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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help with your summer home improvement projects. What are you working on? Perhaps working on an outdoor room or maybe it’s just too darn hot and you’re back in the air conditioning, fixing up the inside of your house. Inside or out, we’re here to help you with those projects. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, coming up this hour, one of the most popular projects for this time of year is your deck. If it’s looking a little dull and a little worn, a new finish can really perk it up. So we’re going to have some tips on how you can get a nice, neat staining project done simply, affordably and even this weekend.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, now that we’re almost a month into hurricane season, it might be a good idea to check up on those outdoor spaces to make sure your home is ready to stand up to those summer storms. We’re going to have tips on how to do a wet-weather checkup, in just a little bit.

    TOM: And Independence Day is almost here. We’re going to have some fireworks safety tips so you can enjoy the Fourth safely.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Bissell vacuum to one lucky winner. The Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop eliminates the need to sweep before you mop.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $219. Going out to one lucky caller. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Judy in Florida is on the line with a countertop situation. What happened? You scraped it? You cut it? What’d you do?

    JUDY: The previous owners had painted it and I took a razor blade and went up under it and I was able to get all of that paint off. But evidently, they sanded the tops and I would like to bring some life back into the top.

    LESLIE: So, wait, is it wood? Is it butcher block? Is it laminate?

    JUDY: It’s laminate, yes. And it’s in good shape. It’s just that it’s dull. It’s got the marble look.

    LESLIE: You’ve got a couple of options. You could paint it again. There are several different companies that make a laminate painting kit. Rust-Oleum has a couple of different products: Modern Masters and – oh, Tom, there was that one we saw in Vegas. It’s named after the guy’s daughter; it’s got two marbling kits in it.

    JUDY: Yeah, I have seen that and I prefer not to do that. I read an article somewhere – and I cannot find the article – that said that you could use car wax, paste wax and buff it?

    LESLIE: Sure.

    JUDY: Would that look – the countertop looks fine; it just needs a gloss. I don’t want a real high gloss; I just want it to look better.

    TOM: Well, there’s no reason you couldn’t use the car wax. It’s not all – except that I wouldn’t want my food to be in contact with it. But other than that, I think it – probably OK.

    JUDY: That’s a good idea, surely. Well, I thank you for your time, your suggestions.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    JUDY: I appreciate it.

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

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

    SEAN: I was noticing – last fall, I was up cleaning my gutters out. And I’m getting mold or a mildew type of growth on my asphalt shingles. And I’m wondering if that’s a problem I need to deal with or just let it go and deal with it, I guess.

    TOM: Well, it’s mostly a cosmetic issue. So, it’s not going to affect the longevity of the roof. If it got really thick – sometimes we see moss that gets up there and can actually lift and crack shingles.

    Now, if you want to try to get rid of it because it doesn’t look that nice, there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, the green solution is to get more sunlight on it because the more sunlight, the less chance that you’re going to have any type of algae growth on that roof surface.

    The second thing is that you could use a product called Wet & Forget. If you go to WetAndForget.com, it’s a product that you mix up. It’s in a concentrated form that you mix it up, you apply it with a garden-type sprayer, let it sit there for a bit of time. And then, eventually, the Wet & Forget product will completely destroy the mold, the mildew, the algae, the moss and clean that roof right up.

    And then thirdly, a little trick of the trade is you could put a copper strip across the top of that roof, from end to end. And with a metal strip made out of copper, you can slip it under one row of shingles, as well. Every time it rains, it will release a little bit of that copper and that is also a mildicide and will keep the roof clean.

    SEAN: Wow. OK. Alright. I think we’ll try the spray on it first, then maybe get a piece of copper and run it across the roof.

    TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Sean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Todd in Illinois is on the line and dealing with a lot of basement condensation. Tell us what’s going on.

    TODD: I’ve got a two-story brick house with a basement about 200 square feet, mud floor. Got the, oh, block walls kind of in concrete. And I have got a lot of condensation on my rafters. It got so bad that I had to replace the main circuit breaker because it was corroded and getting condensation.

    And I was wondering, what should I do about that? Should I just put a dehumidifier in or should I put a dehumidifier in and put plastic over the floor? Or should I install a GFCI when I hook that dehumidifier up in that (inaudible at 0:05:51)?

    TOM: OK. So, Todd, you have a lot of condensation in this small basement on a dirt floor, correct?

    TODD: Right.

    TOM: Alright. So, a couple of things. First of all, we want to reduce the amount of moisture that’s getting into that space. And that means looking at your drainage conditions outside that space. We need clean gutters, we need downspouts extended away from the wall, we need soil that slopes away from the wall. We want to reduce the amount of water that’s hugging that area and then wicking through the walls and raising the humidity.

    Secondly, since it’s a dirt basement, you could pour what we call a dust-cover slab, which is not like a 6-inch slab but usually a couple of inches just for kind of storage. And you could put plastic underneath that. So it’s a little less expensive, a little less concrete. Not designed to stand up and it will crack, by the way, but it will seal in the floor and stop the moisture from coming up through that floor.

    And then thirdly, you should install a dehumidifier and then make sure you hook that up to a condensate pump so it runs on a humidistat, collects the moisture and then pumps it outside. This way, you don’t have the aggravation of having to empty it every day or two.

    TODD: Alright. OK. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Alright, Todd. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is there a deck-staining project in your future? We’ve got tips to help you achieve a nice, even finish, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    One caller who comes on the air with us today and asks their question could win a Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell. And what’s so cool about this product is it’s actually two products in one.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The Symphony vacuums and steams at the same time, so it gets rid of the old process of broom, dustpan, mop, bucket. Meanwhile, I don’t do any of those; I just vacuum and hope for the best.

    So, this really is an amazing product. It’s got powerful, cyclonic action. It cleans away dry debris. And then the steam sanitizes the flooring surfaces, eliminating up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. And with two small boys – I don’t know why this happens but they lick the floor. I don’t know. I feed them, I swear.

    TOM: Well, it’s worth $219. It’s going to go out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those with the courage and the fortitude to admit they don’t have all the answers and calls us for a bit of help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jane in D.C. on the line who needs some help with an eco-friendly rug. Tell us what you’re looking for.

    JANE: I am in search of a type of rug or rugs that one can safely have installed in their home and it’s not toxic or as toxic as the present ones we have.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, it used to be that we look forward to that new-carpet smell, because it …

    JANE: Right, exactly. Exactly.

    TOM: Now we know that it’s bad for you. So, yeah, there are lines with all major manufacturers that are low-VOC products that have reduced those odors and made them safer for us to take inside our homes.

    The organization that creates standards for the carpet industry is called the Carpet and Rug Institute. And the Carpet and Rug Institute has an indoor air-quality testing program that is kind of like an ENERGY STAR sort of thing where you have a seal. It’s an icon that has a CRI inside a small, green house. And if you see that icon on the carpets, you know that it meets their standards for low emissions. And that’s something you can learn more about at the Carpet and Rug Institute website.

    But besides that, the other thing that you want to do is try to have the carpet delivered a day or two before it’s installed so that it can be unrolled outside and aired for a bit or perhaps in the garage or a place like that. That’s important. If there’s any gluing that has to be put down, you want to make sure that you use, also, low-VOC adhesives so you don’t have any adhesives that are contributing to the VOC problem in your house.

    And I think manufacturers like, I think, Shaw has made a name for themselves with environmentally friendly carpets. Mohawk is another brand that I know has those types of carpets.

    LESLIE: And when it comes to padding, you might want to use the felt padding instead of any of the rubber padding that they might have.

    JANE: OK. What do you call that padding?

    LESLIE: Felt padding. It’s just a standard carpet padding. That, of course, cannot be used below-grade.

    But airing it out is very important. I remember when we were putting wall-to-wall carpeting in my son’s room when I was pregnant, we had the installer roll out the piece and keep it in his shop for days and days and days and days.

    JANE: I remember my mother used to air certain things out when they came back from the cleaners.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Mm-hmm. That’s right. So you took the bags off and let them air out a bit.

    JANE: Exactly.

    TOM: Essentially, you’re going to do the same thing with the carpet. And I think that will make it …

    JANE: Yeah, that’s what I’m picking up from you. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah, it’ll be much more comfortable. That plus the fact that carpet today – if you search for the right time, the right kind with the CRI seal on it – is going to have less VOCs to begin with. OK, Jane?

    JANE: Oh, OK. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate this. I’ve been waiting and waiting to get this information.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been thinking that your deck could really use a facelift, you might consider refinishing it. Now, this really is a great project to do but there are some steps that you have to take to make sure that your project will turn out well. So, here are a few, simple tips, presented by Flood Wood Care.

    TOM: First, before you stain, it’s important to clean your deck. Now, a lot of times, that means using a product like Flood Wood Cleaner, before applying the wood stain, and letting the wood dry completely.

    Next, if you’re going to need more than one can of stain, one way to avoid inconsistent stain colors is to mix all that stain together in a large bucket first. This’ll give you color uniformity and then you can apply the stain evenly.

    Now, always work the complete length of the board at the same time to avoid lap marks.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s another tip: you want to back-brush the stain as you go. So this is what this means. After you roll or brush on your stain, you want to go back over it with the brush, because that’s going to help even out the coverage and then work the stain into the surface. It also gets rid of roller marks.

    So, it depends on the type of surface. Like I’ll usually do this on an interior wall if I’m painting paneling. But it’s a great trick for decking, as well.

    And on your vertical surfaces, remember gravity counts. So always apply the stain from the top to the bottom so that you can catch and fix any drip marks.

    TOM: Good point. For more step-by-step tips, check out the really helpful videos at Flood.com.

    LESLIE: Alan in Tennessee has got a driveway that’s cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.

    ALAN: Well, I’ve got a house; it’s about five years old. And the driveway has started getting some cracks in it. And I just was looking for the best way to patch them and keep it from spreading. For the past, probably, three years, every spring I put – pressure-wash the driveway and put sealer on it. But other than that, that’s about all I’ve ever done to the drive.

    TOM: OK. And what’s it look like now in terms of the condition? Does it have a lot of cracks in it?

    ALAN: It’s not a lot but it’s got a few that run. And some of them have started spider-webbing out.

    TOM: OK. So, here’s the thing. You want to try to maintain these so they don’t get a lot worse. QUIKRETE has a caulk-like product that’s designed to fill cracks in concrete driveways.

    ALAN: Right.

    TOM: And it’s a good idea to use a product like that, because you know it’s going to adhere and expand and contract with the driveway. The goal here is to try to keep a lot of water from getting in there. Because as the water gets in, it will expand and then it will crack. As it freezes, it’ll expand and crack. And then, of course, it’s a little bigger, a little bigger and a little bigger and that’s how it really starts to break down and break apart the driveway.

    So, as those cracks start to show themselves and open up, it’s not unusual, so don’t panic; it’s pretty much normal wear and tear with concrete. But it’s also a good idea to seal them using the products that are designed just for that.

    ALAN: OK. So the QUIKRETE is probably the best way to go?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s called the QUIKRETE Concrete Repair. It’s a sanded, acrylic latex caulk and it’s designed specifically for crack repair. Comes in two different tube sizes: either a 10-ounce tube or a 5½-ounce tube. Not expensive, easy to apply. Gives you a really good adhesion and it’s going to stand up to the weather and most importantly, keep the water from getting into those cracks.

    ALAN: Excellent. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.

    LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?

    TRACY: Probably a shower.

    LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.

    But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.

    I would not – would not – call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.

    In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?

    LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.

    And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.

    TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.

    They also have a section on livable communities. Because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. You know, there’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.

    But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?

    TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, is your house ready for the wet summer weather? We’re going to tell you how to give your house a wet-weather checkup, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, spring and early-summer weather tends to be wet and stormy. So now is the perfect time to give your home a wet-weather checkup to make sure it’s ready to weather any storm.

    TOM: Here to walk us through the steps is Ed Del Grande from KOHLER Power Generators.

    Ed, welcome to the program.

    ED: Oh, it’s always a pleasure to be back.

    TOM: And it has been a very, very wet winter and of course, a very wet spring. And that has led to lots and lots of opportunities for leaks: leaks from your roof, leaks from your downspouts, leaks from your gutters. What’s a good way to do an assessment and make sure they’re not sneaking up on you?

    ED: Up here in New England, we’ve had a wet, cold winter and spring, so I’m doing the same things at my house. And you just mentioned gutters and downspouts and that’s an important system to check in your home. Because if they fail, that’s going to allow water to collect around your foundation and that could lead to a wet basement. And that leads to big trouble.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, that’s one of the easiest ways to stop a wet basement, isn’t it? I mean people miss that all the time. They want to spend a lot of money on sump pumps and dig up their foundations and put in drains and all kinds of crazy stuff. It almost always comes down to gutters and downspouts.

    ED: Yeah. And you know what? And it’s too easy and I think that’s why a lot of people overlook it. And the best thing that I found – and it just costs a few dollars – just put the 4-foot gutter extensions at the end of your downspouts and that will eliminate a lot of water from collecting on your foundation.

    TOM: Alright. Another area of leakage: your roof.

    ED: Oh, the roof. Make sure, especially with the long winter like we’ve had, get a professional. I never recommend going on roofs. I don’t go on my own roof. Get a professional. Go up there, check things out. And if there’s any loose shingles, broken shingles, leaks, have them fix it up and then get that roof nice and tight.

    LESLIE: What about your landscaping? I feel like this winter, everything got so beat up. I imagine that a lot of your trees and shrubs probably have some damage and maybe even some loose branches.

    ED: Leslie, that’s another issue people overlook. Trees look great, especially if they’re close to the house. They offer shade but remember, those limbs can come down in a storm. So in the spring, it’s a good time to also trim back those tree limbs.

    TOM: We’re talking to Ed Del Grande. He’s a home improvement expert and spokesperson for KOHLER Power Generators.

    So, Ed, speaking of generators, let’s try to explain the difference between what most people think of when they think of a generator – and that’s the portable generator: the generator that you’ve got to maybe pick up at the home center and fill up with gasoline and take out of your truck and run an extension cord out to – and the newer, more modern version, which is called the “standby generator.” Can we just cover that, briefly, for those that are unfamiliar?

    ED: Yeah. I’ll tell you, I go around the country, give a lot of information for the KOHLER generators. And the standby generator is the best system I’ve seen. Because unlike a portable one, it’s a fixed piece of equipment. Just like your central air-conditioner units will be mounted to the outside of the house on a cement pad, well, the standby generators are permanently put in place and it’s permanently connected to your home.

    And it’s totally automatic. So if the power goes out, you don’t have to lug out a portable generator and set that whole thing up. The standby generator has an automatic transfer switch. It’ll start up automatically and power your house. You don’t have to do a thing.

    TOM: And it doesn’t run on gasoline which, of course, is very hard to find after a storm. When power is out, they can’t pump gas at the gas station. It runs on propane or natural gas, which is far more available.

    ED: Absolutely. And it’s a lot safer to work with because you’re not pouring gasoline on a hot engine like you would a portable generator. With the generators running on natural gas or propane, that’s also a self-feeding fuel. So once it starts up automatically, it’s going to keep pushing the fuel through the engine automatically, as well. So it really is a hands-off operation.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you can power way more in your home than you would with a portable generator.

    ED: Yeah, Leslie, that’s a big point. Because what’ll happen with the portable ones, you have to run extension cords to each individual appliance. With a standby one, it’s just a different power source coming in from your home, so your circuits in the house really are going to run the same as if the power was coming in from the street. And the standby generators, they’re sized up correctly, so it will run your entire house, even your heating and air-conditioning system.

    TOM: The website is KOHLERGenerators.com. Head on over to KOHLERGenerators.com, check out the standby generators. If you’ve not invested in a standby generator, you really should. Once you have one, you’ll wonder how you went all those years without it. It’s very reassuring. Trust me, I have one. And to know that my power – if my power goes out, my generator will kick in and keep my house going means a lot.

    Ed Del Grande from KOHLER Power, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ED: My pleasure, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, if you’re celebrating the Fourth in the traditional way – by, of course, setting off fireworks – we want to make sure that you know how to handle them safely to avoid a star-spangled trip to the ER.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. The number to call here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win a Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell. What’s so cool about this is that it’s two products in one.

    Now, Symphony vacuums and steams at the same time. It’s got powerful, cyclonic action, which is going to suck up dry debris. And the steam heat eliminates up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria.

    TOM: And it weighs only about 10½ pounds, so that makes it easy to move from room to room. It’s worth $219. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show. So pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT and let’s talk about your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eleanor in Virginia on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?

    ELEANOR: We have Trex Decking on our – for our deck, which is – and also the porch – screened-in porch. But on the deck – which is not covered by any roof or anything like that; it’s all open to the environment. We have spots on that, which are – it’s a gray-color decking. And we have these dark spots all over it. Almost kind of look like a mold. And we do not know what it’s caused by.

    My husband has tried to use a power washer with the soap that is recommended for that power washer. Also bleach with a scrub brush. He has – he can get it lightened but not totally gone. And we’re wondering if there’s – if you’ve ever heard of that with Trex Decking and have any suggestions.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean some of the composite materials out there do have some wood-fiber component and they will grow algae, which is most likely what you’re seeing.

    Now, one of the treatments that we would recommend is a product called JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. And JOMAX actually has a deck wash. And JOMAX is a detergent that also gets mixed with bleach, gets applied to the deck. You let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then you scrub it off.

    I would be very careful with the power washer except for just rinsing purposes. Because too much pressure can actually ruin that deck.

    Now, another possibility is that those black spots are what’s called “artillery fungus.” They kind of look like a shotgun kind of a pellet size. Artillery fungus is particularly difficult to get off. And one of the sources of it is mulch. Do you have mulch around your house or around your yard?

    ELEANOR: Yes.

    TOM: Well, sometimes the mulch that’s sort of the ground much – the shredded bark mulch – will contain artillery fungus. And once that gets out and attaches to surfaces like decks or sometimes even cars, it’s really, really difficult to get rid of it. So, if that is what’s going on, we would recommend that you don’t do that again. Don’t put the shredded mulch back on. Only use the bark mulch that’s in pieces. That seems to not have the issue. It’s the shredded mulch that attracts and contains artillery fungus.

    I would try the JOMAX Deck Wash and Cleaner. I think you’ll have better success with that than you did with straight bleach, OK?

    ELEANOR: Yes.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s almost time to celebrate a big birthday. This July 4th, America is turning 238. And as usual, Americans will be celebrating from sea to shining sea with food, flags and fireworks. To make sure you do that safely, here are a few simple firework safety tips to make sure that you don’t add a call to 911 onto your activity list.

    TOM: Well, first, you want to know the laws where you live because fireworks are illegal in some places. Now, if they are legal, make sure you only use them outside and with a garden hose and a bucket of water nearby.

    And before you toss used fireworks in the trash, soak them in that water.

    LESLIE: Now, only use fireworks safely as they’re intended. Don’t try to change or combine them or become some sort of groochy (ph) amateur person. Don’t do it. Leave it to the pros.

    You want to light only one firework at a time. Don’t relight a dud. If it doesn’t work, you know, just forget about it. You want to wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in water. And never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers. Bad idea.

    TOM: And keep those spectators at a safe distance. It’s a good idea to have only one designated shooter: the kind that avoids drinking alcohol and wears safety glasses, of course. And if you’ve got younger kids, sparklers are an option but only if the kids are over 12. For the rest, let them enjoy the sparkles from a safe distance.

    For more thorough guidelines, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “fireworks safety.”

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    TOM IN ALASKA: I have a rafter or a trussed – in this case, they’re 9×3½ inches – 9 inches by 3½ inches, 32 inches on center.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM IN ALASKA: Now, on top of that, I have 2×6 tongue-and-groove wood. Now, on top of that is where the insulation goes and the insulation currently is some kind of – it’s all one piece. It’s 2 inches or 2¼ of a yellow foam with about 3/8-inch or ½-inch of some kind of – I don’t know. It crinkles; it can be broken off with your fingers. And then on top of that, connected to it is what looks like roofing paper?

    TOM: Right. Probably tar paper.

    TOM IN ALASKA: Right.

    TOM: OK. So, what you’re describing is a cathedral ceiling with a sandwich-type roof structure above it. So, in other words, typically in a ceiling you would have the insulation in between the rafters. Because your rafters are part of the architectural beauty of the home, the insulation is actually stacked on top of the rafters, kind of on the roof-shingle side almost.

    TOM IN ALASKA: Right.

    TOM: And that’s not unusual in that type of home. It ends up creating a bit of a deeper fascia at the front edge because of the amount of material you have there but it’s a good, sensible way to insulate that style of home. So what’s your question about this? Are you having problems with it?

    TOM IN ALASKA: I would assume that that’s only about R-19, if that.

    TOM: It can depend on what exact materials are being used. And you’re right: it’s probably not enough. And so your question might be: “How do I make that better?”

    TOM IN ALASKA: Right. And I was thinking of putting something on the inside, which I will lose the visual effect, but I thought if I put maybe a little furring strip or something on the inside, put in a blown-in, rigid foam …

    TOM: Well, if you put in blown-in, that’s going to totally mess up the appearance of those rafters. It’s hard to do that neatly. So what you might want to think about doing is adding some rigid foam insulation inside the ceiling, in between the ceiling rafters and then some other type of wood paneling over that so that when you look up, it appears that you’re looking at the underside of the roof still. You understand what I mean?

    TOM IN ALASKA: Right.

    TOM: So you can even use a tongue-and-groove thin, pine paneling that’s like 3/8- or ¼-inch thick but have that cover the insulation. And that would still give you the appearance – even if you’re losing a little bit of depth, you might be able to pick up a fair amount of additional insulation.

    Tom, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s a question for you: which home improvement will bring you the least return on your investment? Well, it turns out it’s a home office. We’ll tell you why, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we make good homes better.

    Hey, you can join the Money Pit conversation by joining the community on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got great project ideas, info and advice from your fellow do-it-yourselfers, as well as ourselves. And you can ask questions, share projects and even post pictures. It’s online, in the Community section at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. First up, we’ve got a post from Jim in Oklahoma who writes: “Is there anything that I can do to my hardwood floors to make them less noisy? They constantly squeak and creak.”

    TOM: That’s called “charm,” Jim. And so, it’s not necessary that – necessarily that there’s anything wrong with your hardwood floors. Hardwood floors do expand and contract and the nails will loosen and pull out of the floor – the support boards that they’re tied into. If you want to tighten things up, you can. I’ll give you a couple of tricks.

    First of all, if you’ve got a squeak, what you want to do is use a stud finder and locate where the floor joist is underneath the hardwood floor. Then what you can do is pilot out first – pilot-hole first for a 10- or 12-penny galvanized finish nail. And you want to put that pilot hole on a slight angle, then step on the board, drive the nail down through at an angle and sink it below the surface. And then fill it.

    Now, if it’s a really loose board and you have to not just nail it but screw it, what you want to do is look for something called a “trim screw.” It has a very small head. Just a little bit bigger than a finish-nail head. You could also set that right below the surface, add some wood filler or some putty and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Mickey who writes: “I’m redoing parts of my kitchen. I want to add a glass-tile backsplash. Do I need to put anything on the wall under the tile or can I just put an adhesive straight on the wall?”

    TOM: Well, the answer to that question is yes and yes, right, Leslie? I mean he can glue it right to the wall or he could use one of the self-stick tile adhesives. What’s your experience been with those?

    LESLIE: It really depends.

    Now, he mentioned that there’s glass mosaic tiles. So, in my opinion there, the question is: what color are those tiles? Are they totally see-through? Are they glass but have a painted finish on the back so that the color is what you see through the glass? You’ve got to consider that because those self-adhesive sticky things, like the Bondera Tile MatSet, that’s dark gray. So if you’ve got lighter colors, it might not work as well. So that would be my first concern.

    But if they’re backed, you can go ahead and use the Tile MatSet. It’s a huge timesaver.

    TOM: Yeah. And you can grout right away, so there’s really no delay. You pretty much put the Tile MatSet on the wall, grout it and you’re good to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really does make the project a whole lot easier. But if they’re totally see-through, you want to go the traditional way because then it gives you a white background.

    TOM: Well, getting the best value out of every home improvement dollar you spend is important. But there are some improvements that deliver a lower return on investment than others. One of which is a home office. Leslie has details, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Each year, more and more people are working away from the office. But apparently, one place they aren’t working from is a home office.

    Now, with all of the mobile technology we’ve got these days, working from home can actually mean working on a park bench or a lounge chair or a deck or a beach or wherever you like.

    Now, the average home office remodel can actually cost you $30,000, which is money you’re not going to recoup most likely. So go ahead and have a dedicated workspace, if you do need one, but make sure that room you’re using can easily be repurposed as an additional bedroom or a multipurpose space if you go and put your house on the market.

    Now, we’re definitely a society on the go. But it’s always important to make sure that your remodeling money doesn’t go out the window.

    TOM: Good advice. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, if you love fresh veggies, herbs and fruits but maybe lack the space for a garden, why not consider a container garden? Less space but big harvest. That’s coming up next, on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    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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