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    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: And what are you working on on this fine, summer day? We’d like to talk to you about your projects. If it’s a do-it-yourself dilemma that you’ve got, we are your solution. 888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number. If it’s a project that you’re thinking about doing and you can’t decide whether you should do it yourself or get a guy or a gal contractor to help, we can give you some advice in that direction, as well. Just pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you coming up this hour. Has this ever happened to you? You’ve taken the clothes out of your washing machine only to notice that maybe they look dirtier than when you put them in the machine? Well, it can happen and there’s actually a way to wash your washing machine that can stop that from happening. And we’re going to have tips on how to do just that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if your home is looking a little outdated, you may only need some inspiration and sweat equity. We’re going to be joined by Carmen De La Paz, the host of HDTV’s Hammer Heads, who’s going to inspire us to update our décor.

    TOM: And if you’re enjoying your backyard pool this summer, you need to make sure everyone is using it safely. We’ve got tips on how to prevent drownings. You will not want to miss these tips. It can happen so quickly and so silently. We’re going to tell you how to create layers of protection to make sure everyone in your family is safe.

    LESLIE: And also, one caller who makes it on the air with us today is going to get the coolest new vacuum. It’s an AirRam by Gtech. Now, it’s cordless and it weighs just a little more than 7 pounds.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We are at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, let’s get to it. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Harold in Illinois needs some help with drywall repair. What can we do for you?

    HAROLD: What I’m really wanting to know is – I hear different stories about fiber mesh and paper, you know, for drywall? And my experience has been maybe fiber mesh isn’t for corners and butt joints and things of that nature. Maybe that’s just for paper. But which one’s stronger?

    LESLIE: Now, Harold, I’m going to say this in a way that I hope doesn’t offend anybody but I feel like both are really great for a seaming application or a repair in drywall. It depends on the skill level of the person doing the seaming, repairing, application of either the paper or the fiberglass. Both are going to do a great job. It’s just that with paper tape, there’s a little bit more finesse as to how it needs to be applied, how it needs to be sanded, reapplied, feathered out to make sure that that tape really stands up and does a good job.

    With the fiberglass, that mesh tape, the – it sort of has – the openings in the mesh itself allow for the compound to get in and behind it and really stick around. You still have to do sanding and layers and have some finesse there, as well, but it almost requires an artisan to do the paper work. That’s why, I think, when it comes to an average do-it-yourselfer, we tend to lean towards the mesh.

    HAROLD: Oh, OK. That works.

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

    LESLIE: Janet in Illinois is working on a decking project. How can we help you with that?

    JANET: We have ordered the material for the flooring of the deck and it’s going to be waterproof and where we have a patio beneath it. And we would like to finish the underneath side so that we can do some canned lighting or – and/or some ceiling fans. And wondered what the best product would be to finish the underneath side.

    LESLIE: To sort of waterproof it, block it from any sort of water, be it rain or snow, getting to that lower underside.

    JANET: Well, the top product is going to do that. So we just want to finish it so it’ll look nicer than just having the wood showing from the framework.

    TOM: OK. Will this be exposed to the weather from the sides, though? I understand you’re putting a roof over the top but will there be sides on this or is it possible for wind and rain to blow in?

    JANET: It will be possible for wind and rain to blow in so, yeah, we would want that.

    TOM: So you do need a good-quality product that’s going to seal and protect the wood.

    So in that case, Leslie, I guess I would go with solid-color stain, a deck stain.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I think you’re looking for a material, first, to put on the ceiling, correct? Other than wood.

    JANET: Right. Yes.

    TOM: Oh, for the ceiling? The underside of the ceiling?

    JANET: Yes.

    TOM: How about AZEK?


    TOM: Yeah, A-Z-E-K. Yeah, AZEK is an extruded PVC product that’s available in many different finishes. It’s synthetic, so it doesn’t rot and it doesn’t need paint.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: So if you go to A-Z-E-K.com and look at a lot of the sheet products …

    LESLIE: Yeah. I bet there’s a beadboard or something that would look like a shingling or a paneling for the ceiling.

    TOM: Right.

    JANET: OK.

    LESLIE: That could be very lovely.

    TOM: Right. But the deck surface is also going to need some protection. So that – for that surface, I would use a solid-color stain.

    JANET: Alright. Sounds wonderful.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if your clothes are still looking a little dingy after you wash them, it might be time to wash your washing machine. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller is going to be able to make one of probably the worst daily chores – now, if you’re actually doing this daily, then wow, bravo because that’s amazing if you’re finding the time to vacuum every day. This is going to make your life a heck of a lot better. We’re giving away an AirRam vacuum from Gtech, which is a cordless, lightweight vacuum that runs off of a detachable, rechargeable battery. And it takes all the dirt and it compacts it into this neat, little brick that you just empty straight into the trash. And there’s no more allergy-ridden dust storms as you’re totally cleaning out your vacuum.

    TOM: You can just run the filter under water to wash it out. It’s worth 350 bucks. Check it out at GreyTechnology.com. That’s spelled Grey – G-r-e-y – Technology.com. And call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question and a chance to win that very cool AirRam vacuum.

    LESLIE: David in Mississippi is on the line with some cracks in the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    DAVID: My house is eight years old or nine years old this year. But I’ve got ceramic tile and it keeps cracking my ceramic tile.

    TOM: So we’re talking about cracks in the floor, David?

    DAVID: Yes. I hadn’t seen any in the walls or nothing, just in the floors with ceramic tile. And it’s in different rooms, too, so I know it’s more than one crack. The only thing I can think is it’s stress cracks from the concrete foundation.

    TOM: Well, it may or it may not be. Now, when you put ceramic tile on a concrete floor like that and especially in a large surface, there is an isolation membrane that works well to go down in between the concrete and the tile. And that helps to prevent the condition that you’re seeing.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this. There’s no inexpensive way to stop a floor from cracking if, potentially, it was installed improperly to begin with. The only general advice we can give you is to make sure you try to keep it as dry as possible down there because moisture is going to make the slab move more.

    DAVID: Well, let me ask you a question. What if I took the ceramic tile up and put some hardwood floors in?

    TOM: Well, you couldn’t put solid hardwood floor because the moisture will cause it to warp. But what you could put in is engineered hardwood floor. And in fact, if you wanted to put engineered hardwood flooring, you don’t really have to take the ceramic tile up. You could leave it down there and just go on top of it because it’s not connected to the floor; it pretty much rides. It’s a floating floor; it rides right on that surface.

    You’d put down a very thin underlayment underneath it. It’s a very thin foam, like underlayment, like maybe a ¼-inch thick. Then the boards are snapped together and they sit on top of that. You just leave a gap at the edges of the room.

    DAVID: OK. I sure appreciate it. I listen to you all’s show all the time. Sure appreciate all the information I can get from you all.

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

    LESLIE: Have you ever taken a clean load of laundry out of your machine and then found it to be less clean than you expected or maybe looking exactly the same as when you put it in? Well, if you’ve found that, you might need to give your washing machine a little cleaning of its own.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Now, the problem is most likely months or even years of detergent and liquid fabric buildup. And then there’s also the grime and the dirt from all the dirty clothes.

    So, if you’ve got an agitator, you want to check on the underside of it along the creases in the rubber and also along the top of the washer basket. Those are areas where the grime really builds up.

    LESLIE: Now, cleaning it is not too difficult. You want to remove the agitator and then go ahead and rinse up all the gook that’s on it before you put it back. And you can actually scrub all of those rubber parts with a wet cloth to get them nice and clean.

    TOM: And next, you want to add in a cup of bleach to your washing machine and run it with a full cycle set on hot. Now, what this does is it will clean any bacteria that gets inside the hoses and the drum and all of those parts. No clothes. Just a cup of bleach and full, hot water.

    If you want more tips, you can get them online at MoneyPit.com. And we’ll leave some advice on how to clean your dryer because while you’re at it, cleaning the dryer, especially the exhaust duct, is the surest way to prevent a dryer fire.

    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a mossy roof. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARY: Well, we have a 10-year-old roof – asphalt shingles, I believe they are – and the sections between shingles are beginning to be filled up with moss.

    LESLIE: It’s like a mossy grout line.

    MARY: Yeah, that’s right. I’d like to know how to get it safely clean and keep it from growing back again. It isn’t the entire roof. We are in an A-frame house, so it’s very sharp, very steep roof. And it’s just about the 8 or 10 feet closest to the edge.

    LESLIE: OK. Do you see it all the way around or do you just see it on, say, the north-facing side or in the area …?

    MARY: It’s just on this north-facing part.

    LESLIE: OK. So that’s the area that gets the least amount of sunlight.

    MARY: Right.

    LESLIE: Do you have a large tree that’s adding more shade to this area?

    MARY: We have a lot of trees, yeah.

    LESLIE: A lot of trees.

    TOM: Yeah, therein lies the problem.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, I mean the best solution here is – can you trim out or thin out those trees in any way to get more sunlight onto that portion of the roof? Because if you can do that, sunlight really is your best weapon in getting rid of this moss and keeping it away. Now, you’ll have to do some work to get it to be gone in the first place but if you can add more sunlight, you’re going to help it stay away.

    MARY: Alright. Very good. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Chad in Florida is on the line and having a really hard time getting that perfect shower. Tell us what’s going on.

    CHAD: Oh, I’ve got an issue. The house was built in the late 50s, early 60s. And you go to take a shower and you turn the hot water – you think it would be up and then you turn the cold water on and it just seems like that the – you go to adjust the cold there and it makes a kind of a creaking noise. And it’s either scalding hot or freezing cold and you always kind of got to sit there and adjust the cold side on the shower there. And it seems to do it more when it starts to get colder out.

    TOM: What you might want to do is think about replacing this with a pressure-balanced valve. A pressure-balance valve maintains the mix between hot and cold, regardless of the pressure in the pipe. So, as you pull more water or less water out of one side, because either the valve is doing that or somebody is using the water somewhere in the house, the flow of water can change but the mix, the balance between the hot and the cold will not change. And that just makes it a lot more comfortable and frankly, a lot safer for you to use that water.

    And if you’re still using two valves like that, it might be time to upgrade to pressure-balance because I think you’ll find that that’s going to solve this problem.

    CHAD: Alrighty. Yeah, that’s what I was – that was my next project. I just got finished doing – enclosing my carport. I’m doing an addition and the bathroom is coming next, so …

    TOM: Wow. Well, we’re happy to help you select the next project, Chad.

    CHAD: Hey, I appreciate it.

    TOM: I’m sure your list – you were just wondering what were you going to put on that list and now you’re all set.

    CHAD: That’s right, that’s right. It’s never-ending when you’re a homeowner, right?

    TOM: Yep, absolutely. Chad, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Shawnie (sp) in North Carolina needs some help with a backyard problem. What’s going on at your money pit?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And on my roof, I knew it would rain. All the water would drain toward the back, since it’s on a downslope.

    TOM: Right.

    SHAWNIE (sp): And then I had some – a contractor come in and connect all of my downspouts and all to this black pipe. And they connected all of it and ran it out to one source toward, you know, that little creek. And in doing so – I mean everything was fine; it worked fine. And they thought where I was having such water problems, they sort of made a horseshoe out of the black pipe, with the Styrofoam peanuts and all of that in it.

    But what they did, when they dug around the horseshoe area, they found that that was dry. Because they figured if it was wet, it would drain and take care of the problem. But when they put that horseshoe in, wherever they put it, it was completely dry and it was further down that they realized that I had an underground spring.

    So, all of my drain pipes, everything is draining perfectly but it’s one little problem I had with that underground spring.

    TOM: But is that underground spring rising up to the point where the yard is flooding? And how much flooding are we talking about here?

    SHAWNIE (sp): It’s not necessarily flooding but it stays so wet I can’t mow it.

    TOM: It’s just wet?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And there’s a place about – I’m going to say 12-inches square-ish, maybe, that is – has puddled.

    TOM: I don’t think this is a problem worth solving. I think it’s a fairly small area of the yard. And areas of the yard that get soft like that, yeah, the grass can be hard to cut sometimes; sometimes, you have to cut it by hand instead of using a power mower on it. But I don’t think it’s worth you doing anything about it. You would have to do some major, major work to try to take the water that’s collecting there, run it downstream and have it sit somewhere else. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big issue.

    Shawnie (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Greg in Iowa is on the line and he’s dealing with a radon situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    GREG: Well, my wife and I are in the process of buying a home and we’re in the process of closing on this home. And when we – gone through the whole process of buying it and everything, we had to have an initial – we decided to have an inspection done. And then at the end of this inspection, where they go over everything mechanical and about the house and everything, they then offered a radon test to be done. And I had heard about the test and read about the test and figured it was a good idea to have it done. It was $100, which was pretty cheap compared to what we found out.

    And I guess what I’m trying to find out from you all is – in Iowa, they say that there’s 70 to 71 percent of the homes in Iowa have a radon problem.

    TOM: OK. Now, you had a radon test done. What did the level come back at?

    GREG: It came back at 18.

    TOM: OK. So 18 picocuries?

    GREG: Yes.

    TOM: So 4.0 picocuries is the action guideline. Remember, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector; I got this, OK?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: So 4.0 is the action guideline. So you have a radon problem. It’s not unusual – it depends on the area – and certainly not the worst that I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen homes that had levels of upwards of 100 picocuries.

    GREG: OK.

    TOM: That said, you do need to put in – or more accurately, the seller ­- is a sub-slab mitigation system where you have pipes that go into the slab and they pull the radon gas out. Now, has that process been started?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Alright. So then you’re on your way. But when you’re done, it’s very important that they test out of this and get a successful number. I will caution you, though, because this is a real estate transaction, remember that you are not in control of that house.

    And one of the biggest concerns that I had as a home inspector doing radon tests was I couldn’t necessarily trust the sellers to leave my test alone. And if they opened the windows or doors during the test, they’re going to vent that house and get that number to be down. So, it’s really important that when you’re doing a mitigation system, you would probably step away from doing charcoal absorption canisters and you would do other types of radon testing.

    There’s one called a “working level monitor” where it basically takes samples on an hour-by-hour basis. And you can look at the results that come off of this and what you look for, as a tester, is a normal pattern. And you’re going to see a pattern that sort of climbs throughout the day and is really high at night when the house is completely still, starts to drop during the day. A good tester can tell if the test has been compromised.

    So just proceed cautiously. Not an unusual situation. Sub-slab ventilation is the way to go and when they’re done, this test should be down to near zero.

    GREG: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. And I think you’re doing all the right things. 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.

    Is your home in need of some serious trend updating? Well, the host of HDTV’s Hammer Heads is joining us with some inside scoop on what’s hot and what’s not, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, there are many levels of DIY and if you are more of a beginner than an expert, you want to start with the basics. Now, accomplishing something that’s not too hard to handle will certainly give you the confidence that you need to do more.

    TOM: And one of the simplest projects around – and by the way, one that makes a big impact ­- is painting. But sometimes, when we think about painting, we think it’s a massive project. Because let’s think about it: first, we have to clean; then we have to remove all of the stuff in the room; then we have to mask and we have to tarp and all that.

    You know, you don’t always have to take on a major area when it comes to a painting project. There are smaller, strategic projects that you can do that also give you a big impact. And here to talk with us about some of those is Carmen De La Paz. She’s a designer and former host of HDTV’s Hammer Heads.

    Hi, Carmen.

    CARMEN: How are you guys?

    TOM: We are great. And I tell you what, painting always requires a lot of prep. But I think we can make that prep a little bit easier if we start smaller, right?

    CARMEN: Absolutely. You hit it right on the head. With the current trends in painting right now, people are going with neutral palettes – the grays, the whites, the khaki tones – but they’re looking for a little splash of color in accent ways. And that could be in – if you’re talking about just little architectural projects, like inside of a niche or just instead of putting molding around a door, say, do a 6-inch banner framed out with paint.

    Also, what people are doing is instead of just doing, like you said, this huge project that you’re really only going to want to tackle once every few years – but people are doing things like they’re painting the insets of a bookcase. So instead of using that strong, huge color that you love on a wall, don’t put it on the whole wall; just put it on the inset of a bookcase. Put it inside of a closet door. So they’re kind of creating personalized moments that become little ahas and surprises in your little – in your space.

    LESLIE: And Carmen, I think it’s interesting the colors that are trending right now are pretty much any shade of green, whether it has a bluish hue to it. And what I’ve liked to do for clients of mine currently redecorating, I like to almost use the color as, say, like a matting or a background.

    So if there’s a great mirror that I have on a wall, I’ll do almost like the shadow of it behind it or a background of it maybe a couple of inches larger and just paint that color on the backside of it so it looks like the mirror is popping off of this interesting area of the color. And that ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape certainly is really super-duper helpful in getting crisp, clean lines when I want to do something small like that.

    CARMEN: Well, you guys know that the painter’s tape is the secret in painting projects, whether it be a big project or a little project, to get those super-sharp paint lines. People think that they can just freehand a great line of paint and even I and anybody who’s done miles and miles of it. You can’t be consistent with a straight line.

    And so what’s great about the ScotchBlue is that now it has that Edge-Lock technology. And what that does is it just gives you that super-sharp line so that the paint doesn’t get underneath the tape which – we’ve all suffered through the tape-bleeding experience, I’m sure.

    TOM: Yep. It’s not pretty when you pull that tape off after all that work and you get this jagged line because the paint sort of sucked right under the tape. So, this Edge-Lock technology is great today because now you really do get those crisp lines. You don’t have to go back and try to touch up after the fact and – or make my mistake, which is I’ve often gone to – I’m like wiping the can of paint dry to finish the project because I don’t want to buy another gallon. And then, of course, you’ve got to touch up and you’re stuck.

    CARMEN: Exactly. Well, the worst thing, the most disheartening thing is after you’ve done all the work and you think you’re done and you’re cleaning up and you pull back and then you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to do touch-ups.” We all want to do it once and have it look right the first time.

    TOM: Do it once, do it right and then you don’t have to do it again. Well, at least not for a few years.

    Carmen De La Paz, designer and former host of HGTV’s Hammer Heads, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    CARMEN: Thanks, you guys. Happy painting. Take care.

    TOM: And if you’d like more information on how to get those clear, crisp lines with your painting project, check out the ScotchBlue website at ScotchBlue.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Summer is the most dangerous time of year when it comes to children and drowning. So we’re going to have some very important pool-safety tips, after this.

    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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller is going to get the latest technology in vacuuming. We’ve got up for grabs an AirRam by Gtech, which is an upright, cordless vacuum that only weighs a little over 7 pounds. It uses no bags or canisters. It just sucks up all that dirt into a little square that you simply dump, very neatly, into your trash can. And the rechargeable battery runs for an hour between charges. That’s enough to do enough vacuuming for a day. Come on, folks. You don’t have to vacuum every five minutes.

    TOM: Yep. And it also goes right from carpet to floor without any adjustments. It’s worth $350. Check it out at GreyTechnology.com. That’s Grey – G-r-e-y – Technology.com.

    And give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win the AirRam by Gtech, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

    GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.

    There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. It’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.

    GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.

    TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak, and …

    GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.

    TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.

    GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.

    TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s prime swimming season, which means it’s also time to practice good pool safety. Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children and often happens silently without a lot of splashing or screaming, which you might expect but unfortunately a kid slips under the water and that is very quiet.

    Now, what can we do to keep our kids safe? You’ve got to have a multilevel approach and that’s really the best plan of attack.

    TOM: Now, the first step is to consider a pool fence because pool fences are, by far, the most effective deterrent against curious kids. Now, the fence specifications will vary by community, by municipality, by town. So be sure to check your local building codes.

    But all pool fences need to be at least 4 feet high and also designed to be what’s called “non-climbable,” which means just what it says. You want no chained-link with holes big enough for a toe-hold. If you have a picket fence, the horizontal bars have to be on the inside of the pool so, basically, you can’t get a foot on this thing to kind of pull yourself up or over.

    They also need to have self-closing and self-latching gates. And the latch has to be at least 54 inches off the ground. So sometimes, the latches actually are operated by a rod that’s above the pool gate itself. And that’s because we don’t want kids to be able to reach up and unhook the gate and walk straight in.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, pool covers, they are also very, very valuable safety devices. Your basic vinyl cover can be held down with weights, which may keep your pool clean but a child could get trapped in it. Now, a better choice is a self-draining mesh pool cover. They use a spring-based fastening system that really disappears when the cover is not in use at all. And these covers are stretched super-tight across the pool and they can support the weight of a child plus several rescuers if need be.

    I remember one autumn, we were out at my mom’s beach house and Henry was little; he was probably three. And he just got excited and saw green where the pool used to be and went running across of it. He was in the middle of the pool and it only started to just put a little bit of water up and Ed and I just yelled at him. He got so scared but we wanted him to know that you can’t do it.

    TOM: They just don’t know, I know. They just don’t know. Pools are just very attractive for kids and sometimes they see something on the other side of the water and just go for it. And if those covers are not there, there could be a tragedy.

    And those vinyl covers I don’t like because imagine if the kid steps in the vinyl covers. The vinyl cover will just swallow them and make it that much harder to get them out. So, besides the pool covers, though, it’s a good idea to think about adding pool alarms for your doors leading to the pool. Also, one on the fence gate.

    Now, the way these pool alarms work is again, they’re mounted up high. And before you open the door, you have to push a button which, essentially, disarms the alarm for 30 seconds or so, so you can walk out, close the door behind you. If somebody opens that door without hitting the button first, the alarm goes off because that means it’s mostly likely a kid or maybe some guest in your house that just didn’t know how they work. But that’s fine. A little annoyance is worth it just to make sure that everyone is safe.

    If you want more tips on how to make sure you have the proper layers of protection around your pool to keep kids safe, visit us at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a great story on the home page, right now, on how to do just that.

    LESLIE: Margie in Maryland needs some help with a kitchen incident gone awry. What happened?

    MARGIE: What happened is – it’s sort of like a barbecue gone bad inside my house.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGIE: I had some deer meat in a big pot on the stove. It was – it had a cover on it. And it – I stepped out for a while and I came back and there was smoke everywhere in my house. And we opened everything; we opened all the windows and doors and all of that. And what I need is to find out how to get rid of the smoke smell. It is just disgusting; it’s terrible.

    And I – we’ve done what we can. I’m washing – my poor washing machine is going nuts. I just wash, wash, wash everything. And we Febrezed on the furniture and – but my wood furniture I don’t know what to do about and my walls and my painted woodwork. Because the day that it happened, I washed up the floor with vinegar and water. But it seems like the longer it goes, that it’s getting harder on the surfaces that it’s touched. And I just need some help to figure out how to clean it up, especially on the wood furniture, the walls and the painted woodwork.

    TOM: Well, on the furniture, on the woodwork, I think something like Murphy’s Oil Soap would be a good choice. That’s a mild solution that smells pleasant and it’s designed specifically to clean wood surfaces.

    However, I suspect that the source of most of the smell is going to be in – because of materials that are harder to clean, like fabrics, rugs, couches, upholstery, the pillows, that sort of thing. And for those, you really need to have a professional company come in and clean them. There are companies like – I think ServiceMaster is one of them that specializes in fire-and-smoke cleaning and water cleanup. And they have the right equipment with the right types of chemicals to take the odors out of those sorts of things. What you can do is clean those hard surfaces on your own.

    As far as the walls are concerned, I would mix up a fairly weak TSP solution – trisodium phosphate. You can pick that up in the painting section of any hardware store or home center and wash the walls down with that. OK?

    MARGIE: Yes. Thank you so very, very much. I really appreciate it.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, does your kitchen get hot and claustrophobic during the summer months? Well, why not move it outside? If you create an outdoor kitchen, you will be the talk of the neighborhood and a lot more comfortable, to boot. We’ll tell you how to do that project yourself, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. You can call in your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it in the Community section, which is what Julie in Minnesota did.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Julie writes: “I’m going to install a wood-burning stove over the summer to get ready for the Minnesota winters. Do I need to tear up the hardwood floor under the stove and replace it with something more heat-resistant? If so, what?”

    TOM: Good question. And some of this depends on what kind of stove that you’re doing, so you need to figure out what the manufacturer recommendations are. But generally speaking, you do need to have a heat-resistant surface not only under the stove but in front of it. You also need to have proper spacing between the stove and combustible materials. Wood stoves get extremely, extremely hot, so you really have to install them carefully.

    Now, if you want to shorten the distance between the back of the stove and the wall, it’s possible to put in a heat shield. But again, it has to be done consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s essentially a wall in front of a wall, where air passes between that wall and the main wall of your house and cools the shield. That allows you to shorten the distance.

    But follow the National Fire Protection Association rules for building heat shields and also for the regulations for installing wood stoves that they put out, as well as that of your manufacturer. Do it right and it can be safe and it’s going to last you for many, many years.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I think when it comes to fire safety, you’ve got to do things right. That’s like my worst nightmare: a fire in the house. And so if you’re putting in a wood-burning stove, you want to make sure that you’re being cautious. If you overprotect, if that’s such a thing – when it comes to a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, is that really a bad thing?

    TOM: No. Can’t be too careful. Just do it right, do it safe.

    Well, if you’re trying to make the most of these summer months, you might think about moving your kitchen outside. Leslie has tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You’ve seen the magazine pictures of those gorgeous outdoor kitchens tricked out with all the ranges and pizza ovens and chandeliers. Pretty much you name it. But us Average Joes can have a really spectacular space, as well. All you really need is a great grill and some weatherproof décor.

    Now, if you can afford it, it’s also nice to add a small workspace where you can actually prep your food outside with everybody hanging out and not running back and forth. If not, some simple backyard tables are really going to do the trick.

    Now, you can keep dedicated outdoor cooking utensils handy, as well. And you can also have a fridge outside, which is a great place to keep your drinks cold or store some leftovers or items that are getting ready to cook during the party. This way, again, not in and out.

    Now, for cleanup, there are a lot of easy upgrades available out there, as well, like a sink station that can attach to a garden hose. Your hands might be freezing but at least they will be free of barbecue sauce.

    Now, if you follow your home’s architectural style, your outdoor kitchen can really become an extension of your indoor décor and your indoor living spaces, whether it’s Victorian, Craftsman, ranch-style home. You name it, you can create a look that will coordinate nicely with what you’ve got going on indoors.

    Finally, no matter what your style is, think about a fire pit. They add instant ambiance and warmth that’s going to let you actually enjoy your outdoor kitchen into the cooler months. And if you’re Tom’s family, you will be making s’mores all summer long and then bragging about it to me and saying, “Oh, they’re delicious,” but don’t send any over to Long Island. That’s OK.

    TOM: We make them all year long, practically. Sometimes the kids like to go out in the middle of winter and start that fire so they can make a s’more because we are a s’more family.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if you are struggling to keep cool during these dog days of summer, you might want to think about installing a whole-house fan. We’re going to tell you how to choose one that’s right for you and get it installed the easy way, on the next edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    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 2013 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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