How to Free Yourself from Frozen Locks and Doors, DIY Safety Tips, Home Improvement Life Hacks and more
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 tackle your home improvement project. We want to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to help you take that all-important first step to get going on your home improvement project.
Got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, if you live in a colder climate, you probably know one of the hassles of ice and snow is that it can freeze you in. So this hour, we’re going to have tips to help you free up stuck locks, frozen doors and more.
LESLIE: And if you’re figuring that being stuck inside this winter means that you can finally get to some projects you’ve been putting off, we agree. Great idea. And since the majority of the states have been dealing with freezing temperatures this winter, you all probably have a lot of indoor time to get things done. But before you pick up your hammer or your drill, stay tuned for our do-it-yourself safety tips. We’re going to have some advice from This Old House host Kevin O’ Connor, coming up.
TOM: And also ahead, if you’re into the world of social media, you’ve probably heard of the term “life hacks”: a term used to describe the tips and the tricks needed to make life easier.
LESLIE: That sounds right up our alley.
TOM: Well, it sure is. And we’ve got life hacks, home improvement style, to share, just ahead.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Rugged Rukus. I love the name. It’s a solar-powered Bluetooth speaker from Etón. And it’s great to take on a camping trip or even on a job site or just in case your power goes out.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 100 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone, give us a call, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Always love taking calls from my neck of the woods. We’ve got Scott in New York who’s working on the driveway. Tell us what’s going on.
SCOTT: At my house, in my driveway, I have a blacktop driveway. I notice sitting water spots after a rainstorm. I was wondering what my options were [for a fix] (ph).
TOM: So, are these actual potholes or just sort of low spots?
SCOTT: Just low spots.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, it’s difficult to address a situation where you just have low spots like that, because it’s a failure of the base of the driveway. When the driveway was put in, the base of the driveway underneath, you know, probably wasn’t prepped correctly. And so, over time, it’s settled and sagged. And that’s why you’re developing those water spots now.
It’s difficult to patch over that unless it’s a fairly contained area. So, for example, if you had a section of broken-up driveway that maybe was a foot or so square, there are different densities of patching compounds. They come everywhere from like a gravel mix, that is a latex product that you could put in and will dry solid, to something that’s fairly liquid for cracks.
But to really raise the level of low spots in there, you’re really talking about a situation where you’d have to replace the driveway or put a second layer on it. And I’ve got to tell you, I probably would not even put the second layer on it, because I would not be confident as to how the original driveway was constructed. And if I wanted to avoid that in the future, I would probably just tear it up and start again.
So, I guess your question is: how much does this really bother you? Does it bother you enough where you want to tear it up or you just want to live with it for a few more years before you get to that? If it’s not cracked, perhaps just sealing it is going to protect it as long as possible. Keeping that water from saturating into that area and soaking into that area will help stabilize it for the – at least for the immediate future.
SCOTT: OK. Thanks for your help.
TOM: Alright, Scott. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Alabama now where Mary is trying to remove some old caulk from a bathroom fixture. What’s going on?
MARY: Hi. I recently was trying to remove the caulk from around my bathtub and cannot get it removed.
MARY: I have purchased one of the tools at a home improvement store and it is so hard that it won’t remove. And I’m worried about scratching the bathtub and the edge if I get a razor blade.
TOM: Have you ever used a paint remover to remove layers of paint?
TOM: OK. Well, just like a paint remover will strip paint, there’s a product called a “caulk softener.” And the caulk softener gets applied to the caulk and it sort of reliquifies it, softens it up and makes it a lot easier for you to scrape it out.
So you want to apply the caulk softener first. And once it works and softens the caulk, clean it really, really well. The next thing you want to do is take a bleach-and-a-water solution and wipe that seam down really well, because you want to kill any bacteria that’s in there. You want to make sure there’s no mold spores that are left behind.
And the next thing that you want to do is fill the tub with water. We always caulk tubs when they’re full of water and here’s why: because when the caulk dries, the tub sort of comes back up. When you fill the tub with water, it sinks down. When you put the caulk in it, let the caulk dry and then let the water out of the tub, it comes back up and compresses the caulk and it’s not likely to fall out again or pull apart again at the seam, OK?
So, those are the steps you want to follow. Start with the caulk softener, wipe it down with bleach-and-water, fill the tub with water, caulk it. When the caulk dries, let the tub water out and you’re good to go.
MARY: Can you recommend a good caulk to replace it with?
TOM: I would take a look at the DAP products that include Microban. Microban is an additive that stops any mold from growing inside the caulk.
MARY: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, for the first time ever, this January 2014 brought freezing temperatures across the entire United States. So we’d love to hear from you guys, hear how you were dealing with those cold weathers, what kind of home improvement projects those freezing temps sparked. We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Yeah. I’d love to hear if there were unexpected repairs that maybe you had to tackle, like a frozen pipe. We certainly had some of that around our money pit.
Hey, speaking of chilly weather, have you ever found yourself stuck in your own house, perhaps in your garage, thanks to a blast of arctic air? Up next, we’re going to tell you the best way to release your car and yourself from the trap of a frozen garage door, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Rugged Rukus. It’s a speaker from Etón, it weighs about a pound and it’s just 6 inches long. So it’s not very big; it’s super-lightweight. It’s really transportable. And it’s solar-powered, so it’s a really great wireless sound system with great sound quality. And it’s got a splash-proof, durable design with Bluetooth compatibility. And your solar panel on it is going to charge a lithium-ion battery, so it’s really great just in case we get some power outages, too, guys.
TOM: We do a lot of hiking with the Boy Scouts and as rugged as some of the kids in the troop are, they love to take their music with them.
LESLIE: I know.
TOM: So, I think this is the kind of thing that if you’ve got a scout in your household, that he or she would just love it. It also has a USB port, which allows you to charge a smartphone. Because Lord knows you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of the woods without your smartphone to check in on what’s happening with all of your buddies.
The Rugged Rukus Speaker from Etón is worth 100 bucks. Check it out at www.EtonCorp.com. That’s E-t-o-n-C-o-r-p.com. And give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joan in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a mold issue. Tell us about it, Joan.
JOAN: Well, I’m wondering what causes dry rot and how you can tell if you have it.
TOM: OK. Well, what are you seeing, Joan?
JOAN: Coming down to the floor, there’s about an inch below the molding. And I took the carpet up and I saw sawdust down there. And I wondered if it was dry rot.
TOM: Alright. So, first of all, there’s no such thing as dry rot; there’s only wet rot. Wood that gets wet – it gets over 25-percent moist – can start to decay. Then, if that wood also dries out, that’s what people call “dry rot” but it’s really sort of a misnomer because it’s not really dry rot; it’s wet rot that has dried out.
JOAN: Oh. So we can’t cause it by overheating or under-humidifying a house.
TOM: No. Well, not overheating but if you over-humidify, I guess it’s technically possible because you’d put a lot of water in there. But no, you’re not going to cause it by overheating.
In terms of what you’re seeing under this molding, I think that would bear some further investigation. When you mentioned “sawdust,” I think about carpenter ants, for example. And so, I would make sure that I know exactly what’s causing this.
One of the things that you could do is you could take a picture of it and you can post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We’ll take a look at it and give you an opinion. Or you could post it to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. How about that?
JOAN: That sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Joan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, storing your car in a garage can help keep it frost-free but the same can’t be said for garage doors that often become stuck in super-cold weather which – guess what, guys? It could trap you and your car inside.
So, if you happen to find yourself frozen in, first try to adjust the pressure setting on your door opener. Now, a little extra pressure might just be enough to dislodge it from the ice. And if that doesn’t work, disconnect the automatic opener and just try to muscle it open. You know, you guys made fun of me for having a manual garage-door opener all these years. So, try it one day.
TOM: But I bet it never got stuck, right?
LESLIE: It did, all the time.
TOM: Well, in either case, don’t force it or you could damage the door.
Now, if the ice is too thick to open it by hand, you’re going to need to defrost the door. Now, it’s not as hard as it might seem. All you need to do is to spray a lock deicer along the bottom of the door. You want to get it under that rubber gasket where it strikes the door. And if you don’t have a lock deicer, I bet you have this: WD-40. It is one of the thousand or so uses for that product. Works well as a lock deicer.
Now, you can also pour lukewarm water along the base, then slide an ice scraper along the bottom to break away any remaining ice.
Now, once the garage door is open, you want to clear away any remaining snow and ice. And if possible, sand the area and perhaps throw down a bit of potassium chloride or magnesium chloride so that you won’t have any additional ice develop.
LESLIE: Yeah. And even though you’re trapped inside the cold garage, don’t ever warm up your car in there. Regardless of if the door is open or closed, you just want to be safe. Carbon monoxide is the silent killer. You never know what’s happening until, all of sudden, you’re very sleepy and then it’s the sleep of ages.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.
Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?
PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says, “Line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.
TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?
PETER: Yes, sir.
TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?
PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.
TOM: So, I think that when ground fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.
So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.
So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.
The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.
So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.
Peter, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s head out to Arkansas where Ann has got a question about a hot-water tank. What’s going on, Ann?
ANN: I have an unoccupied house and the hot-water heater is on a screened-in porch. It is partially protected on two sides. And the temperature is going to be down in the low teens for a couple of nights and for 48 hours or so, the temperature will not be above freezing.
TOM: How long is the house going to be unoccupied, Ann?
ANN: Oh, I don’t know.
TOM: I mean is this the kind of thing where it could be this way for months?
TOM: Well, if it’s going to be that way for months, I would drain the water. I would drain the water heater, I would drain the plumbing system. And I would leave the heat on a low setting because we don’t want the building to swell, we don’t want the doors to swell and that sort of thing. So I’d leave the heat on like around 55, 60 degrees.
But I would definitely drain the plumbing system because there’s really no point in leaving it on. And if you do, you could get a pipe freeze and a break. Does that make sense?
ANN: OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading out to Arizona where Rich has a foundation question. What can we do for you today?
RICH: We pulled up some carpet in the back room and upon pulling up the carpet, we discovered that we have about a 1-inch crack that runs full width of the room. And it’s about a 15×15 room. And we were wondering why that one door that we have that goes off into a spare bathroom – why it stops shutting so clean. So when we pulled up the carpet, we discovered that, yes, we’ve got a crack problem. And it’s about 1-inch wide and I want to know – and it’s as deep as far as the foundation, I think, the slab goes. I want to know how I should fill that in or what would be the proper thing to do.
TOM: Well, first of all, we want to determine if it’s an active crack or not. And the fact that you had a door that seemed to work properly and then stopped working properly could indicate that it’s active. Do you get the sense that this crack is fresh or do you think it’s something that’s been there for a really long time?
RICH: I think that it started out small and I think over the last 10 years, it’s maybe – because I’ve been there just over 10 years and I believe that just within about the last, oh, maybe 3 years that the door started shutting kind of stiff.
But anyway, I don’t think it has been all that active but I do think that it’s definitely progressed a little bit since I’ve moved in.
TOM: So what you’re going to do is clean it out and then you’re going to repair it with – a flowable urethane material is good. And with the urethane, what you’ll put in there first is a material called “backer rod,” which is like a 1-inch – you would get like a 1- to 1½-inch-diameter foam tube. It’s called “backer rod.” And you press it in there to that crack and then you leave it about an inch below – not an inch – about a ¼-inch below the surface. Then you fill the top of it with a flowable urethane and that will expand and contract with the crack.
RICH: OK. That’s exactly what I was kind of hoping. Because I don’t think it’s going to be something I’ll be able to do from the outside of the house to maybe – to push the foundation up. Because on the outside, the house looks good.
TOM: No, it’s a one-way street with cracks.
RICH: Yeah. So we …
TOM: And you can’t patch it with more concrete, because it would just crack.
RICH: Yeah. So, now, when I do that, of course that’ll take care of the visibility of the crack. What can I do to relevel the floor? Because it is quite evident. When you’re off in the hallway and you look into this room, you can definitely see there is a – the floor isn’t level, from the crack over to the wall.
TOM: Well, you could – there’s a product called “leveling compound” that you can pour on top of the old floor. And you can work it and level the whole thing out. We use it a lot under tile, where you can’t have a tile floor that bends or twists or anything. But it’s a pretty big job and if you’re going to put carpet down, are you really going to see it?
RICH: Well, no. I’m thinking maybe I’ll put a different kind of flooring down.
TOM: Alright. Well, then maybe you’ll want to consider it. It’s just called “leveling compound” and you’ll find it in home centers, you’ll find it online. And it takes a little practice to get it to flow out properly. But follow the label directions, start in a small area until you’re good at it and you’ll find it should be able to level it out quite nicely.
RICH: Boy, I think I’ve got it. I sure appreciate you. Thank you for the advice.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, hey, did you hear about the guy in China who really hit the nail on the head, literally? This guy was working on a project and after experiencing some pain near his eye, he went to the doctor. And they x-rayed it and found out that he had a 3-inch nail lodged inside of his skull?
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Ouch.
You know, it turns out the nail shot through his eye so fast that he didn’t even feel it at the time. I cannot even imagine how that would happen. Well, thank goodness he’s fine now but it’s the perfect setup for our next segment. We’ve got do-it-yourself safety: how not to shoot yourself in the eye. We’re going to get pro tips from This Old House host Kevin O’Connor, next.
TOM: And if you’re just really curious, you want to see the picture of what happened to this Chinese guy when he shot himself in the eye with the nail, well, that picture of the x-ray is on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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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: Well, Groundhog Day is this weekend and that’s when we get to learn if we’re going to have six more weeks of winter. But it’s also the name of a movie, synonymous with the idea of doing the same thing over and over and over again.
LESLIE: Yeah. You can actually have Groundhog’s Day with home improvement. If you don’t do a project right, you may end up doing it over and over and over and over again. So you really want to learn how to do the top home improvement projects right the first time. And we’re going to share all of that, right now, on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a new gallery on avoiding Groundhog Day home improvements, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Michael in North Carolina is on the line with a water heater that’s making some curious sounds. Tell us what’s going on.
MICHAEL: Recently, the last four to six weeks, I’ve been noticing – it sounds like a bubbling and a popping noise inside of the water heater. I’ve read several things on the internet but I can’t quite put my finger on it and I’m worried that either the vessel is getting ready to go or – I’m not sure, at this point.
TOM: How old is the water heater?
MICHAEL: It looks to be of considerable age. I’m guessing between six and eight years.
TOM: Well, water heaters generally go about 10 to 12 years, so that’s not – that’s kind of middle-aged; it’s not too terrible. By the way, if you look at the data plate on that water heater, usually there’s a date stamp sort of buried into the serial number. Sometimes, it’ll actually say what the date of the manufacture is or at the least, it’s going to have a gas standard in terms of which code it was built to and it’ll give you a year there. So you can get an actual sense of what the age of the water heater is.
The noise is usually caused by a sediment buildup on the bottom of the tank. So, if you drain the tank occasionally, that will usually stop that. Have you ever drained your tank?
MICHAEL: In the eight months I’ve been there, no. But I’d read something somewhere along the lines that you have to be very careful with – it’s got a plastic drain valve on it. And when you have a water heater that’s a little bit older, I guess they get – become brittle. And I’m worried about breaking that and making things much worse immediately.
TOM: Well, you could very carefully try to drain the water heater. You simply hook up a garden hose to that spout; it’s designed to be drained. And let some of the water out of it and try to spill off some sediment with that. You get sediment on the bottom of the tank and that does tend to make it pretty noisy sometimes.
MICHAEL: OK. Is there any chance that I have the temperature turned up too high and it’s causing – well, I guess not at 125 degrees. It wouldn’t cause a boiling, would it?
TOM: No, it wouldn’t. And 125 degrees, though, is pretty hot. You really want it to be more like 110.
TOM: Just for safety’s sake, if nothing else.
LESLIE: Yeah, because you could easily get scalded.
MICHAEL: OK. Alright. I’ll give that a shot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, in the rush to get your do-it-yourself projects started, don’t sacrifice safety. Protection for your eyes, ears and even your lungs is super-important.
TOM: Absolutely. And the good news is there are many new ways to play it safe so you don’t have to be uncomfortable or even out of style. Here to tell us more is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.
KEVIN: Hi, guys.
TOM: This is something a lot of weekend warriors just don’t pay enough attention to. But it really is the best way to prevent so many accidents.
KEVIN: It is. And I think people don’t often pay attention to it because they think, “Oh, I’m just going to go mow the lawn for 20 minutes or so.” What most folks don’t realize is that you actually do this stuff quite a lot and you do it time and time and time again. So if you’re going to expose yourself to these repeated tasks, you should protect yourself.
TOM: So let’s start by talking about eye protection. There’s a lot of risks out there to our eyes and you just mentioned mowing the lawn. I mean just even thinking about that, those blades are flying very quickly. The pebbles are flying, the dust is flying. Very easy to get something in your eye and your eye is pretty soft.
KEVIN: I learned this lesson. You know how when you trim along the sidewalk and you take your string trimmer and you turn it sideways?
KEVIN: Man, that thing is just a fan blowing stones and stuff right up at you. And I finally gave up.
You really want to protect your eyes and the good news is there’s lots of different ways you can do it. You can get the full-on goggles that give you sort of the all-around protection. But there’s also stylish-looking eye protection that you could put on out there, which is not bad.
Roger, our landscaper, his guys, they love the sunglasses – the safety sunglasses – you know?
KEVIN: They think they look cool – they do – but they’re also protecting from UV and these types of things. And you’ve even got bifocal safety glasses out there right now. So there’s really something for everybody. No more excuses not to put something over your eyes.
LESLIE: And I think it’s important not to just say, “Oh, I’m wearing eyeglasses, so these will do the trick, or my regular sunglasses.” Because those – if anything goes flying towards your face, they don’t handle the impact the same way a true safety glass or goggle would. So don’t just wear your normal sunglasses, don’t just wear your eyeglasses. Because should you get hit in the eye, you could have a worse injury, correct?
KEVIN: I think that’s the point. You could have a worse injury. That stone could turn into 50 pieces of shattered glass if it breaks your traditional eyeglass. So safety glasses are the way to go.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about ear protection. That’s another thing that we don’t think of very frequently. But something like mowing the grass or using a blower, for example, while you’re sort of leaf-blowing the leaves off of your lawn, that’s some pretty loud, pretty intense noise that could actually seriously damage your hearing.
KEVIN: Yeah. And I think this is the spot where it really goes to that point that I made about sort of the cumulative effect, right? The fact that, “Oh, I’m just going to go out there for 10 minutes and blow the leaves. What’s the big deal?” Well, if you do it for 10 minutes and you do it 2 times a week all summer long, you’re talking about cumulative noise exposure. And in fact, the hearing damage that people get is typically over long periods of time, the cumulative damage that happens.
So, protect those ears. There are all different ratings for decibel levels. But know that there’s lots of different ways that you can actually protect your ears. You can have those disposable ear plugs that fit into your ears. They’re cheap. You can buy a big jar of them. They also have the same ones that come on lanyards so they hang around your neck; they’re always where you want them. And for optimal protection, you want to use something that they call “over the ear.” So these are the big earmuffs.
And I just got a cool pair that’s a radio and you can actually plug your iPod into it. So now, nobody bothers me.
TOM: And you can listen to The Money Pit.
KEVIN: That’s all I do.
LESLIE: Now, this is – something that I think a lot of people skip is lung protection. Certain respirators or even just dust masks, they can be cumbersome, your face gets all sweaty. So how do you make it more appealing to wear one?
KEVIN: Well, I’m guilty of this. I can remember all of the woodworking projects that I did where I was making sawdust and said, “Ah, it’s just sawdust. What’s the big deal?” But you’re actually sucking in all of that sawdust, you’re sucking in fumes, you’re sucking in VOCs.
LESLIE: Yeah, blow your nose after this project and that’s evidence of everything you’ve been breathing in.
KEVIN: Right? Absolutely. So if you’re ever working around the dust or the fumes, it’s important that you actually wear a face mask. And you want to wear the right one. There are different ratings on this face mask and you want to choose the one that’s rated for your project.
So, there might be one rating that’s appropriate for when you’re installing fiberglass insulation. But then there’s another one when you’re around fumes or VOCs. So all of the information you need is on the dust-mask package. Pick the right one and just make sure you use it.
LESLIE: And I think it’s important – if you haven’t been down this aisle lately in the home center, there’s been a lot of innovations in the design to these respirators or masks that make them better fitting. They have vents built into them so that you don’t get that over-fogging of your safety goggles. I think it’s important to revisit this if this has been a reason why you’ve been shying away.
KEVIN: There’s a lot of choices out there that are going to do the job for you.
TOM: And so important to take advantage of that and stay safe so that you can continue onto your next DIY project.
Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and helping keep us all safe.
KEVIN: Pleasure to be here, guys.
LESLIE: 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 This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Still ahead, we’ve got home improvement life hacks – shortcuts that save time and money – coming up, next.
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, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. Because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Rugged Rukus.
No, that’s not what happens in the evening when the kids get a little bit hungry and crazy.
LESLIE: That’s the wild rumpus.
TOM: That’s the wild ruckus. The Rugged Rukus is actually a speaker from Etón. It weighs about a pound, it measures a ½-foot in length and it’s solar-powered and portable. And it delivers wireless sound with very booming audio.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s got a splash-proof, durable design and Bluetooth compatibility. And the solar panel will charge its own internal, lithium-ion battery so you can take it on the go.
TOM: And that can also recharge a smartphone. The Rugged Rukus speaker from Etón is worth 100 bucks. Check it out at EtonCorp.com – E-t-o-n-C-o-r-p.com. And give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the social-media world calls them “life hacks” and that means that these are little tips and tricks, sort of ways to make life easier. And if you’ve pursued Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter lately, you’ve surely seen some of those ideas out there.
Well, we’ve got a few do-it-yourself life hacks and that will make jobs around the house a bit easier for you. So, get ready to jot these down.
Alright. I love this first one. Did you ever drop a small object, like an earring or a fastener, and you just simply can’t find it? Well, here’s what you can do. You can cut a pair of stockings and pull it over the end of your vacuum hose. This way, it’s not going to get sucked up into the vacuum but it will get sucked up from wherever it’s fallen into and of course, you can’t find it.
TOM: Now, if you need to drive a nail and you want to avoid striking your thumbs in that process, because you’ve missed the nail with a hammer and hit your hand, well, just stick the nail in a clothespin to get it started. Or for smaller nails, you can hold the nail by first sticking it through a piece of cardboard. You’ll be able to get the nail started injury-free.
LESLIE: Now, if the extension cord keeps pulling itself unplugged, you can tie the two ends in a loose knot before you plug them together. That’s always super-helpful if you’ve got an electric hedge trimmer or a mower.
You can use bread clips to label cords hanging behind your workstation, so you don’t have to guess anymore as which one goes to the printer, which one goes to the mouse and the keyboard. It’s just a disaster behind most people’s desks, so this could really be a huge helper there.
Also, you can stretch a large rubber band around a paint can. This is a good trick because you can wipe the brush on it. And that’s going to prevent paint from collecting or dripping on the edges, which always makes a huge mess.
TOM: Great tips. Hey, if you’ve got any life hacks to share, we’d love to hear them. Just post them on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And if we like them, we may just talk about them on air.
LESLIE: Luke in Illinois is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?
LUKE: So I have gotten a few people to – estimates. I want to put steel roofing on my house. And one guy will tell me that I need to sheet it and the next guy will say that I can put it over the shingles. And I didn’t know what the standard process for that is. And now, I was also told by the same contractor, “Well, every few years, you have to replace the screws.” And that – I had never heard that before.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s something we’ve never heard.
Now, when it comes to whether or not to remove the existing roof or shingles, I should say, before you go ahead and put on a metal roof – I mean in this instance, a metal roof is expensive. They’re very long-lasting, up to 50 years, and they’re beautiful. And I think the situation would be that you would want to remove the existing shingles, just to give yourself nice, smooth sheathing to go on top of – less weight on the roof, less heat being trapped and best usage of your money and use of the metal roof.
TOM: Luke, what kind of roof do you have now? Under the asphalt shingles, do you have solid sheathing?
LUKE: Only on part. I have a house that’s over, probably, 200 years old. And it has – what they did – I’d say a shifty contractor put tar paper over the – where the slats were for the shake.
TOM: Did you have original, wood, cedar shakes underneath that?
LUKE: No, it’s just – they just tore all the shake off and just put tar paper over it.
TOM: OK, look, the best thing for you to do here, as Leslie said, is to strip down to those rafters, re-sheathe the roof, then put the metal roof on top of that. Yeah, it’ll be less expensive to put the metal roof over the asphalt but you’re not going to get as clean or neat of a job.
And there’s really no point in adding to the way it’s been assembled right now, in kind of the inappropriate way it’s been assembled now, by sandwiching those shingles forever underneath that metal roof. I would take it completely down. And the guy that’s telling you to do that is, I think, giving you the best advice.
LUKE: Alright. Well, thank you very much for answering my questions.
LESLIE: Well, when you’re making some major changes to your home, what exactly is the order of events? Are you supposed to do the floor before the walls or the walls before the floors? It’s a lot to figure out but you want to do it in the right order, so we’re going to figure it out, after this.
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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: Hey, do you need ideas for home improvements that you can make during the winter? Well, check out our new Pinterest board: “Wintertime Home Improvements.” You can get to The Money Pit Pinterest page by clicking the P icon on our home page.
LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can head on over to the Community section on MoneyPit.com and post a question, just like Debra in New York did. And Debra writes: “We just bought a house and we’d like to paint the walls and finish the wood floors before we move in. Which do you advise we do first? The floor guy says he should go first. The painter says he should go first. Who’s right?”
TOM: Well, I think that what I would do is I would do the walls first. I mean certainly, you want to protect the floor and not make it any worse but think about it: to do the walls and to do the ceilings, you’ve got all of those ladders and moving furniture around and this and that. It’s just a lot of movement, paint cans and brushes and all sorts of stuff. I would do the floors absolutely last thing.
So I would get the painter in there first, let him do all his prep. Certainly, be careful not to make the floors any worse but when the painter is completely done, then you let the floor guy go in there and go to town.
Also, remember that after the floor is done, it can take quite a while for that finish to truly hard. Certainly, it’ll be air dry within a half a day or so and you can walk on it gingerly. But to really get hard, you know, it takes quite a while. And you don’t want to be dragging ladders over that while that’s happening, right?
LESLIE: I know the paint will be dry but will you have any sort of dust sort of kicking up and sticking to it? Should you protect the walls after they’re painted or really not necessary?
TOM: I don’t think so. But if you – certainly, if you did it the other way around, it’d be more of a concern about grinding in some of that painting dust into the newly finished floor. So, plan for extra drying time because it just never dries quite as quickly as you want.
And the other thing is that when you put the furniture back, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to lay down some rosin paper. That’s that sort of pinkish paper that comes on the roll. It’s used in the flooring business but it’s very inexpensive. Lay it down as kind of a runner, maybe for the first week or two. Leave it maybe in the main traffic area so that you’re really giving that floor a chance to really dry hard before you subject it to the full abuse of family life.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a post from Sandy in Nebraska who writes: “How do you get carpet glue off of a cement floor so you can seal it and paint it?”
TOM: One of the most difficult materials to get off of a cement floor is glue. So I would just simply tell you to scrape off as much as you can and then I would prime the floor and just go right on top of the glue. I think that if you use a good-quality primer, it will stick. And then when it comes to the floor finish, look at the epoxy paints. The epoxy paints are chemical cure. They’re air-dry, air-cure and they really do develop quite hard with good adhesion.
LESLIE: Yeah. And QUIKRETE has one that you can do sort of a multi-coloration on it so that it might kind of blend any discolored areas.
Alright. James in New Jersey writes: “How do I get rid of weeds between my paver stones?”
TOM: Roundup is the easiest way to do that. Now, when you apply the Roundup, you have to be very careful not to overspray it. So here’s a little trick of the trade: take a gallon milk bottle and – empty, of course – and cut off the bottom; then spray the Roundup through the spout of the bottle. This, way, it’ll contain that material and not get off into the air where it can sort of waft off and get into the grass. Because believe me, if it lands in the grass, it will kill the grass, as well as the weeds.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’ll work. Good tip, Tom.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some tricks, some ideas, some life hacks to make your home improvement projects easier to tackle.
Remember, we’re available 24-7, 365 at MoneyPit.com. And you can also call us at any time with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.
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.)