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How to Plant Ground Covers to Reduce Bare Spots in Your Yard, Replace Older Windows with Lead Safe, Efficient Windows, Use a Portable Generator to Power Camping Trips, Backyard Parties, Weekend Chores and More

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your summer home improvement project, because we know it’s on your to-do list. Independence Day is around the corner, so why not declare some independence from your home improvement projects by picking up the phone and calling us? Because we are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we promise, if you follow our advice, nothing will blow up, unlike the fireworks that you’re going to be seeing. We’re sure we can set you straight, get you started with that project. 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, are bare patches in your yard making you wonder if you should totally throw in the towel? Not to worry. Roger Cook is going to be by from This Old House and he’s going to have some tips on how to plant groundcovers that will make those brown areas green once again.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also ahead this hour, older windows, they’re not only inefficient, they can actually be hazardous to your health. So if you’ve got a home that was built before 1978 and your windows haven’t been replaced since then, your family could be exposing themselves to lead every single time that, get this, you open or close that window. We’re going to tell you how to make your windows safer, a little later.

    TOM: And more and more Americans are investing now in backup generators to take care of the power if the storm happens to knock it out. But portable generators are also a great tool and they can be used in many additional ways. So we’re going to talk about how a portable generator can do double, even triple duty, and become one of the best investments ever.

    We’re seeing more and more use of portable generators now on baseball fields and picnics and boats and tailgating. Plus, there’s many, many new models out there that are made especially for those portable uses. So we will bring you up to speed on that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also, you know hurricane season is underway and this hour, we’ve got a great prize that’s going to help you start your storm preparedness kit. We’ve got a Stanley hurricane-prep prize pack. And the winner is going to get a FatMax Tool Box, the Stanley 3-in-1 Flashlight and a Bostitch hammer.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth 100 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. So get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Texas on the line who’s looking for a way to repurpose some found lumber.

    ELIZABETH: Hi. We tore down my old house.

    TOM: You didn’t need it anymore?

    ELIZABETH: No, Hurricane Ike really broke it in three places.

    TOM: Oh, Hurricane Ike did it for you, huh?

    LESLIE: She got a head start.

    TOM: OK.

    ELIZABETH: So we salvaged what we could. I gave away a lot to the neighbors but we salvaged to make a 16×16 greenhouse that has now turned into a conservatory because it …

    TOM: OK. That’s a cool idea, OK.

    ELIZABETH: Well, it’s gotten better. And so the old wood is 15 years old. It was inside the old house and I don’t know what to preserve or seal it with.

    TOM: So the area that you want to preserve is exposed to the weather?

    ELIZABETH: No, it’s inside – it’ll be inside the greenhouse/conservatory.

    TOM: Well, then I think you can use any really – like a wood stain on that.

    ELIZABETH: A wood stain.

    TOM: Yeah, do you still have – it’s sort of the natural wood, right? It’s not been painted in any way?

    ELIZABETH: It’s never been painted. These are the roof rafters from the attic and the subfloor …

    TOM: Yeah, OK. You can use any kind of wood stain on that. If it’s going to be an area that gets damp or moist, you might want to use an exterior wood stain. You could use semi-transparent or solid color.

    LESLIE: Oh, I think I’d want to see the history and the natural patina on the wood. I’d go clear.

    TOM: Yeah, you could do that, too.

    ELIZABETH: That would be an idea.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I think the benefit of repurposing and reusing this lumber from your old home is such an interesting and unique choice and sort of a good model for eco-design, if you will. And it’s, I think, a great opportunity to open a discussion and really showcase its beauty.

    ELIZABETH: That is a brilliant suggestion.

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

    LESLIE: Lyndon in Iowa is on the line, looking to paint some concrete basement walls. It’s not sticking for you, is it, Lyndon?

    LYNDON: No, it’s not. What I had is I have a – the corner of my basement, the concrete just keeps flaking and you want to paint it but it doesn’t hold the paint.

    TOM: Well, there’s a simple solution to that, Lyndon. The reason the corner of your basement is flaking is because you have an excessive amount of water getting in the foundation, right in that area of the basement. And I can bet you that the reason for that is a misdirected or a blocked downspout.

    Downspouts typically come down in the corner of buildings. And if the downspout is dumping all the water right there, it typically will flood out that corner and you almost get sort of a triangle shape inside where you get a little bit of water at the top and a lot more as you get down to the bottom. And then whenever that block wall is that wet, it’s not going to stick.

    Now, are you having any kind of a moisture problem with this basement that you know about? Because I suspect that you have one and you may not know about it.

    LYNDON: I have a couple areas. I actually keep a dehumidifier running.

    TOM: OK, well, let’s get to the bottom of this, OK? Because that’s all after the fact; painting is all after the fact. I want you to stop the water from getting down there in the first place.

    So, the couple of things I want you to concentrate on is number one, making sure your gutters are clean and that those downspouts are 4 to 6 feet away from the house. And number two, take a look at the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter; add enough so that you can get a grade that drops off about 6 inches on 4 feet. Pack it down really well. Don’t use topsoil; use clean fill dirt. Tamp it down very solidly. And this way, that first 4- to 6-foot area around the foundation will stay as dry as possible. If you do all that, I think your flaking problem is going to go away.

    And the very last thing you do after you get all of the exterior work done could be to pull off all that loose paint and paint it one more time, just to stop some of the surface moisture from getting through. But that would be the very last thing, not the first thing to do. You’re trying to sort of put your hand in the hole in the wall and stop the water from coming through, in a way, and that’s not the way to fix this. The way to fix this is to fix the drainage issues outside and then the rest will just dissipate on its own.

    LYNDON: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Lyndon. 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. We hope that you are enjoying your Fourth of July weekend: getting out there; relaxing; of course, doing some home improvement projects that also help you to relax. Maybe you’re working on the deck; maybe you’re working on grilling something. Whatever it is, we’re here to give you a hand, help you relax, help you make that outdoor space the perfect spot for your big get-together this weekend. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, portable generators aren’t just for power outages anymore. We’re going to have some tips on how you can use portable power to bring more fun to backyard events, make weekend projects go quicker and even use them on your boat or camping trip. We’ll talk about the latest technology in portable generators, after this.

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    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. And we would love for you to give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we want to help you with all of your projects but we also have a great prize to give away to one of our callers this hour. You could win a Stanley hurricane-prep prize pack, including a FatMax Tool Box, a Bostitch hammer and perhaps most important when you’ve got a power outage and a storm occurs, a good flashlight.

    And we’ve got included in this prize pack the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley, which has a hands-free tripod design. So if this is your only light source in case you do lose power, you’re all set.

    And you can actually use the flashlights as a group of three or you can separate them so that if you’ve got a group in your family, you – each one can get one of these great little flashlights. They move around with ease. The lenses are shatterproof so if you turn it off for a second and walk into a wall, you don’t have to worry about the flashlight. And the heads are multidirectional; they’re swiveling up to 120 degrees. It’s a prize pack worth about 100 bucks, so give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Now, all of those tools can be in your storm-prep tool kit if you ever need to get your home ready to stand up to a forecasted weather event. But another good tool for storm survival is a portable generator. But even if you have one for storm survival, they are great for a lot of other uses during the summer, as well.

    You can power electric tools for summer yard work. You can power your hedge trimmer, your weed trimmer, your electric lawn mower. And if you’re in the market for a generator that does double duty in storms, you might want to take a look at the GP Series portable generators from Generac.

    We actually use Generac standby generators at our home and in the studio to have power all the time. But the GP Series is pretty cool because it’s got a very compact design, as well as covered outlets for added protection from the environment when you’re working in very rugged, outdoor conditions. It’s also got a very large, steel fuel tank with a very easy-to-read fuel gauge. And it has a fold-down, locking handle that’s very ergonomic, so it makes it easy to pick it up and move it around anywhere you need it. I really like this particular portable: the GP Series from Generac.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what’s so great about portables is everybody thinks about a generator as far as a storm is concerned. But you could actually have a lot of fun with your generator. You can use it for camping, picnics, outdoor parties. Imagine being able to set up this great party in the middle of nowhere – power lights, use sound equipment – all without running long extension cords from who-knows-where. You know, you’ve got the power capability to turn a middle-of-nowhere destination into something really exciting.

    You could even bring a portable generator on your boat to power a mini-fridge, your radio or your lights. And Generac also has the iX Series, which is great since it only weighs about 50 pounds and it’s super-quiet. It actually uses inverter technology to produce clean, stable power.

    And these feature FlexPower capability, which is going to reduce engine speed, so you’re going to save fuel and then reduce noise, which is really helpful because sometimes gennies (ph) can be so loud. But not these Generacs.

    And they’ve got an electronic overload protection system, which is going to prevent your generator from being damaged in the event of a power overload. Because a lot of times, people just get so confused with generators, so the Generac models really do all the thinking for you.

    TOM: And just think about this, Leslie. If you go camping, you can plug in your hair dryer.

    LESLIE: Because that’s so important when I’m in the middle of nowhere without a mirror, that my hair looks awesome. You know me so well.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Laurie in North Dakota is refinishing some wood floors. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAURIE: Hi. I’m calling to see about my interior wood floor. I am wondering if I need to let it cure for any length of time after we’ve put the stain on it, before we put our furniture back on.

    TOM: No. So this is a brand new wood floor?

    LAURIE: No, it’s not.

    TOM: But you say you stained it? What did you do? What was the project that you did, Laurie?

    LAURIE: We’re stripping it right now, sanding it down and I’m going to stain it.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: We haven’t stained it quite yet.

    TOM: Yeah. No, once you stain it, you can literally re-urethane it the next day, you know, as long as the stain dries. You don’t have to let it “cure” or anything like that. Just go ahead and move right through from staining to sealing.

    LAURIE: OK. And then how about once we put the polyurethane on, do we need to let it cure for any length of time then?

    TOM: Ah, that’s a whole separate matter.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Because the polyurethanes, even the ones that say “quick-dry,” are generally not and you do need to let them dry thoroughly. And it takes quite a while for them to – before you can really start to beat up the floor.

    So, what you want to do is you want to apply the polyurethane with a lambswool applicator. So you don’t want to brush it on; you don’t want to roll it on.

    LESLIE: You want to sort of mop it on.

    TOM: A lambswool applicator is more like a mop, right? You kind of mop it on. And you work your way out of the room. And then it helps if you have a little bit of heat on it; it helps it dry quicker, even if it’s warm that day. A little bit of heat helps it dry and evaporate quicker.

    So you’re going to probably wait at least a full day, maybe even two days before you put the second coat on. And then you add a second coat, let that dry. And then I would leave maybe some rosin paper or something down in the traffic areas. And when you put your furniture back, even if it seems to be dry to walk on, be very careful about sliding furniture and really being too rough on it until a good month or so has passed, because it does take quite a while for it to really harden up.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you do have to make sure that between coats, Laurie, that you do let it absolutely dry because if, for some reason, it’s still a little tacky and not quite dry when you put that second coat on, it will never dry.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: There’s something that happens between the two coats that just causes it to sort of be like …

    TOM: It seals in its gumminess.

    LESLIE: Yeah, gelatinous. Like it’s very strange, so you have to make sure that first coat is super-duper dry before you apply the second.

    TOM: And the damper it is outside, the longer it’s going to take.

    LAURIE: Alright. We won’t rush into that second coat then.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LAURIE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robert in North Carolina on the line who’s looking to paint a porch. How can we help you with that?

    ROBERT: Well, it’s an older home and it’s a wood floor, pressure-treated. And I’ve always used oil-based paint, which is a pretty good cleanup; it’s a project, then.


    TOM: Right.

    ROBERT: But I’ve always heard that you could not put latex floor paint on top of oil-based and that’s my question.

    LESLIE: Well, you can if you’ve got a step in the middle; you’re going to have to prime it. This way, you’ve giving yourself a neutral sort of playing ground for the new latex paint to stick. And also, that’ll do a good job of covering everything up and sort of giving a good sealant, so that you know the new paint will adhere.

    TOM: So if you apply a good-quality primer, Robert, after you sand as much as you can the old surface, then you could put a latex paint on top of that and you should be good to go.

    ROBERT: Well, that sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jamie from Connecticut on the line who’s looking to stain a deck. How can we help you with that project?

    JAMIE: I know, right now, there’s a lot of innovative ideas out there and I’m just wondering if there’s something I can use on wood that I can afford to do it with.

    LESLIE: Now, are you looking for something that’s going to give you a color or just be clear? When you say natural, do you mean what it’s made from or a natural look?

    JAMIE: Either/or, clear or color.

    LESLIE: Just cheap.

    JAMIE: Right. I’m going to pressure wash it first and bring it down to the wood.


    JAMIE: But I’m looking for something that is really affordable because, obviously, the price of everything is outrageous.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s crazy.

    Now, depending on what you put on there is also going to factor in greatly how often you’re going to have to redo this. And probably the most natural thing that you can use would be boiled linseed oil. And that you would just coat onto the surface but you’re going to have to redo that.

    How often on a horizontal surface, Tom?

    TOM: On a horizontal surface? I think every five years.

    LESLIE: Even with the boiled? That’s great.

    TOM: Think so, yeah.

    LESLIE: Because I know when you put it on a siding, you’re looking at 10, 15 years, which is great.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    LESLIE: But once you get on a surface that you start walking on – and you want to make sure that you use boiled because if you don’t, it’s never going to dry.

    JAMIE: OK. Now, when you buy it, it says boiled or it doesn’t, right?

    TOM: It says boiled linseed oil.

    JAMIE: OK.

    TOM: You do not – you don’t have to boil your own; it’s already boiled, OK?

    JAMIE: OK. I’ve heard of linseed oil but I didn’t hear it called boiled linseed oil.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, boiled linseed oil. It’ll say that right on the can.

    JAMIE: OK. Now, if I stain the deck, say, with just a regular stain you pick up at the hardware store, that’s still going to have to be done every 5 to 10 years, right?

    TOM: Right. Yep. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yes but I believe the cost is going to be much greater for a stain.

    JAMIE: Exactly, yep. OK. Well, that sounds good. That confirms some – one thing that someone has told me, that that is something good. And it will help preserve it.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Betty calling in with a driveway question. Tell us what’s going on.

    BETTY: Well, I just – and I have some – my driveway is very discolored. It’s dark; it’s gotten black from tire marks. And I was wondering what I can do to clean that off of it.

    LESLIE: Of the tire – and there’s tire marks on a concrete driveway. Have you tried – I’m trying to think what would work for tire marks. Have you tried trisodium phosphate?

    Do you think that would work, Tom, on a tire mark?

    TOM: I think it might, yeah. TSP. If you make a paste of it – yeah, you mix it up and apply it to the tire mark, let it sit for a little while, then rinse it with water and scrub it in, I think that’ll take it up.

    BETTY: OK. Does it take anything like a steel brush or anything to have to – do they?

    TOM: No, just a regular floor brush where you can get a little leverage there with a handle and just dig into it.

    BETTY: OK. Just something that’s pretty stiff, huh?

    TOM: Pretty stiff. That’s correct.

    BETTY: OK.

    TOM: But listen, Betty. Make sure that you wear eye protection when you’re doing that, because it’s going to splash up and you don’t want to get that stuff in your eyes.

    BETTY: Oh, OK. Thanks, yeah.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still to come, are bare patches in your yard completely bumming you out? We’re going to show you how to go green again. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is going to be joining us with tips, next.

    (theme song)

    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: Check out MoneyPit.com to find video demos of our most recent product recommendations. We’ve got suggestions on everything there from paint to cleaning products. It is all online for your use at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Joe who’s calling in with a flat-roofing question. What can we do for you today?

    JOE: Is there a product that somebody produces or manufactures that can be put on a flat roof and below the roof there is no attic or crawlspace? And I’m wondering if this product can be used to keep the rooms below the roof cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

    TOM: OK, so you have a flat roof with no attic and you’re looking for a roofing product that’s going to give you some thermal qualities.

    JOE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, in terms of the summer, that’s an easy one. Any type of membrane roof – especially a ballasted roof where you have a membrane and then it’s covered with either a fibrous aluminum type of paint which reflects the heat of the sun or a membrane roof that’s covered with a stone which is very, very common; usually they use a lightweight, white-colored stone – those both are designed to keep the roof cooler and hence, the building cooler underneath.

    In terms of retaining the heat, that’s another matter in its entirety.

    JOE: Wait, you said stone – s-t-o-n-e?

    TOM: Yes, correct. Mm-hmm.

    JOE: Oh, OK. Alright. I wanted to be sure that I understood what you said.

    TOM: Yes. Yeah, it’s called a ballasted roof because the stone actually is sort of a ballaster: a weight that keeps the roofing product in place. But there are roofing products that are designed specifically to reflect the heat of the sun. I don’t think you’re going to find one that holds the heat in but you will find one that reflects the heat.

    JOE: I see, I see. I thank you very, very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you have an area of your lawn where grass just doesn’t seem to grow that well or maybe it grows too well and you’re just plain tired of cutting it, you might want to consider planting groundcover.

    TOM: Absolutely. Groundcover like ivy or pachysandra are a great solution for lots of problem areas. For tips on what kinds of groundcovers work well and how to plant them properly, we welcome This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: Hi. How are you?

    TOM: We are great. And this is one of those questions that people are constantly dealing with. There’s always that sort of problem area in the yard where something just won’t grow or seems to take over. Are those all good opportunities for groundcovers?

    ROGER: Oh, exactly. And even the areas that you’re mulching over and over and over again. Groundcovers are a great way to get rid of mulch and replace it and you never have to mulch again.

    LESLIE: So you would mix that in with your flower bed to avoid the mulching?

    ROGER: Yep.

    LESLIE: Does that provide the same sort of protection during the winter season?

    ROGER: By the time the winter comes, your plants are all established; they’ll be fine. You don’t have to worry about it. Mulching over and over again sometimes has a worse effect on plants than it does good.

    TOM: Now, what are the best plant considerations? Is it sun? Is it shade? And how exactly should you set about planting your groundcover garden?

    ROGER: It’s like any other planting: you have to know your conditions. Is it wet? Is it shady? Is it dry? Is it sunny? Then you go and you pick out an applicable plant for that situation.

    I love groundcovers because there’s some that are adaptable for every situation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, we had an area of the yard that was just problematic: so shady, poor drainage. We couldn’t get anything to grow there until I finally discovered vinca.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And it’s amazing what it’s done; it’s taken an area that was so drab and horrible and it’s green and lovely and sometimes we get these purple flowers. You know, we really enjoy it.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    LESLIE: How do you know what the best solution is? Do you come into the garden center with your list of conditions and say, “Help”?

    ROGER: That’s a great help and there are a lot of places online. You can get lists of different types of groundcovers for different areas. What I’m encouraging people to do right now is to look at native plants, native groundcovers. There’s a lot of pachysandra, a lot of ivy; you see it everywhere. I’d love for you to go to some of the native – some of the different plants.

    TOM: Now, you mentioned ivy and that’s one of those plants that can quickly sort of take control and spread everywhere. How do you have sort of a manageable ivy garden?

    ROGER: Either through edging – a mechanical edge like steel edging, which will help keep it out of the lawn – or you go along that edge. You actually turn your trimmer vertical, go right along the edge between the grass. And every other time you cut the lawn, you just trim it back.

    The other thing that happens is sometimes it’ll grow up trees. Maybe once or twice a year, you want to go to the tree and cut the pieces that want to run up the top of the tree.

    LESLIE: Is it bad for the tree? Because it looks so pretty.

    ROGER: It looks nice but it’s not the greatest thing for the trunk of the tree. It can let insects get in there and even cause a little bit of rot sometimes. Because if it …

    TOM: Does it sort of strangle the tree sometimes?

    ROGER: Not so much strangle but you remember, it’s attaching right to the bark, so it’s going to cause – could cause a weak point in the bark where other things could get into the tree.

    TOM: Right. Now, ivy used to be very, very beautiful going up brick buildings but we’ve learned in recent years, of course, that that’s not such a good idea for the house, either.

    ROGER: Right. If it can damage the mortar in the brick, what could it do to the tree? So let’s look at it that way.

    TOM: So groundcovers are a great solution but you’ve got to pick the right plant, you’ve got to have the right soil. It’s really a recipe, isn’t it?

    ROGER: Right. It’s like anything else: unless you prepare the area properly, it could fail. Any planting depends on how good you prep the soil. The great thing about groundcovers are their root systems are only 4 to 6 inches, maybe 8 inches deep, so you don’t have to prep that bed that much. But I would go in and skim off any grass that was there or excess mulch. I would rotor-till the area, then I would take some compost that I made in my backyard, add that and a little bit of low-nitrogen fertilizer, rotor-till it all in and then you’re ready to plant.

    TOM: So, Roger, if this has been a problem area that you’re trying to tackle, is it best to clear out everything that’s there and sort of rebuild the soil and start from scratch so you know what you’ve got?

    ROGER: Right. Any planting you do, whether groundcover or bigger plants, is only as successful as the soil is prepared. Fortunately, with groundcovers we only have to prepare the soil 4 to 6 inches deep.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So I’d go in and strip off the grass, rotor-till that area, probably add a low-nitrogen fertilizer and then rake it in and then you’re ready to plant.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Anything that we need to be concerned about as far as weeding? Because I imagine you might still have those same situations you would have before.

    ROGER: You will. And the key is to keep on top of the weeds as they come up. It’s easier to pull a small weed than it is a big one. And the more you pull, the more the groundcovers have the ability to grow in. And once they grow in, you – minimum weeds.

    LESLIE: That’s great.

    TOM: Great advice.

    For more tips on how to plant covers, there is a good video on ThisOldHouse.com, featuring our guest, Roger Cook.

    Roger, thanks so much for the advice and stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Oh, you’re welcome.

    LESLIE: And remember, guys, 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 State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Still to come, do you have older windows in your home? Well, if you do, you could be exposing yourself and your family to lead every time they are opened or closed. We’ll tell you what to do about that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by The Home Depot. Upgrade to a Philips 12.5-watt LED light bulb that lasts 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    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: And we would love for you to pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And to make sure you do just that, we are prepared to offer you a bribe. That’s right.

    LESLIE: I think you meant prize.

    TOM: Well, that too. It’s not below us, though, because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Stanley hurricane-prep prize pack, which includes the FatMax Tool Box, a Bostitch hammer with AntiVibe technology, which is terrific if you ever had to board up a window or something like that or just build a deck, and my favorite flashlight in the world, the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight.

    Love this thing. It’s three flashlights in one. It has a tripod design, so you could basically put it inside the kitchen cabinet when you’re trying to fix the drain or something like that. You don’t need to have an extra hand to hold it. It’s very, very well-designed.

    But the whole prize pack is worth 100 bucks. Going to go out to one caller, chosen at random from all calls that we use on today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And if you don’t pick up the phone and call in, Tom is taking the flashlight home, because he’s so in love with it.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: You really are. I mean you talk about it all the time.

    TOM: It’s a good tool.

    LESLIE: Well, give us a call because we want to put that flashlight in your hands.

    And really, if you’ve got an older home – Tom and I both have. Mine’s almost 100 years old; Tom’s home is well over 100 years old. But a lot of us could be living in homes that maybe were just built before 1978; it could be the early 70s or beyond. But if yours was, you know, there’s a really good chance that you’ve got lead paint in and around the window frames of your house and that could be harming your family.

    Now, household dust with invisible, lead-contaminated particles, those can be especially harmful for toddlers and children who play on the floor where the dust settles. And the solution to stopping this problem really is to create a safer, healthier living environment by replacing windows in older homes.

    TOM: That’s right. And for the safest window replacement, the experts at Simonton Windows are recommending hiring a contractor trained and certified in lead-safe practices to evaluate your windows and potentially replace them.

    It’s very important that you work with pros that are trained in how to work with lead paint today, folks, because if you don’t – you just can’t send anybody in to tear out windows. They truly could expose your family to lead poisoning.

    And if you really are going to consider replacing your windows, you want to remember that vinyl is the material of choice today. They are energy-efficient, they’re durable, they’re rot-proof, they’re insect-proof and they are truly maintenance-free. If you want some more tips on the latest in vinyl windows, you can go to Simonton.com/LeadSafe for additional information.

    Plus, online on MoneyPit.com, you can download our free replacement-window chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And in there, we will walk you through everything you need to know to choose the best possible windows for your home.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Harrietta who needs some help sprucing up some siding. What can we do for you?

    HARRIETTA: My home is 53 years old. It’s cedar siding and we’ve used REZ stain on it throughout the years. Recently, the house has been molding and he puts Clorox on it and then puts another stain – I mean a stain on it. Now, he wants to put a flat paint on it and I wondered if that’s advisable, if that’s the way to go or do you have some suggestions?

    TOM: Well, typically, here’s how you would finish cedar siding. You would use an oil-based primer and you would prime it first. And then you would use a solid-color exterior stain on top of that. And done correctly, you could probably get five to seven years easy out of a properly-applied staining process like that.

    In terms of the ongoing maintenance, pressure washing the house once a year or once every couple of years should be enough to take off the surface dirt and any mold or mildew that is left behind. But you shouldn’t have to do it any more frequently than that.

    LESLIE: Yeah and with the pressure washer, you can use a house-cleaning product like JOMAX mixed right into the pressure washer to help sort of scrub away that mold that might be giving you a hard time.

    HARRIETTA: Oh, great. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, concrete driveways are usually built in sections with joints in between them. But what happens when those expansion joints start to deteriorate and then totally disappear? We will tell you how to restore your driveway, if that’s happened to you, 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. And we would love for you to be part of The Money Pit fun, as I like to call it. You can join The Money Pit community, because we’ve got great project ideas, information, advice. And it comes from Tom and I and it also comes from you guys. We love to have you contribute to The Money Pit website.

    All of you do-it-yourselfers and pros out there, get online, write a blog, post pictures, share everything on Facebook. It’s all in your Community section of the MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there, you can post your question online.

    I’ve got one here from John in New Jersey who writes: “I have a concrete driveway and the expansion joints have rotted away. Is there any way to repair these joints?”

    TOM: Yes. First of all, you don’t have to worry about repairing them; they don’t have a structural significance to them. But they may be unsightly and plus, you very frequently will get weeds that will grow up in between those concrete joints. Not because there’s something growing underneath but because seeds fall into them. And because they’re moist and damp all the time, it’s sort of a perfect habitat for weeds to grow.

    So, what you can do, John, is you can scrape out all of the old material. You want to go down sort of at least an inch below the surface of the concrete driveway. And then you can use a product called a flowable urethane. It’s kind of like a flowable caulk but it comes in a bigger tube.

    And you can lay it in that joint. It’s going to – flowable urethane works because you can have a bead that’s an inch or an inch-and-a-half wide and it dries very tough and rubbery and will last a long time. So that’s the way to restore those joints.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a posting from Scott in Michigan who writes: “I have a service door in my basement with cement stairs going down from the grade to the door. There is a soil landing at the bottom of the stairs. Could I dig below the foundation and install a dry well with stone around the dry well, in the landing? Are there precautions that I should take before digging below the foundation? With heavy rains, the eaves trough cannot keep up with the water off of the roof.”

    TOM: Yeah and that’s where you want to solve this: you want to solve this up at the roof. Because think about it, Scott. If you do build out a dry well at the bottom of that basement stair, what are you going to do with the water? It’s still going to fill up; it just will take a little bit longer. So what’s your options? Put a pump down there?

    I mean really, the way to deal with this is to reconfigure the roof any way you need to to keep the water from overflowing. So what could you do? Well, one thing that you could do is farther up on the roof, you could install a diverter. It’s simply an angled piece of metal that lays in the roof and takes the majority – maybe not all of it but a good portion of the water that runs down the roof – and then sort of moves it to a different section of the roof, so it doesn’t fall right on top of that basement access there.

    The other thing to do is to make sure any downspouts that are in that area are extended well away from the foundation perimeter. We all know that that is what causes basements to flood. If the foundation is getting too wet in that area, the water is going to come right in. So what you need to do is extend the downspouts so they’re 4 to 6 feet away from the house. Also, improve the soil slope so it rolls away from the wall. You do all that and I think that you will address this once and for all.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Shawna in Oklahoma posted this question: “The master-bath shower in our new home has a musty smell. Cleaning doesn’t help. It seems to be coming from the drain. A plumber came and says there might be a leak that’s causing mold behind the walls. The smell is making my family sick; we can’t even use the room. What do we do?”

    TOM: He’s completely shooting from the hip and guessing. I’ve rarely found mold behind walls that causes an odor. More accurately, it’s probably a biofilm that’s in the shower drains or the bathroom drains.

    LESLIE: Oh, true.

    TOM: So what I would do is I would clean those drains, take them apart, clean them with an oxygenated bleach. The biofilm gets in there and with all of the microbes that are attached to that, it can really smell quite bad. So I would thoroughly clean those drains and if you do that, I think you’ll solve that and you won’t have to deal with it any further.

    LESLIE: Alright, Shawna. I hope that helps you so much with your new home. And remember, not all projects are terrible ones. Especially when you’re owning a new house, there’s going to be lots of things to work on every weekend and we’re here to help you with that.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com. Have a great Fourth of July, everybody.

    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 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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