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How to Hang a Flatscreen TV, Tips for Removing Snow From Your Car, and How to Keep Harsh Sunlight From Fading Carpets and Floors

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you improve your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, do you have a new, flat-screen TV? Perhaps you picked one up just in time for the big game? Well, we want to make sure you hang it properly so that flat screen does not fall flat on the ground. We’ll have those TV-hanging tips, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, are your wood floors or carpeting fading near your windows? Well, too much sunlight streaming in can actually damage your flooring and your furniture. We’re going to tell you about a window fix that will not only solve that problem but a host of others, as well.

    TOM: Plus, we’ve got snowstorm survival tips to help you when it comes time to dig out. And we’re taking your calls about your home improvement projects. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Byron in Arizona is on the line and has a question about a log home. How can we help you?

    BYRON: I am planning on building a log cabin kit and – 8-inch logs. We’re in a very cold climate, 7,400 feet elevation and wondering if I need to insulate the inside of the logs or if the logs will give enough thermal mass to insulate the house itself.

    TOM: Well, you mentioned you’re going to be in a very cold climate and generally, if you’re building a log – a home in a very cold climate, most people will insulate those logs. And typically that’s done by adding furring strips and then some sort of a sheet insulation, like an isocyanurate insulation or a Dow foam-board type insulation. And the other advantage to doing that is it makes the wiring a little bit easier. You don’t have to drill the logs to run the wires. You can use that insulation space to also run all your wiring.

    BYRON: OK. Yeah. We were hoping to keep the logs exposed, just for looks, but we might be able to do that by some – on the outside of the furring strips with some planks or something.

    TOM: Well, I think it will be warmer if you insulate them but let’s – if you want to just leave it raw for now, you could always go back and do the insulation later. I mean those logs are going to have some thermal mass to them, especially since they’re 8 inches thick. But I think, generally, the building practice would be, in a very harsh climate, to try to insulate the inside of those walls.

    BYRON: I think I’ll take your advice and insulate and then, like I say, use some wood planks to make it look more like log on the inside.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    BYRON: Alright. Well, thank you very much for your assistance.

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

    LESLIE: Susan is on the line with a cold-water shower that I imagine she doesn’t like very much. Tell us what’s going on.

    SUSAN: Rather shocking.

    TOM: I bet.

    LESLIE: I can imagine.

    SUSAN: The hot-water faucet in the upstairs shower is the only hot-water faucet that does this – is when I adjust the hot water and it’s right – a good mix with the cold water. Step in the shower, then (audio gap) the hot water stops flowing and the water turns cold. It’s almost like the faucet shut itself off or …

    TOM: What kind of water heater do you have, Susan? Is it gas or electric?

    SUSAN: Gas.

    TOM: And does this problem exist with any other fixture in the bathroom or the house for that matter?

    SUSAN: No. It’s the only one that works that way. The hot – the kitchen does not do that; the other bathroom sinks and faucets don’t do that.

    TOM: So this is a single-handle faucet?

    SUSAN: No. It’s a – there are two handles. They have separate handles.

    TOM: Well, I think you’ve got a bad valve in there somewhere. Because if it’s just happening in one location like that, that’s the only thing it could be. We have plenty of hot water for the rest of the house. I suspect that there’s a problem with the valve. You might just want to replace the faucet set.

    SUSAN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: That would make sense as to its …

    SUSAN: I just wondered, why would that do that?

    TOM: I’ll just speculate here. As the water heats up the pipe, the metal expands and causes the valve to squeeze shut a little bit or something like that. There are a lot of reasons it could happen but I think it’s mechanical, because it’s only happening in one location. So it has to be the valve.

    SUSAN: Oh. That’s it. Yeah.

    TOM: It’s not – there’s nothing mysterious about this. It’s got to be the valve.

    SUSAN: Alright. Well, great. Thank you for the diagnosis.

    TOM: What you might want to think about when you replace this is talk to your plumber about something called a “pressure-balancing valve.” Now, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to find this for this kind of configuration that you have.

    But what a pressure-balancing valve does is it keeps the mix ratio between hot and cold steady, regardless of what’s happening in the rest of the house. So that if you were to hop in the shower and somebody else flushes a toilet somewhere, you don’t get sort of that shock of hot or shock of cold water as one fixture sort of steals water from the other. It keeps the ratio the same. So while you may have less or more water, the temperature of the water never changes. If you’re going to spend the money on a plumber and valves, I would definitely look into getting a pressure-balanced valve set if I could.

    SUSAN: Well, I’m glad to know about that. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Our next caller is a Facebook fan of The Money Pit and he’s calling in from Wisconsin. We’ve got Antoine on the line who’s got a pellet-stove question. How can we help you?

    ANTOINE: My house is about 1,000 square foot and I wanted to put in a pellet stove.

    TOM: OK.

    ANTOINE: And I was wondering, what would be the best location and the best way to ventilate it?

    TOM: OK. Good question. Now, first of all, hurray for the choice of a pellet stove. A very green energy choice. Lots of options. Pellet stoves are affordable, the fuel’s affordable. They work very, very well. You fill them up and literally can walk away from them.

    Since it’s not tied into a central-heating system, you want it to be centrally located so you get the best amount of heat distribution outside of it. Very, very important that you follow the National Fire Safety Protection Organization standards for installation of that, because they do get very, very hot.

    How you install it, it depends on where you’re putting it. For example, the average wood stove needs about 3 feet of space behind it to combustibles. However, if you build a heat shield, then you can move it closer. I’ve seen them as close as 12 inches if they’re installed with heat shields, which basically create sort of a wall that’s vented that the heat can sort of pass over and the air can pass over and it can remain cool.

    Going up to the attic? Same situation. You typically use a triple-wall pipe – triple-wall vent pipe – to take that hot gas out. And again, it has to be installed correctly. So, it’s not the kind of project that I would recommend that you do if you’ve never installed one before, because of the specialty knowledge you need to make sure it’s done safely, Antoine.

    So if you want to shop it, buy it, get it in the store, get it in the house, that’s great. But I would definitely consider having a contractor that’s built these before do the actual installation for you. I would also make sure that you have the local fire marshal inspect the installation for you to make sure that it’s done correctly.

    ANTOINE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and for liking The Money Pit page on Facebook, which is at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    And by the way, if you would head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and like our page, you can also get priority access to the radio show as we produce it.

    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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re going to give you a hand. You know how to reach us: 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you ready to hang a new, flat-screen TV? Well, let’s make sure it doesn’t end up crashing flat on the ground. We’ll tell you how, 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: Hey, do you want a quick way to give your bathroom a face-lift? Well, why not update your grout? You can clean it, you can repair it or you can replace it and you’ll have a little more sparkle in that bathroom. As a result, the entire project can happen in just a day. We’ve got the step-by-step on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Steve in Kentucky is on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: Hi, Leslie. Well, I’ve got a little 1930s – early 30s – farmhouse that we’re restoring and trying to get a little environmental project going up there.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: And we have a couple of leaks. We’ve had a record rainfall down here in Louisville this last year and we noticed that when it’s a really hard rain out of the west, that along the seams of the old tin roof, we get – well, it’s like a wetness and then it turns into a drip in different locations.

    And I’m just wondering what’s the proper way to seal something like that up where we don’t have to, you know, pull the whole roof to get it.

    TOM: Now, what kind of tin roof do you have? Is it a flat-seam metal roof or is it a standing-seam metal roof?

    STEVE: It’s a standing-seam metal roof.

    TOM: OK. And has it ever been covered with tar or anything like that to try to seal it up?

    STEVE: No, it’s still the original tin.

    TOM: OK. So …

    STEVE: It has a little paint on it.

    TOM: Right. I mean that’s a good thing because, typically, the way you fix those is you solder them. And to do that, you have to strip the paint off, identify the sort of worn-out area. There’s probably a worn-out, cracked, rusted-out area and the repair would be to solder it. And that’s actually a good thing, Steve, because if you solder it, it’s sort of a lifetime repair.

    What happens with these – too many of these metal roofs, though – is that folks don’t want to take sort of the long approach to this repair and they will cover it with tar or caulk or something of that nature. And in doing so, eventually the water gets underneath that and then it seriously rusts it out pretty quickly.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: So the secret to success here is to try to find somebody who’s been around long enough that knows how to re-solder a metal roof. And that will fix it permanently.

    STEVE: OK. And I’m assuming that that’s probably some specialized tools then.

    TOM: Well, just the right-size torches and solder and all of that sort of thing, yeah. But the guys that do metal roofs have those tools.

    STEVE: Great. And is that – I guess maybe I ought to go up there with them. If I can get them to fix it, I’ll watch and learn a little bit.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, then, you’d be able to do it yourself next time, right?

    STEVE: Maybe so, maybe so. Well, I appreciate the advice and I’ll look along that path. And I just want to let you know that we really enjoy you all’s show down here in Louisville.

    TOM: Well, thank you so very much and good luck with that project. Remember, when you’re working with that heat up in that roof, too, that there’s a fire hazard associated with this repair, too. So just make sure that you’re super, super careful, OK, Steve? We don’t want you to call us back and ask us how to rebuild the building as the next call, OK?

    STEVE: Nope. I think I’ll put somebody with a fire extinguisher in the attic and we’ll do it on a little spring day.

    TOM: OK. So, you’ve finally picked up the new, flat-screen TV and just in time for the big game. But now, how are you going to get it up on the wall? If you don’t do that job right, that flat-screen is going to fall flat on the ground.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That would be really, really bad. Then all you have are wings and beer and really, what is that without the big game? Well, guys, you’ve got to remember that most of your flat-screen TVs don’t come with a mounting bracket. So, you’re going to be shopping for one. And that’s a good thing because you can choose the TV bracket that best suits your needs and your home. But first, you’ve got to check the owner’s manual. Because your particular flat-screen TV might need a particular size, brand. There’s a whole host of things you have to look for in a bracket, so check that manual first.

    TOM: Now, when you chose your bracket, you’ve got options. You can go with a flat wall mount, a tilting mount or an articulating mount. Now, flat’s going to hang your TV pretty much like a painting. The tilting will allow an up or down movement and that’s a good idea if your TV will be perhaps a little higher than eye level. You want to tilt it down towards your eye level. And the articulating mount, well, that also goes side to side. So lots of options there.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You also want to make sure that you know your TV’s weight and you want to look for a bracket that’s VESA compatible. Now VESA is the Video Electronics Standards Association and they set the standards for flat-screen TV mounting brackets. So you want to make sure that the bracket you choose is in compliance with their standards.

    TOM: Now, you want to choose a good location: one without a lot of glare, that’s near plenty of outlets. But most importantly, find the studs and make sure you’re drilling into at least two wall studs when you’re hanging that flat-screen TV bracket. Don’t attempt to hang it into drywall or paneling alone, because it will come crashing down.

    If you’d like more detailed, step-by-step instructions, they’re online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Susan in Georgia is on the line with a cleaning question. How can we help you today?

    SUSAN: Hi. My husband and I have purchased a 1920 Craftsman house.


    TOM: That’s a beautiful home.

    SUSAN: Oh, it is stunning. Well, it will be. It’s been neglected and all the interior walls that we’ve exposed so far have antique heartwood pine.

    TOM: OK.

    SUSAN: And so my question is not only cleaning, it’s kind of threefold. First, I need to clean it – it hasn’t been cleaned in years – and what is the best way to do that? As well as – after I clean it, I was thinking – what is the best way to restore it – the wood is dry – and maintain it?

    TOM: So, when you say “restore it,” do you want to refinish these pine walls?

    SUSAN: Yes, I do.

    TOM: OK.

    SUSAN: They are – I mean they’re – it’s antique heartwood pine. They can be really, really pretty.

    TOM: Yeah, they can be.

    SUSAN: But because the house has some – it had old, coal fireplaces, so they are just really grungy.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    LESLIE: So they’re dirty.

    TOM: Well, I would say clean it first; then we know how much more work you have to do.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    SUSAN: What do you clean it with?

    TOM: Well, because it’s wood, you can’t use a lot of moisture. But I would try something like Murphy’s Oil Soap.

    SUSAN: And that’s OK to do on unfinished wood?

    TOM: Yeah. Doesn’t it – it probably has some sort of base finish on it, does it not?

    SUSAN: No, it does not.

    TOM: It has no finish on it at all.

    SUSAN: No. We actually – when we purchased the house, they had put up wallpaper on it.

    TOM: New idea. If it’s completely unfinished, then you’re going to have to sand it. So I would start with one section and I would lightly sand it and see where it goes. I would use a medium grit – like a 100-, 150-grit – and take it from there.

    Now, I would sand it very carefully by hand to start with, just to kind of see what I’m working with. If it looks like it’s going to work out for you, then I would definitely rent or even buy – they’re not that expensive – a vibrating sander. And you …

    SUSAN: I actually tried sanding it in one area that’s going to be a water-heater closet and it didn’t work so well. There is so much, I guess, tannic acid or – in it. It wasn’t working very well.

    TOM: If you want to try cleaning it with something else that’s a little more heavy-duty, you could try TSP. And since you’ve got this water-heater closet, this could be your experimental room.

    SUSAN: Right.

    TOM: But you could use trisodium phosphate, which is something that you can buy in a home center. It’s usually near the wallpaper and paint section.

    LESLIE: In the paint prep.

    TOM: And you mix it up with water and it’s pretty good at pulling stuff out of – pulling stains out of things. But I’ve never used it on raw wood. I don’t see why you couldn’t give it a try, though.

    SUSAN: Yeah. It hasn’t – it actually – you know, I didn’t know if mineral spirits or …

    TOM: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That’s going to do nothing but set it. I would try the TSP but if that doesn’t work, you’re just going to have to sand this.

    SUSAN: OK, that’s fine.

    TOM: And you’re going to sand enough to eventually cut through it. It’s not black all the way through, so eventually you’re going to cut through to fresh wood.

    SUSAN: Right.

    TOM: And then once you sand it, what you’re probably going to do is stain it and that’ll even out the color. So I would use a Minwax stain – an oil-based Minwax stain – and I would stain it to even out the color. And then I would finish it with a clear finish.

    SUSAN: Perfect. You have answered my question and I’m so glad I talked to you. I didn’t realize the mineral spirits would set it. So, thank you, guys, so very much.

    LESLIE: Tuan in Nebraska is on the line with some help on an insulation project. What can we do for you?

    TUAN: My home was built in 1935 and I’d like to insulate the exterior walls. What would be the best way to do that? Either foam or blowing in insulation?

    TOM: So you are confident that there’s no insulation in those exterior walls right now, Tuan?

    TUAN: There’s none in there. I’m very confident.

    TOM: So, because we don’t want to have you open up all the walls, probably the best thing to do is to do blown-in insulation. That can be blown in from the interior or from the exterior, depending on how – where you would like to patch it. To blow in insulation, they drill holes that are about an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter and then usually, you use cellulose that’s blown in under a slight pressure.

    And it’s important to work with a company that’s very experienced with the product, because they have ways to make sure it gets to all the spaces it’s supposed to get to and account for settling of it.

    For example, one of the ways to do that is after the insulation is installed, they’ll use an infrared camera to basically scan all your walls and look for cold spots that would indicate a place where insulation did not get to. So I think blown-in is the way to go with that thermal verification.

    TUAN: OK. So thermal – ask for a thermal verification?

    TOM: Yeah. And it really shouldn’t be anything extra. It should just be part of their tools because otherwise, how do they know they’re getting the insulation everywhere it should be? I would also tell you to make sure you double-check the amount of insulation you have in your attic because as uncomfortable you think you might be because of those walls, they are actually responsible for a very small part of the heat loss compared to the attics. You want to make sure that the insulation over head in your part of the country is 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation.

    TUAN: Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, harsh sunlight. It can damage your carpeting and your wood floors but there is a solution that’ll keep the sun’s rays at bay. We’re going to tell you about tinting your home’s windows, after this.

    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: Well, during cold, dreary winter days, there’s nothing that you want to feel more and see than the sun. The sun can not only heat up your home, the UV rays could be damaging, as well.

    LESLIE: Yeah, unless you know how to protect those rays from getting into your house. Here to tell us one way is Charles Bonfiglio, the president and CEO of Tint World.

    Welcome, Charles.

    CHARLES: Hi. How are you folks? A pleasure to be here.

    TOM: So, Charles, window film actually has a number of benefits to it. First off, people used to just put this in when they had, say, expensive furniture to protect or carpeting and that sort of thing. And it still works well for that. But today’s window film actually has some energy-saving benefits, as well, don’t they?

    CHARLES: Oh, yeah. It’s one of the biggest reasons why people would put window film on – is to lower their energy cost and protect the interior from, you know, the outside element of the solar energy that comes into the home.

    TOM: So how does it actually do that? Just kind of talk us through what happens when the sunlight hits the window.

    CHARLES: Well, when sunlight hits the window and the rays – if the UV rays and the heat that comes in, the solar energy comes in. And as you said earlier, it actually can save your interior, your carpets, your trait (ph) from your flooring. But it also is bringing in the heat. And the way the film is constructed, it actually reflects that heat out of the home and basically – therefore saving you up to 80-percent heat rejection that would normally be coming to the home.

    LESLIE: Now, Charles, because this coating goes on your window on the interior, should there ever be, say, like a hurricane or something gets thrown through the glass, will it protect your home from the glass coming in?

    CHARLES: Yes. They’re standard solar-energy window films that go in your home but they also have security film. They have the same benefits of regular window film but they’re much thicker and have a certain groove that locks the glass fragments together, sort of like on the windshield of your car. If you broke it, it may crack but it will not fall into pieces.

    TOM: Interesting. So we’re talking to Charles Bonfiglio. He’s the president and CEO of Tint World.

    So, Charles, applying these window films, is this a do-it-yourself project or is it something that you kind of really have to turn to a pro to get done?

    CHARLES: It really wouldn’t be good for you to try to do it if you haven’t done this before. It takes – it’s a tedious job. It just takes time and skill. I would recommend a professional window-film installer. They know how to put it in – install it properly. And most windows – when you’re doing the film inside the homes, you have to clean the windows very well. You have to remove all drapery or any window treatments and really do a clean job, make sure it’s adhered properly to the film – to the window – and that it fits perfect.

    LESLIE: So, Charles, is the window film something that you keep up year-round or you just apply it for wintertime?

    CHARLES: Actually, the window film does a dual purpose. It’s both for winter and summer. In the winter, you’re keeping the home inside warm and the window film actually keeps the heat in the house, reducing your energy bill. In the summertime, you have the heat coming into your windows and actually making the air conditioning work a lot harder. So it’ll keep up to 80 percent of the heat rejected out of your home, therefore saving your energy bills, of course, from 30 to 50 percent.

    TOM: Good tips. Charles Bonfiglio, the president and CEO of Tint World, thank you so much for filling us in on the benefits of window films. I always thought of them as protecting furnishings but now we can think of them as energy-saving improvements, as well as those that can help make our home a bit more secure. Thanks again.

    CHARLES: You’re welcome. Thank you so much.

    TOM: And if you’d like to learn more about window tinting, you can check out the Tint World website at TintWorld.com. It’s T-i-n-t-World.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, snowy climate with no garage to keep your car? Well, that’s OK. We’ve got some tips on how to park your car ahead of a storm, to keep snow removal quick and easy, when The Money Pit returns.

    TOM: Wood-burning fireplaces may be charming but sometimes, they can remove more heat than they actually generate.

    Hi. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete with today’s Money Pit Home Improvement Minute.

    TOM: For the best efficiency, fireplace inserts are a better option. They’re typically made of steel or cast iron and they’re fronted by insulated glass, which creates a closed-combustion system within your existing fireplace.

    LESLIE: Now, some feature blowers that push the heat through vents and into your living space, operating more or less like a forced-air heater.

    TOM: Inserts are available in gas, electric or wood-burning varieties and they can vent through chimneys, with higher-efficiency models able to vent directly through the wall to the exterior.

    LESLIE: Gas and electric inserts are the most efficient but a wood-burning insert still provides better heat than a traditional fireplace and maintains that good, old-fashioned view of the logs on the fire.

    I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And I’m Tom Kraeutler. For more Money Pit home improvement tips, visit MoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, guys, when it comes to the housing market, you might think of them as young but America’s millennials, guys, they are growing up. And they’re making their mark on the real estate market. Now, a whopping 30 percent of homes this year were bought by millennials and those are people age 25 to 34. And that is just the beginning of their impact.

    TOM: So, what does this tidal wave of millennial home buyers mean for your home and neighborhood? Find out more on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Jan in Kansas is on the line with a home that seems to be cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAN: Well, I’ve got a lot of problems. It’s an old house; it’s over 50 years old.

    TOM: You have a lot of opportunities, Jan, not a lot of problems.

    JAN: Yeah. I’ve got some cracks in the wall.

    TOM: OK.

    JAN: And I have one crack that is going from the dining room to the kitchen and I believe it’s cracking on both sides of the wall. Same crack.

    TOM: OK. You said it’s 50 years old. Do you know if it’s plaster lath?

    JAN: It’s sheetrock.

    TOM: It’s drywall? OK. So, you know, fixing that is not a big deal. The thing is that most people usually fix it incorrectly. What they’ll do is they’ll try to spackle it. And by spackling it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it’s going to re-crack. What you have to do is sand down the area so you get rid of any glaze from the paint or dirt or anything like that. And then you’re going to cover it with drywall tape. And you want to use the mesh type of tape that’s sticky.

    So you put a strip of tape across the crack and then you spackle right over that tape. And you’ll use three layers of spackle and the easiest way to apply this is if you buy the plastic spackling knives. You can buy one that starts at around 4 inches, then you go to 6, then you go to 8. And they’re pretty inexpensive and you use that to apply the spackle and you sand in between each coat. And then you prime and paint and you’re done. So those are the proper steps.

    Where most people go wrong is they just try to do a quick and dirty spackling job and they wonder why it cracks again and again and again. Because that’s basically an expansion joint right now and unless you spread the repair across both sides of it with new drywall tape, it will continue to show up.

    LESLIE: It’s where snow is pretty common this time of year but you don’t have a garage. Yeah, it’s a pain, I know. You’ve got to clear off the snow and the ice off your car but you’ve got to do it.

    Now, in fact in some states, it’s illegal to drive around with a car that is not cleared off. And really, guys, it’s just dangerous and not the brightest thing to do so.

    TOM: Ah, yes. But if you’re smart, there are some ways to make this project easy. First off, learn a trick I learned a long time ago: if you’ve got a long driveway, get ready before the storm hits by parking your car at the end of it, right? Seems simple. Well, I made that mistake once and never made it again.

    LESLIE: Seriously, that’s a lot more to shovel.

    TOM: That’s right. And it’s going to make the distance you need to shovel or clear a lot closer to your endpoint which is, of course, the street. Now, same goes for parking spaces in a condo or apartment complex. Grab a spot near that complex exit if you can.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Here’s another trick, guys: you want to put your windshield wipers up so they don’t freeze to the car’s windows. Also, use a long-handled broom to get snow off the top of your car before you open the door. Otherwise, a heap of wet snow is going to fall right in and land on your seat and then your butt’s going to be all wet. It’s not good, guys.

    TOM: And make sure you clear the snow around your headlights and taillights so people can see you. And if your driver’s door is frozen shut, try all the doors. There might be ones that are facing the sun where the ice has already started to melt. And if you can’t get in, here’s a trick of the trade from your home improvement toolbox: grab the WD-40. It’s a great lock deicer and it will really free up that lock and the seam around your door very, very quickly.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, what should you be keeping in your car if a storm does strike while you’re at work? Well, you want a snow kit in your car. Now that should include a scraper, a small shovel, broom, mittens, gloves, maybe even an extra pair of boots. You want to be prepared, guys.

    TOM: And remember, if you’re miserable in the cold weather, in just a few months you’ll be complaining about the hot weather once again.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann on the line who’s got a ceiling issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ANN: Well, what happened is I have a large living room. At one time, it had been two rooms and they combined it into one.


    ANN: On one of the sections, it has a metal or a tin ceiling. And what I want to do is install a ceiling to match in the other section. I located the manufacturer of the ceiling tile. However, I don’t know who to call to do the installation, because they could not provide me with any ideas. So, should I be looking for a sheet-metal person? Should I look for a tinsmith or a …?

    TOM: So you can’t find a tin-ceiling installer in the phone book? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?

    ANN: Right. There’s no one listed.

    TOM: Listen, it’s not a hard project, Linda. It’s really a job for a carpenter. It’s not a difficult project. A carpenter with a little bit of metalworking experience can handle this. And I’m very impressed that you actually found the product, because it’s a little tough to find.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly what you’re looking for.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ANN: Right.

    TOM: So I would handle – a good carpenter or a good handyman. Really easy job to install that. And so that’s the way I would take it.

    ANN: Oh, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate all your help.

    LESLIE: Jim in Georgia is on the line with a concrete question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JIM: Well, I’m trying to find out what you’d recommend for this time of the year and time-wise is the thing – your weather, too. The area is about, say, 10 feet long. It’s that gap in the – between the curb, where the driveway comes down to the road surface. And then there’s about, I’d say, 6 or 7 inches of space and then you hit the asphalt for the road. And it’s about a 2- to 3-inch difference in gapping – in height – between the road surface and then the driveway. So in other words, when you hit the driveway, you have to dip down first and then drive – bump up into the roadway.

    So I was trying to get a fill-in of concrete – of some kind of a concrete: Sakrete or something – to fill in that area and kind of make it still where there’s a little bit of a ramp to go up into the driveway but at the same time, raise it up high enough so it’s not such a big dip between the road surface and the driveway.

    TOM: Jim, how big is the dip in the driveway? Is it more than 2 inches?

    JIM: Yeah, it’s about 3 inches. And it’s about, say, maybe 10 inches – 10 to 12 inches.

    TOM: Wide?

    JIM: Yeah. And then going the length of the driveway. That entrance into the driveway itself?

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: That’s about the 10 foot long and about, say, 10 to 12 inches wide.

    TOM: Right, right. Well, here’s the thing. When you patch concrete, you have to use a concrete that’s designed for repair, because it has the capability to stick to the old surfaces.

    Now, I know that Sakrete makes a product that’s specifically designed for patches and repairs. They have a fast-setting cement patcher. That, however, is designed for an up to 2-inch-thick application. I’m not quite sure which product is designed for a thicker application than that.

    But my caution to you is that whichever product you choose, you have to make sure that it’s a patching product, because otherwise it’s not going to stick. You can’t use the same type of concrete that you would typically use when it’s a new project like that. Because if you do that, it won’t stick. And especially when it gets wet, it can come apart.

    JIM: Do they have an adhesive that you can add to the concrete or something, as you’re mixing it, to have a little bit of an advantage when you’re mixing something like this?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s called a bonding agent. And I believe that that’s something that you can also add as you’re mixing the surface, especially if you want to bond new concrete to old concrete. You can use a bonding agent to do that. So, one way or the other, you either probably have to mix in the bonding agent or if you use a premixed product that’s designed for patching, that’s the type of material that you’ll use to fill in that gap. I just want to make sure that you do it once, you do it right and you don’t have to do it again.

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: I would take a look at the Sakrete website. It’s S-a-k-r-e-t-e. They have bonding and curing agents; they have the patching products right there. Just make sure you choose the right one. Don’t buy products that are meant for new construction or a standalone project, because it just won’t stick.

    JIM: Is there a temperature range that it should be working with or set-up in? Because here, the temperatures are still getting down below 32 degrees.

    TOM: Every product has its own temperature range that it’s designed to work within. And that information will be on the packaging.

    JIM: OK. And I’ll go to that website and they’ll have all the information on the product, also?

    TOM: Yep. So just go to the Sakrete website at Sakrete.com – S-a-k-r-e-t-e.com. Choose the product you want to work with and the specs will be right there in terms of what the temperature range is.

    JIM: Excellent. Well, thank you very much. Enjoy your show. It’s a great show.

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

    Well, falls at home injure millions of Americans every single year. And a fall-hazard hotspot in your house is your bathroom. We’re going to share some easy advice on how to make that space much safer, after this.

    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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, whether they live under your roof or just come by for occasional visits, a house with babies and kids is a house that needs to be childproofed. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got the step-by-step home childproofing tips on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Post your questions, as well, on the website in our Community section, just like Trevor did who writes: “In our ranch-style home, we have a great room with cathedral ceilings. Can we put crown molding in there?”

    TOM: Probably not because it’s kind of an old angle. If the cathedral ceiling jumps up at, say, a 45-degree angle, the crown molding is only really designed to work with a 90-degree angle. And if you do it in that case, it may sort of frame in the room, maybe make it a little smaller.

    I mean I think, Leslie, if you did want to put something there, couldn’t you use something like a, say, a band board? Maybe like a 4-inch or a 6-inch-deep band board that was cut, well, with the angle of the cathedral ceiling right above it and sort of wrap that around as sort of a divider? But it’s not the kind of space you typically would put crown molding in.

    LESLIE: You know, I think it’s a good opportunity, if you are insisting on using molding, to frame out your windows or do an amazing base board. Think of it in a different way to bring molding into this space, if that’s really the look you’re going for. But if you try to put a crown in at any height or in any way on that ceiling, it’s just going to defeat the purpose. Because cathedral-ceiling rooms are supposed to be so open and grand and soaring. And that’s just going to squish it.

    TOM: Yeah, kind of like cathedrals.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Well, every month of the year has a theme. In fact, many themes, I guess, depending on the industry you’re in. And it just so happens that January is Bath Safety Month. And although there seems to be a month that’s devoted to awareness for just about every problem, this one does deserve some special attention. Falls at home injure millions of Americans every year and most of them happen in the bathroom. Leslie has got tips on how to make your home safer, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. There are some simple things that you can change very affordably in your bathroom to make it a lot safer. So let’s start. You want to use a non-slip mat or even install adhesive safety strips or those decals in your bathtubs and showers. Now, if you use a bathmat on the floor, choose one that’s got a built-in, non-skid bottom. Anything that you can do to reduce the slipping factor is highly important.

    Another thing you can do is install grab bars in your bathroom and your shower stalls. Don’t use towel racks. They are not serving the same purpose as a grab bar. Or even those wall-mounted soap dishes; it’s not meant to hold your weight and they’re not installed properly. And they can become loose. You can fall. Just a bad idea. And you can get grab bars that look really beautiful and highly stylized, from a lot of the manufacturers of bath fittings. And you’ll find something that’s meant to do the job of what a grab bar is supposed to do but look really fashion-y and design-y. So, you don’t have to sacrifice there.

    Another thing is you want to keep your floor clean and dry. So promptly clean up any grease or water or makeup or powder. Or whatever you might spill on the floor, clean it up right away.

    Another thing is if you use throw rugs in your bathroom or pretty much anywhere in your house, you want to place them over a rug liner or choose rugs with non-skid backs. That’s going to reduce your chance of slipping on this very common trip-and-fall hazard. You could even get double-stick carpet tape and just adhere the rug to your floor. You’ve got to be safe, guys. We don’t want you falling down.

    If you want some more ideas on making your whole house safer, check out our article, “Preventing Falls at Home,” at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to have some tips on pendant lights. They’re a very fun addition that can add some style to your space. But are they an electrical project you should handle on your own? We’ll have the lowdown on these popular lighting fixtures, 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 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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