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  • Transcript

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – because we are here to help you get that project done around your house. You working outside this weekend? It’s a beautiful weekend; lots of time to get things done. Summer is just about here. It’s going to get hotter and hotter and hotter, so why not do it once, do it right so you won’t have to do it again and get out right now and tackle that project that’s on your to-do list.
    Hey, if one of those projects is to do some pint-sized decorating for your kids’ rooms, we’ve got some tips this hour because we’ve got decorating ideas for big ways to spruce up the little kids’ room in your house. And the most important thing to remember, organization. We’re going to have some smart design ideas to help with all that, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: Plus, we’ll also find out how to keep kids safe outside of your home. We’re going to teach you the best playground surface materials and how to make sure that you’ve got proper coverage, in just a bit.
    TOM: And this hour we’re giving away a 170-piece mechanics tool set from Stanley to one caller who has the courage, the fortitude (Leslie chuckles), the determination to pick up the phone and call us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s worth 100 bucks and it’s actually one of the suggestions in our Father’s Day gift guide, so give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question for your chance to win. 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Greg in Colorado Springs, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
    GREG: I have an outside garage refrigerator …
    TOM: OK.
    GREG: … and when it’s cold outside – obviously, below freezing – it freezes everything inside the refrigerator.
    TOM: So you want to know how to warm up your refrigerator, huh? (Leslie chuckles)
    GREG: Well, not necessarily (Tom chuckles) but if there’s a quick-fix, maybe.
    TOM: Well, there’s not a quick fix. The problem here is with the refrigeration cycle. Now a normal refrigerator is not designed to work in extreme temperatures; either extreme hot or extreme cold. A refrigerator is designed to work in room temperature. And when you get super-hot and super-cold, it does odd things like freeze. There are, however, special appliances that are designed to work in an unheated or unconditioned space; probably the most famous of which are made by the Whirlpool company under the brand name Gladiator.
    There are two products: there’s the Chillerator and the Freezerator convertible refrigerator/freezer. The Chillerator is just a garage refrigerator and the Freezerator basically gives you two compartments that are actually reversible; one can be the refrigerator and one can be the freezer or you could flip them. They’re not inexpensive but they do work and they do work very well and they’re extremely well-made.
    GREG: Well, I appreciate that, [so that you can’t like leave a light bulb on them or anything like that. That makes sense.] (ph)
    TOM: No, because you’re dealing with an appliance that’s just not designed to work in an unconditioned space, even though we know many of us have refrigerators in our garages that are sort of our old refrigerators, they’re just not designed to work there. The refrigeration cycle isn’t cut out for it.
    GREG: I appreciate your help and thanks for taking my call.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Nancy in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
    NANCY: Hi. We are wondering about hot water heaters.
    TOM: OK.
    NANCY: We live in a ranch-style home and our bedrooms and bathrooms are on one end of the house where the hot water heater is – down in the basement – and our kitchen and laundry is on the other end of the house about 50 feet between. Our hot water heater is about 15 years old, so we’re probably going to have to replace it anyway.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    NANCY: But our problem is mainly to get hot water in the kitchen, we have to leave it run for like five minutes.
    LESLIE: Oh, wow.
    TOM: Yep, mm-hmm. Yeah.
    NANCY: And then like halfway through doing the dishes, to do some rinsing, the water is cold.
    TOM: Yeah. Well, the solution here is to shorten the distance between the water heater and the kitchen. And one way to do that is to split the single-zone hot water system that you have into two zones and add a tankless water heater nearer to the kitchen. Because a tankless …
    NANCY: Put a tankless hot water heater near the kitchen.
    TOM: Yeah, near the kitchen. Yep.
    NANCY: OK.

    TOM: They’re very small, they’re very powerful.
    NANCY: They take up very little space.
    TOM: And if you do it before the end of the year, you can get a tax credit because they’re very energy-efficient as well.
    NANCY: OK. So how about the hot water heater down by the bathrooms and where we take our showers?
    TOM: You could add a second tankless water heater to that location as well.
    NANCY: Oh.
    LESLIE: I mean you’re definitely going to have to replace your existing water heater because you said it’s 15 years old.
    NANCY: That’s correct.
    LESLIE: And you know, generally, the lifespan is ten years-ish, if you’re lucky; seven to ten years.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
    LESLIE: So you’ve done very well. So I would take advantage of the tax credits and replace that one and then definitely add the secondary one. You can go tankless for both but definitely tankless for the additional.
    NANCY: OK. So, could they both – could they be smaller tankless ones or do you need …?
    TOM: Yeah. You would size them for the number of fixtures that they’re handling.
    NANCY: Uh-huh.
    TOM: This way you’d have one that’s just the right size; it’s not going to waste any gas. But a tankless water heater would be the hot ticket today because it only operates when you need water and it essentially supplies an unlimited amount of hot water.
    NANCY: OK.
    TOM: Alright?
    NANCY: OK. Alright. Well, I think that should do it.
    TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, well it’s just about time when the kids are off school for the summer. Don’t let them out on the street. Keep them busy at home doing home improvement projects (Leslie chuckles) made that much easier when you’re doing the makeover of their very own room. We’ll share some tips to get that project done, after this.

    (theme song)
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And you should pick up the phone right now and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour we’re giving away a 170-piece mechanics toolset from Stanley. And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got one of these; I take it with me everywhere.
    Now, occasionally I get asked to head off and do the home improvement project, usually for the Boy Scouts or something of that nature, and I’ve got to pack some tools. I always grab my mechanics toolset from Stanley because it’s totally compact and it’s easy to take with me and it’s got everything I need for anything I might run into. I mean this has got extension bars; it’s got spark plug sockets; it’s got bits; it’s got hex keys; it’s got wrenches – you name it. The set has a polished chrome finish to prevent corrosion, a lifetime warranty and it comes in a very durable carry case.
    The prize is worth 100 bucks and it is one of the great gift ideas we’ve featured in our online Father’s Day gift guide, “A Dozen Dandy Gifts for Handy Dads,” online right now at MoneyPit.com. And one set, going out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Well, your home improvement projects don’t just have to be limited to you and the mister or you and the misses. You can also think about your kids. Now, when you’re making over a kid’s room, it truly can make a huge difference in everything from your kids’ sleeping habits to their study skills. So here are a few ideas to make sure that your child’s space is comfortable and fun.
    First of all, if you’ve got little, little kids, you want to make sure that you keep things at their height because closet storage, benches, even coat racks, they’re actually going to get used if your kids can reach them and get to them easily. They’re not going to be like, “Well, I couldn’t reach it, so I didn’t put it away.” If you put it where they can, they might actually get in the habit of putting things where they go.
    Now, you can also use glow-in-the-dark paint. You can find it at most craft or even hobby stores and that you can use to decorate the walls or the ceiling and this will really get them excited about turning out the lights at night. And now, removable wall transfers are super-affordable; I mean even more so than ever. So you can think of them as temporary wall tattoos and just go to town. They’re easy to change and they’re easy to remove.
    TOM: Absolutely. And kids are collectors, so you want to use things like pegboard or peel-and-stick cork or galvanized metal sheets for hanging or sticking hats, baseball cards or photos. You know, with a little imagination and your child’s input, you will create a room that they will really love to relax, to play and to study in.
    And you know what else is really helpful, Leslie? Magnetic paint.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really is.
    TOM: That’s cool stuff.
    LESLIE: Yeah.
    TOM: It’s really heavy when you buy it at the store but it basically has iron fibers mixed into it and once you paint the walls with magnetic paint, you can hang stuff right to the walls and you don’t need to hang up even a corkboard.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to make sure, if you do use the magnetic paint, that you stir it quite often as you’re using it because the things that make it magnetic sort of settles down to the bottom of the paint. So this way it spreads out evenly as you’re working on your project.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us with your home improvement project. We are here to help.
    LESLIE: Mike in Missouri has a house that’s over 100 years old and is spending a ton of money on heating. Tell us about it.
    MIKE: Well, I tell you what. I have a house that was built in 1895. That’s the best I could do; they think it’s actually a little bit older. But my house is brick (ph), two-story, about 3,500 square feet. I have three furnaces and three air conditioners that I use to cool and heat the house. And I mean what we do – you know, we put plastic over the windows; we put draft things underneath the doors. And our heating bills, especially, and cooling bills, in the peak seasons are just outrageous. And I’m thinking about adding some more insulation up in the attic but I don’t know what else I can do to – I mean I feel like I’m putting the utility company’s kids through college, you know, with what I’m paying. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: Yeah, yeah, I hear you.
    MIKE: So …
    TOM: Well, I tell you what. And the problem is here, Mike, you’re doing the same thing that so many people do in this country and that is they guess at what they think the energy-efficient improvement is that they need. There’s a way not to guess and it’s called a home energy audit. And in your situation, it would be very wise for you to invest a little bit of money in this.
    Now there may even be some TARP money out there to help pay for this because I know that in our state, the homeowner pays about 100 bucks and the state pays another $300 to the auditor to get this whole thing done. It’s a pretty comprehensive process; involves checking not only insulation and doors and windows and things like that but even doing what’s called a blower door test, which can check how drafty your house is.
    What you need is a comprehensive assessment so that you know what are the biggest, weakest links, in terms of energy-efficiency, in your house. And then you can direct your dollars to attack the biggest one first and work down the list that way.
    MIKE: That sounds about the right way of what I need to – what steps I need to take to get this resolved.
    TOM: You know, a home energy audit can actually help make you a much smarter investor in the energy-efficient upgrades of your house because it’s very sophisticated. It can even predict return on investment so that you’ll know if you spend $500 in insulation, how long it’s going to take to make that money back. So that’s where I would start. I’d contact the utility company to begin with, see if they have a home energy audit program and, if not, hire a private home energy auditor that’s not too expensive and you’re going to get a very comprehensive report that’s going to tell you what you need to do to make your home more energy efficient and save yourself some money and be more comfortable at the same time.
    MIKE: That sounds great. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ll call them tomorrow.
    TOM: Alright, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And tell those utility guys that their kids need to get a scholarship.
    TOM: (chuckles) Good point.
    LESLIE: Laura in Texas has a window question. What can we do for you?
    LAURA: Yes, we have a 30-year-old home and we’re contemplating replacing and putting in double-pane windows.
    TOM: OK.
    LAURA: But we have three big, leaded glass windows across the front that we hate to lose because they really match the Tudor style of our house.
    TOM: Hmm, OK.
    LAURA: Do you have any ideas on making them more energy efficient?
    TOM: Well, what you could put in is an interior storm window and that’s something that you can only have up in the colder months. It’d have to be custom-made for that space but that will make them a little bit more energy efficient. I don’t know that you’d be able to qualify for the federal energy tax credits for that but for the other windows …
    LESLIE: Because would a storm window be considered an energy-efficient addition?
    TOM: Yeah, but those other windows probably would qualify. And so now is a good time to do this. For 2009-2010 you can qualify for that 30-percent tax credit, so I would definitely look into that. In fact, we just wrote a bonus chapter for our book, My Home, My Money Pit, that’s available for free online. There’s a download there for the replacement window guides called “Your Complete Replacement Window Guide.” It’s available for free right now at MoneyPit.com. So you might want to take a look at that because it does have a lot of detail in there on how to size the windows and the options and that sort of thing.
    LAURA: Oh, that would be a great help.
    TOM: Yeah, it’s online right now. Just go to MoneyPit.com and click on the free window replacement guide.
    LAURA: Oh, I’ll do that. Thank you so much.
    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Scott in Wisconsin, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
    SCOTT: Yes, I have a sump pump. When it shuts off it makes a banging sound four to eight times and I’ve insulated the pipes and isolated them from sound. The sound is coming from the check valve. Apparently the check valve closes and it must open and close about four to eight times.
    TOM: Have you tried different sump pumps? Does it do the same thing?
    SCOTT: Yes. I do have a long run. I’m about eight feet up in height and then about 40 feet across the basement. And my rough thought is that once that water gets moving it doesn’t want to stop. (chuckles)
    TOM: Have you – do you get more water, Scott, after a heavy rain?
    SCOTT: Oh, definitely. And I used to run two pumps on this water line but last summer we were flooded out so I separated the pumps.
    TOM: OK.
    SCOTT: So I’m running two 3-4 horse pumps in the well now.
    TOM: OK, so listen, Scott. Good news. If your basement is getting more wet, if the pumps are running more frequently after a heavy rain, then there is something that you can do to reduce the amount of water that’s getting down there and partially make this problem go away. I would concentrate on reducing and improving the grading and the drainage at the perimeter and that’s going to reduce the amount of time that the sump pump is going to need to work; it’s going to save you all that electrical cost of running it. And Scott, if you go to our website at MoneyPit.com, search “wet basement”; you’re going to find a ton of information on this problem and how to fix the drainage and I think you’ll get this under control in a fairly short period of time.
    SCOTT: I’ll look at that.
    TOM: Scott, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Royce in Texas is calling in with a brick question. What can we help you with?
    ROYCE: Yes, my house is on pier and beam and it’s shifting and I have some small cracks in the brick like 1/2-inch to, oh, 3/4-inch wide in some spots. And I was wondering the best way to seal those; if mortar mix would be a good way to seal or if I should use something else.
    TOM: So, cracks in the brick are generally reparable with silicone caulk. You don’t want to use mortar because, if you do, what’s going to happen is the mortar will freeze and fall out. If you have any type of damage to masonry, you generally want to use a silicone caulk or an epoxy patching compound if it’s big enough and you can trowel it in.
    ROYCE: OK, an epoxy patching compound.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: That’s right, an epoxy compound. You can buy that at a home center or hardware store.
    ROYCE: But it’s called e-p-o-x-y?
    TOM: That’s right. Mm-hmm, that’s correct. That’s what sticks to concrete or brick and will be permanent and won’t fall out.
    ROYCE: Oh, OK. And you just put that in like with a trowel or something?
    TOM: That’s correct, Royce.
    ROYCE: Oh, OK. Alright.
    TOM: Alright, but if it’s just a hairline crack or maybe open an 1/8-inch, I would just caulk that and use silicone for that.
    ROYCE: OK. Thank you so much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Royce. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin is joining us on The Money Pit to talk about venting in the kitchen. How can we help you today?
    MARY: I remodeled my kitchen three, four years ago.
    TOM: OK.
    MARY: And every winter, it gets very cold here and so the – if I open that microwave above the stove and there’s also the fan …
    TOM: Mm-hmm, the exhaust fan to the outside. Yeah.
    MARY: OK, I open the door, it’s [like if] (ph) I opened the door to the outside. It is so cold in there.
    LESLIE: Wow.
    TOM: There’s supposed to be a damper on the outside of the exhaust vent door that seals shut.
    MARY: Damper. OK.
    TOM: Yes. And it almost has like a weatherstripping kind of thing on it and if it’s not sealed right or if it’s stuck in the open position, it will feel like you’ve opened the door to the outside because you have opened the door to the outside. (chuckles)
    MARY: (overlapping voices) It’s what I’m doing. (chuckles) Yeah, OK. So there should …
    TOM: So I would take a look outside the house, Mary. You know, maybe you can get somebody to turn the fan on and off, go outside the house and see if you can see that damper opening and closing and sealing tightly. Sometimes the springs get weak and they just sort of get lazy and sort of flop open.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and not close completely.
    MARY: Well, it’s vented into the ceiling. I mean this is the side with the garage on it.
    TOM: Well, but it has to exhaust somewhere and wherever it’s exhausting is where I think that you may be getting the cold air in.
    MARY: OK.
    TOM: OK? So find out where it’s exhausting and take a look there.
    MARY: Thank you. Yeah.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    Up next, are you getting ready to fire up your gas grill or perhaps your gas heater or even your camping stove? Well, before you use any of that portable propane equipment, you want to make sure that it is safe. Even if it worked well last summer, it doesn’t mean it will work properly this time. We’ve got an expert standing by with tips on how to do just that, 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.
    TOM: And this is the time of year when you need to get your propane equipment ready to rock and roll. If you’ve not been cooking regularly outside, we know that you will be any day now. But before you fire up any of your propane-fueled appliances, you need to take a few minutes to make sure that they are safe and good to go.
    LESLIE: That’s right. So here to tell us about that is Stuart Flatow, the VP of safety and training at the Propane Education and Research Council.
    Welcome, Stuart.
    STUART: Well, welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here.
    TOM: Thanks so much for taking some time to talk with us about this important topic and I think propane is something that you figure if it worked last year, it’s probably going to work this year. But there’s a lot of things that can go wrong in that sort of nine months of down time – or less, depending on how frequently you use your propane equipment. So what’s the first thing that someone should be doing before they fire up, whether it’s a grill or a propane heater or a lantern for that matter for the season?
    STUART: Tom, that’s a great question and I think, like any appliance that’s been dormant for a while, you want to take a look at it well before you’re planning on using it. For a propane grill, cleanliness; maintenance; check the cooking grid, the warming rack – make sure they’re in their proper place, they’re not broken, they’re clean, they’re not rusted; make sure the burner is intact, that it’s in it’s proper place per manufacturer’s instruction. And you could use one of those wire brushes to scrape, remove any built-up food.
    And when you’re ready to light the grill, if you want to light it as a test to make sure that it’s working and you have propane, always remember to light it with the top open. It sounds like anyone would do that but, even for electronic ignition, make sure the top is open and make sure it stays open until you’re sure that the grill is lit.
    TOM: Now that’s a good point because I think if it’s windy, people tend to want to close the top because they feel like it’s going to blow out or something like that. But frankly, if your pilot or your electronic ignition is that weak, then therein lies the need for the repair.
    We’re talking to Stuart Flatow – he’s the vice president of safety and training for the Propane Education and Research Council – about what you need to do to get your propane gear ready to go for a safe summer of fun with that equipment.
    Stuart, you talked about the outdoor grills and the burners. I wanted to make mention of a little story that I had. One time I was helping a friend with a grill; it’d been down for a while. And I discovered the miracle of the little venturi brush and how important that can be. That, of course, is that brush that comes with the gas grill when you buy it; that kind of looks like a pipe cleaner with some bristles stuck on the end of it. And we discovered that there were a couple of very, very subtle but important spider webs that loved to form (Leslie chuckles) inside of those two pipes and that can actually cause quite a problem when you try to turn a grill on.
    STUART: Well, it can and, like any gas appliance, when you get some of that blockage, you’re not going to get the clean burn that you want; you’re not going to get that nice, blue flame. And that is going to impede your grilling. So you want to clean everything out. When you turn it on, make sure you get that nice, blue flame. Look at the tank; make sure it doesn’t have any holes or dents or rust spots, cracks or if it is past its expiration date. If it has any of those things, get rid of it; get a new tank.
    LESLIE: Now, you know what, Stuart? There’s such a rise in popularity for other sort of propane appliances from outdoor heaters to fire pits. What kind of special maintenance do those need? Because it seems like everybody on my block has got something like that.
    STUART: Well, it’s like anything else. You always want to take a look at it and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean it well, give it a test run before it works. And even, if you want, once a year have a qualified service technician come over, check it out, make sure everything is working, make sure there’s no blockage so that the appliance is working the way you want it to work. Make sure it’s at least five feet away from the home, at least ten feet away from combustible materials; I mean like leaves and things of that sort that might gather throughout the summer. Pretty much common sense things.
    TOM: You know, it’s interesting you say it’s common sense but I was a home …
    LESLIE: But it’s not.
    TOM: Well, I was a home inspector for 20 years …
    STUART: Oh, OK.
    TOM: … and, on a regular basis, I would walk around the back of a house and see the very, very distinctive sort of halo melt pattern in vinyl siding …
    LESLIE: (chuckling) From the grill.
    TOM: … that happened when the grill was just a little bit too close to the exterior of a building and that siding melts quite readily and deforms. And it doesn’t have to actually char; it’s just the radiant heat causes it to fail quite quickly. So you’re right, you’ve got to keep it well off the building; you’ve got to make sure that the hoses are clean, that there’s no cracks. A good way to test that, of course, is with soapy water, correct?
    STUART: Yep, absolutely. Very simple. Get a solution – 50/50 mixture, if you will – of water and just plain, old detergent; you know, dishwashing detergent. Brush it around all the connections with the gas off and if there are any bubbles forming, you may probably have a leak and, if you do, get it replaced. You can do it yourself. Do it by following the manufacturer’s instructions or have somebody else, a qualified person, kind of help you out and replace it.
    TOM: Good point.
    Stuart Flatow from the Propane Education and Research Council, thanks for filling us in on those important safety tips for using propane.
    And if you want more information on how to stay safe with propane, maybe some maintenance tips to get your propane equipment ready, you can go to their website at UsePropane.com.
    Thanks, Stuart.
    STUART: Thank you very much. A real pleasure.
    LESLIE: Alright. Well, still ahead, more safety tips for your outdoor enjoyment. Learn what playground surface materials are safest for your family and, more importantly, how much of it do you actually need, so stick around.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Fiberon Horizon decking and their new tropical hardwood colors. Ensure your deck stays as beautiful as the rest of your home. Insist on Horizon decking. To learn more, visit FiberonDecking.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 you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour we’re giving away a fantastic prize. We’ve got the 170-piece mechanics toolset from our friends at Stanley. Now this set comes with everything pretty much that you could possibly ever need including extension bars; spark plug sockets; bits; hex keys – which, if you’ve ever put together IKEA furniture, you know you need; wrenches. You name it, it’s in there. And the set has a polished chrome finish – so it’s not going to corrode if you leave it outside, a lifetime warranty, and it all comes in a durable carry case so when you call Tom to build your Boy Scouts project (Tom chuckles), he can easily carry it over to your house.
    The prize is worth 100 bucks and it’s one of the great gift ideas that we’ve featured in our online Father’s Day gift guide, “A Dozen Dandy Gifts for Handy Dads.” So check that out at MoneyPit.com and call with your home improvement question. Get on the air, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Well, with kids getting out of school quite soon, one of the projects that you might be working on this summer is a playground. And playgrounds should be safe places for kids but the wrong surfaces can spell tragedy, so here’s what you need to know.
    Playground surfaces made of asphalt are a dangerous thing of the past but even grass can be too hard to prevent injury to kids. Today, what you want to look for are materials like mulch, sand or this new, recycled rubber surfacing material which is really cool. It’s a much safer alternative in the very likely event of a fall. You want to make sure that the fall zones around the swings, the slides and the climbers have the deepest amount of these surface materials; several inches is often recommended.
    Take a good look around; not only your playground, if you have one in your backyard, but also your neighborhood playgrounds. Make sure they are safe and good to go before you let the kids get on with that very important activity of playing in the playground.
    LESLIE: Of fun.
    TOM: Absolutely.
    LESLIE: Joe in Iowa has a siding question. What can we do for you?
    JOE: I have a corner piece, on my house, that’s broken and I was wondering if you knew of any way of replacing that corner piece without removing all the siding.
    TOM: Hmm. This is vinyl siding?
    JOE: Vinyl siding, right.
    TOM: Yeah. Hmm. Well, I tell you, I think that you could probably cut out that corner piece and sort of surgically extract it. Then, with a flat bar, you could reach in underneath each edge of the vinyl siding and make sure you loosen up the nails just with a flat bar. You reach under it, keep it flat, wiggle it back and forth and just get them a little bit loose so that you have a little bit of room to work. Right?
    JOE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: And then you could bend the corner and insert it under both sort of edges of the vinyl siding on both sides of the corner. I bet you could work it in. The thing is, the key is going to be to get rid of the nails that are in the way.
    JOE: Right, right.
    TOM: OK?
    JOE: So cut out a little piece and just replace that little piece? Now, overlap the corners on it or …?
    TOM: No, the cracked piece is obviously going to be replaced and once you have the new piece in your hand, that would have been nailed in first. So you have to kind of cut out the old piece and get rid of all the nails; use a flat bar. But what I’m concerned about is the vinyl siding that’s sort of laying into that, if there are any nails that are close to the corner, you may have to pull those out or at least loosen them up because you don’t want anything to obstruct it when you go to work the new piece in. And then you’re going to basically get the corner underneath the vinyl siding on both sides of it.
    JOE: Right, right.
    TOM: You have to get creative on how you final nail it but I think it definitely could be done.
    JOE: Yeah. Alright, well thanks very much.
    TOM: You’re very welcome, Joe. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Janice in North Carolina needs some help cleaning stainless steel. What are you working on?
    JANICE: My kitchen sink, it’s fairly new and it looks terrible on the bottom and I’ve tried the different special cleaners made for it but they don’t seem to work.
    LESLIE: When you say “terrible,” you mean you see almost like scratches and circular patterns from maybe where you put a pot or a pan down?
    JANICE: Yes, and rusty – kind of rusty looking.
    LESLIE: Well, the rust, that’s what happens when you put dissimilar metals together for some time. I’ve accidentally done this in my own sink when I’ve taken a pan and maybe there was something baked on and I put water and dish detergent in it and then sat the pan in the bottom of the sink and left it over night. The next day I found like a square mark and rust from the two metals sitting together and that’s because they’re different metals.
    The only thing that you can do there is use like a Brillo or very, very fine steel wool and you want to sort of go in the grain of the steel – you’ll see that there’s a grain to the stainless itself – jut because you want to get rid of that stain, that rust stain. And that generally works but don’t leave a pot or a pan in there that’s not stainless steel overnight or for an extended amount of time because you’re going to end up with that happening again.
    JANICE: OK. What about the other stains? Is there anything for that?
    LESLIE: You know, nothing, Janice. Even though the stainless steel is a very durable material, when you put a plate down and it’s got that unfinished ceramic edge and then maybe put a couple more plates on top and then one twists and turns, you’re going to end up with these sorts of marcations on it and the stainless steel cleaners, I mean they do a great job of cleaning the stainless and making the stains go away; it doesn’t make the scratches go away.
    TOM: You know what I use is Barkeeper’s Friend. It’s a cleaner and a polish and it works really, really well. We used it on our stainless steel sink and now we use it on our Corian sinks, too, and it really does a good job of cleaning it up.
    JANICE: OK, I’ll try that.
    TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Up next, some decorating projects, well, they can be a little bit tricky; especially if you’re dealing with some of these unknown, inconsistent, uneven surfaces like let’s talk about maybe acoustic tile or a textured ceiling. If that’s you, we’ve got a tip to make painting those surfaces super-easy, coming up.

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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: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    Well, you know, Father’s Day is not far off and if you’re like me, I never know what the heck to give my husband for Father’s Day. So we’ve got a great story going on our website, MoneyPit.com, and we’ve got wonderful ideas in our online gift guide. It’s called “A Dozen Dandy Gifts for Your Handy Dad.” Now there are some great tools from Stanley grilling accessories and really cool garage storage ideas. Think out of the box; you know, you can get creative with these Father’s Day gifts. And it’s all there for you at MoneyPit.com.
    TOM: And while you’re on MoneyPit.com, you can e-mail us by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie just like Cliff did from Tappan, New York.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Cliff writes: “My kitchen has a hung ceiling. It’s old and dirty.” Man, I’ve never heard of one in a kitchen. That’s kind of yucky. “How do I paint old, acoustic ceiling tiles and the grid and get a good job on it? Can I avoid taking them down and painting each one individually? Will they crack and break up? They’re at least 20 years old.” That’s probably the worst ceiling surface for a kitchen, I would guess.
    TOM: And also, it’s hard to paint them because you really can’t get any pressure with a roller because they’ll sort of pop up inside the track.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, they’ll pop through.
    TOM: I think the best thing to do is to actually take them down.
    LESLIE: Can you take the grid out and spray it?
    TOM: I think you can …
    LESLIE: Or is that a giant pain in the butt?
    TOM: No, you don’t want to take the grid apart; that would be a huge pain in the neck. What I would is I would take the ceiling tiles down themselves. I would set them aside. I would prime them; that’s going to be the key. You don’t want to skip the primer step. So I would prime them. I think that you probably can use an acrylic primer with this, like a KILZ acrylic primer. That would probably work very well.
    In terms of the actual ceiling grids themselves, those you can spray paint. That’s not a lot of metal to paint; so probably, with a half a dozen cans of spray paint – like a Krylon or a Rust-Oleum product – you could probably spray paint those and have them look really sharp. And you might even want to think about doing a contrasting color.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that would be really fun in the kitchen. You know, it’s really important, like Tom said, to prime because after years of cooking and the grease and the grime that get on those tiles, you want to make sure that that paint is going to stick and you really do need to prime and the primer is going to do that to give you the proper adhesion.
    And he’s right with contrasting colors. I mean you can go for something in like a honey tone for the grid work and then bright whites for the ceiling tiles themselves. Think of something fun and look at your granite and your tile for inspiration, even your floor. It’s a great project and it’s going to make a huge difference.
    TOM: Hey, what’s your excuse for not tackling that home improvement project on your to-do list? Is it that you just don’t have enough time? Not going to cut it around here because we’ve got 30 different home maintenance projects listed in our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, that you can do in 30 minutes or less. Leslie has got one tip right now on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
    LESLIE: That’s right. And this is a super-easy one that’s pretty much going to take you five minutes or less. You know, now is the time to change your ceiling fan direction for summer use. Yes, you actually have to change the direction of your fan. You’ll notice that there’s a small reversing switch on the side of the motor on the fan itself. Now, in the summer, fans should pull the cooler air up from the floor and in the winter they should push the warmer air down from the ceiling; you know, downward onto you.
    Now, in my opinion, I think ceiling fan manufacturers should just put right next to the top or the bottom of the switch “Summer,” “Winter.” (Tom laughs) But you’re kind of going to need to experiment. You know, check your fan, reverse the spin and have …
    TOM: Move air up, pull air down.
    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. You know, check the fan; reverse the spin, if necessary; and make sure you clean the blades of your fan because all that dust and yuck that builds up on them really does hinder its efficiency. So tidy up your fans, switch that button. You know, I personally always have to stand underneath it. I’m like, “Is it blowing on me? Is it blowing up?” Once you figure it out, you’ll see; it really does make a difference per season. So easy home improvement, five minutes, done.
    TOM: Good tip.
    Coming up next week on The Money Pit, are loud and annoying sounds coming from inside your walls? Well, I know they come from the inside of my kids’ bedrooms (Leslie laughs) but I can’t do much about that. But if they’re coming from inside the walls, plumbing is often the culprit and especially if you get that loud banging sound which is known as water hammer. It’s very annoying and can also be harmful to your pipes. Next week on the program, we’re going to teach you how to make that go away for good.
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    (Copyright 2010 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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