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    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 Happy Father’s Day to all the do-it-yourself dads that are out there and really all the dads, whether you know how to pick up a paintbrush or not. That’s OK; you are welcome. In fact, we are here. If you’ve got – say you’re not handy but you’ve got kids that are handy, have them tune in or have them call in and ask the question about how to do the repair in your house that we know is sitting there. You know, it’s Father’s Day; you shouldn’t have to do it yourself, right? Father’s Day weekend, your kids should be doing the projects for you. So get them to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 and we’ll show them how.

    LESLIE: I think Father’s Day weekend should really be about leaving Dad alone to do what he wants. And if he wants to work on a project, so be it and I’ll give him a list to help him along.

    TOM: But if you did the project for Dad, that would – could be your gift, though, right?

    LESLIE: Eh. Let’s give him some tools and then give him more projects to accomplish.

    TOM: Alright. Coming up this hour, now here’s one place, Leslie, that there’s going to be a lot of family gatherings this weekend: it’s the backyard deck.

    LESLIE: Oh, of course.

    TOM: But the question is: is it safe? Every year, you should be giving your deck a checkup to make sure it’s good to go. We’re going to help you do that with a deck checklist, coming up in just a few minutes.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And enjoying your backyard is really one of the true advantages of home ownership. But if you’ve ever felt like there might be a few prying eyes around whenever you’re out there, which happens – come on, we’re neighbors; we all live right on top of each other – you might want to consider planting a privacy screening. It’s a really natural way to keep those nosy neighbors out of your business, so we’re going to give you some screening options, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And also ahead, no matter how often you paint over those uneven and rough walls, they are always going to look uneven and rough.

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: So coming up, we’re going to have some tips on how you can properly prep those walls for a coat of paint that will really give them a brand new look once again.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great gift that we’re giving away. We’ve got the Stanley 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. It’s worth 75 bucks. It makes a great Father’s Day gift. If you still haven’t already gotten Dad a present, head on over to MoneyPit.com because we’ve got a lot of great gift ideas there, as well.

    TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Sandy in Michigan has got a question about a driveway. How can we help you with that?

    SANDY: Hi, Leslie and Tom. It’s nice to have you take my call; I appreciate it.

    Yeah, I have an area where a concrete driveway has been added – an extended piece was added before I got the home. And it has settled or it was never put in properly – I’m not sure – but there’s probably about a 2- or 3-inch rise in one area. And I’m trying to figure out how I can level that out or patch it or what would be the best product to – that would adhere well and wear well there.

    LESLIE: And it’s the entire driveway has become completely unlevel or just a portion?

    SANDY: Just a portion. Like the main driveway, this piece was added because there was a garage – there was a stall that was added to the garage, so that part was then added.


    SANDY: And so it’s just that area there. But it seems like it’s pitted and it’s just – it’s not the same level. And it’s a safety issue; people can trip, as well.

    LESLIE: It’s this newer section that’s sort of lifted up from the older section?

    SANDY: Well, actually, no. The older section is higher than the newer section.

    TOM: OK. So this is not that difficult to fix. Sakrete has a product that can help you with this. The product is called Top ‘n Bond. It’s a concrete patcher.

    And the way you want to do this is on the base coat, you want to mix this up so it’s really fairly wet mix. And you want to put a very thin coat, of course, after you clean the concrete surface, on the lower space? You want to trowel it out with a very thin coat there and make it, again, very wet so it really sinks in and it really grabs the concrete surface.

    And then add to that, you put a second coat on. You mix it up normally so it’s more of a mud consistency and then you trowel it on and try to even it on. So you go from the highest point, essentially, down to nothing; sort of feather it out. And make it a little bit longer than you think it should be, so you have a very even slope from …

    LESLIE: Like a transition.

    TOM: Transition from the high spot to the low spot.

    SANDY: Right, right.

    TOM: But you need to use the right product because if you don’t – if you try to do this with basic concrete – then what’s going to happen is it’s not going to stick; it’ll just freeze and break and crack up.

    OK but take a look at the Sakrete product that’s called Top ‘n Bond. It’s a concrete patching …

    SANDY: Top and Bond?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s Top, the letter N and then the word “Bond.”

    SANDY: OK.

    TOM: OK?

    SANDY: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

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

    JOHN: Yes, ma’am. I’m thinking about finishing off a room up on top of the garage. And I’m going to use spray foam – I plan to – and spray it under the sheathing – the roofing sheathing – and follow the roof line on up, oh, about 10 feet above the – make it a 10 – a vault-type ceiling and – over top of the attic.

    My understanding is that if I spray foam right under the sheathing, that it may void shingle warranties. And I was going to put baffles up there, underneath the sheathing, and then spray the foam on top of that but do I have to put that on every rafter or every other one or every third one? Or how many do I put that under or don’t I have to put baffles?

    TOM: So, John, what’s the shape of this roof? Is it an A-shape?

    JOHN: Yes, A-shaped.

    TOM: OK. So it’s A-shape. What’s the depth of the roof rafter? Two by eight? Two by ten?

    JOHN: I think it is eight. Eight. I think it’s eight.

    TOM: Two by eight?

    JOHN: Eight.

    TOM: OK. So the way I would do this then is I would not use spray-foam insulation. I would use 6 inches of fiberglass insulation and I would leave the inch-and-a-half that’s left – or the 2 inches that’s left – as the ventilation space. So this way, air would enter the soffits, it would go up between the insulation and the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: And that kind of gives you everything that you want to accomplish.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: Alright. Well, 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. Happy Father’s Day weekend, everybody. Pick up the phone and give us a call if you want to work on a project for your dad or with your dad or you don’t know what to get your dad for this weekend. Give us a call. We’re here to help you with all of your home improvement questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, now that summer is in full swing, it’s a great time for a deck check to make sure your favorite summer hangout is safe and set for years to come. We’ll help you do that with your safe-deck checklist, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced, 100-percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain, snow and ice. The line offers long-lasting beauty and excellent durability. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are 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.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and this hour, we’re giving away a 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from Stanley worth 75 bucks.

    It comes with all the sockets, all the ratchets and all the wrenches that you’re going to need. And this set is fully-polished chrome so it’s anti-corrosive. It’s also got a durable carrying case and a lifetime warranty. This is one of the gift ideas we are featuring for Dad. Don’t forget him this weekend. Get more great gift ideas for Father’s Day at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call and let us know what you’re working on at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to give you a hand with whatever it is this Father’s Day weekend.

    And maybe you’re getting ready for that big barbecue party to celebrate Dad outside in your backyard. And you’re probably super-lucky to have a deck in your home. And if you do have one, you know that a wood deck really is a great asset to your home. But you have to make sure that you do some regular maintenance to it: number one, to keep it looking great but number two, you want to make sure that it’s safe and in good condition.

    So, when you’re next out there – or make a special trip out to look for loose or corroded fasteners. You want to also check for split or even cracked boards on your deck. Then as you’re sort of walking the perimeter, look at the railings and the banisters. Are they strong? Are they sturdy? Does everything seem connected OK?

    Give your deck a good cleaning; a power washer is an excellent way to do this. Don’t get too aggressive because you don’t want the fibers of the wood to sort of splinter up but it’ll help you give it a good cleaning. And every couple of years or – your deck will be asking for it, because it’s going to start looking worse for the wear; you want to prep it and stain it to keep it looking great for year after year and years to come.

    And if you want to cut down on how often you actually need to prep and stain your deck, we recommend using Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes because they’re great and they’re durable.

    TOM: And they do a very good job. You know, the Behr folks utilize a 100-percent acrylic formula and that really protects decks, siding and fences from sun and rain and snow and ice. But because it’s acrylic, well, of course you’ve got easy cleanup.

    And the advanced formula also allows the stains and the finishes to penetrate even deeper into the wood fibers and that gives you a very excellent adhesive bond to the wood substrate. That’s really key. If it doesn’t stick, it’s not going to do a good job.

    The Behr product really does seal in the beauty and seal out the weather. I mean the key here is that you don’t just want to waterproof it; you want to weatherproof it. And the Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes do a great job. If you want to find out more about that product, you can head on over to Behr.com for more information or look for Behr on Facebook. Again, that’s Behr and it’s spelled B-e-h-r.

    And if you need more tips on how to inspect your deck to make sure it’s safe for the summer season, you’ll find that information at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Barbara in California is in the market to buy a home. How can we help you with that?

    BARBARA: Well, I want to find out if it’s cheaper these days – with all the new, ecological innovations – to actually buy land and build your own house ecologically rather than buy an older home.

    TOM: Well, if you buy land and build a home, then you get exactly what you want and you can make it super energy-efficient and very green from the ground on up. If you find an existing home, you can do much of the same things. You certainly can make it more efficient; you can improve different systems to reduce the energy consumption. It won’t be as totally green as going from the ground on up but it’ll probably be a lot cheaper, especially right now because the market is just so soft. There’s a lot of great deals out there in homes and there’s a lot of foreclosures out there, as well. So those are the things you need to consider.

    BARBARA: Alright. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. John in Michigan is on the line with a water question. What can we do for you today?

    JOHN: Well, I have an older house that has a well pit sticking out underneath the house.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And I want to abandon that because it’s letting water into the basement.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    JOHN: So I want to know, what do I have to deal with – how would I go about demolishing that old well pit and still putting up a new basement wall?

    TOM: Is this a wide well? Like 3 feet wide, so many feet deep?

    JOHN: Yes. It’s a well pit that’s probably 3½-foot wide by 3-foot deep or so.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Well, then I would just fill it up. I would fill it up with stone first. Does it have a concrete lip that comes above the surface?

    JOHN: No, it’s flush with the surface and the basement wall is non-existent at this point.

    TOM: Hmm. It’s flush?

    JOHN: It goes right into the well pit where the pump and stuff used to be.

    TOM: Used to sit? Yeah.

    JOHN: I have city water now so we don’t have …

    TOM: It’s really – this is really just a recessed area where the well equipment is, right? We’re not talking about – it’s only 3 feet deep; you’re obviously not pumping water from 3 feet deep.

    But in this case, what I would do is I’d just fill that in with stone right up to the top. But if you see water that collects in there, what you’re seeing is that’s the first place the water collects. But you can eliminate that, if it’s happening during heavy rain, by taking a look outside the house and managing the exterior drainage conditions: making sure that the gutters are clean and free-flowing, making sure the soil slopes away from the walls.

    The water gets in there below the soil. You’re seeing it because that’s the lowest spot but that’s not causing the basement to flood; that’s just evidence of the flooding.

    JOHN: Right. OK. Well, thanks. Sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Pittsburgh on the line who’s got a question about opening a home that hasn’t been used in years. Tell us about it.

    BILL: Well, I have a vacation home and I haven’t gone on vacation for three years.

    TOM: That’s terrible.

    LESLIE: I think it’s time.

    BILL: And I hope to go on vacation this summer.

    TOM: Alright.

    BILL: So my question is – although the water lines have been turned off all that time, the hot-water tank was filled with water.

    TOM: Right.

    BILL: And is that something that I can just drain or should I be afraid of bacteria, algae, Legionnaire’s disease? What should I do with the tank?

    TOM: No, I don’t think so. Remember that the water heater is always being refilled with the fresh water that comes up from the city water supply or from a well. And so, certainly, I would drain the water heater that’s there so that you get rid of the water that’s been sitting in there all those – all that time. But then, I think you’ll be good to go. You’re just going to want to flush that system out and run a bunch of water. But 10, 15 minutes of running water through the system should be all you need.

    BILL: OK. Well, good. Then I’ll have a safe vacation.

    TOM: Well, that’s good. I would hope so.

    LESLIE: And take more of them.

    TOM: That’s right, so you can get right back out there and don’t wait three years next time.

    BILL: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you. That solves that problem.

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

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

    ANN: Hi. I was wanting to ask some questions on doing shelving, like what’s the best choice to do some shelving in a pantry – I want it to kind of be able to hold some serious weight – and maybe any pitfalls I should watch out for.

    LESLIE: OK. So you need a lot of depth and a lot of different-height shelves, correct?

    ANN: Yeah. Well, mostly canning and then, of course, your standard [candy goods store] (ph): five heights for shelves.

    LESLIE: OK. And are you looking to do one wall or create an L-shape or shelving on all three sides?

    ANN: I’d like to do an L-shape because the pantry runs under the stairs.

    LESLIE: OK. There’s a couple of different options. When you head to your home center, you’re going to see individual brackets or you’re going to see a tracking system that would be like a vertical track that you would attach to a stud in the wall. And that’s really important, because you want to make sure that you get into actual structure since you’re going to have so much weight on it, rather than using a system of anchors. So you want to make sure that you can get right into the studs.

    Now, when you figure out where those studs are on the wall, that’ll help you sort of determine which system might be better. Because the individual brackets, you place those in the stud and hope that they space out and sort of fit very well in your L-shape. Or those tracks could run up the entire stud and then it’s a bracket that sort of locks into it and the shelf sits on top.

    And you’ll find, also, in the home center – in their aisle – you’ll find shelving panels that are made out of melamine; they’re white on all sides and all finished. You’ll find unfinished wood. The price points are going to vary depending on what you choose but it’s not a difficult project. Basically, get yourself a stud finder and really make sure you get into the structural components in there.

    ANN: OK. I appreciate the information.

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

    LESLIE: Virginia in North Carolina has a gardening question for us. How can we help you today?

    VIRGINIA: Yes. Can you tell me if automatic sprinklers in the lawn are cost-effective in this area in …?

    LESLIE: In North Carolina?

    VIRGINIA: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Now, do you have a sprinkler system already or you’re thinking about it?

    VIRGINIA: No, we do not.

    LESLIE: Now, it’s kind of interesting because sprinkler systems, they help you absolutely to have a beautiful lawn and really make it easy to water your lawn and keep things lush and green without forgetting, which was our problem before we actually got a sprinkler system. But if you want an efficient system, you can actually get sprinkler heads that are part of the WaterSense rating program.

    And what that is – it’s something very similar to Energy Star, where they take the sprinkler head and make sure that it only uses a certain amount of water and really cuts down on your water usage, which is going to save you money and of course, save the environment by using less water. So that’s one way to create an efficient system.

    VIRGINIA: Well, is that something that the local lawn people would know about?

    LESLIE: You know, Virginia, if you want some more specifics on irrigation specialists in your area that might actually use those WaterSense-rated sprinkler systems, go to the EPA.gov website. It’s EPA.gov/WaterSense. And when you’re there, you can actually search for certified irrigation partners of the WaterSense program.

    And there’s actually 65 listed for North Carolina alone. I’m not sure where in North Carolina these folks are but I’m sure someone is where you live and you could actually get to work today.

    VIRGINIA: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    Still ahead, are prying eyes watching your every single move when you’re trying to relax and enjoy your backyard in peace? Well, why not consider privacy screening? We’re going to tell you which plants, shrubs and even trees are going to do the trick, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. You might just win, today, the Stanley Mechanics Tool Set. It’s worth $75. It comes with all of the sockets, the wrenches and the ratchets that you’re going to need.

    And these tools are well-made. They’ve got a knurled-handle finish so they’re not going to slip. The set does come with a carrying case and a lifetime warranty. And I actually have this set and I love it. It’s the one tool kit that I bring with me whenever I have to head out to tackle a Boy Scout project or head over to a buddy’s house to help him with a repair. It’s the case that I carry because I know that anything that I need is going to be in there.

    We’re going to send one out to one caller, though, so that could be you if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s a great idea for a Father’s Day gift. So if you haven’t already gotten the dad in your life something, head on over to Stanley.com or visit MoneyPit.com. You’ll get some great ideas there and you can actually see this awesome tool set that Tom loves.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?

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

    WANDA: My home has replacement windows in it already and we were changing them out with some new replacement windows. But when they began the installation, I noticed, when I was standing outside watching them, the first window had a gap of 1 inch between the brick and the window itself, all the way around it. And my thought was, “That seems like an awfully big gap to stuff insulation in and then put a trim on.”

    So after they did the second window, I said, “You just need to stop. I think that looks wrong.” And they kind of looked at me and I thought to myself, “I have to call The Money Pit and find out: are they doing it correctly or am I wrong?”

    TOM: Wanda, I mean it sounds like a big gap. Typically, the space around a window is going to be more like a ¼- to a ½-inch and then it’s shimmed, because this allows the house to sort of move around the window, so to speak. And it is filled with insulation. But is it tight on the inside frame and the gap’s only on the outside? Or is it open that much all the way around?

    WANDA: No, on the inside it was probably a quarter to a half and they just filled that with the caulking. And then when I went outside and I went, “Oh, my gosh.”

    TOM: OK. But you have to remember this: the window can only be as wide as the hole and the hole is inside to inside. So it sounds like it was measured correctly on the inside.

    Now, when it comes through the wall, there probably, in the old window design, was a brick mold or a trim that went around the outside of that window that was wider. And very often, with the old wood windows, there is a brick mold. That’s what actually – when I say brick mold, that’s what it’s called; it’s called brick mold and it’s a type of wood trim that’s about 2¼ to 2½ inches wide. And that may have extended to the edge of that brick.

    Now, you don’t fill this up, though, with insulation; you retrim the window to cover that gap. And what has to happen here is they have to tell you how they’re going to trim out the window so it looks right on the outside.

    WANDA: OK. But the gap – the space that’s in between the drywall and the brick, the outside where they put the trim – will they put – should they put fiberglass insulation or should they – I know some of them were putting – squeezing the foam in there.

    TOM: No, not when it gets past the exterior wall. The wall cavity itself, yes, that all should be sealed in. Typically, the insulation doesn’t go all the way out but it wouldn’t hurt it. The key here is that we want to make sure that it’s – that the seal between the window trim and the brick is good so you don’t get water behind that.

    WANDA: OK. Alright. I appreciate it. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Well, enjoying a relaxing afternoon in your own backyard is one of the true joys of home ownership. But what if you’ve ever felt that your neighbors were getting an eyeful every time you’re out there? Well, if you’re feeling that way, it might be a good idea to create a more private area.

    TOM: And there are lots of very natural ways to do just that. Here to lay out some privacy-screening options that both look good and take you out of the public eye is a guy whose work is very much in the public eye: landscaping expert, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: How are you doing?

    TOM: We are excellent. Thanks so much for spending some time with us today.

    And I think that when homeowners think about privacy screening, they assume it’ll take a fence to accomplish that but there are some very natural ways to do a great job, right?

    ROGER: Right. Now, you’ve got to remember that a fence, usually 6 to 8 feet is the maximum height you can get out of a fence, unless you go for a variance or something like that.

    Trees grow. They get bigger and bigger. Shrubs grow and they’ll block more and more than any fence ever will.

    TOM: And then they usually don’t trigger any code concerns, either.

    ROGER: No, not at all.

    LESLIE: So, really, you can let them grow as much as they’ll allow.

    ROGER: Well, that’s the thing about trees: no one tells them to stop growing. They just keep going unless you want to do pruning on them.

    LESLIE: Well and I also feel that with a fence, you sort of create a very boxy environment that doesn’t have a very warm or personable feeling to it.

    ROGER: No. That’s the great thing about planting a screen is you can mix different colors and textures together and it really looks good.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about that mix. What are the best choices for privacy screening?

    ROGER: Well, people get carried away with trees that are going to become too big. If you’re going to do a privacy screen, you have to figure out how deep you want that hedge to be. Do you want it to be 6 feet across? Do you have room to put in trees that are going to get 20 feet across? It’s all an investment, so you want to invest in the right tree for the right spot.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: There are columnar plants and fastigiate plants, which’ll stay much tighter. There are regular plants that’ll grow and be a great screen but need much more space.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And of course, are all of these screening options that we’re talking about evergreens, so that in the winter season you sort of have the same effect or …?

    ROGER: It depends. Sometimes I’ll mix the evergreens in the critical spots and add some deciduous material so that we have a mix of both. In nature, you don’t find just one group; you find things mixed together. So I try to mimic that when I do a screen.

    TOM: Now, how do you plant them, in terms of the spacing? How do you plan for it? Because, obviously, the first year you plant it, you’re probably not going to have as much screen than the fifth year.

    ROGER: Well, it all depends on your wallet, Tom. I can give you instant screening; it all depends on what you want to spend.

    TOM: I bet you could.

    ROGER: It’s all up to the people and how fast they want that screen to be and that’ll determine how close I put the plants. Sometimes we’ll leave space in between so that five years down the road we have a great screen. Other people want it now; we plant the trees almost touching each other and let them fill in very quickly.

    LESLIE: But is that detrimental to the plant itself: putting them right on top of each other so that as they do grow and expand, are they crowding one another?

    ROGER: No. They’ll just grow in to each other. Some of the branches will drive back.

    LESLIE: Sort of weave themselves.

    ROGER: Right. And they’ll just become a mass and they won’t have any individuality at that point; you’re looking at one big, giant screen.

    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.

    Let’s talk about the maintenance. Are there some plants that really lay – need a lot less care as time goes on than others, when it comes to privacy screening?

    ROGER: That depends on the form and the shape of the plant you picked. If you picked a plant that’s fastigiatal – upright-growing and tight – that’s going to need less work. If you picked a plant that’s going to spread out and you don’t have the room, then you’re going to have to be in there once, maybe twice a year doing some pruning.

    And sometimes, pruning can cause problems. Arborvitae is a tree that’s used all over the place for a hedge but it’s multi-stemmed.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And if you go up into that plant and, say, you want it 10 feet tall, it gets 10 feet and you cut it off, well now that plant puts out even more growth in the top of it. When it does that, you get a good snowstorm, opens the plant right up because it catches the snow and you lose your hedge. That’s not a good thing.

    There are different types of arborvitae: Thuja plicata – Western Redcedar. Single stem. It’ll grow up and it’ll never be affected by the snow.

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

    And there are lots of tips on how to build privacy screens, online right now at ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Trane. It’s hard to stop a Trane.

    Still ahead, if you think your vinyl replacement windows will be plain and boring, think again. There are now newer replacement windows that have just come out that have as much charm as your original ones. And we’ll tell you all about those, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, if you’ve got home improvement on the brain and perhaps you’ve been thinking about replacing your old, inefficient windows, well, you’ve been using your noodle and thinking smart. And if you think your new vinyl windows will be more energy-efficient but less attractive, well, you’re wrong.

    TOM: That’s right. Replacement windows have come a long, long way with some really beautiful options now that are available, including windows that truly look like wood. Here to tell us about window fashion is Gary Pember. Gary is with Simonton Windows.

    Hi, Gary.

    GARY: Hi.

    TOM: Now, windows really have come a long way. I’ve been in this business – I’m not going to tell you how long but I will say that the first replacement windows I reported on were made of metal.

    LESLIE: Tom.

    GARY: Right.

    TOM: And what you guys have done with vinyl all these years is really phenomenal. And now you’ve got a new capability now to make vinyl windows that actually look like wood. Talk to us about that.

    GARY: Yeah. In the old days, if you wanted a vinyl window, it was any color as long as it was white. Not so much anymore. In fact, these – the product that we have, it’s called Decorum by Simonton. Great product. It has the beautiful styling of wood-type interiors. We’ve got oak, maple, cherry. We’ve got some great colors that make it look just like a wood window on the inside.

    But then we also have hardware that matches the faucets and the lighting that you have inside the home. In fact, one of our sister divisions is Moen and we coordinated all of our hardware to match the faucetry within the home, so it’s very likely that our hardware will match your faucetry, as well.

    And then on exterior colors, we have more than white. We have multiple colors that are very durable, with a 10-year warranty. And we’ve got some great colors such as bronze that match some of those metal windows that you used to have, so you can now have the efficiency – the energy-efficiency – of vinyl windows but color-coordinated with the rest of the development.

    TOM: Yeah, I love these colors. It’s like a box of Crayola crayons: chocolate, cream, brick, pine, tan, bronze and driftwood.

    GARY: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: But I always find that when you add so many options, are you just confusing everybody by giving them so many wonderful choices? You know, how do you help them determine what the best look is?

    GARY: Well, homeowners today want something that’s designed their own way. In fact, you see that in options today in the home. And so, it gives them the opportunity now to be able to have uniqueness and have beauty in their home.

    LESLIE: And it’s really great because with the vinyl interior with the wood look, you don’t have to do anything to it. I mean it’s really going to last a long time and you’ll never have to finish it in any way, shape or form, right?

    GARY: Absolutely. And it’ll also improve the value of their home, because it has the new energy-efficiency, as well as the style.

    TOM: We’re talking to Gary Pember – he’s a vice president of marketing with Simonton Windows – about a new line that they came out with called Decorum by Simonton.

    Gary, what’s the warranty on these windows?

    GARY: These are 10 years.

    TOM: Wow. That’s pretty good.

    GARY: Ten years against any kind of peeling or flaking or anything of that sort. It’s very durable exteriors.

    TOM: But since it’s made of vinyl, it really can’t even peel or flake, can it?

    GARY: That’s right. That’s correct.

    LESLIE: That’s great.

    TOM: Wow. And talk to us about the energy-efficiency. I think one of the things that happens to folks when they go out and look for replacement windows is there’s just so much information coming at them and so many claims of how efficient a window is. What’s a good way to determine how efficient your window might be compared to others that they’re considering?

    GARY: Sure. In fact, on your label – there’s a label on the windows that is called the NFRC label. And on there, it has what they – basically, two measurements: U-factor and solar heat gain. And so it gives you the opportunity to quantify – is this window better than another – by looking at the U-factor, as well as the solar heat gain. So the U-factor basically tells you what – how much heat is retained in the home and then the solar heat gain allows – is what comes through the home by the sunlight.

    TOM: Good to know. Gary Pember from Simonton Windows, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    The new line is called Decorum and you can learn all about it at Simonton.com or you can pick up the phone and call them at 800-746-6686.

    Gary, thanks again for being a part of the program.

    GARY: Thanks again, Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, rough and uneven walls won’t look any better if you paint over them without proper prep. We’ll tell you exactly how to do that, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    And if you’d like to win one of the two weekly prizes we give away each week on the show, you can also fan us on Facebook to find out what we’re giving away each week and how you can win. Just look for The Money Pit on Facebook. That’s Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your questions in The Money Pit Community section. And I’ve got one here from Jolene who writes: “My bathroom walls, over the years, have had holes patched and wallpaper removed. The walls are blotchy and very unattractive. Is there an easy way to skim the walls to make them look smooth again?”

    TOM: Well, there’s actually two answers to this question, Leslie. The solution really depends on A) whether or not you want to spend some money on this or you really want to do this yourself. Because the way to restore the walls is to apply a plaster coat on top of all of the rough surfaces, basically reskim them.

    Now, if you hire a skilled plasterer, they can do this and it’s going to be baby-skin perfect when they’re done but you’re going to have to write them a check. If you want to do it yourself, you can do it yourself but you’re probably not going to get that kind of perfect result.

    One easy way, though, to deliver a really good result without a lot of expense is to simply put another layer of drywall to skin, in effect, the old walls with new walls. And for the cost of a sheet of drywall and a little bit of spackle, you can put, say, ¼-inch drywall right on top of this old surface and simply extend the outlets or anything else that’s in the way, readjust the trim and paint over that and it’ll be perfect.

    And so, that’s the real inexpensive, easy way to do this. But if you want to bring in a plasterer or do the plastering yourself, the step-by-step on how to do that is posted in The Money Pit community. Just search for “repair for rough walls” and you will find the answer.

    LESLIE: Tom, when you are first painting brand-spanking new drywall for the first time, is there a special primer you should be using or a certain type of prep to sort of condition that surface for the first time?

    TOM: You just have to prime it. And the reason you want to prime it is because it’ll seal in the paper surface and it’ll help you get a very nice, even, smooth layer of the top coat of paint. If you don’t, the top paint can tend to look blotchy; it’ll also waste a lot of paint soaking in. So I would just use a good-quality primer first and then put the top coat over that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got another question that Amber posted and she wrote: “I need to run water to my shop near my house for my utility sink for dog grooming. What is the easiest and cheapest way to do this and will I have any drainage issues?”

    And please, Tom, don’t recommend just running a cold-water line. That’s not fair.

    TOM: What, to the dog?

    LESLIE: Yes. Come on.

    TOM: Well, listen, you can run – you can extend your hot- and cold-water lines from the house into the shop area but it really depends on whether or not it’s heated. I mean if it’s not heated, it’s going to freeze and break. If it is heated, you’re good to go; if it’s not heated, you’re going to have to set these so that they’re for, essentially, summer sinks. In other words, you need to have valves inside the house where you can turn the lines off and drain them. You want to tilt the lines so that they tilt, actually, back towards the drain point, which would probably be inside the house.

    And then you have the – also have the issue of what are you going to do with the waste? So for that, waste lines for most homes are outside. You need to figure out where the main waste line is and you need to dig from that spot into the shop and connect it up that way. It’s a pretty big project. If you’re doing a lot of dogs, it’s going to be worth it. If you’re not doing a lot, you might just want to think about picking up a garden sink to which you could connect a garden hose and just get away with it that way.

    LESLIE: Ah. And then you’re washing all those doggies in the cold water. Alright. Good luck with that grooming business, Amber.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Happy Father’s Day, everybody. Hope you guys have a great weekend. Enjoy it and you know what? You have our blessings to put down the hammer just this (inaudible at 0:38:08). Next weekend, it’s back to work.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete


    (promo/theme song)

    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: Happy Father’s Day weekend, everybody.

    LESLIE: That’s right.

    TOM: Hope that you are enjoying it with your dad. Maybe you’re doing a project for him; that would be great. A nice way to help out dear old Dad this weekend, in particular. We’ve got a very busy show for you. Lots of great information coming. But we do want to hear from you with your home improvement questions. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And this hour, we’re going to talk to not only the homeowners in the audience but also the renters. So if you are a renter, listen up. Here’s a question: is it cheaper to buy a home than to continue paying rent? Well, it turns out that in dozens of areas of the country, it actually is.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: You can make the dream of home ownership a reality. There’s actually never been a better time or a more cost-effective time to own your own house. We’re going to tell you all about it, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And right along with the dream of home ownership is the dream of home improvement projects that you’re going to need to be taking on, including all of those little things that need fixing from time to time. But let me tell you, it is so worth it and you actually can do it yourself.

    For example, cracks in your driveways and sidewalks, they’re only going to get worse if they’re not repaired in a timely manner but these are super-easy. So coming up, we’re going to tell you how to do this project yourself.

    TOM: And also ahead, we have seen one of the deadliest and most destructive tornado seasons in American history this year. Lives have been lost, countless homes and buildings have been destroyed and the season isn’t over. But in all of the destruction, we want to try to offer a little glimmer of hope.

    A little later in the hour, we’re going to talk to Mayor Bob Dixson from Greensburg, Kansas. Now, that is a town that was basically leveled – flattened, completely taken out – four years ago by a level-four tornado but has now completely come together and rebuilt itself to become a model of green living. Bob is going to be by to tell us how they did that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, Mayor Dixson is truly a great guy and you guys are really going to learn a lot from his story: not just about how to rebuild but about seeing the bright side of things and always looking ahead and coming together as a community. So, we look forward to chatting with him, in a little bit.

    And this hour, we’ve got a great prize for you. We’re giving away a set of ODL door-glass blinds. And these blinds, they’re easy to install and what’s so great about them is they’re actually encased in glass so when you put them on your door, you’re not going to get that window treatment slamming and banging and no more dusting.

    TOM: So give us a call right now. That is a prize worth $117. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Moe in Texas is having some issues with a roof. What can we do for you today?

    MOE: Yes. The leading edge on the west side of my roof, which is about approximately 30 feet of it, has been lifting up about 3 feet up onto the roof. And I’m trying to figure out how I can keep those staying down before they break.

    TOM: Huh. So the shingles are loose and the whole thing is lifting up and flopping in the breeze?

    MOE: Yes.

    TOM: Huh. Well, it sounds to me like it was never nailed. So, this is asphalt shingles?

    MOE: Yes they are.

    TOM: Alright. So what you’re going to do is this. Asphalt shingles tend to have sort of a sealant under the tab and they stick together. But I will tell you – I’m not saying that you should do this, because you have to get on the roof to do them; I’ll tell you how it’s done.

    Somebody gets on the roof; they take a flat bar, right? It’s like a – sort of like a crowbar except it’s sort of flattened out at the end, so it’s like a thick putty knife. And they very carefully work it under each shingle, so the shingle tab loosens but doesn’t rip. So you can flop up the shingle tab and then put a nail underneath it. You put a little dab of tar, you put a nail in the shingle tab and then you nail the shingle down and then you bring the tab back over so it’s completely closed. And you do that in four or five places and then that’s going to nail down that piece of roof.

    But you basically have to place the nails underneath the shingles. To do that, you have to lift them up. To lift them up, you have to use the flat bar to kind of break the seal.

    MOE: Ah, thank you. Thank you, thank you.

    TOM: No problem. That’s the way you do it, my friend.

    MOE: Have a great one. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Marilyn in New Mexico needs some help with a kitchen project. What can we do for you today?

    MARILYN: I needed to know, how do I get cooking grease off my kitchen cabinet?

    LESLIE: Are your kitchen cabinets wood?

    MARILYN: Yes.

    LESLIE: Have you tried one of those orange-based cleansers, like an Orange Glo?

    MARILYN: I’m afraid to try anything, because I’m afraid it’ll take off the finish, I guess, or dull them.

    LESLIE: No, no, no, no. No, you’re not going to take anything off the finish unless you go with something that’s like a chemical stripping agent, that’s made to remove the finish. But an orange-based product – that really gets a lot of gunk and sticky stuff off of wood surfaces.

    I know when we took the protective bumpers off of our wooden coffee table as our son started growing out of banging his face on the edge of the coffee table, I was left with all of this adhesive on there that I just could not peel off or get off. And the Orange Glo worked fantastic to remove it and made the wood sparkle like the sun; I mean it’s really fantastic.

    And I know it works really well with kitchen grease. I’ve used it on my cabinet doors and you’ll see you even get like a little buildup from just your fingers on the edge where you open the doors. And it really does do a heck of a job to get that stuff off.

    MARILYN: But it will take the grease off there, too? Because I’m having a problem with that.

    LESLIE: It absolutely will.

    MARILYN: Because sometimes I use even my fingernails because it’s gotten so crusty on there and gooey.

    LESLIE: Thick. Yeah, I would try the Orange Glo first. Try an orange-based product. That will – I bet you that will – 99 percent in my mind, I feel like that’s going to take that off. If for some reason it doesn’t, there’s another product out there from a company called Nutek Formulations and it’s called Grime-Away.

    And it comes in a wipe format and I’ve used that to get buildup of tree sap off of my outdoor furnishings. And that hasn’t damaged the wood surface of my outdoor furniture, so I don’t see why that would hurt your kitchen cabinet. But that’s more aggressive. I would start with the orange product first, since you’ve probably already got it in your house, and then look for the Grime-Away.

    MARILYN: OK. So just go with Orange Glo first and then, if not, go with the Grime-Away?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    MARILYN: And where would I find Grime-Away at?

    LESLIE: It’s available at a variety of different retailers. I know The Home Depot started carrying them but if you go to their website, it’s Nutek – N-u-t-e-k – Formulations.com and look up the product, it’ll tell you where to buy it.

    MARILYN: OK. Well, thank you. I’ll give that a try, yeah, because I’ve been trying at them on and off for the last week and nothing has really worked.

    TOM: Alright, Marilyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can be part of The Money Pit fun by picking up your phone and giving us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor. Whatever you are working on, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are the cracks in your driveways and sidewalks cracking you up? You know, those surfaces can deteriorate very quickly, especially with the nasty winter that we had. We’re going to tell you exactly, though, how to fix them and make them go away for good, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win door blinds from ODL. These are the Add-On Door Blinds product and it’s very cool because if you are lucky enough to have a front or back door with glass, you know that it’s great for watching the kids play and letting in the light. But when the summer sun gets a bit too strong, this is a nice way to turn it down.

    These add-on blinds essentially do just that; they add onto the glass and the blinds are now enclosed behind tempered glass. So there’s no dusting, there’s no exposed cords, there’s no swinging of the blinds or the banging of the blinds as you open and close the door.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? They’re really easy to operate, as well. You’re going to get a simple glide on either side of the add-on blind itself. One side just slides right up and down, which causes the blinds to raise and lower and the other sort of controls the louvers, so you can actually have full privacy or let in a little bit of light. It’s totally up to you and the blinds come in two great sizes: you’ve got a half-light at 36 inches and a full-size glass door at 64 inches, which is actually what our winner is going to get today.

    If you want to check it out, head on over to their website. It’s ODL.com. Lots of great information there. And one lucky caller that we talk to this hour is going to win that full door-glass size. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, you may never give your sidewalks and driveways a second thought but although concrete is one of the most durable materials out there, like everything else, it’s eventually going to need some maintenance.

    Now, the experts at Sakrete, who make concrete-repair products, say that the type of maintenance is going to depend on where you live. Of course, if you live in snow country and if you’ve used salt to de-ice your walks – contrary to our advice, I might add – you’re going to shorten the lifespan of the concrete. If you plant trees right next to the sidewalk, it is very likely that the walk will eventually rise up as those tree roots grow. And if you’ve got wet soils or water running just below the surface, then that surface is going to drop.

    But when the concrete does begin to show signs of age, you’ve got two choices: you could either rip it out and replace it or you can go with the usually more economical alternative, which is to repair it.

    LESLIE: Now, some of the repairs that you can actually tackle yourself and feel really good about include fixing those cracks in your concrete or even resurfacing a deteriorating concrete surface.

    So, Sakrete, for example, they make fantastic products. And if you’ve got a minor crack or a cosmetic repair, you want to go for something that’s made specifically for that. You can look for the Sakrete Concrete Crack Filler, which is a pourable, flexible concrete-repair material. And it’s important that you go for something that’s made specific for filling in those cracks because otherwise, it’s never going to stick and it’s just going to pop right out as soon as you get some bad weather or a freeze-and-thaw cycle.

    If you’ve got a concrete surface that needs restoring, it’s really going to save you a ton of money by doing this yourself, because you can actually repair chipped, cracked, even spalled driveways or walkways. One of the products that you can reach for is Sakrete’s Top ‘n Bond, which is a concrete patcher. And that’s great; it’s cost effective. I mean it’s a really good alternative to concrete replacement.

    You just want to make sure that you find the right product for the right job. This way, you’re going to ensure that the finished product that you’ve worked on really lasts a long, long time. And that’s the whole purpose of doing something yourself: keeping it affordable and making sure that it’s going to last.

    If you want some more information, you can check out a great website – it’s Sakrete.com – because they’ve got the products to help you get the job done quicker and cleaner. And you’ll also find out how much you’re going to need. They’ve got some easy-to-use material calculators on the website. You’ll find the right product for the right job and make sure you buy the right amount.

    TOM: That’s Sakrete.com and it’s spelled S-a-k-r-e-t-e.com.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us right now with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Gary in North Carolina has run out of space at his money pit and needs help looking for more. What can we do for you?

    GARY: I was wondering about the ability on about putting a basement in on an existing home.

    TOM: OK. So the house right now, is it on a crawlspace?

    GARY: Yes, sort of.

    TOM: And you’re down in North Carolina. The first question I would have is what’s your water table? Can you build a basement in the part of the country you are?

    But I will tell you this, Gary, straight off: gravity being what it is, it would have been a lot easier to build the basement and the house on top of it. Adding a basement now when the house is already built is a pretty major, major project.

    LESLIE: It’s a big project.

    GARY: Yes.

    TOM: There’s two ways to do it: you can replace the entire foundation with one that has a basement or you could do what we call in the North here a Yankee basement, which basically means you move in a couple of feet from the edge of the crawlspace and dig down there and pick up some space that way.

    So the crawlspace sits on a retaining wall and then the basement is below that. Those are the two ways to do it. Either way, major, major, major job. It frankly may be easier to go buy a house with a basement and sell the one you have than try to build one; it’s a big project.

    GARY: OK. Well, that sounds like a good plan. I will take that into consideration.

    TOM: Alright, Gary. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Eleanor in Hawaii has a problem with the dryer. What can we do for you today?

    ELEANOR: Yes. I am not getting any lint in my lint screen on my electric clothes dryer.

    TOM: OK.

    ELEANOR: And before I call a repairman, I was wondering if there was something I, myself, could check to see what the problem might be.

    TOM: Are you wearing lint-free clothes?

    LESLIE: Seriously.

    ELEANOR: No, no.

    LESLIE: Yes, everything is spandex. That’s so strange.

    TOM: Wow, that’s really interesting. I wonder if somehow the airflow is being blocked. Have you checked your dryer exhaust? Have you looked at where the dryer exhaust comes out the house to see if your …?

    ELEANOR: No, no, I haven’t because I was waiting to get some man in here to help me move it.

    TOM: OK.

    ELEANOR: And it goes up through the attic, out the roof.

    TOM: Oh, oh, oh, oh, yeah. There’s got to be a blockage somewhere because first of all, that’s a really long way for a dryer exhaust duct to run. And when you run it up vertically – dryers are not generally designed to have enough air pressure to push that lint up really far like that, especially against gravity.

    And what tends to happen is they get clogged and then they can become dangerous. And if you have that kind of a dryer exhaust, it’s really critical that you have it cleaned at least once a year.

    So I do think it’s a good opportunity for you to get a service person in to thoroughly clean it. They’re probably going to have to take it apart a bit but there are special brushes that fit in there and they actually fit up onto vacuums, too, so that you can loosen up the dust and suck it out all in one sort of move.

    ELEANOR: I see. Yeah, that sounds like it might be the problem. The clothes seem to be drying OK but I haven’t used it for several days. But I thank you. I’ll certainly have someone come and check that out.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ed in Maryland is having a siding issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    ED: OK. I have three courses of siding that have blown off the bottom of a modular home.

    TOM: OK.

    ED: And the – there is no starter strip on this siding. It was – it’s hooked into a piece of 5/16 Homasote and then nailed just across the top of the siding. And so, evidently, over the years, it’d get moist and deteriorated.

    Now, I’m going to put a piece of plywood down with a starter strip, put the courses back on. But what happens when I get to the original course that’s still nailed and I’m trying to put a new one in? How do I lift them up and then hook them back together again?

    TOM: With a little tool called a zip tool.

    ED: A zip tool?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a siding removal or installation tool. It’s a tool that has a handle and sort of a curved blade. It allows you to get in there and either zip or unzip those locking sections of siding together. That’s how you repair it if you – if it’s blown off.

    ED: OK. Now, this house had no wrap or tar paper or anything like that. Should …

    TOM: Yeah, you know, I’ve seen that before and I think that, technically, according to the code you don’t need it but it makes me very uncomfortable. Except, at this point in time, there’s not really much you can do about it, because that affects the whole house. But I actually have seen houses without a building wrap.

    You believe that, Leslie? Where it’s vinyl-sided right onto the wood sheathing.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing that you would even do that.

    ED: Yeah. This company is long gone out of business – the modular home – but it does have the high-density styrene – blue styrene.

    TOM: Yep. Well, that’s good.

    ED: Yeah, so …

    TOM: So you do have some draft-proofing as a result of that, as well.

    LESLIE: But that should be on top of the paper.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    ED: Yeah, well, there’s nothing. Alright. Well, I thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Kathy in Maryland has got some beat-up floors she needs help with. What can we do for you?

    KATHY: I have hardwood floors in my kitchen and they’re ¾-inch oak that are prefinished with a diamond finish. And it was supposed to last for 25 years, the finish. But with just kitchen use and dogs running through it and everything, it’s pretty beat-up looking. And I was wondering if that could be refinished.

    TOM: Potentially. What’s the thickness of the floor? Is it three-quarter or is it three-eighths?

    KATHY: It’s ¾-inch plywood – hardwood.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KATHY: Oak.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see why you couldn’t. There is one other thing that you can try, though, which is short of total refinishing and that is you could try just taking off the upper surface of the finish. You could rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen and that step/procedure actually takes off a little of the upper finish, smoothes out the scratches and then you could refinish from there.

    Now, is this one stained or is it natural?

    KATHY: It’s light – it’s stained light. The wood is light oak.

    TOM: Yeah, well, if it’s stained, then you may have to sand it down to raw wood, yeah.

    LESLIE: Go all the way down. Otherwise, you’re going to get a mismatch.

    TOM: If it’s a natural finish, you could – you’d just be basically roughing up the surface but not really going down through the – through it completely. You might still be able to go with the floor buffer. Might be worth a shot. It’s a very inexpensive thing to rent and all it does is lightly sands the upper surface of the finish and gets it ready to accept a new coat. But short of that, you would have to sand it down. But if it’s ¾-inch, then I don’t see why you couldn’t refinish it the same way you’d refinish any hardwood floor.

    KATHY: OK. Great. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Still to come, do you know which town calls itself the greenest in America? We’re going to talk to the mayor of that town and learn how a devastating storm led to some amazing changes, coming up.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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: Well, 2011 has seen one of the deadliest and most destructive tornado seasons in American history. Hundreds of lives have been lost and countless homes and buildings destroyed. And the season isn’t over yet.

    LESLIE: That’s right. That’s why we are joined by someone who knows firsthand about tornado destruction, after a powerful twister tore through his town in 2007. But he also knows how to create a silver lining from tragedy.

    Bob Dixson is the mayor of Greensburg, Kansas, the town that bills itself as the greenest in America.

    Welcome, Mayor Dixson.

    MAYOR DIXSON: Well, Leslie and Tom, what an honor to be with you today and pleasure to visit with you.

    TOM: And it’s a pleasure to have you, too, sir.

    Now, you really turned a tragedy into triumph. For those that are not aware of your story, can you back up and tell us about May 4, 2007?

    MAYOR DIXSON: On May 4, 2007, it was on a Friday and at 9:47 that evening, an EF5 tornado that was almost 2 miles wide came through our rural community in Kansas. Ninety-five percent of the buildings were leveled to the ground, just like a bomb went off.

    LESLIE: I mean that’s really – it’s really a devastating situation for you to be in, as a leader of a town. What kind of guidance can you give to the mayors of these communities who are dealing with the exact same situation you were in not that long ago?

    MAYOR DIXSON: I think the number-one thing for us was just immediately, right off the bat, is the renewed faith in the human spirit. It became not about possessions, not about buildings; it was about human life and our relationship with each other. And that’s what sustained us early on is faith, family and friends. And for the first several weeks of just cleaning up, of getting back into town, of those decision-making processes, it was all about people.

    And we would have 600, 700 people show up at City Council meetings, at planning meetings, at County Commission meetings because they were involved. And when we talk about leadership, I say that the people that rebuilt Greensburg are really – and Kiowa County – are really true leaders, because they’ve invested their life here. They could have easily packed up and left but they stayed.

    TOM: Well, you certainly took a leadership position in that rebuilding effort and decided consciously to go completely green on every project that you constructed. Can you tell us how you came to that decision and what some of the accomplishments have been?

    MAYOR DIXSON: Well, early on, Tom, just the fact that we were meeting with elected officials, state and federal agencies – and one of the first ones to mention the term “green” and being from Greensburg was Governor Kathleen Sebelius at that time – said, “You guys have a great opportunity here to build a town back as sustainable as you can, as green as possible.”

    Like our ancestors built this town for us to last lifetimes, it was our duty and our responsibility to build a town back to last lifetimes for future generations. We have new businesses on downtown Main Street rising from the rubble, new City Hall, new school, brand new hospital, several hundred homes all over town; been getting close to 300 homes. Coming back, our population’s back to around 800; we were about 1,400 before the storm.

    So we think – we’re very proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in the last four years. And the City Council had passed a resolution in December 2007 that all municipal buildings would be built at the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s amazing. LEED Platinum is very difficult to achieve. And I had actually read something interesting that when you guys were reconstructing the school, you actually used lumber that you reclaimed from Hurricane Katrina and even barns around Kansas. What else were you able to sort of find out of the rubble and repurpose?

    MAYOR DIXSON: City Hall has close to 60,000 bricks that had been reclaimed from our old power plant that got destroyed. And so all the bricks in City Hall have been reclaimed from the rubble. Some of the wood on the façade of City Hall is reclaimed from the Army Depot plant.

    We have, all over town, implemented not only recycling and reclaiming pavers from – and wood and bricks but we’ve involved the new technologies of alternative energies of wind, solar and geothermal. And all those things make Greensburg and Kiowa County right now a living laboratory where people can come and see all this technology based on our ancestors’ concepts of being good stewards of the environment.

    TOM: We’re talking to Mayor Bob Dixson. He is the mayor of Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed in 2007 by an EF5 tornado. Took that opportunity to completely reconstruct the town, which is now the greenest in America.

    Mayor Dixson, before we let you go, can you talk to us about some of the payoff that you guys have seen as a result of this effort?

    MAYOR DIXSON: Several things. Just one thing, right off the bat, that I can think of, the biggest payoff for us right here – or me, personally – is we are a community. Everybody’s pulling together, making decisions together.

    We are also seeing an increase in property values, which helps our tax base, because we’re building strong, durable structures. We’re seeing energy consumptions on residential and commercial and municipal buildings cut by as high as 70 percent of what was there before. We’re seeing – we’re developing that data with our energy manager here in town to really document what is going on and how we are accomplishing what our goals were.

    LESLIE: That’s great. The truest inspiration in leading is by example, so that’s fantastic. Congratulations on really seeing through this very, very dark time.

    MAYOR DIXSON: Well, Leslie and Tom, there’s one thing I would like to just say to your listeners and all those in the Southeast that went through this wicked tornado season is whatever we do in the process, don’t make life decisions quickly. Allow yourself a little time in the grieving process before you get into the planning and making those life decisions. And take time for yourself and allow those people that are coming to volunteer to help you, truly help you.

    TOM: Great advice. Mayor Bob Dixson, thanks so much for joining us with your story. I know that all of our hearts go out to the victims of this year’s storms and hopefully, your story can provide them some hope and some inspiration in the years to come.

    MAYOR DIXSON: Leslie and Tom, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, it is cheaper to buy a home than to rent, in many U.S. cities. We’re going to tell you how owning your own home can actually pay off in the long run, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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. And we would love for you to be part of the fun, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’re going to help you with all of your projects but we’re also going to pick one lucky caller out of The Money Pit hard hat and give them a great prize.

    We’ve got the Add-On Door Blinds from ODL worth 117 bucks. And the ODL Add-On Blinds, they’re really great because if you’ve got a door with glass – you know, window treatments can be such a challenge. And so here the blinds are actually enclosed behind tempered glass, so there’s no dusting, no exposed cords, no slinging, no banging. You can actually enjoy some privacy, if you want to, in the middle of the night while you’re wearing your jammies.

    TOM: Plus, you get fingertip control to raise and lower the blinds and you can have full-view or tilt the blinds to any angle that you need to control the light. It’s a very easy DIY project to install them. Two of the most popular sizes are available: 36 inches or a full 64 inch. You can visit ODL.com for more info.

    And one caller that we talk to on the air is going to win the full door-glass size. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you must have a home improvement question to qualify.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you out with whatever it is you’re working on.

    And maybe this weekend, as you’re kicking around with Dad, you’re maybe asking him for some money and you want to buy your own house. And a lot of kids start asking their parents for helping hands over Father’s Day weekend. Why should it be an excuse to stop asking for things, just because it’s Father’s Day?

    But seriously, if you are thinking about crossing the line from renters to home ownership, it’s actually a great time to really think about that. And the summer, we all know, is an excellent time to look at houses in the market. And the reason why home ownership sort of beats renting – well, there’s so many reasons. But actually, according to the Rent versus Buy Index, which is released by Trulia, home ownership is actually more affordable than renting, in four out of five major U.S. cities. It …

    TOM: That’s crazy, huh? Wow.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s really amazing. It makes sense that the most affordable housing-market conditions can be found in those cities hardest hit by recent foreclosures, so think Miami; Las Vegas; Phoenix, Arizona.

    And when you’re buying a foreclosed home, “buyer beware” is the key idea here. So if you want some more information about buying a home, buying a foreclosed home, you want to check out MoneyPit.com. We’re a great website; we’ve got a ton of good information there. Plus, we’ll even give you the rundown on how to ask your dad how to borrow money; just because it’s Father’s Day doesn’t mean they need a break.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Kenneth in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we for you today?

    KENNETH: My sink in my kitchen is inside of an island.

    TOM: OK.

    KENNETH: The sewer vent beneath the island – beneath the sink which is underneath the cabinet – is starting to stink really badly and I don’t know why it’s stinking all of a sudden.

    TOM: Well, is – does it have a trap in it? In other words, is it properly plumbed? That’s the first thing to check. Does it have the U-shaped pipe underneath that’s filled with water?

    KENNETH: I’m not sure. No, I’m not.

    TOM: OK. Well, that would be the first thing. There’s two reasons that this thing could smell: number one is it’s not plumbed properly. Sinks have to have a P-trap underneath. Looks like the letter P or the letter U. And essentially, what happens is water …

    LESLIE: And essentially, it stands for pee-yoo. If you don’t have one, it stinks.

    TOM: Absolutely. And the water sits inside the U-portion and basically that acts as the trap and blocks the sewage gas; allows water to pass but won’t let the gas come back up. So if it’s not plumbed properly, you could have basically an open vent pipe to the sewer line and that could stink really, really bad.

    The second thing is that sometimes you get a biological film that forms in sinks from all of the soap and the hair and the food particles and everything that’s in there. And if that happens, typically, if you fill the trap up with bleach, it will kill it. You have to let it sit for a little while but that will kill that and stop the odor from happening.

    KENNETH: Gotcha. Now I’ve tried the bleach and it solves the problem for maybe a week or so and then it comes back.

    TOM: Yeah. Take a look at the trap; let’s make sure you have one. Otherwise, you could put all the bleach in the world down there and it’s not going to happen.

    LESLIE: And it’s not going to make a difference.

    KENNETH: Now, I’ve lived in this house for maybe five years, so I would have to have a trap, right? Otherwise, I would have been had this problem, right?

    TOM: Yeah, we would hope so. How old is the house?

    KENNETH: The house was built in 2000.

    TOM: You would think so.

    KENNETH: Yeah. OK.

    TOM: But that’s the first thing to check, OK?

    KENNETH: Will do. Thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, wood surfaces that are part of a porch or an all-seasons room can begin to show signs of age. If they do, how do you fix them? Are they outside or are they inside? Well, just because they’re under a roof doesn’t mean you don’t have to do a really good job keeping them from rotting away. We’re going to tell you how to do that, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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. And if we sound extra-excited at the close of this hour of The Money Pit, it’s because we’re super-excited and so pleased that so many of you are posting and responding to questions in our Community section. We love that we’re creating a sense of family, as far as do-it-yourselfers go, and we’re so happy to have you as part of The Money Pit family.

    And our Community section, it’s a great way for all of us do-it-yourselfers to communicate about your ideas, your solutions or even if you just want to brag about your project, that’s fine, too. And if you haven’t started being part of the fun, well, what are you waiting for? Check out the Community section at MoneyPit.com.

    And while you’re there, you can post your questions, just like John from Minnesota did.

    TOM: And John says, “We have a three-season room and the inside is covered in all wood. What’s the best way to protect the wood from aging? The three-season room is also surrounded in windows.”

    Alright. Well, when you have a three-season room, you need to kind of almost consider that an outside space because the winter season is the one season when you don’t use it. But for the most part, it’s exposed most of the time so, therefore, you want to treat the wood as if it is outside. And that means prime and paint with exterior-grade paint.

    Now, if you want to maintain sort of a natural look, then the other thing that you could do is you could use a stain for that. You can use something like the Behr Premium Weatherproofing Stains. That works well on decks but it also works well on siding and that’s kind of what this is at that point. So you could use a latex stain like that or you could use paint but you do have to protect it, because the humidity and the moisture will start deteriorating that material if you don’t do that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Iris in New Jersey who writes: “We have very hard water and would like information on water softeners. Do they really add salt to your water? We just redid a bath with oil-rubbed fixtures and now they’re turning white from the hard water. Please help.”

    TOM: Actually, almost all water softeners do have salt; they do add salt to your water. But there is one brand that doesn’t; it’s called EasyWater. Their website is EasyWater.com – E-a-s-y – Water.com. And they don’t use salt; they electrically charge the minerals in the water, causing them to essentially not stick to your faucets and fixtures. They come through and then they just get washed totally away.

    Well, Leslie, a new survey is out and it has revealed the smelliest results of the worst household odors. Now, my question is: who volunteered for that survey? Tell us that and more, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, you can actually call them America’s Most Unwanted and they’ve been known to hold entire households hostage, causing shortness of breath and nausea and even panic in their victims. At the very least, they keep home-sweet-home from smelling so sweet.

    Now, the culprits are household odors and these are the worst of the worst. So, according to a recent survey – boy, they’ll survey anything, let me tell you – more than 8 out of 10 Americans think that rotting garbage or garbage-can odor is the most offensive household smell. That sounds pretty fair, because you can have a whole lot of stinky things in one place. So collectively, it’s gross.

    Now, rounding out the top five in order were pet odors, mold, B.O. – as in body odor – and tobacco odor.

    TOM: Yuck.

    LESLIE: Pyoo (ph), we’ve got some stinky Americans in this country.

    TOM: Absolutely. And if you want some tips on how to deal with odors in your home, you might want to take a look at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got lots of advice right there on how to do just that.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, do you plan on staying in your current home well into retirement? Now is the time to get that home ready for every age and every stage of your life. We’ll teach you how to make your current home more accessible without sacrificing style, 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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2011 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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