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HGTV Rehab Addict Host Nicole Curtis Talks Renovation and Restoration, the Perks of Switching to LED Lighting, and Smart Home Technology That Saves You Big

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on today? Give us a call. We’d like to help you tackle that home improvement project, as well, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re hiring a pro, we can give you the steps, the tips, the techniques, the materials you’ll need to get it done once, do it right and not have to do it again. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s show, changing a light bulb sounds pretty easy but it might not be if you find yourself balancing on a ladder to get that done. We’ve got info on advances in LED bulbs that might just make changing a light bulb a task you never have to do again.

    LESLIE: And is your wood deck weathered and worn well past its prime? Does the idea of staining it every year make you break out in a cold sweat? Well, then it might be time to consider a deck makeover using composite decking. We’ll share all the details on that great project, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, one caller this hour will never have to shiver on a cold winter morning again while waiting for their shower to heat up. We’re giving away a Watts Hot-Water Recirculator worth 199 bucks. One of the best inventions ever. If you’ve ever had to stand around and wait for that shower to get hot in the morning, it will deliver instant hot water any time you like.

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Get on the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question, 888-666-3974.

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

    SUE: In the winter, the runoff from whatever snow is on it just pools on the floor in the garage. And I was wondering if there’s some way to slope the garage floor without completely rebuilding the garage.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean you can add an additional layer of material to the garage floor and slope that from high to low. The type of product that you would use for that, I think, would probably be a concrete resurfacer. This is a formulation that’s designed to adhere to existing concrete.

    Take a look at the QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – concrete resurfacing product. Mix it according to label directions. You may have to make it a little thick in order to get it to build up on the high side and then slope it down. But it’s going to be a project because a garage floor is pretty big. So it’s going to take a bit of time and investment of a bit of money to get all the materials together and certainly, if you’re going to hire somebody, that, as well. But I think you could accomplish what you want to do, which is to get the slope away.

    Now, the other thing that you could think about, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of resurfacing, is there are a number of garage floors that are out there. And some of them are tiles that actually sit up off on top of the garage floor. They’re very often used in workshops where people are spending a lot of time on the floor. And you can drive a car over them.

    And they have sort of a pattern to them – a tread pattern to them, so to speak – so that the water wouldn’t necessarily lay on top. It would sort of be there but it wouldn’t be sort of pooling like you’re seeing now. So there’s a couple of options for you and hopefully, one of those is the good solution.

    SUE: Now, the QUIKRETE, that’s something we could do ourselves? Or do we have to hire somebody to do that?

    TOM: It depends on how handy you are. It certainly is a do-it-yourself project. I know that QUIKRETE is very good about having step-by-step instructions on their website. So when you go to QUIKRETE.com, look up the materials on resurfacing concrete. They usually have project guides there with a materials list and photos. And it’ll tell you exactly how to do it, OK?

    SUE: OK. Thank you very much. That’s most helpful.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Richard in New Jersey on the line who’s looking for a creative way to seal out drafts at the window but not provide his cat something to climb on.

    Welcome to The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: My friend has a – lives in a garage apartment.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And it has a – it’s an approximately 2-foot-square, crank-out casement window.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And it’s somewhat drafty and we’re looking for a way to possibly insulate it. But we were looking at the film to put on the inside but we’re afraid that the cat would defeat the purpose. So, I was wondering if there was another way, maybe, of doing that from the outside.

    TOM: Well, not from the outside, because the plastic is just – could you wrap a window from the outside with plastic? Yeah, I guess you could. It will look really bad but you probably could. But there may be other ways to try to seal out the drafts. You could simply add some weather-stripping around that juncture between the window and the sash itself. Or you could use a product that’s called “weather-stripping caulk.”

    Now, it’s a liquid caulk in a tube, like regular caulk, and it kind of comes out like clear silicone. But what it does, it’ll bridge the gap between the different sides of the window. And you’ll basically caulk the window shut for the winter and then in the summer, you can grab the stuff and peel it off and it pulls right off. It doesn’t stick permanently to the paint and it doesn’t damage anything.

    So there’s more than one way to try to seal that window for the wintertime. And if the plastic is just going to be an annoyance because the cat is going to want to claw into it and tear it, then you should try weather-stripping or sealing it with weather-stripping caulk.

    RICHARD: Oh, OK. That sounds good. Yeah, as long as it’s something that is not permanent.

    TOM: No, it’s not. The only thing is that you would not be able to open that window once you caulk it shut, so to speak. So make sure that that’s not part of the egress system. In the event of a fire, you won’t be able to get it open and get out, OK?

    RICHARD: And is it – does it come in colors or just basically clear?

    TOM: No, it’s clear. It’s clear.

    RICHARD: Alright. That sounds great. I didn’t know that that was around. That sounds good.

    TOM: Should be in the home centers. And if you don’t see it, ask at the special-order desk. They should be able to find it for you.

    RICHARD: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?

    TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?

    TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40, but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.

    And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.

    TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.

    TOM: Good luck with that project, Tracy. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’ve got tips to help you save energy and money on your utility bills, when The Money Pit continues after this.

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    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: Pick up the phone, right now, and call us with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic prize. It’s the Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System with a built-in timer.

    LESLIE: Yeah, this is awesome. You’re going to get instant access to hot water at every faucet or shower when you need it. You won’t have to wait for that hot water again.

    The system actually recirculates the water within that hot-water supply line to your home. And it prevents it from cooling in the line and that’s going to save you up to 10 percent on your water bill.

    TOM: That means you can conserve about 15,000 gallons of water per year by not waiting for the water in your faucet or shower to turn hot, because it’ll be hot from the get-go. It’s also really quiet, installs in less than an hour and there’s no maintenance needed. It’s available at HomeDepot.com/InstantHotWater. That’s HomeDepot.com/InstantHotWater.

    It’s worth 199 bucks. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win the Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System with Built-In Timer.

    LESLIE: Tim in Iowa has a wood-finishing question. How can we help you?

    TIM: I’ve got an old house. It’s got fir floors. I have acquired some reclaimed fir flooring to put in an addition, to try and match up the rest of the house. The question I have is this is going to be the first floor that I redo in the house, so I kind of wanted to – whatever I do, I want to do it in the rest of the house.

    But the question I have is on the clear finish. I know a lot of different companies are making a water-based clear. And my second question is whether – or as far as durability, whether if something of that product would be durable.

    And then also, I have a couple of dogs that I’m worried about nail scratches, as far as sheen goes. I know the shinier it is, the easier – the more scratches you can see. So, I’m curious if there’s anything out there that shines good and will resist scratches.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean I have always felt that oil-based floor finishes are key. Any time I’ve tried to use a water-based floor finish, it doesn’t seem to have the durability. So I would definitely recommend an oil-based floor finish, like a polyurethane.

    And in terms of sheen, I think that semi-gloss is what you want, not high gloss because that does show. Not only does it show scratches, it shows a lot of dirt easier. But semi-gloss or satin is a nice color to have.

    So I think the answer is oil-based, satin polyurethane is the solution.

    TIM: Is there any kind of a two-part epoxy one that’s even more durable than the polyurethane or …?

    TOM: There are. There are two-part finishes like that. Professional floor installers do use those, like when they do sort of gym floors and that kind of stuff. But it’s not sort of an over-the-counter purchase. You’d have to go to a flooring-finish supply company.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And that’s going to have to be applied in a manner where you’re really thinking about ventilation and protection of yourself, because that’s a fairly caustic material.

    TIM: Alright. Thank you very much, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.

    JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.

    LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?

    JO: No. Everything else is padded.

    LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.

    JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little, metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And bare wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.

    TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?

    JO: Clear finish.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.

    JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.

    TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.

    LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …

    TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.

    JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”

    TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.

    LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – “clear coats,” as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.

    TOM: Well, in the world of do-it-yourself, changing a light bulb has to rank, pretty much, as the easiest project ever. But people are injured in ladder accidents at home all the time. And it often happens while doing simple projects just like that.

    LESLIE: You know, actually having to change a light bulb is a task that fewer and fewer folks will ever have to do, thanks to the new LED technology. These bulbs can last for years and years, which is fantastic. Plus, they also reduce energy consumption by as much as 85 percent.

    TOM: Now, I’ve also noticed that LED technology is being integrated right into the lighting fixture itself which means, in many cases, there’s no longer actually a traditional bulb to install.

    In fact, when we redid our attic, I changed out the fixture to an LED fixture and it’s never been brighter. It really lights the space up which, of course, means now I can see how much junk I have all the time I’m up there.

    LESLIE: Nah.

    TOM: But it’s a good time to really look into making the switch to LEDs.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Today’s LED Tip is presented by The Home Depot, where you can pick up a two-pack of brushed-nickel LED flush mounts from Commercial Electric for less than 35 bucks. These are ceiling-mounted, overhead lighting fixtures that last 45 years or 50,000 hours of use. Plus, the fixture is dimmable, delivers the equivalent light output of a 100-watt bulb and it’s maintenance-free with 0 bulbs to change.

    TOM: The Home Depot is the destination for all things LED, from work lights and fixtures to bulbs and even LED holiday lights. Learn more at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Rich in Illinois needs some help with a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    RICH: I’m working on a house that I’ve been living in since 1988. And the bottom four sections of my steel siding keep peeling. It’s like a 30-foot-long piece. Each piece is 8 inches wide. And it has a wood-grain pattern on it; looks like it’s been stamped. And every two years, I approach this project. First time, I took a wire brush to it and knocked all the loose off and primed it. And two years later, I was doing it again.

    And every year, I try a different method. I tried a wire wheel on a drill. Last year, I took an air compressor and a hose and a drill and a wire wheel and went down to the bare metal.

    TOM: Wow.

    RICH: And went to the paint store and they gave me some primer and some paint. And seemed like everything I try – I wash it with paint thinner sometimes before I do it. Sometimes I just use soap and water. I always make sure it’s a nice, dry day – about 80 degrees – when I paint it. And it seems to always come back about every two to three years.

    I know it should be replaced but I kind of like the siding. But it’s steel and it’s – the company is no longer in business now and so the warranty is up on it.

    TOM: And there’s different qualities of steel. So even if it had a rust-resistant finish on it, it could have just worn off. And I wonder if whatever process they used is what’s causing the paint to not stick.

    When you prime it, are you using an oil-based primer or are you using an alkyd primer?

    RICH: Both. I’ve used both. I don’t know if it’s the primer that I use or if it’s – I’ve even went down to no paint at all and just the galvanized showing and – I don’t know. I don’t know what it – I don’t know if it’s the primer or what I’m using to wash the siding with that’s causing it or it’s the paint. I tried four or five different kinds of paint on this and primer.

    TOM: What I would do – I mean if I was priming it – and you may have done this already. But what I would do is I would use same manufacturer’s primer and paint. So, for example, I don’t think you can go wrong with Rust-Oleum. That’s pretty much one of the best metal paints of all.

    I would use the red Rust-Oleum primer – the oil-based primer – and I would let it thoroughly dry after you knock off all the loose paint and sand it and make sure the surface is ready to accept it. But I would use the oil-based Rust-Oleum primer which, by the way, takes forever to dry. Depends on the weather but three or four or five hours is not unusual. And then, I would use the Rust-Oleum topcoat. Again, oil-based. And I rarely recommend oil-based but in this situation, I think that’s what’s going to give you the best adhesion.

    Now, Rich, there’s one other piece of advice that we could offer you on this and it comes from a process that’s very – that’s done very often when people work on cars. There’s a product called Prep-Sol – P-r-e-p-S-o-l. And it’s a solvent that’s designed to be applied to bare metal before the primer. You might want to look that up as – I don’t know what – you said you were using a solvent. I don’t know if you were using mineral salt – mineral spirits or something like that – but this is specifically made for it. Just Google it. It’s called Prep-Sol – P-r-e-p-S-o-l. And it’s a cleaning solvent.

    RICH: OK. Do I apply it with a brush or a rag or …?

    TOM: You apply it with a rag. Use a clean cloth and you apply it – you soak it in with the cloth.

    RICH: Yeah, I’ll try that. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Still to come, has your deck seen better days? Well, if your wood deck is weathered and worn past saving, you might want to consider a composite material for a deck do-over.

    TOM: We’ll have tips on the newest composites, 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: 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 while many of us are getting ready to hunker down for the colder weather ahead, it’s a busy time of year for the residential-construction industry, especially in Chicago right now, where tens of thousands are attending the biggest industry event of the year: the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo. We’re going to turn now to the show floor and welcome industry veteran Julia Fitzgerald to the program. Julia is the chief marketing officer for CPG Building Products, makers of both AZEK and TimberTech.

    Welcome, Julia.

    JULIA: Hi there, Tom. How are you today?

    TOM: So this is an exciting time for the industry veterans down there in Chicago. You are experiencing all of the new products and you’ve got two brands there: AZEK and TimberTech. For those that are not familiar with both of those brands, tell us about them.

    JULIA: I would love to. They are a high-performance, low-maintenance decking brand. And both of them have the natural look that everybody loves of real wood but they have these great benefits to them. They don’t age, they don’t rot, they don’t mildew. They have all of the low-maintenance factors that homeowners love but they just are beautiful. And they allow people to bring the look of, really, their indoor hardwood to their outdoor living space.

    TOM: And AZEK is known not only for decks but initially, this was a product that came out for trim and moldings and planking. And it’s great stuff. I mean I used it in my own money pit, because I had a garage that was being infested by carpenter bees because they love the fascia. And when I replaced it with AZEK, the carpenter bees would swarm around and say, “Hmm. Looks like wood. Doesn’t taste like wood.”

    JULIA: Well, that’s the great thing about AZEK. Because it’s inorganic, there’s really nothing of interest there for any type of bug. So they tend to move on.

    TOM: Now, the outdoor-room concept has been growing by leaps and bounds. But the choices have been somewhat limited. Tell us what AZEK and TimberTech are doing to kind of enhance consumer choice when it comes to building out these spaces.

    JULIA: Well, we really look at what the trends are for home décor. And because most homeowners want to take their personal style and move it outside, we’ve really looked at what the trends are. So we’ve been able to bring really beautiful looks, like hand-scraped wood, and bring that to the exterior: really rich colors, trends from tropical woods, also trends from more Americana looks.

    And then, what we’ve also noticed is an increase in people taking really kind of grays to – different hues of grays to compliment more of a contemporary look.

    TOM: Yeah, gray is a huge color this year.

    JULIA: It really is. And as beautiful as these things are and the choices are, what’s interesting is how people are getting interested in what I like to call “decknology.” It’s really the technology that goes into making these beautiful decks. Because it’s one thing for it to look great but what homeowners are interested in, once they make this investment, is will this last? Will this look as good in 15 years as it looks today?

    So, we’re really getting a lot of interest on people who do that next click down into the decknology (ph), because that’s really where we invest a lot of time and effort.

    TOM: We’re talking to Julia Fitzgerald. She’s the chief marketing officer for CPG Building Products, makers of AZEK and TimberTech.

    Now, Julia, I want to ask you about wrought iron. It’s a look that was popular years ago and it’s kind of coming back. But now, you guys have a way to do that that needs far less maintenance. Tell me about the product that you just brought out called Impression Rail.

    JULIA: Well, Impression Rail is really an answer to people with a preference for wrought iron. Wrought iron is a classic look but what we’re finding is that not everybody wants to invest in what wrought iron really costs. So, we have been able to come up with the Impression Rail. It looks like wrought iron, it installs much faster and it is much less expensive. It is a powder-coated aluminum, which gives the look that everybody loves but at a much more affordable cost as you’re working on your own money pit.

    TOM: Julia Fitzgerald is an industry veteran. She is on the floor, right now, at the Remodelers’ Show and DeckExpo in Chicago, one of the biggest industry events of the year, with tens of thousands of her closest, personal friends in the remodeling industry.

    And Julia, one of the biggest challenges homeowners often have is being able to visualize what a finished deck or room might look like when it’s on the drawing board. You guys have developed some technology tools, some more of that deckology (ph) that you were talking about, that can help people visualize them. Tell me about these new apps.

    JULIA: Sure. Well, we were really mindful of how consumers like to know what it’s going to look like before they invest in their deck. So, we built two apps: a TimberTech app and an AZEK app. And they’re kind of magic, I’ve got to tell you. You literally take your iPad and you put it on a marker. And then it allows you to project a virtual deck right on the side of your house. And then you can start playing with it. You can put in all of our different colors and then you can start putting in all of our different railing options.

    So, you can really see what it’s going to look like before you make your choices on colors and materials and railing. So, back to that deckology (ph), it takes the guesswork out of building your dream deck.

    TOM: That is fantastic. Julia Fitzgerald from CPG Building Products, makers of both TimberTech and AZEK, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JULIA: Thanks so much for talking to us. It’s been a pleasure.

    TOM: And if you’d like to learn more about these products, head on over to the product websites AZEK.com – that’s spelled A-Z-E-K.com – and TimberTech.com – T-i-m-b-e-r-T-e-c-h.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, guys, are you addicted to HGTV’s Rehab Addict? Well, host Nicole Curtis talks about turning money pits into high-priced real-estate treasures, still ahead.

    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: We’re here to help you with your home improvement project, so help yourself first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You also might help yourself to winning a great prize. We’re giving away at random this hour the Watts Hot-Water Recirculator System with Built-In Timer.

    This is the coolest, new product we’ve seen in a long time because it solves an age-old problem. Have you ever had to wait for hot water in the morning when you step into your shower and you wait and you wait and you wait, because the distance between the water heater and your shower is so long that water has to make that long journey up to your bathroom before it actually heats up? Well, now that’s not going to have to happen, because this Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System gives you access to it instantly.

    It basically bolts onto the water heater. It circulates hot water from the water heater, right up to the bathroom that’s farthest away from it and back. So it essentially keeps hot water in those pipes, 24/7, or for whenever you leave the timer on. So you can run it, say, for a couple hours in the morning when you wake up. You’ll always have hot water at every single fixture and faucet.

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    Check this thing out. It’s amazing. HomeDepot.com/InstantHotWater. Worth 199 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joyce in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JOYCE: Have an in-law apartment and someone who was living there for a while was smoking. And we wanted to do whatever we could to get the smell of the smoke out of the apartment.

    TOM: Do you have wall-to-wall carpet in there?

    JOYCE: There is.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be a bit of a problem because I’m sure the odor is into that carpet.

    So, a couple things you could do. First of all, if you’re going to paint the apartment, you’re going to want to prime all the walls first. Well, first of all, wash them down, then prime them with a good-quality primer, then paint them. That will help seal in what’s gotten into the walls.

    As far as the carpet, a good, thorough, deep steam-cleaning of that. You may have to go over it a number of times to try to get as much dirt and debris and odor out of that carpet as possible. The best thing – if we have situations where this is a real problem, the carpet’s kind of worn, we’ll tell people to take it up and prime the subfloor underneath, believe it or not, to make sure we really seal out any of those odors that have soaked into the wood. But if you prime and paint the walls and if you steam-clean the carpet, that’s probably the best you can do.

    What about furniture? Is this place furnished? Do you still have the old furniture in there that the smoker lived with?

    JOYCE: The only furniture that’s really in there is a leather living-room set.

    TOM: Leslie, what do you think about that? Will the smoke odor get into the – go through the leather and get into the cushions?

    LESLIE: You know, leather is such a natural surface that it is porous in its own right and it depends on what the cushioning is on the inside. You really have to be careful and of course, you can’t really thoroughly clean leather because of its inherent natural qualities. You don’t want it to stain. You might want to see what those cushions are like on the inside. Take out the inserts. If you can replace those, that could be a huge help.

    JOYCE: OK, great. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, if you, like we, are tired of paying high energy bills, you may be able to use advances in smart-home technology to help you save money. There’s technology today that can reduce energy usage around your home. And it’s actually one of the most helpful and noticeable benefits of home automation.

    LESLIE: Yeah. To see an immediate impact on your home’s energy use, upgrade your lighting. Energy-efficient bulbs are advancing rapidly with new products out there from all of the major bulb manufacturers. Prices are also coming down to make this a much more affordable option.

    There’s also been advances in lighting controls, including sensors that will turn off the lights automatically when they’re not in use.

    TOM: And Wi-Fi thermostats are making heating and cooling your home very high-tech. Now, these thermostats are not only programmable but many of them actually learn your behaviors and automatically raise and lower temps to your preference.

    LESLIE: Today’s Home Automation Tip has been presented by The Home Depot, the destination for smart-home solutions and technology, with a huge variety of brands on a ton of platforms.

    TOM: Including the Nest Learning Thermostat. It optimizes itself for you and your system. And independent studies have proven that the Nest Thermostat saved an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills. Available in store and online at The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Roy in Illinois is on the line and there seems to be a crack in the front of the garage.

    What is going on? Are you getting water in the garage? Is it on the door? What’s going on here?

    ROY: When the house was built about 21 years ago, they brought in a cement saw and they cut marks in it to control the cracking.

    TOM: OK.

    ROY: Well, the first cut is 4 feet from the garage door. Well, now, that part next to the garage has settled down so when it rains, the water runs towards the garage, which is making it worse.

    TOM: Ah, OK.

    ROY: And I saw a commercial on TV for this mudjacking outfit and they say for a little more than half what it costs to replace the cement, they could jack it back up in place. But you will see the marks where they drill the holes to put the cement in. And will it last? Should we do the whole driveway over or is there some way we can do something to make it look good and last? It’s a beautiful place. We have no problems with anything except you drive in the driveway and you see that.

    TOM: Yeah. So when you get close to the driveway, that last slab, so to speak, tilts in towards the garage and it’s running water up against the house? Is that correct?

    ROY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s going to – could affect the foundation that’s holding the garage up because you throw a lot of water under it, it becomes less stable and you get a lot more movement. So I do think it’s an important thing to fix.

    Mudjacking will work and it can replace that area as long as they can lift that slab nice and even so it doesn’t crack and become worse. I would just try to get their guarantee that they’re not going to crack the slab in the process. But if they can get the mud underneath it – they’re basically filling in the low spots, bringing that slab up and then it’s not going to collapse anymore, because the concrete they put under it – the mud, so to speak – takes up that void.

    So, I wouldn’t be afraid of doing that. And if it turns out that that’s less expensive than breaking that one piece out and just pouring that one piece new, then I think you can do that. If you decide to break that out, I don’t think you have to do the whole driveway; you can just do that one piece.

    And make sure the soil below is properly tamped. You’re going to have to replace that with fill dirt and stone and get it tamped down. Tamping is really key so it’s really solid. What’s happened is water has gotten over there over the years, it’s softened the soil and that’s what’s caused that slab to sort of rotate with the car going back and forth.

    So I think either option is OK. It becomes an economic choice. My only concern is that you commit to spending money on mudjacking, they end up breaking the slab and then you’re kind of almost back to the beginning.

    ROY: OK. Sounds great. Sounds like you’ve got the answers.

    TOM: Yeah, well, we try. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Coming up, we’re going to hear from HGTV’s Rehab Addict Nicole Curtis about a project to help bring dilapidated communities back to life, so stick around.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, our next guest has received a following from her HGTV Show Rehab Addict but Nicole Curtis’ passion for bring old homes back to life is not just as seen on TV. She works tirelessly to revitalize homes that many people would like to see torn down. And now she’s partnering with a company that is helping to fuel the fire and bring deteriorating communities back to life.

    Nicole, thanks for joining us.

    NICOLE: Thank you.

    TOM: So, we are based in what was the epicenter for Hurricane Sandy and I understand that you guys are now involved in a grant program that’s going to help restore some of these buildings. So, Nicole, what’s the name of the grant program? How did it get started and what are you hoping to fix?

    NICOLE: It’s Find Your Fire with Bernzomatic. And Bernzomatic is the maker of the blowtorches – the little, tiny blowtorches that everyone sees in their home improvement store or their hardware – but are always afraid to buy and use.

    TOM: Right. Needlessly, I might add, because when you know how to use it, it’s a terrific tool.

    NICOLE: Oh, when – and it’s so easy. People who are scared off, I’m like, “Do not be afraid of this. This is real easy.”

    But they are doing something so cool. They’re kicking off their campaign in Staten Island, which was hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. And they’re giving away over $40,000 in improvement grants.

    TOM: So how does it work? Is this – are these for single-family homes? Are they for organizations? And how do people apply?

    NICOLE: Not at all. This isn’t like “I want a new bathroom or kitchen and time to do it.” You look – if you’re involved in a neighborhood or community program of some sort and you see a need somewhere, then you send that proposal in.

    For example, if your local playground has broken-down equipment or is in need of an overhaul, submit a photo, do a thousand-word essay, hit Submit and you’re in the running to win $10,000.

    TOM: And that’s fantastic because this way, the money really does benefit the entire community. You know, about a year or so ago, we had a major manufacturer come to us that wanted to offer a generator to a family that was impacted by Sandy. And they asked me could we help them find one. I said, “Well, we can help you find about 10,000 of them. To find one is a little bit difficult.”

    NICOLE: Exactly.

    TOM: So, this company ended up donating a generator to one of the communities that was impacted right on the beachfront. And therefore, it has made the police department safer and the municipal building safer. So that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here, like a community center that really is still a bit run down from Sandy and can just really use an infusion of cash to kind of step it back up again.

    NICOLE: Usually, when people apply for a grant or a proposal, it’s something that takes them a couple months. You have to do a lot of writing, you have to do your (inaudible at 0:37:52). It’s a lot of work. And this one is not. And those grants are usually like $1,000. I mean this is $10,000 and there’s three $10,000 prizes.

    And additionally, there’s seven $1,500 grants that are going to be delivered. So, there is – even if you get one of the $1,500 grants, that’s still a lot of money when you have nothing, which most of these – I work in the cities every day. And one of my biggest challenges is trying to figure out who do we help first and how do we have enough money to go all the way around. So this is a really cool thing that I’m helping out with.

    And the grand-prize winner, I’m actually going to show up and do the project with them.

    TOM: Fantastic. Nicole Curtis stopping by to tell us about the new Find Your Fire Grant Program, done in partnership with folks at Bernzomatic. If you’d like to apply, you can go to Bernzomatic.com/Grants. That’s Bernzomatic.com/Grants.

    Nicole, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and continued good luck with Rehab Addict.

    NICOLE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright, Nicole. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Tom and I both live in areas that were really hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, so it’s really amazing to see that so many people are still struggling and really nice to know that there’s some help out there for them.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    Hey, coming up next week on the program, this is the season for many things, including house fires. Many more homes go up in flames over the winter than any other time of the year. So, is your house fireproof or fire-prone? We’ll have tips to help you make sure your house stays safe, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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