How to Create an Outdoor Kitchen on a Budget, Tips on Staining a Wood Deck or Fence, Smart Home Technology that is Affordable and Easy
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 we are here to help you with your home improvement project. Let us solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. We want to make sure that if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer, you know, when the project goes all wrong and falls apart and costs you twice as much and takes three times as long. We can stop all of that. You can help yourself, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour of the program, it’s still a great time to work on projects outside your home, like staining a wood deck or a fence. But if that’s a project that might seem overwhelming, it’s not if you know what to do. We’ll have tips to get the job done the easy way, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, an easy way to get in on the smart-home trend. You can start with your garage, with a new opener that can operate your garage door right from your smartphone.
TOM: Plus, are you dreaming of an outdoor kitchen but think the price tag is a nightmare? We’ll help you with some tips to create a backyard cooking space on a budget.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Hydro Kit from Danco. It includes the HydroRight Dual-Flush Converter and a Perfect Seal Toilet Ring that prevents toilet leaks.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Eloise in North Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors: squirrels.
Eloise, one tried to get into my screened-in porch last week because of a pizza box. I can only – and it scared the bejesus out of me.
TOM: Must have been an Italian squirrel.
LESLIE: Tell us. What’s going on?
ELOISE: The squirrels have decided that they like the coziness of getting inside and down into the eaves of the porch rather than to nest in a tree. And they have started eating away at my house. I’ve noticed places where they’ve been gnawing, as well as the nests that are down in the eaves. How can I get rid of them?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of ways that you can deal with squirrels in the attic. It’s kind of like bats in your belfry: they drive you crazy. But there are some ways to try to manage these populations.
First of all, you can trap and release. If you invested in a couple, or even one, Havahart traps – Havahart is a trap that has a door on it that lets the squirrel in, doesn’t harm them. Usually, you’ll use an apple or something like that as bait. We usually recommend you wire it to the frame of the trap, because they’ll figure it out and they’ll steal it and not get stuck in the trap. And then once they get stuck in the trap, you take the whole trap, stick it in the trunk of your car, drive out to a woodsy area, lift the door and off they will run happily to once again rejoin Mother Nature.
Another thing that you can do is you could consider using a squirrel repellant. There are different types of repellants that are available. They usually are repellants that are designed to emulate a natural predator of squirrels, like fox or something of that nature. And you either spray them or you – sometimes they’re in a bag and you hang them in the area and that can deter them.
But really, the first thing I would do is try to seal up any gaps that are allowing them to get into this attic space to begin with.
ELOISE: Yeah, I have some homework to do. Thank you so much.
TOM: Ah, you sure do. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian in Ohio is dealing with a settling house. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Ah, well, I have a real nice, 1930s, brick Colonial. And in a number of areas, you can see that the house has settled so that the doors aren’t square in the door frames. And the tile on one wall in the bathroom is about an inch below where the tile line on the other wall is. And there’s some cracks in the outside of the brick structure.
And I just wondered if it – if there’s a way to fix this to sort of square up the house. Because, among other things, if I redo the bathroom, I’m afraid that if the house is moving or twisting, so to speak, and I put new, beautiful tile on the floor or the wall, that it’ll crack that next.
TOM: Brian, did you have a home inspection done when you bought the house?
BRIAN: Well, I’m in the real estate business, so I kind of knew what I was getting into from the standpoint of the structure. So I did not have a home inspection done, no.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Or not.
OK, well, as a former professional home inspector, my first advice would be to determine if the home is still actively moving. And that’s the type of observation that takes a bit of a trained eye. You want to see if there’s anything that tells you that those cracks are active or not. It may very well be that in a 1930s house, this is just normal settlement that’s happened over time.
In terms of re-squaring the house, really bad idea; you never want to put a house back where you think it belongs. Because it took many, many, many, many years to get into that sort of skewed, settled state. If you try to lift up different pieces, you’ll end up cracking more walls, breaking wires, breaking pipes and that sort of thing.
So, what you would do, if you redid the bathroom, is basically just live with that. Chalk it up to another real estate word, “charm,” and just live with it, OK?
BRIAN: Nice. Great. Great insight, OK.
TOM: Alright? There you go. 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 call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we’ve got easy tips to make any staining project go well, including the right prep and stain to use.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live.
Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a Hydro Kit from Danco. This is a very cool product because it includes a HydroRight Dual-Flush Converter that’s going to save you lots of water, a HydroClean Toilet Valve and Danco’s Perfect Seal Toilet Installation Ring. They’re far superior to traditional wax rings because the wax is actually encased in a rubber seal, which eliminates the chance for leaks.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And leaks that happen at the base are actually the worst because you usually don’t even realize that it’s there until the floor is suddenly soft, because it’s rotted through underneath.
You can learn more at ItsAPerfectSeal.com. The Perfect Seal by Danco is available at The Home Depot. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a garage floor.
Bill, what’s going on?
BILL: We have stains from acid spills in various places. The floor is about – the building is about seven years old. There are a lot of various stains from the traffic and normal automobile dirt.
LESLIE: Yeah, regular wear and tear.
BILL: I wondered if there’s some company that specializes in – or where I can find out how to clean the concrete floor first and then some – possibly some coating that would withstand the acid and normal battery – or normal automobile stains.
LESLIE: So this is a big project. I mean is this something you want to hire out or do you have a maintenance team in the building that would take care of this?
BILL: No, we would have to hire someone. But the first challenge is to find out – satisfy ourselves that it can be done.
TOM: Well, it absolutely can be done and you don’t have to have a professional do this. It’s really just a big painting project. And there are products that are used to clean the concrete first and then there are different products that are used to paint it.
BILL: Is there any problem in cleaning the spill – the battery acid?
TOM: No. All of the painting products are going to have a recommended prep procedure. And one of the ones that works very, very well is QUIKRETE.
They have an epoxy system, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Right. They’ve got a two-part, epoxy, garage-floor coating system. A lot of people make them. I happen to really like the QUIKRETE because I like that they offer 40 different colors. I’ve never tackled a space larger than my own garage and the neighbor’s garage and this is a pretty massive space we’re talking about. But your first step is going to be a product that they have called BONDÂžLOK.
And that really etches and preps the surface. It cleans it, it prepares it so that the paint and the epoxy coating system is going to adhere really well. So once you’ve done the BONDÂžLOK step, the floor is prepped, ready to go, let it dry, whatever the manufacturer’s directions say. Then you mix up this two-part epoxy floor coating and that goes on and it’s going to protect it against gasoline, oil, scuffs, normal wear and tear. There’s an additional coating that you can put on top that’s premium that will – probably because it’s a commercial space, you’ll want to go for.
But there are products out there. You don’t have to worry about what’s already on the floor as long as you do that cleaning step.
BILL: And so all I have to do is contact the QUIKRETE people.
TOM: That’s right. QUIKRETE 2-Part Epoxy is the best way to go.
BILL: I really appreciate your help and enjoy your program.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, staining is a project that often scares homeowners off, so they end up procrastinating while their wood deck or fence just weathers more and more and more. You don’t have to be afraid of staining if you know what type of stains to use and what kind of prep needs to be done.
Here is some step-by-step advice, presented by the wood-care specialists at Flood.
LESLIE: Now, you need to start with a nice, clean surface. So use Flood Wood Finish Remover.
And if you’ve got any mildew on the wood, you can add 1 quart of bleach per gallon of the finish remover and that will do the trick there.
TOM: And you have to work wet; don’t let it dry. If the product starts to dry within 20 to 30 minutes, just apply more. Scrub the surface as the stain starts to lift and you can even use a pressure washer if you want to remove it even quicker. Repeat this process until all the finish is gone.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, when it comes to staining, you want to pick a period when you don’t expect wet weather colder than 50 degrees. You also want to avoid the surface to be exposed directly to the sun. Then, choose your finish. Translucent is going to be best for brand-new wood. Semi-transparent will show the grain but also give you some color. And opaque is the perfect finish to hide minor imperfections on weathered wood.
TOM: Mix multiple cans into a large bucket and then stir for color uniformity. And to get even coloring, work the entire length of the board. The vertical surfaces, work top to bottom to catch any drips.
And for more tips and how-to videos on this project, you can visit Flood.com.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a driveway repair. What’s going on?
CAROL: We have a single-car, asphalt driveway that goes out of the farm market road, past the front of the house to the back of the house. And it goes between the house deck – I mean the deck on the house – and the storage with a carport. And it’s a single-car, asphalt drive. Goes around a tree and then comes back out. Makes a circle and comes back out and it’s very important to this property. And it’s on a slope. And we want to redo it but we don’t exactly want to dig up the whole thing and start over.
TOM: OK. What’s the condition of the driveway right now, Carol?
CAROL: Well, I wouldn’t call it very good; I wouldn’t call it the worst I’ve ever seen.
TOM: Well, here are your options when it comes to restoring an asphalt driveway. If the driveway is in structurally good shape, it is proper maintenance to repair the cracks, patch any holes and then reseal the entire surface. However, if the driveway structurally is in poor condition – if it’s got really broken-out sections, washed-out sections, if it’s sunken – then all of the sealing and patching in the world is not going to change that.
So it might be that there’s a combination of things that you’re going to do here but you can do the sealing and the patching yourself. If you want to replace it then, of course, that’s a job for a pro.
And there’s sort of an in-between step, too, and we’d have to have a pro look at this to determine if this is possible. But sometimes, you can add an additional layer of asphalt to it and leave what you have in place but put another layer on top of it that’s maybe an inch to 2 inches thick, that could be less expensive than tearing the whole thing out. Does that make sense?
CAROL: Right. Well, more than anything, we just want it to look better than what it does because we plan on putting our house on the market this summer. Because we’re 69 and 71 and so what we’re going to do is downsize, because the farm is a lot of work.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question.
JIM: I need a new roof. I’m originally from the Northeast – New York – and up there, it was very common to not strip the old fiberglass roof before putting a new roof on. I’m wondering what the advantage is to not stripping the roof versus stripping it to put a new one on.
TOM: That’s a great question, Jim, and the answer really depends on one thing and that is: how long are you going to spend in this house? Is this a house that you’re going to be in for the next 20 years or do you see yourself more in the 5-to-10-year range?
JIM: We’re in the house for forever, the long – for long term.
TOM: Forever? OK.
JIM: Yeah, mm-hmm.
TOM: Alright. They’re going to bury you in this place. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?
JIM: Exact. We call it our “toes up.” We’re leaving toes up.
TOM: Alright. It’s your toes-up house? Alright.
So, if it’s your toes-up house, you’re going to want to make sure that that roof is going to last as long as possible and the way you’ll do that is by stripping the old layer. And here’s why I say that: if you have a second layer of roofing material under the exposed layer, that’s going to hold a lot of heat.
And heat is the enemy of the roof. The hotter the roof gets, the quicker the asphalt and the other chemicals that make up the roof sheathing’s – the roof shingle’s ability to keep water away dry out, the shorter the roof life. So if you have a roof that’s really warm, it’s not going to last as long.
And what I have found in the almost 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector, that when we saw roofs that had multiple layers, generally they lasted about a third less than a roof that was a single layer. So if the first roof lasted 20 years and you added a second layer, you might be looking at like, say, 14 or 15 years on the second layer. So that’s why I would suggest that you might be better off stripping off that first layer in your scenario and putting on just one layer.
But if you had told me that “no, Tom, I’m only going to be in that house for 5 or 10 years,” well, then, who cares? Because you’re not going to be around to enjoy the benefit of the longer roof life, you know? That’s why it makes sense, if you’re going to be there for that whole life of the roof, to go ahead and pull off the first one.
A couple other things to keep in mind with that roofing project: also a good opportunity to take a look at your ventilation, Jim. Now, in a 20-year-old house, typically you don’t have enough ventilation, because they just didn’t vent roofs well back then. But you want to think about adding a continuous ridge vent down the entire peak of the roof and then a continuous soffit vent down both sides of the soffit. So that this way you’ll have plenty of opportunity for air to enter at the soffit, ride up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. And that will give you a nice cycle of air, 24-7, that’s keeping that attic space cooler which, of course, makes your air conditioning more efficient and also helps the roof last longer, as well.
JIM: That’s great. That all makes perfectly good sense.
TOM: I had a good day. Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?
AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.
LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?
AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.
TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?
TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?
AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.
TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?
AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?
TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.
Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?
AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.
TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.
So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently and see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.
But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.
AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.
TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.
AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.
TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.
AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.
TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, your phone can do so many things: you can get directions, find a good place to eat, take pictures. Now, your phone can even open and close your garage door. We’ll tell you how, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
TOM: 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 always looking for products that make life a little easier. And one of the latest ways to do that, of course, is with smart products: appliances and tools that use Wi-Fi to keep you connected to your home.
LESLIE: That’s right. And Chamberlain has come up with a great way to keep tabs on your garage door from pretty much anywhere in the world, right from your mobile device. So here to tell us more is Maureen Silber. She’s the senior product manager for Chamberlain.
MAUREEN: Thank you for having me.
TOM: Now, Maureen, this is something that’s happened to anyone that’s ever owned a garage-door opener. You head out to go to dinner, to go to work, to go on a trip and you think, “Oh, my goodness, I left the garage door open, thereby enabling people to get into my garage and perhaps even into my house.” You guys now have a technology – a very smart technology – that prevents that once and for all. It’s called MyQ Garage. Tell us how it works.
MAUREEN: Right. We hear all the time people driving away and forgetting to close their garage door, like you mentioned. And now, we have a product that works with your existing garage-door opener so that you can get an alert on your cellphone, as you’re pulling away, that reminds you that you’ve left the garage open. And wherever you are, you can close the garage right from the app.
So the product just mounts in the garage – two small components – and then you add it to your Wi-Fi network, same as if you were adding another Wi-Fi printer or an iPad to your network. And from anywhere in the world, you have access. You can see whether or not the door is open or closed and you can open and close it, right from your phone.
LESLIE: That’s pretty amazing, because the peace of mind is, you know, completely valuable when you’re away from your home, knowing that the garage is closed.
Now, can this work with any garage-door opener that I may have or does it have to be a Chamberlain product?
MAUREEN: It works for most major brands, in any garage-door opener built in the last 20 years. So, from 1993 and later, most of the major brands that are out there, it’ll work.
TOM: So this isn’t so much a replacement for your garage-door opener as more of a signaling device that you’re adding to your existing opener, correct?
MAUREEN: Exactly. Yeah, it’s a simple accessory for your garage-door opener. And it takes maybe 10, 15 minutes to install and then another 10 or 15 minutes to add it to your network. And then you’re up and running without having to replace your garage-door opener.
TOM: And it has some sort of an oops feature where if you do drive away, it’ll remind you instantly and know that the door is open? Does it – can you set it for that if your door is open for, I don’t know, an extended time, maybe 10 minutes, that it will alert you that the door is open?
MAUREEN: Exactly. That’s how it works. So you can set alerts and you can set the duration.
So, if you typically take about 10 minutes to pull out of the driveway, you can set it to 10 minutes. And then if it’s open longer than 10 minutes, it’ll send you the alert.
TOM: Now, that’s very cool. What about if you wanted to just know if the door was opened almost unexpectedly or perhaps maybe your kids come home from school and they get in that way, can you have it alert you when the door is opened?
MAUREEN: Yep. You can set alerts for any time of the day. So you can say, “If it ever opens after midnight, let me know, because something’s no good.” Or while you’re on vacation, it can let you know. Or you can leave the alert to set any time and it can send you a note to let you know that the kids got home from school safely.
TOM: Imagine that, Leslie. That would be really freaky if your garage door opened while you’re on vacation and you’re like, “Who’s in my house?”
LESLIE: That’s really smart.
It’s really – the technology is so smart, it really will give you the peace of mind when you’re away from home that everything is safe and secure.
MAUREEN: Exactly. So a lot of people – I mean that’s the primary way they get in and out of the house is through the garage. So if you happen to leave it open and you maybe didn’t lock the door between the garage and the house, you now have the peace of mind knowing you can easily close it from anywhere.
TOM: We’re talking to Maureen Silber – she’s a senior product manager with Chamberlain – about their new product called MyQ Garage, a system that alerts you when your garage door is unexpectedly left open.
Now, Maureen, I would imagine moving forward that this technology could be built right into existing garage-door openers or into, I should say, new garage-door openers. Does Chamberlain have a product now that incorporates MyQ built into it?
MAUREEN: We do. Yeah, we have garage-door openers. It’s a select line of our garage-door openers called MyQ-Enabled Garage-Door Openers. And it’s built right into the opener itself. There’s one small accessory that you attach to your router and then you can have the smartphone control even for your new garage-door opener, as well.
TOM: Very cool. Maureen Silber with Chamberlain, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and telling us all about MyQ Garage.
MAUREEN: Great. Thank you, again.
TOM: If you’d like more information, you could go to Chamberlain.com/MyQGarage. What a real smart technology. So cool the way we’re able to do things today using Wi-Fi to help make our homes and ourselves a lot smarter.
LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, a quick and easy tip to make sure that your A/C is running efficiently. The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor wood-staining project? Get it done the simple way with Flood Wood Care. With products like Flood CWF-UV, you get long-lasting quality at a great value, plus guidance to help make the whole process easier. Get started at Flood.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. Give us a call here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Hydro Kit from Danco. It includes a HydroRight Dual-Valve Flush Converter, a HydroClean Toilet Fill Valve and Danco’s Perfect Seal Toilet Installation Ring.
Now, these are far superior to traditional rings because the wax is actually encased in a rubber seal, so it will eliminate those chances for leaks.
TOM: And the thing about those types of leaks is that they’re right at the base of your toilet and you don’t really know about it until it gets the whole floor wet and the thing starts to rot all the way around. The Perfect Seal by Danco is available at The Home Depot and you can learn more at ItsAPerfectSeal.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now up, we’ve got Paul calling in from Tennessee who’s got an issue with a water pump. Tell us what’s going on.
PAUL: I’m getting some air in this well water. The well is six-and-a-half years old, as is the house. And it goes down 350 feet and the casing goes down 105 feet where they grouted it. When they first put it in, I was bothered by the amount of turbidity I had in it and I was changing the whole-house filter about once a week.
And I went back to the drilling company and they said, “Well, it would take about three months to quit that.” Well, it was 36 months. And then after about four years, I started getting some water hammer in the cold water, particularly in the basement although upstairs, it’ll do it, too.
But then I’m getting air out of the faucets upstairs and it’s collecting air from somewhere and I can’t figure out where. And as far as I know, the well tank, with the bladder in it – the 40 pounds of air pressure hold the bladder. That seems to be OK, Tom.
TOM: OK. Yeah, that was the first thing I was going to think: that if you had a leak in that bladder tank, that that would cause that. Other possible causes are bad siphons but I’m not quite sure how you could test that without having all the gear that you would need.
Have you had the well company come back and take another look at this, specifically for the air-bubble problem?
PAUL: No. Because it’s been quite a while and they – the guy they used to have there at the company, in the daytime, didn’t seem to know much about it. In fact, when he told me 3 months it was going to clear up and it was 36 months, I thought, “Maybe I’m talking to the wrong guy.” But I haven’t gotten a hold of him.
TOM: Well, he told you 3 months because his warranty was 90 days, right?
TOM: Paul, obviously, we’re getting air into that system and if it’s not coming through the bladder tank, I’m not quite sure where it’s coming in. And I think you’re going to have to get a well expert there – a real expert – that understands these things and try to see if there’s any way they can determine exactly how that air is getting in.
Do you have another well company that you might try?
PAUL: Yeah, there’s several of them here because this area is very rural. We’re right at the edge of the Smokies.
TOM: I would try another well company, because you didn’t have good luck with the first one, and see if you can get to the bottom of it. But I agree with you: if it’s not the tank, it more than likely is the pump.
PAUL: OK. Well, very good. And thank you. I will try someone here local, then, and see if they can build (ph) it out.
TOM: Alright, Paul. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s warm outside, so you turn on your A/C. But your house just doesn’t seem to be getting cool.
Now, there’s a quick and easy way to check if everything is working OK without calling a pro.
TOM: Yep. You just take a thermometer and you measure the airflow at the supply and the return duct nearest the blower. The temperature difference should be between 12 and 20 degrees and if it’s not, your system is not running efficiently. That means that you are spending money to run it longer to do the job cooling your house. And that’s going to lead to a lot more expense. And this usually happens because it needs refrigerant, which can be easily added by your local HVAC pro. So even if it seems to be cooling, check it out. And if it’s not 12 to 20 degrees between supply and return air, get it tuned up.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Annette in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a boathouse project. Tell us about it.
ANNETTE: The deck on top of the boathouse – flat roof, has a bladder. I have removed the carpet that was originally on there 10 years. Want to know what I can put back on there, on the bladder, that will do better than carpet.
LESLIE: And this is on the roof, so it’s exposed to the elements 24-7?
ANNETTE: It is a flat roof.
LESLIE: Now, a carpet – exterior carpet – is probably not the best choice, just because it does tend to wear and tear quite quickly, even though you got 10 years out of it.
TOM: Rapidly, yeah. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: You know, it’s probably not the best choice.
Now, Tom, would you consider a composite decking material or can that not really sit directly on top of that bladder, to get that water away?
TOM: Well, actually, what I was thinking was to create a deck-like surface on top of that bladder.
LESLIE: Like a platform.
TOM: Right, a platform where the deck – you really wouldn’t have the traditional floor joists or even 2x4s. You might have a, say, 2×6 on the flat that lays flat on top of that deck. And then the deck boards sort of lay on top of that on – with 16 inches on center. So it’s kind of like just making the top surface of the deck as the wear-and-tear surface on top of that bladder.
Is there some sort of a railing system here, as well, Annette?
ANNETTE: Yes. It’s all railed. Mm-hmm.
TOM: OK. So then I would just create a composite deck that lays flat on top of that.
Now, you can’t just lay the composite decking boards on the bladder; you’ll need some way to keep them together. That’s why I said that what I might do is take a pressure-treated 2×6, lay it on the flat and use that sort of, in essence, as if it was a floor joist that you were attaching these decking boards to. And then lay the decking down on top of that.
Now, there’s also interlocking wood – and I think it’s made out of teak.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I’ve used, actually, teak tiles like that.
TOM: Yeah, there’s teak tiles that interlock, right? Then I know – I’ve seen them; people can put them down on top of patios. I suppose you could probably also put that down on top of the roof as long as it wasn’t too soft. So any type of wood decking surface like that would be a good choice.
LESLIE: And those are interesting: the teak tiles that snap together. Do you have a Christmas tree store near you? You know those stores: it’s not really a holiday store, it’s like …
ANNETTE: No. Lowe’s is the closest to – I’m 18 miles from any town. I’m way out in the woods.
LESLIE: OK. Because there’s several different companies, actually, that sell them online. Locally, for me, I found them at one of those discount home decorating stores. But they’re 12×12 teak tiles that almost look like a parquet tile, like a floor tile? And they’re set on a plastic base and they snap together. And you can also get an edging tile to sort of complete the border and that could sit directly on top of the bladder, because it’s got the little plastic base that creates that platform.
TOM: A good website to take a look at is SwiftDeck. SwiftDeck.com is a company that sells patio deck tiles. They have Ipe tiles. It looks like they also have a composite version. So a couple of options there. Great photos. You can see exactly what this looks like, at SwiftDeck.com.
ANNETTE: Beautiful. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you love the look of high-end backyards that have those built-in kitchens and all that wonderful seating? Well, when we come back, we’re going to help you create an outdoor kitchen on a budget. The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.
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, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Alright, guys. What is the most annoying thing about mowing a lawn?
TOM: Mowing the lawn.
LESLIE: Right. The chore itself. Well, it actually turns out that most of the homeowners we asked are saying it’s the sound. So to help with that, Craftsman has come up with the Quiet Front Wheel-Drive Lawn Mower, so you can actually hear your kids playing or imagine this, carry on a conversation while you’re mowing the lawn.
TOM: Now, you’re saying, “I’d love to have one but I just can’t handle it right now.” Well, here’s the great news: you could win one of these mowers in The Money Pit’s Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes. It’s a prize worth $420.
To enter, just visit our Facebook page, click the Like, fill out the info and share the sweeps. And you can even earn extra bonus entries. So, the address is Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. It’s just one of three great prizes we’re giving away, so check it out.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we can jump into our e-mail questions. Like Sue from Oklahoma writes: “A neighbor’s child poured out a whole glass of juice into my floor air-conditioner vent. It seems to be running fine but do I need to worry about this causing problems down the road?”
TOM: Well, Mr. Air Conditioner was thirsty and needed some juice.
LESLIE: Well, you know, hole in the floor, pour juice down. Of course.
TOM: You’re not going to hurt your air-conditioning system unless you’re unlucky enough to have that vent being right above the air-handler unit itself, which I doubt. So, if it’s all dried out, it’s just going to evaporate away. And I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Not really much of an issue. It’s just probably gotten that duct a bit sticky but it’s not going to affect you.
LESLIE: Alright. Mandy from New York writes: “I have a very high-traffic hall in my home with wall-to-wall carpeting. I’ve got two young kids and many spills. I want to stick with carpet. What can I do?”
There’s a lot of carpets out there that are made to look like a pile or a Berber, that are made from a polypropylene but still feel really soft. Check out Mohawk carpeting. I don’t know the name of the specific style they have but they have a propylene base that will be super-durable and easy to clean.
TOM: Want to be able to really live in your outdoor living area? Why not build an outdoor kitchen? Leslie has tips on how to do just that on a budget, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Oh, please, we’ve all seen those magazines and we’ve just poured over the pictures of beautiful outdoor kitchens with ranges and pizza ovens and chandeliers. I mean luxurious and of course, gigantic. But those of us who aren’t among the rich and famous, we could have one, too, you guys.
All you really need is a great grill and some weatherproof décor. So, if you can afford to add, you want to put a prep space and some cabinetry. You can go for it. It really is beautiful. If not, some simple backyard tables are going to do the same trick. The key here is that when you’re barbecuing, you want to sort of keep all of your cooking activity outside. That’s why those prep spaces are key.
You can also have a dedicated refrigerator for outdoor use, as well. It’s a great place to keep your drinks cold and any leftovers from going bad during the party and of course, a place to put some things that you’re about to put on the grill. So, again, you’re in the party, you’re in the space with your family, you’re not running back and forth.
Now, my advice, really, is to have an understanding of your home’s architectural style so that your outdoor kitchen compliments whatever your indoor living space is like, whether you’ve got Victorian, Craftsman. Whatever that style is to your home and your decorating style, carry that out of doors.
Now, no matter what your style is, a fire pit fits across the board. There’s one for every style. They can be simple. They can be extravagant. They really add instant ambiance and warmth and of course, it’ll let you enjoy your outdoor kitchen or your outdoor seating area well into those cooler months. So let’s get outside and enjoy your space in all seasons.
TOM: Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk about natural-stone countertops. They’re very popular for their luxurious look and their durability. But they do need to be cared for to keep them looking high-end for their entire lifespan. We’ll have tips on how to do just that, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(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.)