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Home Fire Hazards You’re Overlooking, Planning Now for a Better Garden Next Spring, and How to Get Your Car Cleaner Than Ever Before

  • 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: Happy fall, everybody. We’d love to chat with you about your fall fix-up projects. The leaves are solidly turning in my neck of the woods; perhaps they are in yours, as well. And that means they’re going to release themselves from the tree and right directly, without stopping, to your gutters. Maybe that’s a project you want to talk about. Maybe you want to pick up the paintbrush, take advantage of some of this beautiful weather to get some of those projects done around your house, inside or out. We’d love to chat with you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, coming up this hour on the program, is your family susceptible to a serious home fire? Well, there’s a good chance the answer is yes. We’re going to teach you about some fire-prevention risks that you might not have thought of and we’ll give you tips to eliminate those today.

    LESLIE: And fall is a great time for you to prepare for a lovely garden next spring. We’re going to tell you all about the steps that you should be taking, right now, for your best and brightest garden yet and how to make up for lost time if your green thumb’s kind of lagging behind.

    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got theHyde PivotPro Water Wandgoing out to one lucky caller. That’s worth 45 bucks. And it’s a great tool to help with your fall outdoor cleanup. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get going.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: William in North Carolina is dealing with some sticky doors. Tell us what’s going on.

    WILLIAM: Well, I’ve got this problem going on now. It’s been, oh, many years since we moved into this house, in 1992.

    TOM: OK.

    WILLIAM: It seems like some doors stick and the others don’t. And then when the doors that were sticking don’t stick anymore, the ones that were not sticking stick. So I can’t figure it out. I’ve been wondering, is it the paint job that they put on the doors when they built the house or is it something doing with – dealing with the climate or what?

    TOM: Well, it has to do with the climate, William, and it’s the fact that when it gets moist out, when it gets humid out, the doors will tend to swell more than when it – in the wintertime, when things are drier.

    Now, you can fix this by adjusting the swings – the door installation. You may have to reset the hinges to make a little bit more room around it. One of the things that you might also want to check is you could take the door off the hinges and look at the edge grain; this is the very top and the very bottom of the door. If that wasn’t sealed, then that kind of acts as sort of the open door for all the moisture to get into that door and cause it to swell.

    So if you were to seal the top and the bottom of the door – I bet the sides are: you know, the hinge side and the striker side. But the very top and the very bottom tend to be left untouched very often. And if you were to seal those with a clear finish, for example, or just to paint them – I don’t know if your doors are clear or not – then that will have an effect on stopping the doors from absorbing as much moisture.

    So it’s really a carpentry problem. It’s nothing mysterious about it; it’s just the doors are swelling, getting stuck in the openings. And you can rehang the door to address that. You can also seal the top and the bottom to slow it down, OK?

    WILLIAM: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Claire in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a first-time basement. What can we do for you?

    CLAIRE: Well, I have purchased a 1900 house and it has this basement that is getting moisture. It has this sticky, black paper on the outside but it is not functioning properly, apparently, because there’s a lot of moisture coming in.

    TOM: Right.

    CLAIRE: And it would require digging out on the outside to do the outside. Is there any way to address it from the inside?

    TOM: Well, there’s another way to address it on the outside and that is to pay attention to the angle of the soil around the house. So when it does warm up and you have the opportunity to regrade the foundation perimeter and make sure that the angle of the soil, the angle of the grade slopes away from the building …

    CLAIRE: Well, I put French drains in all around the property and sloped it and put gravel.

    TOM: So there’s – well, OK. Now, if he sloped it with gravel, then he didn’t really do you a favor, because the gravel is porous. So the water goes through the gravel, back to the dirt underneath and into your basement. So if you’re going to slope it – yeah, give him an A for effort but it’s not going to be successful. You have to grade it with clean fill dirt so that you can tamp it and the water will run away from it. Water is not going to run over gravel; it falls through it.

    But there’s a second thing to check and that is: do you have gutters on the roof?

    CLAIRE: No, because the snow pulled them off.

    TOM: Right, OK. Well, look, if you can collect the water at the roof edge – and even if you have deep gutters or if you use the type of gutters that have the warming cables up on the roof, if you prevent water from running off the roof and against that foundation perimeter, you’ll prevent a wet basement, because most of the water collects at the outside.

    Protect the perimeter; keep it as dry as possible. And a lot of wet basements are caused because gutters are missing or gutters are clogged and the water rolls off the roof right against the foundation. Soil is flat, so the water has got nowhere to go and it just sits there and leaks into the basement.

    CLAIRE: OK. So I’ve got to work on that.

    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. What are you guys working on this weekend? Are you putting out pumpkins? Are you decorating for the fall? Maybe you’re painting an outdoor project? Well, whatever it is you are working on, we can give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, how safe are you and your family against house fires? Well, you’re probably not as safe as you might think. Learn which fire hazards you’re probably overlooking, when The Money Pit continues after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving theHyde PivotPro Water Wand.

    Now, this is a cool tool that attaches to a standard garden hose. It allows you to sort of wet things down, wash, scrub away the dirt and the grime, all inside one convenient tool. It’s worth 45 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Tennessee on the line who needs help with some sinkholes. Bill, tell us what’s going on.

    BILL: I’ve got a patio in the backyard and at the end of my patio, I’ve got two huge sinkholes and then another sinkhole at the corner of my house. And this has been going on for about a year, year-and-a-half. They’re about 5 feet deep and, I don’t know, the circumference of about a manhole cover.

    And just wanted to know what’s the cheapest and best way to take care of it where it doesn’t keep on happening. My patio is actually cracking where it’s sinking down a little bit.

    TOM: So over the course of a year, these holes have revealed themselves?

    BILL: For about the last year-and-a-half is when they started happening.

    TOM: So, very slowly but surely. And how old is this house?

    BILL: About 15 years old.

    TOM: Well, I mean it could be the result of loose fill that was put in these areas around the house when the home was finished – created, when it was done.

    BILL: Right.

    TOM: It could be the result of that. It could also be the result of some decaying material, like old trees or things like that that are in there.

    Do you have any concern about it continuing to happen or do you think it’s pretty much done?

    BILL: It’s pretty much done, it looks like, and …

    TOM: So what I would do is I would fill those areas with clean fill dirt – and that’s the most inexpensive dirt that you can buy – and then you want to tamp it down really well. So you put a little bit in, you tamp it, you put some more in, you tamp it. And then you finish it off with topsoil. And because it’s a sunken area, I would almost overfill it a little bit, because it’s going to settle down flat.

    BILL: And what if it – like a year from now, it starts happening again?

    TOM: Yeah, well, if that’s the case and it starts happening again, then at that point I would have to recommend that you got an engineer in to take a look at it, to see if we could figure out what was going on with the soils. You may need to do some borings around there to try to determine what’s in the ground and why it’s sinking.

    BILL: OK. Well, that sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Annette in Arizona is on the line and needs some help with a patio project. Tell us about it.

    ANNETTE: The problem that I’m having is I’ve been wanting a patio cover put on my house for the last 20 years.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNETTE: Well, now that my kids have grown up, I’m able to do that now. So, the problem is everyone is telling me that I have a very low roof and my ceilings in my house are only 7½-feet ceilings.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNETTE: So, I don’t have much of a clearance. So of course, everything else seems to be lower in the backyard.

    I’ve called probably eight or nine different builders now to see how much it would cost, this patio cover. And it’s straight across, so it’s 56 feet long, the whole length of the house.

    TOM: Right.

    ANNETTE: And I think probably six of them never called me back.

    TOM: That’s pretty typical.

    ANNETTE: And so the two that have, one of them is a very good friend of mine and I really do trust him in building this patio cover. But he says I need to cut 6 feet into my roof in order to get the pitch that I need for at the very end. So I really wanted a 56-feet-wide by 10-feet-out patio cover.

    TOM: Right. So what he’s saying is that if he adds a roof that starts at the edge of your roof and then kind of comes out from that, you’re not going to have much pitch, is that correct? Because you’re starting so low.

    ANNETTE: Correct.

    TOM: So I think your builder friend is probably correct, from your description. That said, the problem that you have with different builders giving you different advice can be completely avoided if you get a design professional to go in there first.

    So if you’re able to find, for example, an architect in your area that wanted to take on a small project, have them design this patio cover for you and then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can work through all the angles with the architect or the designer. Then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can call those contractors back and say, “This is exactly what I want. Now, just give me a price to build it.”

    Otherwise, you have no way of comparing apples to apples, because every builder is going to have their own solution. And you’re going to get different prices and you’re really not going to know how to compare them, because who knows what one guy is doing versus another? Does that make sense to you?

    ANNETTE: Yeah, I understand. And the problem is I wouldn’t mind him doing it but I am so afraid that wherever he cuts into it to build out – I’m so worried that I’m going to start having problems leaking.

    TOM: I really wouldn’t worry about it, OK? Because builders know how to build roofs and they know how to build roofs that don’t leak. And somebody built that roof that’s over your house right now and there’s no reason to think that your builder can’t attach another roof to it and then reroof that area properly so that you don’t get leaks. I think he’s giving you the right advice, because you can’t – if you start low and then go out, you’re going to end up with almost a flat roof and that’s going to leak like a sieve.

    So if you have a good pitch, that’s going to be the surest way to avoid leaks. I would not worry at all about a contractor that has to dig into an existing roof; that’s done all the time. It’s not a big deal. If somebody knows what they’re doing, they can roof it properly, flash it properly and you will have no leaking issues – new leaking issues – as a result.

    ANNETTE: Alright. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate your answer because my worry was it’s going to start leaking. And then I’m going to have major problems because it’s going to be leaking over the family room, the dining room, the kitchen and the bedroom and the – I said – that’s another problem that I don’t want to get into.

    TOM: Yeah, well, now that the kids are gone, I think it’s time for you to get that project done and enjoy it, right?

    ANNETTE: OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, October is Fire Safety Month and that makes now the perfect time to make sure your family is safe from fire.

    Now, fires cause 3,000 deaths every year and it doesn’t have to be that way. But unfortunately, some folks think that fire safety is just as simple as changing smoke-detector batteries. There’s a lot more to it. And I’ve got to tell you, as a former home inspector, I spent 20 years going through crawlspaces and basements and attics and heating-and-cooling systems. There are lots of obvious and not-so-obvious sources of house fires that you might be missing.

    LESLIE: First, your heating equipment. You know, it keeps your home and family warm but can be the source of fires from a variety of causes. You want to make sure to service your furnaces, water heaters and boilers to keep them safe. Gas-, oil- or propane-burning appliances, they get especially dirty and you have to have them professionally cleaned every year.

    TOM: And the same goes for fireplace chimneys. Combustion deposits can buildup and cause serious chimney fires. So get your chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep before the season gets underway. When you’re using your fireplace, always burn hardwood logs. If you use softwood like pine or cedar, they will cause even more buildups and can clog your chimneys. So steer clear of that, as well as burning paper or branches which release embers that could ignite your roof.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, portable heaters, they’re increasingly popular for keeping rooms warm but they also pose serious fire risks. So before using a heater, you want to read and study the manufacturer’s instructions and be careful not to place the heater where it can be knocked over. And keep it away from clothing, paper, draperies, furniture and pretty much any other combustible.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. And when you’re refueling those heaters, make sure to let them cool down completely. And never mix or substitute fuels, like gas and kerosene. These portable heaters are designed for a single fuel. If you mix them, you could cause a serious fire.

    If you’d like some more fire-safety tips, they’re online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Washington on the line who’s doing an addition and needs a hand. What can we do for you today?

    RICHARD: Actually, here’s what I’ve got. I’ve got a house built in 1938: a footprint – essentially, it’s shaped like a cross.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: The bottom portion of that cross used to be the garage. They turned it into living space and what they simply did with that bottom left quadrant, they poured about a 4-foot-high concrete wall.

    What I’m wanting to do is try to gain as much ceiling height as possible. It’s currently framed with 2×10 for the ceiling joists. And I just didn’t know if some of the new engineered lumber would allow me to perhaps get away with something a little shallower, while still retaining the strength. But I need to go 16 on center – pardon me, 12 on center instead of 16. I’m willing to do that.

    TOM: So, Richard, let me ask – let me stop you, OK? Because you’ve got a complicated question. And my first question to you about this is: do you have an architect working with you on this project?

    RICHARD: Not currently.

    TOM: You need one, OK?

    RICHARD: OK.

    TOM: This is not a do-it-yourself, general-contracting kind of project. You’ve got a house that you started with that’s got problems. It sounds like – it definitely sounds like the guy before you didn’t have an architect; otherwise, he wouldn’t have designed all these drainage problems into it. And then the guy that came before that, that originally built the house, didn’t have an architect: at least one that knew what he was doing. You, my friend, need an architect.

    An architect can look at this situation, address these questions in terms of the design, the elevation and spec out the lumber that you’re going to need to get you where you want to go. Yes, will TJIs or laminated beams help you get more span with less depth? Yes, they will. But it’s an engineering problem to figure out which ones you use and how you lay it all together.

    So I would tell you, “Stop, right now.” Stop wasting time trying to figure this out on your own and focus on finding an architect to help you. You will be spending some money on this design. It will be well worth it. You will avoid a whole host of problems with the design later on. And secondly, you’re also going to have a set of specs that you can use to go to different contractors and get some prices. So that’s definitely your next step.

    RICHARD: OK. I guess that covers it.

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

    LESLIE: Betty in South Carolina has got a concrete issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    BETTY: We have a 5/8-inch crack between our concrete garage floor and the concrete turnaround outside: the apron outside the garage.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    BETTY: It has nothing to do with the garage door. Thirty-nine years ago, when the house was built, we think that they used a fiberboard of some type in this joint, because – for expansion and contraction. Now, that has deteriorated down – maybe down about an inch or so. And we would like to fill that crack. What do we fill that with?

    TOM: OK. So it’s not really a crack; it’s really just a gap where you had a separation between the two different pieces.

    BETTY: Yes, it was built that way.

    TOM: Right, OK. So, you’re going to use a flowable crack filler. And QUIKRETE makes those – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. Their website is QUIKRETE.com.

    Basically, what you do is you clean out that space. You’re going to get it down an inch or two and then if it – then what you would probably do is put a backer rod in it, which is sort of this foam tube that will hold the filler exactly where you want it. And then you apply the filler on top and it flows to be nice and even across that gap. And then it dries in about 24 hours and that’s all there is to it. It’s really a pretty simple home improvement project.

    BETTY: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, fall is the time of year to plant next year’s flower bulbs. But if you haven’t done it yet, don’t panic. I mean I haven’t. We’ve got Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House stopping by with tips for making up for lost time.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the STANLEY Smart Measure Pro. Bluetooth-enabled for quick and easy measurements right from your smartphone. Snap, measure, share. We’ll be back with more, after this.

    ROGER: Hi, I’m Roger Cook, landscaping contractor for This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. If you want to grow more confident in taking care of your money pit, tune in to Tom and Leslie every week for great ideas on saving money and maintaining your home.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, they’re good for getting your laundry clean and dry but your washer and dryer could be bleeding you dry if you keep them for too long. All the energy they waste may cost you more than what you’d spend on a new, more efficient model. So, if your washer and dryer are ready for a money-saving replacement, head on over to our website and find out how to get that job done. It’s online on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a squirrel situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, I have three porches in my house and my husband found that the squirrels were eating all the porch columns. Well, he went – he replaced them all and lo and behold, they came back and they started chewing again. So, I don’t know what to do. He’s painted them and I’m thinking is there something he could put in the paint or some other product we could use to put – to fix these columns with?

    LESLIE: Stop using lamb legs to hold up your porch, geez. Oh, my goodness. You know, I don’t know why they seem to really like your porch posts but they do. And you want to kind of get rid of them in a humane way that’s just going to deter them from chewing on your porch and maybe send them to somebody else’s or just send them back into the wild to eat a tree.

    But are you familiar with the company, Havahart?

    MARY: Havahart. No, I’ve not heard that.

    LESLIE: They have all sorts of humane animal traps and animal repellants and wireless dog fences. And it’s actually H-a-v-a-h-a-r-t.com.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: And they’ve got a product that should work for you. It’s called the Critter Ridder Animal Repellant? And it’s a spray and it’s all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about – around kinds or pets. But it will repel nuisance animals: squirrels, raccoons, dogs, cats, groundhogs, really pretty much anything.

    MARY: Oh, great.

    LESLIE: But it only lasts for about 30 days, so you will have to reapply it. But it has things like black-pepper oil, things that they’re not going to like. And it’s not something that you’re going to be bothered by. So if you’ve got even like a birdfeeder that the squirrels are getting at, you can try this on that.

    But give it a whirl. You can find it online. I think it’s about 12 bucks a bottle; it’s not too expensive.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, planting bulbs is easy enough but with a few simple tips, you can get an even bigger, better display come spring.

    TOM: To help us get the best return on our bulb investment, we turn to Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: I get it, Tom. Bulb investment.

    TOM: Get it? Bulb investment?

    So, what are the keys to keep in mind when planting bulbs. And are they always planted in the fall?

    ROGER: Well, you have two different types of bulbs. You have the spring-flowering bulbs: the tulips, the daffodils, the crocuses and all those that need to be chilled for a period of time before they’ll bloom.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Those have to be planted in the fall. Then you have other bulbs, like gladiolas, that you plant in the spring for a summer flower.

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re saying “planted in the fall,” is that strictly based on the calendar year or are we looking for an indication in the ground?

    ROGER: You’re looking for an indication in the ground when – once temperatures start to cool off is when you want to put these bulbs in. And it is usually late fall, early winter.

    TOM: If it gets below freezing, can you still plant them?

    ROGER: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: Really?

    ROGER: As long as you can dig a hole, you can put them in the ground. It’s not a problem.

    TOM: Oh, that’s cool. Not too late.

    ROGER: Yeah, yeah. For some of you procrastinators who get stuck with them, you can go out there and chisel out. The other thing is if you do have leftover bulbs, put them in a pot, put them in a cool place in the garage and then bring them in the house after six weeks and see what happens.

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    ROGER: I mean the worst case scenario, you get a few flowers.

    TOM: That’s cool.

    LESLIE: You know, I have to tell you, the whole concept of planting bulbs, I’m always envious of neighbors who do it because it seems like you really have to think about it. You’ve got to think about what’s going to look right with different heights, different textures, different colors.

    And then you go to some many of these online shopping sites with these beautiful bulbs. And I ended up sitting there online for an hour-and-a-half picking out this amazing display of things, which I never ordered because it seemed so complicated and I felt like I was going to screw it up and everything was going to die. And I just abandoned ship.

    ROGER: That’s why you have to hire me.

    LESLIE: You don’t come to New York.

    ROGER: Well, for you I will. How about that?

    TOM: There you go.

    LESLIE: So, help me to understand. What am I shopping for? What am I looking for to really sort of make a beautiful, layered effect?

    ROGER: It’s all about sequence, just like any other garden item. You’re looking for things that are going to bloom early, middle, late and then you’re going to look for the height of them to blend them all together. I like to do daffodils primarily because they naturalize. Crocuses, they naturalize. They’ll come back year after year.

    LESLIE: Oh, really?

    ROGER: They give you more and more flowers. Tulips, generally, for me, the first year I get 100 percent, the second year you get 90 percent. And then after that, it drops off considerably to where you have to replace them. The other thing is the deer love tulips.

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    ROGER: Oh, man, do they love tulips. And they won’t eat …

    TOM: It’s a tasty morsel, huh?

    ROGER: Yeah. They won’t eat daffodils, though.

    LESLIE: And I feel like every time I look outside, I see a squirrel standing on my front steps eating a bulb as if it were an apple, so …

    ROGER: Yeah. You’re not – he’s not eating a bulb. He’s probably eating an acorn. They really don’t eat the bulbs. What they go after sometimes is the bone meal that we use to plant them with. So they actually dig the bulb up to get to the bone meal underneath them. So that’s why I use a chemical soup of phosphate underneath it so it won’t attract the squirrels.

    TOM: Alright. So just back up. So when you actually do dig the hole for the bulbs, how deep is that going?

    ROGER: Usually two-and-a-half to three times the height of the bulb.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So don’t cheap out. Get them down to the right height because they’ll flower and grow better if they’re planted at the right height.

    LESLIE: Can you put more than one bulb in a hole to sort of…

    ROGER: You can actually…

    TOM: Increase your chances?

    ROGER: Yeah. No, no. It’s great. We even did a segment this year where we dug out an area that was maybe 6 feet by 4 feet. We dug the whole thing out. We put in a layer of daffodils, we put in a layer of crocuses, we put in some tulips and everything. So we layered them as we came up. And in the spring, it’ll be just an absolutely beautiful display.

    LESLIE: See? I’m so jealous.

    ROGER: Why?

    LESLIE: I should’ve hit Buy instead of X: Close the Window.

    TOM: Next time.

    ROGER: Yeah. But the thing is that tulips and all the bulbs are interesting, because they’re not pretty to look at but they’re so beautiful early in the spring that they’re well worth the effort to put in the ground.

    LESLIE: And I guess the important thing to know is your zone. That’s the key?

    ROGER: Yep. And that’ll help you get the right bulbs.

    And the other thing I tell people to do is take a few, plant them in an area where you don’t see very well. And those are ones you’re going to cut and bring into the house. See, people won’t cut them out of their main display because they feel like they’re ruining it. But if you take and set a few aside and stick them in the back corner of the garden, when they flower you bring them in the house. It’s pretty…

    TOM: It’s a great tip. So plant some just for harvesting?

    ROGER: Just for harvesting.

    TOM: Excellent advice. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: My pleasure. You should’ve hit Buy.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next time.

    TOM: Next time.

    LESLIE: 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 many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

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

    Still ahead, can’t find time to wash your car? Stay tuned for the only product you need to keep yours clean. It makes the job easier, too. We’ll have that and more when The Money Pit continues, 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.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a really great prize.

    We’ve got up for grabs theHyde PivotPro Water Wand. Now, you can attach this to any garden hose. Then you wet, wash and scrub away all the dirt and grime that just seems to build up from all the pollen and the trees and the leaves and just all the grossness. And the best part is you don’t have to bend over; it’s got an adjustable nozzle. And it includes a 16-ounce soap dispenser and soft brush.

    And it’s a great prize worth 45 bucks. If you want to check it out, go to HydeTools.com.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Missouri on the line who needs some help choosing a kitchen sink. Tell us what you’re working on.

    BILL: Well, I’m having a kind of a tough time trying to decide on these new materials and stuff that they’re making the kitchen sinks out of now.

    TOM: Yep.

    BILL: And my wife didn’t want a stainless-steel sink and she wanted one that was colored or white: one that would be easy to keep clean and wouldn’t show scratches or cracks or anything like that.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    BILL: And I was trying to keep away from the cast iron, because that’s what we have in there right now. Those things weigh a ton. And they’ve got some new ones that we were looking at over at the Lowe’s store and it’s called a Swanstone, which is a man-made product. And I don’t know how good those are.

    TOM: I’ve had some experience with those composite products and I will say if she’s accustomed to a cast-iron, porcelain sink, she’s not going to be happy with a composite sink because they are a lot harder to keep clean. I mean I’ve got one that’s sort of like the undermount sink that’s made of the – like sort of one of the Corian-wannabe products. And whenever we put wine in it or tomato sauce or something like that, it does leave a stain and we have to get the Bon Ami out and sort of scour the bottom to keep it clean.

    You know, there’s – if you’re used to a cast-iron sink – and that is definitely the easiest one to keep clean, I’ve got to tell you.

    BILL: The one we’ve got hasn’t been that easy and it’s shown scratch marks where the pots had scratched it and I just thought, “Well, we’ll just get something easier to clean.”

    TOM: Right. But it has a nice, smooth, cleanable surface that doesn’t stain; that’s the nice thing about cast.

    I was telling Leslie last week on the show that I just replaced a sink for my mom that was an Americast product – an American Standard product.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: And it was actually covered by a lifetime warranty. So it had started to rust and chip in one corner and 17 years after she bought it, American Standard gave her a brand-new sink.

    BILL: Wow.

    TOM: And it was a cast-iron – like a porcelain, enameled kind of a sink. And she had a beige one that we took out and they gave us a new beige one, almost the same configuration 17 years later and popped it back in.

    BILL: Well, I wanted to tell you thank you for taking my call and I really enjoy your shows.

    TOM: Well, if you have pride of ownership in your home and you enjoy taking care of it, we figure that you might feel just about the same way about your car. I know around my neighborhood, if we’re not picking up a paintbrush on the weekends, we’re out there cleaning the car, which is in a constant state of mess, especially if you’ve got kids.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. I’ve got two little guys, so you know I know how easily the car’s interior can get just completely filthy from French fries to snacks. But of course, they don’t eat in the car; it just magically happens that way. I’m not sure how it happens.

    So, guys, if you want to clean the interior of your car, you’ve got to start at the top and work your way down. So vacuum the headliner, the dash, the console and the door panels, then clean all the glass and the dust and all of those nooks and crannies. Because, believe me, I don’t know how cotton candy gets into the door handle. It just does. I’m just saying.

    TOM: And keep in mind that your car’s delicate services are too important to trust to a household cleaner, so we like to use Armor All Cleaning Wipes. Super easy, super convenient. They lift away dirt and debris. They work great for the whole car: the dash, the vinyl, fabric, carpet, consoles, leather, you name it. These Armor All Cleaning Wipes really rock.

    LESLIE: And I’ve got to tell you, the smell of Armor All just takes me back to my childhood. I can remember my dad cleaning the inside of the car. It’s just – it’s such a happy scent. And that’s really a good tip, Tom, because a lot of people use the wrong thing and you can damage the car.

    But now, we’ve also got some great news for do-it-yourselfers out there. Now, your favorite home supply spot is also the perfect place to get all of your car-care needs. That’s right, The Home Depot has responded to a growing demand and increased its automotive selection, both in store and online.

    TOM: Look for Armor All Cleaning Wipes in the new auto section at The Home Depot near you and online at HomeDepot.com.

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

    LAURIE: I am trying to put a freestanding deck in my backyard. And my backyard has blackberry bushes in it, so I have to get rid of the blackberry bushes first.

    TOM: Right.

    LAURIE: And I don’t want them to grow back up through the deck.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: So how could I do that?

    TOM: Well, they’re probably not going to grow through the deck, because the deck is going to block all sunlight to it. That said, as you prep the soil, what you’re going to want to do is – obviously, you have to build footings for this, right? So you build the footings and then you take off whatever the top surface is there, if there’s grass, whatever. And then you lay down weed block – which is sort of this black, burlap-y kind of fabric. And you lay that down underneath the deck and then you can go ahead and frame over that.

    What you might end up doing is do the framing and then kind of lay the fabric down at the very last minute because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to walk on it while you’re framing this deck. So you might end up even putting the floor joists down, then lay the fabric under it, then finish it off. And that’ll help slow down anything that wants to come up right away.

    But I think that once this deck is built, it’s going to be so dark under there that you’re not going to have problems with the blackberry bushes coming up through the deck. It certainly would come around it but not through it.

    LAURIE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, it’s one of the great mysteries of most houses: that one room that you just can’t get warm enough or cool enough but you still can’t quite figure out why. Well, we’re going to help you get to the bottom of it, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, cold weather is coming and you’re not the only one who wants to stay warm. Despite their natural fur coats, cats and dogs are susceptible to cold weather suffering, as well. So don’t let Fido or Fifi or Meow-Meow, whatever your pet’s name is, suffer in silence.

    TOM: Yep. You can take a few easy steps to make sure your pet is comfortable and safe in the months to come with our winter-warming tips for pets. You can find that online, right now, on our home page at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question, just like Mark did. And Mark writes: “I have a brick, 3-bedroom rancher built in 1974. We blew insulation into the attic when we moved in and last year installed brand-new windows throughout the entire house. Yet when I close the doors to two bedrooms, they get warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. A lot of air that comes from the registers. There are also 31-inch air returns on the walls in both rooms. Is it possible that these are too big for the rooms and causing the problem?”

    TOM: Well, if the registers are letting air into rooms from unconditioned spaces, like an unfinished basement or a crawlspace, it could be the cause or a contributing factor. I do think it’s a good idea now it’s fall – you’re going to have to do this anyway – have an HVAC contractor come in to service your system. And they can also measure the airflow through those registers.

    Now, if the registers are damaged or perhaps they’re not fully open, it could account for some of the differences. There’s a lot of factors in uneven heating and cooling and it usually has to do with the amount of air that’s moving in and out of the room through those supply-and-return registers, as well as the distance of the room from the heating system, combined with the position of the room in the house.

    So, for example, I’ve got an office in my home that’s on the southwest side and it’s comfortable most of the hours of the day until about 2:00 in the afternoon. And that’s when the sun really beats down on it and I have to add some supplemental cooling.

    There’s other folks that have the opposite problem: they have heating issues where you have a room that’s maybe on the north end of the house, really far away from the HVAC system. So the heat is not quite as hot when it gets out there and it may be the thermostat is located deeper in the house. So, basically the thermostat says it’s warm but it’s not warm out in that far bedroom. So, that can cause it, as well.

    But an HVAC contractor should be able to adjust the airflow to compensate for all that. So that’s where I’d start with that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Will writes: “I want to add insulation beneath my attic floor but I’d have to pull the attic floor up to do it. How will this affect my second-floor ceiling?I am worried that the ceiling beneath it is protected by the attic floor.”

    TOM: Well, certainly the ceiling is protected by the attic floor and once you pull – if you pull that flooring up and put insulation in, you can’t walk in that area. You’ve got to follow the age-old rule of “walk on wood” or you’re going to end up with a foot in a ceiling, which even I have done.

    LESLIE: I think everybody has done it.

    TOM: I did it when I was remodeling my parents’ house and I left a – they were away and I thought I was going to do them a good deed and re-insulate. I put a foot through the ceiling and I put a sign there that said, “Tom was here.” They didn’t get the memo, though.

    Anyway, here’s what I would do: I would put the insulation on top of the existing floor. Don’t rip it up. Put the insulation on top of it. Use unfaced fiberglass batts. Lay them down edge to edge. Leave a space towards the middle of the attic that you’re going to reserve for storage. This way you can have some additional insulation, keep your storage and most importantly, not fall through the ceiling below.

    LESLIE: Right. Watch where you’re stepping; otherwise, you’re going to end up stuck in that floor.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you on a beautiful fall weekend from our studios in the New York area. Wondering what it’s like in your neck of the woods. Hope it’s as lovely as it is here and that you take this opportunity to get out there and enjoy the weather, perhaps tackling a home improvement project that’s on your list. If you’ve got questions, you can write us, 24/7, at MoneyPit.com or post your question to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. The show now continues online.

    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.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (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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