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How to Prevent Dogs from Digging Holes in Your Yard, How to Determine the Maximum Wattage When Shopping for Light Bulbs, and Trendy New Colors Now Name After Cartoon Characters

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And it’s a beautiful day to pick up the hammer, pick up the saw and get to work on your home improvement project. But before you do that, pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question to our Community page, because we are here to help you get the job done.

    Coming up on today’s program, now that the weather is getting warm, did you ever notice how everyone loves to pitch in on projects like planting the gardens and the landscaping? Around our part of the neighborhood, that can include the family dog, because this is the season for digging holes and hiding treasures. We’re going to have tips, though, to teach your dogs how to not help in that gardening. We’re going to give you some ideas on how you can stop them from digging holes that you’ll eventually need to patch, coming up.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Listen, Tom, I think you’re missing an opportunity, though. If you can train Spot to dig strategic holes where you need them and then you can plant plants or bulbs in the fall, I think you’ve got a win-win situation.

    TOM: “Please, Spot, every 18 inches for the next tomato plant.”

    LESLIE: Exactly. You start working on that project.

    TOM: “A little bit over to the left, perfect. You go right there.”

    LESLIE: You never know.

    Also ahead, guys, by now you’ve probably had to switch from Edison’s traditional light bulb – you know, the incandescent version that I still love and quite frankly am hoarding – to those more modern CFL and LED bulbs. But you’re probably struggling with the wattage. What’s equal to a standard, 60-watt bulb? There’s so many choices.

    So, Tom, what have we got for everybody this hour?

    TOM: Well, we’re going to find out – when we talk to the guy from the UL that oversees everything electrical – including how to interpret those maximum-wattage ratings: the ones that are on every lamp or fixture that says, “Don’t use more than a 60-watt bulb or 100-watt bulb.” What does that mean when you’re plugging in these LED bulbs that use so few watts to deliver that same equivalent amount of power? It can be pretty confusing. So we’re going to get tips, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Alright. Maybe you’ll convert me after this.

    Alright. One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a very cool prize we’ve got up for grabs from Stanley Tools. I absolutely love mine. I’ve got one of these. It’s the TLM99s Laser Distance Measurer.

    Now, it features Bluetooth connectivity via the Stanley Floor Plan app. So, pretty much you get a blueprint of your room as you are measuring.

    TOM: It makes taking measurements in your home super-easy and very accurate. It’s a prize worth $120 but it’s going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Erin in Louisiana is on the line. How can we help you today?

    ERIN: Hi. I have a slab house that’s about 35 years old and it’s showing signs of needing to be leveled. But I thought I heard on a previous show of yours that you do not recommend leveling a house; just fix the issues that come up as it needs it. And I didn’t know if I heard correctly or not, so I thought I would call and ask about that.

    LESLIE: Well, tell me, how much of a slope are you noticing, throughout the property, on the interior of the home?

    ERIN: No, we’re seeing cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceiling, cracks in the floors.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, if you put a marble on the floor in some of these rooms that you’re seeing these cracks, does it roll all around wildly? If it does roll, how fast?

    ERIN: I actually have not done anything like that.

    LESLIE: Ah, the marble test. It’s very fun. That will tell you if the ground itself is level.

    Now, if you’re seeing cracks in the walls and in the ceiling, are they sort of near a doorway or a window or are they just square in the middle of stuff?

    ERIN: Well, there’s a crack in the floor that’s square in the middle of the floor and it extends out into a – we have a sliding-glass door and the brick above the sliding-glass door is separated.

    And then, we also see it – I also see it in rooms next to the wall, where it’s like – the house is shaped like a T. And where one part of the top of the T goes into the long part of the T, I can see it separating there against the – in the ceiling.

    LESLIE: Generally, if you see cracks and they’re by a doorframe or a window, that’s just general movement because of the opening in the envelope of the home, being in a window opening or a doorway in an interior wall. Now, if you’re seeing it like in the middle of the floor and above a doorframe in brick, you might be concerned that there could be some structural issues going on. However, you might want to bring in a structural engineer.

    You bring in an engineer or even a home inspector and for a couple of hundred bucks, they’ll come in and look at these areas and diagnose, specifically, what’s going on there. Because it could be something structural that could need to be fixed in a way that you can’t just do by repairing the crack. Or it could just simply be natural settlement of the home over the duration of the home’s lifespan and that’s easily fixable.

    But because you have a crack forming in the middle of a floor and that continues to a doorway, I would definitely bring in somebody who’s a structural engineer and they can write up a report on it. And the benefit of doing that is that when you do fix this, whatever the problem may be, you are going to have a full, written pedigree of what you’ve done to the problem in the home, how you’ve fixed it and what everything was done correctly. This way, if you go to sell the home and somebody says, “Oh, I saw a crack,” or whatever the situation might be, you can say, “Actually, this happened. We did this repair and it’s all square.”

    ERIN: OK.

    TOM: Erin, some cracks are really typical wear and tear, so to speak. But this one definitely sounds like you need a pro to check it out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    STEVE: Looked outside this year and we’ve got a building that was built in 1929. It’s got a porch above the patio down below. And on the exposed joists, those carpenter bees have put some holes in there. And it – we’re looking for a way to eliminate the carpenter bees and not necessarily poison everything in the neighborhood.

    LESLIE: Well, a part of what they’re doing is – you know, they really enjoy eating this natural wood. So they’re coming there because you’ve got something tasty to offer up. And it turns out that they love to bore these holes that are perfectly 3/8-inches round.

    So you can do a couple of things. You can have it treated by a pest professional and then seal up those holes and that should do the trick. But you’re right: chemicals are used and that might not be what you have in mind.

    The other thing is you can cover that or replace that joist completely – or whatever the support is – with a synthetic wood or a composite that looks like wood but it’s not actually wood. It could be extruded PVC, it could be recycled plastics. This way, it looks like wood; it’s doing the same job that the wood piece was. However, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, whatever pests like to eat a natural source as wood, they’re going to try it, they’re not going to get into it and they’re going to be really confused and fly away and find somewhere else to eat.

    STEVE: Yeah, that sounds like an option. Yeah, I was wondering if there was something that – I assume that painting it would not make a difference. I didn’t know if there was something that could be topically applied to it that would be environmentally friendly and keep the bees out.

    LESLIE: Unh-unh. I’ve had them eat through the painted wood that makes up my entire screened-in porch. And then what happens is they bore a hole but they won’t bore all the way through. They’ll bore into the wood, even if it’s just a 1×6 or whatever. They find a way to bore into it and then bore through the wood itself and lay their eggs in there.

    STEVE: OK. And it – yeah, it’s amazing. It looks like somebody got out with a drill and drilled the hole in there.

    LESLIE: It’s just bizarre. It’s perfect how they do it.

    STEVE: So, essentially, the options, basically, are having someone come out and treat it or either covering or changing the material that’s there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, changing material is usually the best bet because they won’t eat it. And then, as an added benefit, it doesn’t require any maintenance except the occasional cleaning. You’re not going to be painting it all the time. It really is a win-win situation.

    STEVE: OK. Yeah, I’ll look into that. I’ve got a contractor that’s got to come out anyway, so I’ll look into both options. But it sounds like it – I’d prefer something that wouldn’t have to do with pesticides but …

    TOM: Steve, I hope that takes care of those carpenter bees once and for all. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor. Whatever it is you are working on at your money pit, we’re here to give you a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, we’ve got popular paint colors that are now inspired from the most unusual places. Find out about one color making a big impression with the help of some funny, little, animated characters. And here’s a tip: the color is Minion Yellow. If you’ve got kids, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ll be back with the latest décor inspired by cartoons, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: When you’re ready to search for a home, start at Realtor.com. Realtor.com is the most accurate home search site. And be sure to work with a realtor to help you through the process. Realtor.com and realtors, together we make home happen.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win the Stanley Laser Distance Measurer and it’s got Bluetooth connectivity.

    Now, this tool – the TLM99s – is going to make jobs super-easy to estimate. It’s going to be quick. It instantly calculates square-footage, volume and distance. And the multifunctional TLM99s Laser Distance Measurer is small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s a great tool for builders and remodelers and real-estate agents and contractors and landscapers, painters, even us do-it-yourselfers out there. So it’s a great tool to get into your toolbox.

    TOM: The TLM99s can be used alone or with the new Stanley Floor Plan app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. For more information, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    DEB: Yeah, I’ve got some trouble with an area of grass right in the middle of my yard. It’s probably 20×20.

    LESLIE: The yard? Or the problem area?

    DEB: The problem area is probably 20×20.

    LESLIE: OK. That’s a big problem.

    DEB: Yeah. And the lawn is pretty big and it grows really good all the way around this area. And it only – it’ll grow maybe an inch or two and then it kind of heads out and never really gets green. We put extra water on it and we fertilize it and aerate it, just like the rest of the lawn, but it just doesn’t look good. And seems funny that this would be just in one area.

    LESLIE: Well, it could be that that area, for whatever reason, has a different pH balance than the other parts of your lawn itself. And therefore that the seed that you’re using is reacting differently to the soil than the other areas.

    So, you might want to take a couple of soil samples from the problem area and have those tested. Sometimes, the home centers sell little kits. Sometimes, you might have to contact your local building department to find out who you can do that with. But you can have a soil test done pretty easily and inexpensively.

    And once you know exactly what’s going on with the soil in this area, I mean that could be enlightening to have this information. Because you could be using the wrong seed, you could be using the wrong fertilizer. That will tell you exactly what type of fertilizer, when, how to water it. That’s really the key here and that should clear up a lot of this problem.

    DEB: OK. That sounds great. I’ll sure give it a try.

    TOM: Deb, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, movies and television shows often lend themselves well to the creation of specialty products. And now Hollywood can add specialty color creation to its list of achievement thanks to the launch of Pantone’s Minion Yellow, which is based on the popular cartoon characters with that name.

    LESLIE: “Bala tu.” Yes. It’s really a super-bright, vibrant yellow.

    It happened after musician and Despicable Me soundtrack creator Pharrell Williams – you know, he noted that people really needed energizing color in their lives. So Pantone went on to work with Illumination Entertainment and Universal to create a new color that’s inspired by the lively and of course, mischievous sidekicks in Despicable Me: the Minions.

    TOM: And I’m sure you’ve seen those movies. And although the company has created palettes inspired by public personas, this is the first time Pantone has created and named a color based on a character. And the company is adding the new color to its fashion home and interior-colors palette.

    LESLIE: Let’s just hope that painting a room that color does not make the inhabitants behave in the way that the Minions do, please. I know my kids don’t need any help misbehaving. And those Minions give them some naughty ideas, so beware.

    LESLIE: Wayne in Iowa is on the line with a septic issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    WAYNE: Well, when I take a bath, I have odor when I drain the tub. If I take a shower, I have no odor when I take – when I take a shower, obviously, I don’t plug the drain. But everything runs through down to one pipe, which goes out to a septic tank. I do know the line is good from the house to the septic tank because I had to dig that up before I ever did any of the plumbing in the house. I did not replumb the drain on the tub but otherwise, the house has new plumbing throughout.

    TOM: So we don’t think that it’s in the drain line. For example, when you talk about sewer odors, the first thing you think of is a missing trap. But if the plumbing has been redone, it’s not likely that that’s the case, correct?

    WAYNE: No, it has a trap. And it doesn’t leak into the basement but I – whenever I take a shower, it works fine. But if I take a tub bath and pull the plug on the drain, I get a sewer odor in the hallway outside the bathroom.

    TOM: Because the other cause of those odors is something called “biogas” – is when you get a lot of bacteria that can form in a drain. And it may not even be the drain of the tub; it could be the drain of the sink. I presume there’s a sink in that same bathroom. And sometimes, even in the overflow channel of the sink, you get this bacterial buildup that can have just an awful odor to it.

    And the solution there is to thoroughly clean it with an oxygenated bleach so that you kill that bacteria, flushing out the overflow channel, scrubbing the drain with almost like a bottle brush to make sure that all of that bacteria is eliminated.

    Biogas can be very pungent and unpleasant to live with but relatively simple to get rid of once you get to the spot where it exists. Will you give that a shot?

    WAYNE: Yes, sir. I most certainly shall.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Delaware where Margie has a crawlspace question. What can we help you with?

    MARGIE: I’d like to know if you should put plastic on the ground underneath your house. We have a 3-foot – somebody can climb under there. Should we lay plastic on that for a barrier – for a moisture barrier? Underneath a ranch house.

    LESLIE: What’s the – is it underneath the entire house or is it just under a certain area?

    MARGIE: No, it’s underneath the entire house. You can crawl under and someone said you should put plastic on top of the dirt.

    LESLIE: Now, are you having any moisture issues inside the house?

    MARGIE: Not really. We were just thinking it would be a good idea to do that.

    LESLIE: Now, generally, with an enclosed crawlspace or one that’s smaller scale to an entire home, we would always recommend putting down sort of a plastic sheathing. And you want to fill the entire space. And in areas where you do have to have seams, you want to make sure that you overlap a good foot or two so that it really lays down nicely.

    Now, Tom, would you do that if it’s under the entire house?

    TOM: Yeah, I’d put it down across the crawlspace floor, along the entire house, because it stops the moisture in the soil from wicking up and evaporating up into the air and then getting the insulation damp and making it ineffective. So, it’s always a good idea to have – it’s called a “vapor barrier” and have that down on top of that soil surface.

    You also want to check the exterior, though, to make sure that your gutters are clean, the downspouts are extended. It’s part of a moisture-management solution. It’s not just [one-off] (ph).

    LESLIE: You want to make sure you’re limiting the amount of moisture that actually gets to that – the dirt or the soil underneath the crawlspace. So if you make sure that your gutters are extending away from the house a good 3 feet or so and not depositing the water back towards that crawlspace – any sort of plant-embedded areas, you want to make sure that that soil slopes away. You just want to do your best that you can to move the moisture away.

    MARGIE: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    So, does light-bulb shopping – has this chore, all of a sudden, made your head spin? I mean there’s really a whole new vocabulary to learning about lumens and light color, as well as the finer points of understanding CFLs and LED bulbs. It’s confusing.

    TOM: So, if you’re a home improvement expert like me and you’re bored some Saturday afternoon at Home Depot, all you do is you stand near the light-bulb aisle and you watch people walk up the aisle and down the aisle and then back up the aisle and down the aisle. Because it seems like it’s harder than ever to figure out what kind of bulb you need these days and what kind you can safely use with all these energy-efficient bulbs to choose from.

    Now, I think it’s especially confusing when you have to choose the wattage that’s right for your light and you have to use wattage ratings that are based on the old bulbs. So how do you figure all that out? We’re going to get tips from the guy responsible for making those recommendations at the UL. John Drengenberg joins us from UL, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, by now you might know that 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs are no longer being made. And still, we survive. You’ve probably seen more efficient bulbs labeled CFLs or LED. But what you might not know is what all these letters mean or how to calculate the wattage for your fixtures.

    LESLIE: Well, thank goodness we’ve got somebody here to help. We’ve got John Drengenberg and he’s the consumer safety director for the Underwriters Laboratories.

    Now, you’re going to see the UL label on pretty much just about anything that you buy that runs on electricity. And that’s how you know it’s been tested.

    So, John, welcome.

    JOHN: Well, it’s nice to be back with you both.

    TOM: So, John, let’s start with just sort of the basics so consumers understand the difference between these two light-bulb technologies. Between CFL and LED, it seems to me that CFLs were the first sort of reign of energy-efficient bulbs and now they’re being phased out in lieu of more affordable LEDs. Is that correct?

    JOHN: Well, that’s really correct, Tom. The CFLs came first and they’re very energy-efficient, as are the LEDs, which are kind of replacing the CFLs, believe it or not, even though they’re a new technology. Both of those types – the CFLs and the LEDs – replace the older incandescent bulbs that we’ve all been familiar with, which have been around for well over 100 years.

    TOM: Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, John. Because while these bulbs are new, most of us are still using older light fixtures. And the warnings – and correct me if I’m wrong; I’m not sure if these are UL warnings. But generally, there’s a warning that says there’s a maximum wattage of, say, 100-watt bulb for a fixture.

    Now, if we were to put the equivalent of a 100-watt LED in, we’d really only burn about a quarter of that in wattage, correct?

    JOHN: And that’s true. And that is very confusing. And part of the problem, Tom, is because the manufacturers market their packaging for both LEDs and CFLs in watts for both the light and for the electricity that it consumes. And that’s very, very difficult for everyone to understand. And I’m an electrical engineer and it confuses me sometimes.

    So I can tell you that the fact is that those markings in the light fixtures and the lamps are mandated by UL so that the bulbs don’t heat the wires and the sockets above the temperature limit that we have in our standards. And we test that every time we test a fixture or a lamp or whatever it might be. But the real fact is that manufacturers are telling you that this new CFL, which is the compact fluorescent light, or this new LED – light-emitting diode light – has the equivalent light output of a 100-watt lamp or a 60-watt lamp or a 40-watt lamp. But that doesn’t mean that the electricity that it draws is the same as the older incandescents. It’s really about one-quarter of what the incandescents draw.

    So, for example, if it says “maximum 40 watts” in your desk lamp, you can put in an LED or a CFL that gives 40-watt light output or even more than 40 watts, simply because it doesn’t draw that much power.

    TOM: OK, yeah, and that was my key question. So if it says 40 watts as the maximum lamp wattage, I could put, conceptually, an LED that’s delivering 100 watts worth of light into that same fixture because I know it’s only burning about 25 watts of electricity.

    Does the heat correlate, John? Because of the technology, is a 25-watt LED developed – delivering, say, 100 watts of equivalent light – is that going to generate the exact same amount of heat as a 25-watt incandescent bulb?

    JOHN: No, it won’t generate the exact same amount of heat but certainly a lot less heat than the incandescent bulbs did. You know, the incandescent bulbs were inefficient simply because so much of the energy consumed turned into heat. If you’ve ever touched a hot light bulb and wanted to unscrew it, you know that you burned your fingers and you jumped back rather quickly. And that’s because so much of that energy went into heat and not into light.

    But with the CFLs and the LEDs, much of that, if not most of that energy, goes into the light output and not as much into heat. But yes, there is heat generated by those bulbs, also, and you do have to be a little bit careful.

    But look at the electrical rating. The electrical rating that is marked on the fixture of the lamp is something that you should not exceed with the electrical rating of the CFL or LED.

    LESLIE: So, John, I think a lot of the confusion was how do you get rid of, properly, a CFL. And has that changed at all with the LED? How do you get rid of them correctly?

    JOHN: Well, both the LED and the CFL have a lot of electronics in the base that the old incandescents did not have. So when you dispose of these light bulbs, you want to make sure that you recycle them just as you would any electronic equipment. Because there are electronics in the bulbs, in each and every bulb.

    TOM: John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    And if you’d like more information, you can visit the Underwriters Laboratories website at UL.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, John. Maybe you’ve finally convinced me to stop using incandescent bulbs. I mean at some point I’m going to run out, right?

    TOM: You’ve been stocking them.

    LESLIE: Seriously. I’m getting low but I have been stocking them.

    Alright, guys. Coming up, is your dog’s favorite pastime digging holes in your yard? And maybe your favorite pastime does not include filling them? Well, stick around because we’re going to have some advice on getting your pet to dig holes properly, where you want them. No, we’re going to share some advice on getting your pet to behave, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the smart solution for all your electrical needs. Learn how to help improve your home’s electrical safety at GetSafeToday.com. And be sure to enter their June Safety Products Giveaway. That’s GetSafeToday.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, pick up the phone and give us a call, because we are here to help you with your home improvement project. If you’re working on your house or working on your apartment, we’d love to give you a hand. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a cool prize. It’s the Stanley Laser Distance Measurer with Bluetooth connectivity.

    If you’ve not used one of these LDMs, they’re really neat. You basically hold it against the wall and it tells you the distance between the spot you have it and the spot on the other side of the room. It’s got a laser beam so you know exactly what you’re measuring.

    And the TLM99s makes the job really quick and easy and it instantly will calculate the square-footage, the volume, the distance, whatever you need to figure out in terms of the sizing, perhaps before heading out to the home center to pick up paint, carpet, whatever you need for your project.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Part of the coolness of it is that the multifunctional TLM99s Laser Distance Measurer is small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s a great tool for builders, for remodelers, real-estate agents, do-it-yourselfers, painters, contractors, designers like me. Pretty much if you need to measure anything, this is going to help make your life a lot easier.

    TOM: The TLM99s can also be used alone or with the new Stanley Floor Plan app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. You can map out your whole house, complete with accurate measurements.

    For more information, visit StanleyTools.com.

    LESLIE: Well, most dog owners are going to tell you that they love their pets, even when they’re not behaving so nicely. But you don’t have to put up with their antics. And all dogs have antics.

    For example, are you finding holes in your lawn, maybe along your fence lately? Well, the warmer weather means that more idle time for your dog spent outside can actually bring on your dog’s digging instinct.

    TOM: Yep. Dogs dig for a lot of reasons. The thing is, they don’t know digging is wrong unless you teach them.

    So, if your dog is burying things, like food or bones, you might dig up those items when he’s not looking so that they won’t be there the next time he digs. And after a while, he might realize that his digging is giving him no reward and actually think about stopping.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another technique that dog professionals use is to actually spray the dog – I’m talking about lightly; don’t be aggressive here. You can spray the dog very lightly with a hose each time you notice the dog is digging. And then you offer praise when he manages to roam around the lawn without digging. And the dog will come to associate digging with being sprayed and positive attention when they’re not digging.

    And some experts even say that many dogs will simply stop digging if they’re given proper exercise. So taking the time to play with your dog might be the easiest solution.

    TOM: And remember that a dog’s behavior is best changed when the owner is consistent with training and when other members of the household are encouraged to train the dog, as well. And I’ve found this with my dog, Spot: positive reinforcement, like a treat, always works.

    LESLIE: Yeah, treats always work. Come on, I’ve always said to you, Tom – I’m like, “Give me a cookie. I’ll be really happy.” That’s all I want. Just say, “You’re doing a good job,” and give me a cookie.

    TOM: Good girl, Leslie, good girl.

    LESLIE: Yay!

    Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. And I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.

    And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.

    So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again and I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that you can fill in with (inaudible at 0:29:50).

    LESLIE: Like a Bondo.

    BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.

    And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.

    BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?

    BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.

    LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.

    Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper-helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.

    So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.

    Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.

    Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?

    BETH: Yes, ma’am.

    LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.

    And then there is an actual decorative wrap that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.

    So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.

    BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips.

    LESLIE: Coming up, are you ready to bring that springtime breezy feeling right into your house? Well, we’re going to help you give a fresh, new look to your tired, old décor by swapping out a few key things. I’ll tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    TOM: Time to get back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So, question: have you had your A/C serviced yet?

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: Oh, come on. You know better.

    LESLIE: I know. Every time we talk about it, I write a little note like: “Call, then schedule the service.” And then I forget. So thank you for the reminder, yet again.

    TOM: It’s going to happen. The first warm, hot day when maybe all of Henry and Charlie’s friends are over enjoying themselves in the backyard …

    LESLIE: Henry’s birthday party.

    TOM: Yeah, the house is filled with parents, the A/C is going to go out.

    LESLIE: Ugh. Alright. I’m calling.

    TOM: So, that’s exactly what happens. You’ll pay through the nose, so get it done now. If you haven’t had your system serviced yet, get on it. Because just because it worked last year doesn’t mean it’ll work this year. And even if it does, you want to make sure it’s working efficiently, alright? There you go. There’s my lecture for today. I see – I feel like the show dad scolding you to get it done.

    LESLIE: That’s OK.

    TOM: And by the way, clean your room, too, will you?

    LESLIE: I’ll get on it.

    Alright, guys. If you want to be berated by Tom – like I am on a daily basis, about things I forget – call us, e-mail us, send in your questions. And I’ve got one here, a post from Nick in New Jersey who writes: “I finished my wood kitchen table years ago and had no problems with it. Then I scratched it, so I sanded it and put on four coats of an oil-based polyurethane, allowing a day of drying in between each coat. Now, it sticks if anything warm sits on it: coffee cups, plates, everything. How can I fix this?”

    TOM: Oh, man. Well, I give you an A for effort here, Nick.

    LESLIE: Four coats. Geez.

    TOM: Well, that was good. He figured if one is good, four is better. And he’s not incorrect.

    But I think where you went wrong here is this. First of all, when you’re dealing with the difference between a factory-based finish and a polyurethane, sort of do-it-yourself-based finish, you’ve got to get all of the old finish off. You can’t just sort of lightly scratch it up; you’ve got to get it all off. And then when you put the polyurethane on, you need to wait a long time for it to really dry.

    I think it didn’t fully dry. Even though it was maybe dust-free, I think these coats didn’t dry. And of course, every coat you put on top of that just made it worse. So you’ve got to strip it all down to the raw wood and start again, Nick. Sorry but this time, give it plenty of time to dry. I’m talking like I would do a week, really. It really takes that long for the stuff to get super-hard.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s got to cure properly. Alright, Nick. Sorry that we’ve just given you a super-long project. Good luck.

    TOM: Well, now that the weather has warmed up and the days are longer, it’s time to let your home’s interior reflect what’s happening outside. Leslie has got some tips to bring the spring in, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can bring the outdoors in with a fresh, light and airy look. I mean that’s what we’re feeling outside, so why not have the interior of your home reflect that season, as well? And you can start with the items that you’re using on a daily basis.

    Now, you can change out any heavy or dark-toned winter linens or bedding and towels for ones that are lighter in weight, softer in color. Sort of evoke that feeling of spring and summer.

    And your draperies. You know, a lot of people don’t keep more than one set of drapes on hand but it’s not a bad idea to have one set for the fall/winter and one set for the spring/summer. And you can do so very affordably. You don’t have to spend a ton. And you want to choose ones that are more seasonally appropriate. You can choose drapes that have more of a gauzy feeling and that’ll sort of help them blow in the breeze and make you think of springtime. Or you can swap a fabric shade for one that’s in bamboo or reed, like a woven shade. And that brings that feeling of nature in, as well.

    Even your throw pillows and your area rugs. If you can, swap them out for more summery colors and textures. And that’s going to inspire that beachy frame of mind that we’re all looking for this time of year. Everybody had a very cold and snowy winter, so let’s bring in those lighter colors and really start to feel happy that the weather is lovely.

    Changing your décor on a seasonal basis, it really keeps the look of your home fresh. And if you are a struggling designer, like myself – I find I walk into a house, I want to change everything. It’s like it’s constantly the battle of the designer brain. And this kind of eases that. I don’t feel the need to change every piece of furniture in my home. By just changing a couple of things, you’re going to satisfy that. So think about it and bring in the fresh, beautiful, seasonal colors and feel and you’ll be so much happier.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about outdoor kitchens. They’re really hot this time of year and they’re not as expensive as you might think. We’re going to give you some tips on how to turn your patio or porch into a sizzling kitchen space, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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