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Get A Cleaner House By Learning Your Cleaning Personality Type, Save Money By Building A Fence On Your Own, And Find Out Whether Your Home Is Secure From Anywhere, Anytime

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement project, solve your décor dilemmas. If something is busted and needs to get fixed or not looking very pretty and you want to spruce it up, pick up the phone and call us first. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll give you the tips, the advice, the how-to that you need to get it done once, get it done right and then you can take the rest of the day off.

    LESLIE: Depends on how fast you do those things.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, let’s be optimistic about it. We can get them done quick, usually. One thing that you can’t get done quick, though, is cleaning. And if you tend to procrastinate cleaning at any cost, you may be known as an avoider. That’s just one of the several cleaning-personality types that was revealed in a recent survey. We’re going to tell you what your cleaning personality might be and also how you can help clean better and smarter, in just a little bit.

    LESLIE: And whether you are trying to keep your pets and your kids inside or maybe some noises outside, a fence around your yard can really help a lot. We’re going to tell you how you can save some money by building the fence yourself.

    TOM: And do you worry about your house when you’re not there? There’s a brand-new product on the market that lets you check it from any location near or far.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet. It doesn’t just detect electrical fires, it will actually prevent them because it cuts off the power when it senses that there’s trouble.

    TOM: That is a brilliant invention and one that’s going to save a lot of homes from a terrible, terrible fire. The Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet. It’s got a long, fancy name but it prevents fires, it’s easy to install. Any DIYer can do it. And we’re going to give one away, this hour, on the program.

    It’s worth 50 bucks. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it. You do that by picking up the phone and calling us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jerry in West Virginia is on the line with a soundproofing question. How can we help you today?

    JERRY: The second floor master, we want to convert into a movie room. However, it’s over our son’s bedroom. He’s six years old and what I’ve noticed is the volume, there’s like no sound barrier between the first and second floor. So, when I hear my wife reading him a bedtime story, I can hear it very plainly upstairs.

    TOM: And that’s typical because there’s no insulation in those walls, so you will get some sound transmission. If you want to try to soundproof those walls or the ceiling, there is a number of ways to do that.

    There’s a type of drywall that you can apply, as a second layer, that will be quieter than the traditional type of drywall. It’s called QuietRock. To do that, you’d probably have to take out the old drywall. The other issue is that wherever you have a gap in those walls for an electrical outlet or a light switch or anything like that, they have to be sealed properly to deliver the soundproofing.

    And then there’s another way to do this where you put a second layer of regular drywall on the first layer that’s already there. You use a material called Green Glue, which provides sort of a sound-insulation barrier between the two rooms. So by improving the drywall between the surfaces, you can reduce some of the sound. But I don’t know. You said, “Movie room.” If it gets pretty loud in there, it’s probably not going to stop all of it.

    JERRY: Yeah. We were kind of hoping to do some type of cork floor upstairs. I thought there may be something that would help.

    TOM: Well, I mean that’ll help a little bit but the drywall of the ceiling below is where you’ll really have a chance to stop it.

    JERRY: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your help and I love your show. We listen to it all the time.

    TOM: Yeah. Good luck with that project and with all the work you’re doing to your new house. Call us back anytime, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Pat in Arkansas is dealing with a humid house. What’s going on there?

    PAT: Well, I have a new heat pump and it’s not taking out the humidity. Of course, I live in a humid area but I just wondered. It’s supposed to take out the humidity, as I understood.

    TOM: Well, not really. Air conditioners, in general – central air conditioners, which is essentially what a heat pump is, are not designed to be dehumidifiers. They do dehumidify by virtue of the fact that they’re cooling the air but they’re not as effective as other forms of dehumidifiers.

    There’s a couple of other ones that you could consider, one of which is called a whole-home dehumidifier. And that’s built into the HVAC system and it would be built into the duct system. And that can take out about 90 pints of water a day.

    There’s another type of stand-alone dehumidifier. In fact, I just put one of these in my own house and I thought it was absolutely terrific. It’s by Santa Fe and it’s a small dehumidifier that installs – in my case, I put it in my basement. And it actually is suspended from the ceiling in an unfinished part of the basement. And it’s only 12x12x22.

    And it takes out 70 pints of water a day. And it’s really neat. Once I had it up for an hour or so, I went down there and you can just see this pretty strong stream of water dripping out of it. And all that water used to be in the air and now it’s no longer there.

    So, you need to do some dehumidification and I think that you’ll find that that will do the trick, Pat.

    PAT: OK. What is the average humidity supposed to be in a house?

    LESLIE: Thirty to fifty percent?

    TOM: Well, yeah, I was going to say around 40. So we’re in the same neighborhood.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: And if you put a good dehumidifier in, that will be set up to a humidistat so that you’ll always know what the humidity is.

    LESLIE: And it’ll come on as it’s needed.

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    PAT: OK. Alrighty. Well, I thank you so much.

    TOM: Good luck, Pat. 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. Give us call, let us know what you are working on.

    The summer is quickly ending. Do you have some college students moving back to campus and maybe you’re thinking about turning their bedroom into that crafting room that you always dreamed of? Not going to judge. We’re looking forward to those days myself.

    Whatever you are working on trying to wrap up this summer, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll help you do it.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, would you do anything to avoid cleaning your house? Well, it turns out you’re not alone and you’re not a lost cause, either. Up next, we’ve got a cleaning-personality test you can take to discover your cleaning-personality type.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, some things you just can’t control and electrical fires have always been one of them.

    LESLIE: Yeah, until now. We’re giving away a great prize this hour and a super-safe one, as well. It’s the Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet.

    Now, you install it in place of any standard receptacle in your home. It’s really easy to do and it’s super affordable. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to prevent electrical fires that could be springing up in your home.

    TOM: That’s right. It’s a prize worth $50 but goes home free with one caller this hour. So give us a call right now. We’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat and perhaps you will be the lucky recipient of that Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet worth 50 bucks. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Eric in Arkansas is on the line and has a problem with smoke damage at his money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    ERIC: Yes, I recently bought a foreclosure that’s got some smoke and fire damage. And I was curious. Is there a product or a special way that the walls need to be treated? Some kind of special primer to cover up the smoke damage to get rid of the smell? Or do I have to gut the whole thing?

    TOM: You know, one of the best primers for this particular purpose is made by Zinsser and it’s called B-I-N – B-I-N. And essentially, it’s a synthetic shellac. And what it does is completely seals in the odor that’s kind of soaked into that wall. So if you do a really good job applying this type of a primer, I think that the odor will go away and you’ll have a terrific base upon which to apply your sort of topcoat of color.

    ERIC: OK. Now, Zinsser? Is that what it was called?

    TOM: Zinsser is the manufacturer. Their product is called B-I-N -B-I-N.

    ERIC: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Judy in Missouri is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    JUDY: Yes, I was wondering if you had ever heard of – had a roof repair a few years ago and it’s been leaking ever since. They used what they called Tam-Shield. It’s a synthetic underlayment.

    TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm.

    JUDY: And it’s plastic and they used that instead of felt paper.

    TOM: Yeah, right. It’s synthetic. And it’s actually an upgrade to standard, 15-pound felt paper. And it’s actually better than using standard felt paper under a roof.

    The reason that your roof is leaking now is probably not because of the Tam-Shield. It’s probably because of something that went wrong with the repair. But I don’t think it would have been the underlayment, because that’s actually pretty good stuff.

    How is it leaking, Judy? Tell me about the leak.

    JUDY: Well, we really don’t know. It comes through in our bathroom and we get up in the attic and we can see drips. But they can’t seem to pinpoint it. They worked on it several times and they just can’t get it to go away.

    TOM: Alright. Usually, if your roof is leaking above your bathroom – there’s a pipe that goes through the ceiling right there and up through the roof and it’s the plumbing-vent pipe. And right around that vent pipe, there’s like a rubber boot that seals that pipe between the pipe and the roof itself and then there’s flashing that goes around that. That’s the most common place for a roof leak when you have it leak right above a bathroom.

    Now, a lot of times, contractors will try to sort of tar that in place but that’s a bad idea. What I would recommend is to take out the plumbing-vent flashing. And you can do that easily by removing a few shingles in that area.

    Roof shingles are actually pretty easy to disassemble if you know kind of a trick of the trade. I like to do it with a flat bar that you can slip up under the roof shingle, find the nail and sort of pry it from side to side and it’ll pop right out. And then you replace that plumbing-vent flashing and put it back together again and make sure you put everything in the right order so it – the roofing lays on top of the flashing. That usually stops that leak.

    JUDY: But you – but leave the vent pipes there?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. The vent pipe is there for an important reason. You’re going to start having problems flushing your toilet and all your sinks are going to start to gurgle if you take that out. But replace the plumbing-vent flashing there, OK?

    JUDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    Well, have you ever noticed how things like paying bills and going to the dentist suddenly sound fun when it comes time to clean your house? Well, if this rings a bell with you, there’s a chance you are known as the avoider. It’s just one of several cleaning-personality types identified in a new survey by Jelmar, the makers of CLR cleaning products.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Your cleaning-personality type is going to identify how you approach cleaning or in the case of an avoider, how you don’t approach it until you absolutely have to.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, maybe you do things like clean only when company’s coming or when you’re stressed. There’s a cleaning-personality type for each of these habits, too.

    LESLIE: And once you know what your cleaning-personality type is, Jelmar is going to give you custom tips for pushing past your type’s hurdles so that you can clean your house faster, quicker, maybe even better.

    Head on over to CLR Cleaners’ Facebook page and you can take Jelmar’s cleaning-personality quiz there. Then you can share your results on social media. You’re going to get tricks and tips for your specific type.

    TOM: Just by taking the quiz, you’ll also be entered to win a $500 Visa gift card and Jelmar cleaning products. It’s all online at Facebook.com/CLRCleaners.

    LESLIE: Don in Illinois is on the line with a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    DON: Yes. I’ve got an old farmhouse. They started building it back in the 1800s and the foundation is red brick on a crawlspace. And it’s sinking in one area real bad. And I had a guy tell me that I – because I can’t dig a footing tier because there’s an old system back here, also. He said that I could pour a large pad, go underneath the house and come out and make it like a sidewalk on the edge of the house and then pour – actually pour – the wall up as high as I could and then possibly either put, as a last row, a block in. Is that possible to do something like that?

    TOM: Maybe, maybe not. You know, you’re talking about a major structural piece of work here, Don. And the problem with this is – I’m going to presume you’re not a licensed structural engineer. If you start doing this kind of work on your own and then, sometime in the future, you want to sell this house and you’ve not had the right kind of professionals involved in this kind of a major repair, that’s going to be a huge red flag. That could make it very difficult for you to sell the house.

    I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector, Don. And when I saw houses like this that had these kind of issues, I always recommended that the homeowner spend a little bit of money to have an engineer look at it and design a specific repair for that situation. Because this way, when you go to sell the house and if it becomes an issue, you can show that you had a professional review it and tell you exactly what to do and then you took action on that. And you can even have them come back and sort of certify that it was done right. Then you end up having sort of a pedigree on the quality of that repair, because this is not something to do yourself and get wrong. You could make it worse and you can devalue your house in a very major way.

    DON: That’s what I was kind of wondering. It sounded kind of farfetched to me, in a way, and I was just like, “Well, I’ve been listening to you guys. I’m going to give it a shot, give you a call and see what you guys have got to say.”

    TOM: Yeah. We’re glad you did and now we’ll get you on the road to recovery, OK?

    DON: OK. I know a couple engineers. I’ll see if I can get one out here. I appreciate the information.

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

    LESLIE: Chris in Pennsylvania is having a problem with a dishwasher. What’s going on?

    CHRIS: Bought a new house and I’m a first-time homeowner. And my house was built in 1957. And so, I was wondering if I would have to hire separate people to work on the carpentry, the electric and the plumbing? Or is there somebody, like a regular contractor, that would put a dishwasher in?

    TOM: Do you have a space for a dishwasher right now, Chris? Or has one never been installed?

    CHRIS: One’s never been installed.

    TOM: OK. So you’ve got to figure out where you’re going to put this and it’s going to take away from some cabinet space.

    Now, typically, the dishwasher is next to the kitchen sink. And if you happen to have, say, a 24-inch cabinet next to your kitchen sink, that will be the perfect place to do that. But this is going to take a bit of work. You’re going to have to do carpentry and I think you’ll need a carpenter and probably a plumber to do this. And you may need an electrician, depending on whether or not the plumber could do the wiring for you or if there’s wiring right there you can pull from.

    Because what has to happen is you’d remove the cabinet to create that 24-inch space, then the dishwasher would slip in there. And it needs to be plumbed, so you need to have the supply line and the drain go basically through the side of a cabinet wall where the sink is and tap into the plumbing there. Then, of course, it needs to have electricity, so you’ll need to have an outlet installed. So it is a bit of a project, I’ll tell you that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But if she were to hire somebody like a general contractor – who may have those subs in his arsenal, if you will, or at least access to those people – they would better supervise the entire project and sort of take all of that worry out of your hands.

    TOM: Or just a really good handyman. The trouble is that, theoretically or at least technically speaking, you need a licensed plumber to do the plumbing work and you need a licensed electrician to do the electrical work.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Alright, Chris?

    CHRIS: Alright. I appreciate your advice.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Texas where Moses has a question about tiling. How can we help you today?

    MOSES: I Googled to find out how to tile my shower and I used a product. I believe it’s called “mastic.”

    TOM: Yep.

    MOSES: And I did a great job, if I can pat myself on the back, doing it but when I went to clean it, I didn’t realize that I was supposed to wipe the mastic off of the tile. And I had two kinds of tile. The white tile that was smooth – traditional bathroom shower tile – I was able to use a razor and scrape it off.

    TOM: OK.

    MOSES: But I had an accent/textured tile that I cannot get that mastic off.

    LESLIE: And it’s not glazed?

    MOSES: Yeah, it’s not glazed. And I’ve scraped and it leaves a spot and I don’t know how to get the mastic off.

    TOM: Have you tried an adhesive remover?

    MOSES: What would you recommend?

    TOM: There are a good number of citrus-based adhesive removers that might free up that mastic and enable you to kind of brush it out of those nooks and crevices.

    MOSES: OK.

    TOM: And that’s probably your best shot, at this point.

    MOSES: OK. You know, the one thing the video didn’t cover is wipe as you go.

    TOM: But you know what? Kudos to you, Moses, for taking on that project. And I’m sure even though maybe it bugs you every time you look at it, that it wouldn’t be terribly obvious to others that see it. And they really would appreciate your skill in taking that on.

    MOSES: Thank you very much and I’ll try that product. And I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, so you don’t have the budget for a new fence. Well, why not build one yourself? Roger Cook from This Old House is going to tell you how you can build one, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made In USA With Global Materials logo. Visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica.

    MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs. To get more information about how to help improve your home’s electrical safety, visit www.GetSafeToday.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: Well, those backyard burgers aren’t the only thing sizzling this summer. Money Pit is giving away big-ticket prizes in our Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway Sweepstakes. Now we’ve got not one, not two but three winners that are going to get peace of mind with our grand prize: the Classic SimpliSafe Home Security System worth $349 plus a month of free monitoring.

    You can visit Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit to enter. And you can help, actually, increase your chances of winning by sharing our Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway post to earn bonus entries. It’s online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Go there now.

    LESLIE: Jack in Delaware is on the line with a mysterious odor coming from who knows where. What’s going on?

    JACK: Got a sidewalk in front of my house that’s been there for probably since the 50s. And it’s really steep and I couldn’t get my trailer in and out, so I had them come dig it out. And I’ve got up to my – oh, into my property, about another 9 or 10 feet past the sidewalk, I’ve got in new concrete.

    And then I had them lay some more concrete going up to the house from there. But the old sidewalk was put in there like, say, in the 50s. And it just – if I take a high-pressure washer to it, it seems to kind of flake out on top and the rocks come out.

    And QUIKRETE makes a product that we can put over the top of that that makes it look like new. But the color is a lot different than the QUIKRETE is. Can I put white paint in the QUIKRETE? And am I going to have a problem with it, down the line, coming off or something if I do that, just to make it match? It’s just kind of a curb-appeal thing.

    TOM: I’m not 100-percent sure because I’m not quite sure which product you’re talking about. But there is a way to color concrete. You mentioned this is a surface product, so it might be an epoxy or have some other type of quality to it.

    But I would not be surprised if this could not be colored. And it may not be that you need paint to put in there and it might just be a sort of a concentrated color, much like they use when they color paint in stores, and they make it to match. So I think that if you probably did a little bit of research on the QUIKRETE website or wrote to their technical-support folks, they might be able to give you the recipe here. Because it is very common to have to color concrete.

    JACK: Well, I tried just a little bit of it and I mixed it up and it was nice and thick-like. I read the directions first and then I put some white paint in it and I ended up adding it about three times until I got it until it’s almost the same color as the new concrete. Then I put a few spots in the old thing and I’ve been watching it and it seems to stick alright but I’m concerned – is this white going to bleach out really fast and then look worse than what I’ve got?

    TOM: Was it an interior paint or an exterior paint that you mixed in?

    JACK: Exterior.

    TOM: You know what? It might just work.

    JACK: It looks good so far.

    TOM: Proof’s in the pudding. If you’ve already kind of tested it out and it seems to be holding, then it’s pretty good evidence. But if you want to know how, technically, to do it the right way, I would turn to the techs at QUIKRETE.

    JACK: OK. I can do that. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, whether it’s a matter of keeping the kids in or keeping road noise out, a fence can act as a stylish frame for your yard.

    TOM: That’s right. But building a fence is more than just a matter of putting some posts in the ground. There are design considerations and building regulations to take into account. For pointers on successful fencing projects, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscape contractor for TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: Hi. How are you?

    TOM: We’re well. Thank you so much for coming by The Money Pit.

    So first off, let’s talk about preparation. What kind of preparation needs to be taken care of prior to fence-building beginning?

    ROGER: Before you buy a piece of stock, before you dig a hole in the ground, you want to know where the property line is. There have been more lawsuits over fences being put in the wrong place with your neighbor than anything else, so …

    TOM: And if you put that fence like 2 inches on the wrong side of the line, that’s going to be a very expensive piece of property, that 2-inch strip.

    ROGER: Right. And no one likes to be surprised and come home and find a fence put up and not have any knowledge about it. So, communication with the neighbors is essential. Walk them out, show them what you’re going to do, where you’re going to do it. If there is any inkling at all that the property line is iffy, get a survey done. It’ll be well worth the money you spend.

    LESLIE: So now that you know the property line and you know that you’re going to be putting the fence on your property itself, what do you sort of make a list of to figure out what maybe the best material is? Are there …?

    ROGER: Well, I go right to what’s the purpose of the fence. Is it there for noise reduction? Is it there to keep pets in? Is it aesthetic? Lot of different questions you need to answer before you pick the type of material.

    TOM: Because a lot of designs are going to impact on what that goal is.

    ROGER: Exactly.

    TOM: Just like if you’re putting a fence in for a pool, you’re doing it for safety. If you’re putting a fence in for pets, then maybe that’s a different reason.

    ROGER: Right. And there are certain restrictions you have to know about, as far as a height of the fence. To be code for a pool, it has to be a certain height and a certain type and you’re only allowed to go so high on some fences. You can’t put in a 10-foot fence.

    TOM: Now, in terms of those regulations, I think something else that’s interesting that a lot of folks don’t recognize is that fences have good sides and bad sides, right?

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: And you’re required, though, to show the neighbor your good side. You can’t put the fence up backwards. You’ve got to show the good side out always, correct?

    ROGER: So they tell me. Yes, it’s just common courtesy. And there would be just another reason for the neighbors to be upset if they come home and they saw the back side of the fence. And some fences don’t have a back side. Some fences are built like a shadow-box fence.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: It’s equal on both sides.

    TOM: Right. Sort of board on board, where it looks good for both sides.

    So, once you’ve decided what kind of fence you want to install and you’re cleared with your building regulations, I guess the really key element to making sure your fence is done and done well is the installation of the post.

    ROGER: Right, that’s critical. Everything’s hanging on the post, so you want to dig a hole that’s about a third as deep as the post is tall.


    ROGER: That’s the starting point. You set up a string line to give you a nice, straight run because there’s nothing worse than looking down and seeing a crooked post here and there.

    TOM: How do you approach setting a post? I mean I’ve always used stone around the post. Do you prefer stone or do you like to use concrete?

    ROGER: I prefer stone, just like you, because it drains. It’ll hold the post in place nicely but it drains and we get the water away from the post. The more you get the water away from the wood, the longer it’s going to last.

    LESLIE: And I guess you’re keeping the post in place because you’re tamping all of that stone down as you’re installing it? You’re sort of impacting it?

    ROGER: Yeah, exactly. And a lot of times, what we use is an iron bar with a big, metal end on it, 2 or 3 inches across, so you can sit there and really pack that material in. You have to spend a lot of time on your post getting them straight and plumb. And then the rest of the fence will go in easily.

    TOM: Now, a fence isn’t just functional; it can be beautiful, too. Any tips for sprucing up a plain fence?

    ROGER: Well, I like to do a lot of different things. You can actually buy hangers that you can grow plants in and hang them from the fence themselves. And again, you could train a rose or something like that on the fence. What I tell people is to stay away from vines that are real heavy, like wisteria. That can really get heavy and cause a fence to move.

    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

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

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

    Still ahead, have you ever wished you could check in and make sure your house is closed up and secure and just like when you left it? Well, now you can. We’re going to tell you about a new tool that can help you figure out what’s going on with your home even when you’re not there, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by SimpliSafe Home Security. SimpliSafe has no long-term contract. And the award-winning, 24/7 protection is just $15 a month. Money Pit listeners, save 10 percent when you visit SimpliSafeMoney.com today. That’s SimpliSafeMoney.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And some things you can leave to chance but getting an electrical fire? Well, that should not be something that you leave to chance. There’s a solution for that.

    LESLIE: That’s right. One lucky caller this hour is never going to have to worry about it again. We’re giving away the Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet.

    TOM: It installs very easily. It’ll prevent electrical fires before they start.

    It’s a prize worth 50 bucks that can save your life. Learn more at GetSafeToday.com. That’s GetSafeToday.com. And give us a call, right now, for your chance to win, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading out to Massachusetts where Tony is dealing with some squeaky floors. How can we help you today?

    TONY: I have a little problem with the hardwood floor. As you – when you walk across, there’s some squeaking boards. I was wondering, any kind of remedy that I can solve this problem?

    TOM: So, the reason those boards are squeaking is because there’s movement inside the board, like sort of the tongue and the groove of the board as they’re joined together and moving. What you have to do is secure those better to the subfloor and the floor joist below.

    So the trick of the trade is this. You get a stud finder. Stud finders today can penetrate 2, 3 inches into a wall or a floor. And you use that to identify where the floor joist is going; it’s passing sort of below that floor. And then what you can either do is nail that floor down to the subfloor below and to the joist below that or you could use a screw to do that.

    There’s a type of screw called a “trim screw” that’s only slightly wider than a finish nail. And if you pile it whole through the hardwood floor and then you install the trim screw, which you can do with a drill – with a Phillips bit inside of a drill – you can pull that floor down tight – that hardwood floor down tight -and that will stop some of the movement. And if you do that in enough places, in the right places, you can eliminate the squeak. Does that make sense?

    TONY: Yes, it does, Tom. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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

    Well, it’s summertime, which means the foot traffic coming in and out of your house is probably at a fever pitch. That’s fun but it can also lead to confusion about who was the last to leave and whether or not they shut the door behind them.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s not just doors. Windows also open and close constantly as the summer temperatures rise and drop, which can lead to even more head-scratching to an unsecured home. And that’s a real risk once everybody leaves the house.

    TOM: Well, you can finally stop wondering whether your house is open and at risk, with Pella Insynctive technology. Now, it’s a family of products for windows and doors that include sensors that let you check on those windows and doors from anywhere a mile away or across the globe.

    LESLIE: Now, Pella’s system is really easy to install and it’s affordable. The sensors are going to attach to your doors and windows and they’re compatible with a smartphone app. So, with one glance at your phone, you can actually get your home’s status. It’s a perfect way to check in on your windows and doors when you are away on vacation.

    TOM: Because that could totally ruin your best day to find out you left a window open and your house is now flooded when you come back.

    Now, you can also take it one step further with Pella’s motorized blinds and shades, also controlled by sensors and a smartphone app. They let you control those blinds and shades from anywhere, anytime. A great way to make it look like someone’s home, even when they’re not.

    Learn more, online, at Pella.com/Insynctive. That’s Pella.com/I-n-s-y-n-c-t-i-v-e.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Delaware to chat with Ruth who’s having an issue with water heating. Tell us what’s going on.

    RUTH: Our water heater is – I’m guessing it’s around 12 years old. And whenever I use the hot water, it doesn’t seem to last very long. And so a couple months ago – maybe six months ago – my husband and his friend – and his friend, I guess that’s what he does for a living – they emptied the water heater and they put two new elements in. But in my opinion, it’s still doing the same thing. Like it didn’t – to me, it didn’t change the length – how long the hot water lasted.

    TOM: And this is an electric water heater?

    RUTH: It’s not gas. It’s electric, yes.

    TOM: And so, when they replaced the elements, they tested both elements to make sure they actually work?

    RUTH: I’m not sure if they did that. I don’t know. He said they put new elements in. I’m assuming they – I guess I could ask them later if they did that.

    TOM: Because here’s the thing. When you have a water heater that’s electric and it runs out of hot water quickly, it’s usually because one or the other of the two elements burn out or the control circuit breaks down so that they don’t actually come on. So what you do, as a technician, is you run a continuity tester on these coils. And it’s a way of determining whether or not they’re working or not.

    Electric coils for a water heater is just like a light bulb; it either works or doesn’t work. There’s no in-between. And so, the first thing I would do is check the continuity on both of these coils to make sure they’re both physically working, because what you’re describing to me sounds like one is not. And that could be the whole source of the problem, OK?

    RUTH: Alright.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, do you feel like you can never get your kitchen cabinets clean? Well, I mean you’re cooking in there and you’re making a huge mess, so it is an uphill battle. But we are going to tell you what you need to do to break through the grease and buildup once and for all. That’s right. Never clean again. No, kidding. You’ll have to clean again but it’s a good tip, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.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: Well, it’s berry-picking season in many places. And if you’ve got more fruit than you know what to do with, you might be searching for recipes. I know that always happens to us when we’re trying to figure out what to do with our Jersey tomatoes. But here’s another idea: you can consider using that fruit as a natural wood stain. We’ve got details on how you can sort of concoct your own natural stains. And that’s on The Money Pit home page at MoneyPit.com right now.

    LESLIE: And while you’re there online, you can post a question just like Jim did. And Jim writes: “What product would you recommend for cleaning wood kitchen cabinets? We just bought a new house and the cabinets are a light, white oak and are very dirty with grease and grime and cigarette-smoke residue.”

    That sounds gross, Jim. My advice would have been to hire a cleaning lady before you moved in.

    TOM: Good advice, too. Well, I would try to start with something that’s not too corrosive and kind of – you can always get a little rougher with this. But I would simply start with Murphy’s Oil Soap.

    LESLIE: It does the trick a lot of the times.

    TOM: Yeah. it’s a very dependable wood cleaner. It doesn’t like take away from the wood. It’s not going to make it swell or get kind of yucky. A rule of thumb with Murphy’s, though, is don’t use a lot of water with it. You want to try to dip a washcloth into the Murphy’s and kind of wipe the cabinets down and then follow up with a clean sponge to get that soap off and to get it dry. It doesn’t leave streaks. It works really well.

    Now, if you’ve got some really nasty grease stains and you want to try to sort of zap those and loosen them up, a little trick of the trade is you can squirt a little WD-40 in that spot. That has a ton of household uses and one of them is as a spot treatment for tough grease or other similar stains. I mean it works for permanent marker. It’s really good stuff and it’ll work for grease.

    So between those two, I think you can get them looking a heck of a lot better, Jim.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Jim? If you head over to Home Depot or Lowe’s or any of the home centers near you, you can actually find degreaser wipes that might be a little bit easier for you to sort of try to work at on the cabinet-door fronts and stuff. But either way, you’ve got some elbow grease in your future, my friend.

    Alright next up, we’ve got a post from Annie who writes: “I accidentally set a hot pan on my laminate countertop and surprise, it left a big burn. Is there anything that I can do to fix it or cover it up?”

    TOM: You were close, because there’s really no salvaging burned laminate. As you know, there’s nothing to do. It’s gone; it’s just done.

    LESLIE: Get a KitchenAid mixer and put it right on top of it.

    TOM: Yeah. But here’s something you could do that may look kind of cool and you would – people may come to your house and say, “Wow. How did you get a built-in cutting board into your countertop?” And you could answer by saying, “Well, I burned a hole in it and it was the only way I had to cover it up.” But I would just say, “Well, I thought it would look really cool there, so I designed it myself and that’s how it came out.”

    So, yeah, you could sort of route a cutting board into that countertop. It looks kind of cool and it will take care of your stain. Or if you’re fortunate enough and really handy, you could purchase new laminate and basically put a second layer of laminate on top of the first layer that’s already there and cover it up that way. But there’s no repairing it once it actually starts to go like that because, sorry, you burned away the color layer on that. It’s just not coming back.

    LESLIE: And I think what’s interesting is that if you head over to a home center, you’ll find samples of Formica or Wilsonart. Those are both manufacturers – Lamin-art – of, you know, a laminate material. You can find pretty much any look, in any type of style. And it’s not that expensive and the sheets are fairly easy to cut. And it’s easy to adhere, as well. So if you want to go with an overlay of a new laminate, it’s not going to be the most difficult project. I promise you’ll be able to do it.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show also on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some advice, some ideas to take on a project that you want to get done in your own 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.


    (Copyright 2015 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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