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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Yes, it’s warm out right now. We know, we get it. But it’s also a good time to tackle a home improvement project. So if there’s one on your to-do list, give us a call and we will help you get it done. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, a kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel but you can cut that cost by doing some of the work yourself. We’re going to give you some tips on what you can do to save money on that popular project, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, you might think that ivy is a great way to make your home look distinguished. But did you know that it can actually wreak some serious havoc on your walls, including broken bricks and major carpenter-ant problems? We’re going to tell you how to get rid of those creepy vines, in just a bit.

    TOM: And it’s back-to-school time, so if you’ve got a teenager heading off to college, there’s more to being prepared than just notebooks and a laptop. We’re going to give you the scoop on what tools you should send to the dorms with your co-ed.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, one lucky caller is going to get some relief from the heat. Man, will it ever stop this summer? We’re giving away a KuulAire 53 and it’s a portable, evaporative cooling unit.

    TOM: And it’s worth 200 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now: 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    LESLIE: Rose in Pennsylvania is on the line who has a problem – and I’m sorry to say in this horrific, hot summer – cooling her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROSE: The house is air conditioned but we have a room addition that was put on over a concrete porch and below that, a basement. And I was told that we couldn’t get a duct or an outlet into this room. And I heard Richard Trethewey from This Old House talking. He was going to talk about heating and air-conditioning a room without ducts. And unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to listen to it and I wondered if you could tell me about that.

    TOM: Yeah. What Richard was talking about is something that we call “mini-split ductless.”

    Now, in a situation like this, a mini-split ductless system would be perfect. Because, like the name, you don’t have any ducts, so you don’t have to have a traditional air handler and then ducts that extend into the space.

    A mini-split ductless consists of a compressor that’s outside and then the air handler, which hangs on the wall inside your addition. And there’s a refrigerant tube and electrical wires that go from one to the next. And when the thermostat tells it to come on, the mini-split ductless system will come on. It will cool your house and it will also – could potentially warm it, as well, because you can get a mini-split ductless system that’s set up as a heat pump, as well as just an air conditioner. So you could have additional heat in that space, as well as cooling.

    They’re made by a wide variety of manufacturers. You could take a look at, for example, Mitsubishi.

    ROSE: OK.

    TOM: Mr. Slim makes one. Fujitsu makes one.

    And I have one in my office – actually, in my studio. And I have one in the studio because it’s so quiet, we can be on the radio even with the mini-split ductless running.

    ROSE: Well, that’s great. And the – if it had heating, obviously that would be an electrical heating, right?

    TOM: Well, it’s a heat pump.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. Because we have oil heat for the house and air conditioning but just this one room …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s electrical, yeah. But it’s a heat-pump system. Basically, the difference between heating and cooling, when you’re using this, is a heat pump reverses the refrigeration cycle so that you get warm air inside, as opposed to cold air.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. And are there any estimates, like just starting out, what price might be? I know it depends on, I imagine, the – how large a room is. But I just wondered, into the thousands, of course?

    TOM: Yeah, it will be into the thousands. I’m going to say probably a couple of thousand dollars.

    ROSE: For the unit plus installation?

    TOM: Right, exactly. Yeah. It’s not inexpensive but it’s a real problem-solver.

    ROSE: Right.

    TOM: And once you have it, you’ll be so much more comfortable. And you’ll get the use out of that room, you know? Right now, you can’t use the room too much, so you’ll get the use out of it.

    ROSE: Well, we have the door open and the air and the cool – heat comes in somewhat but you need a fan. In the winter, you need a little heater to add to it.

    TOM: Yeah, this is a perfect solution for you, Rose. Take a look at the mini-split ductless systems. They have to be professionally installed but it’s going to make you much more comfortable in that space.

    ROSE: OK. Well, thanks a lot and I do enjoy listening to you every week.

    TOM: Thanks, Rose.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Howard from North Carolina on the line with a water-softening question. What can we do for you today?

    HOWARD: Well, my question, really, has to do with the EasyWater Water Conditioner. And I’m making a distinction here between water softening and conditioning, because I understand that products that don’t use salt really are not softeners but they are conditioners. And I think that’s really what my need is.

    I have no problem with the relative softness of the water, if you will, for cleaning purposes. However, it is a lime- and scale-producing water. It’s municipal water but it comes from an artesian-well system.

    So my question, really, is: is this the product on the market? Are there other ones that do much the same thing? How proven is it? Is it something that I can reliably install or is it still relatively an unproven item? It seems to be a name that’s in the market but I’m not – I’m just looking for some endorsement of it, I guess.

    TOM: Alright. So, several years ago, EasyWater was a sponsor of the show. They haven’t been for many years. And when that happened, they sent me one of their units and we don’t have well water but I had a friend of mine that did have it. And he installed the EasyWater system on his main water line, as directed, and had really miraculous results. And it really got me interested in the technology.

    And the way it essentially works is if you can of a way a magnet works, where positive sides repel each other, that’s kind of the way EasyWater works. It forces the particles that go through – the hard-water particles – to not stick. That leads to less scale and other types of buildups that stick to pipes and stick to faucets and so on. So that’s basically the way it works.

    I will say that I do know they have a really good warranty on it and I think it’s like a 90-day, money-back guarantee. It’s pretty long, from what I recall. So I see no reason to tell you not to try it. I’ve had good experiences with it through the test unit – the dummy – that they sent us. They have a pretty good warranty on it. I’d give it a shot.

    HOWARD: Alright. Thank you, Tom.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT. There’s only two actual weeks left to the summer celebration before we hit Labor Day. So if you’ve got something you want to tackle before the weather inevitably starts to turn, we are here to give you a hand.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And if one project you’ve been thinking about tackling is remodeling your kitchen, you know it can be a very expensive project. However, a few, basic DIY skills can help you drastically cut those costs and we’ll tell you how, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Has it been hot enough for you guys this summer? I mean man, this has been like the hottest summer on record. And let me tell you, being pregnant in this heat is not fun. I’m not having a good time with this. And you can tell I’m angry about it. I’m just so thrilled for fall to arrive. Could it come any faster?

    Well, anyway, my problems aside, you guys have home improvement situations, we’ve got prizes to give away. And we’ve got a great prize that can help you feel cool. We’ve got up for grabs this hour a KuulAire 53.

    Now, this is a small, portable cooling unit that’s perfect for rooms like your kitchen, where you need some extra relief from the heat. For me, I would just plug it in and carry it around my entire house.

    Now, it’s got an eight-hour timer and a remote control. And it’s going to use less electricity than a crock pot. That’s pretty awesome when you think about how darn hot it has been for months. It’s worth 200 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

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

    SHARON: Hi. I’m interested in tearing down a wall that’s between two rooms. And I’m wondering if I can do that by myself – I don’t have any experience at all – or if I – it’s something that I would need to have an expert do.

    TOM: Maybe, maybe not.

    LESLIE: It depends. What’s in the wall? Is it load-bearing?

    TOM: Yeah.

    SHARON: Yeah. How do you tell that?

    TOM: Where is this wall? First of all, what kind of house do you have? What shape is your house? Is it Colonial, ranch?

    SHARON: I have a – what do you call that – bi-level, where there’s an upstairs part and a downstairs part?

    TOM: Bi-level? OK. Alright. And where is the wall?

    SHARON: The wall – it’s two bedrooms and the wall is right between the two bedrooms.

    TOM: Hmm. So is it parallel with the front wall of the house and the back wall of the house or is it perpendicular?

    SHARON: It is perpendicular.

    TOM: It’s most likely not a bearing wall; that is my sight-unseen assessment. I could be wrong but it’s most likely not. Because usually in a bi-level, the only bearing wall is the center wall that goes down the middle, parallel with the front and the back wall of the house.

    But even that said, what you can do, as a do-it-yourselfer, is you can tear out the drywall and get to that. But remember, once you do that, Sharon, you’re going to be having – you’re going to be looking at plumbing, you’re going to be looking at heating ducts, you’re going to be looking at wiring, not to mention the fact that you’re going to have to patch all that drywall. So, there’s a lot to it.

    SHARON: Oh, really? I thought I could be a do-it-yourselfer; I really wanted to do the project myself (inaudible at 0:11:25).

    TOM: Well, look, you can do it yourself. We don’t want you to become a do-it-to-yourselfer, alright?

    SHARON: Oh, right.

    TOM: So you really should not be doing the electrical work yourself. What you could do …

    SHARON: I am concerned about that part.

    TOM: Yeah, what you could do is take apart all the drywall. That’s easy to do. But again, if …

    LESLIE: Yeah, take out the trim, take down the drywall.

    TOM: Yeah. Maybe if you get it all ready, you can have a carpenter just come pull the wall out and an electrician rerun the outlet and you’ll be done.

    SHARON: Alright. Well, I just wanted to make sure – advice about that.

    TOM: Alright.

    SHARON: I’m glad you told me before I got in the middle of it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, when it comes to projects that deliver a really big return on investment, kitchens are going to always be your top choice. But they can cost an arm and a leg to remodel, unless you are able to do some of that work yourself.

    Now, even with modest DIY skills, you can hang cabinets and yes, lay down countertops. And one product that can help you with part of that project and give you professional results is LIQUID NAILS, a proud sponsor of The Money Pit.

    TOM: Now, usually, the biggest expense in a kitchen remodel is the cabinetry. So plan on setting aside a large part of your budget for nice, solidly-made cabinets. And installing them yourself, though, is not as hard as you might think.

    Now, I like to start with the wall cabinets, first, and then add the base cabinets. This way, you can get pretty close to the wall while you’re hanging those cabinets and it all comes out nice and straight. It’s important to make sure those cabinets are level, of course, and attached through the back cabinet rails to the studs.

    So what I do is find the studs first and then mark where they’ll hit on the cabinets so there’s no guesswork while you’re holding that very heavy box in the air. And another trick is this: take all the doors off before you hang the cabinets. Why? Well, it makes them lighter to handle and easier to attach.

    Now, you can use LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive to help make sure they’ll stay put. Just apply a ¼-inch bead of the adhesive to the contact areas on the back of the cabinet and press them into place. You’ll also need fasteners, as well. But with the LIQUID NAILS, you’ll have a very solid, durable and permanent installation to enjoy for years to come.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And of course, that proud, do-it-yourself feeling and some extra money in your wallet, which is great.

    If you want some more tips and tricks, plus more details on LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesives, visit their website at LIQUIDNAILS.com.

    TOM: That’s LIQUIDNAILS.com.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. Tell us about your next remodeling project.

    LESLIE: Dale in Wisconsin is on the line with a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.

    DALE: Well, we’ve got a metal roof. It’s a Pro-Rib system? Think of it as a pole barn but the basic structure is made out of metal trusses and then roof purlins and side girts.

    TOM: OK.

    DALE: And I’m assuming that they’re coming in from around – the leaks are coming right – because it’s not a lot of water. You know, if I put a measuring cup underneath one of the drips, it probably wouldn’t fill up unless it was a really, really torrential rain. And then it also depends on which direction the wind is blowing.

    TOM: OK. So what’s your question, Dale?

    DALE: I’m looking for a hint on how to repair this, because I was hoping this was going to be my last house.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, you need to figure out where it’s coming from exactly. Is it possible to get on the roof?

    DALE: Yeah. But I’m not as young as I used to be and I don’t bounce quite as well.

    TOM: Yeah, I hear you.

    Because one way to kind of track it down is to wet down different sections of the roof with a garden hose to try to figure out where the breakdown is. And then from there, if you can track it down to just one or two panels, I mean I would silicone-caulk it just to see if it stops it or slows it down.

    And if that’s the case and it works, great. If it works for a while but then doesn’t work any further, then probably you’re going to have to have a roofing contractor take apart those sections where the leaks are and then seal them that way.

    DALE: OK. Sounds like a good plan. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Jamie in South Dakota is on the line with a vaulted ceiling with a crack in it. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAMIE: We’ve been living in this house. It’s (audio gap) built in 2000 and I believe it was a modular that was moved onto a basement foundation. And a few years back, we noticed it started to crack. And my husband tried to fix it but apparently, whatever he did didn’t work.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s give him a little break on that. He can probably try it again but maybe he didn’t take some of the right steps.

    Now, first of all, cracks in vaulted ceilings are very, very common. There’s a tremendous amount of expansion and contraction that goes up there, not to mention the fact that it’s one of the warmest places in the house, especially in the summer.

    So what you want to do to try to fix this is to sand over the area where the crack is so that you remove any loose paint, dirt, debris, that sort of thing. Next, you want to cover that with a piece of perforated drywall tape. It looks a bit like netting, it’s a little sticky and it comes on a roll. And on top of that perforated tape, you want to add three layers of spackle. You start very narrow at about 4 inches and you work out to maybe 6 or 8 or 10 inches, in terms of the width of the spackle blade.

    That netting actually bridges the crack and makes sure it doesn’t come through again. If you were simply to go up there and spackle it, the crack really isn’t fixed. So the next time the ceiling expands and contracts, it’s going to show up again. Does that make sense?

    JAMIE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.

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

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

    CARL: We’re leasing a house and we’ve been in the house now for almost three years and getting to the point of trying to decide should this be the house we buy or should we be looking elsewhere. And the owner has indicated that he’d be interested in selling. But one of the nice things about leasing a house is you find out about all of its good things and all of its not-so-good things.

    TOM: Yeah, you get to kick the tires.

    CARL: Yeah. And the house was built in the mid-90s and so, you know, it’s got a few of the things that a house that age would have. But one of the things that concerned us is that we noticed that in the master bath, it’s got tile on the floor. And when you start walking on the floor, you can almost hear the tile crunching underneath your feet.

    TOM: Right.

    CARL: The tile doesn’t actually move but you also feel a rise, sort of, at certain spots.

    TOM: Yeah. Sounds loose? Well, look, I don’t think that’s unusual with vinyl tile. It’s vinyl tile. Is that what you said?

    CARL: It’s ceramic tile.

    TOM: Oh, it’s ceramic tile. Well, OK, first of all, I don’t feel it’s all that unusual with ceramic tile. It may not have been put down properly. I don’t think it necessarily means that the house is moving; it probably points more accurately to a defect in the installation itself.

    But what you should absolutely do, before you consider going further on this house, is have a professional home inspector look at it. Because a home inspection is done consistent with the standards of practice at the American Society of Home Inspectors, who is going to look at those structural issues, look at the mechanical issues and trust me, find things that even living in that house, that you are completely unaware of.

    CARL: OK.

    TOM: And that’s the best way to kind of know what you’re getting into and be able to negotiate from a position of strength and knowledge.

    CARL: Sure, sure. Alright. Thank you. We’ll find one; we happen to know a few in town here and we’ll give the guy a call.

    TOM: Good luck, Carl. 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, when it comes to the outside of your house, what you’ve got on it might appear stately and harmless but that ivy can actually do some serious damage to your home. We’re going to tell you how to get rid of it, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by LIQUID NAILS. For tough jobs, demand the extraordinary strength of LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. It bonds a wide range of materials, indoors and out, for a job done once, done right. Learn more about LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive at LIQUIDNAILS.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: And hey, have you been thinking about putting your home on the market? There are some simple tricks in staging your home that can make it sell a lot faster. We’ve got a complete list on our website. Just go to MoneyPit.com and search “staging your home.”

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Esther in South Dakota on the line with a shed that is scorching. Tell us what’s going on.

    ESTHER: It is really hot today. We’ve had temperatures outside of up to 102, so it – we just moved here, so right now it just has the sleds and the bikes and the stuff stashed in it. But I want to put my potting shelf out there.

    TOM: Esther, what you’re looking for for this roof is something called a reflective roof coating. It’s basically paint that’s designed for a metal roof, that is further designed to reflect the heat that your shed is gaining back out.

    The problem is that these products are typically only designed for commercial buildings. So you’re going to have to do a little bit of work to find it; it’s not like you’re going to be able to run down to the hardware store and pick this up. But they do exist and I’m hoping that you can buy it in a gallon container, as opposed to 5 gallons or more. Because, again, they’re typically used on a commercial basis for much bigger roofs.

    One company that makes them is called Sealoflex – S-e-a-l-o-f-l-e-x – and they have a reflective coating called ReflectoWhite that is a very reflective coating for all sorts of roof surfaces. But it’s important that you get one that’s specifically designed for roofs; otherwise, it’s not going to stick. OK?

    ESTHER: I understand.

    LESLIE: Well, ivy can look beautiful and really distinguished when it’s growing up an old stone wall. But the truth is ivy can do serious damage and it’s actually really tough to get rid of.

    TOM: That’s right. Ivy can destroy masonry walls, it can harbor wood-damaging carpenter ants and even kill trees. There is a solution, however, and with us to talk about just that is our friend, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Welcome. Did you know one of my first jobs was pruning the ivy around the windows at Harvard University?

    TOM: Is that right?

    ROGER: Yep. And …

    TOM: It just seems right.

    ROGER: Well, it’s all gone now; they took it all down. They got it all off their building.

    TOM: There should be a plaque there with your name on it, don’t you think?

    ROGER: No, not at all. Not at all.

    TOM: But a little bit of ivy can be attractive and that is what we think of when we think of high – when we think of the Ivy League colleges, like Harvard and the beautiful ivy growing up a stone wall. But the truth is that ivy can really get in and certainly damage not only masonry but even wood, more particularly.

    ROGER: It’s aggressive. You have to understand that that’s its nature. And it climbs and it grows and it just keeps going. And it’s not going to stop until you interfere with that cycle.

    TOM: Because ivy really has no natural predators, does it?

    ROGER: Well, not predators. It’s just – it’s aggressive; it’s just going to grow. It grows great in this climate and it just grows and grows and grows.

    LESLIE: I mean do you really need to remove it? Especially if you’ve got a masonry house or building. I understand with wood, if you’ve got carpenter ants but do you really have to take it down?

    ROGER: Well, they’ve found that it can hurt the masonry joints in between brick and block, that it will become a problem over time.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’ll start to sort of pick it out. It sucks onto it. I’ve seen it when you’ve started to take things down and you almost see a webbing shadowing of the base.

    ROGER: Right. It’s a tendril on this particular plant that literally attaches itself. And if we could ever find out what that glue adhesive is

    LESLIE: You’d make millions.

    ROGER: Oh, yeah, we’d retire on that, I tell you.

    TOM: That’d be the next, best super glue.

    LESLIE: Roger’s Ivy Glue.

    TOM: Now, if we are removing it from wood siding and we have all those tendrils that are sticking behind, how do we make sure that there’s no seeds, so to speak, that’s going to sort of regrow? How do we actually cut off the water supply? How do we stop it from coming back up again?

    ROGER: Cut it right at the base.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And I guarantee that it’s going to put out sprouts. It’s that aggressive. So what you have to do is then treat those with an herbicide probably or just keep cutting them and cutting them and cutting them.

    TOM: And then once you do cut them and pull it down off the building, do you have to physically sand away all those leftover tendrils?

    ROGER: Sometimes you do. I would wait a season to see if they break down. But one important tip is when you’re pulling the vine off a tree, you’ve got to be very careful, because you can literally pull a branch down on yourself.

    And when you’re pulling it off a house or a building, you want to take it and go up from the top and peel down. Because if you stand at the bottom and try to pull, if it’s underneath a clapboard or something like that, you could literally pop it right off the house.

    LESLIE: Because it’s so firmly attached.

    ROGER: Because that’s the way it grew up; it grew up underneath. So if you go at the top and start peeling it down from the top, it comes off easily without pulling the – anything off the building.

    LESLIE: Now, what about when you’re applying an herbicide to an ivy plant? I understand you have to do it in a method very different from a spray application, just so it’ll actually work, right?

    ROGER: Well, it’s much easier to take a brush or a foam paintbrush, mix up an herbicide in a can, attach that brush to a long stick. Then you can dip it, go along and just treat the leaves of the ivy. Because usually, they’re in a plant bed and if you go spraying with an herbicide in a plant bed, you’re going to have problems. And this allows you to hit those new leaves; just coat them really quickly as they come up.

    TOM: And Roger, if you are peeling the ivy down from your house, say, starting at the top and working down, that can be quite dangerous. Any tips for making that a little bit safer?

    ROGER: Yeah, always use a ladder with the stabilizers on the side. It really helps keep you secure. Always have someone with you when you’re up on the ladder.

    TOM: Now, that’s one of the large, U-shaped brackets that extend beyond the ladder and make it really hard for it to sort of wobble.

    ROGER: Right. And while you’re doing that, you may be able to take a scraper or something and try to get rid of some of those tendrils and see if they come off easily when they’re green. Sometimes, when they dry on, they’re even harder to get off.

    LESLIE: So is there a better time of year to sort of attack this removal, based on its growth cycle or just whenever you feel motivated?

    ROGER: Whenever you’ve got a few hours to spend on the top of a ladder, go for it.

    TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Good luck with your ivy.

    TOM: And I think we’re going to talk to Harvard about that plaque.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on Roger’s ivy-removal tips from Harvard University, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: I’m pretty sure the plaque is there but it’s covered by ivy.

    And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, if you’re shipping a child off to college this year, you might need to pack more than just books and computers. A basic tool kit can help. We’ll tell you what you’ll need in that box, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by BATH FITTER, the one-day bathroom remodeling company. Call 866-654-BATH today for your free, in-home estimate or visit www.BATHFITTER.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: And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. Hey, if you do pick up the phone and give us a call, you might just be the winner of a great prize to help you beat the heat. Because we’re giving away a KuulAire 53. This is an evaporative cooling unit that runs off a 4-gallon tank. It’s perfect for cooling a room up to 400 square feet and it doesn’t use a pump. It’s got 3 speed settings to adjust the temperature and it’s worth 200 bucks. Going to go out to one caller, drawn at random from those that reach us today at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    HOWARD: I built a cedar deck about 10 years ago and I cleaned it and stained it about 4 or 5 years ago. And it needs to be stained again. And I’m just wondering – when I stained it the first time, I washed it. I didn’t sand it; I just washed it really good with deck cleaner and stained it.

    Now, I’m wondering if I should wash it and sand it and stain it again or if I should use a darker stain.

    LESLIE: Well, you got four years out of it, correct?

    HOWARD: Yes.

    LESLIE: And that’s generally – you know, with a good-quality stain on a horizontal surface, you’re going to get three to five years as a duration.


    LESLIE: So at this point – and was it a solid-color stain or a sheer or semi-transparent? I’m sorry.

    HOWARD: Yeah, I used a semi-transparent stain the first time.

    LESLIE: OK. So at this point, I don’t think you need to sand it down. I would do the same thing. I would do a good deck cleaning, get off whatever is loose. If there are some areas that are troublesome or it seems as if the stain is doing something tricky, you could strip it but I don’t think you really need to.

    And once you’ve prepped it properly, I would go with a solid-color stain at this point, because you’re getting more graying, because you’ve done a semi-transparent before. And a solid-color stain is going to give you a heavier pigmentation but still allow you to see the graining through, to let the natural beauty of the wood show. But it’s going to last you a little bit longer; you’re looking at a five- to seven-year duration if everything is prepped properly.

    HOWARD: OK. That’s what I want.

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

    Well, back-to-school shopping definitely goes into hyperdrive when your child is entering college. And amid all the linens and dorm décor and other study supplies that your student should probably have on hand, you need to include a good-quality, trustworthy tool kit. So here are just a few of our recommendations for your dorm-room do-it-yourselfer.

    Start with the basics, like a hammer and a screwdriver and of course, a combo pack of nails and screws can help. Also, add an adjustable wrench, which is always handy when it comes to putting together a lot of that stuff that kids take to college with them, a utility knife and a good pair of utility scissors.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you want to throw in a couple other things just for good measure, a tape measure is a great idea. WD-40 is really helpful, along with some electrical tape and good, old duct tape, because they’re going to lose their wallet; they can make a new one out of duct tape. They can also make belts. They can do a lot of things.

    TOM: Always comes in handy.

    LESLIE: Hem their pants.

    Extension cords. I’m sure they’re going to use a lot of them. And don’t forget a flashlight. Now, you may also have to remember things are probably a little different than when you were in school, because everything today is digital and stored on laptops and iPads. So consider getting a GFCI-protected surge protector, because you don’t want anything getting fried in the event of a surge, which I’m sure must happen a lot in a dorm situation. I mean think about all the power those kids are using all the time.

    We have got a complete list on our website. Check it out on MoneyPit.com. Just search “college tools.”

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Tom in South Carolina who needs some help in the garden. What can we do for you today?

    TOM IN SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I’ve got a corner of the yard that’s been kind of neglected and I’ve got two Crepe myrtle trees over there and they’ve never, ever been trimmed. So they’re – you know how Crepe myrtles have just bare, barkless-type trunks and branches going up to a canopy?

    TOM: Yeah. They’re beautiful.

    TOM IN SOUTH CAROLINA: Whereas these trees are just – they’re bushy from top to bottom. And I’m just wondering – yeah, they’ve never been trimmed and I’m just wondering when I should trim the trees and if I should do it all at once or – what’s the best time of year or is it too late to do it?

    LESLIE: Well, let’s see. If you’re looking to – and it sounds like you are – reshape and sort of encourage new growth and size maintenance, there’s really two key times and that’s late winter or early spring. Because you want to do that when the tree has entered dormancy so that you’re not going to damage it or encourage new growth off-season or sort of delay dormancy in the tree. So really, late winter or early spring; that’s the best time to do it. And I think what you really need is a good, fresh start.

    And there’s actually a good website called Gardenality.com and it’s G-a-r-d-e-n-a-l-i-t-y. And if you go there and do a search on Crepe myrtle trimming, you’re actually going to find diagrams, what to remove, what to keep. And it’ll give you an idea of what it’s supposed to look like so you know where to go.

    And just as a fun tip, the little pieces that grow up at the bottom and sort of take over and become like a big bush rather than a tree?

    TOM IN SOUTH CAROLINA: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Those are called suckers and I just think that’s funny. But I would wait. Give it a little bit more time, wait for the winter to sort of set in and then go at it.

    TOM IN SOUTH CAROLINA: Great. Well, thank you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, keeping your home clean is a never-ending battle and knowing what products to use and how to use them, well, that can be a total minefield. That’s why we’ll answer The Money Pit’s top cleaning questions, 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.

    Hey, you guys, do you love showing off all of those do-it-yourself projects that you are working on at home? And maybe you just want to brag or maybe you kind of need some advice or you’re looking for somebody to help you with the project or the best tool for a project. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it. Sign up in our Community section at MoneyPit.com and share your talent or lack thereof – we’re not judging – with fellow DIYers. You can even blog, post pictures, ask for advice, just like Emily did.

    And Emily wrote: “I’m noticing some buildup in the drum of both my washing machine and dryer. What’s the best way to clean the inside of both of these appliances?” Hmm.

    TOM: Good question. First of all, for your washing machine, it’s generally a good idea to – every once in a while – to run a load of hot water in there with bleach, because that will sanitize the machine. If the stain doesn’t appear to be coming off, I would stop right there with the washer. Just sanitize it.

    As far as the dryer, a good thing to use to clean the inside of dryers is Bon Ami or another cleanser, like Comet, that has a little bit of grit to it. Those powdered cleansers just give you enough grit to scrub through any stains that stick to the side of it.

    I’ve also heard of people using things like rubbing alcohol, which is a huge mistake because, of course, it’s flammable. So I just want to caution you never to use any kind of alcohol or solvent-based cleaner when it comes to the inside of the dryer. But something like Bon Ami or Comet will work very well.

    LESLIE: OK. Next up, Steve wrote in, saying, “We’re thinking about installing a granite vanity in the master bath. Someone told me that oil and grease stains cannot be removed from granite. Is this true and what is the best way to clean granite?”

    Now, that really depends. I would say that it’s – it could be true, depending on what type of sealant you’ve got on your granite and how often you upkeep that sealant that’s on there. I want to say the darker the granite, the longer time you get in between resealing your granite. The lighter it is, the more often you’re going to have to do it, just because as it wears away, you’re getting more exposed to that porous material, which will then suck up things like makeup and toothpaste and oils and whatever.

    So that being said, if you take good care of a granite countertop, you will enjoy it for years and years and years. And generally, I’ve heard people at granite-supply places saying, “Oh, you have to reseal it every year.” We’ve had our granite eight years; I’ve resealed it once like kind of smack in the middle. I could probably do it again but I feel like it’s in good shape.

    Now, if you do happen to spill something on it, clean it up right away. A good stone cleaner is really all you need: something that’s specified for that surface. Even just water but not too much; wipe it up.

    If you do happen to get some oil on it and don’t notice it – because I mean in a kitchen area, it does happen – what you want to use is talcum powder and hydrogen peroxide. And you kind of make a thick paste and you put it on just the stained area. And you want it to be like a putty and you want it to even be a ¼-inch thick, just on the stained area. Then cover that all with plastic wrap and tape the edges down and really let it sit on that stain for 24 hours. Once that time has passed, pull off the tape and plastic and then scrape away the poultice once it’s dry: that putty that’s on there.

    And it could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days once you’ve removed that plastic wrap. When it is completely dry, scrape it away with a plastic scraper and see what you’ve got left. You know, wipe away the rest with a clean cloth, clean it as usual, dry it with another clean cloth. If that stain is still there, you may have to do this another one or two times, especially if it has been oil. But that’s what’s important. Red wine, oil, even lemon juice: if you spill it right away, clean it up right away.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, you can reach us 24-7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or always on our website at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you a few tips and ideas that will help with your next home improvement project. We hope that maybe we’ve helped solve a do-it-yourself dilemma.

    If there is a project that comes to mind, please reach out to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-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 2012 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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