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Home Maintenance Projects to Tackle This Fall, How to Avoid Gutter Cleaning for Good, Discover Ways to Clean and Green Your House 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 help you with your home improvement project, so help yourself first: call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we would love to give you a hand.

    Coming up this hour, summer is officially coming to a close. And while that might mean the lazy days are over, it also means the best part of the year for home maintenance, which is why we call this the Goldilocks season: it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. It’s just right to tackle all sorts of fall fix-up projects. And we’ve got advice on the projects that you can do now to keep your home in tip-top shape throughout the entire year.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, one of those projects is, say, raking leaves, which is not my favorite. But what I like even less is cleaning gutters. So, if you want to put an end to that one chore, we’ve got some information on a product that will keep leaves and debris from clogging your gutters for many, many years to come.

    TOM: Plus, why save all the cleaning until spring? Fall is a great time to spruce up your home after this summer’s foot traffic and extra visitors and sand and dirt and mess. So coming up, we’ve got tips on a green cleaning product that costs less than three cents a quart to make and has been keeping homes clean and chemical-free for decades.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum. It’s got all the tools that you need for your next project, including a hard hat.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    PAUL: We’re working on a paint job where we were covering rough-cut cedar clapboards with Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT solid stain that’s self-priming. We painted over the same product that was previously sprayed probably about, I’m guessing, seven to eight years ago. And what we’re running into with – just on one side of the house where we’re getting bubbles, like moisture bubbles. It’s morning sun on that side of the house but we’ve never seen a stain – a solid stain – bubble up like that. I’ve seen it with paint but not with the solid stain.

    TOM: Well, cedar has to breathe and sometimes when they install cedar siding, they don’t leave enough space under it for it to breathe. And so it tends to get clogged with moisture and I’ve seen that lift stain before.

    You mentioned that you’re using a product that both primes and stains. I am not a fan of doing that with a staining product. I just, in fact, repainted my entire cedar-sided house and I did it the same way we did it over a dozen years ago and that was we oil-primed it first. We used an oil-based primer first because we had good adhesion with the oil-based primer. And it really stuck well to the cedar. And then we put the solid stain on top of that.

    So, once the paint starts to bubble, any time you have a failure of adhesion, there’s no way to put that back together. If that continues to get worse or if it looks bad enough already, you’re going to have to take that stain off and start again. Because you’re just – it’s never – you can’t stick good paint over bad paint. And if there’s moisture in there, it’s just going to lift that paint right off again.

    So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I wouldn’t have done it that way. I would have used an oil-based primer first and then I would have put a solid-color stain on top of it.

    PAUL: Right. We’re getting that just on one side of the house.

    TOM: Yeah. Maybe it’ll just end up being on one side of the house, for whatever reason. But at least on that side of the house, you have to pull that stain off and start again. And scrape, prime – scrape it and prime it properly with an oil-based primer and then you can stain on top of that.

    PAUL: What would you suggest for an oil-based primer?

    TOM: I think if you stay within one family of products, I would use the same oil-based primer that that particular manufacturer makes for solid stain but as long as it’s oil-based and not acrylic or water or latex-based.

    PAUL: So, now, to remove that stain that’s on there now, that – you’re going to lose that rough-cut finish.

    TOM: Well, if you wire-brush it, perhaps not. You may be able to pull it off with a pressure washer. It depends on how well-adhered it is.

    I mean when we did my project, we had an unusual problem with the shutters. We were using a product that the manufacturer said did not need to be primed. And it worked well but it took a long time to cure. And so some of the shutters were sitting around for an extra week before we put them back up. And all the paint peeled off of those. And so we had to actually strip all that paint off and start again. So it even happens to the pros. But once that paint separates, you’ve got to pull it off; there’s just no way to save it.

    PAUL: Alright. Thank you for your help.

    TOM: Paul, 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. Now you can join in on The Money Pit fun. We want to hear what you are working on and give you a hand with that project 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, you worked hard all summer to keep your lawn looking green and lush and now that autumn is here, don’t let it fall apart. We’ve got tips to help your lawn looking its best into the cooler months, just ahead.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Overhead Door, winner of the prestigious Women’s Choice Award for garage doors. Overhead Door is proud to have the qualities that women value. To find a distributor near you, visit OverheadDoor.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us this hour has got a chance to win a $50 PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum. It includes everything that a do-it-yourselfer is going to need. It’s got a hammer, screwdrivers, torpedo level and more, plus a hard hat and a coffee mug, because we want to make sure you keep your head safe and you keep your mind focused and fully caffeinated.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. And if you’re not familiar with PURPLE drywall, it provides resistance to mold, mildew, scratches, dents and it can even reduce noise.

    So check it out at AskForPURPLE.com and give us a call, right now, for your chance to win that great prize at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Diana in Pennsylvania on the line who has a mold situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    DIANA: Yes, we have a courtyard. And part of that courtyard is unfinished concrete, which spends most of the day in shade. So we have a mold buildup that reoccurs.

    TOM: OK. And what have you done to try to clean that patio?

    DIANA: We have tried to remove that with a power washer and it just keeps reappearing.

    TOM: Yeah, it’ll keep doing that when you just sort of try to blast it away with a pressure washer because, usually, you’re not dealing with the source of the mold, which is the spores, as well as the environmental conditions that are allowing it to grow.

    So, let me give you sort of a two-prong approach here. First of all, the next time you have a buildup, I want you to treat that with a product called Concrobium. It’s a very effective mold killer. And it will deal with the mold at its root and that will dramatically lessen the chance that it can come back.

    Secondly, it would be in your best interest to try to find a way to get some additional sunlight on that patio. If that means trimming out some trees or thinning out some branches, anything that you can do to get some more sun. Because nothing is a better mildicide or mold killer than natural sunlight.

    And so, if you can brighten that area up and then use Concrobium, next time, to get rid of that mold before you pressure-wash, I think you’ll get a much better result, Diana.

    DIANA: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much.

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

    Well, it’s officially the Goldilocks season, as we like to call it. It’s not too hot and not too cold. It’s really perfect do-it-yourself weather. But the best part of fall is shorts. You have to make the most of it and the experts at True Value, who we’re very proud to have as a sponsor, are the perfect resource to help you complete your next home improvement weekend project.

    LESLIE: First up, summer, it might be over but that doesn’t mean your yard has got to suffer. So to make sure a healthy lawn and garden returns for the springtime, there’s plenty of maintenance left to do this fall.

    For example, leaves can smother and actually kill the grass if they’re left on your lawn. So you want to make sure that you rake them regularly and bag them for disposal or shred them or spread them in different areas of your yard for compost. But get rid of them.

    TOM: That’s right. And fall is also a great time to touch-up your exterior paint. Whether it’s your front door or your shutters and trim or the kids’ tree house, make sure you choose the right type of paint for each project. And don’t be afraid of color. And be sure to prime before you paint; otherwise, you’ll be repainting that much sooner.

    LESLIE: Finally, this last tip. It’s really important that you’ve got to wait for the bulk of the leaves to fall for the season before you do this. Then I’m saying clean your gutters. Because get this, guys: clogged gutters just don’t work the way they should to divert the water away from your home and your foundation. And all that excess water can actually add up to a bunch of problems for your home, including flooded basements and cracked foundations. So do clean those gutters.

    TOM: And for the advice, tools and materials you need for all your fall project needs, stop by your local True Value. The local experts at True Value are ready with all the product info and advice you need to help you get any job done right.

    To find a store near you, visit TrueValue.com. And for more project ideas and advice, visit True Value on Facebook and Pinterest.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dina in New Jersey on the line who’s dealing with something going on with the chimney. What’s happening? You’ve got grout crumbling? What’s going on there?

    DINA: I have water, apparently, leaking in and it’s coming down around the fancy bricks of my fireplace. Because I see the cement crumbling and I see changes of – after a rain that I have, it’s darker over on the cement that’s crumbling.

    I’ve had my chimney relined and I just don’t know what it is. They said maybe it’s the flashing up on top that needs to be repointed and then it should be sealed. I just don’t know where to start and I’m getting high, big prices.

    TOM: Alright, Dina. This is a masonry chimney?

    DINA: Brick.

    TOM: A brick chimney, yes. OK. Masonry chimney, OK. Same difference.

    DINA: OK, thank you for being there for people like me.

    TOM: Alright. “No, it’s not masonry, it’s brick.” “Well, that clears it up.”

    Alright, look, when you have a masonry/brick chimney, at the top there is a chimney cap, which is a concrete lip that goes between the flue liner and the outside of the brick edge. And typically, when you get leaks, that concrete crack – cap is cracked. And it’s a very minor repair to seal those cracks or even to replace those cracks – that concrete section. It’s just a little, maybe 6-inch-deep section of concrete that’s sort of troweled between the clay flue liner and the outside edge of the brick.

    So the first thing I would do is seal the gaps or cracks around that and see if that fixes it. Now, the leaks are coming into the chimney. They’re not coming around the chimney by the ceiling, right? So that means – that sort of excludes flashing, because the flashing seals the gap between the masonry chimney and the roof. And if the flashing was failed, then you would have, probably, leaks when you look up at your ceiling. The chimney itself is leaking, so the most common culprit is simply that concrete cap or that masonry cap around the top of it.

    The other thing that you could do is you could put a chimney cap on this, because that has the effect of sort of putting a roof over your chimney without really blocking the chimney. And sometimes, that will dissuade the volume of water from getting into it.

    Now, the – one of the things I have to caution you about is that the chimney contractors – the chimney sweeps – that do these sorts of repairs are a disingenuous group. They’re not the most honest contractors out there and they almost always try to tell you a tale of woe, of death and destruction that will befall upon you unless you open your checkbook open wide and write them a big number. So, just be careful to find somebody reputable that can dig into what’s going on and just do what’s necessary but not an excessive amount of work on it, OK?

    DINA: Uh-huh. They’ve also mentioned doing repointing on the chimney and then waterproofing it.

    TOM: If it turns out that the masonry is cracked or deteriorated or falling out between the bricks, certainly repointing – but I think it’s a lot simpler than that. I think most likely it’s just some minor cracks in the chimney cap.

    DINA: Uh-huh. Because what they showed me was – they said, “See? There’s moss growing here. So that means that there’s water in between the bricks.”

    TOM: There’s always going to be water in a chimney. It’s a masonry structure; it holds moisture. And if you’ve got moss, you can put a mildicide on it. You can put a product like Concrobium on there that will kill that moss or another product called Wet & Forget that will kill that moss. And then beyond that, you need to get to the source of the leak, which I think is that chimney cap.

    So let’s not overcomplicate it, OK? Let’s see if that thin concrete cap is cracked and get that fixed.

    DINA: Thank you so very much. And now I know that bricks are masonry. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much. Bye-bye.

    LESLIE: Sandy in South Dakota is on the line with a funny smell coming from the basement. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    SANDY: Our basement is – got a real bad, musty smell to it. And we’ve had fans going down there all summer long, we’ve had a dehumidifier going year-round. And I can’t get rid of the musty smell. I don’t know what to do with it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do.

    First of all, the musty smell is because you have an excessive amount of moisture and humidity down there. So we want to do some things to try to reduce that amount of moisture. You’re going to start outside your house and examine your gutter system. You want to make sure that you have gutters, that the gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the downspouts are discharging 4 to 6 feet, minimum, away from the foundation.

    SANDY: They do.

    TOM: They do. Alright. And then after that water discharges, does it run away from the wall?

    SANDY: It runs away from the house, yes.

    TOM: So, I’d like you to take a look at those gutters in a heavier rainfall, just to make sure they’re not becoming overwhelmed. Because that usually is a source of many moisture problems.

    If the gutters are working well, then we need to look at the grading around the house. The soil should slope away and drop 6 inches on 4 feet. And that soil grade should be made up of clean fill dirt, not topsoil, not mulch or grass. You could have a little bit of topsoil and grass on top of it but you have to establish the slope first with fill dirt. And the reason you’re doing this is because you want rainfall that hits to run away from the house and not sit up against the house. That slope is really, really important.

    If that’s done, then going down to the basement area, we could make sure that the walls are properly sealed with a damp-proofing paint and then a dehumidifier on top of that. But the dehumidifier has to be properly sized for the basement space and it has to be drained – set up with a condensate pump so that it drains outside.

    And those steps together are usually going to take out as much moisture as you possibly can.

    SANDY: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Larry in Ohio is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you?

    LARRY: Yes. I’ve got a house – it’s 6,000 square foot – and they divided the utilities up into two separate houses. And right now, I have a hot-water tank that we use all the time and we have a hot-water tank that sits on the side that the kitchen is on, that is only used for the dishwasher.

    And I’m wondering, would I be better off to get me a tankless hot-water tank or just deal with the electric? I’ve got an electric, 50-gallon one. I don’t know which one would be more cost-efficient.

    TOM: So, the only thing that you’re using that water heater for, on that side of the house, is the dishwasher? And that’s a 50-gallon water heater?

    LARRY: Yes.

    TOM: Wow.

    LARRY: But like I say, this house was actually set up to be a bed and breakfast.

    TOM: If the only thing that water heater is serving is the dishwasher and there’s no way to get that dishwasher fed off of the other water heater, you just need a very small water heater for that dishwasher and I mean like a 20-gallon electric or something like that. Really small. Because there’s really not much water that it needs to heat and it would be foolish to have it heating, you know, 50 gallons, 40 gallons of water 24-7 when you really don’t need it except to wash dishes and, I presume, to run the kitchen sink.

    So a very small, electric water heater, perhaps even on a timer so that it only kicks on maybe in the evening hours when you’re using that dishwasher, would be the smart thing to do there and the least expensive way to both install the new water heater and to run the new water heater. OK?

    LARRY: OK. Actually, there’s two bathrooms that are also hooked to this but it’s just the idea right now – we’re not using it. We’ve got two bathrooms on the other side of the house, too.

    TOM: OK. Well, that’s different. That’s different. If you have two bathrooms – full bathrooms?

    LARRY: Yes. Full bathrooms.

    TOM: Well, then, OK, so that’s different. If there’s a full – two full bathrooms – I’d asked you if it was just the dishwasher and you said, “Yes.” But if it’s two full bathrooms on it, then you do need a larger water heater. And again, I would probably recommend – if you’re not using it that often, I’d probably recommend an electric water heater, in that situation, on a timer.

    LARRY: OK.

    TOM: But you’ll probably need more like a 40-gallon.

    LARRY: Actually, on the tankless ones, I’ve noticed the different amount of water per minute.

    TOM: Yeah, well – but you – do you have gas? Do you have natural gas?

    LARRY: I’ve got propane.

    TOM: You have propane? Well, you could use a tankless water heater. The installation cost will be a lot higher. It does deliver you 24-7 endless supplies of hot water. Except in that side of the house, again, you’re not really using those bathrooms that much, so that’s not as big of a concern to you.

    That’s why I’m suggesting a minimum, inexpensive electric water heater for that. At least you’ll maintain your home value. Because if you didn’t have adequate – an adequate water heater to supply those two bathrooms plus the dishwasher, your home value would suffer. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you put in a $1,500 tankless, because I just don’t think it’s going to be cost effective for you.

    LARRY: OK. That was my big question right there: would it be cost-effective (ph)?

    LESLIE: Well, still to come, we’ve got a way to avoid one of the most hated chores of home ownership: gutter cleaning. The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America’s made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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 possibly the most hated chore of home ownership is gutter cleaning. But gutters are key to the health and well-being of your home. And if they’re not cleaned, you can have many, many problems. Gutters, when they’re working right, play an important role in diverting rainwater away from your home’s foundation.

    LESLIE: Alright. So what’s a homeowner to do? Well, one thing that you can do is prevent gutters from getting clogged in the first place. There’s actually an easy, do-it-yourself solution that’s going to eliminate the need for that regular gutter-cleaning chore and it’s called GutterBrush. And here to tell us more is the company’s president, Randy Shreiber.

    Welcome, Randy.

    RANDY: Thank you very much, Leslie. Great to be here with you all.

    TOM: Now, we love to hear about how some products are invented. And I understand that the invention of GutterBrush came about by accident. How did it happen?

    RANDY: It did, yes. Growing up in Ohio and Pennsylvania, I had the good fortune of doing some camping and hunting and fishing with family up at a cabin up that way. But one of the first chores that was always on my list was to get up on the roof and dig all the nasty stuff out of the gutters every time we visited. And it turned out that once I went away to school, my dad took over and inherited that fun task of climbing up on the roof or a ladder and cleaning your gutters.

    And one year, he found out – we think it was an old, twisted, chimney-sweep brush. It was a twisted wire brush he found and he thought that would be a good tool to kind of scrub the leaves and the debris out of – and the mud out of the gutters. And as luck would have it, he got sidetracked and had to come off the roof and left the brush laying in the gutter, where it remained for probably the next four to six months. And when we came back up, the gutters were full, as they always were, but the place where the brush was hadn’t clogged and the downspout was still flowing. So that was kind of – the light bulb, I guess, went off.

    TOM: Hence the birth of GutterBrush. And so, then, of course, GutterBrush is just that: it’s a brush that is inserted into the gutters, lays in there and I guess it keeps those downspouts clean and free-flowing and keeps the debris sitting on top?

    RANDY: It does. Yeah, the – it’s just a big cylinder-shaped brush that fills the space inside your rain gutters. And they come in 3-foot lengths. You slide them just end to end, right through your gutter channel. And water easily flows through the brush but leaves and debris are prevented from getting down inside the gutter where they can cause clogs and trouble.

    LESLIE: Will the brush ever need to be replaced? Like will it rust or is this once you’ve got it, it’ll last for the lifetime that you’re in the home?

    RANDY: We’ve got a lifetime guarantee on the product itself. The bristles are a UV-protected polypropylene, so they’re very durable. And the center core of the brush is just a galvanized-steel wire, so it’s a very, very simple product. We’ve got a lifetime guarantee on the brush itself against any material defects or breakdown.

    We do recommend that – depending on where a homeowner lives, if they’ve got a lot of very small debris or pine needles and things like that – that every couple of years, they might want to plan on pulling some brushes out and shaking them clean if they notice any little bit of debris that builds up over time. But generally, Mother Nature takes care of most of it. Most of the debris rests on top and blows away or it breaks down into small particles that can wash through the gutter.

    TOM: We’re talking to Randy Shreiber. He’s the president of GutterBrush, an ingenious product that can go a long way towards keeping your gutters clean and free-flowing. And that is really important.

    I think, Randy, that folks don’t recognize the value of clean gutters. We all don’t want the water to overflow and wash over our heads as we try to get in and out of our house. But seriously, foundations can be damaged, ice forms, walls crack, landscaping washes out. The list is quite long as to what happens if you don’t manage the water around your foundation perimeter, correct?

    RANDY: Absolutely. And as you mentioned, there’s a whole list of damage and trouble that can be caused if gutters aren’t properly directing that water away from your home. But it’s easy to overlook, because gutters are not the most glamorous part of the home and it’s not something that people think about all the time but – until it’s too late sometimes. But it’s – we recommend that your gutters are inspected or cleaned at least a couple times a year, if you don’t have any protection and – to try to avoid some of those problems and damage that you mentioned.

    LESLIE: Randy, is it very expensive to install the GutterBrush in your entire home, say, if you’ve got an average-sized home?

    RANDY: It’s not. Our product is very affordable. It runs a little – it runs right around – $3 a foot is our typical cost for standard, 5-inch gutters. And most homes can be protected, generally, for $200 to $300 if you’re doing it yourself. It’s obviously – it’s a very easy product to install yourself. But if you’re not somebody that gets up on a roof or a ladder, you can also get help from any home service professional: a landscaper, contractor, painter. Anybody with a ladder could easily help with installation.

    TOM: And GutterBrush is made in the U.S.A. and also helps reduce ice dams and icicles. And speaking of affordability, GutterBrush is also kind enough to offer all of our listeners a 25-percent discount on any GutterBrush purchase through October 15th. Just enter the coupon code MONEYPIT and you will be rewarded with a 25-percent discount.

    Head on over to GutterBrush.com, place your order today and keep those gutters clean and free-flowing through the entire fall season and beyond.

    Randy, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RANDY: Thank you, guys, very much. A pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, when we return, you know, it’s fall. We’re all getting ready to do a lot of cleaning around our homes, just to get ready for the winter season. And when it comes to using green products, you want to make sure that you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck and a product that actually works well. When we come back from the break, we’re going to share with you a great product line out there that actually works and is truly green, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Overhead Door, winner of the prestigious Women’s Choice Award for garage doors. Overhead Door is proud to have the qualities that women value. To find a distributor near you, visit OverheadDoor.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: The number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller who asks a question on the air this hour has a chance to win a $50 PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum. It includes everything a do-it-yourselfer needs: a hammer, screwdrivers, torpedo level and more, plus a hat and a coffee mug. Because, of course, all do-it-yourselfers need hats and coffee mugs.

    LESLIE: I mean you do, really. If you’re not caffeinated, how are you going to finish your project? Come on. I’m always crabby on a job site if I don’t have a cup of coffee.

    Well, the PURPLE Tool Kit is a 24-piece set. PURPLE drywall products from National Gypsum, they provide resistance to mold, mildew, scratches, dents. And they can actually reduce the noise between rooms.

    TOM: Check it out at AskForPURPLE.com and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Louis from Michigan on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    LOUIS: The house was built in 1929. The siding – it’s a siding question. The siding is asbestos concrete shingles. We have iron in our well water. When spring – the flowers – the water has accumulated, over the years, on the shingles. Now, one wall of the house now has a golden glow. Any recommendations for removing the iron-golden glow?

    TOM: Well, if it’s siding, you’re going to have to clean it and paint it. That’s the only thing you can really do. You could wash this house down, you can use a TSP – trisodium phosphate. That will tend to take out some of that. But you’re going to end up having to paint this siding.

    The nice thing about asbestos is it lasts forever. The not-so-nice thing about it is it has to be painted forever. But it’s a non-organic product, so it will not rot, it will not fall apart organically. But it doesn’t look very nice and it does absorb a stain and needs to be constantly maintained.

    Because the asbestos is held inside of a cement binder, it’s not a safety risk; it’s just really a maintenance headache.

    LOUIS: Appreciate it. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, fall is a busy season for home improvement but it’s also a season when we scrub our homes free of the summer sand, sweat and dirt that have accumulated. And we get ready to close up for the cooler weather ahead. Now, that’s why it’s never been more important to choose safe, green cleaning products to do that. Who wants to breathe in chemicals all winter long?

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s exactly why we’ve partnered with Shaklee. It’s a company that makes cleaning products that are always green, always safe and always work.

    You know, example here. Tom got me started using the Shaklee products by sending me the Shaklee Get Clean Kit. I have two small boys. He’s got to assume, correctly, that my house is filthy.

    TOM: I just was taking a chance. Two kids, maybe they’ve got some dirt.

    LESLIE: Oh, gee whiz. And it’s not just dirt; it’s sticky dirt.

    So the Shaklee Get Clean Kit, it contains about everything that I need to get my home clean and safe for me and my boys. It’s got laundry detergent, dish detergent, laundry booster, disinfecting wipes and a very cool product called Basic H Organic Super-Cleaning Concentrate, which you can use pretty much on every surface in your home.

    TOM: Yeah. And the key is that these products are concentrated. In fact, that 16-ounce bottle of Basic H, that actually makes, Leslie, 48 gallons of cleaning product. We use it everywhere: kitchen countertops, bathrooms. You can even use it to clean your walls before you paint. That’s how versatile and good this stuff is.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If you want to use products that are safe, non-toxic and chemical-free in your home, then you should explore the complete line of Shaklee products at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And you know what? Now is a great time to pick up the Shaklee Get Clean Kit. Because until September 30th, you can sign up for a free membership, which entitles you to discounts on all future purchases. Shipping is also free on the Get Clean Kit and we’ll even send you – you ready for this? – a free copy of The Money Pit Guide to Green Remodeling. Shop Shaklee healthy home products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho. How can we help you today?

    RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.

    TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?

    RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom of – from the floor of the basement.

    TOM: OK.

    RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and then just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.

    TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?

    RANDY: The wall, in the corner.

    TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?

    RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.

    TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.

    RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.

    TOM: Man.

    RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.

    TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?

    RANDY: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.

    A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?

    RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.

    TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. I mean most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.

    So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.

    But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.

    RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover-yourself kind of thing.

    TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.

    RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.

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

    LESLIE: Well, are you tired of navigating dark, tricky steps with a basket of dirty clothes? Hey, are you watching in my house again? Why are you guys always calling out what I do at my money pit?

    Well, we want to help you get your laundry area out of the basement and up above ground. We’re going to give you some advice on how to do that, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America’s made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    What are you working on at your money pit? Have you been considering turning your bathroom into a more spa-like experience? Well, why not visit MoneyPit.com and search “bathroom-shower accessories” so you can get tips on that transformation?

    TOM: And you can also post your question to The Money Pit Community section, just like Sharon did who says, “I’d like to move my washer and dryer from my basement to the second floor of the house. I’m getting sick and tired of carrying laundry up and down two stories. What are the considerations I need to know about?”

    I can definitely understand that because while we didn’t have our laundry in our basement, we did have it on the first floor. And I’ve got to tell you, schlepping all those clothes – those dirty clothes – up and down – it’s funny because the laundry almost never makes the complete trip. It usually stops in the living room so you can fold while maybe you’re watching TV.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: It really takes over the entire house. You know how that goes.

    But listen, here’s what you need to think about. So, obviously, upstairs, you’re going to get space for this. And if you’ve got a small bedroom that you want to convert, if you’ve got a closet you want to convert, you’ve got to have space for this. You’ve got to get water lines to it. You’ve got to get electrical lines to it, because you’re going to have to power the washer, you’re going to have to power the dryer. Especially important if it’s an electric dryer. And if it is a gas dryer, of course, you’ve got to get gas lines to it.

    LESLIE: And you have to vent it properly, too.

    TOM: Right. And that’s another thing. You’ve got to vent it properly and you want to make sure you vent it with as few bends as possible. Because the straighter the shot, in terms of the venting, the quicker the clothes dry and the more efficient the dryer becomes because it has to run less time to do the same thing.

    One thing you might want to think about is that most full-size washer and dryers today are stackable and that’s important. We did that in our house when we moved the washer and dryer upstairs because, let’s face it, we saved a 3-foot by 3-foot section of the floor plan by stacking the machines. You put the dryer on top, because it’s lighter, and it really does make a difference.

    So, plan carefully. It’s a good project but make sure all your utilities are in place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that way, the laundry can actually stay in the same place that you generate those dirty clothes rather than finding its way all over your house.

    TOM: Well, fall is one of the most beautiful seasons for home decorating. I mean you’ve got the rustic colors, the iconic images from harvest time. But do you know how to pull ideas from the natural world to decorate your home for the season? Leslie does. She’s got those ideas, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Fall is my favorite season. I just absolutely adore fall and everything about it.

    Now, you’ve got apple- and pumpkin-picking, the leaves are changing colors and of course, Halloween. So if you plan it right, there are actually ways that you can have your home’s décor take you from this month all the way through Thanksgiving.

    First, you can use all those late-summer harvests to spruce up your front entry or your kitchen table. You know, I’m talking about pumpkins or squashes. You can have baskets full of colorful apples or those funny-shaped gourds that come in every color and size.

    Also, you want to pull those colors for accents all around your home, from your tablecloths to linens and towels, even your pillows and vases and cookie jars or whatever other accent pieces you’ve got throughout your home. Sort of swap them out, this season, for things in those browns and orange and golden tones.

    Now, instead of flowers, why not place a vase of autumn leaves on your side table or your dining table? And think about your senses: pine cones, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin pie. Those are all amazing autumn smells. And the texture of a few pine cones even evokes fall, as well.

    So if you use what you’ve got around your home, you can spend a lot of time having the beauty of fall indoors without spending a lot.

    TOM: Great point.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if you’ve ever had to call in a plumber, you know you probably also seriously considered a second career in that lucrative field, because plumbers can charge a lot. But you could save yourself hundreds of dollars in service calls with a little do-it-yourself know-how.

    Next time on The Money Pit, we’ll have tips and advice on simple, do-it-yourself plumbing projects that you can accomplish at almost no cost.

    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 2014 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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