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How to Care for Natural Stone Counters, Advice on Pest Control and Prevention, Tips on Patio Pavers 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: Give us a call right now. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Coming up in today’s program, natural stone is a popular kitchen countertop, but it does need a fair amount of TLC. We’ll have tips to help keep it looking the same as the day it was installed.

    And also ahead, the height of summer is also the worst of the bug season. We’re going to give you some ideas on how to defend your home against all types of pests, from ants to roaches.

    And we’re giving away a Citrus Magic prize pack this hour worth $75. This includes the Citrus Magic Triple-Action Moisture Absorber. It’s a triple threat, eliminating moisture, excessive humidity and foul odors in your home. That’s going to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie who’s first?

    LESLIE: Priscilla in Massachusetts is on the line and while we all love birdhouses, guess who else likes them? Squirrels. Let’s help her keep them out. What can we do for you today?

    PRISCILLA: They’ve chewed away at the holes of it so that they actually have made it – the holes bigger. And because of that, the birds are not going in there because the squirrel can go in there. So I’ve already tried PVC piping, because I figured that’s something I can put in there – insert it just in the hole – and it’s not too big, kind of narrow. But I can’t find one that fits.

    TOM: OK. Most of the solutions for bird feeders or birdhouses are really in two categories. One, they make it rather unpleasant for the squirrel to be able to get up that high, with things like cones or plastic bottles or slippery pipes or ducts or Slinkies or things like that that slide around and make a lot of noise.

    PRISCILLA: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: Or simply move it completely away from where squirrels can get to it. So, for example, if you were to string a wire between two trees and not have overhanging branches above, the squirrels would never be able to get to that birdhouse.

    PRISCILLA: Could I have – do you know of something I can insert in the hole, though?

    TOM: Right. But if you insert it in the hole, the squirrels are still going to hang out in that birdhouse and they might try to chew their way in via another area.

    PRISCILLA: Right.

    TOM: So that’s why I’m saying that I would not focus on reinforcing the birdhouse as much as I would focus on moving it to an area that’s less likely to be attacked by squirrels.

    Priscilla, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Steve wants to talk about water heating. How can we help you?

    STEVE: My water heater seems to be going out – it’s about five or six years old – and I’ve been hearing commercials on your show about tankless water heaters and other forms of water-heating solutions. And I was just wondering, is that costly? Or is that a better way to go than putting another tank in?

    TOM: OK. So you say the water heater is going out. Is this a gas water heater?

    STEVE: It’s electric.

    TOM: It’s electric? And it’s going out. So what’s happening to it?

    STEVE: It’s leaking.

    TOM: Oh, it’s leaking at five or six years? Really? That’s just plain bad luck, Steve.

    STEVE: Yeah, I know.

    TOM: Sorry. Well, let me ask you this question: how long you planning on staying in your current house? Is this the house for a while?

    STEVE: Oh, yeah, it’s forever house, hopefully.

    TOM: Generally, I would say I wouldn’t hesitate to install a tankless water heater, except – and this is a big except – tankless water heaters that are powered by electricity don’t work that well. They don’t save you that much money. If you have the ability to power it with propane, for example, then it’s more realistic. But if you’re planning on powering it with electricity, then it’s not.

    So in that case, your options are to replace it with a standard, tanked electric water heater or you can use a real new type of electrical water heater called a “heat-pump water heater.” Heat-pump water heaters are more expensive but they’re much, much, much more efficient than a standard electric water heater.

    STEVE: Are those costly?

    TOM: Yeah, they’re more costly than a standard water heater. You know, you’re probably looking at maybe around 1,500 bucks for them, plus installation. So they’re much more expensive but they’re far more efficient.

    STEVE: That’s what I’ll do then. I thank you for answering my question.

    TOM: Sorry to hear about that leak and hopefully, we’ve helped you get back on track. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, want to wow your guests at your next backyard bash? Why not expand your outdoor living space with a brand-new patio that would rival any Italian piazza? We’ll tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Raid. The Raid Defense System uses a combination of products and tips that work together to better battle bugs in your home. Each system is customized so you can confidently attack, control and prevent bugs. Visit RaidKillsBugs.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win a great prize, because we’re giving away a Citrus Magic prize pack worth $75.

    Now, the winner is going to get an assortment of solid air fresheners, sprays and Citrus Magic Triple-Action Moisture Absorber. The product is like three in one. It gets rid of excess moisture, gets rid of humidity and any odors. It’s perfect for crawlspaces, basements, bathrooms and more.

    You can visit CitrusMagic.com to learn more. And give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Martin on the line who wants to talk about fascia boards. That is an excellent design detail on the exterior. What can we do for you?

    MARTIN: The fascia boarding that connects the ceiling of my porch roof to the overhang has separated from the ceiling. And I want to know if I need to – do I need to rip that out and replace it? Or can I just seal it and maybe put a larger molding over it?

    TOM: Well, if the fascia board is loosening up, then I would tell you to re-secure it. And that’s actually not an unusual thing to happen, because the nails that hold that are usually going into the ends of the rafters behind it. They tend to expand and contract a lot.

    But what I would do is I would tell you to re-secure it but do it with screws, not with nails. If you use long screws – like 2½ inch, case-hardened drywall screws or wood trim screws – that will pull that fascia board back in tight and it’ll be impossible for it to loosen up again.

    So don’t think of it in terms of something covering it. Just put it back where it was but use screws instead of nails and it won’t come out again, OK?

    MARTIN: And do I do that by going under the molding?

    TOM: Well, you want to try to get that fascia board re-secured in, so if that is going to require you to take off a piece of molding to get to it, then that’s what you do. But you want to get to the original fascia and tighten it up.

    MARTIN: OK. I can do that, then. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Going to the Great North. We’ve got Gunner in Alaska on the line who needs some help with a window problem. What’s going on over there?

    GUNNER: I had double-pane windows that fogged. I understand that they fogged because the seal breaks. But I had a contractor come up that they advertised on the radio that rather than buy new windows, they had a way of removing that condensation.

    What they did is they – on the outside panes they drill a small hole on the bottom and a small hole at the top. And they did a cleaning. I think they even squirted water in there and evacuated it. I didn’t see it done but I’ve seen it on YouTube. And then they put these little plastic plugs there where the holes used to be.

    Didn’t really clear up. It almost looked like it got worse, so I called and complained and the contractor said, “Well, in 3 to 12 weeks, it should go away, it should clear up.” And by golly, it did. Which kind of shocked me, because I’m an engineer and all my training says that if you have something open to the outside air, it’s going to have moisture in it. And that’s one reason why it fogged in the first place. And I don’t think they created a vacuum, so I didn’t know how that worked.

    TOM: Well, this is the first I’ve heard of that system, Gunner. I’m not familiar with it at all. I would have the same reaction that you would. I would think it’s not the kind of thing that would be my first choice.

    I would generally tell people that when you get fogged windows, yeah, the window is slightly less efficient but it doesn’t necessarily mean the window has to be replaced. If you’re concerned about appearance, you want to make sure you want to see clearly through it, I could see where perhaps on a limited basis that you might want to experiment with something like that.

    But what they’ve done is essentially just cleaned the window, wash the window from the inside out it sounds like. And I would expect that that condensation may come back, giving it a season or two. So this may not be the end of it. But if it’s giving you some temporary relief, then OK.

    GUNNER: Yeah. And in fact, they had a guarantee. Their guarantee is that they’d be happy to replace the windows at a discount. But they charge you for the – and when I heard that, I kind of laughed to myself. Said, “Oh, geez, what a way to get into your house, you know?”

    TOM: Yeah. Exactly.

    GUNNER: But so I – OK. So you kind of agree with me. It’s not black magic.

    TOM: No.

    GUNNER: To me, it’s like black magic. What on Earth happened here? It’s not possible. They talked, “Well, around the perimeter, on the inside, there’s a material that absorbs excess moisture and keeps the window clear.”

    Well, some of the new ones were putting new windows out on – I’m with the FAA. We’re putting new windows out in a place called Cold Bay. And they’re triple-paned and I looked at the rim in between the panes and it is serrated as if it’s open to some kind of sponge or some kind of material that might –

    TOM: Yeah, you know what that material is called, Gunner?

    GUNNER: No, I don’t.

    TOM: It’s got a funny name. It’s called “swiggle.”

    GUNNER: Swiggle. OK. Well, my windows don’t have that. That’s just a solid strip so that there’s no swiggle, as you put it, as far as I can tell. Because it’s an older home; I think the home was built in like ’85.

    TOM: Well, I mean you’re in the part of the country where triple-pane makes sense. The colder it gets, the more that makes economic sense even though those windows are more expensive.

    But back to your original question. I think what they’ve done is essentially cleaned the windows. And depending on the dew point, yeah, it’s either going to appear or reappear, depending on how much condensation you get inside those – inside that glass. But I think that, at this point, just understand what you have and that when you can afford it, when you want to budget for it, go ahead and replace the windows.

    And remember, you don’t have to do all your windows at the same time. A lot of times, I tell folks they can do them in stages. You can do the north side first and then move to the east side, the west side and the south side, since the cold is the biggest issue in your part of the country. If you lived down south, you’d do the south and the west windows first. OK, Gunner?

    GUNNER: OK. Thank you very much.

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

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    LESLIE: Going out to Wisconsin, right now, where Beth is dealing with a stinky refrigerator.

    Beth, you’ve tried everything. What’s going on?

    BETH: I’ve had the stinkiness for about a month now. I keep washing it down and the stink still stays. I put baking soda in it. Nothing’s getting rid of it. I was wondering if mold could grow in the walls of the refrigerator or if there’s some sort of filter in there or …

    TOM: Well, bacteria can certainly grow. And sometimes when – especially if you’ve had a power failure or if a refrigerator sits outside and it kind of gets damp and moist, you get bacteria that will grow in the foam that’s in the wall or the insulation that’s in the wall. If the insulation got damp, that could be causing it.

    The one suggestion that I might have for you, if you want to try this one more time, is to take everything out and clean the whole thing down with oxygenated bleach. So not just a simple kitchen spray but true, oxygenated bleach, because that has the best chance of killing any bacteria. But the problem, again, is if the bacteria is in the insulation, you’re not going to get to that. So, I would give it a good cleaning with oxygenated bleach and see if that will solve the issue.

    BETH: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Texas who’s got a safety question: the dryer vent has become disconnected.

    Yes, Cody, this is dangerous.

    CODY: Hey. So I was up in the attic the other day and I saw some of the insulation blowing. The dryer was running at the time. And I walked over there and I could feel the air from the dryer blowing in from between the walls, you know? And that kind of concerned me.

    It seems to me like it’s not connected within the wall and it’s blowing out. I’m wondering, is that a big deal? Do I need to go in the wall and replace that? Or is it going to be fine the way it is?

    TOM: No, it’s not fine at all the way it is, for two reasons. Number one, it’s a fire hazard because all that dust is being trapped inside that wall cavity; that’s a major fire hazard. Secondly, all that moisture from your wet clothes is being blown up into the attic in that insulation. And once it makes the insulation damp, the insulation does not work. If you even add a minor amount of moisture to insulation, it loses about a third of its R-value.

    So, you want to figure out what went wrong and get it fixed. It can vent up into the attic but it has to continue through the attic and out to an exterior wall or out to the roof or out to a soffit. So you need to figure out why it disconnected, what happened and get it fixed in the easiest way possible. But get that dryer vent pointed outside as quickly as you can.

    CODY: OK. I’ll do that. There’s some cabinets hanging above the dryer, so I guess I need to pull those off and cut into the sheetrock to try to see where the disconnect is.

    TOM: Well, maybe. Why don’t you just pull the dryer out to begin with, stick a light in that duct and see if it tells you anything and then go from there. Try to minimize the exploratory surgery, Cody. OK?

    CODY: Yeah, OK. I’ll do that. I appreciate it.

    TOM: The more you cut open, the more you got to fix, man.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Johanna from Michigan who wants to get out and enjoy the deck. How can we help you with that project?

    JOHANNA: Hey. We’re getting ready to put a deck on the back of our house. It’s going to be about 20×20. And we’re looking at the composite products and in doing some research, I have come across some hair-raising images of black mold, chipping, cracking, crumbling and so on. And I would just like to get your opinion on the composite decking and if it truly holds up the way it says it does or if there are things we need to look out for.

    TOM: I think it absolutely does hold up. Originally, the very first composite products that were out there had wood fiber in them, as well as the plastics. And the wood fiber would tend to grow sometimes algae and things like that and people didn’t like that.

    I think it’s a perception issue. If you think that there is zero maintenance – “I’m never going to have to do anything at all” – you’re not going to find any product like that. Because even though it’s composite, it’s going to get dirty, it may grow a bit of algae and need to be cleaned once in a while. But realistically, I think it’s going to stand up a lot better than pressure-treated.

    Just give you an example. My son recently completed his Eagle Scout project about a year ago. And his project was to build a 30-foot bridge across a stream. And we chose, for that project, composite decking. This is going to be in a park, it’s going to get lots and lots and lots of foot traffic. That’s been up now for a year and it still looks as good as the day we put it down.

    So, I think composite is a good choice. Stick with a name brand; stick with Trex, for example. Good product, good history. And I think it’s going to cut down on the maintenance overall and it’s going to look terrific at the same time. And you won’t have to paint it and stain it and all that.

    Now, you realize that you do – the framing of this is all done through standard pressure-treated, right?

    JOHANNA: Right, right. And we will have benches and stuff built in and we’re going to use, I think, cedar for that.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean you can use composite for the built-in benches, too. Anything that’s going to be exposed like that, there’s no reason not to use the composite.

    JOHANNA: And it’s a very sunny area, so …

    TOM: Yeah, if you have a lot of sun, you really won’t have a lot of problems with mildew and algae growth, because the sun is a very natural mildicide. It’s usually the real shady decks that have the issues.

    JOHANNA: Yeah. The images I saw were from ’07, ’08. So it made me think, too, maybe there was a bad run at that time?

    TOM: And you know what? Composite has changed in the last five years, too.

    JOHANNA: OK. Well, good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Johanna. Good luck with that project and let us know when the party is, OK?

    JOHANNA: Hey, it’s next Friday.

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

    JOHANNA: Thanks.

    LESLIE: Alright. Coming up on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show: natural-stone countertops. They are still super-popular when it comes to selecting kitchen materials. Your stone countertops can look as luxurious as the day they were installed if you care for them properly. We’re going to have some advice on that from This Old House host Kevin O’Connor, after this.

    KEVIN: I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. When I’m not working on old houses, I’m making sure my house doesn’t turn into a money pit, with help from Tom and Leslie.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you can get in on our Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes going on, right now, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Hey, the prizes include a set of ceiling fans from Hunter, a grill and propane from Blue Rhino and a Craftsman Quiet Lawn Mower. All you need to do is like us to enter. Share the sweeps, you’ll get bonus entries. Check it out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?

    SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen, and we refinished our cabinets and they had – we had – some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.

    TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably five or eight years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.

    I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option. I would encourage you to pursue it.

    SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.

    TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.

    SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?

    TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.

    SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Natural-stone surfaces for kitchens and bathroom countertops and even floors have been the popular choice for several years. Their durability and attractive look really make them a good choice.

    TOM: They’re also high on the list of must-haves for home buyers, so they do make a good investment, as well. But to keep them looking as great as they did the day they were installed, they do need some specific care. Here to tell us about that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So, these stone countertops are super-popular, they’re very durable. But even though the stone is somewhat indestructible, they need a lot of care to stay clean.

    KEVIN: They do. And I have just a couple disclaimers. First of all, I love natural stone.

    TOM: Yep.

    KEVIN: It’s my first choice over all the other alternatives. And second of all, I don’t actually care if it gets a little dinged up, beat up or stained because I sort of like when that natural patina gets worked over, over time. But I –

    TOM: You kind of consider that like charm and well, character.

    KEVIN: Yeah, well, you know, my wife has dragged me through enough antique stores looking for that hundred-year-old marble that’s got all that character in it. And I’m just like, “Aren’t those stains?” One man’s stain is another man’s character.

    But I do understand that not everyone goes for that and they do want to protect their natural stone. And there’s reasons to do it. So the first thing you want to think about with natural stone is you should seal it. You’re going to want to actually put a sealer into the stone. And that’s going to help it stand up to things like stains from wine and coffee and such.

    And we’ve seen some cool technologies, that I think might be coming, where there’s actually a sealer put on at the fabricator.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And they claim it’s a permanent seal, something you’ll never have to do again. I think that remains to be seen. But certainly, the idea is that they can get a much better seal there, when they are fabricating the stone, than you can at your house when you’re rubbing it on in your, say, your kitchen. Because it is something – if you do seal the stone, it is something that you need to do on a regular basis.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: Once a year, maybe, twice a year, three or four times a year, depending on what type of stone you have.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also depending on the color of the stone.

    KEVIN: Yeah. I mean white marble, right? So soft. And if you really like that white look and you want to protect it, that’s something that you might actually have to seal maybe four times a year, because we’re keeping it as pristine as you originally got it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, I think it’s interesting. You see white marble countertops so many times on like a woman’s cosmetic vanity, which is the worst place for it. Because how many times do you spill blushes or eye shadows or things that are so pigmented?

    TOM: That happens to us all the time.

    KEVIN: Yes, I know. I know.

    LESLIE: Well, I know. I’m looking at your beautiful makeup jobs today.

    KEVIN: I know.

    LESLIE: But given that, if I do spill something on a natural surface, what really is the best way to clean it up other than immediately?

    KEVIN: Well, immediately is obviously the easy answer. But if it does stain and if it does penetrate, you’re probably going to be going with something like a limestone poultice, where you’re actually going to be making this layer. It’s sort of a thick, pasty layer.

    You’re putting it down and it’s sitting on the surface for a couple to three days. And what it’s doing is it’s absorbing the stain up and out of the stone. And then you wipe it clean and then you want to reseal that surface as quickly as possible.

    LESLIE: And you can’t just spot-seal. You’ve got to do the entire surface, correct?

    KEVIN: You really should be – these are porous materials.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: So it always behooves you to seal the entire surface.

    TOM: Well, there’s going to be areas where the stain is maybe not quite that obvious. And so, if you pull it all out together, you’re more likely to get an even finish when you’re done. But again, as you said, you’ve got to reseal after that, because you’re essentially taking off some of that finish through this process of drawing that stain out.

    KEVIN: Right, right. And the other thing to keep in mind is the best offense is a good defense. If you can avoid getting the stains on there in the first place, that’s really the way to go. So think about using things like coasters and trivets: things that will keep those stains off of that natural stone.

    There’s a lot of good ways to protect your countertops that aren’t sealing them. And if you can avoid putting the hot pots on them, the grease, the ketchup and stuff like that, spilling the wine and the coffee, you’ll be better off. If that does happen, get them up right away.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what about just day-to-day care? I feel like there’s so many different rulings on this: don’t use bleach, use bleach, just soap and water, dry it immediately.

    KEVIN: Quite honestly, soap and water seems to me to be the best recommendation. If you use something that is strong and acidic, it’s not going to be a good idea. If you use something – you know, sometimes people think, “Oh, I’m going to use the bathroom cleaners.” I don’t think that’s a good idea, either. They tend to be abrasive.

    You don’t want to do anything that will etch the stone. You don’t want to do anything that will scratch the stone. Some of these stones, like marble and travertine, can actually scratch very easily. So, soap and water is a great way to clean these stones up. A great, safe way.

    TOM: So, stone countertops are beautiful, they’re strong. They need a little care and maintenance, much like Leslie.

    LESLIE: I like the beautiful and strong part.

    TOM: Just a little.

    Kevin O’Connor the host of TV’s This Old House,thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Thank you, guys, for having me.

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

    Still ahead, summer heat breeds lots of summer pests. We’re going to have some tips on a new website that’s aimed at helping you stay pest-free, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This hour, we’re giving away a $75 prize pack from Citrus Magic, including solids, non-aerosol sprays and the Citrus Magic Triple-Action Odor and Moisture Absorber Air Freshener. Now, that’s going to give you the convenience and value of three products in one. It’s perfect for damp and musty areas, like your basement, a closet, crawlspaces, bathrooms and more. And it will work up to a full eight weeks.

    It’s a prize pack worth $75. Visit CitrusMagic.com and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: For the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Sandy in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    SANDY: Well, I have a situation where I have a plastic kind of sink that’s in my laundry room.

    LESLIE: I’ve got the same one, uh-huh.

    SANDY: I made the mistake of taking a pan that had rust on it – kind of a good bit of rust on it at the time – and I soaked it, thinking I was getting some drippings or something off of the pan. And I let it sit there for days. And then I picked the pan up and went, “Oh, cool, that was great.” Now I have a big rust stain in the bottom of my sink from that rusty pan. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh.”

    It looks to me like this is going to be the way it is unless – or until I replace that sink. I tried vinegar, soaked rags for a couple of days. I tried CLR. The vinegar-soaked rags helped a little bit.

    TOM: Did you try Bon Ami?

    SANDY: No, not yet.

    TOM: It’s a powder cleaner. And I’ve got a – well, I’ve got a Corian sink that – it’s white and it tends to stain a little bit. And I’ll tell you what, for any type of a synthetic material like that, you sprinkle that Bon Ami in and let it sit for a bit and it comes out really white. It’s almost like bleaching your sink.

    LESLIE: It’s like a gentler Comet.

    SANDY: Wow, OK.

    TOM: Yeah, I would give that a shot. I’m sure you can find it in your supermarket. Bon Ami – B-o-n A-m-i.

    SANDY: I certainly will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, there’s almost nothing worse than extreme summer heat, except maybe summer pests. Summer is the time when insects seem to be the most active. And they’re almost always attracted to your house because of what they can find there: food or shelter.

    TOM: That’s right. Summer brings ants, beetles, roaches and many more insects. They’re not only a nuisance, they can be persistent, as well. So to help prevent these pests from invading your home, you really need a comprehensive solution.

    LESLIE: A trusted name in pest control can help. Raid is a sponsor of our program. Now, the Raid Defense System uses a combination of products and tips that work together to better battle bugs in your home. Each system is customized so you can confidently attack, control and prevent bugs.

    TOM: Use sprays that are labeled “Attack Products” for fast results. These formulas are designed to kill bugs on contact. Use baits to reach bugs that might be hidden in walls or underground. Baits are designed to fight the entire nest or colony.

    LESLIE: You can also use foggers for severe infestations. And to help prevent bugs from entering your home, use barrier products. These offer a line of defense against home-invading pests.

    TOM: To get the best info on exactly how to fight your insect problem, visit www.RaidKillsBugs.com. There, you’ll find helpful tools and expert advice, including a bug-identification tool, useful information about each product in the Raid line and how-to videos that show you how to protect your home from an insect invasion.

    LESLIE: You can find Raid products at local retailers nationwide. Also visit RaidKillsBugs.com and follow the Twitter handle @Ask Raid.

    TOM: Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit.

    How can we help you, Margaret?

    MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – two of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.

    TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.

    But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.

    So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.

    MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?

    TOM: Yes.

    MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.

    TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.

    MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, older homes can be susceptible to strange electrical issues. We’ll have tips to upgrade safely, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.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.

    TOM: And remember our Dog Days of Summer Sweepstakes going on, right now, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. You can win yourself some great prizes, including a Craftsman Quiet Lawn Mower. It’ll be here just in time for those final fall lawn mowings before you get to put it away for the season. Just head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And if you share the sweeps with friends, you’ll even get bonus entries.

    Speaking of friends, we’ve got a post here from Kevin in New York who says, “My home was built in 1969 and the upstairs lights sometimes flicker when first turned on. It stops after a few seconds but I’m concerned. Should I be?”

    Well, the answer is yes, Kevin, you definitely should be. When you have lights that flicker, that means that the electrical current to the light is being interrupted. Now, that could happen at the fixture or it can happen in the circuit.

    What concerns me most about your question is that you mentioned that your home was built in 1969. I know, from the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector, that across this country, including New York from 1965 until around 1972 or 1973, there were an awful lot of homes that were built with aluminum branch-circuit wiring. And what happens with aluminum wiring is it overheats, it develops sort of an oxidation on the outside of the wire that’s resistant to electrical transfer. That equals heat and that equals fire.

    So, what you need to do, Kevin, is definitely get that checked out by a professional electrician. It could be the light fixture but that would be unusual, because light fixtures are really pretty simple, especially in those houses that were built around that time. They usually don’t break down themselves. It’s almost always somewhere in the circuit that’s causing this. But if you’re getting that kind of flickering, I would definitely be concerned. We don’t want to take any chances.

    And now that we’re talking about electricity, we’ve got another question here from Sheila in Missouri who says, “This is going to sound weird but sometimes I feel an electric current running through the water coming out of my faucet. What’s going on? How do I fix it? And is it dangerous?”

    And again, the answer is, potentially, yes. In fact, it could be a serious problem. This is not as unusual as you think, Sheila. And it most likely has to do with the way the water heater was installed.

    If the water heater wasn’t grounded properly, if the polarity is reversed – there’s a whole host of things that could have been done incorrectly. Or something could have fallen off; a wire could have loosened up that was grounding it and now you’re getting a diversion of current to water, which happens to be an excellent conductor.

    So, it can be dangerous. I would tell you to stop using that sink, stop using that shower. Stop using the water in the house and get an electrician to your home immediately, because it can be potentially dangerous. And it needs to be diagnosed and fixed so you and your family will be safe.

    And next, Tuxedo from New York is asking a question about a pressure-treated pine fence. And he writes, “I have a 12-year-old fence that’s been stained after it was put up. It was looking pretty worn from the weather, so I power-washed it and brought some new life into it. I like the look of the new wood but I’m unsure if I should restain it.”

    My answer to you would be to always restain it. And what you want to do is you want to use a solid-color stain. You do that because the grain will show through but it has a lot of pigment in it. And that pigment is going to protect that wood.

    Even though you like the look of it clean, it’s not going to stay that way very long. The sun’s going to beat down on it, it’s going to cause it to crack and check and it will look nasty in no time. So while it’s nice and clean and nice and dry, I would definitely recommend that you restain it with a solid stain.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve prepped you with some good ideas, some tips, some inspiration to get out and take care of your house or your yard today. If you’ve got questions, we are available, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can always log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section.

    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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