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  • Transcript

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Standing by to answer your home improvement and home décor questions right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Take a look around your house; pick one do-it-yourself dilemma or maybe one project that you want to hire somebody to do. Give us a call right now and let’s talk to you about the best way to get it done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    Got a busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about hurricane season. You know, it’s not even half over yet but if you think living inland makes you safe, think again. Storms can do serious damage no matter where you live. If you’re not in a hurricane belt, man, those summer storms can really cause some trees to fly. And when they do fly, what are they going to fly through? Well, your windows, of course. That’s why, this hour we’re going to have some tips on how to make your windows safe during storms with step-by-step instructions on how you can make your very own storm shutters.
    LESLIE: And also this hour, you know now is a great time to also look at the trees around your money pit because summer storms, they can actually leave your trees in pretty bad shape, which can be dangerous for you, your family, your neighbors walking by. So we’re going to get tips on how to care for your storm-damaged trees this hour from This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook.
    TOM: And also ahead, we’re going to give you some tips about the fun part of home ownership: decorating, of course. (Leslie chuckles) If you’ve shopped til you’ve dropped and you’re finally ready to start, don’t do it until you hear our list of common interior design don’ts first. We’re going to save you the hassles and the embarrassment of doing it the wrong way. We’ll show you how to do it the right way, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And are you one of the lucky – and I probably should add very few – homeowners who actually has your car in your garage? Well, with all the stuff that we store out in our garages, it’s pretty hard to do. But we can help because this hour we’re giving away some storage solutions from Gladiator GarageWorks.
    TOM: It’s a prize worth almost 100 bucks; going to go to one caller who calls us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question. The number is 888-666-3974. That’s all you need to know, so let’s get to it.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Terri in South Carolina is dealing with an issue on a screened-in porch. Tell us what’s going on?
    TERRI: Hey, Leslie. We have a porch that was built around an original deck; so it has the basic kind of 2×4-style decking on the floor.
    TOM: OK.
    TERRI: But there are little gaps in that floor and so, even though the screens have been replaced around the walls of the screened porch and that’s all tight, I think maybe bugs are still coming in through the cracks in the floor. Is that possible?
    TOM: Sure.
    TERRI: As far as flies and mosquitoes and those things; so you don’t want to be out there.
    TOM: Yeah, sure. Yeah, sure. Entirely possible. Is there a skirting around the outskirts of the deck? I mean could you put some screening there?
    TERRI: There is on one side but there is one side that’s open.
    TOM: It’s completely roofed?
    TERRI: Yeah, it’s completely roofed.
    TOM: Well then I don’t see why you couldn’t put screening on the underside of the deck, if you can get under there. You know, if it wasn’t roofed and you were getting a lot of grit and grime in there, I might be concerned about the screening sort of holding the dirt but …
    TERRI: You know, I had thought of that and I kind of wondered the same thing because we do have dogs that go in and out.
    TOM: Yeah.
    TERRI: You know, that’s their door to the outside is through that porch.
    TOM: Well, why don’t you put it on the underside of the floor joists? This way it’s not pressed up against the underside of the deck board itself.
    TERRI: Oh, yeah. So there’s a gap.
    TOM: Right, exactly.
    TERRI: So like if dog, you know, drivel off of their feet and maybe food crumbs or something falls in between there, it goes down where you can’t see it.
    TOM:  Right. Exactly.
    TERRI: Awesome. That’s a great suggestion.
    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: John in Colorado, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    JOHN: I had a question about the venting of a radon installation, a radon pipe.
    TOM: OK.
    JOHN: And the house I was looking at had this pipe from under the slab.
    TOM: Right.
    JOHN: Actually, it wound up in the garage and then it went up into the attic of the house and in between the garage floor and the attic was an inline fan.
    TOM: OK. Right that’s correct.
    JOHN: But the pipe terminated two feet into the attic.
    TOM: Oh, so it didn’t go through the attic to the outside?
    JOHN: No.
    TOM: Oh, well that’s a mistake. Yeah, everything was correct up until you got to the fact that they left the pipe in the attic. No, you want that to go up through the attic, through the roof just like a plumbing pipe would.
    JOHN: Yeah.
    TOM: And typically it turns down, like U-shaped at the top, so water doesn’t get into it.
    JOHN: Well, they had seven or eight vents in the roof in that attic.
    TOM: Well, maybe they felt like there was enough ventilation in the attic. But the fan is supposed to terminate outside. You’re not supposed to dump it back into the house in any way, shape or form. So I would take it – and you can simply add to it and you can bring it up through the roof and you put a proper plumbing vent and flashing sleeve around that and then terminate it above the roof.
    JOHN: OK. Oh, just another expense. 
    TOM: Yeah, well you know what? You said you were buying this house?
    JOHN: I was looking at it for my daughter.
    TOM: Make it part of the negotiation. I don’t think it was done right.
    JOHN: Yeah, OK. Well, that’s reasonable.
    TOM: Certainly is.
    JOHN: Alright, well I guess I could even put it into that vent and have a hole there.
    TOM: What vent?
    JOHN: Well, there are six or seven or eight roof vents.
    TOM: Oh, terminate it near one of the attic vents?
    JOHN: Yeah.
    TOM: I would just run it up through the roof and terminate it above the roof. I would not try to jury-rig it by sticking it near one of the other vents. That’s not the way they’re supposed to work. You don’t know if those vents are going to be pressurized or depressurized, depending on the airflow over the roof structure itself. So I would keep the radon vent away from that, go right up through the roof and terminate it the way it was supposed to be done in the first place.
    JOHN: Good enough. Truly appreciate it.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, there’s only a few unfortunately short weekends left in summer but we want to help you make the most of those lovely, glorious, sunshine-y weekends by helping you get your home improvement projects done. So give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, you see them in every, single news clip whenever a severe storm is predicted; people taping up their windows. It might seem like a good idea but it offers very little, if any, protection from hurricane-force winds. Learn how to build your own storm shutters instead, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And are you one of the lucky few who can actually get your car into your garage? Well, you’re certainly unique because most of us can’t. And if that’s you, we’re going to help you out this hour because we’re giving away a cool prize from Gladiator GarageWorks. It is a Gladiator claw; the most advanced bike storage device and gear kit available. It’s a prize worth 98 bucks; going to go to one caller who has the courage, the fortitude, the determination to pick up the phone and call us with their home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright, give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on and give you a hand with that project.
    Well, it seems that we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of hurricane season right now. And when a hurricane or pretty much any type of severe storm rolls through, windows can be the weakest link in your home. Now homemade storm shutters can actually help you avoid some pretty serious damage. So to make them, you want to pick up some 1/2-inch plywood and then you cut it to the size of each window but you want to make sure that that plywood covers the outside trim on that window.
    Then go ahead and predrill holes so that both installation and takedown is quick and easy. Lastly, make sure that you mark each shutter clearly so you know exactly which window it fits to. This way, the next time a storm blows through, it won’t blow right into your windows.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Dave in Kentucky, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    DAVE: I’m renovating a house and got a carpet that’s been down, oh, probably 30 years with a pad underneath of it.
    TOM: OK.
    DAVE: And the pad is stuck to the floor …
    TOM: Ah.
    DAVE: … and left all this black stuff on the floor. How do I get rid of that?
    TOM: What kind of floor is it? Is it a hardwood floor?
    DAVE: A hardwood floor.
    TOM: OK. Well, I mean if it’s already stuck to the floor, you’re probably looking at a sanding project here for this floor. And so, what I would simply do then, David, is scrape as much of it off as I can, being careful not to gouge the floor, and then have it professionally sanded.
    The sanders that you use on hardwood floors are pretty aggressive and I generally don’t recommend that you do it yourself because, unless you use that equipment all the time, your floor is not going to come out that good; it will look uneven. So I would hire somebody to have it sanded and whatever black is left on the surface will easily be ground away. Because those sanders are pretty aggressive. They take a fair amount of meat out of the wood and there are vacuums attached to it, so it’ll all be drawn inside.
    DAVE: OK, I see. Is there any way, other than that? Other than …
    TOM: Are you trying to preserve the finish or something?
    DAVE: No. It’s an old floor that uses – it doesn’t have a urethane on it. You use a paste wax to shine it up.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: Well, when; 30 years ago? Maybe. That’s not going to be very durable today. The finishes have changed a lot and what we would recommend is that you do a good sanding of this floor, get it down to raw wood and then put a very good-quality polyurethane finish on it – two or three coats – and then that’ll give you some durability for the long haul.
    DAVE: Oh, I see. OK, that’s a good idea. Alright, well thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Sherry in Tennessee is dealing with an air conditioning situation. Tell us what’s going on.
    SHERRY: Well, the unit went out – it is central air – and I have three options: I can replace the coil for $1,200; I can – and they said it would probably last a couple of years. I can get the air conditioning unit replaced for 3,500 or I could put in a heat pump for 4,000.
    TOM: Well, first of all, what kind of heat do you have right now, Sherry? Are you using the – do you have a heat pump now?
    SHERRY: No, I have electric heat.
    TOM: OK.
    SHERRY: And I have a central air unit but not the heat.
    TOM: So you have electric resistance heat.
    SHERRY: Yes.
    TOM: And where is the duct system for the central air? Is it all in the ceiling?
    SHERRY: Yes. Well, upstairs it’s in the floor.
    TOM: You have some in the floor as well?
    SHERRY: Yes, on the upstairs it’s in the floor and it’s in the ceiling on the downstairs.
    TOM: OK, because if you try to use a heat pump and you’re supplying that warmed air at the ceiling, it’s not going to heat very evenly. I mean you’ll get some heat out of it but you won’t be completely comfortable. So you’ll probably end up still using some of the resistance heat. I will say that if you did the improvement now, you could qualify for a tax credit of up to about 1,500 bucks. But the tax credits are only available through the end of the year and you have to use a high-efficiency compressor.
    LESLIE: It has to meet certain requirements.
    TOM: It has to meet the requirements. But it’s a really good time to replace the equipment because this tax credit is not going to be around past the end of the year.
    LESLIE: And a lot of the manufacturers are offering rebates as well, currently; so if you go with a smart HVAC contractor who knows a little bit beyond what that product has to offer, you might be able to find a good, energy-efficient solution that you’ll get some money back on.
    SHERRY: OK. OK, that sounds like a good idea. I had no idea to look – I did not know what to look for, so …
    TOM: Yeah, I think it’s probably a really good time for you to think about replacing it. How old is the unit now?
    SHERRY: Well, I’ve lived there for ten years and it was old when I moved in, so …
    TOM: I would not put a new coil in that.
    SHERRY: Yeah.
    TOM: Something else is going to break. I’d replace it. My only concern about the heat pump is it may not do a real good job heating because of the placement of your duct system.
    TOM: Alright?
    SHERRY: OK, thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Sherry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    Yeah, when you take a central air configuration and all the registers are up in the ceiling then you add a heat pump to that, first of all, the temperature of the warm air that comes out of a heat pump is not like the same warm air that comes out of a gas furnace.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: Instead of being 120 degrees, it’s like – I don’t know, 100 degrees. So it has to run a lot to do the job but, on top of that, you’re distributing the warm air at the ceiling. It’s got an awful lot of work to do to get down to where you’re sitting in your easy chair.
    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s just going to end up being inefficient.
    TOM: Right. Exactly. That’s my concern.
    LESLIE: Paul in Texas wants to do a project in a shower. What can we help you with?
    PAUL: I have a shower that’s 27 inches by 27 inches. My father built it a long, long time ago. And it has ceramic tile in it – the 4×4 ceramic tiles – and I am wondering if there is any way to put some new finish on the inside of that without gutting it out. I’m really trying to shy away from the (inaudible at 0:14:43) and I hate putting firring strips because I just don’t have the room. And I’m wondering if you can help me.
    LESLIE: Well, and if you put anything over it, you’re still going to lose room. That sounds like a tiny shower. Am I wrong?
    PAUL: It is. It’s very, very tiny but …
    TOM: Well, what’s the condition of the tile now? Is it the grout that’s looking kind of grungy or is it the tile that you don’t like?
    PAUL: It’s more of a grout coming out. Some of the border tiles on the outside, the trim tiles, are coming loose and chipping just from years. It’s been in there over 40 years and …
    TOM: Yeah, that’s actually easier. What you want to do is get a grout saw and you want to cut out all of the grout. You can grind away and slice out all of that grout in between the tile. The next thing you’ll do is you’ll repair all of the loose tile by regluing them back in place and then you can regrout the whole thing. And that’s not such a terribly complex job and it’ll look practically brand new.
    PAUL: Am I going to – as far as matching those old tiles, am I going to have to get creative and make another pattern or are those old tiles readily available?

    TOM: Those are your options. You can take the tiles into a tile store; see if you can get something that’s close. If you can live with it, fine. If not, pull that row out and choose something that’s complementary and then it’ll look like it was always supposed to be there.
    LESLIE: Or take out like a big chunk of rows and put in like a really fun, 1/2-inch mosaic glass tile; you know, to sort of modernize it. Or take out that same chunk of rows and put in a mesh-backed river rock or some sort of pebble to sort of update the whole look.
    PAUL: Ah, really very good. Thank you so much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Patricia in Wisconsin needs some help replacing some windows. What can we do for you?
    PATRICIA: Well, it’s a difficult question for me to answer but maybe it’s simple for you to answer. I am thinking about replacing my windows and I have no income as far as wages are concerned. Do I still qualify, somehow or the other, for the $1,500 rebate?
    LESLIE: Well, the $1,500 federal tax credit is based on you purchasing energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, windows. They have to meet certain criteria to get this government rebate. There are – if you need assistance with funding to actually purchase these replacement windows, there are a couple of places you could look. In late 2009, there was the American Renovation and Reinvestment Act. And then there was the weatherization program within that American Renovation and Reinvestment Act where there is funding available to certain families who qualify for financial aid in making these improvements to their homes that they can’t afford to do so.
    There’s also the Home Repair Loan and Grant Program which is also run by the government which would provide loans to renovate or modernize or even repair homes where you can qualify for a $20,000 loan over 20 years at 1% interest. And then there’s another grant that’s funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is called HUD.
    So there are a couple of different places that you could look into and see what’s currently available but that federal tax credit expires at the end of 2010.
    PATRICIA: Oh, OK, I see. Well, I can look into some of this and I appreciate you taking my call.
    TOM: You’re very welcome, Patricia. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    Up next, storm-damaged trees are not only ugly; they can actually be dangerous. We’re going to tell you how to care for those trees to make sure they’re safe for your house, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to 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: Now is an excellent time to take a look at the trees around your property. That’s right, look up. Because we have had some wicked summer storms throughout the country and they can leave those trees in pretty bad shape, which could actually be quite dangerous.
    LESLIE: That’s right. So Roger Cook is the landscaping expert for This Old House and he’s with us now to give us a few tips for dealing with those storm-damaged trees.
    Welcome, Roger.
    ROGER: Thank you. I’ve never had a summer quite like this with all these storms. It’s been just incredible.
    TOM: It sure has and I bet that’s kept you quite busy. When a storm passes and you take that first peek outside and you see some destruction that you didn’t expect, where is the first place to start in terms of getting everything back in shape? I mean there are two issues here: we want to make sure that the trees are not dangerous; but secondly, we’d like to salvage what’s left, if that’s at all possible.
    ROGER: Right. The first thing I look for is the danger involved: trees hanging on a house; trees hanging on wires and things like that. When you have a situation like that, those are the situations that are best left to the professionals; they know how to handle that. If something is on the ground, it’s pretty easy for you to clean up but you’ve got to remember two things. First, that when there’s storm damage, it’s the most dangerous kind of tree work you can do because it’s all weird pressure points, things are on top of each other and it just doesn’t go like a normal, average tree job would go.
    TOM: That’s a good point because very often you have to sort of untangle the branch as it’s inserted itself between the broken branch and the good stuff.
    ROGER: Right. And everything – the pressure points are all weird. If you fell a tree, you can pretty much tell which branches are holding up the trunk, if it’s resting off the ground.
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: But when you have a mass of branches that are all twined together, you don’t know where the pressure points are. You’ve got to be so careful when you’re cutting in something like that.
    LESLIE: Now what if you’re dealing with a tree that just has some smaller broken branches? Is that something that you can sort of climb up and thin out yourself or should you leave that also to the pros?
    ROGER: I do not recommend that anyone go up a ladder to remove a branch. It’s so easy for that branch to swing by and actually knock the ladder right out from underneath you. A much safer way to do it is with a pole saw. You can get up 18, 24 feet with a pole saw and remove limbs safely that way while you’re still standing on the ground.
    TOM: Now Roger, how do you know if you can actually save the tree? Is there a proper way to cut off those damaged limbs so that you give the tree half a chance of regrowing?
    ROGER: You do. There is a proper way. Usually what we do is we’ll clean off whatever limb that’s broken and leave a stub maybe 6 or 12 inches long that you can hold in one hand.
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: And we would then make a cut at the branch collar, which is a raised area usually 3/4-inch to an inch away from the trunk. And this is the area where the tree heals, so you want to leave that. You cut the branch off just outside that collar, using your hand to support it so you don’t rip the bark.
    TOM: Right. Got it.
    ROGER: Too many people make a flesh cut right next to the trunk …
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: … and that makes a bigger wound and that tree has a harder time sealing that off and growing.
    TOM: Is it ever a good idea to seal off the branches yourself with some sort of a paint, for example?
    ROGER: Absolutely not. Mother Nature does the best job of healing when you leave it alone and let it do what it’s supposed to do properly.
    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook, the landscaping expert from This Old House, on how to handle those storm-damaged trees.
    LESLIE: Roger, what happens if you see that maybe there’s not so much limb damage but perhaps in some areas of the tree itself you see damage to the bark? How do you sort of handle that situation?
    ROGER: Well, you have to analyze it to see if the cambium – the outer layer – is split off. That’s the layer that carries the water and nutrients up and down the tree. If that’s been compromised, then obviously there are no nutrients going to get up to the tree and you know you have a problem. If it’s just been peeled away – like a branch sometimes opens up; when you have a crotch, it’ll just open a branch up – sometimes you can take and bring that branch back up, hold it in place with some guy wire up the top and put some screws through and that bark will grow right back in again and you’ll still be able to save that branch.
    LESLIE: Alright. To catch more of Roger and the entire This Old House team, including information on their current project, visit ThisOldHouse.com. This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Dan in Illinois needs some help with hardwood flooring. What can we do for you?
    DAN: I live in a bi-level house.
    TOM: OK.
    DAN: We have carpeting on the stairs and we want to get rid of it. And I’d like to put a hard wood and I’d like to know what material I should use; whether I should use regular hardwood flooring that they put in bedrooms and hallways or …
    TOM: To replace the stair treads?
    DAN: Just to – not to replace them but to replace the carpeting.
    TOM: Hmm. It’s difficult to add hardwoods to a staircase. There is a type of sort of end cap – if it’s a half-open stair – where you could have sort of – you cut off the old nosing at the edge of the stair and you put like an end cap so it looks like it’s a hardwood floor there. But you have to have carpet for the rest of it. You’ll still need sort of a carpet runner in the middle. But it’s not easy. Yeah, it’s not easy to put hardwood on top of stairs just because of the way the tread is shaped.
    Is it a pine staircase?
    DAN: Yes.
    TOM: OK. And have you thought about just finishing the pine? Because I mean I did that in my house; it looked pretty good.
    DAN: Yeah, this is not very good-looking wood.
    TOM: Well, you can stain it and you can fill in the gaps and things like that; try to get the color even. You could paint the railing. You could paint the balusters for some two-tone look and put a nice, rich runner down the middle of it. There’s not much wood left when you do that. And you know, I took a 100-year-old staircase that had about 14 coats of paint on it; got down to the real wood; stained it back to the natural finish; painted the balusters and stained the railing and it looked great.
    DAN: Well, I’m really trying to get away from the carpeting.
    TOM: Mm-hmm.
    LESLIE: I mean you could paint a runner instead of carpeting.
    DAN: Oh, that’s a thought.
    LESLIE: And that actually can look really pretty and allow you to be super-duper-duper creative. I’ve seen many times, in design magazines, a great carpet application but then I’ve seen it painted sort of as a knockoff where there’s a sort of variegated-sized stripe that runs the length of the stairs – as if it were going down the staircase – in a fun mix of colors – sort of like a gold-y-yellow or red or Robin’s Egg blue, some black, some green, some orange – at assorted sizes. Sort of – there’s a designer, Paul Smith, who does that sort of striping on all of his packaging and it’s almost a knockoff of that. And you can paint that right down the step itself and it looks really fun and kind of beachy and fresh.
    DAN: Well, that really sounds like it would take some creativity, alright.
    LESLIE: Well, and it could be a good day’s project.
    DAN: I’m sure. OK, thank you.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, when you’ve got a blank slate that you want to decorate, you want it all done in one swoop just like they do on TV. But decorating rooms should be done in layers and over a good bit of time. We’re going to tell you why, after this.

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    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.
    And at this point in the summer, are you sort of scratching your head standing at your garage door wondering, “Is my car ever going to fit in there?” I feel like in the summer time my garage gets more and more full with inflatable things and more toys and more stuff. Well …
    TOM: And the bigger your kids get, the bigger their stuff gets.
    LESLIE: Oh, good lord, don’t even say that. (Tom chuckles) If this is any indication of where I’m going, we’re in deep trouble.
    Well, these days, from the sound of it, most of us store everything in the garage but the car. But one lucky, super-lucky caller that we talk to this hour is going to win some garage storage solutions from Gladiator GarageWorks. Now the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT but the winner is going to get the Gladiator Claw – which is this crazy, advanced bike storage device – and it also comes with a gear kit. It’s a prize worth $98 but it could be yours for free if you’re our lucky caller. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Speaking of the garage, the garage is definitely the last frontier when it comes to home improvement. You may still be working on the inside of your house and decorating a room can be exciting and scary all at the same time. There’s a lot to consider but here are a few design don’ts.
    First of all, you can’t do it all at once; especially on your own. I had a friend once, Leslie, who bought – he and his wife bought their very first condo. Didn’t like the wallpaper in any of the rooms and tried to take it down all at the same time. (Leslie chuckles) What happened? They got tired out and the house stood unwallpapered in various stages of incompleteness for the next 12 months.
    LESLIE: Oh, good lord.
    TOM: So only tackle what you can get done sort of in one chunk of time.
    Next, don’t expect to go from a blank canvas to a finished interior in one fell swoop. Interesting interiors are often created in layers and over time, so make sure you have a plan. Survey your resources, too – your current furnishings, your work schedule and your budget; then, make a list of needs, wants and things you’d love to do down the road.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And finally, there are times when it’s better to splurge than to economize, so shop carefully for the right balance of price and quality. You know, a bargain sofa loses its charm when the seams split and the arms start to wobble, so think about where you want to spend your money; especially on big pieces that you plan on having for the long term.
    And when it comes to those big pieces, think neutrals and add your colors in with accessories or maybe a side chair or a really cool piece of artwork. This way, over the long haul, you’ve got good pieces that are going to last and last; regardless of your design tastes.
    TOM: And here’s one thing that you won’t be spending money on when you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement or home décor question. 888-666-3974.
    LESLIE: Carolyn in Texas is having some issues with a sink. Tell us what’s going on with it?
    CAROLYN: Well, it’s an old – it’s probably 40 years old – manmade marble and the sink is separate from the countertops; there are two large countertops in there. And I had a man look at it but he said he would just leave it. But it’s stained and it’s real porous and I was just wondering if there’s something that you know of that we could seal it off with. I even thought about using car wax to see if that would help any but I just didn’t know if there was something that …
    LESLIE: And you say that it’s marble?
    CAROLYN: Uh-huh, it’s the manmade marble; you know, the poured countertops like they use now all the time. But usually they pour it all in one piece and this is in two pieces. The sink is separate and they don’t do that anymore; least they don’t here.
    TOM: Right.
    CAROLYN: And so – and he said, “I would just seal it off,” but I don’t know anything to seal it with and he didn’t either.
    LESLIE: Have you – well, if you seal it, you’re just going to be sealing in those stains. I mean are you able to get it to a point where it’s clean enough that you could seal it?
    CAROLYN: I’ve gotten it pretty good but not – I mean – and if I thought there was something I could seal it with, I would try even a little bit – I used a liquid cleaner, Mean Green, and then I used bleach and that kind of thing. And I’ve got it pretty good and I dry it out every time I use it. But you know, that’s just a temporary thing. So I thought it needs to have a sealer over it, at some point.
    TOM: How about a stone sealer?
    LESLIE: Yeah. If you go to a website, Stonecare.com, and …
    CAROLYN: Stonecare.com?
    LESLIE: Stonecare.com. And treat the surface as if it were actual marble, because you’re dealing with something as porous as traditional marble, and they’ll have a sealer on their website that you can easily apply to that sink. But you have to make sure that you’re super-happy with the cleanliness of it because once that sealer is on, those stains are in.
    CAROLYN: OK, yeah. Well yeah, I knew that, so – OK. Well, I’ll do that then.
    LESLIE: And remember, the lighter the color the marble, the more often that it needs to be sealed.
    CAROLYN: The more often it needs to be sealed?
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    LESLIE: So if it’s a light color, you’re looking at every two years; whereas if it were a darker color, it’s probably every five.
    CAROLYN: OK. OK. Alright. Well that helps me. I’ll try that. (chuckles)
    TOM: Good luck with that project, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Well, if you’re in the market for a new washing machine, there are a few things to keep in mind. You know, washing machines have never been more energy-efficient than right now but you do have to shop smart. We’ve got your tips, next.

    (theme song)
    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 safety is a big concern here at The Money Pit. That’s why we want to tell you about a new product that we think should be a must-have for your car trunk. It’s called the Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit. It’s environmentally friendly and will help get you back on the road.
    You know, when you’re stranded on a highway and trying to change a tire, the last thing you need is hassles with the lug nuts because of rust, grease, break dust or all of the above. Nutek’s Bolt Off, which is included in the kit, loosens the bolts and nuts easily so that you won’t have to call for roadside assistance.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know the kit also includes a tire gauge to test that new tire to make sure it’s good to go now and in the future.
    Now there are a few different cleaning products in the kit that will help you get your tools and parts clean for just about any job, not just your tires. And it will also get your hands clean when the job is done. The kit is also good for checking the oil or getting the radiator cap off; which, by the way, you should only be doing when the car is cool.
    Now, best of all, this kit is very reasonably priced at 19.99 and available at NutekGreen.com.
    TOM: That’s NutekGreen.com.
    Let’s go to a few e-mails now, Leslie. We’ve got one from Farhad who actually has an interesting question. He says, “My 10-year-old washing machine just kicked the bucket. Wouldn’t you know it’s just past its warranty.”
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Of course. (chuckles)
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Of course we know that because that’s the way it always happens, Farhad. “Should I try to repair it or is getting a new one the best bet?” Well, it’s a good question and the age of the appliance does play into this. In fact, we researched this some time ago and did a complete report on MoneyPit.com. There’s an article there called Appliance Repair or Replace.
    And what we found was that, obviously, the age of the appliance determines how much money you should think about spending on a repair versus a replace and if your appliance – your washing machine, specifically – is up to ten years old, we think it’s OK to spend about 40 percent of the cost of a new one on a repair versus a replace because a washer should have about a 15-plus-year life span. So, at that age, I wouldn’t spend more than about 40 percent on the cost of the repair.
    Now, if you want to, though, go with a new one, there definitely are some advantages.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Newer washing machines are far more energy-efficient than one that you have from ten years ago, so the cost of operating it and the water usage are going to be far less than the one you currently have. But you want to consider a couple of things because if you head to the store, it’s going to be confusing; there are a lot of options.
    First of all, you want to think about your family size, where is it located, how noisy can it be, do I want it to be super-quiet, what are the heat settings, do I need all of these load sizes, front-loading, top-loading, an agitator, no agitator, load capacity. There’s so much to consider, so think about how you and your family are going to use the washing machine before you make that final choice.
    Also then, all of a sudden you’re going to think you’ve got it narrowed; then you’re going to see the cherry red one in the corner and you’re going to be back at square one. (Tom chuckles)
    Alright, now we’ve got one here from Amu (sp) in Leesburg, Virginia who writes: “I built a patio myself. I just put some gravel and sand between paving stones. I tried my best to level it correctly but now some of the stones always look wet and weeds are coming through. Is there any way to fix it?”
    TOM: Well, the stones are going to hold moisture. I wonder what the source of that moisture is. Now typically, when you do a paver patio you need to do a very thick base. You need to have about a six-inch, crushed gravel base and then you put the pavers on. Top of that with some very, very fine ground sand in between it and that usually stops the weeds.
    At this point, since you have already done the patio – you don’t want to redo the base – the best thing to do is to attack those weeds with Roundup and then you can use JOINT-LOCK, which is a sand that has a polymer in it, made by QUIKRETE, where you spread this over the top, sweep it into the seams and then wet it down and it sort of locks everything in place and that will definitely stop some more of the weeds from coming back up.
    LESLIE: Alright, I hope that helps and good for you for making your own patio, Amu (sp).
    TOM: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you’ve got questions, 24/7 you can always reach us at 1-888-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.

    (theme song)
    (Copyright 2010 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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