tile or – and I didn’t know what else to go to. I thought about bamboo or is there some tile that doesn’t have the grout-y stuff or …?
TOM: Well, there’s a wide variety of choices.
Now, you mentioned that you didn’t want to put laminate there. Do you want something that gives you a wood look?
ZELDA: Not necessarily.
TOM: Alright. Well, one of the options that I was thinking would be a bamboo floor. Bamboo is very, very durable and it’s also very good in moist, damp areas. It doesn’t swell. And you can pick up bamboo as an engineered product, which means it’s made in multiple layers, which gives it dimensional stability. But of course, that is going to give you sort of that wood look.
There are also luxury vinyl products that are out today that are very, very thick and heavy vinyl tile that are not very expensive.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like a rubberized vinyl, even. And they’re fairly thick. They’re available in a plank style, so it actually looks like wood. Some of those will – some will snap together as the rubberized vinyl. Some will sort of overlap and stick to one another. It depends on the quality of the product, to be honest with you, but they’re both – however much money you do spend on a rubberized vinyl, it goes together very easily and it looks fantastic. And it’s a little bit softer, so it’s more forgiving on your legs, knees, back when you’re standing in the room for a long time.
ZELDA: Well, yeah, because my first choice, when I went to look, was the bamboo. But I wasn’t sure if that could go in a bathroom. So that really is what I kind of liked the best. Yeah, great.
Thank you so much. That’s very helpful.
TOM: You’re welcome, Zelda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, sliding-glass doors, they’re great for letting in natural light. But are rain and moisture kind of finding their way inside, as well? We’re going to tell you how to stop those sliding-door leaks, when The Money Pit continues after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, we want to welcome a brand-new Money Pit station in Pennsylvania: WHUM-AM out of Huntingdon, serving Chambersburg, Bedford, Harrisburg and State College.
Welcome to the program. We are so glad to talk with you folks. You can catch The Money Pit on Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at 1150 on the dial.
LESLIE: And very fittingly, our first e-mail is from Christy in Pennsylvania who writes: “Our sliding-glass doors are leaking where the top of the door meets the ceiling. We tried adjusting the gutters by pitching them but we still get water inside every time it rains. How can we fix this?”
TOM: I don’t think your problem, Christy, is with the gutters. It sounds like the problem might be with the flashing or more accurately, the lack of flashing around your sliding-glass door.
The flashing is basically what gives you that sort of protective sealing membrane that keeps the wall and the door nice and tight and free of those leaks. So, in your case, what I would do is I would disassemble the siding around the top and sides of that door and reflash it. You might want to take a look at one of the self-adhered products. Grace has one called Vycor Plus. It’s like a rubberized flashing material and it’s flexible. So you can get it at that really critical juncture right above the door, over the drip edge and under the siding. And that is what will really fix this.
Now, if you put it off, the problem is that even if it’s something that happens when it rains only a certain direction, eventually you’re going to get some decay in that space. So I wouldn’t put it off. I would get on it and make sure you reflash that door all the way around. And that should take care of the problem.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Matt from Florida writes: “My door has a metal threshold that was previously connected to the cement foundation using glue. The threshold has come loose and there’s a large crack in the cement that expands the entire width of the door, from jamb to jamb. I’d like to avoid buying a whole new door just for the threshold.”
TOM: Well, filling in the crack seems like a good first step. But you want to do that with a good-quality epoxy patching compound rather than with cement. Because that won’t stick; it’ll fall out.
Now, in terms of attaching that sill, I would consider using Tapcon fasteners. Now, these are special screws that are designed to attach anything to concrete. They come, usually, in the package with a masonry drill bit. You drill through – you mark off the holes, you drill through the masonry surface – which will be the concrete floor, in this case – and to the depth of the screw. And then you simply use it just like you would a wood screw, except you’re screwing into the concrete and not into wood. They work really, really well.
And I’ve used them to hold up some pretty heavy stuff, so I’m sure they could hold that sill in place.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If the sill isn’t what you – if you don’t like it or you don’t want to see the screw attachments, you can get different types of sills that have sort of a base plate that you would screw into. And then the top part would cover over it so you don’t see any of the attachment points, if that seems to be why you want to glue it down.
TOM: It’ll probably make that – I mean I’m presuming this is an exterior door, since it’s got a metal threshold. It’ll probably make that connection a lot tighter, too, so you won’t get as much air leakage. Because if you have a loose sill, usually there’s a rubber-stripping piece that goes across the top of it that seals out the bottom of the door to make sure it stays, you know, nice and tight. And if it’s loose, it’s just not going to work well.
So, once you get it attached, I would take a really good look at the fitting of the door all the way around, to make sure you’re getting a connection with weatherstripping, so you’re not letting wind, in particular, get in there. Because it really could cost you a lot in energy bills. In the winter, it’ll drive up your heating costs. And even in the summer, it drives up cooling costs. A lot of people don’t remember that all those leaks that you feel in the winter, when they’re drafty and they’re uncomfortable, well, they – those doors leak in the summer, too. And that drives up air-conditioning costs.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it can really drive them up fast.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hope we’ve given you some good tips and ideas to help you get started on your autumn projects around your money pit. If you’ve got questions, we are here, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you can always post your question to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)