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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you tackle your home improvement project. We know there’s one on your to-do list this weekend. We’d like to move that over to our to-do list. We’ll do it together. Pick up the phone – that’s your first step – and dial us up at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section.

    We have a very busy show planned for you this hour, starting with the topic of July 4th, which I can’t believe is almost here. But before those picnics start, you don’t want to get caught with a scraggly looking backyard. We’re going to have tips this hour on how to spruce up your landscape for a professionally landscaped look.

    LESLIE: And if you’re celebrating the 4th on your deck, know that each year more than 20 million decks go unprotected because homeowners are afraid to stain them.

    TOM: It’s just crazy.

    LESLIE: I know, right? It’s like you can make it look so beautiful and it’s not that hard. We’re going to help ease your fears, guys, and take the scary out of your staining project.

    TOM: Also this hour, the storms that have hit America’s Heartland this year have shown us how important it is to have a safe room. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva will be along in just a bit to talk about how to build a safe room properly.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a great prize today. It’s a set of the new mechanics hand tools by DeWALT. It’s a 204-piece set worth $240.

    TOM: And I’ve got to tell you, they sent me one of these sets which assures you, initially, that I have my own tools, so I don’t have to keep this set. We really will send this one out to you. And secondly, I want to tell you it’s really a very, very well-made set of tools and one that you will have for a long, long time, the mechanics tools by DeWALT.

    So, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: We’ve got Rob in Iowa whose basement walls seem to be coming in on themselves. What is going on at your money pit?

    ROB: I’ve got some basement walls that are heaving in and I need a permanent solution that’s not going to bankrupt me.

    TOM: OK.

    ROB: Basically, what I’ve got is I’ve got some wall anchors that have been installed about seven years ago. I’ve been keeping those tight and the walls are still heaving in. They had a drought here in Iowa last summer and this year, we’ve had quite a bit of rain. So, walls are bowing in up to 2 inches in places and I’m getting a little worried.

    TOM: Wow. Yeah, if your walls are bowed in 2 inches, Rob, unfortunately you’ve got a very serious problem on your hands that is not only impacting the structure of your home but also the value of your home. And if the walls have gotten that bad, we are well beyond the do-it-yourself fix stage.

    I can provide you some basic information about why this might be happening. Generally, the reason walls will heave is because you get a lot of water that collects around the foundation perimeter, especially if you don’t have terrific drainage. If the drainage is flat, if the gutters are dumping near the corners of the foundation, which is where most gutter contractors leave them, that water collects into the soil. And in the wintertime, it freezes, expands and then slowly but surely sort of ratchets that wall out.

    Now, if yours have gone to the point where they’re 2 inches out of plumb, this is a problem. So, the way I would address this – and I would do it very specifically and very strategically – is as follows: I would retain a structural engineer to examine the problem and specify a repair. It’s very important that you just don’t call a contractor for this. Because if they don’t have the pedigree of an engineering degree, it’s not going to hold water when it comes time to sell your house.

    So I would hire an engineer to analyze the problem and design a solution. And you could talk cost concerns with your engineer and options and all of that. Once you have that plan in place, at that point in time you can make the decision as to whether or not you’re going to do it yourself, which may be more possible with a plan than not, or whether or not you’re going to hire a pro.

    But however you get it done, the third and most important final step is to have the engineer come back and examine the work and then give you an additional letter that says, “Yes, I identified this problem and I designed a fix. And I inspected the fix and it’s done correctly and there’s nothing further to worry about.”

    Because ultimately, if you go to sell your house, the buyers are going to bring up this issue. You want to have that sort of pedigree in your hand so that you can prove that it was a repair that, yes, was structural in nature but was repaired correctly. Does that make sense?

    ROB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very interesting approach. I have one chink to throw at you and that is the wall-anchor system that’s installed was warrantied. And the owner of that company came out and said that he’ll warranty the system and he’s willing to put in three more anchors which, in my mind, is an admission of liability. Do I let him do that or do I need to get the structural engineer first?

    TOM: Is this wall-anchor contractor a structural engineer?

    ROB: I doubt it.

    TOM: Stop the repair process. Get the engineer. If the engineer thinks that’s a good idea, then that’s a different story. But warrantying doesn’t necessarily mean we put more in. If the product failed and your walls continued to bow as a result, then his liability, depending on where these walls were when he first put the system in and guaranteed that they were going to stop the walls from buckling in, his liability could be significant.

    But I would get the engineer in first and let’s get some good, impartial, expert advice here from somebody that does not have a system to sell you. I don’t want you to get advice from somebody – sometimes, contractors give you advice from people that – because they sell the system. “Yeah, you’ve got a problem? I’m just the guy to fix it for you, you know?” And that’s not really good, expert, independent advice.

    So go to the engineer first, Rob, and then you can deal with the contractor issue after you have the information.

    ROB: OK, great. Thank you.

    TOM: Good luck. 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.

    Well, it’s the big weekend before the Fourth of July Week, I guess you could call it. Are you lucky enough to have the whole week off? Maybe you’re going to have lots of barbecues and parties? Well, let’s get your money pit in tip-top shape. We’re here to help you get everything in order. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, it’s very easy for bushes to go from ornamental to totally out of control. We’re going to help you perfect the pruning, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by DeWALT. DeWALT’s new rugged and innovative line of mechanics tools is so tough, DeWALT is proud to back them with a full lifetime warranty. When there’s a tough job to get done, rely on a trusted name. Rely on DeWALT. Available at Sears. For more information, visit DeWALT.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: Taking your calls right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. And in fact, one caller who makes it on the air this hour is going to win a 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from DeWALT.

    Now, these tools are loved by both pros and DIYers. And believe me, you don’t have to be a mechanic to use them. They have a non-slip-grip ratchet set and these are great for tightening your deck boards in those tight spaces where they meet the joist.

    The set is worth $240 and you can check it out at DeWALT.com or call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. You’ve got to have a home improvement question. We will toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat and one of our callers this hour is going to win that DeWALT Mechanics Tool Set.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine from Vermont on the line who’s got some ants invading her money pit. How can we help you today?

    LORRAINE: I have them out in my flower beds, I have them on my front and back lawn. There’s a lot of a sand here around my house.

    TOM: Right.

    LORRAINE: And I am wondering what I could do to get rid of them.

    TOM: Are they getting into the house, as well?

    LORRAINE: No, they are not in the house.

    TOM: Alright. Well, that’s good news.

    So, look, there are ways that you can work with this using sort of over-the-counter products. But I would recommend a different direction. The insecticides today have become so sophisticated and so accurate and so able to target, specifically, the insect that you’re dealing with that it’s really worthwhile having a professional apply these insecticides. One in particular that, actually, we just used at my mom’s house – well, not we; I mean I hired somebody to do this – it’s called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. And I’m very familiar with this insecticide because it’s one that is part of a class called an “undetectable.”

    So, the way it works is – in the old days, we’d spray insecticides that would repel the ants or kill them on sight. And they would sort of know it was there, so it was detectable. Well, these new insecticides are undetectable. So as a result, the ants go through the insecticide and then they get it on their bodies and they bring it back to the nest. And then they share it with the other insects in the nest. So just getting some ants to go through it basically takes it back to the nest and wipes out the whole nest. So it’s a very effective way to try to control the ant populations around your house.

    I don’t know that I would go so far as to do it in my whole yard unless it was really bothering me. But generally, you do this right around your – the perimeter of your home to try to minimize them in that area and stop them from potentially going in the house. You haven’t seen them yet but if you’ve got that many, I can almost guarantee that they’re in the house.

    Alright, Lorraine. Does that help you out?

    LORRAINE: That does. I actually tried – someone had told me to use Borax and sugar?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s one of the home remedies that I mentioned. And Borax does work but it’s just not nearly as effective as a product like Termidor.

    Good luck with the project.

    LORRAINE: Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for our Project of the Week, brought to you by Sakrete. And today, we’re going to talk to you about how to tame your bushes.

    Now, bushes and shrubs, they can really add a lot of charm to your outdoor space. But they can quickly turn your home into a wily jungle if you just don’t know how to prune them. Now, we know it can be scary to cut on your favorite plants but here are some quick guidelines to follow that will keep them lush.

    TOM: Well, the first step is that you want to cut away any dead or dying branches. Now, make sure you bag them or get them off the roots of the plant.

    Next, resist the urge to grab your hedge shears and chop off the top of all the straight branches that stick out. My son, bless his heart, tried to trim our bushes last summer and did that and it took me half of the remaining summer to save them from dying. Because once you cut all of those leaves, so to speak, on the bushes away, well, there’s nothing left to hold the water. And of course, that’s when the drought happened and we were in big trouble. But we did save them, so don’t make that mistake.

    Now, actually, if you cut those stragglers off, they will grow taller if you’ve got a lot of rain happening. So, just not the right technique. They’ve got to be clipped from the bottom. You want to clip them just above where they shoot off the main branch.

    Now, if your bush is super-dense and it’s sort of denying light getting to the inside of the bush to promote growth, what you want to do then is thin it out. And this is a trick of the trade that I actually learned from my friend, Roger Cook, from This Old House. What you do is strategically trim out a section of the bush every foot or two. And so you’re going to look at the bushes when you’re done and say, “I just put a bunch of holes in my bushes.” But the thing is, once the light gets in there, they actually start to grow again and they fill out quite nicely and they’re much healthier as a result.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? If you follow these tips, you’re really going to have your pruning down to a science. And that’s this week’s Project of the Week, presented by Sakrete. And as you plan your outdoor projects, be sure to visit Sakrete.com for any of your concrete, stucco or masonry needs.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Charlie in Tennessee is on the line and looking to do some renovating at his money pit. How can we help you today?

    CHARLIE: I have a small kitchen that – I’m trying to knock out the walls to increase space, to make my kitchen and my dining room one big room. My dilemma is the fact that I don’t know whether the wall that I’m knocking down is a load-bearing wall or not.

    LESLIE: Well, step away from the project and don’t knock it down just yet.

    TOM: OK. Well, first of all, what kind of house do you have, Charlie? Is it a ranch? Is it a Colonial? Describe it to us.

    CHARLIE: It’s a wood-frame home.

    TOM: OK. One story or two?

    CHARLIE: One story.

    TOM: And the roof peaks in the middle? Goes up from the front, goes up from the back, peaks in the middle?

    CHARLIE: Kind of. It’s L-shaped.

    TOM: OK.

    CHARLIE: And where the wall would be would be pretty much right where the two meet.

    TOM: Yeah. So you’re in the middle there; you’re not quite sure. And the dining room and the kitchen are side by side? Is it aligned front to back on the house or is it aligned end to end, so to speak?

    CHARLIE: It would be – that wall would be parallel for the front to back.

    TOM: So, it’s aligned front to back. OK. I would say that in most cases, that is a bearing wall. That doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water; it just means it’s a little more complicated for you to open this up. Because if it’s a bearing wall, you have to support the structure while it’s disassembled and then you have to put a new beam in to carry that load in the new open-plan design.

    It’s not something that you would do yourself. It’s not like – I don’t want to you like, “Hey, I’ve never done home improvement but today, I’m thinking about tearing down a bearing wall.” Bad idea, OK?

    CHARLIE: Right.

    TOM: So you need to know what you’re doing or get some people to help you to know what you’re doing or hire a pro. And get a building permit.

    And basically, the way it works is temporary walls are built on either side of the bearing wall and this holds up the structure that they’re supposed to be holding. Then the bearing wall is taken apart. The bearing wall is reconstructed but now you would use a girder. And it could be a wood girder, it could be a metal girder, it could be a combination wood/metal girder that goes the whole span. It could be a girder that sits below the ceiling or it could be a girder that’s actually flush with the ceiling so when it’s all done, it’s invisible.

    But one way or the other, you’ll need this beam to carry the load above that. And then once it’s all put back together, you know, you’re really not going to know that it’s there. But you’ve got just to do it right so that you don’t damage your house in the process, OK?

    CHARLIE: Yes, sir. Thank you. I appreciate it.

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

    RUTH: I have – it’s on the inside of my house. I have redwood stain and I have a white film. I’ve used furniture polish and got it off, thinking that took care of it, but it’s back again.

    LESLIE: Where is this stain? Is it trim work? Is it …?

    RUTH: It’s the banister and the doors.

    TOM: And you have a redwood stain on these areas?

    RUTH: Yes. It’s a redwood stain on it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s trimwork and banisters, doesn’t it have a finish coat on it, like a polyurethane?

    RUTH: No, it does not.

    TOM: Typically, for banisters and trim, you would use the stain first, then you would have a clear coat on top of that.

    RUTH: No, it does not have that.

    TOM: So, is it fairly rough to the touch then?

    RUTH: Yes, it is.

    TOM: So, what I would do then – because the stain is not designed to be the finish coat. Stain is designed to be covered with a urethane. So I would do this and I would do this in an experimental way to start with. I would clean it again, make sure it’s nice and dry and then I would seal it or urethane it.

    And I think on the trim, you could use water-based urethane; get a quart of it. And it goes on real thin, it dries very quick and it will seal in that stain. And see if that protects it in the way you expect it to behave. Because stain is really just designed to color the wood and make the grain come out. It’s the urethane that gives you the wear-and-tear protection.

    RUTH: I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Joe in California is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOE: Well, it’s an old one from the 60s, I believe, but it was beautifully built. It’s 15 foot wide and 2 stories up and I’m on the second story. But the water is going through the mortar coming in and it’s terrible. It’s like a waterfall in the wintertime.

    TOM: So, you say that water is coming through the mortar. Do you know for a fact that it’s coming through in a particular place? Because, generally, when chimneys leak, there’s two areas that we concentrate on. The first is the very top of the chimney. And if it’s a masonry chimney, you probably have a clay flue liner. Is that correct?

    JOE: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. And then so the space between the clay flue liner and the outside edge of the brick chimney, that has to have a concrete cap on it. And that should be sloped away from the flue liner to the outside edge. It can’t have any cracks or holes or gaps in it. And very often, you have to caulk it, if that does develop, around the flue liner, as well as through the cracks.

    The second place that chimneys typically leak is at their intersection with roofs. And unfortunately, roofers have almost universally lost the skill set that would have enabled them to be able to flash this joint properly between the chimney and the roof. Because the proper way to do this is with a two-piece flashing system where you have a base flashing that goes underneath the roof shingle and up against the side of the chimney. Then counter flashing, which is carved into the mortar joint, folds over the outside edge of the chimney and also over the base flashing.

    And the reason that sort of two-piece design is important is because chimneys are always moving and roofs are always moving and they don’t move together. And so, this is sort of a slip joint, so to speak, where they can actually move and shift with the wind and the heat and the rain and the expansion and contraction without actually breaking down.

    So, I would look at those two areas. And then I’ll just give you one other tip. If you have a roof where there’s a lot of water running down before it hits the base of the chimney, in a situation like that, what you want to do is put a diverter on the roof, midway, to kind of short-circuit some of the water that’s running down towards the chimney and run it around the chimney. And that will just simply reduce the volume of water that’s getting in there and potentially leaking through into your house.

    JOE: This has got a flat, metal top over the top of the chimney that mostly keeps the rain from coming down the chimney but I haven’t really looked at the flue liner up there. That’s a good point.

    TOM: Yep. Take a careful look, Joe, OK?

    JOE: OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.

    TOM: 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.

    Well, the devastating tornadoes that have happened this year really have proved to us that safe rooms do work. Tom Silva, the general contractor on This Old House, is going to be joining us to talk about how you can build one, after this.

    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 the Fourth is prime grilling season but it’s also time to keep that grill safe. On MoneyPit.com, we are featuring seven grilling mistakes to avoid. Check it out and you’ll have a safe and delicious grilling season ahead.

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

    CARL: We’re leasing a house and we’ve been in the house now for almost three years and getting to the point of trying to decide should this be the house we buy or should we be looking elsewhere. And the owner has indicated that he’d be interested in selling. But one of the nice things about leasing a house is you find out about all of its good things and all of its not-so-good things.

    TOM: Yeah, you get to kick the tires.

    CARL: Yeah. And the house was built in the mid-90s and so, you know, it’s got a few of the things that a house that age would have. But one of the things that concerned us is that we noticed that in the master bath, it’s got tile on the floor. And when you start walking on the floor, you can almost hear the tile crunching underneath your feet.

    TOM: Right.

    CARL: The tile doesn’t actually move but you also feel a rise, sort of, at certain spots.

    TOM: Yeah. Sounds loose? Well, look, I don’t think that’s unusual with vinyl tile. It’s vinyl tile. Is that what you said?

    CARL: It’s ceramic tile.

    TOM: Oh, it’s ceramic tile. Well, OK, first of all, I don’t feel it’s all that unusual with ceramic tile. It may not have been put down properly. I don’t think it necessarily means that the house is moving; it probably points more accurately to a defect in the installation itself.

    But what you should absolutely do, before you consider going further on this house, is have a professional home inspector look at it. Because a home inspection is done consistent with the standards of practice at the American Society of Home Inspectors, who is going to look at those structural issues, look at the mechanical issues and trust me, find things that, even living in that house, that you are completely unaware of.

    CARL: OK.

    TOM: And that’s the best way to kind of know what you’re getting into and be able to negotiate from a position of strength and knowledge.

    CARL: Sure, sure. Alright. Thank you. We’ll find one; we happen to know a few in town here and we’ll give the guy a call.

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

    LESLIE: Well, you’ve seen the devastating images on television or maybe you’ve been a victim yourself. Severe weather can turn your life upside down and put you and your family at risk of some pretty serious injury.

    TOM: That’s right. But preparing for storms like tornadoes or hurricanes can mean the difference between life and death. And one way to do that is by building a safe room, which is kind of a special room, located in or around your home, that’s specifically designed to protect you from the worst that Mother Nature may have to offer. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is here to tell us more.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM SILVA: Hi, guys. How are you?

    TOM: We are great. Now, you guys had something happen to you during one of your recent projects. Your Providence project, you actually had a hurricane blow through.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, our last project, in Rhode Island, was on the edge of the water by the ocean there and it gets pretty windy. And we did have a hurricane come through. It didn’t blow as bad as we expected but we had to batten down the hatches to protect the building from blowing away.

    LESLIE: And that’s really a reminder that this type of weather can happen anywhere in the country, even in unusual circumstances like that.

    TOM SILVA: Anywhere at all.

    TOM: So, when it comes to being prepared for those sorts of storms, Tom, I think people tend to think that a basement is always the best thing to do. But that’s not always true, is it?

    TOM SILVA: Well, it’s not always true. A lot of people don’t have basements. A lot of houses are slabs or some people live in mobile homes where they’re up off the ground.

    TOM: And I guess the roof structure – I mean the floor structure – could be easily torn right off and open you right up, basement or not.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly. Yeah, yeah. The best place in a basement, for example, is in the corner of the foundation. But you’ve got to still ride it out, hope for the best.

    LESLIE: So I guess a safe room has really sort of taken over for the term “storm shelter.” It’s sort of like a one – word usage now for an area that you might go to in the event of an emergency in the home or a weather-related situation.

    TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. A room that’s really structured well. Like a lot of people go to bathrooms in the center of the house. And again, if you look at some of the devastation that happens from hurricanes or tornadoes, the houses are blown away or the roofs are taken off and some people are really lucky.

    TOM: Well, bathtubs have gotten a lot smaller over the years, too.

    TOM SILVA: Well, I’ve gotten a lot bigger, too.

    LESLIE: So, Tommy, when it comes to deciding where in your home would make the best place for a safe room, is there one room that’s better than the other for choosing?

    TOM SILVA: I like to think that corners are the strongest parts of the house. So, a bathroom with four small corners is much better than a family room with a wide open space. So you want to find a nice, tight space with four corners.

    TOM: And I think it’s important to note that these rooms don’t have to be stand-alone rooms; they really could be worked into any design. So you could have, for example, a master-bedroom closet that’s your safe room, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. The master-bedroom closet, most of them are bigger than bathrooms. But they’re reinforced with shelving and everything else, so that reinforces the part of the structure that helps …

    TOM: Yeah. But they don’t have as many seats.

    TOM SILVA: That’s true. That’s …

    LESLIE: And important seats.

    TOM SILVA: Right, right.

    TOM: Tom, let’s talk about the cost of safe rooms. They’re not inexpensive, are they?

    TOM SILVA: No, they’re not inexpensive because there’s a lot of work involved to make them strong. But there is federal help available and FEMA.gov is a place to go to find that out, too.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. That’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at FEMA.gov. Lots of resources right there.

    And Tom Silva, you are a tremendous resource. Thanks so much for filling us in on what it takes to create a safe room. Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thank you very much. Nice to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of a ton of common home improvement projects, check out their website, ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, it seems homeowners are more afraid of a staining project than a painting project. Guess what? Staining is actually easier. We’re going to explain why, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by DeWALT. DeWALT’s new rugged and innovative line of mechanics tools is so tough, DeWALT is proud to back them with a full lifetime warranty. When there’s a tough job to get done, rely on a trusted name. Rely on DeWALT. Available at Sears. For more information, visit DeWALT.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we here at Team Money Pit are answering your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one of you lucky callers is going to be drawn at random from The Money Pit hard hat and you’re really going to get a great prize that you will put to much use. We’ve got from DeWALT a 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set.

    Now, what this really is is an awesome ratchet set. And it’s got a great, laser-etching marking on each of the sockets so that you can actually see what size you need and grabbing. And you’re not just blindly testing out every one to see if it works for your project. So that is hugely helpful. And the set’s worth 240 bucks and Tom loves his.

    TOM: Yeah. You can check them out at DeWALT.com. Be sure to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.

    LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?

    TRACY: Probably a shower.

    LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.

    But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.

    I would not, would not call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.

    In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?

    LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.

    And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.

    TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.

    They also have a section on livable communities. Because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. You know, there’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.

    But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?

    TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Chris in Colorado is on the line dealing with some bathroom mold. Tell us about it.

    CHRIS: Well, I have tenants living in a rental of mine and as it turns out, I think there were several people using the shower downstairs. And subsequently, we’ve got a lot of mold on the walls. They’re taking off here at the end of July and I want to go in there and completely take all that mold out of there and paint it or put something in place to try and help prevent that from happening again. What can I do?

    LESLIE: OK. Now, where are you seeing this mold? Is it strictly on the caulk? Is it on the ceiling?

    CHRIS: It’s on the ceiling, on the walls. Just right around the shower.

    LESLIE: And what is your bathroom venting situation? Do you have a vent fan? Is it just a window?

    CHRIS: There’s no window. There is a vent. However, I think the vent fan could probably be replaced. I’m not – I think the last time I checked it, it was working but it was somewhat weak.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s – the big cause of your problem there is the venting situation.

    So first off, let’s get rid of the mold. You’re going to want to clean your ceiling with a bleach-and-water solution. Be very careful, obviously, because you’re working overhead. But you want to just do that to kill the mold spores and get rid of what’s already up there.

    Once that’s done and it’s dry, then I say prime the ceiling, the walls with a really good-quality primer like a KILZ or one of those B-I-N Zinsser primers. Prime everything and then go ahead and paint everything.

    And replace that vent fan. You want to get something that’s really powerful, that’s properly vented to the exterior. And you might want to, because it’s a tenant situation and it’s not somebody that you can sort of be on top of to make sure they’re putting it on and there’s no window, you may want to have it installed with an occupancy sensor. So that when someone walks into the bathroom, it triggers that vent fan to come on. It’ll run while they’re in there and then after they leave, it’s set to stay on for 10, 15 minutes.

    This way, when they’ve showered and have opened the door, that’s when you get that high points of condensation, because you’ve got that moist air from the shower and it’s warm and then you get the cool air from opening the door. And then suddenly, you get condensation on every surface. So that could be the best plan of attack, especially since these are people that you’re renting to.

    CHRIS: Terrific. Well, thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Chris. 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. Do you hear the theme to The Twilight Zone – doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo – when you’re starting to think about staining your deck? “Like I can’t do that. No way.”

    TOM: Not that hard.

    LESLIE: It really isn’t. But you know what? You’re not alone. A ton of people really are afraid to tackle deck staining as a do-it-yourself project.

    TOM: Well, don’t be afraid to pick up that staining brush and get to work. We’re going to have tips to make it easier, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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.

    TOM: Hey, here’s a pretty surprising home improvement statistic we came across: every year, more than 20 million decks go unprotected. We’re talking about decks that are not stained, that are not sealed. They’re basically out there wearing away. And the reason is because homeowners are intimidated by staining projects.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I think it’s important to remember that the fact is it’s easier to stain than paint. And it’s the single best way to protect your wood deck for decades to come. So here to tell us more about stains and staining is Russ Neale from Cabot.

    Welcome, Russ.

    RUSS: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

    TOM: That’s a really fascinating number. I think that folks that – especially those that purchase pressure-treated decks, Russ, they think that because they purchased a pressure-treated deck, that they’re protected. Because everyone knows that pressure-treated lumber doesn’t rot or at least not for 20 or 30 years. But while it doesn’t rot, the sun can really do quite a bit of damage and make that deck almost unusable and certainly dangerous from the splintering and that sort of thing. That alone is a good reason to protect your deck, correct?

    RUSS: You are absolutely right. Just like we worry about the sun with our own bodies and with UV protection, our exterior wood needed that protection, as well. We all see what happens with the long-term sun just beating down on that wood, with it graying and turning the soft – the top layers very soft, causing them to kind of peel away and degrade over time. Protecting from the sun is a key need of exterior wood.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to protecting decks, we have options in stains and other types of clear finishes. I think that folks get confused about the difference between stains and paint. Can you give us Cabot’s perspective on that?

    RUSS: I certainly can. The easiest way to think about it is that a stain goes into the wood, whereas a paint is on top of the wood. Paints tend to form a film that covers while a stain gets in and nurtures those wood fibers.

    With exterior wood – think about a deck, for instance. You’re walking on it, potentially dragging furniture. If you’ve got pets, their paws and claws may be going across there. If you’ve got a film across that surface, those abrasions can break into that film, allow water to get underneath it and over time, cause that to peel away. And then you’re kind of worse than when you started.

    With a stain penetrated into the wood surface, the protection is deep into the wood.

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re applying a stain, I mean is the best sort of scenario fresh, new wood? Or are you looking at a situation where if you’ve got paint on there, stain is an option but you’ve got to take some steps to prep that decking for it.

    RUSS: You need to take some steps to prepare the wood, regardless of whether it’s brand new, just installed or whether it’s been previously coated. The easiest, most basic way of getting after this – you need to give it a good cleaning. Even brand-new wood may have some kind of mold, mildew or algae kind of growing on it. Even if you can’t see it, it’s always a best practice to give that a good cleaning. Get any of those unwanted, growing things off of your surface so that you truly are starting fresh.

    If it has been previously coated, it’s important that you get that coating ready to take a sound – you get down to a sound wood surface so that your stain can penetrate into that wood and give you that long-lasting protection that you need.

    TOM: Great advice. Russ Neale from Cabot, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and giving us some really good, solid advice on how to go about taking care of our decks and other wood surfaces with Cabot this season.

    RUSS: Leslie, Tom, thank you so much for having me.

    LESLIE: See? It’s not so bad. No more excuses, guys. Get on those deck-staining projects. The Fourth of July is days away.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The show continues online at MoneyPit.com.

    Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2013 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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