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DIY Privacy Screening, Clear Roof of Moss, Have Backup Power Plan 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: Happy Home Improvement, everybody. It’s time to pick up the tools and get to work. But before you do that, pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question. Let us help solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got some suggestions on projects you might want to tackle this weekend but we’re sure you have a few on your mind, which we’d like to hear about. So again, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up in this hour, as the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. A roof, on the other hand, does. And we’re going to have some tips on how to get that nasty-looking green stuff off of your roof. You know, it usually happens when you don’t have a lot of sun. But there are a couple of tricks of the trade that you can employ to prevent moss from growing on your roof and we’ll share those, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we’ve had a crazy storm season over the summer and into the early fall. And the United States really has just taken a battering because of everything Mother Nature can dish out. And it really led to a last-minute scramble for those backup generators, especially making them scarce in the days leading up to Hurricane Irene. So we’re going to talk about that, in a bit.

    TOM: Yeah. And even after the storm, Leslie, there were a lot of homeowners that actually had to be put on waiting lists for just a chance to buy one of those generators. And the problem was that many times, they were at really jacked-up prices. That’s why it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to make plans for the power outage. We’ve got some suggestions on how you can create your own backup power plan that will make sure that that doesn’t happen to you.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And this hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We are giving away the Indulge Contemporary Hot-Water Dispenser from InSinkErator. And it’s a great way to save water because you will not be waiting for hot water to make your coffee or your tea or even warming up baby bottles. It’s just a great thing to have in your kitchen.

    TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we choose your name out of The Money Pit hard hat, you might just be the one that wins that contemporary hot-water dispenser from InSinkErator, so let’s get to it. 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Ray in Arizona needs some help with getting his pool ready for the winter season. What can we do for you?

    RAY: We have a six-year-old pool. It’s a play pool, so it’s about 12,000 gallons.

    TOM: OK.

    RAY: It’s Pebble Tec; it’s not smooth plaster.

    TOM: So it’s above ground or is it inground?

    RAY: It’s inground. It’s built into the landscape, so it’s got an infinity edge and a separate spa but it’s combined.

    TOM: OK.

    RAY: So, we have some major repairs that we need to do and we thought we would decommission it for the off-season and then shop for the parts while it’s – we’re getting the best prices and then bring it back online next season.

    TOM: Right. Well, that makes sense. So are you talking about major mechanical repairs, like replacing pumps and that sort of thing?

    RAY: We had a chlorinator that was making the chlorine out of salt and that went out. And we have three pumps. We’re probably going to replace all of the pumps and the sand filter.

    TOM: Well, there’s not much left to winterize if you’re going to replace all the mechanical systems.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: You got all the water out. Obviously, it’s a good time to check the structural condition of the pool and make any improvements that are deemed necessary there, to restore any cracks or any other deterioration of the structural surface: the liner and that sort of thing. But what, specifically, can we help you with?

    RAY: We’re just wondering what we should do – could do – to protect the surface of the pool. Should we cover it with tarps? Is there a coating we should put on it? What steps might we take to just – to best preserve the Pebble Tec?

    TOM: So you don’t have a cover for this inground pool, then, do you?

    RAY: No. It’s a play pool, so it’s an irregular configuration that is, like I said, built into the landscape.

    TOM: The self-draining pool covers are really the best kind and they’re usually custom-ordered for a shaped pool like that. And the nice thing about self-draining covers is that they don’t hold water, obviously, and even more important than that, if God forbid somebody was to fall in the pool, it can support a person. So, if you put …

    LESLIE: I mean we’ve had deer walk across ours.

    TOM: Oh, yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s amazing.

    TOM: And they’re super-strong. And because you’ve got the cover of the pool then, of course, you’re keeping the sun off of it and that stops the UV degradation that can impact the finishes and so on, so …

    RAY: So then when it comes time to use the pool, with an irregular shape and it being a smaller 12,000 gallons, does retracting and the cover present any challenges, as far as flexibility?

    TOM: No. You, essentially, take it off.

    RAY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: You put it on and you take it off.

    LESLIE: Ours is stored in like a giant – it’s not gigantic; it takes up a little corner of the garage at my parents’ beach home. But the cover goes right in there. It goes on really easily, it comes off really easily and it really just protects the patio around – the surround. It protects when – because we keep water in it year-round, so it protects the water, it protects from debris going in there. And again, where my parents have their home, lots of deer and crazy wildlife and they walk right across it and there’s never been an incident, knock wood.

    RAY: So it doesn’t float on the surface of the water; it’s separate from the water surface.

    TOM: That’s correct. Well, that’s correct. It sits just above and there are fasteners that are embedded into the decking, in the concrete around the outside edge.

    LESLIE: Into the concrete.

    TOM: And they – and then when you don’t need them, they drop down flush. So you pull them up …

    RAY: Oh. So what should I Google to shop for that?

    TOM: Well, any – I’m sure any pool-supply company is going to sell these but just – it’s called a self-draining pool cover.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: And usually like a mesh or pool – sometimes it’s called a safety pool cover or a mesh pool cover.

    RAY: Excellent. Thank you.

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

    And next summer, Leslie, we know where we’re going to be swimming in Arizona.

    LESLIE: When we get to Arizona. Completely.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, we are right into the autumn season, which we know is Goldilocks season for home improvers. It’s just right outside to get a lot done, so call us with your to-do list and we’ll help you check those items off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, outdoor spaces offer a great escape right at home. But with all that stuff that collects around the outside of our homes – you know, the air-conditioning compressors, the trash cans, you name it – sometimes it helps to have a very simple way to hide it.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And privacy screens? They can do just that and you can actually build them yourself fairly easily, so we’re going to tell you how to do that project, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.

    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: Hey, how would you like to have 200-degree water right out of the sink instantly? You can make coffee, tea or warming baby bottles all in an instant. If you do, you might want to pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, because one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to be able to do just that.

    We’re giving away the Indulge Contemporary Dispenser from InSinkErator. It provides 200-degree hot, as well as cool, filtered water with a touch of a lever. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Alright. And that’s a great prize that’s going to make your kitchen life a whole lot easier. And that’s what we do here at The Money Pit: we make your life and your home projects so super-simple. And we love to help you tackle things around your house.

    And one of the areas that we know you guys love at your home is your yard. But maybe when you’re sitting out there, you’re not exactly thrilled with some of those eyesores that mess up the scenery.

    Well, with the help of the Arrow Fastener Company, we’ve got an idea for an easy do-it-yourself project that will hide away those air-conditioning units, trash cans and more. You can actually build privacy screening with some posts and some lattice. And the best thing about this project is that there is no hammering involved. So, no sore thumbs, meaning you’re not going to hammer your thumbs with your hammer, which you guys know it happens. It happens to the pros, it happens to me; not sure if it happens to Tom but it definitely happens to me.

    So what you need to do to build these privacy screenings – first off, you’re going to have to sink some support posts into the ground. And then once those have set, you go ahead and attach the lattice using the Arrow Electric Brad Nail Gun. And you can find that tool at ArrowFastener.com.

    And you want to remember not to allow the bottom edge of the lattice panel to come in contact with the soil or you are going to end up with a rotted lattice panel before you know it. Because that’s what happens: you get too much moisture, then you get bugs just because of the contact with the earth. So give yourself a couple of inches there, just to let the air flow through and keep things dry.

    Now, to finish the look off, you can place a window box-style planter on the ground in front of the lattice, with maybe a beautiful climbing vine. And that’s going to create a perfectly natural screen.

    If you want some more detailed, step-by-step instructions on this project, check out my latest blog at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Call us right now and let’s talk about your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania has a question about flooring. How can we help you?

    MIKE: I’m a frequent listener and I enjoy your show a lot.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Mike.

    TOM: Thank you very much.

    MIKE: I had a question. I’m renovating a 100-year-old farm house, more or less, and I’m down to the floors.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: I had – the downstairs floors are pretty decent maple hardwood – a living room, a dining room and a hallway – but local refinishers wanted anywhere from 2.50 to 2.75 a foot to revarnish them. Refinished and revarnished.

    TOM: Wow, that’s a good business. If this radio thing doesn’t work out, I’m in for that one.

    MIKE: Well …

    LESLIE: You’re in for the floors?

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, I did it with laminate for about a buck-and-a-quarter a foot, so it was kind of a no-brainer.

    TOM: I bet. OK.

    MIKE: But I’m down to the radiators now. I’m questioning – this is an old radiator/hot-water system and it has some rather large radiators which weigh hundreds of pounds, actually.

    TOM: Right. Uh-huh. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: And they sit on – the smaller ones sit on four corner feet; the longer ones have 2 feet in the middle.

    TOM: Right. Yes.

    MIKE: And I’m wondering what I can put under those feet. I think they’re going to sink into the laminate over time.

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah, well, they might. You basically …

    MIKE: And I wondered if – what I could put under the feet to protect that.

    TOM: Well, you essentially want to – you want to sort of create your own coaster for that. Now, you could do that out of laminate material; that would be the easiest thing to do. And if you choose your pattern carefully, it’ll be fairly invisible when it’s put down. But if you cut something out of the laminate material to slip under that, that will give it some protection. And of course, if you do it to all the legs equally, you won’t impact the slant on the radiator.

    MIKE: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Alright. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Joan in Colorado is dealing with a painting situation. What’s going on?

    JOAN: Yes. Well, thank you, Tom and Leslie. About four years ago, we had the outside of our house painted and now I’ve noticed, from last summer and also this year, the paint is chipping off the foundation because they also – you know, they painted the foundation along with the siding and it’s taking off a layer of the concrete from the foundation.

    TOM: OK.

    JOAN: And so, we really don’t know what to do, whether we should repaint the foundation or – basically, my husband would love to just get rid of the paint on the foundation but again, we have that problem of the concrete chipping off with the paint.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, probably what’s happening is the paint is separating from the concrete foundation and the reason it’s doing that is because …

    LESLIE: Because of moisture.

    TOM: Yeah, the concrete is very hydroscopic, Joan. It soaks up an amazing amount of water. And they probably used the same paint they used on the house and the foundation, which was the wrong thing to do.

    LESLIE: Rather than using a masonry paint.

    TOM: Yeah, correct. So I think that what you might want to do is try to get off all the loose paint you can on the foundation and then I would prime it again. And do this on a really, really dry day. Make sure it’s primed …

    LESLIE: Yeah, let it dry for a couple of days.

    JOAN: OK.

    LESLIE: Like wait until that foundation is as dry as it can possibly be.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Take two, three days dry weather.

    TOM: Prime it; use an oil-based primer. You’ll have the best adhesion and then you can put a topcoat of foundation paint – masonry paint – over that. You could have the paint tinted, so perhaps your husband can get a different color if that’s what he’s trying to go for. Maybe go back to the gray color. It doesn’t matter.

    LESLIE: What about patching any of the concrete that sort of chipped off with the paint with an epoxy compound?

    TOM: Yeah. If you have chips or holes, you can patch it and as Leslie said, use an epoxy patch material for that.

    JOAN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright? It’s not critical; it’s more cosmetic. OK, Joan?

    JOAN: OK. Well, thank you.

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

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

    MIKE: Yes. I have an 1873 home with a stone foundation.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And the stone’s in very good shape but it keeps crumbing: a light, sand deterioration onto the floors on the inside. And I was trying – I would like to slow that or stop it without – I have read that stone foundations should be allowed to breathe and it’s survived very well for 140 years.

    TOM: Yeah. But I mean let’s – enough already. It’s 140 years; you’ve got to maintain this at this point in time.

    MIKE: Yes, yes.

    TOM: What’s happening is the mortar in between the stones is deteriorating and it has to be repointed. So you’re explaining a very normal condition where the mortar eventually dries out after 140 years and needs to be taken out and repointed.

    So, typically, this is a job done by a mason. They mix up a very sticky mix of mortar, usually with a lot of – extra amount of lime in it to make it stick. And they pull out the loose mortar and then repoint it: press new mortar into place. And that’s the way you maintain a floor like that.

    I don’t know what “breathing” has to do with it. Foundations are foundations; you want to keep the moisture away from them on the outside of your house. But when the mortar starts to deteriorate like that, it’s got to be pulled out and repointed.

    MIKE: I see. So it’s more mortar deterioration than the stone.

    TOM: Than the stone itself, that’s correct. Yep.

    MIKE: OK.

    TOM: Stone’s going to last forever; it’s the mortar that needs some work.

    MIKE: OK. And then one other quick question. Two of the floors have – by a previous owner were Puritan pavers. And moisture – ground moisture – sometimes leaches up through. Do I need to take all the pavers out and put a plastic under them or what?

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got water that’s leaking up from the floor of the basement, that points to poor drainage conditions. And so what’s going on here is simply that you have moisture that’s collecting at the foundation perimeter and it needs to be drained away from the foundation further, because that water collecting outside your house pushes down along the foundation wall. I’m sure it goes through the wall. You may be seeing some efflorescence because of the deteriorated moisture – the deteriorated mortar that you have – and then it eventually comes up under the floor.

    So I need you to look at gutters – making sure they’re clean, free-flowing and extended 4 to 6 feet from the house – and grading, making sure the soil is sloped in such a way that water runs away from the house. Those two things should stop or completely stop that water that’s rising up in the basement floor.

    MIKE: Yes. And I know you’re right. This entire town has drainage problems and so even the ditches out at the edge of town – it’s a rural area. Even the ditches don’t drain away very well.

    TOM: Yeah. But you know what? You don’t have to worry about the entire town; you have to worry about the first 4 to 6 feet around your foundation and that’ll do it.

    MIKE: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    MIKE: Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Going to talk to one of our bayou buddies. We’ve got June in Louisiana who’s doing a painting project. What can we help you with?

    JUNE: I have a two-car garage and we’ve been in our house about 23 years. I have always wanted to keep it looking as nice as I could – the concrete floor – and I have been so unfortunate not to be able to continue the pretty look whenever I paint it with a porch paint. Do you have any suggestions?

    TOM: Yeah. Porch paint is probably not the state-of-the-art material for painting concrete. We would recommend epoxy paint.

    JUNE: OK.

    TOM: The problem is that you’ve got a lot of layers of porch paint on there. You’re going to have to strip those off first or at least get as much of it off as you can, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s still going to strip off.

    JUNE: Right.

    TOM: But when you get it down to a good surface, you can use an epoxy paint. It’s a two-part material; consists of a hardener and a base and when you mix them together, you get about one to two hours to work with it and it flows really nice. It adheres very well. It’s very, very durable. You don’t have to wait nearly as long to use it. You won’t get as much hot-tire pickup, which happens with the porch paint when you put your car in there and the tires are hot and then you back it out and the paint sticks to the tires.

    JUNE: Yes. Yes.

    TOM: That doesn’t happen. And with a lot of the epoxy garage products, you can usually have some sort of an additive in there that’s like a speckle finish or something of that nature to get a little texture and helps hide the dirt.

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: So, I would stop using the porch paint – not designed for that – and start using the epoxy paints.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, a rolling stone gathers no moss but a roof? It sure can. We’re going to help you get rid of that moss and keep it from coming back, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you in part by Arrow Fastener Company, the leader in professional fastening products since 1929. The makers of the iconic T50 Staple Gun, the world’s bestselling staple gun, Arrow Fastener has the right tool for every application. Explore Arrow’s latest product innovations at ArrowFastener.com.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the HydroRight Drop-In Dual Flush Converter, proud sponsor of Water Conservation 2011. The HydroRight easily converts your toilet into a water- and money-saving dual-flush toilet. Push the quick-flush setting for liquids or the full-flush for more. Look for the HydroRight at The Home Depot and other fine retailers or visit SaveMyToilet.com.

    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: Looking for easy ways to cut water use and save money? Well, if so, head on over to MoneyPit.com and check out our water-saving product guide for lots of great tips and suggestions. You’re going to learn how to slow the flow at home, save water and save money.

    LESLIE: Lawrence in California is on the line with a snow and a roofing question. And calling from California about snow? What’s going on, Lawrence?

    LAWRENCE: Well, I live about 3,000 feet up in the Sierras.

    TOM: Ah. Nice.

    LESLIE: Ah. And that explains your snow.

    TOM: OK.

    LAWRENCE: Oh, yeah, we do get snow. And I’ve got rain-gutter problems.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s going on?

    LAWRENCE: Well, I’ve got a metal roof on my house and of course, it snows a foot or two a snow.

    TOM: OK.

    LAWRENCE: And the snow slides off the metal roof. And when it does that, it takes my rain gutters with it.

    TOM: Alright.

    LAWRENCE: Is there a solution to that?

    TOM: Yeah, there is. Couple of things. First of all, how are your rain gutters attached? Are they attached with spikes?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So what you want to do is – there are screws that you can use and they have – usually have Allen heads that you can replace the gutter spikes with and the ferrules – the tubes. And those are a much more permanent connection, which will totally secure the rain gutter to the fascia.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s not going to get back out.

    TOM: And the second thing you might want to do is add some snow guards.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And those are simply – I mean they’re not – they kind of act like a clip but they run parallel to your roof’s edge, a little bit more up the roof. And usually do one or two rows of them, depending on the height, slope, size of your roof. And these act as little stoppers. So as the snow slides down, it doesn’t go beyond that little lip.

    And there’s actually a great website dedicated specifically to metal-roofing needs and it’s MetalRoofSnowGuards.com. And they’re fairly easy to install and they really do stop that problem.

    LAWRENCE: I’ll definitely look on the computer there; see if I can get something that resembles snow guards and go from there, I guess.

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

    LAWRENCE: Thank you so much. Have a good day.

    LESLIE: Well, as the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. But a roof, especially one that doesn’t get much sun, sure can. Moss on the roof isn’t going to cause much harm but it can look pretty ugly.

    TOM: Definitely. And there are ways to clean the roof and things you can do to keep that moss from coming back. Here with some ideas on how to do just that is This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.

    TOM: You know, we get a lot of calls and everyone calls that stuff on the roof that’s green and black and ugly “mold.” But it’s not always mold; in some cases, it’s moss or other things, right?

    TOM SILVA: Right. It’s also – lichen is another word for it, too.

    TOM: Now, that attaches to the shingles. Why does – why is a shingle surface so attractive to the moss and the lichen and the algae?

    TOM SILVA: Since we started using fire-rated shingles, there’s actually a ceramic crystal in the shingle that the moss, the mold or the lichen attach themselves to.

    TOM: Oh, interesting. So it’s not really interested in the asphalt qualities of it; it’s really that ceramic coating that it’s going after.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly, exactly.

    TOM: Now, is that why this seems to be more of a problem in the last 10 to 20 years than ever before?

    TOM SILVA: You hit it right on. It started about 20 years ago, when we started using what they call “Class A shingles.”

    LESLIE: So now, since this mold or moss or whatever it is is attaching itself to this fire coating – fireproof coating – when you do remove it, are you damaging or lessening the effect of the fireproof coating?

    TOM SILVA: Not generally but it really depends on how you remove it.

    TOM: So what’s your secret solution?

    TOM SILVA: Well, my secret solution is bleach and water.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: But you’ve got to remember, bleach is going to destroy your clothes and anything else it touches, so you want to protect yourself and the surroundings, like your plants. You want to wet them down first before you do anything and even cover them with plastic.

    And the solution that I like is about 50/50.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: So it’s strong.

    LESLIE: And you have to be really careful because it’s super-slippery on that surface.

    TOM SILVA: The moss up on that roof can be like ice, so you don’t want to step on it. And when you wet it down with the bleach-and-water, it’s really slippery.

    TOM: Now, if you don’t want to use bleach, are there any less-damaging potential solutions that you can use?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, there’s some biodegradable chemicals out there that do a great job.

    LESLIE: Now, it always seems like it comes down to a maintenance issue. Is there anything or any preventative steps that you can take to sort of lesson the work you’ll have to do down the road?

    TOM SILVA: Sure. There are – right above the area that you get the moss, the lichen or the mold, you can actually attach – to the underside of the tab of the shingle, exposing about 2 inches to the weather – they call “zinc strips.”

    TOM: OK. So this kind of looks like a piece of flashing and you slip it up underneath the shingle, let a little bit hang down and it’s made of zinc?

    TOM SILVA: Right. Right. It comes in rolls or strips.

    TOM: Now, why is zinc the important metal here? What does it do?

    TOM SILVA: Well, basically, when it rains, the rain collects the particulates off of the zinc and it runs down the roof and it kills the moss or mold or mildew. It doesn’t like it; it won’t grow there. It says, “I don’t want to be here.” So, your roof stays clean.

    TOM: So it’s sort of a natural mildicide, in a way.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, absolutely.

    TOM: Now, what about if you have – we always find that this is worse on homes that have a lot of shade. Is it a good idea to kind of look at the tree-scape around the house, to see if you can get a little more sunlight there, if it’s possible?

    TOM SILVA: If you can prune out the trees and get a little bit of light on that roof, it definitely helps. You notice that you always get it on one side of the roof and not on the other side.

    LESLIE: All of this work that we’re doing to remove the algae or the moss or the mildew, it’s not going to hurt the roof shingles in any way, shape or form?

    TOM SILVA: Well, not by removing it with the water or chemicals. You don’t want to get up there and scrape it because the scraping will definitely damage the shingles.

    TOM: Now, Tom, the moss on the roof, it looks horrible but does it ever get to a point where it really damages the shingles?

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. It can not only damage the shingles, it shortens the lifetime of the shingles. But it can get into the roof because it’s holding the shingles and keeping them wet so much, it’ll damage the substrate below. And eventually, it could rot the roof.

    TOM: So definitely an important home maintenance project. Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: It’s my pleasure.

    TOM: And for more great tips just like that, including a video that will teach you how to keep your roof clean, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

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

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Trane. Nothing stops a Trane.

    Still ahead, after a summer of play dates, parties and extra foot traffic in your home, you might want to think about steam-cleaning your carpeting this fall. It’s a great weekend project that can extend the life of your rugs.

    Up next, we’re going to have some tips on how you can get that project done the right way.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And hey, don’t forget about our prize this hour. It’s the InSinkErator’s Indulge Contemporary Water Dispenser. And this little appliance is super-handy. It hooks up to your sink and it can instantly turn out filtered water that’s either cold or get this, up to 200 degrees. And that’s hot enough to make a cup of tea or brew some coffee. And the best part, for those new moms out there, it warms up baby bottles. You don’t have to wait around. It’s really just a great thing to have in your kitchen.

    And one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour, asks their question on the air – that’s right. You have to have a question and it can’t be like, “Hey, I want that hot-water thing.” We know you’re working on some projects, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, kids, pets and family traffic can certainly lead to some pretty dingy-looking carpets and do that very quickly. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to steam-clean them yourself. It’s something that you can do and should do about once a year to keep those carpets looking new and smelling fresh. And it will also help them last longer, as well. Because the more dirt that gets in there, the more that dirt grinds away at the carpet and that’s actually what wears them out.

    Now, to do that, you can rent a steam cleaner at your local home center or even at a supermarket near you.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what’s super-important? I think everybody forgets this. While you’re at the store picking up your rental, make sure that you get the right amount and type of cleaning fluid to go with the machine you’re renting. Because it is very specific, so you have to get the right cleaner for the right steam cleaner. Otherwise, they’re just not going to work and you’re not going to end up with any happy results for your carpeting.

    Now, if you’ve got some pet stains in your home and that’s the issue you’re trying to correct, look for pet-specific solutions to solve that problem. And you also might want to consider getting the upholstery attachment. It might cost a little extra but it’s totally worth it for those hard-to-reach areas, your furnishings and even the stairs. And you may want to go over any extremely dirty areas more than once.

    Remember, a little hard work is going to go a long way in keeping your home feeling clean and looking fresh. I mean think about it: we’re about to be locked inside for the winter season. So get everything clean and smelling fresh now and you’ll enjoy the winter actually.

    TOM: I’ve got to tell you, I’m always very impressed with what a great job carpet cleaners do. We have a rental unit and when the last tenant moved out, I was convinced we were going to have to replace all the carpet. But two passes with the steam cleaner, it brought it right back again and it looked fantastic.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s actually a fun chore.

    TOM: It is.

    LESLIE: Like I don’t mind steam-cleaning a carpet; I think it’s a fun project.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    888-666-3974. Call us with your fun project. We know there’s one on your to-do list and let’s get it done together.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Paulette from Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a concrete cracking issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAULETTE: My entry, when you come into my house, the sidewalk – oh, I don’t know – the walkway? Just where the step is and the walkway is, there’s a huge gap. It was small but now it’s getting a lot larger. It’s like 1½ to – 1 to 1½ inches. I just measured, so – and then it’s on a decline. I noticed that from this crack, all the way to the – I would say it’s like one, two – I would say three squares of concrete? And it’s going downward.

    TOM: OK. So, underneath the step, you’re stepping down to a sidewalk or a patio? Is that correct?

    PAULETTE: Right. Like a small patio, yes. It’s about …

    TOM: OK. And so the patio has slid away, so to speak, from the step.

    PAULETTE: Right. It cracked away, yes.

    TOM: It cracked away. So it was – at one point in time, it was one piece – which would be odd, by the way – but now you’re telling me that there’s a big crack there.

    PAULETTE: Correct.

    TOM: And the crack is as wide as the step or wider?

    PAULETTE: It’s about, let me see, probably about 6 feet long.

    TOM: OK.

    PAULETTE: It’s as long as my – that little sidewalk area.

    TOM: What you’re going to do is this: you’re going to use an epoxy patching compound.

    PAULETTE: Epoxy?

    TOM: Yes. Epoxy. And the reason you’re going to do that is because the epoxy is going to stick to the old concrete.

    What happened here, Paulette, was when this was originally built, there should have been an expansion joint put in there. This was improperly constructed, because you’re not going to be able to stop a staircase or a step and a patio from separating like that. So because they built it the way they did, you have a crack. So now you have to patch that and you don’t want to use just regular concrete for that because if you do, it won’t stick.

    What you do need to do is to use epoxy patching compound. And the epoxy will adhere to the old concrete and it may be a slightly different color. But if you do a nice, neat job, that will stop any water from getting in there.

    And that’s important, too, because if the water gets in there, then it just – it compounds itself because it expands and it gets wider and so on. So then I would do that now before next winter so that you prevent that from happening to you. OK?

    PAULETTE: Because I can see dirt in there, underneath there, way down.

    TOM: Yeah, clean it out. Clean it out and then do the patch.

    PAULETTE: Mm-hmm. Alright.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if all the power outages caused by Hurricane Irene and all the other storms that have affected the country this year have finally convinced you to get a generator, don’t wait for the next storm to invest in one. Learn why a backup power system needs to be planned for well ahead of time and what you need to do to get the job done. We’ll have that, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by The Iron Shop, the leading manufacturer of spiral stair kits. Visit www.TheIronShop.com today to find out how you can own a beautiful, iron spiral staircase.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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: Well, the last-minute scramble for backup generators made them a very scarce commodity in the days before Hurricane Irene struck. And even after the storm, some homeowners that wanted them, well, they had to get onto a waiting list just for a chance to buy one and sometimes at jacked-up prices. You know the old rule of supply and demand? A lot of demand and not a lot of supply means you’re going to pay big bucks if you wait until the last minute.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to make plans for a power outage. And millions of homeowners learned that the hard way this summer. So here to tell us more about backup power options is Jerry Hertsch of Norwall Power Systems.

    Welcome, Jerry.

    JERRY: Hi there. How are you doing, guys?

    LESLIE: We survived Irene.

    TOM: That’s right. We survived Irene and all of the other storms that have happened over the last several months. We’re getting to a point where having backup power is really becoming a necessity. I mean you just can’t rely on the power company anymore.

    JERRY: No, that’s a fact. You can’t.

    TOM: So what are some of the things that I think folks don’t think about when power goes out? Obviously, we all think about the conveniences of lights and of course, television. In my house, with three kids, got to have the TV. But there are some pretty significant structural and mechanical problems that can happen when power goes down.

    JERRY: That’s true. Most people don’t understand that when you lose your air conditioning, there’s a possibility of mold growing in your home in just a short period of time. The National Association of Home Builders says that that can be as little as 48 hours.

    Also, people don’t take into consideration that if they don’t have hot water, their pipes could freeze and bust. Sump pumps don’t work. There’s all kinds of things that can occur. People don’t understand that food in the refrigerator, after about 24 hours, starts to deteriorate.

    With a Generac home backup system from Norwall Power Systems – and we eliminate all these problems. This system actually detects the electricity failing and starts the generator up and switches power on to the essential items in your house or it powers your whole house like nothing happened.

    TOM: Now, Jerry, there are really two types of generators out there. I think most people are aware of portable generators: the type that are always on wheels and you wheel them out because you can’t – you have to wheel them outside your house because you can’t use them inside, because you’re going to poison all the occupants with carbon monoxide. You have to run them outside on the driveway and then plug everything into it.

    They work in a pinch. You’d much rather have them than not if you didn’t have power. But a better option is a standby generator. How are those different than portables?

    JERRY: Well, a standby generator, number one, is going to continue to run as long as it has fuel, just like a portable generator. The difference is portable generators are usually powered by gasoline, so therefore somebody has to go out every six to eight hours and fill it up. And there’s a safety concern with filling up a hot generator.

    A home standby generator, on the other hand, is connected to either a liquid-propane tank or natural gas and will run as long as needed, as long as it is shut down periodically to check the oil and make sure that everything is right within the generator. But it can provide power up to weeks. In some cases, I’ve heard stories of people being out of power for seven and eight weeks and these generators just keep running.

    TOM: If you want more information, you can visit Jerry’s company’s website, which is Norwall.com – N-o-r-w-a-l-l.com – or pick up the phone and call them at 928-453-4494. That’s 928-453-4494.

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

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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