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Get Home Security Without A Long-Term Alarm Contract, How To Design And Install A Kitchen Backsplash, And Protecting Your Yard Against Pet Damage

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your home décor dilemmas. Whatever is going on in your home, let’s put it on our to-do list. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned. Hey, coming up in this hour, with summer vacation season in full swing, are you leaving your home susceptible to break-ins? Well, you may be. There’s a new wireless and affordable home security system on the market now that can help. And it can deliver the security that you’ll need to truly enjoy your time away. We’ll have details on that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you’re looking for a nice finishing touch for your kitchen, Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House is here with advice for designing and installing a beautiful, new backsplash to spruce up your space.

    TOM: And if your yard is literally going to the dogs, we’ve got some easy tips for keeping your furry friends from ruining your lawn and your garden.

    LESLIE: Plus, one lucky caller this hour has cooler, quieter days ahead with a Haier Serenity Series Quiet Air Conditioner.

    TOM: It’s more than 50-percent quieter than most air-conditioning units, so no more yelling over the sound of the air conditioner. It’s a prize worth $299. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. So, are you feeling lucky? Well, you’d better have a home improvement question and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    GLENN: I’ve got a Jenn-Air natural-gas range and when it – when you turn the temperature to 350 to preheat it, it takes between 25 and 30 minutes to come up to temperature. The manual with the stove said that, yeah, it should only take about 10 minutes, so I was wondering if you had any ideas.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I wonder if there’s an obstruction in the line.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I was thinking about the valve. It sounds like it’s a problem with the control system.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: So that could be electronics or it could be the valve or it could be a maintenance issue. I think it’s definitely something you need to get addressed because it could potentially be unsafe. There’s no way it should be taking 30 minutes for that to happen.

    Is this a self-cleaning range?

    GLENN: Yes. It’s not the type that’s got the lock, though. You know, you just – and we don’t use that feature; we just clean it by hand. But it does have that feature but we don’t use it.

    TOM: I’m hesitating on this. One way to look at this is you could run the self-cleaning cycle and see if it cleared it. But then again, if there’s something wrong with the valve, I wouldn’t want you to run the self-cleaning cycle. So I think the best thing to do is to have it serviced by a professional that is familiar with that brand and can access those parts. Because it’s clearly not right.

    GLENN: Yeah, I agree.

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

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

    PATTY: Yeah, I’ve got a problem with squeaky floorboards. I’ve heard suggestions of going under the house with some shims to try to solve the problem that way. I didn’t know if there might be a better solution.

    TOM: Sure. There’s lots of ways to address this.

    So, Patty, what kind of floor are we talking about here? Are we talking about a hardwood floor? Or is this like the flooring under carpet?

    PATTY: Flooring under the carpet.

    TOM: OK. Alright. So, the flooring under the carpet. So the tough thing here is that the carpet is in between you and the solution. The reason that’s happening – and one more question. How old is your house?

    PATTY: Probably about 27 years old.

    TOM: So, you probably have plywood floors. They most likely were put in with a type of a nail that’s called a “cooler.” And the reason it’s called a “cooler” is because it’s rosin-coated or glue-coated. And when the carpenters drive that nail through the plywood, into the floor joists, theoretically, the rosin is supposed to melt. And then when the nail stops, it sort of freezes in place.

    But in actuality, that doesn’t happen all the time. And so, when you step on these boards, they loosen up. And because the nails have rosin on them – you think of rosin like on the bow of an instrument? It has a lot of friction, right? So it really increases the squeak factor as that nail moves in and out of the space between the plywood and the floor joist below. And you can also get squeaks when the boards rub together.

    So how do we make this go away? How do we make it quiet? There’s two approaches. First of all, if you want to try to silence a squeak and not remove your carpet, what you can do is identify the place where the floor is loose and it’s on top of a floor joist. Now, you can do that with a stud finder. Stanley Tools has lots of different stud finders that are anywhere from a few dollars to $25 or $30. And it can tell you exactly, by sort of looking through that carpet, when you’re over a floor joist. Then what you do is you drive a Number 10 or Number 12 galvanized finish nail through the carpet, through the subfloor, into the floor joist.

    Now, when you’ve finished driving it, it’ll look sort of like the carpet is dimpled in. But you can pull that carpet nap and pop it sort of right through the nailhead and it will sort of disappear below the carpet that way. If you do that in a couple of places, you’ll quiet down that spot because you’ll be basically securing down that loose subfloor to the floor joist below.

    But the best way to do this is to pull up the carpet. And then, what you would do is you would get case-hardened screws that are put in place with a drill with a screwdriver tip on it and basically shoot these screws in, about 4 or 5 of them across every 4-foot depth of the plywood into the floor joist below. This will lock that floor down and it will never, ever pull up again and you’ll get rid of 90 percent of the squeaks. There’s probably going to be one or two somewhere that you can’t get rid of but for the most part, you’ll get rid of them completely.

    The idea of going under the floor and shimming has to do with the idea of going under and looking for little gaps, perhaps, between the plywood and the floor joist. And it can work in certain circumstances but it’s certainly not a comprehensive approach. If you did do that, what I would do is I would insert shims with a construction adhesive on both sides of it so it’s kind of glued in place. But really, what you really want to do here is secure that plywood floor down to the floor joist better, because it’s loosened up over the years. And that’ll make your squeaks disappear. Does that make sense?

    PATTY: Yeah. You said galvanized nails and what length or what …?

    TOM: Yeah. Number 10 or 12 galvanized finish nails. And if you look up on our website how to silence a squeaky floor, you’ll get the instructions there, as well.

    PATTY: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Patty. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I cannot believe that summer is halfway over. I mean it’s nuts. We’re into August already, guys, so what are you working on? You’re running out of these warm, sticky days. We’re about to get into cooler, autumn temperatures. So let’s finish up some projects and start planning what we can do for the fall. 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.

    Up next, when it comes to your yard and your garden, man’s best friend can feel like the enemy. We’ve got tips to keep your landscaping from going to the dogs, after this.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And are you guys super-duper tired of those really loud air conditioners that all summer long, all you hear in your house is like “Whoosh. What? Can’t hear you”? Well, we’ve got a prize that can get rid of that prickliness and just give you super happiness. We’ve got up for grabs a Haier Serenity Series. You know, it’s a quiet air conditioner and it’s going to deliver all the cool that you want from a window unit but it’s got less than half the noise. They are super quiet.

    TOM: Yep. And plus, it’s ENERGY STAR-qualified. It uses about 15 percent less energy than conventional models. It’s a prize worth $299 but it’s going home free to one caller we talk to this hour. You can learn more at Haier Serenity Series. That’s Haier – H-a-i-e-r – SerenitySeries.com. And give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bruno in Canada wants to talk paint. How can we help you today?

    BRUNO: I’m looking for some suggestions on what I can do with a wall that I have. It’s a staircase that leads from the – pardon me – from the garage to the basement. And the wall that the – is part of the garage that it’s backfilled against, every time I try to do anything with it – any kind of paint, any kind of finish – it always bubbles.

    TOM: It’s got to be moist. That’s what’s going on there.

    BRUNO: Yes, yes. However, it’s a cement-block wall and I drilled holes at the – right across the bottom, at every core, to see if there is any water and it’s dry. But I agree that it’s got to be moisture but it’s maybe just damp, not actual water.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t think it’s water. What happens is a concrete block is really absorbent and it’ll draw moisture up into it, kind of like a sponge. And if it’s going to be damp like that, it’s not going to hold paint. Are you using the paints that are designed for block walls?

    BRUNO: I’ve tried this paint that was supposed to be waterproof.

    TOM: Well, the other issue is that once you put the first coat of paint on, you’re kind of cursed. Because if that’s separating from the block, anything you put above it is going to separate, too.

    BRUNO: So it’s separating from the first coat of paint.

    TOM: Correct, exactly. If that is not adhering well, then the paint is just going to peel off. So what you really need to do is to strip it down.

    BRUNO: OK. And is there a special product that would seal it much better than any paint? Is there anything else I could use?

    TOM: Yeah. Is this wall going to be finished in any way, shape or form?

    BRUNO: Well, it’s – what it is is a cement-block wall and then a plaster parched over it.

    TOM: When you say “plaster,” you mean you physically plastered over the cement block?

    BRUNO: To get a texture – a finished texture – rather than just painting the block.

    TOM: Because if you wanted to really finish it, like in the sense as if it was an interior wall, what you could do is – Georgia-Pacific makes a product that is like drywall but it’s fiberglass-faced. It’s called DensArmor. And it’s specifically designed for damp locations. And because it’s fiberglass-faced drywall, it can’t grow mold.

    So if you really want to do something and make it look completely finished and just get out of this sort of painting nightmare, what you might want to do is attach furring strips to that wall and then attach DensArmor drywall to it. Then you can finish it like a real wall.

    BRUNO: OK.

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

    LESLIE: Joan in California needs some help with a kitchen remodel. How’s it going?

    JOAN: Yes, well, we haven’t started yet and I just need some advice on how to get started. Do you start with an architect or what do you do?

    TOM: That’s a good question. So, planning makes perfect. You want to start with a plan.

    Now, are you essentially going to replace the kitchen in sort of the same layout that you have right now, Joan? Or are you thinking about really changing things up a lot?

    JOAN: Well, it’s a very small kitchen and I just want to know how to maximize everything.

    TOM: Alright. So if it’s a small kitchen, you can probably do this inexpensively by perhaps starting with a home center. A lot of the home centers have designers that work on the – work on designing kitchens for the cabinetry that they sell. And for a very small fee, they can help you lay that out and take advantage of all of the latest options.

    If you want to do more than that, what you’re going to do is hire a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. But this is sort of like hiring an interior decorator that works just on kitchens and baths. And that’s going to cost you a few bucks.

    But if you want to just do this an easy way, I would start with a home center, in the kitchen department, and see if they’ll lay out some options for you using the type of cabinets that they sell. Those cabinets are usually pretty affordable at that level and they’ll be able to give you some ideas on things, perhaps, you haven’t thought about.

    LESLIE: You know what, Joan? I think it’s really smart to keep a notepad in the kitchen. And everybody and anybody, yourself and your family who use the space, as you walk through and notice little areas where you’re tripping over one another or things that just don’t make sense or you wish that X was here and not there, sort of jot all of those down. So when you do go sit down with – whether it’s a certified kitchen-and-bath designer or someone in the home center, you sort of have all of these issues that could be addressed or might be able to be addressed.

    JOAN: One thing I really want is more electrical outlets, so that’ll have to definitely be in the plan.

    TOM: Well, it’s definitely in the plan and you’ll do these things in order. The first thing you’ll do is rip out the old cabinets and the next thing you’ll do would be to rough-in new wiring and new plumbing to have it exactly where you want it. And then, of course, you’ll start the installation of the new cabinetry as almost the last step.

    It’s also a good time to think about universal design in the kitchen, maybe having countertops of different height. So as you get older, you could sit down and work at the kitchen counter as opposed to just standing up. So, think of the sort of accessibility issues when you design this kitchen, as well.

    JOAN: How much time should I allow for something like this?

    TOM: Well, it depends on whether you have sort of all your ducks in a row. Sometimes it takes a while to get all the cabinets delivered. But if everything is accessible and on site, you can tear out this kitchen and rebuild it inside of a week.

    JOAN: Oh, wow.

    TOM: If you have everybody lined up and everybody is there when they need to be there and the plumber shows up on time, the electrician shows up on time and so on, sure, I don’t see any reason you can’t get it done in a week.

    JOAN: Well, thank you very much.

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

    Well, dogs may be man’s best friend but they’re rarely a yard’s best friend. I mean think about it: from foot traffic to their messes, pets can really wreak havoc on your landscaping.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Trying to grow grass on the path your dog has made is usually an uphill battle. So instead, install a stone walkway over those pathways. And this way, your dog can still run where he wants to and you enjoy a stone walkway. It’s got natural charm, you’re not dealing with dead grass. It’s really a win-win situation.

    TOM: Or you can switch to hardscaping in part of your yard and confine your pup to that space with a traditional or an electrical fence, which – they work really well, by the way. My sister recently put one of those inside her house and outside her house and they’re fantastic.

    You can also consider stone and masonry because they’re easy to clean. And as an added bonus, they’ll keep your dog from digging holes and dragging dirt inside.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But if, at the end of the day, you just simply can’t bring yourself to keep your dog away from the beloved grass, why not switch to a variety that’s much more resilient against foot and paw traffic? A type of grass that will work well there is Bermuda grass or Kentucky bluegrass.

    TOM: Yeah. Or if the issue is doggie spots: the bare patches caused by what we could call/say “dog’s byproducts” …

    LESLIE: That’s a good way to put it.

    TOM: Yeah. A byproduct, you know. And what you could do there is plant a lawn made of clover. So, clover stands up better to what your pets leave behind their behind, if you know what I mean.

    LESLIE: And I think clover looks so pretty.

    TOM: I think we handled that quite well.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I love it when we talk about potty talk, whether it’s human or dogs, and we get through it without making horrible jokes. And I think this was a really good way to cover it.

    TOM: And it could be a really lucky lawn. Who knows how many four-leaf clovers will be in that lawn?

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I wouldn’t go searching.

    TOM: Good point. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to it.

    Leslie, who’s next?

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

    JAN: Yeah. My commode is about five years old and it got clogged. I tried vinegar and baking soda, Liquid-Plumr, plunging it out, anything else I could think of because I really did not want to snake it with the rusty snake that I had. But I knew what I was going to do. Well, after three days, I finally snaked it and got the clog out but now I’ve got all these scrapes with rust, in the bottom of the toilet bowl, that cannot be removed.

    LESLIE: OK. And you’re sure they’re actual scrapes or scratches and not just a rust marking?

    JAN: I think so. I’ve tried to scrub it with a toilet brush and toilet-bowl cleaner and as it – today, when I heard your show and you were talking about don’t – to some other guy – don’t use anything abrasive to remove the surface off of the inside of the commode, like – and you suggested to him polishing compound and something else but be very diligent. And there, right then, I thought, “Uh, oh.” Well, I messed up, because I have totally interrupted the surface.

    TOM: Let’s see if we can pull you back from the brink here.

    So, you are correct. It’s not polishing compound; it’s a rubbing compound. It’s used mostly for auto-body work but it’s mildly abrasive and it can remove those stains.

    There are also some cleansing products that work well, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Bar Keepers Friend, which is sort of like a mild abrasive, that tends to work very well on a porcelain surface that does have smaller scratches in it. I don’t know how bad your scratches are but it’s worth a try.

    You may want to drain the toilet out first, just to give you some more ease in actually getting to the scratched area but not 100-percent necessary. Although it does help if you sort of rub it in and then let it sit on.

    TOM: Yeah, I would turn the water off to the toilet bowl and flush it so that the bowl is fairly dry or fairly empty. This way, you can kind of let that sit on there for a while and really do go – and really go to work. And then you could rinse it off.

    So give that a shot and let us know how you do. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, are you looking for a design touch that really makes a splash? Well, a backsplash is going to do that and more. Tom Silva from This Old House is stopping by with tips for designing and adding one to your kitchen, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley and the new line of FatMax Exo-Change utility knives. Changing the blade in three easy steps – extend, remove, replace – makes cutting easier and safer and blade-change faster. To learn more, visit StanleyTools.com.

    RICHARD: This is Richard Trethewey from This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS and from the longest-running home improvement show on TV. We want to send a big congrats to Tom and Leslie from The Money Pit for being the most-downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes.

    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: And more and more prospective homebuyers are starting their search for the perfect home online, so it’s important your house looks as good on screen as it does from the street. We can help. Head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “amp up your home’s curb appeal and web appeal in a weekend.” That’s online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Joe in Ontario, Canada is on the line. He’s got a question about gutters. How can we help you?

    JOE: Yes, I want to find out if there’s a special way of making the hole to put the downspout in the eave trough.

    TOM: To cut through the gutter for the downspout?

    JOE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, usually you do it with tin snips. So, you start with a small hole that you can make with a punch or with a drill and you stick a tin snip in there. And you basically snip out the circle for the downspout to go through and then you seal everything in place with rivets and caulk. Usually a silicone caulk. Keep in mind that there are right-hand and left-hand tin snips and so you want to choose the one that you’re going to be the most comfortable working with. But you can cut a pretty tight radius hole with that.

    So, Joe, why are you putting your own downspouts in?

    JOE: I’m just doing some repair work and I didn’t want to take them down and start over, so I just thought I would …

    TOM: OK. So you just want to add one to it? Well, that makes sense. Yeah, that’s the way you do it. It’s really pretty straightforward.

    Now, if it ends up sort of with an uneven cut, what you could do is you could hold a wood block under it and tap it with a hammer. It’ll bounce around a little bit. But if you tap between the bottom of the gutter and that wood block – just a tap, tap, tap, tap – it’ll kind if flatten it out and give you a better surface to seal that downspout plate to.

    JOE: OK. There’s nothing that just like – where you can make a clean cut by just stamping it out?

    TOM: Yeah. Well, it may be available but the thing is, it’s going to be expensive. This is just a one-off thing, so you’re going to cut it with tin snips. That’s what I would do.

    JOE: OK. Thanks.

    LESLIE: So, backsplashes are the panels above sinks and stoves that protect your walls from splashes and food. They’ve been around as long as kitchens but in the last decade have seen a leap in unique patterns and designs.

    TOM: Well, among the most popular looks are tile backsplashes, which add sophistication at a fraction of the cost of most major design upgrades. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is here with tips for adding a tile backsplash to your space.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM SILVA: Nice to be here, guys.

    TOM: So let’s start by talking about some of the practical considerations for deciding whether a tile backsplash is for you. What do we need to think about?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’re going to think about is that tile backsplash going to blend in with your feature of your kitchen or is it going to be an accent piece? And you also want to think about the type of tiles that you’re going to be using. There’s different types, like ceramic, porcelain or even natural stones. And then you’ve got to think about, “Well, I’ve got to clean this. This is going to be behind my stove.” It’s going to get dirty.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s got to be one of the greasiest places in the house.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah.

    TOM: So, cleanability has to be a major consideration.

    TOM SILVA: Cleanability. That’s a good word. I like that, Tom. Cleanability.

    So, a natural stone, for example, or even a brick or anything like that, it’s porous.

    TOM: Right.

    TOMSILVA: It’s very hard to clean. So that’s when you want to start thinking about ceramic or porcelain that you can wipe clean easily.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to getting those tiles up on the wall, you’ve got to choose the right kind of adhesive. There’s many different types of adhesive today. What’s your preference?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you know, there’s mastics, there’s thinset, there’s epoxy with thinset that basically set up pretty quick. I’ve got to say I’ve done a couple of backsplashes recently and I’ve actually tried that mat. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s like a two-faced tape.

    TOM: It’s like contact paper with adhesive on both sides almost, yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Stick it to the wall, then you peel it off. Then you stick your tile to it.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: It works pretty nice. I did find out that I don’t want to go pressing my tiles on it too hard until I’m sure that I’m lined up. Little tough to get them off right away.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. And the other advantage there is that you don’t have to wait for the adhesive to dry. You can grout right away.

    TOM SILVA: Grout the same day. That’s nice.

    TOM: The stick-on mats are a great option.

    Now, when it comes to grouting, there are different types of grout. And cleanability, again, plays in here.

    TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Yeah. There are different types of grout. There’s sanded and unsanded. Now, it depends on the size of the joint that you need to fill. So, obviously, if you have a larger joint between the tile, you’re probably going to want to use a sanded grout because the sand is like a filler. If you have a fine line and you really want to get that grout in it, use an unsanded grout.

    TOM: Now, what about the cement-based or the epoxy grouts? Are they suitable for a kitchen?

    TOM SILVA: They are suitable. In some ways, the epoxy grouts are – basically, they will set up a little quicker, they will seal a little better. And that’s really what you need, in some cases, because you want that grout sealed.

    TOM: And they seem to be less porous.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, they are less porous.

    TOM: Yeah. And that makes it easier to care for. Now, if you’re using one of the sanded or unsanded grouts, what’s your feeling about grout sealing? Is that important?

    TOM SILVA: Well, if it’s on a backsplash and it’s an area behind the stove or something that has to be cleaned, then you may want to seal it. But it’s tricky; you’ve got to seal just the grout. You don’t want to get that sealer on the tile.

    TOM: It doesn’t wipe off very easily?

    TOM SILVA: Doesn’t wipe off easy at all.

    TOM: We’re talking to Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, about adding a tile backsplash to your house.

    Let’s talk about cutting tiles. I think that’s a part of the project that would intimidate a lot of homeowners. What are some of the best ways and easiest ways to cut tile?

    TOM SILVA: I think the easiest way to cut tile is usually with a wet saw. The diamond blade, you’ve got to keep putting water on it, you can just cut your tile. But there are a lot of areas, a lot of times, that you don’t need a wet saw. You can use a simple, snap tile cutter where you score the tile and you push down or pick up on the handle and it pops the tile right away.

    TOM: OK. Now those wet saws, they’re pretty inexpensive these days, aren’t they? You could probably buy one just for your project.

    TOM SILVA: You can get them for under 200 bucks.

    TOM: And then, finally, when you get down to the nitty gritty, you’ve got to just take a little bit off, you could use a nipper. It’s kind of like a plier?

    TOM SILVA: Yep. The nippers are great but you’ve got to go a little bit at a time. Because you will split the tile if you don’t do it right.

    TOM: That’s why they call it a “nipper.”

    TOM SILVA: That’s why they call it a “nipper.” I wondered why they called it – all these years, I never knew that.

    TOM: Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Always nice to be here, guys.

    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 and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, we’ve got a home security system that stops break-ins without breaking your budget. That and more, when The Money Pit Radio Show continues 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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, even if you have central air conditioning, there’s always one room that won’t stay cool in the house.

    LESLIE: Well, you can quench the heat, without killing peace and quiet, with the Haier Serenity Series Quiet Air Conditioner. It’s going to be more than 50-percent quieter than most of your standard A/C units out there and it’s ENERGY STAR-certified. And it comes with an LCD remote so that you can just chill out, if you will, doing whatever you like and adjust your A/C, the super-quiet one with your super-quiet remote.

    TOM: From your easy chair. I love that.

    It’s worth 299 but it goes home free to one lucky caller this hour. We’re giving it away but you’ve got to call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, you can learn more at HaierSerenitySeries.com. That’s Haier – H-a-i-e-r – SerenitySeries.com.

    LESLIE: Heading to New Jersey where Vicky has a painting question. How can we help you?

    VICKY: I have dining room and part of my living room. I had – the ceiling was peeling – painting and peeling.

    TOM: OK.

    VICKY: As the pieces were spreading wide, opening, coming down, I had a painter come and he scraped all the peeled paint off. And there were parts that were not peeled, so he didn’t touch that. He just peeled the pieces coming down.

    Now, he painted. I have no idea if he put a sealant or not. But after that, about a year or so later, I had the same problem. Now, this is all coming down. So I have another painter, another $4,000 I put into this, and it’s peeling again.

    TOM: Let’s talk about what’s probably happening with your paint. When you have paint that starts to peel like that, it’s essentially sort of delaminating. The paint between the layers of paint, it loses its ability to remain sort of stuck together or loses its bond. And it’s very common for this to happen when you have a lot of coats of paint. Because at some point, you’re really at the point of no return where the paint – you can’t just keep adding more paint, because it will peel. You have to strip off the paint that’s there.

    So if you’ve got this problem of paint that repeatedly peels, the next time you work on this project, you have to apply a paint stripper and pull off the old paint. Then you need to prime that space and I would use an oil-based primer for maximum adhesion. And then you can add the final, finishing touch of a latex ceiling paint over that. But if you keep adding good paint over bad paint, you’re continually going to have this problem where you get peeling and delamination and the process will have to be repeated.

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

    Well, midsummer is a top getaway season. But if you’re leaving an empty house behind, the way you leave your house can make it more of a target for burglars.

    LESLIE: For example, contrary to popular practice, do not close all of your drapes and shades. That’s a dead giveaway that the place is empty. I mean really, people won’t even notice then if somebody does break in and is sort of moving around your house, because they can’t see in. Instead, you want to leave those first-floor drapes drawn. This way, you avoid any people casing your home through the windows. And then upstairs, leave the shades up, the drapes open. Whatever you’ve got, leave those open.

    TOM: Now, better yet, you might want to leave the shades at varying levels of open and closed as you normally would. Also, use timers for lights but also for music players and TVs so that there appears to be some activity at different times of the day and the night.

    LESLIE: Now, there’s no better deterrent than a good security system. But you might be feeling turned off by high pressure tactics and the expense of a monitored system. Now, there’s a great system on the market that takes care of both of those concerns.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s called SimpliSafe and it installs in 30 minutes without electrical work or drilling. It’s a very easy project that you can do yourself and the system is completely wireless and professionally monitored. It’s so affordable; it’s just $15 a month for full, 24/7 monitoring.

    LESLIE: And there are no long-term contracts, either, so you’re never locked in like you are with other alarm companies. And the best part is Money Pit fans are going to get an exclusive 10-percent-off deal. So to grab your discount, you want to visit SimpliSafeMoney.com and you’ll learn more there. That’s SimpliSafe – S-i-m-p-l-i-S-a-f-e – Money.com.

    TOM: Try it risk-free with a 60-day, money-back guarantee. Visit SimpliSafeMoney.com – S-i-m-p-l-i-SafeMoney.com.

    LESLIE: Barry in Tennessee needs some help with his Jacuzzi. What can we do for you?

    BARRY: Well, what happened was the drain got stopped up. So I took some Crystal Drano and poured it and it got on the tub itself. And it burned all the way around the drain. I mean it’s burnt plastic. So I was wondering, is there a way to get that back to looking new or do I just have to replace the whole tub?

    TOM: Well, unfortunately, you’ve chemically damaged the tub by using caustic drain cleaners. We really don’t like caustic drain cleaners for reasons just like this. They don’t really work very well to begin with. And what happens is you end up overusing them or spilling them and they – I’ve seen them melt tubs and melt plastic before.

    You know, there’s a new drain-cleaning product on the market right now that I’ve just come across and it’s fantastic. It’s called DRAIN-FX. The website is DRAINFX.com.

    And essentially, what this is is for under $20, you’re purchasing what’s, in essence, a pressure washer for your clogged drain lines. You hook this up to the sink faucet. It has a long tube that you can run hot water down. You drop this into the trap and then you turn the water on and it blasts the clogs away.

    It’s under 20 bucks. Check it out at DRAINFX.com. You should have one in your tool box because you never know when this is going to happen. And look, you could save yourself not only the hassle of a clogged pipe but in your case, the hassle of potentially replacing a tub or learning to live with the ugly stains that have resulted.

    Do not use caustic drain cleaners on these surfaces. Take a look at DRAIN-FX. It’s a much better option.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, does moss keep coming back no matter how many times you clean it? Well, the trick to keeping outdoor surfaces free of the green stuff, we’re going to share that with you, 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 appliance with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And hey, if you’ve got a day off and really no idea what to do with that day off, well, why not reach out to The Money Pit? Because we can absolutely help you fill a day with fun stuff to do.

    Head on over to MoneyPit.com and you’re going to find productive ways to spend your next warm day. From projects to start to odds and ends that you can wrap up, we’ve got you covered. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “warm weather makeovers.”

    And while you’re online, you can post a question in the Community section, just like Laurie did who writes: “I want to repaint my wood porch floor and steps but I have some moss growing on them. How do I clean the steps of the moss and what can I do to keep it from growing back?”

    TOM: Well, to get rid of the moss, I would consider a product called Spray & Forget. It’s very effective at removing the moss growth. And once you get rid of it, you want to be sure to sand the surface well to remove any loose paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. Then I would apply a good oil-based primer. And I say “oil-based” because we’re talking about an outside porch. You really want to do something that’s going to be super-durable.

    And once that primer dries, you can go ahead and add a good oil-based, again, exterior floor paint. Now, you want to look for floor paint because again, it’s more durable than the paint that’s designed for trim or walls. And the reason I recommend oil-based is really because of adhesion and durability.

    The latex finishes are great for walls and ceilings but they don’t have the durability necessary for keeping your floors in good shape, especially on moist surfaces like wood. So, with that, I think you’ll have this project under control in no time at all.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Keith who writes: “We’d like to paint our oak kitchen cabinets white. Your article on this topic was really helpful but I have one follow-up question. I’m concerned that the paint will chip or scrub off, so I want to finish it once it’s dry. However, past experiences with polyurethane or varnish result in yellowing. Since the color I want is a crisp white, yellowing would be bad. Is a clear finish necessary? If so, what could we use that wouldn’t yellow?”

    TOM: I don’t think a clear finish is necessary, Leslie. I don’t know if you’ve had any situations where you wanted to add a clear finish, unless maybe you were trapping something, some other type of décor element, like a stencil or something, under that finish. I don’t think I’d be too concerned about yellowing if you’re using a urethane-based or oil-based finish.

    And I bet if you’re really concerned – maybe your kitchen is super-bright and you’ve just had this issue before – you could always go with an exterior-grade paint. The difference between interior- and exterior-grade paint is that the exterior paints have UV additives built into them and they will not fade and not yellow. Just be sure that you very, very carefully follow all the prep steps and I think that you’ll be happy with the result.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I do know of certain topcoats, different types of varnishes or urethanes that do yellow. It has to do with the moisture content in the kitchen space; it’s just bound to happen. So look for some that say “non-yellowing.” I think Spar Urethane does one that doesn’t yellow. You’ll find them in the home centers and they will very specifically say on the cans that they don’t yellow.

    I will tell you, you might want to use a topcoat. I’ve painted a lot of kitchen cabinets with a varying degree of prep work, given the time of makeover shows allowing to finish. And sometimes the paint comes right off and sometimes the paint stays. So, wanting a topcoat probably isn’t the worst idea. Just make sure you prep, prep, prep. This way, your paint is really going to stick.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope you’re having a wonderful summer day tackling those home improvement projects or maybe just resting up for the next one that needs to get done. Remember, if you’ve got questions, 24/7, you can reach out to us online at MoneyPit.com or at our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because we are here for you.

    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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