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How to Create Pet Friendly Spaces that are Functional and Comfortable, Learn What You Need to Know as a First Time Homeowner, Hiring a Contractor? Get Everything in Writing and More

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 because we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. We know there’s something on your how-to to-do list that maybe you just need a little help to get started with. Or maybe you’re perplexed by something that you see about your house and you need some help to figure it all out and decide what the next step is.

    We are here to do just that but you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So, put down those tools and pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    It is spring and the time of the year for outdoorsy activities and also the time to enjoy all of those wonderful aromas that the earth, the flowers and the fresh air provide. So, it makes sense that the last Saturday in April is devoted to a special day that honors just that.

    It is now Sense of Smell Day, Leslie. Did you know that?

    LESLIE: I really thought you were making that up.

    TOM: I am not making it up. It is officially Sense of Smell Day, which I can expect is another Hallmark holiday.

    LESLIE: Good Lord. You make me buy so many cards for you. I’m going to have to start making them.

    TOM: So in honor of yet another made-up holiday, we’re going to have some tips on how to get rid of bad odors in your house, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, if you’re getting ready to hire help for your home improvement project, we want to make sure that you know exactly what belongs in the paperwork that you’ve got with your contractor. And we’re going to share some tips, in just a little bit.

    TOM: And do you have one of those big and beautiful patio doors that you just love most of the time except, that is, when it gets so hot outside that those big, glass doors can make your house so uncomfortable you could probably grow tropical fruit inside? We’ve got a do-it-yourself way to get that privacy and shade that you need, without sacrificing function.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away a 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from Stanley.

    TOM: It’s worth 75 bucks. Going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    JAN: Yes. Thank you for taking my call. I have an older brick home in the neighborhood 70 years. I would like to know the R-factor between double-pane windows and triple-pane. I have to make a choice. Which would be best?

    TOM: Yeah. You know, that’s a great question, whether it pays to go with double-pane or triple-pane. Certainly, triple-pane are a little more energy-efficient and in an area like Michigan, that’s something that we’re very concerned about. But they’re more expensive.

    Now, one of the things that you might want to consider here would be to use a good-quality brand first. So I would kind of concentrate on the brand rather than the panes, because it’s all relative.

    And then when you look at the brands, the next thing you want to look at is something called the National Fenestration Rating Council label. The label on the glass actually tells you how energy-efficient the window is. It will tell you what the heat gain coefficient it is. It’ll tell you what the U-factor is. And you can compare apples to apples, Jan, by using the National Fenestration Rating Council label.

    And I will tell you that on our website, at MoneyPit.com, we actually have a replacement-window guide. It’s a free download, actually, from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. There is an ad right on the home page that will take you right into the page where this exists. And you can download this guide and in the guide, we actually have a picture of the label and we explain how you use it to try to sort out what the best window is for your home.

    So I wouldn’t concentrate so much on double versus triple; I would concentrate on glass quality and that NFRC rating.

    JAN: Perfect. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Texas on the line, who is possibly pretty mad at his son about this question he’s about to ask. What happened, Richard?

    RICHARD: My son changed his oil on his car and made a mess underneath of it and didn’t ever tell me about it. And unfortunately, he parked his car over it, for the most part. And now that his car’s gone, the oil stain is still there and I can’t seem to find any solution to getting it out. It was a new concrete and we put a sealer down and it didn’t – apparently, it didn’t work.

    TOM: From what you’re telling us here, you’ve done a lot. You’ve pressure-washed it, you put a degreaser, you used muriatic acid, you used kitty litter. It may be so into that concrete now that you’re not going to draw it out.

    The only thing that we can suggest that sometimes works is TSP – trisodium phosphate. And you buy this at a paint store and you mix it up like a paste and then you trowel it on over that stain and let it sit for a while. And that might, might pull some of it up.

    LESLIE: Get some of it up.

    TOM: But unfortunately, you’ve got this to the point now where it’s so embedded in there that I don’t think you’re going to be able to totally bring it back to the way it was. So you may want to think about using a concrete stain and restaining the whole surface or even an epoxy paint. They have epoxy paints that go on driveways today that are very durable, that can give you some protection against this ever happening again.

    RICHARD: Right. Well, I have some of that in my garage floor, where you roll it on and you put the little glitter over the top of it?

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RICHARD: And that seemed to work pretty good in there. Is there anything that I have to specifically pretreat that concrete with so that it will stick and not come up?

    LESLIE: Generally, the kits, when you purchase them, they’re sold in sort of stages and steps. And one of the first steps is an etching process, which will do the cleaning and prepping of the surface. But you definitely want to make sure that you clean the surface. Make sure that you get whatever dirt and dust or – just sitting on top of it off of it.

    And if you do use some water to give it a good cleaning, let it dry out very well before you apply anything. And then check your forecast, because you want to make sure that this has proper curing time and that there’s no chance of rain.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RICHARD: Awesome, awesome. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Richard. 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, home improvement, design, décor question. Whatever you are working on, we’re here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, do you have an area in your home that’s devoted to your pets? I do.

    Leslie, I know you do. And it’s an area that we want to be fun, functional and fresh, all at the same time.

    We’ll have tips on how you can do just that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement project and perhaps the tools to help you get it all done, because we’re giving away a 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from Stanley worth 75 bucks.

    It comes with all the sockets, ratchets and wrenches that you’re going to need. It’s fully-polished chrome so it’s also anti-corrosive. It’s also got a very durable carrying case and a lifetime warranty. Learn more at Stanley.com or pick up the phone right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you are working on but right now, it is time for this week’s Fresh Idea, presented by Citrus Magic.

    Now, pet owners, there are a lot of us out there and we all know that dogs and cats can very quickly become a very important part of our family. So if you want to make a comfortable and functional space for your pet, there are so many ways that you can actually accomplish that.

    First of all, you want to make sure that you designate a space that’s going to be truly dedicated to your pet’s bed, their food dishes. And if you’ve got a cat, their litter box. Or even if you keep your animal in a crate, something like that, just so that you’ve got a specific area for your animal to go. And you can use mats to do this or you can find a closet to use for this purpose.

    Next thing you want to consider is keeping their eating areas clean. You might want to think about food dishes that are up off of the floor. And this is a great idea if you’ve got a larger dog; this way, they don’t have to bend down to get to the ground to reach their water or their food. And you can find all different-sized benches with removable bowls, so it’s easy to clean. And you’ll find one for a tiny dog or a giant dog.

    TOM: And for cats, you want to also think about a covered litter box. That will help keep those odors down and keep the area neat-looking.

    Now, to keep this entire area odor-free, I would recommend Citrus Magic’s All-Natural Odor-Eliminating Spray. We’ve been using that in the house now for over a year and we really love it. And the best thing about this is it’s not going to harm your pet in any way. You can use it on their bed, you can use it near their food, you can use it near their water or near them.

    It’s 100-percent natural. It’s made from pure citrus oil that actually eliminates odors instead of just covering them up. Plus, the light, clean fragrance is great for those that are sensitive to heavy, perfume-y smells.

    And that is your Citrus Magic Fresh Idea for this week. You can learn more about Citrus Magic all-natural fresheners at CitrusMagic.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got John in New York who is looking for some help with a condensation issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: Love your program.

    LESLIE: Thank you.

    TOM: Thank you, John.

    JOHN: I have a stone-type house and it seems like it always seems damp inside.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    JOHN: I was wondering if that’s a cause of the stone? I’m really not sure of the insulation under it. I was just wondering if I can use a vapor-barrier paint to stop that. And the trim on the inside is at least a ½-inch sticking out – it sticks out about a ½-inch. I was wondering if they have any sort of insulating-type wallpaper or something that I could help insulate the inside without going through the outside. Thank you very much.

    TOM: So, the interior-wall finish, is there any frame wall as a part of that or is it plastered right over the stone? I mean what’s your understanding of the wall construction?

    JOHN: I think it’s plastered right over the stone.

    TOM: Yeah, well, that would make sense.

    A couple of things come to mind. First of all, the humidity and the dampness problem, it’s certainly the stones are contributing to that because any type of a masonry product like that is going to be very hydroscopic, so it holds a lot of water and that water can certainly evaporate into the interior space. However, that said, there are a couple of things that you can do to reduce the volume of water that collects on the outside.

    The first is start at the roof with the gutter system. Make sure it’s clean, free-flowing and that those downspouts are at least 4 to 6 feet from the house when they discharge. Secondly, look at the grading to make sure that the soil around the immediate foundation perimeter slopes away. You want a drop-off of about 6 inches over 4 feet. Those two things reduce the volume of moisture that sort of hangs at the base of the house and in doing so means there’s a lot less water to be drawn up into the walls, which can therefore evaporate into the house.

    The second thing to do is let’s talk about interior ventilation. You want to make sure that you have exhaust fans in the kitchens and the bathrooms that don’t recirculate, that truly take the moisture out of the house.

    And thirdly, what kind of heating system do you have in that house, John?

    JOHN: It’s oil heat – oil-forced hot air.

    TOM: Perfect. With a forced hot-air system, you can install an appliance called a whole-home dehumidifier. There’s a number of manufacturers that make them. They can take out about 90 pints of water a day, so they’re …

    LESLIE: From the entire house.

    TOM: Right. So it’s not just a one-room dehumidifier or one – like a basement dehumidifier. This works in the HVAC system so it takes – the air that’s coming in the returns runs through the dehumidifier, it pulls out the excess moisture and then it sends that drier air down the line. This’ll be especially valuable to you in the spring and the summer months when there’s a lot of humidity around.

    JOHN: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    CHRISTY: I have a question about old lamps. I bought some antique lamps, probably – they’re over 50 years old. And I just want to know if – I’ve had them – I’ve had the wiring – I’ve taken them to a hardware store and they’ve rewired them. But I don’t know very much about electricity in old light fixtures and I just want to know if I replace the electrical cords, how would I know if they’re safe? Is that all I need to do to be sure that they’re safe? 

    TOM: Well, if the hardware store is doing this for you, I think that you’re probably in good hands because what they would do is they would replace everything, including the socket, the bulb socket and the switch and the cord. So essentially … 

    LESLIE: They just work off of the fixture and replace all the guts. 

    TOM: Yeah. Essentially, all of the operable parts, from an electrical standpoint, are new. So I think you’d be perfectly safe doing that. 

    CHRISTY: Yeah, because people are always throwing out these really cool, old lamps with all kinds of unique features and then I find some local hardware store where the guy knows how to fix it and they’re pretty awesome.

    TOM: Yeah. Yep.

    CHRISTY: So that’s really just my question. I have these lamps; they’re beautiful, they’re old and they’re unique but I don’t want them to be a fire hazard. 

    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely not. 

    TOM: I think that you’ll be perfectly fine. 

    CHRISTY: OK. Do you have any suggestions for reference? Like just by chance, would you know any book or any website that I could find out about the age of old lamps or information on vintage lamps and lighting fixtures? 

    LESLIE: I don’t, actually. I was going to send you to a website called LampShop.com and they sell lamp parts. Because I, like you, like to either make my own lampshades or I find something cool like a vase or some sort of interesting, antique-y object, if you will, and I like to turn those things into lamps.

    And there’s a guy that works there who – I believe his name is Ryan – he’s completely awesome; he talks me through the whole process. I sort of describe the piece that I’ve found and what’s the best way to turn it into a lamp. So you may, in your next dumpster-dive adventure, find something cool that isn’t already a lamp that you might want to venture into doing yourself. And as long as you use up-to-code electrical wiring, it’s as simple as running an electrical cord up this piece and wiring it to a socket. It could not be easier. As long as you’re using current items, it’ll work fantastic and you’ll be able to create really unusual pieces. 

    CHRISTY: Thanks for your help. I appreciate it. I love your show. 

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

    LESLIE: John in California is calling in with an insulation and a siding question. How can we help with the project?

    JOHN: Well, I want to re-side the south side of my house and it currently has 5/8 T1-11 siding on it.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And I wanted to put the HardiePlank on the outside of it and maybe, possibly, increase the insulation.

    TOM: OK. Are you going to take the T1-11 off?
    JOHN: Well, I wasn’t going to but I could.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Because you’re going to have the issue of what to do with your windows and the depth around the windows and the trim around the windows and doors and that sort of thing to deal with. But HardiePlank is a good choice. What’s your specific question, though?

    JOHN: Well, it’s – if I put the Styrofoam insulation on between the siding – the existing siding or some sheer wall and the HardiePlank – then I obviously have to put some firring strips in to be able to put the HardiePlank to and I didn’t know whether or not putting …

    TOM: Actually, I’m not sure that that’s the case. If you leave the T1-11 up there – because it’s good sheathing; it’s constructural sheathing – and you attach the foam insulation over that – so you have either pink foam, blue foam, isocyanurate foam, whatever – you can attach that right to the T1-11. Then you could put the HardiePlank right over the foam, nail through the foam into the T1-11 and have good attachment.

    JOHN: Ah-ha. So, how would you attach the foam insulation to the siding?

    TOM: With a nail that kind of looks a bit like a roofing nail; it’s got a wide, flat head.

    JOHN: Oh, OK. OK. Now, the only problem I would have with that is that here where we live, up in the foothills, in the summer and it being the south side of the house, the ambient temperature could approach 100 degrees and then in the middle of the night it might get down into the mid-40s.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: So you would receive a lot of expansion and contraction of the material. Would that have a tendency to pull on the nails or should I use screws or …?

    TOM: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

    JOHN: You think it would work.

    TOM: Yeah. You would have more of an expansion and contraction issue if you had vinyl siding, because it expands and contracts very rapidly and be all wavy and stuff. But HardiePlank is pretty durable in terms of thermal expansion.

    JOHN: Mm-hmm. OK. So I just …

    TOM: Yeah. It’s not a bad idea to give a call to the manufacturer just to check out your specific situation but I think that’s the way I’d approach it.

    JOHN: OK. Alright. Well, then I guess that answers it. Thank you very much.

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

    You know, Leslie, that T1-11 siding – we’re talking about the plywood siding that looks sort of like vertical slats …

    LESLIE: Well, it looks like planking almost.

    TOM: Looks like planking?

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a very short-term siding, for the most part. I mean you get 10 or 15 years out of that stuff, it’s pretty good.

    LESLIE: You’re lucky.

    TOM: You’re lucky, right. But it is a great way to have a sheathing product that reinforces the structural stability of the walls. So that’s why, when you have T1-11, you may not want to remove it. Because if you did, there’s really nothing that’s really keeping those walls from …

    LESLIE: Because there’s no structure to it.

    TOM: Well, there’s nothing that – keeping those walls from racking, which is sort of sliding from side to side.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, do you love having big, glass sliding doors but maybe you need a way to control the light and the privacy? If that’s you, we’ve got tips on a cool blind system that you can install yourself, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And blinds or shades are pretty easy as a home improvement project to put on just about any window in your house. But when it comes to getting that same sort of control over the light and privacy on a door, well, not so much.

    LESLIE: Seriously. You need a very specialized product to really help you get some privacy at the front entrance to your home. So joining us is a special guest, Randy Brown, who’s the product manager from ODL, to talk about a great, new innovation to help your doors with privacy.


    RANDY: Hey, thanks for having us. Appreciate being here.

    TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. So, your product is an add-on blind. Sounds simple enough but it’s pretty neat because it actually adds onto any exterior door and it keeps the blinds behind tempered glass. Talk about how it works.

    RANDY: Well, the beauty of this is like any blind, you’re able – you have the benefit of providing visual privacy and light-flow control with the blinds. But what it does is if you think about a traditional blind, over time it gets dirty and you’ve got to dust it and how do you keep it clean? And then you’ve got these cords hanging down and then when you go to open or shut the door, you get the swinging and banging associated with that.

    And the beautiful thing with our add-on blind is it’s enclosed behind tempered glass. And what that does is seal it, so you never have to dust or clean the blind. So that number-one complaint is taken care of, from that standpoint. And the second thing is you also don’t have those cords, so it’s very child- and pet-safe, from that standpoint.

    And then, also, again, when you open and shut the door, because it’s sealed behind the glass …

    LESLIE: It’s not going to bang around.

    RANDY: You’ve got it, exactly. So you get a nice, swinging motion with that. So consumers love it because it takes care of those problems for consumers and you still get the benefit of controlling visual privacy and light flow.

    LESLIE: Now, what about installation? It provides such a great benefit as far as privacy and light control but as a homeowner, is this something that I can purchase and tackle myself, adding it onto the door without damaging the efficiency of the door?

    RANDY: Great question. Very simple. It’s a simple process to install over your existing frame of your door on the inside. You simply have got some metal clips that you simply slide on in the upper-frame area and the frame actually hangs and pivots right off of that. And then you secure it with some simple clips at the side of the frame, as well.

    So, really adaptable. We’ve got styles that work for flush-frame doors, as well as the more traditional, raised-frame doors.

    TOM: Now, how does the actual operation of the blind work? Do you have anything that extends beyond this frame so that you can operate it?

    RANDY: What you have is an ergonomically-designed lever that you simply slide up and down. And that allows you to raise or lower the blinds and then you can also override it by being able to adjust the blinds themselves up to 180 degrees, so you can tilt that. So one lever gives you the – which is designed simply to raise and lower it and then allows you to tilt the blind, so it’s very consumer-friendly, from that standpoint.

    LESLIE: What about my choices? You know I work as a decorator so I’m already thinking like, “What kind of options could I get? Are there colors? Do I have blind options? Are there fabrics?” What do I do?

    RANDY: Yeah, we’ve looked at that and we’ve noodled, quite frankly, a little bit with the color options right now, like most blind options. White’s like 95 percent of the volume, so that’s really what we offer. We have recently introduced a new cellular shade, as well, which does give you more of a style. Kind of a textured feel in there and gives you more of a style.

    And that is also – and instead of lowering from the bottom to the top, which is what the blind does, the shade actually comes from the bottom to the top.

    TOM: Now, can you paint the frames?

    RANDY: Yeah, the paints are – the frames are paintable and stainable, from that standpoint.

    TOM: OK, great.

    RANDY: So any color that you want to match with that, as well.

    TOM: Well, that’s terrific. Randy Brown, Product Manager with ODL, telling us about this new product, the Add-On Blind. Very, very cool product. If you want more information on it, you can head on over to ODL’s website at ODL.com or pick up the phone and call them at 866-ODL-4YOU – the number 4 – YOU.

    Randy, thanks again for stopping by the program.

    RANDY: Great. Thanks for having us. We appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, when dealing with your contractors this spring, we want to make sure that you get everything in writing. So stick around because we’re going to tell you what needs to be spelled out and how, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT because this hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away a 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from our friends over at Stanley Tools. And it’s worth $75.

    Now, it’s going to come with all of the sockets, the ratchets and the wrenches that you are ever going to need. And the tools have a knurled-handle finish so they’re not going to slip out of your hands while you’re getting dirty with your home improvement projects. And the set comes with a carrying case and a lifetime warranty.

    You can learn more at Stanley.com or call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your home improvement question to be answered and your chance to win.

    TOM: Well, maybe you’re not a do-it-yourselfer; maybe you’re a direct-it-yourselfer and you’re ready to hire a contractor to help you get a project done this spring. If that’s the case, you want to make sure you get the job details in writing. When you make an oral contract, you risk disputes that happen later on.

    Now, when you make the contract, you want to consider the following: first, the work to be done; the payment schedules; the proof of the contractor’s insurance and license; and project guarantees. All very important things to make sure are documented in writing.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you also want to make sure that you know which of the materials that you’re using in your home are warranted and what subcontractors will be working on your home.

    And you also want to make provisions for change orders because sometimes when a project is underway, you’re going to realize that – “Oh, maybe I’d like a window added here,” or “I don’t really like that appliance that we first picked out. Can we change that?” You just want to remember that before you sign on the bottom line, that you run through this checklist so that you don’t miss anything and nobody has questions or concerns or issues that go unanswered or unresolved.

    If you want some more details, head on over to Google.com and type in “money pit contract essentials” and you’ll get a ton of information there.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Dean in New York is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    DEAN: Good. Well, about two years ago, my family and I moved into a different home and we had wood molding around the doors and such. And I decided, mistakenly, to surprise my wife one day and paint all of that. And not a good thing and I found out two years …

    TOM: Oh. Uh-oh. Man, you got in big trouble for that one, didn’t you?

    DEAN: Yeah. I found out about two years later that she didn’t really like it and I’m …

    TOM: Oh, she – aw, she was so sweet. She didn’t tell you for two years?

    LESLIE: For two years.

    DEAN: Exactly. But I’ve come to not like it too much, either, so I was trying to actually scrape the paint off. And I can do a lot of it by hand but a lot of it seems on there and I just want to see if there’s a way to get the paint off without actually – you know, to go back to the finished wood that was there without taking the layers off underneath, meaning the stain and such.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, generally, when you’re dealing with paint removal, it really does help to use a chemical paint remover. And there are a ton of different ones on the market: some that are spray-on; some that are more liquid-y; and others that are more gelatinous, that sort of sit on the surface. Both of them will take off layer by layer by layer.

    I can’t guarantee to you that when you get down to that original stain that you like, that it’s going to be great condition; you’ll just wipe it off and be done with it. You may need to then take that layer off and restain.

    DEAN: Alright. Would sanding be an option or would that possibly be more harm?

    TOM: No.

    LESLIE: No because if you use sand, I mean …

    TOM: That’s going to dig right into it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And even with the scraping, if you sort of go in there with your fingernail or a putty knife, you could sort of gouge into the wood itself. So I would get a liquid paint remover – one that’s in a sprayable format – spray it on, let it sit on there to sort of break up that first layer and then carefully use a paint scraper and just sort of smoothly go across the surface and see if you could start taking it off.

    But just be very cautious because you don’t want to overspray the remover so that you’re getting into the stain. But generally, because the paint is made of a different component than the stain, you should be able to get down to it. But just be gentle in the removal.

    DEAN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Michigan on the line who is dealing with some fading floors. Tell us what’s going on.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Well, hello. I have a rather large house and most of it is ¾-inch, solid-oak flooring, about the 2¾-inch-wide planks all laying together.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: You have the dining room, the kitchen and the living room all in line. There are wall – parts of walls between each room but you can see all the flooring all the way across.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: The flooring in the dining room, because of the large windows, has become faded compared to the adjacent rooms, being the kitchen and living room.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: And I’m trying to figure out how to treat it so I can match the existing color in the two adjacent rooms.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Because if I said it, you understand the problem.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s going to be somewhat different. Is it so dramatically different that you really need to take this step? Because, typically, the sun does a pretty good job of fading things reasonably evenly. And if you do take this step, you are – even if you happen to get a stain color that’s pretty darn close to what you have, it’s going to be obvious that one floor is a newer finish than the other floor.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Exactly. The dining room has three large windows shining on it, whereas the kitchen only has one small window over the sink and the living room has a patio door with a full curtain on it.

    TOM: Right. Right. Right, right.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: So, it is a noticeable difference between the three rooms.

    TOM: Well, listen, it’s so much work to refinish a floor. Adding the additional room may not really be that complicated. Maybe you should just do it all at once.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: And believe it or not, these two rooms – hallways – go into other rooms. We’re talking 2,400 square foot of oak floor. To continue it …

    TOM: Have you considered wall-to-wall carpet?

    LESLIE: What about an area rug?

    TOM: Exactly.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Now, that’s actually one of the problems. When you pick up a rug, you’ll see how nice and dark it is underneath, not so much here on the perimeter.

    TOM: Right. Right, right. Tom, I – frankly, I think you chalk this up to charm. You can control this if you refinish the floors but I don’t think you’re going to be able to do it selectively to match the fade of the sun. I just don’t think it’s physically possible for you to do that.

    So I think you live with it or you decide – or you live with it until you can’t live with it anymore and then you just redo all of the floors. And when you redo all of the floors, the finishes today – you might want to think about using an exterior-grade polyurethane because they have more UV-protection in them than an interior polyurethane.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Exactly.

    TOM: And that will actually help control and keep that color. And by the way, a set of blinds doesn’t help – doesn’t hurt either.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Well, thank you for your help.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still to come, home ownership has its privileges and its responsibilities. If you don’t maintain your home, it will eventually fall apart around you. We’re going to have some tips especially designed for first-time homeowners, to help you take care of your very own money pit and actually prevent it from becoming one. And that’s coming up, next.

    (theme song)

    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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. Let’s take a question now that was posted on MoneyPit.com from Rebecca in Louisiana.

    LESLIE: Alright. Rebecca posted: “I’m considering buying a house that hasn’t had electricity since 2005. Am I crazy? The house also had a leak in the roof that damaged the sheetrock. I’m concerned about mold. What should I know before getting an inspection?”

    TOM: Ah. You know, when you buy a house that has had the utilities off, it’s always more risky because, frankly, from being a home inspector for 20 years, you just cannot tell what’s wrong with the house until you get those utilities turned back on. So we always, always, always recommend that the utilities be turned on for the inspection. I mean how can you tell if the plumbing system has a leak unless you’re running water through it? How can you test to see if all of the outlets are wired correctly if there’s no electricity?

    So, you need to get the water on, you need to get the electricity on, you need to get the heat on. If you can’t, you’re taking a big risk of going through the entire real estate process – up to the point where, perhaps, they’re put on right before closing – and then all of a sudden, you find all of these problems that come tumbling out. And it can really mess you up when all you want to do is close and move into the house. So, it’s definitely important for you, Rebecca, to get those utilities on first.

    As far as the mold is concerned, that is an inspection that you can do without the utilities on. And if you’ve had water damage, certainly there is a risk, especially in an area so humid like Louisiana is. You can turn to an expert mold inspector. Have that evaluated and perhaps, based on that decision, then you decide to move forward with the home inspection and getting utilities turned on for that. I would do the mold first and then the other two second.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Good luck with that home purchase, Rebecca. Whatever happens, I know you’re going to make a good decision. And enjoy your new home.

    TOM: Well, spring is the traditional time of year that homes are bought and sold. And for millions of Americans, that means being a homeowner for the very first time. So, what do you need to know that seasoned money-pitters already do? Leslie has got that low-down in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Congratulations. You are the proud owner of your very first home. Now what? I feel like that was the question everybody had. I know we had that when we got our first home.

    TOM: Really.

    LESLIE: Well, much like a baby, your home, it’s got to be cared for and loved. And as a first-time homeowner, it’s your job to maintain your home year-round. Not like us. When we first moved into our house, having lived in Manhattan for so many years, the first snowfall we’re like, “Who’s going to shovel all that snow away? Oh, wait, that’s us.”

    So keep in mind, guys, that this is you. So what you’re going to need to do is think about investing in some tools that you’re going to need to tackle typical projects around the house. You need to think about a basic tool box and that should include a hammer, some screwdrivers, a pry bar, a level and an adjustable wrench. If you feel like, you can also add some power tools later. They’re great. If you’ve got a drill and a circ saw kicking around, you’ll be able to tackle just about anything.

    Now, you want to make sure that you understand the basics of your home’s mechanical systems. That’s an absolute must. So make sure that you know where your water-main line is and how to shut it off in an emergency. You also want to get acquainted with the fuse or the breaker box.

    And remember that home ownership puts you in charge of covering all of the utilities, so if the initial months in your new abode have given you sticker shock over the power and water costs, take some steps and think about how you can manage those energy dollars more efficiently.

    Finally, even if you’re in a brand new home that’s under warranty, it’s wise to have a contingency fund to cushion those curveballs that life can throw at every homeowner.

    If you want some more great tips, Google “money pit first-time homeowner tips.” You’ll get a ton of information there. It does seem overwhelming but it’s awesome being a homeowner. Just stick in there; you’re going to find your groove very quickly, we promise.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on the program, hey, when you open your kitchen cabinets, do things come tumbling out? Hopefully not but in fact, it is a very common problem. The good news is that there are some easy ways to make the most of organizing your cabinet space and we’re going to show you 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 2011 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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