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Extend the Use of Your Outdoor Space, Tips to Quiet Yard Noise, Operate Your Garage Door from Your Smart Phone

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. Let’s solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas. Looking around your house this weekend? Got a project on your to-do list? Let’s slide it over to the done list. We’re here to give you a hand if you pick up the phone and call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, it’s sad but true: Labor Day is upon us. And that means the end of summer as we know it. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor fun. Just ahead, we’re going to have some advice on three ways that you can extend the use of your outdoor space well into the chilly weather.

    LESLIE: And if you love being out in your yard but you just can’t seem to get the peace and quiet that you need or want, you might just need a buffer from noisy neighbors or maybe nearby traffic. We’re going to have some tips on how you can create a quiet oasis.

    TOM: Plus, can’t remember if you closed your garage door? Gosh, how many times has that happened, right? Never wonder again, with some new technology from Chamberlain. It’s a smartphone app that will not only tell you if you left it open but it can let you close it from anywhere in the world.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the BerryBreeze for your refrigerator. This handy device will release activated oxygen, which is going to keep your fresh foods from going bad so quick.

    TOM: It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Michelle in Minnesota is on the line with a bathroom-floor thing is all I can call it. What is going on? You’re getting moisture coming up through the floor?

    MICHELLE: Yes. It’s a laminate floor. This is my third summer in this house and it’s the first time that I’ve had this issue. And it was – started around the warm and humid days. At first, I thought maybe that it was my toilet leaking, because I had a new toilet put in last summer. But the plumber did come out and pull the toilet and it didn’t look like it was leaking or that the seal was broken on it. So we’re thinking that it’s condensation from the concrete slab coming up between the slats of the laminate flooring.

    TOM: So the laminate flooring is on top of a concrete slab?

    MICHELLE: Correct, yep.

    TOM: What’s this looking – what’s this doing to the floor? Is it causing it to deform in any way? Or is it just showing up as a stain?

    MICHELLE: It is not buckling or anything along the edges. He thinks that maybe it’s a rubber flooring – more of a rubber based flooring – rather than a wood. And so it has not curled edges or anything like that. It just heats up as moisture – and it comes – like beads up right along the edges of the laminate.

    TOM: Do you have air conditioning in this bathroom?
     

    MICHELLE: I do not. Nope.

    TOM: Yeah, I was thinking cooler, moist air against a warmer floor could cause additional condensation.

    So look, if you want to reduce the moisture that’s coming up through the bathroom, there’s a couple of things I can suggest. First of all, you want to take a look at the grading and the drainage conditions outside that bathroom. Because the slab, if it’s getting very wet, is extremely hydroscopic. So all the moisture in the earth will be drawn into the slab and that’s going to wick up and show up in your bathroom, apparently.

    So, take a look at your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re clean and free flowing and the spouts are extending 4 to 6 feet from the house. Get all that roof water away and then take a look at the angle of the soil and make sure that that’s sloping away.

    Now, do you have a fan in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: Yes.

    TOM: That is helpful. You might want to think about replacing the fan with one that has a built-in humidistat, because that’s convenient in a couple of fronts. First of all, when you take a shower and you leave the bathroom and turn the switch off, it’ll actually stay on until all the moisture’s properly vented out of there. And if it does get humid on its own, then the humidistat will kick the fan on and also dry it out. They’re not terribly expensive; I know Broan makes a good one. There are a number of manufacturers you can find this from.

    And keep an eye on the floor. Some laminate floors, you know, stand up very well to moisture. I’ve seen laminate floors that can be submerged and they don’t seem to be affected by it. But others will buckle just like hardwood would. So just keep an eye on it. And if it ends up that it does have to be replaced, I would paint that cement slab underneath with a couple of coats of epoxy paint to kind of seal in and stop the moisture from evaporating through and into the room.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: But only if you get that far. I wouldn’t tell you to tear up the floor now. But if you have to replace it, just make sure you seal the slab at the same time.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, OK. Thank you. That’s good, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Chris in Georgia is on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on?

    CHRIS: Yes, ma’am. Got a question with an electrical issue in our bedroom. We bought this house and trying to find out some answer to why the bottom plug of a duplex receptacle would work but if you plug into the top part of the outlet, it won’t work. There’s no power.

    TOM: Is there any possibility that the top outlet is on a switch?

    CHRIS: Could be.

    TOM: OK. I’ve seen that. And you don’t see this very often but I have seen it where what looks like a normal outlet is actually split and the top one is wired to a switch and the bottom one isn’t.

    CHRIS: Oh. OK.

    TOM: So, theoretically, you would have your light on that top one. Now, if that’s not the case, then obviously something is wrong with the outlet and I would just replace the outlet. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

    CHRIS: Awesome. I appreciate the advice.

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

    CHRIS: Very good. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, if you hear a little pep in my voice, it’s maybe because the kids start school next week. Thank God. Summer vacation is over. Oh, my gosh. I can’t get through Labor Day Weekend fast enough.

    So, if you need some projects to help you get through the weekend faster so you’re suddenly putting your children on a bus on Tuesday, give us a call. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, you might think Labor Day means an end to summer fun but not if you take on just three projects that will extend the use of outdoor spaces well into the fall. We’ll have those summer-saving projects, next.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by for your call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself questions, that dilemma that you don’t know how to get going on. Give us a call; we’ll help you take that all-important first step at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Plus, one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win the BerryBreeze System. It’s a battery-operated, patented device that uses activated oxygen to eliminate unwanted odors and tastes in your fridge.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the product not only is going to take care of those bad tastes and smells, it’s actually going to keep your fresh food fresher, longer. Even in the fridge, your fruits and veggies can spoil kind of quickly. But with the BerryBreeze, you’re going to notice that these fresh foods will stay that way much longer.

    TOM: That’s because the O3, which is the activated oxygen, is completely safe. It slows the growth of microorganisms. A great product that’s going to save you money and prevent waste is the BerryBreeze. Check it out at BerryBreeze.com or give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Mike in Michigan is on the line and is dealing with a ceiling leak. What’s going on?

    MIKE: We were sitting at the table in the kitchen and all of a sudden, we see water dripping in my dog’s dog dish -water dish. And trying to figure out – look up in the ceiling and it’s coming from the ceiling.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    MIKE: Well, we traced it to the – yeah, we traced it to the roof and there were some nail pops and the stack vents were leaking around the flashing.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: So we got that taken care of but now – this house was built in ’41 – we got all this wet plaster with the lath and wire mesh. And we got all – some of this wet plaster is starting to break loose. A lot of it is onion peeling but some of it is the plaster itself. How do I save that without ripping all that off and replastering the ceiling?

    TOM: So, is the ceiling deformed or is it still flat?

    MIKE: It’s flat but with the cracks, the way that the water has seeped through – because it must have been going on for a while before it finally broke through.

    TOM: Well, your dog was happy.

    MIKE: Oh, yeah, he was getting extra water with a little bit of plaster.

    TOM: Alright. Well, what happens with wood lath – and to the same extent with wire mesh but perhaps it’s not as much of an issue – is when the plaster is applied, it squeezes through the wood lath and forms a bit of a handle on the back that sticks to the back of the stick.

    Now, when that gets wet, those little pieces that are securing that plaster in place loosen up. And the plaster can separate from the lath and that’s how you get chunks of plaster that fall. So, it’s going to really depend on how loose this plaster is. If we’re just talking about cracks, I’m not as concerned. You can spackle those cracks using standard spackle on top of a mesh spackling tape – a mesh drywall tape. You don’t want to use the paper because it’s hard ­- too hard to work with. But if you use the mesh, you ought to put the mesh on first and then spackle right over the top of that.

    If the plaster is loose and falling down as if it’s going to become dangerous, then you’ve got a bigger problem. Your options at that stage are to tear out that loose plaster and try to replaster it. Or the easier way to do this, when you have deteriorated plaster walls, is to simply put a second layer of drywall on top of that. Use drywall screws and screw it right through the old plaster, into the ceiling joist above.

    So, it really comes down to how deteriorated that ceiling is. If the plaster is loose and in danger of falling, then you have to tear it out or you have to cover it over with drywall. If it’s still relatively secure – I mean if you can push up on it and it doesn’t seem to have a lot of give, then I might just spackle it and call it a day

    MIKE: Some of it is a little spongy but I was wondering about actually using the good old plaster that you mix up from the old days, where I think Gold Bond makes one or something where you can actually replaster it with wet plaster. And that’s what I was thinking about doing if I had to.

    TOM: You can do that but here’s the thing: if you – even if you plaster over that crack, that crack is going to reform. Because now that it’s showed itself, and as the ceiling expands and contracts, it’ll open and close unless you use drywall tape across it, OK? You have to reinforce it.

    MIKE: Because I’m wondering if I’m going to have to take a hammer and tap on it. And if it starts falling down, I’m probably going to have to rip it out like you’re talking about. And I’d rather do it with wet plaster and keep it original than adding drywall to it.

    TOM: Yeah, I hear you. It’s just a lot of work.

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, I thought maybe you had some magic tricks there, listening to your show.

    TOM: It’s a miracle cure?

    MIKE: Yeah. You know, a little success in a can there.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Well, listen, all I can say is that there’s probably better ways to keep that dog bowl filled with water than a roof leak.

    MIKE: Alright. Thank you, dude. You have a blessed week. I’m really glad that you called back.

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

    And we did call Mike back. We’ll call you, too, if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’re not in the studio. That’s the way it works, because we are here to help you with your home improvement project.

    Well, as we celebrate Labor Day and summer turns to fall, we see shorter days, cooler nights and perhaps a little less time to enjoy the great outdoors. But you don’t have to put an end to outdoor entertaining if you take three simple steps right now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. First of all, I think you want to start off by lighting your yard. This way, you can actually just stay outside longer. You can use low-voltage lighting kits, which are designed for outdoor use. They’re really easy to install. And you can even find solar-powered lights that don’t even need any wiring.

    TOM: Next, heat your space. Fire pits, fireplaces and patio heaters are all readily available these days and they’re easy, do-it-yourself projects to put one together. Not only do they create cozy, warm spaces, they also add great ambiance for those nights when you want to entertain.

    LESLIE: And finally, if you have a pool, a pool cover is all it takes to harness daytime sunlight so that it will actually stay warmer after Labor Day. If you take these three steps, you can enjoy your backyard retreat even after the first frost.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Don’t put a frost on your home improvement projects. Give us a call right now. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Stephanie in California is having a heating-and-cooling issue. Well, specifically, a cooling issue in the bedroom. What’s going on?

    STEPHANIE: Oh, we don’t know. Right now, we live in a four-bedroom house. Every room in the house, except for the master bedroom, gets cool in the summer. We have not done a winter yet. This bedroom – the master bedroom – is at least 5 to 7 degrees warmer than any part of the house.

    TOM: OK. Well, there could be a number of reasons for that. First of all, what side of the house is it on?

    STEPHANIE: It would be on the south side of the house.

    TOM: The more sun, the more cooling you need. So it’s not unusual for a room on the south or the west side to need more cooling power.

    So let’s talk about what you could do to try to improve this. First of all, I would check the airflow at the registers to make sure you’re getting good airflow at all of the A/C registers. In some cases, systems can be balanced so that they supply more air to one room and less air to another.

    Just as important is to check the return registers, Stephanie, because not only do you have to push cold air into the room, you have to pull the air back so it can be recooled. If you don’t have a return in the bedroom itself, it’s going to be a central return, like in the hallway, perhaps, outside of the bedroom. If that’s the case, you want to make sure that when you close the door of the bedroom, that there’s at least a 1-inch gap under the door. Because that’s how the air gets pulled back and again, recirculated.

    Other things that you can do would be to increase insulation over this particular room. So if there’s an attic access above, for example, you could double up the insulation over that and that would also help to keep it cooler.

    So I would speak with your HVAC professional, initially, to try to get the balance working a little bit better. And then, if that doesn’t work, think about adding some additional insulation. And if that doesn’t work at all, the other thing that you could do is you could add supplemental cooling to that.

    I have a room, for example, in my house where I have a split-ductless system because it happens to be on the west side, in my case, and it overheats. It’s far away from the air-conditioning-system supply and so I never quite get enough cooling air into this one room to make it comfortable. So we have a split-ductless system in there that supplements it.

    So those are all good options to help even out the temperature of that room in the house.

    LESLIE: Ray in North Carolina is on the – on the floor, I was going to say.

    RAY: You sound like me today.

    LESLIE: Sorry, Ray. I’m reading what your question is about and I introduce you as “Ray is calling in from the floor.”

    No, we’ve got Ray from North Carolina on the phone who’s got a crack in the garage floor. Tell us what’s going on there.

    RAY: Unbelievable. We’ve got a very small – not unbelievable but had a very small crack since we moved in, which is back in 1996, and it never really moved. And we had a little earthquake here. I don’t know if you heard about it but it was a small, little earthquake that – the one that affected the Washington Monument and all that.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RAY: But it did drag down here. But anyway, I don’t know if it’s really related to that or not but there are no cars in the garage because I’ve had too much junk, unfortunately.

    LESLIE: Join the club.

    RAY: But now the crack is now about a ¼-inch to, in a couple of spots, almost a ½-inch wide. And it goes from one end to the other. We’re talking about 17 feet. I don’t know what to do.

    TOM: Well, first of all, the concrete floor is not structural in the sense that it’s not helping to hold up the building, in most cases.

    LESLIE: And essentially, it’s right over dirt.

    RAY: Right.

    TOM: Yeah. Think of it as a very stiff type of flooring, because that’s basically what it is.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: Now, to fix that crack – you’re never going to make it go away but what you can do is seal it. And when you seal it, you stop moisture from getting in there: water that runs off the car, for example, in the wintertime. That could freeze and cause it move more quickly.

    So, there’s a couple of products out there that will do this. I would take a look at a very basic and effective product called QUIKRETE Concrete Repair. Basically, it’s a crack sealer that’s in a tube, like a caulking tube.

    RAY: Right.

    TOM: And you cut the tip off, you try to keep it to about an 1/8-inch, if it’s a ¼-inch crack. You can fill that crack from one end to the other, let it dry. And then you could put aconcrete floor paint on top of that. And so that will make it very difficult for you to see, especially if you paint the floor and you use one of the products that has sort of a color chip in it. Gives it a little bit of a pattern and makes it harder to see; it’s not quite as obvious.

    So, I would simply fill it, paint it and call it a day.

    RAY: Very good. Yeah, it actually is painted now. And let me ask you this. The only other problem I’ve had in the past, real quickly, is that when I have tried to fill it, if I wait too long, it’s too high. And obviously, it’s very hard to sand down flat or level. Is this a self-leveling product? Can I just grind it down with a grinder?

    TOM: Well, it’s not going to be stiff like concrete. It’s a sealer, OK? I mean it’s a repair product, so it doesn’t – it’s not hard like concrete.

    RAY: OK. I’ve got you.

    TOM: But you basically want to put it in so it sits just below the surface.

    Now, a little trick of the trade is if you have a really deep crack, you can sort of stuff the crack first with a backer rod or some other type of product like that so that the repair material stays up towards the surface.

    RAY: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: They have another product called a “self-leveling, polyurethane sealant.” And with that, it will definitely flow nice and even.

    RAY: Excellent. Well, I appreciate your help very much and I enjoy your show.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, a noisy yard is never fun but you can quiet the atmosphere. Up next, we’re going to give you some tips to reduce sounds from traffic and your neighbors, with advice from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made in U.S.A. With Global Materials logo and visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica for more information.

    JOE: Hi, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we would love for you to follow us on Twitter with the handle @MoneyPit. If you do, you’ll be the first to find out about our prize giveaways and get the latest home improvement news and advice.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stephanie in Colorado on the line who’s installing someFrenchdoors. How can we help you?

    STEPHANIE: My husband and I have sliding doors in our bedroom that go outside. And we have French doors that we have – they’re all ready to put in; they’re framed. And I was just calling to see if you had any advice about putting them in.

    TOM: Well, let’s presume that the French doors and the sliding doors are going to fit in the same opening, to start with. Is that correct?

    STEPHANIE: The French doors are a little taller.

    TOM: Ah, that’s a problem.

    STEPHANIE: Just about an inch.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a tough inch to pick up when it’s in the height like that. The thing is, you’re going to have to figure out if you have enough room to get those French doors in, Stephanie, without having to cut or modify the header that’s going to be above the sliding door. Because the distance from the floor to the bottom of the header, that’s called the “rough opening.” That’s the rough, vertical opening. And that rough, vertical opening has got to be taller than the distance from the bottom of the French door to the top of the jamb of the French door. Because if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get that French door in that opening. It’s absolutely critical that the rough opening be sized properly.

    So, you could probably figure that out by just pulling the molding off from the side of the slider. And you’ll see enough of the framing there where you could get a pretty good measurement as to how much room. Sometimes, there’s a fair amount of room above the sliding doors until you get to the header and maybe you’ll have that room.

    Now, if you’ve got the room, putting that French door in is – it’s not a basic, do-it-yourself project. I’m just going to tell you that right off. But the way I would approach it is – the first thing I would do, if it was me, is I would take the slider out one panel at a time. You want to try to make this as light and manageable as possible. So you remove one panel, then the other. Then you pull out the slider frame.

    And you put the French doors in the same way. You take the doors off of the hinges. And what you actually “hang” inside the opening is just the frame of the French doors without the physical doors in place. Just the outside jambs. Because that’s very easy and lightweight to handle and if that’s installed properly and square, then the doors will pop in right after that with minor adjustment. But that’s the way you approach it.

    Again, not a basic, do-it-yourself project. Putting a door in is one of the more tricky projects. So if that’s above your skill set, I would definitely hire a carpenter or a handyman to help.

    Alright, Stephanie? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if your home happens to sit on a busy road or perhaps next to noisy neighbors, you may have found that getting a little peace and quiet is quite a challenge.

    TOM: Well, while there are many ways to reduce sound from inside your home, there are also ways to reduce noise outside through some very strategic landscaping. Here to tell us how is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me. And I’ll tell you, the number-one way is to move.

    TOM: Sometimes, that is the way to go. But if you don’t want to move, you can improve your walls, windows or doors to reduce noise when you’re inside the house. But when it comes to the outside, what kinds of improvements can we make that might soften some of that traffic?

    ROGER: Well, soften is a great word because it’s almost impossible to stop all that noise from coming into your yard.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: A lot of times, we’ll use a combination of either plants – mostly evergreens – or a fence.

    Now, if I use a fence, I like to make it go in zigzag, not straight, because that helps break up the sound waves.

    TOM: Now that’s just like when you see the sound walls on a major highway; they’re always angled like that.

    ROGER: Absolutely. It helps knock down the sound. And again, the plant will filter it but it’s not going to do a lot. One of the things I say is that when I can’t see where the noise is coming from, mentally, I don’t hear it as much.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: It’s a great distraction to not be able to see those cars and trucks going down the road. And it just makes your mind think that – “Wow, it’s just not as loud as it was. Either that or I did a really good job.”

    TOM: Now, when it comes to those fences, you put the zigzag fence in and then maybe, what, put some landscaping in front of it? Again, just to kind of provide more dampening for the sound waves?

    ROGER: Right. Because those waves will ride right up over the fence. And a fence, if you put it in at 6 feet, in 10 years it’s still going to be 6 feet.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: If you put a plant in at 10 feet or 6 feet, in 10 years it’ll be 15 or 20 feet tall.

    TOM: Sure.

    ROGER: So it’s going to really help knock down the sound.

    LESLIE: Now when it comes to the fencing that you might select, does it make a difference which material you choose? Like should I be building a wood fence or should I go with one of those PVC guys?

    ROGER: I like the wood fence but it has to be a tight wood – tongue-and-groove or something like that – because you don’t want any space in between the boards at all, because that’ll just let noise in.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And can you just put up a fence? I mean you really need to be asking your town if you can do this, right?

    ROGER: Everything has to be permitted. You know, they’ll allow you a certain height but the biggest thing I need to do is I need to know where the property line is. Because I don’t want to put up a fence and have it be on the town property or the neighbor’s property and have them politely ask us to move it.

    TOM: Yeah. “Just slide it 6 inches, would you?”

    ROGER: Not so politely, yeah.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    So when it comes to plantings, what kinds of species should we be thinking about? We want something that’s an evergreen, I would assume, right?

    ROGER: We want two things. We want native evergreens.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Because they’ll thrive there with the least amount of water or fertilizer. But you also have to remember you want something that’s deer-proof. Because they’re going to come in and they’re going to limb your plant up 6 or 8 feet tall and there goes all your stopping of the noise.

    TOM: You get those kind of – I call them “lollipop trees.”

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: Because they eat everything that’s just 4, 5, 6 feet high.

    ROGER: Exactly.

    TOM: And it stays green above that and there’s nothing below.

    ROGER: Right. When the deer strip that foliage all the way up to 6 feet, well, that’s where most of the noise is coming from the tires and the vehicles. So they’re opening up a great avenue for that noise to come right into your yard.

    LESLIE: It’s really amazing. It’s like do the leaves just not grow back there or are the deer just so voracious that they’re beating the growth?

    ROGER: They tend to grab it and strip it. It has a real ragged look to it when you see where the deer have been browsing. In some cases, it will come back. But as soon as it comes back, they’ll probably eat it again.

    LESLIE: They’re back on it.

    ROGER: Yeah.

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

    Roger, you actually did a job recently on This Old House to soften some of that backyard sound. It was the Carlisle project. Can you tell us about it?

    ROGER: Well, it was on a major road. Really, a major road. And the problem we had was that when you came out of the front of the house, it was almost the same level as the road. So, literally, as those tires went by, you were looking at them and all you heard was the noise from the tires. So we built a stone wall and it was about 2½ to 3 feet tall. Then we added in planting behind it and it really seemed to knock down the noise from those tires.

    TOM: So even a short stone wall like that with a bit of planting knocked down that road noise.

    ROGER: Great combination.

    TOM: Terrific. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Again, my pleasure.

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

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.

    Still to come, you’re on your way to a much-deserved vacation and you realize you may not have closed your garage door. Do you turn around? No. You can check on it with an app from your smartphone, Learn how, 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: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to hear what you are working on this Labor Day Weekend.

    And one caller that we talk to on the air is going to win the BerryBreeze System. Now, this is a battery-operated, patented device that’s going to use activated oxygen. And what that will do is the oxygen is going to eliminate unwanted odors and just yucky tastes that you get from your refrigerator. Not only will it take care of those bad tastes and smells, it’s actually going to keep your fresh food fresher, longer.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, the average American wastes 40 percent of their fresh foods because of spoilage. But with the BerryBreeze, you may notice that your fresh food stays that way much longer and that’s because of the O3. That’s the activated oxygen, which is completely safe. It slows the growth of microorganisms and that’s what makes the food turn bad.

    And you won’t even need plastic containers or bags to keep your fruits and veggies fresh. Check it all out at BerryBreeze.com and give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    CAL: Well, I have an interesting question here. I’ve got a house with an insulated concrete foam basement wall. That’s where you put concrete in between foam. And I have taken the outside wall – the foam – and have scored it with 30-grit sandpaper to give it a rough edge. And I screwed on the 2-foot-wide by 8-foot-long extruded aluminum – or steel screen to give me grip. But I’m putting on fake stone or “faux stone,” as some call it.

    And my question is – after I’ve screwed on the screening and I’m putting on – I’ve been told to take a Type S mix, which is a limestone/cement mix, and use that as my scratch coat. And the question is: how soon – what is the longest I can wait before I put on the stone? If I try to do all the scratch coat first, which could be a day or two because it’s over 1,000 square feet, am I going too long or should I be putting – buttering up the stone and putting that against the scratch coat right away?

    TOM: I think that as soon as the scratch coat dries, you can go forward with the stone. But typically, most masons will do the scratch coat first and then do the stone thereafter.

    CAL: OK.

    TOM: I don’t see any reason that you can’t have it exposed for a short period of time.

    CAL: OK. So, we’re not worried about a day or two.

    TOM: No, certainly not. You kidding? The way construction projects go, a day or two is like nothing.

    CAL: OK. Well, thanks for the info on that.

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

    LESLIE: OK. So how many times has this happened to you? You get all the way to work or on your way to the airport or going wherever you are going, and you suddenly get that panicky feeling and realize that you may have left the garage door just wide open. “Did I leave it open? I think I left it open. I don’t know. Should I call the neighbors? What do I do?”

    Well, there’s not much you can do short of turning around, right? Well, actually there is. There’s a new product out from our Money Pit partner Chamberlain that’s going to let you check on your garage door from anywhere in the world. It’s called MyQ and you can add it to your existing garage-door opener with a MyQ System. No wiring is involved. You just download the MyQ app and you’re ready to go.

    TOM: That’s right. And if your garage door opener is from 1993 or later, the system is compatible. Now, if it’s older than that, you’re probably ready for a new one. And if you’re going to replace it, the MyQ System is available with a Chamberlain garage-door opener and it’s designed to work together.

    For example, the MyQ Belt-Drive Garage-Door Opener with Battery Backup. The battery backup and smartphone connectivity give you complete peace of mind because even in a power outage, you can operate the door from your smartphone.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It also features a 1¼-horsepower, steel-reinforced belt drive, two three-button remote controls and a wireless keypad, along with the MyQ Internet Gateway.

    TOM: You can visit Chamberlain.com for more information or give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Harold in Illinois needs some help with drywall repair. What can we do for you?

    HAROLD: What I’m really wanting to know is – I hear different stories about fiber mesh and paper, you know, for drywall? And my experience has been maybe fiber mesh isn’t for corners and butt joints and things of that nature. Maybe that’s just for paper. But which one’s stronger?

    LESLIE: Now, Harold, I’m going to say this in a way that I hope doesn’t offend anybody but I feel like both are really great for a seaming application or a repair in drywall. It depends on the skill level of the person doing the seaming/repairing/application of either the paper or the fiberglass. Both are going to do a great job. It’s just that with paper tape, there’s a little bit more finesse as to how it needs to be applied, how it needs to be sanded, reapplied, feathered out to make sure that that tape really stands up and does a good job.

    With the fiberglass, that mesh tape, the – it sort of has – the openings in the mesh itself allow for the compound to get in and behind it and really stick around. You still have to do sanding and layers and have some finesse there, as well, but it almost requires an artisan to do the paper work. That’s why, I think, when it comes to an average do-it-yourselfer, we tend to lean towards the mesh.

    HAROLD: Oh, OK. That works.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, repairs to wood mean matching the finish, right? Are you thinking it might be too difficult for you to tackle? Not if you know the tricks of the trade. We’re going to give you some tips on matching wood grain, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America’s made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your question on MoneyPit.com.

    We’ve got one here from somebody called FanOfTheJayhawks.

    LESLIE: Yeah, right. And that fan writes: “I patched a hole in a door. I want to keep the oak finish on the door and don’t want to paint the door another color. I put putty on the door and sanded it. Unfortunately, it’s not hardening and I can’t sand to smooth it. I was thinking about hand-painting with a dark brown, some fine lines, to try to make it look more like wood. Is there a product that can be sanded?”

    TOM: Well, I saw a picture of this online in our Community section. And what he did was he put – it looks like a really heavy application of filler. You can’t do that. You’ve got to put it in in like sort of thin layers and let it harden. So that’s probably why he says it’s not hardening. He just wasn’t – hadn’t waited long enough. Maybe you need to put some heat on it.

    But look, the problem with trying to patch oak is that you have really two colors, right? You have the base color and then you have the color of the rings. And so you get sort of a medium to dark brown kind of variation across the two. So it’s hard to patch it, because you can only choose one of the two colors, right?

    Well, there’s a little trick of the trade that I learned where basically you can use the base color; that would be the thick-ring color for the patch. Then go out and get some Minwax stain touch-up pencils, which are like wax sticks. They’re kind of like freezer pencils.

    You heat that up kind of with like a match or a lighter, you add some of that darker wax on top of the filler and sort of streak it out and make it sort of blend right in and look like sort of that mottled grain that is the oak. Once you get it just right, then you can finish on top of it.

    And I’ll tell you what, I’ve used that technique so successfully, Leslie. I was actually able to fill ¼-inch-sized holes in cabinet-door fronts. Back in the day when I was installing kitchens for a living, one of the many jobs I had sort of going – growing up -through the trades, occasionally you’d make this terrible mistake where you’d mis-drill the hole for a handle on a cabinet?

    LESLIE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: I got so good at filling it that no one ever knew I made that error.

    LESLIE: Really? I might have to have you stop by our home. Because when I was putting in child-safety locks in the kitchen – you’re supposed to drill from the back side with these little, magnetic things. And they give you a set for the drill bits so that you don’t drill through the door.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And I was like, “I don’t need that. I’m Leslie Segrete.” And of course, I drilled right through the door. And then my husband, after laughing at me, was like, “Ha ha. Go do the other one.” And I did it again.

    TOM: OK. Our next poster says, “My church purchased an original 1831 farmhouse and acreage for our new monastery. We have found that there are many problems since moving in and have heard that a reputable American Society home inspector may be of help to us.”

    Yes, certainly a home inspector that is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors would have the ability to analyze that property and give you a list of needed repairs and most importantly, help you prioritize that so you do the ones that are most important first. It’s just too bad that you didn’t have this done before you purchased. That would have been the best way to approach this historic house.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you have an inspection at the right time, it’s money well spent.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, that’s all the time we have this hour on the program. But remember, if you’ve got questions, we are available, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, you can leave your question. We’ll call you back the next time we are in.

    We’re also accessible on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And if that’s not enough, on MoneyPit.com you can always post your question to the Community section, where perhaps you could also answer somebody else’s question. Because you know what? We need help. And we’ve got space there to do just that. It’s nice to have a place where everyone shares their special expertise.

    LESLIE: And you can show off a little bit, too.

    TOM: That’s right, that’s right. Why not? Hey, maybe we’ll even have you on the show if you know enough.

    888-666-3974. MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    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.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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