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Hard to Open Windows May Be Improperly Installed, Get Step-by-Step Tips on Patio Repair, Easy Ways to Use Natural Cooling at Your House and Keep the AC Off and More

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. No, we are not available to do it for you. We are available, though, to give you the advice that you need to get it done yourself. Or if you’re the kind of DIYer that is afraid to do it yourself because you’re afraid you may become a do-it-to-yourselfer, hey, we understand. But maybe that’s a good reason to hire a pro but you don’t know how to do that? We can help you with that, too, but you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a busy show planned for you, coming up this hour. And now that you have your windows open more often, are you noticing that they’re not getting any easier to open and close? That could be a sign that they were not installed correctly. We’re going to help you figure out if that’s the case and what you can do about it to free things up, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, more time outside means that your patio or your deck is getting way more use. So if your patio looks like it’s seen better days, we can help with any of those needed repairs.

    Now, the main problem with a patio is often sunken spots and then you get water puddling, so we’re going to give you step-by-step advice to get that patio back on the level, a little later.

    TOM: And do you really need air conditioning come summer? I’m guessing if you are living in Arizona and Texas, you’re saying, “Heck yeah.” But if you want to save a few bucks and yes, even if you still want to enjoy that air conditioning, there are a few home improvements that you can make in your home that will actually maximize the natural cooling power that we have and allow you to save energy doing just that. We’re going to tell you all about those ideas, in just a few minutes.

    LESLIE: Alright. And this hour, we’re giving away 100 brand new Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades. And these blades are tougher and they last longer than those traditional blades, so we’ve got a great prize up for grabs.

    TOM: And it’s also an important anniversary: it’s the 75th anniversary of the utility knife.

    LESLIE: Hey, that’s a very handy tool and I think we should celebrate that.

    TOM: Another home improvement milestone.

    LESLIE: Where’s my car?

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you complete your home improvement project and that could be one more milestone in your DIY life. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Keith in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    KEITH: Yes, I recently purchased a one-and-a-half-story home. It’s a new home.

    TOM: OK.

    KEITH: And I’m having trouble with truss uplift. During the winter – my builder says that the truss has expanded and contracted and they – on the second floor, you can see where the tape has pulled away from the drywall.

    TOM: Right.

    KEITH: And right now, he’s saying the only solution will be to put up crown molding on the second floor rather than fix it. And I was hoping you had a better solution.

    TOM: Why don’t we try to fix it once and we can mold it second? But there is a condition called truss uplift and trusses do expand and contract. But trusses are also designed to work with drywall.

    Now, if this paper tape is coming off, what I would do is I’d pull off all the loose paper tape and then I would sand off all of the excessive spackle that’s there. I would replace it with fiberglass drywall tape, which is much tougher and easier to …

    LESLIE: And more flexible.

    TOM: And flexible and easier for you to let the spackle sort of permeate that surface. And then give it a year and see what happens. I wouldn’t go right to the molding step; that’s sort of when all else fails, put molding over it kind-of-a-thing. But I would definitely try to replace the paper tape with fiberglass tape, because I think you will find that it’s a lot more durable and less likely to peel off.

    KEITH: Alrighty. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Liz in North Dakota is looking for a gutter makeover. What can we do for you? 

    LIZ: Yes, we have some gutters that were installed on our home when we built it new 40 years ago, approximately. 

    TOM: Yep. 

    LIZ: And I know the company that we bought them from and it was supposed to be a warrantied lifetime. I haven’t contacted them or anything. But they’re white and I believe it’s galvanized metal.

    TOM: They’re galvanized? They’re not aluminum?

    LIZ: No. No, they’re – I think they’re galvanized metal. 

    TOM: Hmm. Are they rusting out? 

    LIZ: No, they’re not rusting; they’re just fading out. They were white. 

    TOM: Well, regardless if it’s galvanized steel or if it’s aluminum, they can be painted. The key here is going to be surface preparation. You’re going to have a lot of what we call chalking of the old finish. In other words, when you rub it, the white paint – the old, white paint – will come off. That needs to be cleaned very, very well and then I would recommend use of a primer because primer is going to make sure that the surface bonds properly to the final coat of paint.

    Now, I will tell you, Liz, that this is a lot of work – it’s not easy because the gutters are all up in the air – but you can prime them and paint them with a good-quality, exterior-grade house paint after they’re primed. And if you do do it right and you take the steps I’m recommending, you can probably get another, say, five to seven years out of them with one good coat of paint. 

    LIZ: What do you recommend? Oil-based or latex? 

    TOM: I think latex is fine but just wanted you to make sure you prime the metal first. Make sure it’s a paint that’s designed for metal and make sure it’s primed properly. 

    LIZ: Alright. Thank you very much. Enjoy your program. 

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 

    Just imagine that project. You’ve got to go up the ladder and you’ve got to go down the ladder. Then you’ve got to move the ladder and you’ve got to go up again. It’s going to be … 

    LESLIE: It’s one for somebody with long arms.

    TOM: Exactly. And a lot of time.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s almost officially summer. That’s right: Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. So let us help you get your money pit in the not-so-money-pit shape; let’s get you guys in tip-top working order all around your house. Pick up the phone and give us a call with all of your home improvement, home décor, design, whatever questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are your windows hard to open or close or maybe they just won’t stay open when you want them to? You know, windows that don’t work right could mean they were installed incorrectly. We’re going to help you figure out if that’s the case with your windows and what you can do to fix the problem, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    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 give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because this hour, we are giving away 100 brand-spanking new Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades. And it’s really exciting because Stanley, they are the original creators of the utility knife and they are celebrating 75 years of this very exciting launch of a really useful tool, that I know if you are doing any sort of home improvement, home maintenance – if you’ve got a tool belt, you most likely have the Stanley Utility Blade kicking around in there. And I know you are putting it to great use.

    And really, their blades are wonderful because they’re unbreakable under most normal working conditions. And if you’ve ever worked cutting sheetrock, you know that you go through blades very quickly.

    Now, these new Stanley CARBIDE blades really don’t require changing as often, so that’s going to save you money and time. So give us a call for your chance to win now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. You will receive the Stanley FatMax Retractable Knife and the Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades – 100 blades – which I’ll go out on a limb and say – not too much of a limb, though – that this is probably enough blades to last you for most of your do-it-yourself career, because these things are so incredibly durable.

    Now, these CARBIDE Utility Blades, they are just so much tougher than the standard blades. You are really going to enjoy them and we are going to give that package away to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, your home improvement question might be: “Hey. How do I get my windows to open and close properly?” If your windows are hard to open or they’re hard to close or they won’t stay open or they won’t lock, it might be a sign that the windows were not installed correctly and that they need to be repaired or replaced. Another symptom could be excessive air leakage, something that you may have been dealing with this winter.

    So, here’s a little test to see if your windows have those big gaps around them. You can have someone stand outside your window and sort of watch that area where the window meets the sill and the sides of the frame. And then inside, you take a small flashlight and sort of walk around, travel around that window perimeter. If the person outside sees light, well, that means you may have a big gap that’s wasting energy.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? If you do see the light, then what you might need to do is have it caulked or resealed or – it really is a symptom that it wasn’t installed properly and then you’re going to be just losing energy left and right.

    If you want some great tips, head on over to Simonton.com. and they’re going to give you details on energy-efficient replacement windows that you can purchase, which will then help to reduce your daily energy bills. And then it’s, of course, going to add style to your home and increase your home’s value. It really is a great deal. Of course, there are still energy credits out there and Simonton really knows how to give you a hand to make sure that you get every credit that the government’s offering to you and take advantage of all those deals.

    TOM: And in fact, if replacement is on your to-do list, we’ve got a guide online at MoneyPit.com: the Complete Window Replacement Guide. Actually a free download from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. It’s got all the background and the tips you need to know and the questions you need to ask and have answered before you start a replacement-window project. That is online and it’s free at MoneyPit.com: the Complete Replacement Window Guide.

    LESLIE: Martin in New Hampshire is having some issues with a shower. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARTIN: Yeah, I have a fiberglass shower enclosure that – well, the house is 10 years old but – so when I’m in there taking a shower, the floor kind of creaks and I’m just wondering if there’s something loose or how that occurred and how I can fix that. 

    LESLIE: And the creaking on the shower pan, is this something new or have you always sort of sensed movement since you’ve been in the house? 

    MARTIN: Well, I’ve been living with it for a while. 

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because generally, with the shower pans, usually there’s a concrete base underneath and some people will just put the shower pan on top once it’s hardened and secured and other people will, as the concrete is sort of drying, sort of press the pan into it so it takes the shape underneath and really adheres the pan to the concrete base. So, it could be that yours was sort of not adhered correctly to the base underneath and is now … 

    TOM: Or just dropped on top. 

    LESLIE: Yeah or just sitting on top and now you’re just getting some movement because of the age. 

    TOM: But I tell you that eventually, with all this creaking, sometimes the fiberglass will crack. And if that happens, your options would be either to replace the pan or you could do a temporary fix with a fiberglass repair kit like a Bondo kit, the kind that you would get … 

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, from an auto repair shop. 

    TOM: Mm-hmm, exactly.

    MARTIN: So is there any way I could get underneath there from the inlet end, where the water comes in from that end and – I don’t know – try to get some adhesive in or something? 

    LESLIE: Something to glue it back down? No. 
    TOM: No. I mean even if you had access underneath that – even if you used something like an expandable polyurethane foam – it may just expand so much that it cracks the pan and that would be, of course, not what you’re trying to do. 

    MARTIN: Oh, OK. Alright. So you’re saying I probably have to take the whole enclosure out and start over? 

    TOM: Well, if it cracked, that would be your option. At this point, I would just leave it. 

    MARTIN: OK. Sounds awesome. 

    TOM: Alright. 

    MARTIN: Alright. Sounds good. 

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Beverly on the line who’s dealing with some windows that won’t come clean. Tell us what’s going on.

    BEVERLY: Yes. Good afternoon. I’m trying to find out how to clean windows on a house that was empty for – it was only 14 years old but it was – told it was empty for several years before we moved in.

    TOM: OK.

    BEVERLY: And the windows just can’t come clean with the normal methods.

    LESLIE: Does it seem like there’s a fogginess on the inside that you can’t get to?

    BEVERLY: Seems like it’s on the outside. Some of them are double-pane; some of them are single-pane.

    LESLIE: OK. And are you seeing – so you’re seeing it on both types?

    BEVERLY: Yeah, there’s nothing on the inside. Seems like it’s just all on the outside.

    LESLIE: Hmm. Have you tried simply white vinegar?

    BEVERLY: Not the white vinegar yet, no. We tried the over-the-counter things that are supposed to get the lime and – like the things off the shower.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, the mineral deposits.

    BEVERLY: Right.

    LESLIE: Which, essentially, white vinegar does that; it really does a fantastic job of getting rid of mineral deposits. You know, generally, you would mix it with water but I would say in this case, try it undiluted. And newspapers are really a great trick when it comes to cleaning your windows; they do a wonderful job of really getting the windows clean without leaving streaks. But I think …

    LESLIE: And Beverly, I know that you think this is on the outside of the glass but if it’s a 14-year-old house, it probably has some older, thermal-pane windows. And thermal-pane windows, when they start to leak and the seals start to break, they’ll develop a very fine condensation inside the glass, where you can’t get to it. You can clean that all day long, it’s not going to change anything because it’s on the inside. And there’s not a lot that you can do about that short of replacing the window units themselves.

    So, if you’re absolutely positive that they’re single-pane windows then, of course, it could come clean. But if it’s a thermal-pane window, it’s just not going to happen.

    BEVERLY: Right, right. Yeah, it’s a little grainy to the touch, you know what I mean?

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    BEVERLY: So I’m just hoping I could get that clean. So, I really appreciate your help and I’m going to give that a try.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Michigan on the line who’s ready to take us on an attic adventure. Tell us what’s going on.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: I was just wondering, I’ve got a roof leak or had a roof leak. Once the roof leak stopped, I’ve got what looks like mold on the boards and in the rafters?

    TOM: OK.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: What can be done about that other than just tearing all the wood out and replacing it all?

    TOM: You don’t have to get too emotional about this. If you get a leak and you get some mold or some algae growth on the underside of the plywood, the thing is that once you’ve taken the moisture away from this, it’s not going to get any further; it’s not going to decay any further.

    And so as long as it’s not rotted now, the fact that you’ve got a little bit of mold stain there, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If it’ll make you feel better, you could mix up a bleach-and-water solution, put it in a plant sprayer – like a pump-up sprayer – and just saturate those areas that look moldy. That will kill anything that’s left behind. But I would definitely not tear things out just because it got a little moldy because of the roof leak. That’s pretty common, actually.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Alright. I appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Don in Texas is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you with that project?

    DON: What I’m doing is putting down a hardwood floor.

    TOM: OK.

    DON: And the book and everybody says to put it on ¾-inch plywood. I want to know if I can put it on runners.

    TOM: What are you putting it on top of?

    DON: Cement.

    TOM: You’re taking a big risk, my friend. You shouldn’t be putting solid hardwood on top of concrete. Concrete is too damp and too humid and it can make that hardwood floor twist and warp and completely ruin it.

    Now, if you want to put hardwood floor over concrete, there is a kind of hardwood floor you should install: it’s called engineered hardwood. And engineered hardwood is hardwood that’s made up of different layers that are cross-laminated, kind of like plywood where you have layers of wood going at 90 degrees to each other except in this case, the top coat is real solid hardwood.

    And I’ve got to tell you, when it’s down, you cannot tell the difference between this and normal hardwood floor.

    LESLIE: Well, except for, of course, when the moisture attacks it and it starts to get all warped.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: The laminate’s not going to do that; it’s really meant for this application.

    DON: Alright. If I put a water barrier of plastic down?

    TOM: Potentially, yeah. I mean it potentially would help but have you already bought the hardwood?

    DON: I have but I – it doesn’t matter; I’ve got 9,000 square feet of it and I only need 3,000 square feet of it.

    TOM: Oh, man. Oh. So, can you take the extra back?

    DON: No. I can turn around and sell it to other people.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Because I’ve got to tell you, I would try to tell you to steer away from putting solid hardwood down. If you’ve never seen engineered, it is just as durable as regular hardwood. In fact, Lumber Liquidators has an engineered wood-floor product that’s got a 50-year warranty – 50 years – so it’s good stuff. And it’s definitely designed to stand up to a concrete installation without warping and twisting and becoming completely ruined.

    Take a look at LumberLiquidators.com and look at the Bellawood products. They have 50-year warranties. The engineered hardwood is really terrific and it’ll definitely work on concrete.

    DON: I will. I’ll look. And I enjoy the heck out of your show.

    LESLIE: Oh, thanks.

    TOM: Well, thanks very much, Don. Very kind of you to say. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you have a paved patio or maybe a walkway? Or even if this is something that you guys are thinking of taking on, guess what? It’s a really easy, do-it-yourself project but it’s also easily botched if the surface of the area to be paved is not prepped right at all.

    TOM: That’s right. That’s why, coming up, we’re going to have some step-by-step advice on how you can fix a paved area that’s sinking, which is one of the most common problems we see with patios. If you look outside your house and see those spots on your patio, let’s fix it together, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced, 100-percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain, snow and ice. The line offers long-lasting beauty and excellent durability. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    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 you can listen to The Money Pit show on the go with The Money Pit iPhone app that’s online at MoneyPit.com. You can get the full show archives. You can also ask a question in the Community forum or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook, all online, all free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Well, building a brick-paver patio is a very popular do-it-yourself project. But if you’ve ever built one only to find that it’s started to sink or it ends up getting very weedy, you might be wondering if all of that effort was for nothing.

    TOM: Well, not to fear. A paver patio that has started to sink can be saved. And with us to talk about that is a guy who has built more than his fair share of patios, Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: Hi. How are you today?

    TOM: And I love this project because it’s really fun; it’s like putting a puzzle together. But it’s not so much the top that counts, it’s really what’s underneath. Is that where most of these paver projects go wrong?

    ROGER: Preparation, preparation, preparation. And sometimes, 90 percent of your good work is buried; you don’t see it.

    TOM: Yep.

    ROGER: But when a patio settles, that’s when you know the proper sub-base wasn’t put in.

    LESLIE: So what is the correct process and really, how deep do you need to go down to make everything a successful start?

    ROGER: Well, we always say the deeper the better but the soil really tells you how deep you want to go down.

    When you start digging out for the patio, you want to remove any loamy, organic material because that’s going to swell with water and move up and down. So, usually, we dig out anywhere from 8 inches to a foot, depending on the subsoil. We put in a good draining gravel, which is a combination of sand and three-quarter stone and we compact that all the way up to 1 inch below where the pavers are going to go. Most manufacturers want you to …

    LESLIE: And that’s all that mix?

    ROGER: All that mix. Compact it. We use a mechanical compactor that we walk around with and it really packs it down.

    LESLIE: And that’s also called a “tamper”?

    ROGER: A tamper.


    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Some people will use a hand one and it’s a lot of work to get that compaction done properly.

    LESLIE: OK. So that’s up to about an inch before the paver.

    ROGER: Right. And most manufacturers like to see 1 inch of sand underneath their pavers.

    LESLIE: Just for sort of like a smooth, uniform sort of pressing-into surface?

    ROGER: Right. It’s a great surface. We can level off and all the pavers will go in level.


    TOM: Now, speaking of leveling off, is it important that a paver patio have any kind of pitch to it or can it just be flat and drained?

    ROGER: We don’t want anything flat. The minimum pitch is an 1/8 of an inch per foot and that’ll carry the water off. Bigger patios, we would go a ¼ of an inch.

    But you don’t want to go much more than that because if you sit on them or put a drink on them, someone will say, “Hey, my drink is crooked.” And then, no, that’s just the patio, so …

    TOM: It’s the patio. Now, let’s talk about how to fix one that’s already constructed. If we start from scratch, we know we need a proper base. But what if we’re staring at our patio outside our kitchen window right now and we notice that it’s really sunken out? Do we have to take it all out and start over again or can we just sort of try to rebuild the area that’s damaged?

    ROGER: I would just rebuild the area that’s damaged. Sometimes, I’ll pop all the brick out and will be able to just do that one little area. You’ll dig down and find there might have been a stump there or even a rock that has moved around, something that would cause a physical problem. You dig that out, repack again and work your way up and set everything back in place.

    But if it’s a patio that has a lot of cuts or the area you’re doing has cuts, you should label them. Not only label them but take a picture with the numbers on them so that when you go back to assemble them, you know where each piece goes.

    TOM: Oh, great tips. So basically, you’re going to number the bricks with a lumber crayon or something like that?

    ROGER: Exactly. And take a picture of it in place and then when you go to put them back together, you won’t mix everything up and have a lot of work ahead of you or end up with the wrong brick in the wrong place.

    LESLIE: Now, I notice in the process, when you said it was the gravel mix and then the sand, there’s no weed blocker or anything installed in there. So what do you do about, you know, weed growth that may occur?

    ROGER: That’s one of the biggest complaints we get about patios. There’s two options: either treat it with an herbicide as it shows up or there’s a new product called polymeric sand that you sweep into the patio. That not only locks the patio together but it makes a barrier which will keep those weed seeds from getting in there and germinating.

    TOM: Because it’s really the weeds that – seeds that fall on the patio. They’re not coming up under …

    LESLIE: And not coming from below.

    ROGER: No. They’re not coming from below.

    TOM: And they find that little sweet spot with everything they need: a little organic material, some moisture and then they pop up from there.

    ROGER: Right. Yep. And that’s it.

    TOM: The polymeric sand can be repeated from time to time?

    ROGER: Yeah but you’ve got to – if you’re going to do it, you have to scrape out the joints and redo it. Usually, one application works really well.

    TOM: Great point, great point.

    Now, Roger, paver patios, we should just talk a bit about the difference between a paver brick and a regular brick. Because paver patios really are designed to be stacked side by side but a traditional brick is not.

    ROGER: Well, it depends. It depends. There’s a lot of different types of brick. The paver brick are exactly the same; we call them modular. Everyone has the same width and the same length as its partner. So that allows you to do different patterns, like a herringbone or a basket weave.

    The other type of brick is called a clay brick.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: It’s fired in an oven and it shrinks down and that’s what makes it hard and repel water.

    Now, certain ones will come out of the kiln – if they’re closer to the fire, they’ll shrink more than the outside ones. So when you go to do a pattern with those, they’re very hard to mix together and have the pattern come out without not having big, big joints.

    There are some types of brick, though, that will come out just right and you can use those. You have to know whether your brick is modular. If it’s modular, then it’s great for a pattern.

    TOM: Now, what about slate patios? I mean those are gorgeous but how do you control the weeds and the spacing on something that’s so natural as a slate tile?

    LESLIE: Like a freeform.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ROGER: Some of this polymeric sand is made so that it’ll fill the joints like that. They have some for ½-inch joints, some for 2-inch joints. It’ll work. The other thing you can do is – just keeping the joints filled with a stone dust will help pack in and keep the weeds from getting in there. Otherwise, again, you have to go to some sort of herbicide treatment, whether it’s a chemical one or an organic one like a vinegar mix.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And is there ever an instance where you should actually grout your patio or are you just dealing with so much freezing and thawing that you’re going to get heave and it’s just going to always crumble?

    ROGER: You know, the joint is the weak point of any cement patio. That’s why I love the pavers. We can lift them up and we can do anything with them. On a flagstone patio that’s on cement, that joint keeps popping because everything moves. So, you see a patio where you go in and part of the joints look great because they’ve been redone and the other parts are not so good. It becomes a year-after-year-after-year thing.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: I really don’t like setting things on cement, in New England, especially.

    TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for dropping by The Money Pit once again.

    And by the way, there’s a really great video on how to repair a brick patio on ThisOldHouse.com. You’ll see Roger do this project step by step.

    ROGER: It’s a little bit of work to do it but it’s a lot better than jackhammering out a concrete patio.

    LESLIE: And remember, you can always get more great advice when you watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

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

    Still ahead, are you dreading your summer electric bill? Do you really need your home to be air conditioned all summer long? Can you do something that will save some of that cooling money? Well, the answer is yes. We’re going to have tips on how you can cool your home naturally, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    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: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll answer your home improvement project question and we’re going to give you a great prize. Because this hour, we are giving away 100 brand new CARBIDE Utility Blades from our friends at Stanley.

    Now, perhaps you haven’t heard about that before and that’s because these are brand new. They just invented them and they’re amazing. These CARBIDE Utility Blades can last five to seven times longer than a standard utility blade. We’re going to give you 100 of them. You’ll have plenty to get you through all of your home improvement projects, probably for the rest of your home improving career.

    LESLIE: I bet.

    TOM: And it comes with a Stanley FatMax Retractable Utility Knife, which is a great product.

    And in speaking of utility knives, Leslie, do you realize that this is the 75th anniversary of the invention of the utility knife?

    LESLIE: It really is a go-to tool for pretty much any and every project I’m ever working on.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So, I thank Stanley because I use them every day.

    TOM: And it really doesn’t matter what kind of project you are doing around the house, you always need a utility knife.

    So, give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get 100 of the brand new Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades and a Stanley FatMax Retractable Knife, just for asking your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to help you with the projects you are working on.

    And this time of year, we all start thinking about cooling and human beings have lived without air conditioning for thousands of years. But today …

    TOM: Not this human being.

    LESLIE: Well and not me.

    TOM: Not these human beings.

    LESLIE: Not us. I’m new to the central air-conditioning world. This’ll be our second summer with it and to tell you the truth, I don’t know what I did before. I’m so happy to have it and it …

    TOM: Before we had central air conditioning in our house, we had about eight window air conditioners. And when we got the central, it was like a July day. We put them out on the porch and – with a sign that said, “For sale.” We caused traffic accidents almost, on the road in front of our house. They’re like, “I want one.”

    LESLIE: Well and it’s funny but when we actually had the central air conditioning installed, the installers took three of our five window units and I was like, “Really? You guys put in central A/C and you want my window unit?”

    TOM: And you don’t have your own, right?

    LESLIE: Which is funny because it’s so popular, central air conditioning. And if you are out and about, ask your friends looking at homes on the market, it’s kind of hard to find a house that doesn’t have it.

    Well, after air conditioning gained popularity in the latter part of the 20th century, builders eliminated sun-control devices in homes, which really helped to cool the home: pieces like roof overhangs and exterior window shades, cross ventilation, attic exhaust. That was air conditioning prior to central air conditioning. And we started to see design elements that really tended to warm up your house again, like large picture windows that faced the south, east or west. Beautiful views, yes, but tons of sunlight pouring in and then heating up every inch of your house.

    TOM: Yeah but what’s old is new again. We are starting to see some of those building changes come back into fashion. But what can you do right now, though, to reduce your dependence on air conditioning? Well, start with external shades. These shades work by preventing a buildup of heat from the sun before it actually makes contact with the glass of your window and that’s critical.

    Think about it: typically, you have shades inside the glass; if you have shades outside the glass, they’re much more effective. Outdoor window shades are fitted just off the exterior window panes; you leave a small gap between the glass and the shade.

    And you can also consider installing a whole-house exhaust fan. Now, we have used these for years and they’re wonderful because in many parts of the country, these actually can save you about a month’s worth of air conditioning in the front of the season, another month at the end of the season. Because, basically, they get mounted into the ceiling of your uppermost floor; you have increased attic ventilation that acts as the exhaust vent. You turn them on, open a few windows and they just pull a nice breeze through.

    You know when the air starts to get a bit heavy? Well, this fixes that and if the air is moving through your house, you’re more comfortable and you don’t need to turn on the central air conditioning.

    And one more tip: you can look at your roof color, especially if you’re thinking about replacing your roof. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that if all roofs in the country were a white or a light color, the amount of energy saved would be equal to the amount of oil that we import every year. We are just so committed to dark-colored roofs but if we had light roofs, we would all use a lot less energy.

    LESLIE: So I guess we could say blonde homes have more fun?

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Alright, guys. Next time you reach for that thermostat and go to throw on the air conditioning, remember how long we as Americans actually lived without air conditioning. And really start thinking about ways that you can incorporate passive cooling strategies into your house. Hey, you might be surprised how quickly you get comfortable and how quickly you start enjoying those reduced energy bills.

    TOM: Let us try to save you some home improvement energy right now, though. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, paint is one of the easiest ways that you can change the look of a room. But what happens if that bright purple that your teenager loved last year is no longer her favorite color? Well, coming up next, we’re going to tell you how to cover bright or dark colors with as few coats of paint as possible, so stick around.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you should visit MoneyPit.com for everything we’ve ever written about painting solutions. We’ll teach you how to prep your walls, how to find odor-free paint and even how to get tips on how to store leftover paint for hassle-free touchups. And we can tell you how to store it for many, many years. Trust me. I’ve just pulled out a can the other day that I need to touch up my daughter’s room, that was about three years old, and it worked perfectly. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com, under the Repair and Improve section.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And while you are online at MoneyPit.com, you can check out the Community section where you’re able to post questions, answer questions, write a blog, put up videos, put up anything that you are working on in your home and we can all chime in on what we think your home improvement skills are like or really just praise you for a job well done.

    And you can also ask your question. I’ve got one here from Theoni in Utah who wrote: “I want to repaint an interior room. The existing color is a vibrant purple and pink. What’s the best way to prep the walls for the least amount of coats to cover such bright colors?”

    TOM: That’s a good question and one that we get quite a bit.

    So, what’s your advice? To do a tinted primer, perhaps?

    LESLIE: I guess it really depends on the color that you’re trying to go to after. If you’re going for a dark or a rich tone, absolutely tinted primer. And primer really is the key word here. You have got to prime those walls, whether it’s just a simple white primer or a tinted primer that’s going to coordinate to the top-coat color. But primer really is the glue that’s going to make that new paint stick. Plus, it’s really going to help hide some of that color underneath.

    And if you get a good, high-quality, latex primer, your top coat should go on in one or two coats max.

    TOM: Sounds good. Let’s go to Nash now in Washington D.C. He says, “I’ve got an A/C condenser on the roof of my townhouse that I want to demolish to prepare for a new HVAC system. Can I simply disconnect the existing refrigerant lines and let the refrigerant dissipate into the air?”

    LESLIE: Oh, no.

    TOM: No, Nash. Not unless you want to get a big fine and perhaps poison yourself. That would be a really bad thing to do.

    Why are you doing the disconnecting here, Nash? This would be the job of whoever’s installing that new system.

    LESLIE: The new one.

    TOM: And considering that you live in Washington, D.C. and have probably one of those beautiful townhomes, you can’t do much of this yourself. I mean you need a crane to lift the new compressor up onto the roof, so you’re not going to save much money by taking this apart yourself. I would just have the entire job done by an A/C pro that knows what they’re doing. And this way, you will just not get in any trouble. Because we all know that the politicians are in enough trouble down there; we don’t need the residents getting in trouble, to boot.

    LESLIE: I’m like, “Nash, you’re close enough to being in the hot seat for a whole bunch of things in Washington, D.C. Let’s not get the EPA on your back.”

    Alright. Debra in New Jersey posted: “I’ve got a dog whom I cannot keep from jumping and scratching the inside of my front and back doors. They have to be refinished. They’ve been so twice and she continues to damage them. I want to either refinish them or replace them but I can’t think of a clever way to do it and I don’t want to get rid of my dog.”

    TOM: How about just hiring a dog trainer?

    LESLIE: Or dog shoes.

    TOM: Or doggie shoes, that’s right. Little doggie slippers.

    LESLIE: You know, there’s actually – it’s not a very attractive fix but you can get a piece of Plexiglas – if you’ve got your heart set on not replacing those doors – and put up the Plexiglas just in the area to the height where she’s scratching. This way, it’ll only attack the Plexi. Or I’m thinking a fiberglass door, if you’re looking to replace, will really stand up to the wear and tear.

    TOM: Absolutely. Fiberglass has a very tough finish on it and I think it could probably even take a few scratches from your dog, as well. Take a look at the doors that are made by ThermaTru – T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u – .com. They invented the door. They’re also about four times more energy-efficient, so lots of great reasons to replace wood doors with fiberglass doors. And I’m pretty sure your dog will appreciate it, too.

    LESLIE: The dog’s going to be scratching her head wondering why she can’t scratch the door.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve helped make your money pit a better place to be.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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