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Find out Which Hazards Are Common in U.S. Homes, Learn How Much Insulation You Should Have. What Tools Your College Student Should Have 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: Standing by for your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Even if you don’t have floorboards, it could be coast to coast and concrete floors to shingles. We don’t care. If you’ve got a problem in your house, you want to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT because we’ve got the solution. We’re going to have some fun, we’re going to come up with some solutions, some ideas to get you moving on those projects around your house.

    Maybe you’re reeling from those high energy bills you’ve paid for air conditioning all summer. Maybe you have this panic attack that’s about to set in when you think about the high heating bills that you’ll pay all winter. Maybe you are preparing your house to be cooped-up in for the chillier months ahead. Maybe you want to tackle one more summer project. All of those are great reasons for you to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    One of those questions could be: “Hey, what do I do when a big storm is forecasted in my area? How do I protect myself, protect my home, protect my family?” We’ve got a guy coming up that can tell us exactly what to do.

    You know, most people – those of us there with half a brain – head for cover when a severe storm is forecasted. This guy, Simon Brewer, the meteorologist from The Weather Channel, well, he heads right into the storm. Simon is going to be here at the bottom of the hour and he’s going to teach all of us how to stay safe in the storm. I mean the government can only protect you so far when it comes to these storms; there’s a lot that you have to do yourself. And Simon is the guy that’s going to teach us how to do just that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And speaking of bureaucracy, did you know that the government actually has recommendations for how much insulation that you should have right now in your money pit? So we’re going to have some tips that could help you save a bundle this coming heating season.

    TOM: And speaking of a bundle of money, it is back-to-school shopping time. Hooray! We’re going to tell you about some essential tools to pack in with your child, especially if they’re heading off to college, that will help you survive in those dorm rooms.

    Now, you know you spend a lot of time in those dorm rooms if you’ve got kids that are college-age children. My son, very proud of him, he’s going to be starting up at a beautiful, prestigious New England school in just a couple of weeks now. And that dorm room? Pretty boring. So we’re going to …

    LESLIE: And pretty tiny.

    TOM: And pretty tiny, too. So we’ve got some tips on how to spruce up those dorm rooms, get them better organized, have them looking great, at least for Parents’ Weekend. Otherwise, they could put up with it.

    We’ve got some great ideas, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to save a ton on their next flooring project, thanks to our friends at Lumber Liquidators. They will be getting a $250 gift certificate good for pretty much every kind of flooring that’s out there, because Lumber Liquidators sells it all.

    TOM: That would probably be enough money to put down a floor in a dorm room.

    LESLIE: In a dorm room.

    TOM: And you could take it up when you’re done, right?

    LESLIE: Yes. Do a floating floor.

    TOM: If you use laminate …

    LESLIE: Just put it down and you’re done.

    TOM: You can be the only dorm room with a hardwood floor: wall-to-wall hardwoods in your dorm room. That would be pretty cool.

    LESLIE: That’s pretty luxurious.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. Let’s get to those phones; they’re lighting up.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    JOEY: Well, of course, you caught me the minute the speaker on the train came on.

    TOM: Home improvement waits for no person, Joey. What’s going on?

    JOEY: I built a house about six years ago and the upstairs toilet – or now the weight of the toilet tank is now pressing back on the floor and has caused a dent in the floor, so the toilets are unstable now.

    TOM: The chances are it’s not the toilet nor the person sitting upon it. Chances are you may have a small leak under the toilet. Very often, what happens is there’s a wax seal under the bowl and if you get a small leak in that wax seal, it’s going to soften the floor underneath the toilet.

    JOEY: Right.

    TOM: One thing to check is to take your foot and very gently press in the area around the bowl and see if it appears to be soft. And if that’s the case, you may have a very slight leak with enough water leaking out to slightly decay the subfloor. And if that’s the case, you need to take that toilet up and repair or replace any of the damaged floor and then put a new wax seal and put it back together again. It’s a couple-hour project but that is most likely what’s happening.

    JOEY: We had actually taken the toilet off and there is no leak.

    TOM: OK. There is no leak and you took it off.

    JOEY: Right. It’s because we have two upstairs toilets. They’re both doing the exact same thing.

    TOM: So it’s just uneven?

    JOEY: Yeah. The back of the toilet, where the tank is, is dented in in the back and they’re actually ticked up in the front.

    TOM: Dented in. So where it sits on the floor, is it solid where it sits on the floor or does it rock on the floor?

    JOEY: No, it rocks.

    TOM: OK. Well, then what you need to do is shim it and there are special plastic shims that are designed to go under toilets.

    JOEY: Yeah.

    TOM: And of course, it’s plastic because it’s not going to rot. And you cut those to fit and what I would do is I would put a little dab of adhesive caulk once you figure out what size you need. And then put a little dab of adhesive caulk on it and use the plastic shims to solidify that attachment to the floor. You do not want to tighten the bowl down by tightening the bolts on the bottom, because what’ll happen is you’ll take one turn too many and you’ll snap the bowl and that’s a bad thing.

    But the plastic shims are what most people use on an uneven floor surface like that. And just a couple of shims in the right place ought to make it stop rocking.

    JOEY: OK. So I don’t need to have the whole floor replaced.

    TOM: No, no, no. No, no, no. There’s a much easier solution.

    JOEY: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: OK. You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got David in Florida on the line who’s looking to clean a roof. How can we help you?

    DAVID: Well, actually, life was wonderful and then we moved to Florida where there’s too many homeowners’ associations.

    TOM: OK. I guess you’ve been cited for something, huh, David?

    DAVID: Oh, more than one thing.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: But one of the things that was always annoying, not to mention the expense, is the issue of washing the mold, fungus and/or whatever off of the roof which, in this particular (audio gap), is a concrete roll-tile roof and so on and so forth.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And it seems that all – when you call up the roofing manufacturers, they are all recommending that you don’t do anything. Once the roof is installed, you don’t walk on it, you don’t look at it, don’t paint it. Just leave it alone.

    LESLIE: And if you paint it, you can only paint it this color; don’t even think about this other color because we’re on you.

    DAVID: What is the deal about that? Should roofs – and does it depend upon the type of roofing coating? Like if you go to composite versus concrete shingle or actual clay tile, should those be pressure-washed or not?

    TOM: Great question. Will pressure-washing a roof damage it? And the answer is yes if you are too aggressive with it. It’s OK to rinse your roof off; it’s not OK to sort of blast this algae off.

    I would suggest that you go to WetAndForget.com and take a look at this product. This product, once you apply it to the roof, it will start to degrade that algae and clean the roof on its own. There’s a lot of photos on the site, too, of before-and-after roofs that have done very well with just putting Wet & Forget on it. Literally, you wet it down and you forget it, walk away and then, in the next couple weeks, you’re going to start to see that algae just sort of die and fall off and not come back.

    DAVID: Wow. That is really good because there have been a number of people that – obviously, you do the pressure-washing with 4,000-psi rotating whatever …

    TOM: Yeah. Well and they try to sell that to you, right? It’s kind of like, “Well, if this guy has only got a 2,000-psi machine, we’ve got a 4,000-psi machine.”

    The thing is, it’s not how much muscle that you have, it’s the finesse, it’s the touch. It’s using chemistry to your advantage and that’s why you want to use a product like Wet & Forget. And you may find that you’ll use it on your sidewalks and on your siding, too.

    Listen, go buy enough of this stuff to try it out. See what happens and let us know how you make out. But I used it on my house; it’s been great.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And give it some time. You’re not going to see the results the first day; you need a couple of days, a week. And I mean if you go to the website, you’ll see that they used it on the Sydney Opera House, on an aquarium in Florida: places that were just completely dealing with humidity and moisture and mold growth. And to be honest, cleaning those surfaces were a giant pain in the you-know-what, so they applied it for the heck of it and it worked.

    DAVID: Oh, excellent, excellent. That sounds really good. Yeah, because the only other alternative – we had another competitor who used to put the good old sodium hypochlorite all over the roof, which did get the algae. Unfortunately, it also gets the plants below it.

    TOM: Yeah, right. Kills everything.

    LESLIE: And that doesn’t actually kill the mold and stop it from coming back. Yes, it gets rid of it but the spores are still there and they’re going to grow back.

    DAVID: Alrighty. Well, that sounds excellent. Thank you so much. I will call you back. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, college dorm-room design questions.

    We’re going to be hearing from your son very soon, Tom.

    Whatever you are working on, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, having insulation is a no-brainer for your home, right? But how much do you need? That requires a little bit of brain work. We’re going to hammer out the guidelines for saving the maximum amount of energy, coming up next on The Money Pit.

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    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, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, especially if you’re looking to spruce up your home with some new floors. Because this hour, we’re giving away a $250 gift certificate from our pals at Lumber Liquidators. They’ve got great ideas for all kinds of flooring options and can help you spruce up your flooring space.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Lumber Liquidators? They’ve got brand-name flooring for less and the reason they can do that is because they cut out the middle man and buy all of their flooring options directly from the mill. And they offer choices in everything from hardwood, engineered wood, cork, bamboo, laminate. You name it, you can get it and you can get it for a great price at Lumber Liquidators. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win that $250 gift certificate.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, we know it’s still pretty darn warm out there and the thought of going up into your attic might not seem like a very bright idea. However, adding attic insulation now can help you save money in the fall and in the winter. You know, just like your body loses heat through your head? Your home will lose heat through the attic.

    So, if you want to do some attic-insulation work, wait for a chilly morning, a cool morning and head out there and get it done now before it gets too cold, because you’ll get an immediate benefit from doing just that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here are the recommendations, because the folks at the EPA’s Energy Star program, they recommend about 19 inches of insulation for most homes. Now, if you happen to live in a …

    TOM: And I’ve got to guarantee that that’s definitely more than most people have.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, are you kidding? I’m sure some people have like 4 inches.

    TOM: Right. They change recommendations all the time. And it’s a good number to have: 19 inches. So if you don’t have it, that’s what you need.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good base starting point. If you live in a colder climate, obviously you’re going to need more.

    Now, insulation, when you talk about measuring insulation, yes, we talk about the inches that are there. But it’s really spoken in a term called “R-value.” And the higher the R-value, the better the insulation’s ability to keep heated air from escaping your house, thus keeping your home warmer and your energy bills lower.

    So to find out exactly how much insulation that you should have in your attic, you want to check out EnergyStar.gov. All you have to do is answer a couple of questions about your home’s heating system, the climate where you live. And Energy Star is going to calculate the right level of insulation for your part of the country and then you can go ahead and add that to your house.

    Now, if you’re in your attic and, say, you’ve already got insulation up to the top of those floor joists or the ceiling joists – however you want to look at it when you’re in your attic but the part that you would be standing on – if you’re already filled up to that top of that joist, then go ahead and go perpendicular and do a layer on top, just to help add it in there. It’s not a difficult project; you can do it yourself and you can see the results pretty much your first heating bill.

    TOM: And that will do it. You’ll be saving money right from the get-go with that home improvement project.

    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Daniel in Virginia is calling in with an ant situation and not the relative kind: the insect kind. What can we do for you?

    DANIEL: Well, I was – first off, my house is about 10 years old. It’s a split foyer that sort of the basement part sort of dug into the hill. And what I’m having is during the spring, summer and fall – going into a fall kind of time frame – we’re getting a lot of sugar ants inside, both in the kitchen and in the living room. And it seems like no matter what I do, they just keep coming back, as clean as we keep it; I’ll spray outside, I’ll spray inside.

    And I was wondering if there were any techniques or products or anything you guys might recommend to help me with this problem. The other sort of thing to factor into it is I do have two small children and two cats, so I’m sort of hesitant to put too much killer on the inside, you know?

    TOM : Right. Right. And you know what? It’s a good point because a lot of the over-the-counter pest-control products, people go nuts with those and they basically are putting a lot of toxic pesticides around the house.

    LESLIE: All around your house.

    TOM: And that’s why, sometimes, if it’s a persistent problem like that, you’re much better off going to a pest-control professional because, first of all, they’re going to use the exact right product; there’s no guessing involved. They’re going to choose the right product, they’re going to put it down in the right places and they’re going to put it down in the right amounts.

    And well, you might think, “Well, the over-the-counter stuff could be safer.” Not necessarily. When it’s done by an amateur, it could be very unsafe. Did you ever see a story – about once a year or so, I’ll read about a story where somebody bought a bug bomb and they thought, “Well, if one bug bomb is good, 10 are better,” and blew up their house in the process.

    So, it can be very dangerous with this stuff. But if you’ve got a persistent problem that’s going on for a long time like that, I might turn it over to a pest-control pro. There are great products out there; there are a lot of baiting products out there today that basically you put down, the ants pick it up and they take it back to their nest. And they pass it from insect to insect and that wipes out the whole problem once and for all.

    DANIEL: OK. OK and …

    TOM: Much safer than trying to see a bunch of ants and spray them and see another bunch of ants and spray them and so on and so forth.

    DANIEL: Sure. OK, that makes perfect sense to me. I appreciate the help with that.

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

    LESLIE: Pat in South Carolina needs some help cleaning the driveway. What can we do for you today?

    PAT: We have a truck that sits in the driveway and there’s rust. When it rains, the rust drips off from certain parts underneath, onto the driveway.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: And we try different things to get it off but nothing has helped so far. And we were wondering if you had any ideas.

    TOM: Have you tried TSP – trisodium phosphate? It’s available in the paint aisle of home centers and hardware stores. Works really well. You mix it up into a bit like a paste and sort of trowel it on that stain, let it sit for a bit and it should pull that rust stain right out of it.

    PAT: OK.

    LESLIE: And you’ll find it in the paint aisle of the home centers.

    PAT: OK. Well, thank you very much for your help.

    TOM: That should lift the stain right out. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Danny in North Carolina needs some help refinishing a deck. What can we do for you?

    DANNY: I have actually added new deck to the back of my house and it’s got treated lumber on it. And want to paint the trim and am curious to know – there’s some new products out on the market. Valspar and, I guess, Behr has something called Premium Plus, so kind of looking for some advice on whether that’s a good product to save me some time or if I should kind of go the traditional route with an oil-based primer and a latex paint.

    TOM: Yes. Well, I will say that I’ve used the primer-and-paint-in-one: the Behr product, the Behr Premium Plus. And it was great. I mean we were using that in an interior project and the walls were really super-dark and it covered them in one coat.

    DANNY: Well, that’s awesome. How about on treated lumber outside?

    TOM: Well, I’ve never used it there and I would make sure that the product is rated for exterior use. And with treated lumber – is it newer lumber?

    DANNY: Yeah, well, it was done in November, so I’ve let it air out, dry out, too.

    LESLIE: Alright. So you’ve given it some time to cure.

    DANNY: Yep, yep. Exactly.

    TOM: Still pretty – well, so it’s been through one summer. Yeah, I think it should be OK.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, it’s good and autumn’s a great time.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’ll be nice and dry outside, where things will really dry well. But again, you said this is for a deck, correct? And you want to put paint on it?

    DANNY: Well, no, it’s not on the floor; it’s not the deck flooring. It’s on the uprights: the railing and the upright flats that keep kids from falling out.

    LESLIE: OK. Hmm. Then that should do very well to sort of hold up and wear well and protect the lumber itself. You know, if it was on a floor surface, I would say absolutely not. Go stain – solid stain – all the time; it’s just never going to hold up. But for a vertical surface, you should do great with that.

    DANNY: OK. Alright. Well, I thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, what can you do to keep yourself and your home safe when the tornado sirens start going off or for that matter, any type of severe weather emergency? We’re going to find out when we hear from Simon Brewer, The Weather Channel meteorologist that does nothing but drive straight through those storms in his program, Storm Rider. We’ll get Simon’s tips, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    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: And this has been a devastating year of storms and weather damage. Tornado after tornado has ripped through the country, tearing homes from their very foundation. So what can you do, though, to keep yourself and your home safe?

    LESLIE: Well, to find out, we turn to the experts. We are joined now by meteorologist Simon Brewer and he is one of the storm chasers on The Weather Channel’s hit show, Storm Riders. And he’s been up close and personal with the storms that he likes to call “beasts” and I, of course, call “I’m hiding under the couch; I’m petrified out of my mind.” I can’t even watch the show.

    Welcome. Tornados freak me out so how do you do this every day of your life?

    SIMON: Well, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and I’ve just really been interested in weather and I studied weather, so I know the dynamics that are going on in the atmosphere. So I’m not really afraid of what’s going on in the atmosphere; I just try to go out and document these incredible, extraordinary, very devastating events and try not to get hurt.

    TOM: When you see this show, you think that you guys are just a couple of adrenaline junkies out there. Truth be told, though, you are gaining valuable information and insight onto the behavior of these beasts, that can contribute to the knowledge base that’s going to keep us all safe, right?

    SIMON: Exactly. We can’t learn everything from one storm; we learn a little bit from every storm. So as more information is compiled over the years, taking all these different, large, tornadic storms into consideration, we can really determine what is causing tornados to develop within a thunderstorm and eventually help to predict them better.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, Simon, generally – Tom and I both live in the Northeast and generally, that has been a tornado-free zone and you kind of understood that there was an area within the center …

    TOM: Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

    LESLIE: I know. But it’s crazy, though.

    But there’s always been a central part of the U.S. that – more prone to tornadic activity. However, we’ve seen them in the Northeast this past season. How do you know where they’re more likely to strike and how you can feel safe in choosing your location to live?

    SIMON: Well, you’re not really safe anywhere in the country. Tornados can occur anywhere. But a majority of the tornados occur east of the Rocky Mountains and especially a little bit further west of – from the East Coast, like the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Southeast.

    But the Northeast has had their fair share of large tornados, historically. There was a big tornado – an EF4 – or actually, not 4 back in – I believe it was maybe the 50s or the 40s that hit Worcester, Massachusetts and caused a significant amount of damage. And of course, the Springfield, Massachusetts tornado this year was pretty devastating.

    So, the Northeast isn’t out of the gun but a majority of tornados do occur east of the Rockies.

    TOM: We’re talking to Simon Brewer. He is a meteorologist and storm chaser from the hit Weather Channel show, Storm Riders.

    Now, Simon, let’s talk about something that I’m sure you know a lot about: how to stay safe in a storm. The average person can do a fair number of dumb things if they were caught in a tornado. For example, I’ve heard that a lot of folks love to go to underpasses on roadways, where they think they’re going to have some shelter from above. But a tornado is strong enough to rip you right from the grass (ph) on that, correct?

    SIMON: Well, yeah, an overpass is not a safe place to go. Now, sometimes, there’s an overpass that has large, steel girders on the underside that people could crawl under. And it’s a little bit safer, I guess, but really it’s not. A ditch is the safest place to go. It’s better to get low. An overpass can actually funnel the winds of a tornado and intensify them.

    TOM: Now, what about inside the house? The traditional advice is to get into the bathtub. Is that still the right thing to do?

    SIMON: It depends on where the bathtub’s located. If it’s located on the second floor of a home, then no.

    TOM: Good point.

    SIMON: Really, the safest thing to do in a home is to get on the lowest floor in the home. If you don’t have a basement or cellar, then the hallway – a center hallway – or maybe a hallway closet or a bathroom that’s toward the center of the house. And if you are in the bathroom, then the bathtub wouldn’t be a bad place to be. Getting in the center of a home is the safest place to be.

    LESLIE: And is there anything structurally you can do to your home, whether it’s new construction or a retrofit, to sort of help it to withstand these potential winds we’re talking about? And we’re talking sometimes up to 200 miles an hour, correct?

    SIMON: Exactly. Tornados can have winds well over 200 miles an hour. And when they get that strong, they can pretty much wipe the house clean from the Earth. So really, to retrofit a home, there’s these new rooms called safe rooms that can be built. They’re about the size of a closet and they’re steel-reinforced concrete rooms. And they’re relatively safe, up until the most extreme tornados.

    But the most extreme tornados occur maybe once a year and sometimes they don’t hit towns. So the likelihood of getting hit by the most extreme tornados is very rare. Bolting a house to its concrete foundation is also key to protecting a home from a majority of tornados: the weaker tornados, like EF2, EF1 tornados. Because a lot of people’s homes, even new homes, they might have a poured concrete foundation and they might actually have bolts coming up through the studs in the walls. But they don’t actually have – they’re not actually connecting the studs to the foundation. So that’s one thing that people can do to protect their homes.

    TOM: Well, good advice. Simon Brewer, the meteorologist and storm chaser from the hit Weather Channel program, Storm Riders, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And we will let you hit the road now once again on your way to the next big storm that you need to cover.

    SIMON: Thank you, Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    If you would like to check out this program, you can view it on the Weather.com website or go to Stormgasm.com – S-t-o-r-m-g-a-s-m.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. If you’ve got a college student, you need to be sending them back to school armed with tools. And we’re not talking about algebra skills; we’re talking about real tools for those home improvement projects that pop up at their home-away-from-home. Coming up, we’re going to have your back-to-school home improvement checklist, so stick around.

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    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. And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. We are going to answer your home improvement or repair questions. We’re going to even do more than that: we’re going to give you the tools to get the job done. Because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators. In this case, the tool is moolah.

    And Lumber Liquidators sells brand-name flooring for less. They’ve got everything and they really can give you inexpensive pricing because they buy directly from the mill and cut out the middle man, so you really see the savings.

    TOM: There are more than 200 stores nationwide. Financing and installation are always available. To find a store near you, to order a sample pack, get a catalog or shop online, visit LumberLiquidators.com. And of course, you can call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win that $250 gift certificate.

    Well, back-to-school shopping is definitely amped up when college is the destination. And amid all of the linens, dorm décor and study supplies, your student should probably have a trustworthy tool kit. So here are just a few of our recommendations for the dorm-room DIYer.

    First, get the hand tools covered: hammers and screwdrivers. Everybody needs a hammer. Your student will no doubt encounter a shelving issue or need to hang something on the wall and of course, a combo pack of nails and perhaps screws to go along with it. Better than that, though, might be a good supply of the 3M Scotch Command adhesives.

    Have you seen these? They’re fantastic. They stick to the wall, they hold a ton of weight. And you can release them at the end of the school year and they don’t leave any damage.

    So, other things to through in the tool kit: an adjustable wrench is always handy when you have to put stuff together, utility knife, a good utility scissor. All of those types of basic hand tools, good to put into the tool kit to send off to school.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If you want to throw a couple of other things in there, always useful is a tape measure. I mean you never know; you’re always measuring something so you might as well have one around. WD-40 is really helpful, electrical tape, duct tape. If your kid loses his wallet, they can make a new one right then and there out of duct tape. And if you go …

    TOM: My kid had a duct-tape wallet for a long time; he loved it.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I even saw, just recently, a dad with some small kids pull out a crazy, multi-striped, duct-tape wallet at the 7-Eleven.

    TOM: It was probably a Father’s Day gift.

    LESLIE: Oh, completely. I was like, “Aw, that’s really sweet.”

    You know what else you really should consider sending your kids with to school is a GFCI-protected surge protector. That is super-important. Everything today is stored on computers, laptops, iPads. Think about it: nothing’s on paper and if you get a good lightning storm, that could really fry a semester’s worth of work. So, just send one along; you’ll be happy you did.

    Extension cords are great. You know, you’ve got a ton of electronics in there; send them in a variety of lengths. And don’t forget a flashlight. You never know. Power outages happen. Plus, it’s good for all of those late-night adventures on the campus that you know are going to happen.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your next planned home improvement adventure. The number again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE:Chris in New York has a question about refrigeration. What can we do for you today?

    CHRIS: Recently, I had tested my house with an electromagnetic-field detector. And most of my house was fine but when I got to my refrigerator, it lit up with caution. And I was wondering, is there either something I can do with my current refrigerator or perhaps, if I bought – if I could purchase a newer one, would there be one with less waves being emitted?

    TOM: Well, was this tool used right up against the refrigerator itself?

    CHRIS: It was pretty close; it wasn’t right in front of it but was maybe a foot or two away.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. All appliances are going to emit electromagnetic fields but generally they drop off very, very rapidly when you get a bit away from them. So I’m sure that if you used a device that within 6 inches to a foot of a refrigerator, it’s going to look like you have a huge field coming off it. But if you were to drop that off, say, 3 or 4 feet, it’s going to drop down to almost nothing.

    So, I wouldn’t get too worked up about that, personally. I don’t know that you can find an appliance that doesn’t have one. Technology is always changing but I do know that all appliances do have somewhat of a field.

    CHRIS: Mm-hmm. Well, the only reason why I was really concerned was because it was – there’s three settings – there’s safe, caution and danger – and this, just the refrigerator itself, was hitting caution.

    TOM: Yeah. What kind of an inspection was this that tested EMF?

    CHRIS: Actually, it was one that I bought myself. I had bought ELF detector in – yep.

    TOM: Ah, yeah.

    CHRIS: So that’s why I was …

    TOM: Well, you know what? I think as you move about your house, you’re going to be surprised how many things actually emit electromagnetic fields. But again, if you’re on top of it, it’s going to be super-high. When you drop off to sort of normal distances away from appliances, it’s going to drop down to very low.

    So unless you spend a lot of time hugging your refrigerator, I don’t think it’s going to affect your health.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    CHRIS: Thank you very much.

    TOM: And just think about that. Every time you get hungry and you want to go for a snack, it’s not safe. You’ll lose weight.

    LESLIE: It’s the new diet fad of …

    TOM: It’s a new diet system: the EMF Diet.

    CHRIS: Something good came out of it, then.

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

    Well, if you’ve got a beautiful, old house, chances are you’ve got beautiful, old molding and could be faced with this question: is it better to remove the paint to go through all of the work to strip it away or just tear out that molding and replace it with the new stuff? We’ll help sort that question out, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    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 we would love if you would visit us on Facebook and “like” our page on Facebook. Why? Well, because you will be the first to find out when we’ve got cool giveaways on the website, on the radio show. Plus, we answer a lot of questions right there on our Facebook page, which is approaching 10,000 fans. We’re very happy about that. Glad that we can use Facebook to bring so much information to you guys every single day.

    You can also get tips on your projects, ask your own questions and post pictures of what you’re doing in your house. Somebody posted a picture the other day of a home improvement project that went wrong. It was ugly.

    LESLIE: Oh, no.

    TOM: But you know what? They got a lot of help, so that’s what it’s all about: The Money Pit community on Facebook.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Everybody feels their pain; we’ve all been in that situation.

    TOM: Yep. Been there, done that.

    LESLIE: It’s good to know that you are not alone. And while you’re there, you can post a question. I’ve got one here from Peter in Brooklyn, New York who writes: “We just purchased an apartment.” Alright. Good for you. “The plaster walls and wood moldings in the bedroom have many layers of paint on them, which is cracking and peeling in lots of places. Should I use a paint stripper on the moldings? They’re so covered with paint that they look clumpy. Or would it just be cheaper and easier in the long run simply to remove the old and put on new? The old ones are nice but not necessarily irreplaceable.”

    TOM: Well, I mean it really comes down to how much patience you have, how much time it’s going to take. What I would suggest is this: I would pick up a low-odor, environmentally-friendly gel stripper. The strippers, fortunately, are getting a lot easier to work with. You might want to take a look at the line that’s sold by Rock Miracle; that’s a very good brand of stripper.

    LESLIE: And the gel will stick while it’s still up.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So it’s critical, when gravity plays a factor, to use a gel stripper.

    And try to strip off a foot or two of the molding; see how easily or difficult the paint is to come off. If it comes off pretty easily, you can keep going. If not, you haven’t really lost but a bit of time and then you can tear them out and start from scratch. It really comes down to trying out how much of a project it is to remove that paint and then making a decision from there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Peter? With that hipster movement in Brooklyn, you will be so proud if you are actually able to get that paint off yourself, so give it a whirl.

    TOM: Well, if you’re planning to install a tile floor, there is a way to add a unique touch and some style. Leslie has got that tip, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, this is something that really is usually on the bottom of the list. We’re talking about tile patterning and inlays. They’re design options that are out there. If you look in a magazine, you see them but maybe don’t understand what goes into making that part of the design plan. So most homeowners don’t even think about it but it’s one of the fastest ways to show your personal style and dramatically change the look of your room.

    Now, inlay, it can add color and pattern to your floor. And thanks to today’s technology, professionals can produce very intricate designs. So after selecting the design and the colors, they use a computer guidance system and actually cut individual pieces with high-pressure water jets. It’s old-world craft and 21st-Century technique.

    Now, if you want to create a similar pattern on your own, such as a checkerboard or a herringbone, it is possible for skilled do-it-yourselfers to tackle that project. So, to get started, never, never, never assume that your room is perfectly square. You always want to square it off from the center and begin the pattern along one edge. And make sure that your floor is level; this way, you’ll avoid rough edges sticking up.

    And if you really sort of follow those guidelines and get creative, find inspiration in every magazine, every pamphlet that you leaf through wherever you are and sort of start saving those tear sheets, you’ll see a pattern emerging and realize what it is that you love. And then you can translate that into your own design. Remember, personality is key and you can really create a beautiful room.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, trees are a staple in beautiful landscaping. But what happens when that beautiful tree starts uprooting your sidewalk or even your foundation? I’ve seen it happen before and I’m going to give you the solution to save your house and your yard, your driveways and your sidewalks by transplanting that tree. And we’ll teach you how to do that, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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.

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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.)

    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: Standing by for your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Even if you don’t have floorboards, it could be coast to coast and concrete floors to shingles. We don’t care. If you’ve got a problem in your house, you want to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT because we’ve got the solution. We’re going to have some fun, we’re going to come up with some solutions, some ideas to get you moving on those projects around your house.

    Maybe you’re reeling from those high energy bills you’ve paid for air conditioning all summer. Maybe you have this panic attack that’s about to set in when you think about the high heating bills that you’ll pay all winter. Maybe you are preparing your house to be cooped-up in for the chillier months ahead. Maybe you want to tackle one more summer project. All of those are great reasons for you to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    One of those questions could be: “Hey, what do I do when a big storm is forecasted in my area? How do I protect myself, protect my home, protect my family?” We’ve got a guy coming up that can tell us exactly what to do.

    You know, most people – those of us there with half a brain – head for cover when a severe storm is forecasted. This guy, Simon Brewer, the meteorologist from The Weather Channel, well, he heads right into the storm. Simon is going to be here at the bottom of the hour and he’s going to teach all of us how to stay safe in the storm. I mean the government can only protect you so far when it comes to these storms; there’s a lot that you have to do yourself. And Simon is the guy that’s going to teach us how to do just that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And speaking of bureaucracy, did you know that the government actually has recommendations for how much insulation that you should have right now in your money pit? So we’re going to have some tips that could help you save a bundle this coming heating season.

    TOM: And speaking of a bundle of money, it is back-to-school shopping time. Hooray! We’re going to tell you about some essential tools to pack in with your child, especially if they’re heading off to college, that will help you survive in those dorm rooms.

    Now, you know you spend a lot of time in those dorm rooms if you’ve got kids that are college-age children. My son, very proud of him, he’s going to be starting up at a beautiful, prestigious New England school in just a couple of weeks now. And that dorm room? Pretty boring. So we’re going to …

    LESLIE: And pretty tiny.

    TOM: And pretty tiny, too. So we’ve got some tips on how to spruce up those dorm rooms, get them better organized, have them looking great, at least for Parents’ Weekend. Otherwise, they could put up with it.

    We’ve got some great ideas, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to save a ton on their next flooring project, thanks to our friends at Lumber Liquidators. They will be getting a $250 gift certificate good for pretty much every kind of flooring that’s out there, because Lumber Liquidators sells it all.

    TOM: That would probably be enough money to put down a floor in a dorm room.

    LESLIE: In a dorm room.

    TOM: And you could take it up when you’re done, right?

    LESLIE: Yes. Do a floating floor.

    TOM: If you use laminate …

    LESLIE: Just put it down and you’re done.

    TOM: You can be the only dorm room with a hardwood floor: wall-to-wall hardwoods in your dorm room. That would be pretty cool.

    LESLIE: That’s pretty luxurious.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. Let’s get to those phones; they’re lighting up.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    JOEY: Well, of course, you caught me the minute the speaker on the train came on.

    TOM: Home improvement waits for no person, Joey. What’s going on?

    JOEY: I built a house about six years ago and the upstairs toilet – or now the weight of the toilet tank is now pressing back on the floor and has caused a dent in the floor, so the toilets are unstable now.

    TOM: The chances are it’s not the toilet nor the person sitting upon it. Chances are you may have a small leak under the toilet. Very often, what happens is there’s a wax seal under the bowl and if you get a small leak in that wax seal, it’s going to soften the floor underneath the toilet.

    JOEY: Right.

    TOM: One thing to check is to take your foot and very gently press in the area around the bowl and see if it appears to be soft. And if that’s the case, you may have a very slight leak with enough water leaking out to slightly decay the subfloor. And if that’s the case, you need to take that toilet up and repair or replace any of the damaged floor and then put a new wax seal and put it back together again. It’s a couple-hour project but that is most likely what’s happening.

    JOEY: We had actually taken the toilet off and there is no leak.

    TOM: OK. There is no leak and you took it off.

    JOEY: Right. It’s because we have two upstairs toilets. They’re both doing the exact same thing.

    TOM: So it’s just uneven?

    JOEY: Yeah. The back of the toilet, where the tank is, is dented in in the back and they’re actually ticked up in the front.

    TOM: Dented in. So where it sits on the floor, is it solid where it sits on the floor or does it rock on the floor?

    JOEY: No, it rocks.

    TOM: OK. Well, then what you need to do is shim it and there are special plastic shims that are designed to go under toilets.

    JOEY: Yeah.

    TOM: And of course, it’s plastic because it’s not going to rot. And you cut those to fit and what I would do is I would put a little dab of adhesive caulk once you figure out what size you need. And then put a little dab of adhesive caulk on it and use the plastic shims to solidify that attachment to the floor. You do not want to tighten the bowl down by tightening the bolts on the bottom, because what’ll happen is you’ll take one turn too many and you’ll snap the bowl and that’s a bad thing.

    But the plastic shims are what most people use on an uneven floor surface like that. And just a couple of shims in the right place ought to make it stop rocking.

    JOEY: OK. So I don’t need to have the whole floor replaced.

    TOM: No, no, no. No, no, no. There’s a much easier solution.

    JOEY: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: OK. You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got David in Florida on the line who’s looking to clean a roof. How can we help you?

    DAVID: Well, actually, life was wonderful and then we moved to Florida where there’s too many homeowners’ associations.

    TOM: OK. I guess you’ve been cited for something, huh, David?

    DAVID: Oh, more than one thing.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: But one of the things that was always annoying, not to mention the expense, is the issue of washing the mold, fungus and/or whatever off of the roof which, in this particular (audio gap), is a concrete roll-tile roof and so on and so forth.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And it seems that all – when you call up the roofing manufacturers, they are all recommending that you don’t do anything. Once the roof is installed, you don’t walk on it, you don’t look at it, don’t paint it. Just leave it alone.

    LESLIE: And if you paint it, you can only paint it this color; don’t even think about this other color because we’re on you.

    DAVID: What is the deal about that? Should roofs – and does it depend upon the type of roofing coating? Like if you go to composite versus concrete shingle or actual clay tile, should those be pressure-washed or not?

    TOM: Great question. Will pressure-washing a roof damage it? And the answer is yes if you are too aggressive with it. It’s OK to rinse your roof off; it’s not OK to sort of blast this algae off.

    I would suggest that you go to WetAndForget.com and take a look at this product. This product, once you apply it to the roof, it will start to degrade that algae and clean the roof on its own. There’s a lot of photos on the site, too, of before-and-after roofs that have done very well with just putting Wet & Forget on it. Literally, you wet it down and you forget it, walk away and then, in the next couple weeks, you’re going to start to see that algae just sort of die and fall off and not come back.

    DAVID: Wow. That is really good because there have been a number of people that – obviously, you do the pressure-washing with 4,000-psi rotating whatever …

    TOM: Yeah. Well and they try to sell that to you, right? It’s kind of like, “Well, if this guy has only got a 2,000-psi machine, we’ve got a 4,000-psi machine.”

    The thing is, it’s not how much muscle that you have, it’s the finesse, it’s the touch. It’s using chemistry to your advantage and that’s why you want to use a product like Wet & Forget. And you may find that you’ll use it on your sidewalks and on your siding, too.

    Listen, go buy enough of this stuff to try it out. See what happens and let us know how you make out. But I used it on my house; it’s been great.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And give it some time. You’re not going to see the results the first day; you need a couple of days, a week. And I mean if you go to the website, you’ll see that they used it on the Sydney Opera House, on an aquarium in Florida: places that were just completely dealing with humidity and moisture and mold growth. And to be honest, cleaning those surfaces were a giant pain in the you-know-what, so they applied it for the heck of it and it worked.

    DAVID: Oh, excellent, excellent. That sounds really good. Yeah, because the only other alternative – we had another competitor who used to put the good old sodium hypochlorite all over the roof, which did get the algae. Unfortunately, it also gets the plants below it.

    TOM: Yeah, right. Kills everything.

    LESLIE: And that doesn’t actually kill the mold and stop it from coming back. Yes, it gets rid of it but the spores are still there and they’re going to grow back.

    DAVID: Alrighty. Well, that sounds excellent. Thank you so much. I will call you back. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, college dorm-room design questions.

    We’re going to be hearing from your son very soon, Tom.

    Whatever you are working on, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, having insulation is a no-brainer for your home, right? But how much do you need? That requires a little bit of brain work. We’re going to hammer out the guidelines for saving the maximum amount of energy, coming up next on The Money Pit.

    (theme song)

    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, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, especially if you’re looking to spruce up your home with some new floors. Because this hour, we’re giving away a $250 gift certificate from our pals at Lumber Liquidators. They’ve got great ideas for all kinds of flooring options and can help you spruce up your flooring space.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Lumber Liquidators? They’ve got brand-name flooring for less and the reason they can do that is because they cut out the middle man and buy all of their flooring options directly from the mill. And they offer choices in everything from hardwood, engineered wood, cork, bamboo, laminate. You name it, you can get it and you can get it for a great price at Lumber Liquidators. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win that $250 gift certificate.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, we know it’s still pretty darn warm out there and the thought of going up into your attic might not seem like a very bright idea. However, adding attic insulation now can help you save money in the fall and in the winter. You know, just like your body loses heat through your head? Your home will lose heat through the attic.

    So, if you want to do some attic-insulation work, wait for a chilly morning, a cool morning and head out there and get it done now before it gets too cold, because you’ll get an immediate benefit from doing just that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here are the recommendations, because the folks at the EPA’s Energy Star program, they recommend about 19 inches of insulation for most homes. Now, if you happen to live in a …

    TOM: And I’ve got to guarantee that that’s definitely more than most people have.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, are you kidding? I’m sure some people have like 4 inches.

    TOM: Right. They change recommendations all the time. And it’s a good number to have: 19 inches. So if you don’t have it, that’s what you need.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good base starting point. If you live in a colder climate, obviously you’re going to need more.

    Now, insulation, when you talk about measuring insulation, yes, we talk about the inches that are there. But it’s really spoken in a term called “R-value.” And the higher the R-value, the better the insulation’s ability to keep heated air from escaping your house, thus keeping your home warmer and your energy bills lower.

    So to find out exactly how much insulation that you should have in your attic, you want to check out EnergyStar.gov. All you have to do is answer a couple of questions about your home’s heating system, the climate where you live. And Energy Star is going to calculate the right level of insulation for your part of the country and then you can go ahead and add that to your house.

    Now, if you’re in your attic and, say, you’ve already got insulation up to the top of those floor joists or the ceiling joists – however you want to look at it when you’re in your attic but the part that you would be standing on – if you’re already filled up to that top of that joist, then go ahead and go perpendicular and do a layer on top, just to help add it in there. It’s not a difficult project; you can do it yourself and you can see the results pretty much your first heating bill.

    TOM: And that will do it. You’ll be saving money right from the get-go with that home improvement project.

    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Daniel in Virginia is calling in with an ant situation and not the relative kind: the insect kind. What can we do for you?

    DANIEL: Well, I was – first off, my house is about 10 years old. It’s a split foyer that sort of the basement part sort of dug into the hill. And what I’m having is during the spring, summer and fall – going into a fall kind of time frame – we’re getting a lot of sugar ants inside, both in the kitchen and in the living room. And it seems like no matter what I do, they just keep coming back, as clean as we keep it; I’ll spray outside, I’ll spray inside.

    And I was wondering if there were any techniques or products or anything you guys might recommend to help me with this problem. The other sort of thing to factor into it is I do have two small children and two cats, so I’m sort of hesitant to put too much killer on the inside, you know?

    TOM : Right. Right. And you know what? It’s a good point because a lot of the over-the-counter pest-control products, people go nuts with those and they basically are putting a lot of toxic pesticides around the house.

    LESLIE: All around your house.

    TOM: And that’s why, sometimes, if it’s a persistent problem like that, you’re much better off going to a pest-control professional because, first of all, they’re going to use the exact right product; there’s no guessing involved. They’re going to choose the right product, they’re going to put it down in the right places and they’re going to put it down in the right amounts.

    And well, you might think, “Well, the over-the-counter stuff could be safer.” Not necessarily. When it’s done by an amateur, it could be very unsafe. Did you ever see a story – about once a year or so, I’ll read about a story where somebody bought a bug bomb and they thought, “Well, if one bug bomb is good, 10 are better,” and blew up their house in the process.

    So, it can be very dangerous with this stuff. But if you’ve got a persistent problem that’s going on for a long time like that, I might turn it over to a pest-control pro. There are great products out there; there are a lot of baiting products out there today that basically you put down, the ants pick it up and they take it back to their nest. And they pass it from insect to insect and that wipes out the whole problem once and for all.

    DANIEL: OK. OK and …

    TOM: Much safer than trying to see a bunch of ants and spray them and see another bunch of ants and spray them and so on and so forth.

    DANIEL: Sure. OK, that makes perfect sense to me. I appreciate the help with that.

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

    LESLIE: Pat in South Carolina needs some help cleaning the driveway. What can we do for you today?

    PAT: We have a truck that sits in the driveway and there’s rust. When it rains, the rust drips off from certain parts underneath, onto the driveway.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: And we try different things to get it off but nothing has helped so far. And we were wondering if you had any ideas.

    TOM: Have you tried TSP – trisodium phosphate? It’s available in the paint aisle of home centers and hardware stores. Works really well. You mix it up into a bit like a paste and sort of trowel it on that stain, let it sit for a bit and it should pull that rust stain right out of it.

    PAT: OK.

    LESLIE: And you’ll find it in the paint aisle of the home centers.

    PAT: OK. Well, thank you very much for your help.

    TOM: That should lift the stain right out. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Danny in North Carolina needs some help refinishing a deck. What can we do for you?

    DANNY: I have actually added new deck to the back of my house and it’s got treated lumber on it. And want to paint the trim and am curious to know – there’s some new products out on the market. Valspar and, I guess, Behr has something called Premium Plus, so kind of looking for some advice on whether that’s a good product to save me some time or if I should kind of go the traditional route with an oil-based primer and a latex paint.

    TOM: Yes. Well, I will say that I’ve used the primer-and-paint-in-one: the Behr product, the Behr Premium Plus. And it was great. I mean we were using that in an interior project and the walls were really super-dark and it covered them in one coat.

    DANNY: Well, that’s awesome. How about on treated lumber outside?

    TOM: Well, I’ve never used it there and I would make sure that the product is rated for exterior use. And with treated lumber – is it newer lumber?

    DANNY: Yeah, well, it was done in November, so I’ve let it air out, dry out, too.

    LESLIE: Alright. So you’ve given it some time to cure.

    DANNY: Yep, yep. Exactly.

    TOM: Still pretty – well, so it’s been through one summer. Yeah, I think it should be OK.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, it’s good and autumn’s a great time.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’ll be nice and dry outside, where things will really dry well. But again, you said this is for a deck, correct? And you want to put paint on it?

    DANNY: Well, no, it’s not on the floor; it’s not the deck flooring. It’s on the uprights: the railing and the upright flats that keep kids from falling out.

    LESLIE: OK. Hmm. Then that should do very well to sort of hold up and wear well and protect the lumber itself. You know, if it was on a floor surface, I would say absolutely not. Go stain – solid stain – all the time; it’s just never going to hold up. But for a vertical surface, you should do great with that.

    DANNY: OK. Alright. Well, I thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, what can you do to keep yourself and your home safe when the tornado sirens start going off or for that matter, any type of severe weather emergency? We’re going to find out when we hear from Simon Brewer, The Weather Channel meteorologist that does nothing but drive straight through those storms in his program, Storm Rider. We’ll get Simon’s tips, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    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: And this has been a devastating year of storms and weather damage. Tornado after tornado has ripped through the country, tearing homes from their very foundation. So what can you do, though, to keep yourself and your home safe?

    LESLIE: Well, to find out, we turn to the experts. We are joined now by meteorologist Simon Brewer and he is one of the storm chasers on The Weather Channel’s hit show, Storm Riders. And he’s been up close and personal with the storms that he likes to call “beasts” and I, of course, call “I’m hiding under the couch; I’m petrified out of my mind.” I can’t even watch the show.

    Welcome. Tornados freak me out so how do you do this every day of your life?

    SIMON: Well, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and I’ve just really been interested in weather and I studied weather, so I know the dynamics that are going on in the atmosphere. So I’m not really afraid of what’s going on in the atmosphere; I just try to go out and document these incredible, extraordinary, very devastating events and try not to get hurt.

    TOM: When you see this show, you think that you guys are just a couple of adrenaline junkies out there. Truth be told, though, you are gaining valuable information and insight onto the behavior of these beasts, that can contribute to the knowledge base that’s going to keep us all safe, right?

    SIMON: Exactly. We can’t learn everything from one storm; we learn a little bit from every storm. So as more information is compiled over the years, taking all these different, large, tornadic storms into consideration, we can really determine what is causing tornados to develop within a thunderstorm and eventually help to predict them better.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, Simon, generally – Tom and I both live in the Northeast and generally, that has been a tornado-free zone and you kind of understood that there was an area within the center …

    TOM: Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

    LESLIE: I know. But it’s crazy, though.

    But there’s always been a central part of the U.S. that – more prone to tornadic activity. However, we’ve seen them in the Northeast this past season. How do you know where they’re more likely to strike and how you can feel safe in choosing your location to live?

    SIMON: Well, you’re not really safe anywhere in the country. Tornados can occur anywhere. But a majority of the tornados occur east of the Rocky Mountains and especially a little bit further west of – from the East Coast, like the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Southeast.

    But the Northeast has had their fair share of large tornados, historically. There was a big tornado – an EF4 – or actually, not 4 back in – I believe it was maybe the 50s or the 40s that hit Worcester, Massachusetts and caused a significant amount of damage. And of course, the Springfield, Massachusetts tornado this year was pretty devastating.

    So, the Northeast isn’t out of the gun but a majority of tornados do occur east of the Rockies.

    TOM: We’re talking to Simon Brewer. He is a meteorologist and storm chaser from the hit Weather Channel show, Storm Riders.

    Now, Simon, let’s talk about something that I’m sure you know a lot about: how to stay safe in a storm. The average person can do a fair number of dumb things if they were caught in a tornado. For example, I’ve heard that a lot of folks love to go to underpasses on roadways, where they think they’re going to have some shelter from above. But a tornado is strong enough to rip you right from the grass (ph) on that, correct?

    SIMON: Well, yeah, an overpass is not a safe place to go. Now, sometimes, there’s an overpass that has large, steel girders on the underside that people could crawl under. And it’s a little bit safer, I guess, but really it’s not. A ditch is the safest place to go. It’s better to get low. An overpass can actually funnel the winds of a tornado and intensify them.

    TOM: Now, what about inside the house? The traditional advice is to get into the bathtub. Is that still the right thing to do?

    SIMON: It depends on where the bathtub’s located. If it’s located on the second floor of a home, then no.

    TOM: Good point.

    SIMON: Really, the safest thing to do in a home is to get on the lowest floor in the home. If you don’t have a basement or cellar, then the hallway – a center hallway – or maybe a hallway closet or a bathroom that’s toward the center of the house. And if you are in the bathroom, then the bathtub wouldn’t be a bad place to be. Getting in the center of a home is the safest place to be.

    LESLIE: And is there anything structurally you can do to your home, whether it’s new construction or a retrofit, to sort of help it to withstand these potential winds we’re talking about? And we’re talking sometimes up to 200 miles an hour, correct?

    SIMON: Exactly. Tornados can have winds well over 200 miles an hour. And when they get that strong, they can pretty much wipe the house clean from the Earth. So really, to retrofit a home, there’s these new rooms called safe rooms that can be built. They’re about the size of a closet and they’re steel-reinforced concrete rooms. And they’re relatively safe, up until the most extreme tornados.

    But the most extreme tornados occur maybe once a year and sometimes they don’t hit towns. So the likelihood of getting hit by the most extreme tornados is very rare. Bolting a house to its concrete foundation is also key to protecting a home from a majority of tornados: the weaker tornados, like EF2, EF1 tornados. Because a lot of people’s homes, even new homes, they might have a poured concrete foundation and they might actually have bolts coming up through the studs in the walls. But they don’t actually have – they’re not actually connecting the studs to the foundation. So that’s one thing that people can do to protect their homes.

    TOM: Well, good advice. Simon Brewer, the meteorologist and storm chaser from the hit Weather Channel program, Storm Riders, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And we will let you hit the road now once again on your way to the next big storm that you need to cover.

    SIMON: Thank you, Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    If you would like to check out this program, you can view it on the Weather.com website or go to Stormgasm.com – S-t-o-r-m-g-a-s-m.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. If you’ve got a college student, you need to be sending them back to school armed with tools. And we’re not talking about algebra skills; we’re talking about real tools for those home improvement projects that pop up at their home-away-from-home. Coming up, we’re going to have your back-to-school home improvement checklist, so stick around.

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    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. And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. We are going to answer your home improvement or repair questions. We’re going to even do more than that: we’re going to give you the tools to get the job done. Because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators. In this case, the tool is moolah.

    And Lumber Liquidators sells brand-name flooring for less. They’ve got everything and they really can give you inexpensive pricing because they buy directly from the mill and cut out the middle man, so you really see the savings.

    TOM: There are more than 200 stores nationwide. Financing and installation are always available. To find a store near you, to order a sample pack, get a catalog or shop online, visit LumberLiquidators.com. And of course, you can call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win that $250 gift certificate.

    Well, back-to-school shopping is definitely amped up when college is the destination. And amid all of the linens, dorm décor and study supplies, your student should probably have a trustworthy tool kit. So here are just a few of our recommendations for the dorm-room DIYer.

    First, get the hand tools covered: hammers and screwdrivers. Everybody needs a hammer. Your student will no doubt encounter a shelving issue or need to hang something on the wall and of course, a combo pack of nails and perhaps screws to go along with it. Better than that, though, might be a good supply of the 3M Scotch Command adhesives.

    Have you seen these? They’re fantastic. They stick to the wall, they hold a ton of weight. And you can release them at the end of the school year and they don’t leave any damage.

    So, other things to through in the tool kit: an adjustable wrench is always handy when you have to put stuff together, utility knife, a good utility scissor. All of those types of basic hand tools, good to put into the tool kit to send off to school.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If you want to throw a couple of other things in there, always useful is a tape measure. I mean you never know; you’re always measuring something so you might as well have one around. WD-40 is really helpful, electrical tape, duct tape. If your kid loses his wallet, they can make a new one right then and there out of duct tape. And if you go …

    TOM: My kid had a duct-tape wallet for a long time; he loved it.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I even saw, just recently, a dad with some small kids pull out a crazy, multi-striped, duct-tape wallet at the 7-Eleven.

    TOM: It was probably a Father’s Day gift.

    LESLIE: Oh, completely. I was like, “Aw, that’s really sweet.”

    You know what else you really should consider sending your kids with to school is a GFCI-protected surge protector. That is super-important. Everything today is stored on computers, laptops, iPads. Think about it: nothing’s on paper and if you get a good lightning storm, that could really fry a semester’s worth of work. So, just send one along; you’ll be happy you did.

    Extension cords are great. You know, you’ve got a ton of electronics in there; send them in a variety of lengths. And don’t forget a flashlight. You never know. Power outages happen. Plus, it’s good for all of those late-night adventures on the campus that you know are going to happen.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your next planned home improvement adventure. The number again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE:Chris in New York has a question about refrigeration. What can we do for you today?

    CHRIS: Recently, I had tested my house with an electromagnetic-field detector. And most of my house was fine but when I got to my refrigerator, it lit up with caution. And I was wondering, is there either something I can do with my current refrigerator or perhaps, if I bought – if I could purchase a newer one, would there be one with less waves being emitted?

    TOM: Well, was this tool used right up against the refrigerator itself?

    CHRIS: It was pretty close; it wasn’t right in front of it but was maybe a foot or two away.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. All appliances are going to emit electromagnetic fields but generally they drop off very, very rapidly when you get a bit away from them. So I’m sure that if you used a device that within 6 inches to a foot of a refrigerator, it’s going to look like you have a huge field coming off it. But if you were to drop that off, say, 3 or 4 feet, it’s going to drop down to almost nothing.

    So, I wouldn’t get too worked up about that, personally. I don’t know that you can find an appliance that doesn’t have one. Technology is always changing but I do know that all appliances do have somewhat of a field.

    CHRIS: Mm-hmm. Well, the only reason why I was really concerned was because it was – there’s three settings – there’s safe, caution and danger – and this, just the refrigerator itself, was hitting caution.

    TOM: Yeah. What kind of an inspection was this that tested EMF?

    CHRIS: Actually, it was one that I bought myself. I had bought ELF detector in – yep.

    TOM: Ah, yeah.

    CHRIS: So that’s why I was …

    TOM: Well, you know what? I think as you move about your house, you’re going to be surprised how many things actually emit electromagnetic fields. But again, if you’re on top of it, it’s going to be super-high. When you drop off to sort of normal distances away from appliances, it’s going to drop down to very low.

    So unless you spend a lot of time hugging your refrigerator, I don’t think it’s going to affect your health.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    CHRIS: Thank you very much.

    TOM: And just think about that. Every time you get hungry and you want to go for a snack, it’s not safe. You’ll lose weight.

    LESLIE: It’s the new diet fad of …

    TOM: It’s a new diet system: the EMF Diet.

    CHRIS: Something good came out of it, then.

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

    Well, if you’ve got a beautiful, old house, chances are you’ve got beautiful, old molding and could be faced with this question: is it better to remove the paint to go through all of the work to strip it away or just tear out that molding and replace it with the new stuff? We’ll help sort that question out, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    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 we would love if you would visit us on Facebook and “like” our page on Facebook. Why? Well, because you will be the first to find out when we’ve got cool giveaways on the website, on the radio show. Plus, we answer a lot of questions right there on our Facebook page, which is approaching 10,000 fans. We’re very happy about that. Glad that we can use Facebook to bring so much information to you guys every single day.

    You can also get tips on your projects, ask your own questions and post pictures of what you’re doing in your house. Somebody posted a picture the other day of a home improvement project that went wrong. It was ugly.

    LESLIE: Oh, no.

    TOM: But you know what? They got a lot of help, so that’s what it’s all about: The Money Pit community on Facebook.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Everybody feels their pain; we’ve all been in that situation.

    TOM: Yep. Been there, done that.

    LESLIE: It’s good to know that you are not alone. And while you’re there, you can post a question. I’ve got one here from Peter in Brooklyn, New York who writes: “We just purchased an apartment.” Alright. Good for you. “The plaster walls and wood moldings in the bedroom have many layers of paint on them, which is cracking and peeling in lots of places. Should I use a paint stripper on the moldings? They’re so covered with paint that they look clumpy. Or would it just be cheaper and easier in the long run simply to remove the old and put on new? The old ones are nice but not necessarily irreplaceable.”

    TOM: Well, I mean it really comes down to how much patience you have, how much time it’s going to take. What I would suggest is this: I would pick up a low-odor, environmentally-friendly gel stripper. The strippers, fortunately, are getting a lot easier to work with. You might want to take a look at the line that’s sold by Rock Miracle; that’s a very good brand of stripper.

    LESLIE: And the gel will stick while it’s still up.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So it’s critical, when gravity plays a factor, to use a gel stripper.

    And try to strip off a foot or two of the molding; see how easily or difficult the paint is to come off. If it comes off pretty easily, you can keep going. If not, you haven’t really lost but a bit of time and then you can tear them out and start from scratch. It really comes down to trying out how much of a project it is to remove that paint and then making a decision from there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Peter? With that hipster movement in Brooklyn, you will be so proud if you are actually able to get that paint off yourself, so give it a whirl.

    TOM: Well, if you’re planning to install a tile floor, there is a way to add a unique touch and some style. Leslie has got that tip, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, this is something that really is usually on the bottom of the list. We’re talking about tile patterning and inlays. They’re design options that are out there. If you look in a magazine, you see them but maybe don’t understand what goes into making that part of the design plan. So most homeowners don’t even think about it but it’s one of the fastest ways to show your personal style and dramatically change the look of your room.

    Now, inlay, it can add color and pattern to your floor. And thanks to today’s technology, professionals can produce very intricate designs. So after selecting the design and the colors, they use a computer guidance system and actually cut individual pieces with high-pressure water jets. It’s old-world craft and 21st-Century technique.

    Now, if you want to create a similar pattern on your own, such as a checkerboard or a herringbone, it is possible for skilled do-it-yourselfers to tackle that project. So, to get started, never, never, never assume that your room is perfectly square. You always want to square it off from the center and begin the pattern along one edge. And make sure that your floor is level; this way, you’ll avoid rough edges sticking up.

    And if you really sort of follow those guidelines and get creative, find inspiration in every magazine, every pamphlet that you leaf through wherever you are and sort of start saving those tear sheets, you’ll see a pattern emerging and realize what it is that you love. And then you can translate that into your own design. Remember, personality is key and you can really create a beautiful room.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, trees are a staple in beautiful landscaping. But what happens when that beautiful tree starts uprooting your sidewalk or even your foundation? I’ve seen it happen before and I’m going to give you the solution to save your house and your yard, your driveways and your sidewalks by transplanting that tree. And we’ll teach you how to do that, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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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    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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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