How to Cut Pool Heating Costs, How to Build a Pollinator Garden and Tips to Prevent Slippery Sidewalks
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: Happy to be here to help with your home improvement projects. Let us solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. If you’ve got a décor project, a repair project, a spruce-up project, give us a call right now. We’d love to talk. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’re lucky enough to have a built-in pool, you might not feel quite as lucky when you have to pay the bills to heat that pool. We’ll tell you how you can use a free energy source to heat a pool and extend the swimming season.
LESLIE: And also ahead, want a garden that not only looks good but also serves an important purpose? Pollinator gardens attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies and they play a big role in plant reproduction. Roger Cook of This Old House is stopping by to give us the details.
TOM: And slippery sidewalks are something that can actually happen year-round but not if you treat those sidewalks with a simple coating. We’ll have tips on a concrete treatment that can help.
LESLIE: And we’ve also got a great new product in the studio to give away to one caller drawn at random. It’s a set of 4 Husky Unbreakable Flashlights from The Home Depot worth $56.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement or home décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in New York is on the line and is having an issue cleaning some showers. What’s going on, Donna?
DONNA: Well, I work at a fitness facility. And boy, do I have a problem with one out of four of the shower stalls there. That one, of course, is in the men’s room. Oh, my God, it’s so gross. It constantly cakes up this slimy, brown, gross, moldy – I don’t even know what this gunk is on the walls. And I have tried everything. I used bleach, the bathroom cleaners, antibacterial scrub brush. I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t even know what to do.
TOM: Yeah. It’s just getting away from you.
Well, first of all – and I know this is out of your control but the more humidity that builds up in that space, the worse this will continue to get. So if they don’t have good ventilation, they get dirtier and dirtier because it supports the growth of mold, mildew, algae and moss.
But one product that I’ve had great success with is called Zep – Z-e-p. It’s a shower, tub and tile cleaner. It’s a commercial cleaner. It’s not expensive. It’s about seven bucks a jug at Home Depot. And when you spray it on, it foams up and does a really good job of cutting out that nasty combination of soap scum and then everything that grows in the soap scum. Because the soap scum is like a food to a lot of those materials and that’s why it just gets so nasty. So I would try the Zep – Z-e-p – and see how you like that.
DONNA: Oh, my God. I am so glad I got through.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Clyde in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a water heater. What can we do for you?
CLYDE: I’m adding a room on in my house and the water heater I’ve got, it’s electric, 30-gallon. And it’s taking up too much room I don’t have to spare. And my question is: is one of those in-line water heaters – would that be advisable for a resident?
TOM: You mean an on-demand, tankless water heater?
TOM: The problem is that you have electric. Do you have gas there – natural gas – or propane?
CLYDE: No. I can get propane alright. I don’t have a tank.
TOM: If you want to have an on-demand tankless water heater, you need to have that be fossil-fueled with either natural gas or propane. There are electric, on-demand systems but they’re very expensive to use and I don’t think there’s any efficiency in going with that. So, if you want to have propane added to the house, you can consider a tankless water heater.
Now, if you want to go back with what you do have now, of course, you are going to need the room. But you could save some costs if you put a timer on that water heater so that it only heats water when you need it. I mean technically, you only need it a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. All day long, it’ll stay warm for hand-washing and that sort of thing and it can be off in the middle of the night. And that actually cuts the energy costs associated with heating the water.
CLYDE: Uh-huh. Well, I’ve got a timer on it now but I haven’t been using it because I really couldn’t figure out the right time to be doing it.
TOM: Well …
CLYDE: It seemed like it was always cold when I needed hot and hot when I didn’t need it, so one of those kinds of deals.
TOM: Yeah, I hear you. I hear you.
CLYDE: So I thought, “Well, I’ll just leave it.” Is there anything …?
TOM: You know, they only work – the timers only work well if your family is on a regular schedule where you can really rely on it for certain hours of the day. But if your schedule varies a bit, then maybe not so much.
So, those are your options, though, alright? Good luck with that project.
CLYDE: Alright, man. Thank you.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Happy Father’s Day Weekend to all the dads out there. Hopefully, you guys are taking it easy this weekend and maybe tinkering around the house or doing something that you love. Well, whatever it is, let somebody else call in a home improvement project and give you a hand. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, solar energy can help heat a home on the cheap but can also help heat your swimming pool. We’ll have details after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
So happy to be here today to talk with you about your home improvement projects. You can get us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you pick up the phone and call us, we’ll try to get you an answer to your question, plus an opportunity to win a fantastic product. Because this hour, we’re giving away a set of Husky Unbreakable Flashlights. There are three flashlights, plus a headlamp going out in this package.
Now, these utilize Cree LED bulbs, which is going to produce an extra-bright light. And the handles are rubber-coated aluminum, so they’re really strong, they’re really durable and easy to hold onto. There’s three light modes, including low, high or a flashing light.
All the products are available at Home Depot and HomeDepot.com but you’re going to get them today. They’re worth 55.94 if you pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rob in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROB: Calling to get you guys’ opinions on the – I’m having my deck partially repaired and it’s got some cedar trim and cedar boards that have gone bad, so they’re going to be replaced. So they’re going to look newer compared to the rest of the deck. I was looking into getting one of the epoxy, composite-type, deck-coating systems. Rust-Oleum Restore is one brand. Behr makes one, too. I’m just curious what you guys think about these products. And are they worth it?
TOM: How many decking boards are deteriorated, Rob?
ROB: Well, oh, it’s the majority of the steps. It’s a cedar deck with a green, treated wood underneath baseboard support. The cedar is just dying out on me and it’s about seven years old. The railings are going bad, too, so we’re looking at replacing a lot of the boards on the steps of the railing. But up to the same platform are the main boards. They are doing fine. So it’s mainly the steps up.
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily consider completely sealing in all of that cedar with a product like that.
Here’s what I would do. First of all, the deck boards that are cracked or checked or deteriorated, one thing to try is to flip them over.Because the underside of those deck boards is usually as good as the day it went down. Even though it’s cracked on top, the side that was not exposed to the sun is usually in pretty good condition. So you try to do that as much as you can. For ones that are really bad – just have to be replaced. Just replace those with new cedar decking boards. And yes, it’s not going to match.
And then once all the repair has been done, then you want to use a deck-washing product, like the one that makes – that Flood Wood Care makes. You run a deck wash across everything and then you want to hit it with at least two coats of solid stain. So not paint but solid stain. Not semi-transparent, not transparent but solid-color stain. And a good-quality solid-color stain, that’s going to look all the same. It’s going to maintain its wood quality, so you’ll see the grain through the stain and it’ll look perfect.
So, I don’t think you need to go with some sort of really thick – super-thick – coating right now. I think you just need to do some basic repairs.
ROB: OK. What stains would you recommend that …?
TOM: Good-quality stain. So, yeah, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams. A good-quality stain like that.
ROB: Alright, alright. OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rob. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Arlene in Rhode Island is on the line and wants to stay cool this summer with some air conditioning. How can we help you with the project?
ARLENE: I live an in 1,850-square-foot ranch that’s 38 years old and we installed the central air before the walls were sealed. The access to the handler, which is in the attic, is 21 inches by 21 inches square. And they always told us if it ever broke, it would be a difficult problem to replace the handler in the attic.
But lo and behold, last week the air conditioning went on for about an hour and then it stopped. I called my service-contract people. They came. They said – they went up into the attic and they said the handler is dripping grease. It’s old. It has a fan belt, which is no longer used, and it’s time to get rid of my air-conditioning system and get a new one or replace – or they could fix it for $800 but it might not be good forever.
So, I’ve been interviewing companies; they told me to do that. I’m a little bit educated on it now. And I know that I want a 5-ton handler in the attic and a 13-SEER compressor on the outside. My compressor is almost 10 years old but I think it wouldn’t be compatible.
TOM: How big is your house?
ARLENE: Eighteen-hundred-fifty square feet.
TOM: Five tons is a lot of air conditioning for that size house. Usually, you would use 3 to 4 zone – 3 to 4 tons. If you oversize the air conditioning, what’s going to happen is it’s going to cycle on or off very quickly. You could actually overdo it and it’ll be really inefficient.
But OK. I’m guessing that your question is: how do you get the air handler back up in the attic?
ARLENE: Well, everyone said they can make a new opening and put a new vent in and it’ll give it more circulation and it’s a good thing to do.
ARLENE: The last person I interviewed said he can get it up – a 5-ton up into the attic. Because the one he’s going to supply – an Amana – comes in two pieces.
ARLENE: He said and that will be better because if it ever needs a repair, you just click open the two pieces. I’ve never heard of a 2-piece 5-ton and I’m wondering what your opinion is, because he gave met the best price. He was $3,000 cheaper than everyone else.
TOM: Yeah, well, it’s hard to tell, because a lot of these guys bid you and not the project. But Amana is a good brand.
TOM: So I have no issues with that. I would just do some research on the contractor.
But by the way, you know, making a bigger opening is not that big of a deal. It might seem like a big of a deal but it’s really a pretty simple carpentry project. It’s just an additional project that you probably didn’t want to face.
Is there any storage space up there if you were to make it bigger? Could you take advantage of that?
ARLENE: A crawlspace attic.
TOM: It’s all a crawlspace? Yeah. Yeah, I mean listen, a carpenter that knows what he’s doing can open – can double the size of that hole in about an hour. It’s really not hard.
Listen, I just – before you make the commitment to the 5-ton, I’m just telling you, for an 1,800-square-foot house that’s over – it’s probably overkill. And I don’t want you to get in a situation where there’s – you know what I mean? When I say “cycling,” do you know what that means? It means the air conditioning comes on and it goes off, comes on again and it goes off, goes on/off, on/off. So what’ll happen is it will never run long enough to dehumidify your house. And as a result, you’ll feel cold and clammy. It’s really not good.
So, you want to put the right-size unit in, OK? You want to put the right-size unit in. And generally, it’s about 600 square feet per ton. So that’s only 3 tons for your house. So, I’m thinking three to four, not – I’m thinking five might be too big. OK?
ARLENE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And well done doing all the research on this.
Well, swimming pools sometimes need a little heat boost to be comfortable but that heat can be really costly. You could heat your swimming pool on the cheap, though, by taking advantage of the free energy provided by the sun.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to put your pool cover to work. Now, using it every night will help hold in the solar heat that was absorbed throughout the pool water during the day. And that’s going to increase the pool’s average temperature by about 4 to 5 degrees.
Now, to soak up maximum heat during the day, pools should be uncovered and in full sun between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If you’ve got some nearby trees that are interfering with the sun exposure, try to trim them back.
TOM: You can also tap into even more free energy by adding a solar pool-heating system. But even if you just adjust your routine with a pool cover, you can actually harness enough heat to extend the swimming season by about six weeks. And that sounds pretty good to me.
LESLIE: Stan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STAN: Oh, well, I had just bought a house that was built in 1995. It’s a 4,000-square-foot underground home.
TOM: Wow. That sounds neat.
LESLIE: And it’s not a transformed missile? I’ve been to Oklahoma and I’ve seen these missile-launching areas that have been sort of retaken over and turned into homes.
STAN: No, this is actually an underground concrete structure that was specifically built to be a house.
TOM: Do you get to mow your roof?
STAN: Yes, I do.
TOM: Very cool. So, what can we help you with?
STAN: Well, I knew when I bought this that it had a few leaks. And being that the house is getting close to being 20 years old, I feel that it’s time to probably remove the dirt and expose and probably replace the roof and especially since I have some leaks. And I’m having trouble finding somebody that deals with any kind of underground structure/home and especially in a roof/ceiling of that nature.
And I was curious if – I’m sure this is probably going to be an expensive undertaking. But furthermore, after I go back and get it all done, when I find the contractor to do it, what may be – is there some care/preventative maintenance that – how I care for that underground roof system, so I’m not coming back at a later date and time and going back through the same process.
TOM: There’s no way we could give you the answer to that question but we can give you some advice on how to approach it.
What I would do is I would find an architect to spec out this roof project, because it’s a big project, 4,000-square-foot roof. And I would have an architect or an engineer spec out the project. Let them do the research on what are the most viable materials out there right now, available, to replace this roof with. And have them provide – prepare a specification for that.
It’s worth the investment because then with that spec, you can bring it to qualified contractors. And I would guess, probably, the best contractors would be those that do commercial roofing, not residential roofing. And have them follow this specification exactly. I would not try to find a roofing contractor that has their own personal idea of how to do this. Because you’re not going to find somebody that’s experienced in these homes; it’s too unique. But if you find a building professional that could spec this out for you, do the research on the best way to replace that roof, that spec will be very valuable to you.
STAN: Perfect. That’s a great idea. Never even thought of that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Stan.
STAN: Hey, guys, I appreciate it.
TOM: Got to work – we’ve got to work smarter, not harder, right?
STAN: That’s right.
TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
STAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.
LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?
TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.
So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”
Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.
MARY: I really like the carpet down there.
LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.
TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. Things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.
MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?
TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.
MARY: OK, thank you.
LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Up next, bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, oh my. No, seriously, they’re great to have in your garden and they’re so beautiful. So we’re going to tell you how you can build a garden that makes them want to stay around and help out, after this.
MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to talk with you about your home projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you’ve got an apartment you’re fixing up; trying to find some storage space; need to paint the walls, paint the ceilings, cover some stains, fix a leak. Whatever is going on in your money pit, we can help. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Going to North Carolina where Michael wants to work on a bathtub project. Why not just get in the tub and relax, Mike? What’s going on?
MICHAEL: I wish I could, young lady. Thank you all ever so much for taking my call.
This house was built in 1934 and the bathtub has always been white porcelain. But I think the last time around my mom and dad remodeled the bathroom, they had it sprayed. It’s like a tan color, like a sandstone color. And I would love to remove it and bring it back to its normal gloss.
TOM: Well, if they’ve painted it, the – probably the normal gloss wasn’t so attractive. It might have worn. And to refinish a bathtub is usually a big challenge.
Now, you can strip it and you could refinish it again and you may get some number of years out of it. But I generally find that those refinishing projects are – they’re kind of like paint jobs: they last maybe five, six, seven years and then you’re doing it again and again. Or you can consider relining the tub. There’s a process by which the tub – a tub liner could be built and it sits, actually, inside that original tub and gives it a completely new surface.
So those are really the two options that I’d pursue, Michael.
MICHAEL: So, on the relining operation, what would you consider?
TOM: Well, I mean it’s – there’s different – there are manufacturers out there that do bathtub relining. And exactly, it’s a composite material that’s essentially made to fit your tub. They take some measurements and then – it doesn’t take up too much room and it looks really nice when it’s done. But it’s not inexpensive.
LESLIE: It’s probably on par with having the tub refinished.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So do you want a garden that not only looks good but also serves an important purpose? Well, there are a lot of species out there – including bees, hummingbirds and butterflies – that play a big role in plant reproduction.
TOM: Yep. They’re actually called “pollinators” and they’re incredibly important to life here on Earth. So, it’s equally important that we give these creatures a place to carry out their good work. Here to tell us how to do just that, by building a pollinator garden, is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
TOM: So, Roger, what makes building a pollinator garden so different than just, say, planting flowers?
ROGER: Well, you’re planning on feeding plants for the whole summer.
ROGER: And what we’re doing is we’re using different varieties of plant to do that. Not only varieties of plants but we’re using different colors and different shape flowers.
TOM: Now, do you match the plants with what you’re trying to support? So, for example, if you wanted to encourage butterflies, would you choose one type of plant over another to do that?
ROGER: Yes. You would know certain plants for butterflies are key. Like right now, there’s a problem with the monarch butterfly. And one of the keys to their habitat is milkweed. In fact, we went to Texas and Ask This Old House and we planted a butterfly garden. And the milkweed was the key of the whole garden, to get those plants. And it felt great to do something to help that population come back.
LESLIE: Now, what are the benefits of having a pollinator garden in your yard? Is it just because you’re supporting these local species or is it because you’re getting the beauty of all the flowers?
ROGER: All of the above. You’ve got to envision the yard without any of these plants. And then now you put these plants in and all of a sudden, you have butterflies, you have hummingbirds, you have things that will pollinate your garden for you with all these bees and other things coming by. It’s very important.
LESLIE: And I think the trickiest part – because I’ve attempted to do this. I’ve always looked at these beautiful planting magazines and catalogs and you want to create a garden that’s going to grow seasonally or throughout the season. How do you know how to plant things that are going to stagger appropriately throughout the season?
ROGER: Well, this is really a hot item right now. So a lot of the garden centers have displays set up with pollinators in them. There’s websites like Pollinator.org you can go to. And one of the keys that they’ll tell you is to use native plants, because they’re the ones that’ll spread through the season the longest.
TOM: So these are plants that are natural to your particular area, not plants that are imported, so to speak?
ROGER: Right. We want to target certain things, like we talked about the monarch. Then we have to have that milkweed. That’s the key.
TOM: So we’ve talked about insects that we want to target, ones that we want to welcome into our yard. What about insects we don’t want to welcome like, say, mosquitoes?
ROGER: You don’t like mosquitoes?
TOM: No. Not in Jersey.
ROGER: Well, you have to remember that mosquitoes are only attracted to stagnant water. They’re not going to be in anything where the water’s moving at all. So if you can have something near a little pump to agitate the water, that’ll keep the mosquitoes away. And if you have an urn or some sort of small bowl that has water – and a couple of goldfish will really help you cut down on that mosquito problem.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. I’m looking forward to building a pollinator garden now.
LESLIE: I love butterflies. Who doesn’t?
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by AZEK Deck, Trim and Pavers. AZEK, engineered to last beautifully.
Coming up, did you know that more half of trips and falls happen at home? We’ll have tips on a product that keeps that from happening to you, when The Money Pit continues.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.
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 at 888-MONEY-PIT. We want to help you with whatever it is you are working on around your house. Plus, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour. We’ve got in The Money Pit hard hat, for one lucky caller, the Husky Unbreakable Flashlights, which is basically a kit with three flashlights and a headlamp. And who doesn’t like to run around their house with a headlamp and get under the sink and play fun adventure games with the kids? I mean a headlamp will come in far more handy than you’ve ever imagined.
Now, all of the Husky Unbreakable Flashlights use a Cree LED bulb, which is super-duper-duper bright, and a rubber-coated aluminum casing to make sure that it’s extra durable. I’ve seen people drop these off of ladders and they still stay lit and do very well. They’re available at HomeDepot.com and of course, in the stores. And it’s a prize pack worth $55.94 going out to one lucky caller this hour.
TOM: Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Jerry in Massachusetts on the line who needs some help cleaning the basement. What can we do for you?
JERRY: I’ve got some efflorescence on the cement walls in the basement. For years, I – when I built the house, I didn’t put gutters up; I had overhangs. And then it started developing. Somebody told me, “Hey, it’s because you don’t have any gutters.” So I put them up right away and it didn’t get any worse but I’d like to clean that white efflorescence off. And I didn’t want to use muriatic acid.
TOM: No, you don’t need that at all. It’s really simple. First of all, the stains that you have, the efflorescence, is just lime. It’s mineral deposits that are left over when water comes through the wall and evaporates. So what you can simply do is brush that off as much as you can. You can use a stiff wall brush for that. And then just use water and white vinegar together. Hot water and white vinegar. Vinegar will melt the salts.
JERRY: Do I have to rinse it down after?
TOM: No, only if you don’t want your house to smell like a salad. Aside from that …
JERRY: Well, I’m not worried about that. But white vinegar should do it.
TOM: Yeah, white vinegar does it. It’ll melt the salts. It’s a really good solution.
JERRY: I thought that but I just wanted to check with you guys first.
TOM: You buy it by the gallon, you mix it with some hot water and just, you know, brush it down.
JERRY: I’ll try that. Should work. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading to Tennessee and apparently, so are the moles to Kim’s yard. What’s going on?
KIM: Yes. I’m trying to get rid of these moles in my yard. Please help me.
TOM: Well, one of the ways to get rid of moles in your yard is to not make your yard quite so attractive, by getting rid of the grubs that are in your lawn. Moles are usually there because there’s plenty of food.
And so, if you used a product like GrubEx to get rid of the grub – that’s the grubs. These are little, white, juicy insects that moles just love. And if you get rid of the grubs, then the moles will find a new place to eat. But if there’s plenty of grubs, there’s plenty of food, they’re going to stay in your yard. Does that make sense?
KIM: Alright. Well, good. Thank you so much. I’ll try the GrubEx.
TOM: Well, falls can happen anywhere but more than half happen, actually, right at home on your own property. And if you do slip and go down at home, the last place you want that to happen is on concrete.
LESLIE: Yeah. But that’s often where it happens, like when you’re strolling up the walkway or walking up your steps carrying your kids’ backpacks or groceries or whatever is heavy and of course, cumbersome in your arms.
TOM: Well, you can cut the chances of tumbling down on your own turf with a treatment that’s designed to prevent falls. It’s called QUIKRETE Textured Acrylic Concrete Coating. And it’s pretty cool stuff because it not only provides a slip-resistant finish to surfaces, it also can give them a new look that really replaces that dull concrete look that they had.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The textured, acrylic concrete coating is actually a heavy-duty resin and it will adhere perfectly to any concrete surface, like your steps, sidewalks, patios or even your driveway. And if your home has a handicap ramp, this is really a great way to improve the safety of that surface.
TOM: You can pick it up at your local home center or learn more at QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
LESLIE: Chris in Pennsylvania is having a problem with a dishwasher. What’s going on?
CHRIS: Bought a new house and I’m a first-time homeowner. And my house was built in 1957. And so, I was wondering if I would have to hire separate people to work on the carpentry, the electric and the plumbing? Or is there somebody, like a regular contractor, that would put a dishwasher in?
TOM: Do you have a space for a dishwasher right now, Chris? Or has one never been installed?
CHRIS: One’s never been installed.
TOM: OK. So you’ve got to figure out where you’re going to put this and it’s going to take away from some cabinet space.
Now, typically, the dishwasher is next to the kitchen sink. And if you happen to have, say, a 24-inch cabinet next to your kitchen sink, that will be the perfect place to do that. But this is going to take a bit of work. You’re going to have to do carpentry and I think you’ll need a carpenter and probably a plumber to do this. And you may need an electrician, depending on whether or not the plumber could do the wiring for you or if there’s wiring right there you can pull from.
Because what has to happen is you’d remove the cabinet to create that 24-inch space, then the dishwasher would slip in there. And it needs to be plumbed, so you need to have the supply line and the drain go basically through the side cabinet wall, where the sink is, and tap into the plumbing there. Then, of course, it needs to have electricity, so you’ll need to have an outlet installed. So it is a bit of a project, I’ll tell you that.
LESLIE: Yeah. But if she were to hire somebody like a general contractor – who may have those subs in his arsenal, if you will, or at least access to those people – they would better supervise the entire project and sort of take all of that worry out of your hands.
TOM: Or just a really good handyman. The trouble is that, theoretically, or at least technically speaking, you need a licensed plumber to do the plumbing work and you need a licensed electrician to do the electrical work.
TOM: Alright, Chris?
CHRIS: Alright. I appreciate your advice.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Jim in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?
JIM: I have a question about cleaning a driveway. It’s probably sitting there for 20 years. House is about 20 years old. I don’t know that it’s ever been cleaned, so the dirt has just ground in. I have pressure-washed one section of it, about 12×14 section. It took me almost two hours to get it clean. My question is: is there any kind of pretreatment that I can put on that driveway that will make the pressure-washing more efficient?
TOM: Yeah, there are products that are designed specifically for cleaning concrete. For example, QUIKRETE has a product called Cleaner, Etcher & Degreaser. And it’s available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon jugs. I think it covers about 200 square feet per gallon.
And you apply that onto the concrete. You brush it in. You let it sit and it will start to really loosen up all of that deep grime. And then you could pressure-wash after that and it will, hopefully, make it a lot easier project.
If you just Google “QUIKRETE cleaner,” you’ll probably find it.
JIM: Good deal, good deal. Thank you very much. That helps a bunch.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, are ants bugging you? Well, we’ll have the natural solution to get rid of them, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to 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: Hey, now that it is warm outside, have you changed the filter in your air-conditioning system? It’s a good idea to do this at least once a month. It keeps the coils clean and running efficiently. So if you haven’t done it, get to it today. Really easy, really inexpensive.
And you can also head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and post your home improvement question. That’s what Gil in Georgia did.
LESLIE: Alright. And Gil writes: “I have a minor ant problem and I’m looking for some natural remedies. What are your suggestions?”
TOM: There’s lots of natural remedies for insects, for ants in particular. You can discourage them by planting a barrier of mint around the foundation, which smells so fantastic and tastes great in iced tea. But it also discourages ants. Another option are bay leaves. They’re a great ant repellant. You could set those bay leaves around your kitchen food canisters or sprinkle crushed bay leaves along window sills. And those two things will work to discourage ants from invading your space.
LESLIE: Yeah. And ants really – it’s amazing how quickly they sort of come into your house. We briefly had a problem at the beginning of the spring season in our house. I’d see two in the bathroom and two in the foyer and I’m like, “Where the heck are they coming from?” And the mint really did the trick. Plus, I just love the way it smells and it made the house seem so fresh and springy all on its own. And it got rid of them. So, I mean the kids didn’t have anything to squish anymore but at least the ants are gone.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s true. We actually have a number of natural repellants in an article on our website that is called “Natural Ways to Keep Summer Pests at Bay.” So we’ve got tips on how to get rid of mosquitoes and crickets and drain flies and rodents and other types of backyard visitors: the wildlife that comes around, like raccoons. In fact, you recently dealt with a raccoon issue, didn’t you, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yes. It’s crazy. And we had a raccoon in our yard. And he was – I’m going to say it’s a he; I’m assuming – it was a gigantic raccoon. And it just loved the fact that I would put the garbage in the garbage pails outside. How dare I actually do that? Well, at first, he would sort of knock them over and just dump the trash everywhere and eat it. As he progressed and became more civilized, he’d actually pull the top off and just sit in the trash can and eat it so, obviously, leaving less of a mess for me. And I was really at a loss of what to do.
And the garbage man actually – Ray gave me a great idea. He said, “Move the garbage cans just for a week.” He said the raccoons are creatures of habit. He said, “So what’s going to happen is they’re going to go to the same spot and see that the trash cans are gone.” And he said, “It’s as simple as either putting them in the garage or moving them to the other side of the house. And after a few days of going and your trash cans aren’t there anymore, they’re going to move on to somebody else’s property.” And you know what? It really did the trick. I was so surprised. So simple, too.
TOM: There you go. And that truly is a natural remedy.
OK. We’ve got a post from Samantha in Connecticut.
LESLIE: Alright. Samantha writes: “I have a couple of boxes of hardwood flooring left over from when I redid my sunroom. Are there any cool projects I could do with them?”
TOM: There’s lots of things you can do with hardwood, especially prefinished hardwood. You can build cutting boards, you could mill tables out of them or you could donate it to a good organization, like Rebuilding Together, for example, or Habitat for Humanity.
In fact, they have those – isn’t it Habitat that has the stores?
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s called the ReStore is what they call it. They’re not in every location but a lot of cities and states do have the Habitat ReStore, which is lovely because anybody can go in there and buy leftover materials. And they’re usually in really great shape, brand-spanking new, for a super-discounted price.
And that’s really a great way for you, Samantha, to repurpose your materials and you can feel good about that.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey. We hope you guys have had a fantastic Father’s Day weekend. Maybe you took the weekend off from home repair. Hey, we’ll give it to you. But next week, guys, it’s back to the tools and the projects. We will be here to help you, then, as well. You can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or always online at MoneyPit.com.
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 2016 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.)