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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is 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: Welcome to this hour of the program. If you’ve got a home improvement project on your to-do list, let’s get it done by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because we are here to help you do just that.

    And Labor Day is upon us and to most people, that means the traditional end of the summer season, Leslie.

    But to us, it means it’s the perfect time of year to kick off your fall home improvement projects. We’ve got some of those project tips coming up and we’d love to hear your questions, as well.

    LESLIE: And we give you permission to take this weekend off. You guys can relax, you can kick back by the beach, have some barbecues. But make a list in your downtime; think about what you’re going to be working on.

    Now, we’ve had a drought that’s going on in most of the nation and it’s showing no signs of actually ending soon. So saving water was always a good idea but now it’s critical. We’re going to have some tips on water-saving fixtures that let you use less without giving up any of the conveniences that you’ve come to expect.

    TOM: And even though so much of the country is in a drought, you still need to think about protecting the wood around your home from the wet, damp weather ahead that can rot it away. So we’re going to give you some tips on how to protect wood from rot, wear and tear, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, one lucky caller is going to get a sparkly clean house thanks to Mr. Clean and Swiffer.

    TOM: That means it’s a do-it-yourself project.

    LESLIE: Yes, you have to do it. They’re not coming.

    We’re actually giving away a prize pack of 50 bucks worth of top-notch cleaning supplies, including two Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.

    Now, I probably use one of these on a daily basis. And if you’ve got kids and crayons in one house, under the same roof, you know that you’re going to need one of these at some point. And truly, the Magic Eraser gets everything off of anything; it’s amazing. I wonder what it’s made out of. It totally rules.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: We’ve got Alex in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a painted fireplace.

    Welcome, Alex. How can we help you today?

    ALEX: I’ve got a Mediterranean-style house and it’s got this beautiful brick fireplace but someone painted it. Looks like latex paint. I want to know what’s the best way to remove it without damaging the brick and the least amount of headache for me.

    TOM: Very difficult.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: It’s very difficult because the brick is very absorbent; it’s like trying to remove paint from a sponge. It’s down deep into the brick and so if you were able to remove it, the thing is, Alex, you’re never going to be able to get out all of the color from that brick because it’s soaking in. So I would prefer that you repaint it in a way that you’re going to be happy than try to pull it off. Because I’m afraid if you do try to pull it off, you’ll get – you may get most of it off but it’s still going to have some color to it.

    ALEX: OK.

    LESLIE: It’s still going to have a wash or a faded color to it or in a worst-case scenario, speckling of the color in the brick, in those holes where it’s so super-porous.

    TOM: Right, right. Yeah.

    ALEX: Right.

    TOM: I mean you really – you could try it without risk, so you could use a paint stripper.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: And you wouldn’t want to use anything too harsh like a pressure washer or a heavy wire brush or anything like that, because you will damage the brick. But you can use a paint stripper and try to get some of it off and see how it goes. If it gets off and it doesn’t look too bad …

    LESLIE: But it’s going to be several times; you’re going to keep doing it.

    TOM: Right. If you can get it off and it doesn’t look too bad, then you keep going. If not, you give up and you just choose a nice, new color and you just pick up from there.

    ALEX: Yeah. Because I read – someone had talked about putting paint stripper on and then putting a canvas – strips on it and then peeling off that canvas strip and the paint comes off with it?

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s like waxing.

    TOM: That’s the type of stripper that you use. Some strippers work that way where you put the stripper on, then you put a strip of plastic or paper over it and it increases the heat as the chemical reaction occurs in the stripper and kind of activates it. But if you follow label directions on the stripper product that you use, you’ll know if you have to do that or not. That doesn’t apply widely to all stripper products.

    ALEX: OK. And the other thing is I know that you can have it sandblasted and it’ll get all the paint out but it doesn’t – the brick will get – it’ll damage the brick.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: The brick will get very worn.

    The other thing that you can do is if you think of putting an – I don’t know what the mantle’s like, I don’t know how much depth you have there, I don’t know what the room is. But think about this option: you could do a brick or a stone veneer and just apply it on top of the surface.

    ALEX: Right, right.

    LESLIE: This way, you’re sort of starting from scratch if, for some reason, the paint doesn’t come off and you really don’t want a painted surface.

    ALEX: Right.

    LESLIE: And that is not a terribly difficult project. It shouldn’t be a tremendous amount of money. And if you go with a veneer, you’re using a thinner layer of the stone or of the brick, so you’re not dealing with the weight issue. Plus, you would want to make sure that whatever you might be adding on there, that your foundation or whatever is supporting that wall, with that hearth and that fireplace, could support that additional weight.

    ALEX: Yeah. Alright. OK. Alright.

    TOM: Does that help you out?

    ALEX: Yeah. I mean I wish there was a way – I wish that they had never done it in the first place.

    LESLIE: Well, most people don’t. Yeah. It’s like they paint, it’s terrible.

    TOM: I know. Yeah. Exactly.

    ALEX: Painted brick – the worst thing you can do because there’s no going back once it’s done.

    TOM: That’s right. You’re absolutely right, Alex.

    ALEX: OK. Well, thanks, guys. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Maryann in Virginia is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you today?

    MARYANN: We had a terrible windstorm here about a month ago and it just wreaked havoc to the roof. There were a lot of loose tiles and …

    TOM: What kind of roof do you have, Maryann?

    MARYANN: It’s just the basic asphalt roof right now?

    TOM: Asphalt-shingle roof? OK. Yeah, you said tiles; I just want to make sure we knew what kind of shingle you had, OK?

    MARYANN: Yeah. Right. And there’s just like one layer of shingles on and so the question that I have, really, is – the roof is only 17 years old and I know, just from living there 16 of those years, that we’re going to get these windstorms. And what I would like to know is what would be a good roof to replace this with or should we put a second roof on top of it or a metal roof?

    TOM: OK. So, kind of a multi-part question.

    First of all, let me ask you, how long do you expect to stay in the house, Maryann?

    MARYANN: Oh, a good while.

    TOM: Like a good while, like the entire life of the new roof?

    MARYANN: Sure.

    TOM: OK. So, here’s what I would suggest. First of all, if you’re going to be in the house a long time, we always recommend removing the first layer of shingles, not putting a second layer on. And here’s why: if you put a second layer of shingles on, because the first layer is underneath, it tends to act as sort of a heat sink; and because it stays hotter and warmer longer, it more quickly evaporates the oils and different materials that are in the shingles and causes them to fail quicker. So, the cooler the roof, the better. Take off the first layer of shingles.

    And so far as making sure that the roof is not going to blow off, there are high wind-resistant shingles that you can buy.

    LESLIE: And Owens Corning, they make a very attractive, sort of dimensional-looking asphalt shingle that I want to say goes up to 120 miles. So I – an hour. I would start off with their website. But you definitely want to get a roofing shingle that’s made to withstand high winds.

    And there are even some that will maintain higher wind gusts there if, say, you’re in Miami-Dade County. But I don’t think you need to be that crazy.

    MARYANN: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Maryann. 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. Happy Labor Day, everybody. We know you’re having a good time. You’re barbecuing, you’re thinking about home improvement projects. Take this weekend off. I’m giving you permission. But Tom is going to make you make some lists.

    TOM: Consider it a planning weekend, you know? It’s a good time to think about next weekend’s project, yes.

    LESLIE: You know I’m doing the radio show in my bathing suit; I’m waiting to get back in the pool.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number.

    And Labor Day is a time to honor all that we’ve gained from American workers but it’s also a time to plan those projects. So we’ll have some ideas to help you get started, next.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You know what is just as important as spring cleaning? Well, fall cleaning. And you can get a squeaky clean home for this upcoming season, because today we’re giving away a bundle of those cleaning supplies from Mr. Clean and Swiffer. The six products include the popular Swiffer WetJet Starter Kit and Mr. Clean Outdoor Pro Multi-Purpose Spray. The package is worth 50 bucks. Going to go to one caller drawn at random from those who reach us on today’s program. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Marvin in Colorado on the line who’s got an electrical question. Tell us what you’re working on.

    MARVIN: I have an older home; it’s about 50 years old. And the wiring is the – it’s standard, insulated – some copper wires: black and white, insulated.

    TOM: Right.

    MARVIN: But it doesn’t have the uninsulated common ground.

    TOM: OK.

    MARVIN: And I was interested in putting in a GFI in the bathroom and the kitchen. Will those work?

    TOM: Yes. But here’s what they’ll do for you: if they’re installed correctly – and I would encourage you to have an electrician do this – what they can do is they will detect a ground fault and shut off. They won’t actually ground but they’ll detect – they’ll still detect the ground fault. So you can use a GFI on an older wiring system like that. And if it’s installed correctly, it will protect you from getting a shock from that outlet without technically being connected to a house ground. Does that make sense?

    MARVIN: Yeah, uh-huh.

    TOM: It’s got to be installed just right to make it happen, so it’s – I wouldn’t recommend that you do it yourself. I’d recommend you have a pro come in and do it for you. OK, Marvin?

    MARVIN: Guess that’s it. That’s easy.

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

    LESLIE: Well, this Labor Day, we hope you will take some time to relax – I know I’m going to try as soon as we go off air – and enjoy all the benefits that have been provided to us by American workers. But we also hope that you’ll enjoy planning ways to improve your own home.

    TOM: Well, for example, it’s the perfect time of year to think about the change from cooling to heating your home and to change your furnace filter. Just remove the old filter and replace it with the most efficient one you can find for your system.

    Now, if you’ve got asthma or allergies, you might want to consider a whole-house air cleaner. They go a big step further in reducing even the minute particles from your indoor air that can make you super-uncomfortable.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? This is also a great time to start thinking about your garden, too. In fact, if you’ve got tulip bulbs, now is the time that you put them into the ground so they’ll be nice and pretty come springtime. It’s also the time of year that you need to re-mulch your garden and use extra mulch if you happen to live in an area with a really cold winter.

    Also, clear away any fallen leaves from your flower beds because if you don’t, you’re just going to end up with some rot growth there. So really, keep your flower beds clean; it’s probably something you’re going to have to do over and over again as the leaves start to fall.

    And finally, fertilize your lawn one last time before the ground freezes, to really give it some oomph to stand up to the winter.

    TOM: And a few of those well-timed projects right now are definitely going to save you a lot of trouble through fall and winter and have your house looking great come spring.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlotte in North Carolina on the line who has got a popcorn ceiling that doesn’t have butter on it.

    Charlotte, tell us what’s going on.

    CHARLOTTE: Well, what happens now – we have a brown stain on the ceiling from the leak but we’ve had the leak repaired, of course. And it’s a popcorn ceiling. I’ve always hated this popcorn ceiling; I’m not opposed to getting rid of it. But I’m just wondering, what’s the best way to make the repair here? Because I’m afraid if we just take off the section where the stain is, it’s not going to match anymore and it’ll – you can – it’ll be like a repaired look. What would be your suggestion?

    LESLIE: Now, is it truly a popcorn ceiling? Like when you reach up, you sort of end up with remnants of it? Or is it like a textured stucco ceiling?

    CHARLOTTE: Whatever that drywall is that they kind of make and they spray on the ceiling.

    TOM: Yeah. So, here’s the thing. You’ve had the roof leak. The roof leak is now repaired?


    TOM: Has it physically damaged the ceiling or is it just the stains you’re concerned about?

    CHARLOTTE: It mostly looks like the stains. To me, it looks like there might be one small section that might have a little bit of a bulge in it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s ignore that for the moment. What I would suggest you do is to use a good-quality primer and repaint that ceiling.

    Now, if it’s just a very limited area, you could prime just the stain and leave the rest. If it’s a bigger area, you’ve got to prime the whole ceiling. But if you use a good-quality primer there, like a KILZ or a B-I-N or something like that, then that should seal in the stain and you could put paint on top of that. You will have to paint the whole ceiling if it’s not been done recently but if you seal with a primer and then paint it, that’ll make the ceiling stain disappear and preserve the popcorn.

    Removing the popcorn, at this point, is just a whole lot of work but it sounds like it’s really not necessary for you to do, unless you just don’t like the look of it.

    CHARLOTTE: Thank you very much. That’ll help a lot. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Phil in Mississippi who has a lumber question. What can we do for you?

    PHIL: Hey. I recently – an opportunity to acquire about 500 treated 4x4x8 timbers.


    PHIL: And I’m fixing to start a new home construction in about the next 30 days and the only way I figure I’m ever going to be made of money is out of my sweat equity. So I was going to saw these in half and turn them into the 2x4s that I would use to – for my studs for my walls. But I was not sure if anything in those treated 4×4 timbers would leach out into the house over the years and cause any kind of harm due to the chemicals.

    TOM: Interesting question. Not that I can think of, because we do use treated lumber for sill plates all the time and I’ve never heard an issue related to that. But boy, it’s going to be a lot of work for you to saw those 4x4s down to 2x4s, because …

    LESLIE: Tom, any concern about the integrity of the lumber? You know, is there – because posts – well, traditional studs are kiln-dried and these are more wet from the chemicals that are used?

    TOM: Yeah. You may have a lot more movement inside the walls, that’s true. So you could get a lot more twisting as a result of this. I mean 4x4s are typically very wet and even if they look dry on the outside, once you cut them they could, basically, twist like a pretzel. So you may find that you frame walls with them and then you find out that the walls have all kinds of bows when it’s way too late to fix them.

    So, listen, the cost of 2x4s as part of the entire home construction budget is fairly minimal. So I would really think twice about whether or not it makes sense to do this. You might just want to hold onto them, use them for a retaining wall, use them for landscaping projects, that sort of thing. I don’t think, if it was me, I would consider this a good use.

    PHIL: OK. Well, that’s exactly what I needed, because I had not even thought about them not being kiln-dry. I just assumed they were just like 2x4s, so that’s a good point.

    LESLIE: No, they’re so wet.

    TOM: Yeah, they twist like crazy. I’ve seen them twist 90 degrees sometimes; it’s really nuts.

    PHIL: Oh, wow. OK. Well, guys, I do appreciate it. You might have just saved me a major headache 20 years from now.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we’re so happy we could. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Johnna (sp) in North Carolina is on the line with an electrical question. What can we do for you today?

    JOHNNA (sp): We were wondering, how many 20-amp outlets can you have on one circuit?

    TOM: Hmm. OK. Well, it’s a 20-amp circuit, so Johnna (sp), it doesn’t really matter how many outlets you have. What really matters is how much you’re plugged into those outlets, because 20 amps is all the circuit can take. Does that make sense? In other words, if you have a 20-amp breaker and you plug in more than 20 amps, the breaker is going to trip. So, you can put in as many outlets as you feel like you need.

    LESLIE: Right. That’s the service for your house, correct?

    TOM: Well, it’s not the service for the house; it’s the service for the circuit. So let’s say the house has 150-amp service and you’re going to have some number of 15-amp circuits and some number of 20-amp circuits and so on. But Johnna (sp) is saying, “Well, how many outlets can I put in?” You can put in as many as you want. You can just only do – you can only power 20 amps or up to 20 amps at a time.

    JOHNNA (sp): Got it.

    TOM: How do you want – why are you asking the question? Where do you want to use the circuit?

    JOHNNA (sp): In our bedroom.

    TOM: Oh, how many outlets can you possibly put in? You’re going to have one about every 6 to 8 to 10 feet, right?

    JOHNNA (sp): Well, we’re – actually, we’re redoing our whole house.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHNNA (sp): We’re remodeling the entire house and we’re running electrical and we’re putting plugs where we think we would use them.

    TOM: Well, that’s smart to do. And frankly, 20 amps is a big circuit for a bedroom circuit. Typically, the bedrooms and the lighting circuits are 15 amps. The circuits for the kitchen, for example, and for the garage would be 20 amps.

    JOHNNA (sp): OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOHNNA (sp): I think my husband – we’re putting 20-amp outlets throughout the house. I think they’re all 20 amps.

    TOM: Well, that’s because that’s what guys do; we like to go big on everything.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up, does your water bill seem to be creeping higher and higher and higher? You can save water instantly just by changing out some of those fixtures. We’ll show you how to choose ones that will really help you save water and money, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America. Now enjoy 10-percent off all special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot, including the Andersen 400 Series Double-Hung Replacement Window, making it easy to replace your old windows. Valid through September 12. See The Home Depot for details.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you know if the water in your home is really healthy? You can’t necessarily tell that from its smell or taste. But if you log on to MoneyPit.com and search “drinking water,” we’ve got step-by-step advice on how to get the healthiest water you can. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Joanie in Wisconsin is on the line with a cleaning question. What can we do for you?

    JOANIE: Hi. It’s a pleasure to talk to you two.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Joanie.

    JOANIE: I have a screened-in patio. It spans about 3½ feet wide and about 4 feet tall. There’s a wooden break in the middle, so basically it’s about 8 feet tall. But there’s the span of the screen I need to clean. It’s not the real strong screen, so I don’t want to bow the screen. How do I clean that?

    LESLIE: Now, we have a screened-in patio ourselves at my home and the screens are not removable. They do take a beating because we get a lot of wintery weather and just particulates in the air. And whenever I’m doing my weekly cleaning, I’ll take my vacuum attachment with the upholstery brush and just kind of go over it from the interior. And that does a great job, actually, of getting a lot of the muck out and I don’t really have to press too hard. Because like yours, it’s not the most durable screening but it does its job.

    And then what I like to do come springtime, when I’m really going to be out there a lot more, is from the inside or outside, depending on if I’ve got furniture out there and how wet I can get it, I’ll do just a soapy water with a soft-bristle brush and lightly give it a good cleaning and a rinse. And that really does a great job of doing it.

    And if you want some more step-by-step instructions or maybe if you’re looking to replace it yourself, Tom and I have written a sort of a guide – a bonus chapter to our book – on MoneyPit.com and it’s called “A Fix for Every Season.” And we do have a project in there with Arrow Fasteners about replacing your screens for your screened-in porch or doors. And that might be something you want to tackle come springtime.

    JOANIE: OK. Well, I thought of cleaning it with like a sprayer from the inside but I have a wooden base. So I didn’t really want to get that wood wet.

    LESLIE: Too well.

    TOM: You can get it a little bit wet and not have to worry about it, you know? As long as it doesn’t stay soaking, sopping wet for days on end. But certainly, getting it wet to clean the screen is nothing you should be concerned about.

    JOANIE: Oh, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: If your water bill is making you woozy, you’ve probably been thinking about figuring out how to cut down on your water use lately.

    TOM: And the good news is that there are lots of folks driving demand for water-efficient products. And manufacturers now offer many options and products that really perform but save water at the same time. Richard Trethewey is the plumbing and heating expert for TV’s This Old House and he’s here now with the lowdown on low flow.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi, guys.

    TOM: So, when most of us think about cutting back on water use, we immediately think that we’re going to have to put up with a slow-flowing shower or a toilet that won’t flush. But that’s changed a lot, hasn’t it?

    RICHARD: That’s right. Performance is really the buzzword now. When those low-flush toilets first came out, they didn’t work as well as they should’ve. Now, people are getting water saving with the performance they expect.

    TOM: We used to call those the “flush-twice models.”

    RICHARD: Yeah. And it was – it didn’t quite work. I think the legislation came ahead of the technology. We’ve caught up, though, which is …

    TOM: Now we have flush-twice models but for a whole different reason. We’ve got toilets now that literally have the button for a Number One and a button for a Number Two.

    RICHARD: Right, right. It’s a dual-flush and that’s a great invention because so often, you only need it for the Number One, not the …

    TOM: Most of the time. And so you really save quite a bit of water that way. Add that to the fact that the toilets now need less water altogether because of changes of design. The trap design had a lot to do with that, didn’t it?

    RICHARD: That’s right. There’s a certain physics you need in order to make that trap work.

    TOM: And the trap, of course, is sort of the path that the waste takes on the way out of the toilet.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: And the old ones were wider but they were not glazed. And there were restrictions in those.

    RICHARD: You actually have to create a siphon inside of a toilet. You need enough water to be able to pull that water up into the upper part of the trap and then pull it back down again. And that physics wasn’t worked out at the time the legislation came along. Right now, they work as good as we could ever dream.

    TOM: Now, speaking of legislation, there’s a program that’s out, not that many years now, very similar to Energy Star called WaterSense.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: That’s a good thing to look for, isn’t it?

    RICHARD: Right. It’s a certification from EPA and it sort of becomes a clearinghouse on what products are sort of blessed and can perform the way they’re supposed to.

    TOM: Theoretically, those are going to work and save, I think, up to 30 percent more water.

    Let’s talk about showerheads. Man, there’s one thing you want in the morning is a good shower. You’re almost willing to pay for that water out of the recreational budget.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: How are the low-flow showerheads working today?

    RICHARD: Well, I think anybody can remember those very first showerheads that came out where you got a fine spray that you didn’t even know if really water was coming out. And the idea was that in order to save water, you had to suffer.

    And now, it is – it feels as generous as any showerhead. We did one on Ask This Old House this year where it could come out at 1.5 but you could just hit a button on the side and it would be even less and still was a great shower.

    TOM: So you’re talking about 1.5 gallons per minute.

    RICHARD: Per minute. And then when you shut it off, it defaulted back to the regular setting, so it let you choose what you want to do. But in either case, the shower was so generous that you didn’t feel like you were suffering.

    TOM: Now, what about aerators on faucets? Have they changed, as well?

    RICHARD: They’re really just like the showerheads now that – in the earliest days, the extent of water saving was just to take the equivalent of a squashed dime and drill a small hole in it and hope that the water came out.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: But now, they’ve got engineered aerators that give you that beautiful flow with a really low consumption.

    TOM: And the engineering really is the key. These guys have figured out how to use less water but really have them perform just like their water-wasting forerunners.

    RICHARD: That’s right. The science has caught up with the legislation in almost all aspects of water conservation.

    TOM: So making these few simple changes can really add up to substantial water savings.

    RICHARD: They can.

    TOM: Now, Richard, replacing a toilet requires an investment. Same with faucets, same with showerheads. What if we want to just do something with what we have right now? Is there anything that we can sort of add to our existing plumbing system that’ll help us save some water?

    RICHARD: If you’ve got a toilet that’s an old-style toilet, you want to make it more water-saving, there’s a really cool device that allows you to turn it into a dual-flush unit in a retrofit.

    TOM: OK. And dual-flush, of course, that means half-flush or full flush?

    RICHARD: That’s right. And so you have to change both the flush valve, the thing that makes the water go – leave the tank and go down to the bowl – but also the fill valve, the thing that – the valve that makes the water refill into the tank.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: You change them both – they’re about $25 – you’ve got a pretty modern toilet.

    TOM: Covers you for both Number One and Number Two.

    RICHARD: There you go.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and a step-by-step video on this project and others, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, your beautiful wooden fence or deck isn’t going to be beautiful long if it’s not protected from the elements. We’ll have tips on how to do just that, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    It’s OK. You can be having your Labor Day barbecue with, you know, the tongs in one hand and phone in the other. We’re happy to help you answer any grilling questions. “Oops, I spilled ketchup on the deck. What do I do?” Let the dog lick it up. It’s Labor Day. Relax.

    Well, pick up the phone and give us a call, because one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get some great cleaning products from Mr. Clean and Swiffer.

    Now, the six products include a Swiffer WetJet Starter Kit and a WetJet Power Pad Refill with the scrubbing power of Mr. Clean. The prize pack is worth 50 bucks. You’ve got to do the work yourself; Mr. Clean is not knocking on your door. So, sorry about that but you’ve got the supplies for a nice, tidy house come the holiday season. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: John in Nebraska is on the line with a kitchen-painting question. Tell us what’s going on over there.

    JOHN: I’ve got a kitchen project and what I’ve – we’re doing, me and my wife, we’re painting our kitchen. And we ran into a situation that – above our stove, we replaced our range here recently with the downdraft. And like I say, we want to do painting and we’ve got cracking behind the stove, the area and …

    TOM: So is the wall surface itself cracking or is it like the seam or – what are you seeing?

    JOHN: I’d say it’s probably the paint. I believe we used a – I’m sure it’s a latex. And unfortunately, I think one – I’m sure one of our downfalls – we don’t have a backsplash.

    TOM: So how about this, John? Why don’t you make a backsplash? How about if we tell you an easy way to make a backsplash out of tile? Would that work for you?

    JOHN: OK, sure. I’d listen.

    TOM: So there’s a product called Bondera – B-o-n-d-e-r-a. And it’s a self-adhesive mastic, so it’s kind of like contact paper. It’s got glue on both sides, though. And you roll this stuff out, you stick it on the wall. And then you can basically stick tile right to it without having to use any of that sort of goopy glue mastic.

    And you stick the tiles right on there. It’s perfect for a backsplash. Then you grout it and you’re done. It is definitely the easiest way to do a tile backsplash. Sort of no-fuss, no-muss and you could get a backsplash done inside of a couple of hours if you plan out the tile sizes correctly.

    John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, there’s nothing like the beauty of real wood around the exterior of your home. But with all that beauty comes a bit of maintenance. It’s best to make sure your fence, your siding, your patio furniture and even the play sets that your kids play on are able to stand up to the elements.

    And the experts at Flood – a proud sponsor of The Money Pit – have some tips to help you do just that.

    LESLIE: That’s right. All exterior wood does need to be protected with a good, waterproof finish. But you’re going to need to prep that wood first and that means ridding the surface of any dirt, grime, contaminants, old finishes, anything that could be sitting on that surface that could interfere with the sealer.

    Now, Flood makes a wood-finish remover and a wood brightener that’s going to take care of that job. You just have to follow the instructions that are on the container.

    JOHN: Now, you also used to have to wait a few days after prepping before applying a finish but that’s changed now. Flood has a one-coat waterproofing finish that can be applied simply within hours, so there’s no waiting days or – for anything to dry. You can enjoy it sooner.

    Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish is sold exclusively at The Home Depot. You can learn more about that product at Flood.com.

    LESLIE: Hiric (sp) in Colorado is on the line and has a bathtub question. How can we help you?

    HIRIC (sp): Yes, thank you for taking my call. I moved into old house in Colorado.

    TOM: OK.

    HIRIC (sp): And then – hello? I’m sorry, dogs.

    TOM: That’s OK.

    LESLIE: And you moved in some dogs, too.

    HIRIC (sp): That’s right. And I have a cast-iron tub.

    TOM: OK.

    HIRIC (sp): And should I refinish it or change it to California modern style, classic one and …

    TOM: Well, there’s really two questions there. If you love the old style, it’s definitely worth refinishing. They’re beautiful, they’re irreplaceable and if you decorate your bathroom around that, I think you’ll have a really beautiful space.

    If you don’t want to go that route, then, of course, you can always remodel. But I wouldn’t be in a hurry to do that because cast-iron tubs are few and far between.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s why you can buy them from architectural salvage shops at such a great cost, because they’re so desirable.

    TOM: Yeah. Yep, exactly.

    HIRIC (sp): Oh, really? Ah, so by refinishing it, do I chemically – should I (inaudible at 0:32:27)?

    TOM: Well, you can – listen, you can do it yourself, Hiric (sp), but you’re better off to have a pro do it. Because it really is quite a difficult job; there’s a lot of steps to it. You have to …

    LESLIE: And a process.

    TOM: A big process. That’s right. You have to make sure that the new finish binds to the old finish. And if you can have a pro do it, I think it’ll last a lot longer than if you do it yourself.

    HIRIC (sp): Oh, no, I have no plan to do it myself.

    TOM: Alright.

    HIRIC (sp): Oh, yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you very much for the good suggestion.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    HIRIC (sp): Thank you. Good job.

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

    Well, if you’re like most people, you never give a second thought to your smoke detectors. But would they really be able to alert you to danger? We’re going to tell you how to make sure your detectors are working correctly and safely, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Right now at The Home Depot, all special-order Andersen windows, patio doors and accessories are 10-percent off. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Saving 10 percent on Andersen and lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy, with a new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Now 10-percent off at The Home Depot. Valid through September 12, U.S. only. See store for details.

    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.

    Hey, all you tech-savvy Money Pit fans out there. Did you guys know that there are more than 500 million users on Twitter right now? That’s insane. You guys should be barbecuing. It’s Labor Day.

    So if you are one of them, why not follow us here at Money Pit? You will get quick, current articles and home improvement advice and of course, chances to win exclusive prizes for our Twitter followers. Just follow us at @MoneyPit and you’ll get a whole host of info there, plus lots of fun ways to share what’s going on at your money pit.

    And while you’re online, you can post a question in The Money Pit Community section, like Mike in Texas did. And he wrote: “My smoke detectors are a few decades old.”

    TOM: Wow. Antiques.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy. “They still work when I push the test button but do I need to upgrade them? Is there newer or better technology?”

    Don’t they actually have an expiration date printed on them?

    TOM: Well, probably not but look, if your smoke detectors are more than five years old, let alone a few decades old, Mike, it really is time – he’s probably exaggerating; I don’t think they were around a few decades ago.

    LESLIE: Sure they have been.

    TOM: A few decades? Fifty-year-old smoke detectors?

    LESLIE: A few. Few is two to me. Twenty years.

    TOM: OK. Well, listen, it’s time to replace them, OK? Because here is the thing about smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors and any of those sort of monitoring systems: they don’t just work when you have a problem; they’re on all the time. They’re constantly sampling the air. So you have to remember that any appliance that goes through millions of cycles a year like that is going to wear out. It’s a good idea to replace smoke detectors every five years.

    As far as technology, yes, there is new technology. The technology isn’t super-new. Basically, there’s two types of smoke detectors: one that detects flame and one that detects smoke. These dual-sensor detectors have become pretty standard today but I would just make sure that you pick up a newer one; you’ll probably have it covered. So, time to tear out the old ones, Mike. Put in a couple of new ones. Make sure you have one on every floor of the house and protect yourself for the next few years properly.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I’m telling you, Mike, the new ones are date-stamped and they will tell you right on there: “This was manufactured X date. Good for five years.” So you do need to replace them.

    Alright. Jen in Kentucky writes: “Can you give me any tips on getting rid of cockroaches? I’ve had an exterminator and they disappear for a while but then they come back.”

    Gross, Jen, I’m sorry. You’re giving me the willies.

    TOM: You know, I mean look, if you’ve got a cockroach problem, there’s really a multi-step approach that you have to take.

    First of all, you have to change the situation that promotes them, which is usually an abundance of food and water sources. So check for leaks, check for cracks, check for food that you’re leaving out on the counter or that’s spilling out or pet food bags, any of that sort of thing. You want to eliminate those hiding places because if they don’t have hiding places, they’re not going to have a place to hang out.

    And rather than use sprays which, as you have experienced, will give you temporary success, consider using baits. They are far more effective because they take them back to the nest, share them with all of their cockroach friends and eliminate many more of them that same way.

    And then finally, use traps on an ongoing basis to monitor the population. If you see that a lot of the traps are filling up, then you may need to improve the amount of bait that you have around. But it’s really a multi-step process and that’s what will keep them under control and out of sight.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And which is really what we want. And now I’m going to go thoroughly wash my hands. It always gives me the willies; I don’t know why.

    I’m sorry, Jen. I know they’re in your house but I’m bleh for you. Bleh.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this part of your weekend listening to us. We hope we’ve given you a few ideas, a little inspiration, a little information to help you take on your next money pit project around your house.

    If you’ve got a question, you can reach us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section.

    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.


    (Copyright 2012 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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