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How to Close Your Pool for Fall, Get Schoolwork Storage and Study Place Advice, How to Check Your Home for Damage After a Storm, and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is 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: And we are standing by to take your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Take a look around your house and pick a project. Then pick up the phone and call us and we will help you get it done, 888-666-3974. We’ve got a great show planned for you to give you some ideas, perhaps inspire you with a project or two this weekend.

    First up, as summer rolls to a close, the temperature changes just ahead mean that we’re going to see some more storms. You know, whenever the temperature drops like that – and you’ve seen some pretty bad thunder-bumpers already this summer – it means that we’re going to get more storms that come and especially as we move into the fall. So we’re going to spend a little time this hour talking to you about how you can examine your house, post-storm, to spot any potential problems, get them fixed quick before big leaks set in or the roof starts to rot away. If you catch it early, you can fix it and be done with it. And we’re going to tell you how.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, it’s the time of year that your kids are heading back to school. Now, this can turn into a storage issue at home, because you’re getting study tools and works of art. And pretty much everything that your child gets their hands on is coming home with them on their way home from school. So we’re going to give you some organization ideas to kind of keep everything in check.

    TOM: And the smaller they are, the bigger the project is that they bring home.

    LESLIE: Same thing with the toys and stuff. I forgot everything about how big the baby stuff is. I had it all put away for so long. Everything is gigantic.

    TOM: And whether you’re happy about the cooler temperatures that are on the way or sorry to see the summer come to an end, if you’ve got a pool, it’s time to close it up. That’s an annual rite of passage into fall. So we’re going to give you some tips on how you can close it safely so you can enjoy it next season.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, one caller who makes it on the air with us is going to get a little bit cooler. I know we’re nearing the end of summer but it has been a hot one. So we’re giving away a ceiling fan from Kichler Lighting and it’s valued up to 500 bucks. That’s a great prize.

    TOM: Yeah, you get to pick the one you want but you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us first at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. So think of a good question, pick up the phone and call us. And we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and might select you as the winner of that great, new ceiling fan from Kichler.

    But right now, it’s time to get to the phones. 888-MONEY-PIT is that number, so let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Helen in Indiana is on the line with a driveway-sealing question. How can we help you today?

    HELEN: I have an asphalt driveway that when I purchased the home had some cracks in it. But it’s gotten worse and I now have a pothole.

    TOM: And it’s officially grown to be a pothole, huh?

    HELEN: Yeah. That’s what happens in the Midwest.

    TOM: Alright.

    HELEN: I’ve had some estimates and they’re way out of my budget. So what can I do to prolong the life and make it look a lot better?

    TOM: So there’s lots of stuff that you can do yourself.

    First of all, you do need to patch that hole. And at your local home center, you can find blacktop patch. It comes in a bucket – either a small, 1-gallon bucket or something even as big as a 5-gallon bucket – where it has some stone in it and it has the blacktop material. And it’s usually latex-based these days, too, which is good news.

    And you simply clean out the hole that you’re trying to fill, you trowel in the new stuff, you tamp it down. And you can do that with a board or something like that or – if you don’t happen to have a tamping iron.

    And then once you have the holes filled, then you want to work on the cracks. And as far as the cracks are concerned, the driveway sealers and crack fillers, there are some that come in actually caulking-like tubes that you can use to sort of roll into those cracks.

    So you seal those all up and then the last thing you do is to apply the asphalt sealer. And that comes in 5-gallon buckets and you buy an application tool for it. It’s kind of like a big squeegee. You start at one end and you squeegee it on, work down towards the other and you’re done.

    So it’s totally a do-it-yourself project. The best time to do this is when the weather gets to be around 50 degrees or so, on average. You don’t want to do it when it’s really hot out, because it’s a difficult job and …

    HELEN: Like now.

    TOM: Yeah, like now. And it doesn’t dry that well. So you wait to slightly cooler weather and you can totally reseal that yourself. And then once you get all the cracks filled and the sealer on, then next year maybe you just do another coat of sealer and it’ll be really easy.

    HELEN: So it’s a three-step process.

    TOM: Pretty much. Patch the holes, patch the cracks, apply the sealer. That’s it.

    HELEN: I think that’s something I can do.

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

    LESLIE: Robert in Florida needs some help staining cabinets. Tell us what you’re working on.

    ROBERT: I had bought some cabinets – kitchen cabinets – from one of the major hardware stores.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: And they are natural wood, oak face. And I’m looking to stain them like a mahogany color: the dark red.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    ROBERT: And I’ve tried it on – like the Minwax or whatever stain. I’ve tried that on a spare piece and it doesn’t come out the way I want.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: It doesn’t absorb the color or something. It’s like a brown color instead of the red mahogany-type.

    TOM: OK. You know, the color is going to depend on the species of wood. So, what they might call a mahogany stain is going to look different on oak versus birch versus pine. So what you want to do is – what I would do is – I’m trying to get just the right color – is I would buy those – the tiny cans of Minwax. And I would buy two or three that are closest to the color. I would try them on and also pick up some oak. So you could buy a piece of oak trim or something like that from a home center, that you can play with.

    ROBERT: Right.

    TOM: I would put it on, let it dry. And then – and this is an important step – put a clear finish on top of it. Because it looks very different when the finish is over it than when just the stain color is there.

    ROBERT: Oh, for once you put the seal on it?

    TOM: Correct. Well, the finish. So I would get a small – like I said, two or three cans of the different colors that you’re considering, just to test it out. Buy some oak, go ahead and stain them up and then put a couple of clear coats of urethane on top: satin urethane, so you don’t have a lot of sheen to it.

    ROBERT: Right. I don’t want the shiny, yeah, right. I’ve done two, three, four coats of stain. You wipe it off, you put the clear coat on it and everything. It’s just not right; it doesn’t keep that deep, rich color.

    TOM: Well, typically, you don’t put three or four coats of stain on it. It sounds to me like you’re just not finding the right color. So maybe we need to go to a different manufacturer until we can find the color that you’re looking for, if Minwax isn’t doing it for you.

    ROBERT: Right, right. Because I want it to look professional; I don’t want it to look like I did it in my garage. But of course, I am but …

    TOM: You are doing it in your garage.

    So if you’re not finding the color that you want, that’s available off the shelf with the Minwax products, what you could do is you could use a tintable stain: so, for example, Sherwin-Williams. Do you have a Sherwin-Williams store near you?

    ROBERT: I would have to look it up but …

    TOM: They have a line of stains called Wood Classics. These are oil stains? But the difference is that they mix them for you right in the store. So you can go into the store and you can bring one of your doors and show them the color you’re trying to get to and they can work with you to mix up exactly the right color. So you don’t have to really find one off the shelf; they’ll mix up pretty much anything that you need.

    ROBERT: That’s what I’m looking for.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement, home repair, home décor. Whatever you are working on, we’ve got a few, key days left until the end of the summer season.

    I know. I’m not looking forward to Labor Day. I hate that summer’s coming to an end but I am looking forward to back to school. Anybody else? So give us a call. We’d love to help you fill up your ample spare time, as summer is coming to an end, with your home improvement project.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And if that project involves closing your pool for the year, we’re going to have some tips on how you can do that safely, so you can enjoy that pool for another season yet again. That’s all coming up, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    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.

    Hey, you want to be a cool guy? I’m not talking about being a cool guy; I’m talking about being cool, temperature-wise. Man, are you guys just having the hottest summer ever? Well, pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get help with your home improvement question but you could be the caller that’s selected to win a great ceiling fan from Kichler Lighting.

    Now, Kichler makes fans that use 70-percent less electricity. And one winner that we choose is going to be able to select any fan worth up to 500 bucks. And they’ve got a huge selection of indoor and outdoor styles, so you can really pick something very cool.

    Check out their website. It’s Kichler – K-i-c-h-l-e-r – .com. You can look at the fans there, start thinking about your home improvement question. But pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jim in California needs help with a decking project. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: I’ve got two decks that I rebuilt approximately three summers ago and had never treated them. Did a real nice job: mitered corners, rounded everything, routed everything. And of course, not treating them, they have weathered and I need to clean them.

    LESLIE: OK. And so your issue is you’re seeing some wear and tear but the big problem is discoloration?

    JIM: Yes. The oxidization.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So everything looks a little gray and just weathered?

    JIM: Right.

    LESLIE: Now, with the discoloration, I mean that’s normal wear and tear of any type of wood surface. And if you were to just, say, put a sealer on there, yes, you’re going to protect the wood from any further cracking or checking and you may help it, depending on the kind that you use, from further damage from, say, the sun. But if you want the color to be really what you restore, you’re going to have to go with a stain that has a color in it.

    So depending on the condition of that decking, you can go with a semi-transparent, which will deposit color on but still allow you to see the condition of the wood through it, you know, through the stain itself. Or you can go with a solid stain, which gives you a little bit of longer time between having to refinish it, gives you more protection because it is a further saturation of color and a heavier pigmentation of color. So it really depends on what kind of look you want and really, the condition of the wood itself.

    JIM: Yes. Well, my wife wants me to bring the color back.

    TOM: That color is long gone, my friend. You can’t bring it back once it grays out like that but you can restore it if you stain it, like Leslie suggested. And you can use semi-transparent or solid color and it will look really good and you’ll still see the grain. So you’re not going to lose the grain of the wood. But once it turns gray like that, you’re not going to be able to restore it unless you sand it and that’s really pretty much a waste of effort.

    LESLIE: Well, the hot rays of our summer sun are about to bid adieu to 2012. While you might be sad about it, you may even be cheering the end of a long, hot summer. I know I am. It has just been awful. Either way, you need to take steps now to make sure that you’re going to enjoy the summer of 2013 and that goes especially for those of you who’ve got a backyard pool.

    TOM: Now, to protect your pool for the cold months ahead, you need to close it properly. So, starting about a week before you do this project, you want to adjust your water balance to a pH level between 7.2 and 7.6. You also want to set the alkaline between about 80 and 120 and the calcium between 180 and 220. And then shock your pool with 1 pound of chlorine per 10,000 gallons.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now that – I know it all sounds kind of technical and here’s where people kind of start to make mistakes: with your chlorine level, when you’re done with all of this shocking, you want to allow the chlorine level to return to one to three before you go ahead and add any winter algaecide.

    Now, chlorine tends to break down both the algaecide and your floating pool covers, so you’ve got to let it get back to that number. Otherwise, you’re going to see some issues.

    If you want to know more about how to winterize your pool’s plumbing system and how to store all the equipment that goes along with owning a pool, log on to our website at MoneyPit.com and we’ll help you out with this big project. It is kind of an undertaking but you get to enjoy it every day, all summer, so you can deal with it. So check out our website at MoneyPit.com and we’ll help you out there.

    TOM: Now, if you’ve got a summer project that still needs to get done, pick up the phone and call us right now and we will help you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    HUGH: Just finished up a job of replacing a bunch of water pipes. And we had to cut a whole pile of holes in the ceiling, in the walls and so on to have access. And so we’ve got a bunch of sheetrock work to do and I was wanting to get a recommendation on what the best tools to get – in other words, how the best way to cut it is, whether a knife or a hand saw or some sort of jig saw or toothless saw or whatever, and other basic tools that would be needed to do a good job on replacing the sheetrock.

    LESLIE: Oh, Hugh, I can sympathize with you completely on this because we just did this in my basement, which is also my home design office and the playroom for my family.

    TOM: You just did this project.

    LESLIE: And there were holes everywhere in the ceiling and walls. Then we had another leak and we had to make more holes. It was really exciting and so I’m completely with you on this project.

    Now, in the areas where you’ve actually made holes to get to the pipes that you’ve now repaired, did you happen to cut the drywall open to a point where you’ve exposed the studs on either side, so that when you go to make a patch you have something to attach to?

    HUGH: A bunch of them, yes. And we tried to kind of split the 2×4 where the new piece will be approximately ¾-inch on the 2×4. Some of it, though, there – well, all of it, we have at least an exposed 2×4 on one side or another to nail to but we may have to scab on a 2×4 or something like that or I guess – don’t they make some sort of a metal deal where you can put it in there and it helps to hook the old sheetrock to the new sheetrock without having to have a 2×4 behind it or something?

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple of ways to do this. How big are the holes? Are there any small holes or are these all big holes?

    HUGH: It ranges from probably a 1-foot by 2-foot all the way up to, well, one big chunk of one wall, which is about 15 foot.

    TOM: OK. So these are pretty big pieces. So then you’re going to need to support them with some structure.

    HUGH: Yeah.

    TOM: So, sometimes it makes sense to open up the hole until you get to the middle of the adjoining joist or stud, depending on whether it’s a wall or a ceiling, so that you can kind of go halfway down.

    HUGH: OK.

    TOM: So don’t feel like you’re causing more destruction by doing that. Frankly, it’s going to come out better if you could open this up until the piece will actually split across the floor joist. And once you have that edge exposed, then you can simply attach the piece to it. I would use drywall screws for that.

    Now, the art of this is in the patch. And so the first step is to lightly sand the area because if you – especially if you have old wall there, it might have some debris on it. So just lightly touch that up. And then you use a fiberglass tape across the seam.

    HUGH: OK.

    TOM: Fiberglass is very forgiving because it’s perforated. And you can put that on first and then put the spackle over that and it’ll press through it. If you use paper tape, you have to put spackle in first and then the paper tape over that and hope you got out all the air bubbles. So use the fiberglass tape and then you want to use three successive layers of spackle. You want to start small with a smaller knife, like about a 4-inch tape knife, and then you go to a 6-inch knife and then an 8- to 10-inch knife, so every one gets a little bit wider. And because you don’t do this all the time, you’re going to probably end up sanding in between.

    And so that’s really the process. And then once you’re done with the patching, then you’re going to want to prime the entire room – all the affected walls and ceilings – and then paint it. And because you’re not a pro, I would definitely use a flat paint. Because if there’s any imperfections, it just won’t show up as badly as it could.

    HUGH: OK. Now, one thing that bothered me was sheetrock is beveled on the edges. And I guess, ideally, if I could go back to where the bevel is on the sheetrock and then put a beveled piece in so that you can seal it and all that – but is that – would I be better off to go ahead and take some big chunks out or bigger chunks than what I’ve got, so that we can get back to that?

    TOM: No.

    HUGH: Or can you usually smooth it out enough to where it doesn’t show?

    TOM: No. Not necessary. I wouldn’t worry about the beveled edge. The beveled edge is very helpful when you’re doing whole sheets but …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s going to go under the tape anyway, if you’re using it.

    TOM: Right. When you’re doing a patch, I would specifically actually not use a beveled edge when I’m doing a patch. There’s really no reason to.

    HUGH: OK.

    TOM: I find it easier – even if I had one beveled edge against one thick edge, I find that more difficult to spackle to because it’s not even, it’s not flat. So I would not worry about the beveled edge unless you’re doing full sheets.

    HUGH: OK. Alright. I surely do appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very 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, you may know how to weather a storm but do you know what to look for after the storm to see if your home weathered it, as well? We’re going to tell you what to look out for, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And more than one half of the country is in a serious drought situation right now, which makes it a good time to think about ways for you to be more water-efficient. So, for example, you could add a rainwater collecting system to help you feed your garden or you can plan on switching to a drought-resistant grass this fall.

    These are all projects that can help but if you want more water-conservation ideas, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Lawrence in California is on the line with a snow and a roofing question. And calling from California about snow? What’s going on, Lawrence?

    LAWRENCE: Well, I live about 3,000 feet up in the Sierras.

    TOM: Ah. Nice.

    LESLIE: Ah. And that explains your snow.

    TOM: OK.

    LAWRENCE: Oh, yeah, we do get snow. And I’ve got rain-gutter problems.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s going on?

    LAWRENCE: Well, I’ve got a metal roof on my house and of course, it snows a foot or two a snow.

    TOM: OK.

    LAWRENCE: And the snow slides off the metal roof. And when it does that, it takes my rain gutters with it.

    TOM: Alright.

    LAWRENCE: Yeah. So, is there a solution to that?

    TOM: Yeah, there is. Couple of things. First of all, how are your rain gutters attached? Are they attached with spikes?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So what you want to do is – there are screws that you can use and they have – usually have Allen heads that you can replace the gutter spikes with and the ferrules – the tubes. And those are a much more permanent connection, which will totally secure the rain gutter to the fascia.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s not going to get back out.

    TOM: And the second thing you might want to do is add some snow guards.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And those are simply – I mean they’re not – they kind of act like a clip but they run parallel to your roof’s edge, a little bit more up the roof. And usually do one or two rows of them, depending on the height, slope, size of your roof. And these act as little stoppers. So as the snow slides down, it doesn’t go beyond that little lip.

    And there’s actually a great website dedicated specifically to metal-roofing needs and it’s MetalRoofSnowGuards.com. And they’re fairly easy to install and they really do stop that problem.

    LAWRENCE: I’ll definitely look on the computer there, see if I can get something that resembles snow guards and go from there, I guess.

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

    LAWRENCE: Thank you so much. Have a good day.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever had a major storm hit your house, you know that a home – which is generally safe, sound, secure and dry – can quickly turn into a leaking mess.

    TOM: That’s right. And it’s especially true when wind gets behind all of that water and the rules of gravity no longer apply. That’s why after a storm passes, it’s really important to give your house a careful inspection. To show us how, we turn now to Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Thanks for having me, guys.

    TOM: Now, obvious storm damage, like a broken window, that’s easy to spot. But if you don’t look closely, little problems could be missed and develop into big repair bills down the line, right?

    KEVIN: Well, it’s true. And when wind and water are working together, they can really do some significant damage to your house, both structurally and to the mechanical equipment. So you want to check out for them and actually, you want to do it quickly because time is your friend here.

    TOM: So let’s talk about wind damage. High winds can rip through exterior walls, they can tear shingles off your house. Good idea to check for that kind of exterior damage first?

    KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely. You want to do a visual inspection of the house, walking all the way around it, looking at the claps or the shingles. There are places that you might not easily be able to see with your eyes, so get out a pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens and look up at that roof to make sure that the shingles are still on or none of the trim boards have been ripped off by the wind. Give it a good look.

    LESLIE: Now, with Hurricane Irene and a lot of the crazy storms that we experienced in unusual parts of the country this year, we’ve seen a lot of flooded basements and therefore, flooded fixtures. What do you do when you’ve had a lot of water in the basement and it’s gotten to your outlets and any of your major appliances?

    KEVIN: Well, unfortunately, electrical fixtures that get really wet or submerged, they’ve got to go. You know, there could be some serious damage caused to those fixtures, so you want to have those things replaced.

    And in terms of the flooded basements, water on the outside of your house’s foundation can actually build up quite a bit of pressure. And it can cause those foundations to crack, it can force its way in through those concrete foundations. So you want to do a visual inspection outside and in of those foundations to see if there are any new cracks there or any ways that the foundation has started to fail.

    TOM: Now, speaking of flooded basements and flooded crawlspaces, we’ve seen floods in those places that really, you could have owned the house for 20 years and it never, ever flooded. No reason to panic, though, just because it happened after one major storm.

    KEVIN: No, absolutely not, because the basement can actually be cleaned out. So you want to get in there. Obviously, you want to get all of the water out and dried out and you want to remove the damaged belongings from that basement. And then you want to go back and you want to check it, right? You want to make sure that you don’t have any new cracks where the water can return.

    And also, think about where the water is coming from. Sure, it’s raining or flooding but it’s also coming off your roof. So check those gutters, get the water away from the house.

    LESLIE: And I imagine with a flooded basement, especially if insurance has to become involved, you want to take some pictures of things that were damaged. Document everything so you really have a good catalog of what’s been destroyed, if you will.

    KEVIN: Absolutely. Call the insurance company early, take those pictures. You really shouldn’t do too much work to the house other than securing it, stopping any problems that might cause it to get worse. So plug the leaks but don’t start tearing apart your basement until the insurance company has shown up and done their inspection.

    TOM: We’re talking to Kevin O’Connor – he’s the host of TV’s This Old House – about how to check your house after a storm.

    Now, Kevin, when it comes to cleaning up after that water recedes, good idea to use a good-quality disinfectant?

    KEVIN: Yeah, I think it is. I mean Borax with some water – some hot water – and some elbow grease is going to do a good job of cleaning that stuff up. And also, keep in mind, if you’re going to – if you’re worried about mold, well, mold needs water to grow and so you want to dry out those areas. Pump the water out and then use a dehumidifier. Get some good circulation or even a heat lamp to dry out those materials so that mold doesn’t grow. And do it quickly.

    LESLIE: What about power failures? We’ve seen just an astronomical amount of power outages and ones that last a long, long time due to so many storms this past year. What can we do to be better prepared in advance of this event that could cause a power outage?

    KEVIN: We love a standby generator. We’ve installed a couple of these on Ask This Old House.

    And basically, the idea is – there are a lot of generators out there but many of them are portable and you pour some gasoline into them and they run for a couple hours. A standby generator is actually installed near or around your house. It is tied right into the natural-gas line. It’ll check itself weekly to make sure that it’s running properly and if and when the power goes out, it kicks on, burns that natural gas to make electricity and it’ll feed the critical circuits in your house pretty much for as long as the blackout lasts. And so it’s a great way – a great, preventative way – to make sure you’ve got power during and after a storm.

    TOM: Good advice. And one final damage: insurance is what we pay for to cover us for storm damage. Important to get that claim documented and as quickly as possible, though, right?

    KEVIN: Absolutely. As Leslie said, get those pictures taken, make some notes, make that phone call to them very quickly. And again, don’t do too much work. The work you should be doing is just to stop the problems, to stop the leak. Get the inspector out there from your insurance company and let him make some decisions and work with them.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: It’s my pleasure to be here.

    LESLIE: And you can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and some step-by-step videos and more projects you can do at your home and a lot of great, informative articles on home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by Home Depot. More savings, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    Up next, it’s back-to-school time and that can add up to a storage problem as your little Einsteins bring home all the schoolwork and the artwork and all the big projects. So we’re going to have some storage tips that will make for a neater study center, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by BATH FITTER, the one-day bathroom remodeling company. Call 866-654-BATH today for your free, in-home estimate or visit www.BATHFITTER.com.

    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.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. We want to talk with you about your project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you need to do a project to turn your place from house to home to castle or if your castle has a leaking dungeon, we can help you with that, too, at 888-666-3974. And as an added incentive to pick up the phone and call us, one lucky caller this hour is going to win a ceiling fan from Kichler Lighting.

    These fans are beautiful. They come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, so there’s no doubt you can find one to match your needs. The Kichler folks will let you, the winner, pick it out, then will ship it to your house. They’ve also got a huge selection of Energy Star fans; says they’re going to save you some energy as they keep you cool, as well.

    So if you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got school-aged children, you know how much homework they’ve got these days. I mean they’re starting these kids with homework in Kindergarten which is just crazy, I think.

    TOM: That’s good practice.

    LESLIE: Aw, they’re so little. Come on. Do they have to have a whole day?

    Well, you guys can actually help your little scholars with all of that work by giving them a great, designated and organized study space. And then they’ll actually do it and maybe they won’t bother you so much to have – help them with it.

    TOM: And that’s why you want to give your student a place that he or she can claim as sort of their own workspace.

    Now, it doesn’t have to be fancy – just a bedroom corner or dining room table – but that specific place can help the student build a study routine. It also should be free of clutter, it should not have distractions, like today when I noticed that my daughter had two hours to study and she had the television on and the tray table in front of the couch with her schoolbooks. And I’m like, “No, not happening. It doesn’t mix. Turn the TV off.” So, it’s got to be free of those types of distractions.

    It’s also a good idea to get some drawers and storage bins or a filing cabinet to keep organized and to label those containers with your child’s name on those bins so that it gives them sort of a sense of ownership, especially with the younger kids.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And then, of course, there’s also the challenge that grows throughout the school year, about what exactly you should do with all of that artwork and the tests with the smiley faces on it and the science projects that your child is going to bring home. Well, one way to deal with that is actually to take pictures. This way, you’ve got those memories preserved but you’re not taking up all of that precious storage space, which we’re all short on; let’s be honest. So, tell your kids you’re keeping it filed away somewhere but you can toss it.

    TOM: A completely awesome idea. Because my kids, when they were younger, they used to go to Science Camp and – oh, no, they went to Inventors Camp every summer. And so at Inventors Camp, you would always send them with an appliance that you were throwing away, like an old food processor or an old printer or something like that. And they would take the thing apart and they would recreate something with it, right? Of course, nothing that works; it’s kind of more like sculpture.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: But they come back with these enormous robots and things that they made out of the printer they took apart and I’m like, “Well, what am I going to do with this?” And it’s kind of like I’d let it sit there for a couple weeks and then I’d have to break the news to them, like, “Sorry, we’ve got to throw your robot away.” So the idea of taking a picture and preserving it, that’s huge. Love it.

    So, if you’ve got some great ideas, we’d love to hear from you, as well. You can visit our website at MoneyPit.com and post them in the Community section.

    LESLIE: Jim in Minnesota is on the line and has got a question about roofing. How can we help you with your project?

    JIM: Yeah. I have a 28×40 building with an average roof pitch and the shingles need replacing.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: Should I put tin on the roof boards? Or I hear that we should put boards that run horizontally under roof boards, then nail the tin on top of the – these horizontal boards.

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, Jim, you have asphalt shingles on there right now?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Are you planning on removing those shingles?

    JIM: Absolutely.

    TOM: Alright, good. So once you remove them, then I think you can put the tin right on top of the sheathing. I’m assuming you have sheathing there. If you don’t have sheathing, then you would have to have stripped sheathing put on: those strips that you’re talking about, those furring strips. Yeah, you would have to add those. But if you have standard sheathing, I think you can put the metal roof right on top of that.

    And it’s a good project to do. You know, those metal roofs really do last indefinitely and the coatings that are on the metal roofs today are reflective of the heat in the summer, so it keeps the buildings cold, cooler, as well. So, good project.

    Does that help you out?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. 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, with the warm weather, have you guys had any problems with little furry visitors? They like central air conditioning, too, you guys. We are going to have some tips on how you can get rid of those rodents, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you have some home improvement projects lined up for fall when the temperature moves out of the triple digits? We want to hear about them, so log on to our Community section and tell us at MoneyPit.com. You can also ask advice before you get started or just get some encouragement from your fellow DIYers. So jump on the website and do share. You can’t overshare on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: No, no, no.

    TOM: All submissions are welcome.

    So, speaking of sharing, Jake in Ohio shared a rodent problem that he needs some help with.

    LESLIE: Alright. Jake from Ohio writes: “We’ve had a mouse issue that I’m sure will pick up again once the weather cools off. A rodent-removal company told me killing them isn’t enough; more will just come in. They say it’s better to keep them out to begin with. Is that true and if so, can I do it myself?”

    Well, I would hate to keep murdering mice. I’d love to seal up the holes and make it so that they can’t get in.

    TOM: Never thought of it that way but OK.

    Yeah, it is true, Jake, and yes, you can do it yourself. So there’s kind of like several steps involved here.

    First, if you’ve got a significant infestation, you do need to exterminate to get rid of it. And that might be something that you might want to have the pros help you with, only because they’ve got all the tools and they can kind of get rid of them pretty quickly. But once you are reasonably sure that you’ve cut down that population that’s taken root in your house, you do want to eliminate the access points. So those are the nesting areas, those are the small holes where the rodents can get in. Those are areas like firewood piles, for example, that are too close to the house or trash cans that are close to the house.

    LESLIE: And can they fit in through a hole the size of a dime? Is that correct?

    TOM: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, the size of a dime, the size of a quarter, they can squeeze in. So make sure that you’ve got places like that sealed up, especially where plumbing pipes go through the walls and any of those small spots.

    Now, the other thing is to make it less attractive once they’re inside your house. So you do you do that? Well, you don’t leave food in a place where they can get it.

    LESLIE: And don’t leave pet food out overnight.

    TOM: Well, yeah, that’s what I was going to suggest, actually. Because you wouldn’t leave your groceries on the floor but you might leave a bag of pet food on the floor. And guess what? Those mice will chew right through it and have a lifetime supply of food, because they’re kind of taking it one kernel at a time out of the back of the pet-food bag, right?

    LESLIE: Oh, like hoarding it away.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So, things like that; be mindful of that. If you do have a pantry with anything that’s in a box or a bag, seal it up. Put it in the tin, put it in a Tupperware container, that sort of thing. Don’t make it easy for the mice to find food in your house.

    And then for ongoing prevention, I would put out bait packets. I have always used those; I think they work well. You want to use those in areas that the pets can’t get to. So, for example, I’d toss a couple of bait packets behind the refrigerator, behind the range, places like that, also in the basement or in the crawlspace, up on top of the foundation wall, so that ledge of the foundation block wall, for example. The mice will use that as their highway and so getting the bait packets up there is a good place for them, as well.

    LESLIE: How often are you checking them? Are you waiting until you smell something funky?

    TOM: Nah. Well, the thing is, that’s kind of a myth that they die in the house; generally, they go outside. So, I wouldn’t worry about them causing an odor problem. But when do I check it? When I think about it every few months. If I’m down there, I might take a peek to see if I’ve got one or not.

    But I think that’s the best way, long-term, because you don’t have to worry about changing out bait and traps and that sort of thing. So that’s what you need to do, Jake. Step by step, you can get rid of these rodents once and for all.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online, MoneyPit.com. The number 24-7: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. The show does continue online at MoneyPit.com. And if you’ve got questions any time of the day or the night, you can reach out to us there or by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We hope we’ve given you a couple of good ideas, a little inspiration to get out and take on a project, to turn your money pit into the house that you always have dreamed it can be.

    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 2012 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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