00:00/ 00:00

How-to Get the Look of Wood without the Maintenance, Tips for Building Fences and How to know if a Home is Worth Fixing

  • 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: And what are you working on this beautiful spring weekend? We’re here to help if it’s a home improvement project. But help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement or décor dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, if you’re working on a project outside your house that involves wood, it’s always been the most popular building material. But it requires a ton of maintenance. But what if you could get all that beauty without the maintenance hassles? Well, you can if you use composites. We’re going to tell you about some that look even better than wood, coming up.

    LESLIE: And they say good fences make good neighbors but how, exactly, do you build a good fence, you know, like the kind you won’t have to build over and over again because it gets destroyed by rot, termites and carpenter ants? We’re going to share some solutions, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, if you’re buying a home or already have one that needs some major renovation, you first need to make sure it has good bones that can stand up to the renovation plan. We’ll tell you what you need to know.

    LESLIE: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. You can use it to help keep your home clean and fresh for the spring season by picking up a few of The Home Depot’s own HDX line of cleaning supplies.

    TOM: That’s a $50 Home Depot gift card going out to one caller drawn at random today, so call us now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line and has a question about installing a dimmer, a great do-it-yourself project. How can we help you, Pam?

    PAM: I have a room that has fluorescent lighting in it and there’s two entries into that room. So there’s a light switch on each door, so it’s a two-way switch. Can I put a sensor on that so that when you walk in and walk out, the lights come on and go off?

    TOM: Are you asking me if you can? Can you put a sensor on that?

    PAM: Yes.

    TOM: Is your concern that you want the lights to come on automatically or is your concern that you don’t want people to leave the lights on when no one is in the room?

    PAM: Both.

    TOM: Well, I guess you could use an occupancy-sensor switch there but you would need to set it in vacancy mode, not occupancy mode. See, in occupancy mode, the light comes on when there’s motion. So, if you had a three-way, what could happen is you walk in the room, the switch closest to you picks up your motion, turns the lights on. You continue halfway through the room until the one on the other side picks it up and turns the lights off, so that wouldn’t work too well.

    A better option might be to just replace one side of it – just one of the switches – with an occupancy sensor but set it in what’s called the “vacancy mode.” So what that means is you manually turn the light switch on but if there’s no motion in the room, it will automatically go off.

    So we use these, for example, in the bedrooms upstairs at our house because kids turn lights on but as we all know, kids don’t turn the lights off. So, if you set it in the vacancy mode, they can turn the lights on but then they’ll go off, depending on the period of monitoring you set. They’ll either go off 1, 5, 15 or 30 minutes later.

    PAM: Oh, OK. Alright. That would work. Thank you.

    TOM: Hope that helps you out and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Daniel is dealing with carpenter bees and of course, those lovely, perfectly round, bored holes that they love to make all over your wood house. What’s going on?

    DANIEL: Ah, well, I’ve got these carpenter bees that keep drilling holes into my fascia board right there underneath my roof. And I filled them in and I’ve repainted and they keep coming back. I don’t know if there’s maybe something I can do to prevent that or something I can use to paint it with.

    TOM: Yeah, a couple of things you can do. First of all, in terms of stopping the bees from coming back, you would have to have the carpenter bees professionally treated with a proper insecticide that will basically exterminate what’s there. Now, even if you did do that, though, they may come back the next season.

    A surefire way to make sure they don’t come back is to replace your wood trim with something that’s not wood. I had this exact problem on a garage on our property and I simply replaced the wood trim with AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And there are other brands, as well, but basically, it’s a cellular PVC material that looks like wood, cuts like wood but the carpenter bees can’t eat it. In fact, it was very humorous to me because after I replaced the fascia with AZEK, the bees kept circling it but they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste like wood.

    LESLIE: It’s like, “This looks like wood. I don’t understand.”

    DANIEL: Yeah, that would actually be absolutely worth doing just to see them circle and …

    TOM: In frustration, yeah. Alright? I hope that helps you out. 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. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, wood trim can really spruce up the outside of your home but it can also become a high-priced real-estate area for carpenter ants, carpenter bees and even termites. We’ll tell you how to keep your home off that menu, after this.

    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: We’d love to hear from you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d also love to give you the prize we’re giving away this hour, which is a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. You could use it for the HDX line of cleaning products, including All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach, which is tough on grease. It removes stubborn stains and dirt and it deodorizes. It’s available at The Home Depot and HomeDepot.com and it’s just one of the many HDX products in the cleaning line at Home Depot.

    The gift card’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.

    TOM: OK.

    CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.

    TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.

    Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag, mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.

    So if you go to QUIKRETE.com and you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.

    It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.

    CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.

    TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.

    CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rob in Iowa whose basement walls seem to be coming in on themselves. What is going on at your money pit?

    ROB: I’ve got some basement walls that are heaving in and I need a permanent solution that’s not going to bankrupt me.

    TOM: OK.

    ROB: Basically, what I’ve got is I’ve got some wall anchors that have been installed about seven years ago. I’ve been keeping those tight and the walls are still heaving in. We had a drought here in Iowa last summer and this year, we’ve had quite a bit of rain. So, walls are bowing in up to 2 inches in places and I’m getting a little worried.

    TOM: Wow. Yeah, if your walls are bowed in 2 inches, Rob, unfortunately you’ve got a very serious problem on your hands that is not only impacting the structure of your home but also the value of your home. And if the walls have gotten that bad, we are well beyond the do-it-yourself-fix stage.

    I can provide you some basic information about why this might be happening. Generally, the reason walls will heave is because you get a lot of water that collects around the foundation perimeter, especially if you don’t have terrific drainage. If the drainage is flat, if the gutters are dumping near the corners of the foundation, which is where most gutter contractors leave them, that water collects into the soil. And in the wintertime, it freezes, expands and then slowly but surely sort of ratchets that wall out.

    Now, if yours have gone to the point where they’re 2 inches out of plumb, this is a problem. So, the way I would address this – and I would do it very specifically and very strategically – is as follows: I would retain a structural engineer to examine the problem and specify a repair. It’s very important that you just don’t call a contractor for this. Because if they don’t have the pedigree of an engineering degree, it’s not going to hold water when it comes time to sell your house.

    So I would hire an engineer to analyze the problem and design a solution. And you could talk cost concerns with your engineer and options and all of that. Once you have that plan in place, at that point in time you can make the decision as to whether or not you’re going to do it yourself, which may be more possible with a plan than not, or whether or not you’re going to hire a pro.

    But however you get it done, the third and most important final step is to have the engineer come back and examine the work and then give you an additional letter that says, “Yes, I identified this problem and I designed a fix. And I inspected the fix and it’s done correctly and there’s nothing further to worry about.”

    Because ultimately, if you go to sell your house, the buyers are going to bring up this issue. You want to have that sort of pedigree in your hand so that you can prove that it was a repair that, yes, was structural in nature but was repaired correctly. Does that make sense?

    ROB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very interesting approach. I have one chink to throw at you and that is the wall-anchor system that’s installed was warrantied. And the owner of that company came out and said that he’ll warranty the system and he’s willing to put in three more anchors which, in my mind, is an admission of liability. Do I let him do that or do I need to get the structural engineer first?

    TOM: Is this wall-anchor contractor a structural engineer?

    ROB: I doubt it.

    TOM: Stop the repair process. Get the engineer. If the engineer thinks that’s a good idea, then that’s a different story. But warrantying doesn’t necessarily mean we put more in. If the product failed and your walls continued to bow as a result, then his liability, depending on where these walls were when he first put the system in and guaranteed that they were going to stop the walls from buckling in, his liability could be significant.

    But I would get the engineer in first and let’s get some good, impartial, expert advice here from somebody that does not have a system to sell you. I don’t want you to get advice from somebody – sometimes, contractors give you advice from people that – because they sell the system. “Yeah, you’ve got a problem? I’m just the guy to fix it for you, you know?” And that’s not really good, expert, independent advice.

    So go to the engineer first, Rob, and then you can deal with the contractor issue after you have the information.

    ROB: OK, great. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, is your home looking a little shabby on the outside? It is the perfect time of year to step up your home’s curb appeal. But how can you do this without creating a maintenance headache? Well, you can if you use composite products, which can help you add some stylish touches that are not going to fall victim to bugs and warping and cracking or splitting.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, composite products, they look like wood but they’re better. And they’re better because they aren’t organic. They’re not going to rot, they won’t be attacked by bugs. And adding composite products to your money pit is easy, even if you have no eye for design.

    For example, you can make your home’s entryway a real showpiece by just adding a couple composite pilasters on either side of your door, along with a decorative pediment on top.

    TOM: Aside from composite, a lot of progress has also been made with the use of fiberglass in building materials. Fiberglass doors, for example, can look just as good as wood doors but they’re better insulated and they’re actually more secure. We replaced two of our steel entry doors on our home with fiberglass entry doors and I’ve got to tell you, they’re absolutely gorgeous. They look like solid mahogany even though they’re made of fiberglass. The technology is such today that the staining looks just like the real thing. And the way the fiberglass comes out of the mill or out of the mold, I should say, it has all of the grain of the wood just pretty much pressed right into the surface.

    So, fiberglass doors are definitely the way to go. And all of these composite products are really going to add some value to your house and save you a lot of maintenance headaches.

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

    CELINA: Last week, I had estimates done on my home to have all my drainpipes replaced.

    TOM: Hmm. Why did you do that?

    CELINA: My house was built in 1944 and we’ve had some trouble here lately with clogs and everything. So, I just decided to go ahead and replace all the drain lines.

    TOM: Is that because the – you were getting roots and that sort of thing in the pipes?

    CELINA: I don’t think there’s roots in them, no, because we’ve had those – the pipe from the house back to the drain replaced already. This is just the inside pipe. And they’re old and yes, we have had a couple of them to rupture but I just decided to get them all replaced.

    However, today, my son told me that all of that is useless if I don’t get the main line coming into the house replaced, also. And I wanted to see what your take was on that.

    TOM: Well, we’re talking about two different types of pipes. You’re talking about drainage pipes versus supply pipes. And the supply pipe that comes into the house may or may not need to be replaced. The questions I would have for you are: what’s the pipe made out of and are we having any problems with it?

    Now, in an older house, you may have the original steel plumbing – steel main-water pipe – coming into the house which, if the house was built – did you say the 40s?

    CELINA: Right.

    TOM: That’s a super-old pipe that definitely is at risk of breaking.

    CELINA: OK, great. So when they come back out to do my plumbing, because they’re doing it in two weeks, I need to ask them to look at the pipe. And that means – because none of the people that gave me estimates even mentioned it was bad.

    TOM: Well, I would take a look at that. And typically, in a house, you don’t replace the drainpipes. I’m a little surprised that you’re doing that. Typically, in an older house with steel pipes, you end up replacing the supply pipes. And you do the horizontal pipes first because they’re the easiest to access. And you do the vertical pipes that go up through the walls last because they’re the hardest to access. And you can do it in stages.

    The first step of a steel-pipe conversion is to do the main. The second one is to do all the horizontals in the basement crawlspace and the third is to do the verticals. And so, typically, that’s what you do in a house that has that kind of plumbing.

    You mentioned you had some problems with clogging with the drainpipes but that’s pretty unusual. And I actually have never heard of anyone wanting to replace drainpipes. Typically, they replace supply pipes.

    So you might want to get a second opinion on this and not just take the opinion of the plumber that wants the work.

    CELINA: OK, great. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Jack in New York needs some help with a crawlspace. What can we do for you?

    JACK: Well, I have an area that is – was a crawlspace and we dug it out. And so it’s – we have about a 7-foot ceiling now. And I put some gravel in it and I wasn’t going to do anything but now I want to expand my shop. And I don’t really have access to where I can put concrete in it. And I was wondering if you would have any ideas.

    TOM: Well, first of all, Jack, since you dug it out down to 7 feet, how did you support the soil under the foundation wall?

    JACK: We left a step. This dirt that was in there was so compact that it was almost impossible to dig it out, so we weren’t too worried. But we did leave a step around the foundation, the footer.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    JACK: There’s about 2½ foot – we went about 2½ foot below the footer.

    TOM: That’s what we call, in our part of the country, a “Yankee basement” where it’s dug out. It’s not a joke; that’s actually what they call it. They call it a “Yankee basement” or, well, sometimes a “root cellar,” where basically you take the interior perimeter of the foundation wall, move in about 2½, 3 feet and then dig down there. So you leave this sort of berm of soil to support the foundation that’s under the footing.

    So, options for cleaning – for finishing that floor. Why can’t you get concrete into the floor? Because most times, there would be a situation where they’d set up a chute that goes right through a window and pour some concrete into that floor. That’s clearly the easiest way and fastest way to create a floor in a basement.

    JACK: Yeah, I agree with you but I really – the time to – the expense of the concrete and having – you know, doing a whole project would be pretty pricey.

    TOM: How big is the floor area?

    JACK: Well, it’s about 25×15 and then with an 8×8 jut to – on one end of it. So it’s L-shaped, basically.

    TOM: Well, I don’t have any quick ideas on how to create a hard-surface flooring when you don’t want to put concrete down there. You could frame something but I mean it would be very temporary. I would really prefer that you put concrete. And you don’t have to do – it doesn’t have to be 6 inches thick. I can be 4 inches thick and pour it in sections. But I really think you should just budget for and use concrete down there because anything else you do is going to be very substandard. It’s not going to contribute to the value of your house.

    JACK: I hear you. Yeah, it sounds like a foot (ph) I was afraid I was going to hear.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. Well, look, you got all the hard work done digging it out. I would just budget for and save up for some concrete. Get a mason to help you or get somebody that’s used to finishing concrete. And get it all poured and it’ll be done in a day.

    JACK: Oh, yeah, sure.

    TOM: It has to be done in a day because the concrete’s going to cure.

    Alright, Jack? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, we’ve got a use for roof shingles you’ve never thought of. And it can help protect against a serious fall, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    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: I’m always on the lookout for new home improvement ideas, no matter where I travel. And I was actually speaking at a conference on the beautiful island of Jamaica and saw an unusual use for roofing shingles that I thought was brilliant.

    Leslie, we were in a park, looking at some waterfalls, and the park had staircases that went down along the falls. And imagine that this staircase was pretty much completely covered by masses of jungle and shade, so it’s a place where you could get a lot of algae.

    LESLIE: Were you at Dunn’s River Falls?

    TOM: I was at Dunn’s River Falls. But this staircase, basically, is covered with trees in the jungle and it’s a place where you can get a lot of algae growth, right, which can be very dangerous on stairs. So what they did is they covered all of the stair treads with roofing shingles, basically end to end. Nailed them down flat and it was amazing. There was a lot of traction, no matter how damp or wet it got, and the algae didn’t grow on it.

    So I thought roofing shingles on stair treads was a really good life hack that could save you from a slip and a fall.

    LESLIE: Because that’s really smart. Good find. And you probably had fun while you were doing it.

    TOM: I did.

    LESLIE: Louise in Delaware is on the line with some carpenter bees visiting her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LOUISE: Yes, ma’am. I have a deck in my – at my back door and I have a roof. It doesn’t extend all the way out to the end of the deck. Just about halfway. And I’ve been having, for several years, a major problem with carpenter bees. They actually make perfectly round holes in the roof of the deck.

    And I had an exterminator a couple of years ago and he said he would spray it but no guarantees. And he sprayed it and maybe for about five days I didn’t see them but they came right back. But someone told me – it was actually another exterminator, a really older lady. She said to get steel wool and put steel wool in the holes because they can’t get out through the steel wool. Because my cousin put cotton balls soaked in bleach in the holes she had on her deck and they actually ate through the cotton balls and they ate through the caulking.

    TOM: There’s the do-it-yourself methods and there’s the professional methods. I’m troubled by the fact that you hired an exterminator – it sounds like it was some time ago – and he wouldn’t guarantee a result. That’s not acceptable. Most professional exterminators have the tools, the knowledge and the pesticides to effectively eliminate carpenter bees with a reasonable guarantee of success.

    So, if you have such a serious problem as this, I would definitely suggest that you go find yourself a new exterminator, maybe from a national-brand company like Orkin. You’d have better success with that.

    Now, if you want to do this yourself, you know, the reason that the bees form those holes is because they’re nesting. And so the way they’re treated is you spray a pesticide inside those holes. You can also spray something that’s petroleum-based inside the holes, because they don’t like that. You can fill them with steel wool.

    There’s lots of ways that you could try this yourself. But given the severity of the problem, I would suggest you find a good exterminator that can treat it with the right type of pesticide and you not have to worry about it. And I don’t think you had a pro last time. You get a pro to address this problem and just get it done, once and for all, alright?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling into The Money Pit.

    Well, they say good fences make good neighbors but they also add style and value to your home. So we’re going to share some tips on picking and building the right fence for your needs, next.

    TOM: What’s the first step of any building or repair project? I always make sure I have the tools and materials I need, starting with the QUIKRETE mobile app. With easy, one-touch access, you can watch project video instructions, quickly pull up a materials shopping list and make sure you have what you need. Or use the app to figure out how much you need and find out where to buy it. You can even share your finished project via the QUIKShare function. It’s the tool you can use, from start to finish. Download the QUIKRETE mobile app on the App Store or Google Play today.

    LESLIE: Is your dishwasher not cleaning the way it used to? Does it smell, have stains or leave residue on your dishes? Then you need Glisten Dishwasher Magic, the number one-selling dishwasher cleaner.

    Hi. I’m Leslie Segrete. Dishwasher Magic is the most powerful dishwasher cleaner. It removes performance-robbing buildup and disinfects as it cleans. It can help your dishwasher work like new by eliminating limescale, grease and odors. Get Dishwasher Magic from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. See their full line of cleaners at GlistenCleaners.com.

    ANNOUNCER: Algae, mold and moss? Yuck. How can you get rid of those awful black and green stains on your house? Easy with Spray & Forget. The original, no-rinse solution is the most concentrated and longest-lasting formula on the market. Save time and money. Just spray and forget. Use on your roof, deck, fence, siding and more. Find Spray & Forget with the yellow label at participating retailers or visit SprayAndForget.com.

    ANNOUNCER: Introducing the latest innovation in construction adhesives: new LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It All Surface. Glass, metal, wood, whatever your job, LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It bonds almost everything to everything. LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It has an instant grab time, performs just as well in blistering heat as it does in biting cold and works on even the most water-drenched surfaces indoors and out. LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It All Surface Construction Adhesive. Don’t just glue it, Fuze*It. Available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    TOM: Building a warm and charming fire pit on your patio is a much easier project than you think.

    Hi. I’m Tom Kraeutler. With easy-to-stack RumbleStone blocks from Pavestone, you can create the perfect-size fire pit for your space in less than an hour. The four different-size blocks are stacked without mortar, in almost any shape, to create a beautiful, old-world style fire pit. It’s that simple. RumbleStone is available at The Home Depot and you can find instructions for this project and many easy RumbleStone projects at Pavestone.com.

    ANNOUNCER: Introducing LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It All Surface Construction Adhesive. Glass, metal, wood, whatever your job, LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It bonds almost everything. LIQUID NAILS Fuze*It All Surface Construction Adhesive. Don’t just glue it, Fuze*It. Available exclusively at The Home Depot.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call. We’d love to hear from you at 888-MONEY-PIT. We want to help you with whatever you’re working on. Plus, you know, we like to give away prizes to help you get your job done a little bit better and for some less money.

    Now, up for grabs this hour, we’ve got a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. So that’s going to be super helpful. Being that it’s springtime, you’re probably doing a lot of cleaning, so you can use it for HDX all-purpose cleaners. They’ve got one with bleach in it, which is really great on grease. It removes stubborn stains and dirt. It even deodorizes. You can use it on a lot of different surfaces. And it’ll remove stains from juice and tea and coffee and much more on those hard surfaces around your house. Even it’s effective on greasy oils and stains and odors. And if you’ve got small kids like me, your kitchen can be a mess in no time. So it’s super-duper helpful.

    You can check out the HDX line at The Home Depot or at HomeDepot.com. But call us now for your $50 gift card chance to win.

    TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Darryl in New Jersey is calling with a lighting/electrical issue or perhaps a poltergeist. What’s going on at your house?

    DARRYL: Hi. I purchased some LED lights for my home to be energy-conscious. And I put them in my kitchen, in the high hats. There’s about 12 of them in the kitchen. And they work great and they’re on a dimmer and great that – it’s great that they conserve energy and you don’t have to replace them for 20-something years.

    But I also have a Bose radio in the kitchen. And right after I put them in, I noticed that the majority of the radio stations are complete static. And when I turn the lights off, the radio works fine.

    So, I called up the light-bulb company and they said, “Well, it’s probably your dimmer.” And they recommended certain dimmers that work with the lights. I went out and purchased a dimmer and the same problem. So, I called the bulb manufacturer again and while I had him on the phone, I let them hear the radio with the lights off and then turned the lights on and they heard the static. They said they would get back to me and I never heard from them again. I did some research on the internet and found out that I’m not the only one that has this problem. But I haven’t found the solution.

    So I went out and I bought another set of light bulbs – different brand – and put those in other rooms in the house where I don’t have radios. And the new brand that I got, same problem. So, I’m sort of wrestling with what to do here and I thought I’d give you a call to see if you had some ideas.

    TOM: Have you considered using CDs?

    Gee, I never heard of that and apparently, the bulb manufacturer didn’t, either. Who is the manufacturer?

    DARRYL: F-e-i-t.

    TOM: Not familiar with them.

    DARRYL: Yeah, they’re pretty popular. I bought the bulbs in Costco but – so I could return the bulbs. But I’m pleased with them and they save energy. And like I said, I tried others and same problem.

    And when I did the research on the internet, I found out I’m not the only one. But haven’t found anyone that had a solution.

    TOM: In fact, I just did this very same project. I replaced all of the light bulbs in my high hats with a product that was called TCP. And they were like these one-piece inserts that basically, you screw them into the socket, into the high hat, and it’s an LED. And it’s a very flat and flush look and very clean and dimmable. So it’s a nice project to do.

    I’m afraid that I don’t have a solution for you on this but I would love if you would post this question in our Community section, Darryl, including all the details on the manufacturers that you’ve had this problem with. Because we’ve got some relationships that we can tap into and see if we can identify what’s going on, both with the bulb manufacturers and with the dimmer manufacturers, to find out if this has been an issue before and why it could possibly be happening. I think it’s a really interesting question, an interesting problem, and I’d love to dig deeper into it on your behalf.

    DARRYL: Great. Well, that’s good to know.

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

    Well, putting up a fence can add style and security and value to your property but it can also be an eyesore and a maintenance headache. And it could also cause a battle with your neighbors. So, to avoid the pitfalls, you’ve got to plan very carefully.

    First, you’ve got to check your property lines, because you don’t want to build this on your neighbor’s yard. They will not be happy or maybe they will be happy if you gave them some land.

    You also want to check with local officials to make sure that you’re not violating any ordinances and you don’t need a permit to build. In many communities, you do need permits. And once you’re sure about all those things, then you can start thinking about what kind of fence you want.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it’s important to think about what kind, because fencing is available in so many materials, including natural and pressure-treated woods, vinyl and metal.

    Now, natural wood, it can be really beautiful but that’s going to require the most amount of maintenance. Also, you’ve got to remember that there are two sides to your fence, right, guys? It needs to look good from the outside, as well as the inside. And don’t try to save money on your gate. That is the part of your fence that will take the most wear and tear. And it can also be a security risk if someone leaves it open. So, to be safe, add a spring hinge and that’s going to help swing that gate back into place. This is super important if you have a pool. You must include one of those spring hinges on a pool gate.

    TOM: For a complete checklist and more advice on the best fences, just go to MoneyPit.com and search “fence.”

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?

    LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flowerbed. And from the flowerbed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.

    And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.

    LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.

    Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.

    And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.

    And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.

    LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    PAM: Off of my master bedroom, it has a small deck out there. Apparently, the seal has broken. It’s two pieces of glass that has some sort of, I don’t know, some sort of thing inside of it. And it’s now looking really milky. I’m wondering if I can replace it by getting another glass door or can I replace the glass alone?

    TOM: OK. So what’s happening is you have insulated glass and that seal between the panes of glass is called “swiggle.” And when the swiggle fails, then moisture gets in there between the panes of glass and then you get condensation, which is that white, milky, yucky appearance to the glass.

    Now, it impacts the energy efficiency in some way but other than that, it’s pretty much just cosmetic. And I say that because it’s not an easy fix. You have to replace the sliding glass door or replace the glass. And it’s probably less expensive to simply replace the door itself. You get a good-quality Pella or Andersen sliding-glass door there and you’re not going to have to worry about glass that fails for a very, very, very long time. And I think that that is probably the best way to attack that problem. Either live with it and accept the fact that it’s going to be yucky looking or replace it with a new, good-quality slider.

    PAM: OK. Sounds good. Well, thank you for your help.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Up next, we’ve all heard the term “good bones.” But when it comes to taking on a major home renovation, how do you know if the bones are really there? We’ll tell you, 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: Always available for your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to The Money Pit Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Gina did just that. And she writes:”I’m ready to install a granite countertop. Should I include a 4-inch backsplash or go with tile? Some say the granite backsplash is outdated.”

    TOM: I mean I don’t think she can go wrong with granite or tile as the backsplash. And I don’t know that I would get up – get too caught up on what’s trending, in this respect, except that she should be prepared for maintenance, right? Because a lot of folks think that granite is maintenance-free but it really does need to be resurfaced and polished occasionally.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that also depends on the color and the type of granite and the type of hard material you’re going with. So, a lighter color is going to need to be refinished more often than a darker color.

    Now, in regards to the backsplash, I personally don’t like the look of a 4-inch backsplash in the kitchen. I think it’s too short and that it doesn’t protect that drywall area behind your sink and other things that could be getting just dirty. So I like either a full granite backsplash or a tile. And you’ve got a lot of design choices either way. And it’s going to be a beautiful addition and boost your value big time, Gina.

    TOM: Well, if you’re the type of person that isn’t afraid of taking on a major home remodeling project, you want to make sure that the house you’re working with truly has good bones. Otherwise, you might just be wasting time and money on a real money pit. Good Bones also happens to be the name of an HGTV show that Leslie was responsible for in a very big way. And she shares her tips on how to make sure the homes you remodel are really worth it.


    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, this is really exciting. I got to participate as set designer for a new series on HGTV called Good Bones. And it stars two really great ladies: Mina Starsiak and Karen Laine. They’re a mother/daughter team out of Indianapolis. And they take on homes with good bones.

    Now, in the sense of the houses that we’re working on, the homes have good bones in a sense that they’re structurally sound, for the most part, in certain areas. We found that because the homes were being purchased from the city, they required a lot more work because they’d been neglected for so long.

    But I think what Karen and Mina really wanted to put out there was that good bones could also refer to the neighborhood. So they were buying these homes in neighborhoods that were really up and coming and were going to withstand the test of time and be sort of that next great place. Which is why, if you’re watching the series, you’re going to see that we’re purchasing homes for anywhere around $4,000 to $15,000, which is unheard of if you live, like me, in New York. But in Indianapolis, this was the price point that we were looking at and then putting in around $100,000 worth of work, which is a substantial amount of money.

    So, you must make sure that the good bones are there. And in that sense, when you’re looking at the home, you want to make sure that things are structurally sound. You want to make sure that the beams are in good support. You want to make sure that the foundation is in good shape. Now, all of those things can be worked on. But depending on their shape, that’s really going to determine how much the cost is going to be to get that home into the best condition that it needs to be.

    You also want to make sure that this is the opportunity – if the floor plan is wrong or if the location of rooms are not in the right place or if you need to put on an addition or make things taller, this is the time that you should be doing it because this is when you’re going to be tackling the most amount of work. And you want to make sure that the structure of the home can support what it is that you plan on doing, because there are good deals to be had out there. And if you’re willing to put in the work – and in our case, we had a great team of people – between professional contractors and Karen and Mina, the hosts of the show, and my team – to really make these projects stand out, become completed in a timely fashion and make the homes really gorgeous and revive the neighborhood. So in the sense, that’s where good bones come from.

    And it’s important to look for these good bones in all of your architectural dreams and your home-buying purchases, because that will make your home all that more durable and the neighborhood last the long haul.

    TOM: Good advice.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, outdoor living spaces that include kitchens have never been more popular. But cooking and dining outside do require special recipes of their own. We’ll have advice on how to create the perfect outdoor kitchen of your dreams, 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.


    (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.)

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!