How to Reduce the Risk of Electrical Fire, How to Use a Rainwater Collection System, Discover a Faux Cedar Siding That Won’t Rot, Warp or Crack, How to Plant a Tree for Arbor Day and more
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Big or small, we can handle it all, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, I’ve got a big project going on at my house this week.
LESLIE: Yeah? What’s going on?
TOM: There’s a SWAT team of contractors coming to replace my roof and it’s no easy job because we have to tear off two layers of asphalt shingles, one layer of cedar shingles, resheathe the entire 1886 house and insulate it at the same time using Icynene insulation, which is fantastic. It’s going to be a very cozy winter and a very cool and comfortable summer when we’re done.
But this is an example of a project that I could do myself but I’m just not that stupid. I don’t want to do it myself, because I can’t get the roof opened and closed in a single day. But if I have a well-organized SWAT team of contractors that know exactly what they’re doing, those guys are going to get done with one day. And me, I’m going to take pictures and I’ll share it with you on Facebook.
But you know what? Whether you have a big project like that that you’re going to hire out, you want to make sure that you know how to spec out that job, how to contract for it so that it comes out just the way you expect it. Or whether you have a small project or a remodeling project, a decorating project that you want to do, we want to help you with those jobs. So pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Also ahead this hour, one of the scariest thoughts for a homeowner is fire. Now, you might not realize how common electrical fires actually are but there is a new, simple and very cost-effective way to decrease the risk of an electrical fire. And it’s something a do-it-yourselfer can do right now. We’ll tell you what that is, in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: And also ahead, do you want to bring some pizzazz and curb appeal to your home? Well, you may have considered new siding, so we have info about a type of siding that looks like cedar shingles but won’t warp or rot and is resistant to fire.
TOM: Plus, do you wish you had all that rain during a dry spell? Well, you can store rainwater to use later. We’ll tell you how.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Bissell vacuum to one lucky winner this hour. We’ve got the Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop, which eliminates the need to sweep before you mop.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $219. Give us a call right now. Let’s get to it, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Patrick in Tennessee is on the line and needs some help with a water feature. What can we do for you?
PATRICK: I have an aquaponic garden that was in the yard at our old house. When we moved, this new house is pretty much all pool and concrete in the back. And this aquaponic garden, it’s basically about 150 gallons of water and 150 pounds of lumber that occupies about a 5×2½-square-foot area. And I’m just concerned if I put it on the concrete, if it’ll crack.
TOM: So you’re worried about the concrete cracking underneath it?
TOM: And what are you talking about? Like a concrete driveway? A concrete sidewalk? What are we talking about?
PATRICK: It’s like a slab that goes around the pool.
TOM: What’s the tank size? It’s 200 gallons, did you say?
PATRICK: There’s two tanks, one mounted above the other. So one’s 100 gallons and one’s 50 gallons.
TOM: So 150 gallons times 8 pounds per gallon, so you have over 1,000 pounds of water there, plus the lumber. That’s not terrible. I mean think of it: that’s like four or five people standing on the concrete together.
TOM: So I think it’d probably be OK. You know, it really depends on how thick the concrete is and that sort of thing. But generally speaking, concrete should be able to take folks standing shoulder to shoulder all around it without a problem.
PATRICK: Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Patrick, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sandy in Indiana is taking on a kitchen project. How can we help you?
SANDY: Hold on just a second. I’m all out of breath. I’ve been dancing to the on-hold music. Anyway, OK.
TOM: Well, alright.
SANDY: Whew. I’m out of breath. Anyway, OK, I need both of your perspectives: Tom, you because I’ve got a husband and Leslie, you because I am the female in the house here.
I want to redo the kitchen. I want to know, should I just have all the cupboards removed? Bring new ones in, put them up there? Or is it better to kind of make – take the doors off and try to refinish them and so on and so forth. Which is – which would you prefer to do if you were doing it?
TOM: What’s your budget?
LESLIE: What’s your budget?
SANDY: What’s my budget?
TOM: We both agree on that.
SANDY: Oh, let’s see, $1.50? No. Probably around $4,000 or $5,000.
TOM: OK. So, that’s a good budget. If you want to do a complete kitchen makeover, you could probably do something close to that. There’s a company – a new company – out now that’s started by the same guys that started Lumber Liquidators. It’s called CabinetsToGo.com. And these guys make really nice cabinets. Surprisingly nice, because they’re ready-to-assemble cabinets.
TOM: When you receive them at your home, they’re flat-packed and you have to put them together, which is not that big of a deal because they are rock-solid, really well-built cabinets with good-quality hinges and good-quality drawer glides and that sort of thing. And for 4,000 or 5,000 bucks, you could definitely get enough cabinets to do your whole kitchen, along with the countertop and maybe a few extra light fixtures and that sort of thing.
SANDY: Oh, wow.
TOM: I think you could do it for that kind of money. We were very surprised. Had a chance to look at them – look at this company – when we were at a recent major trade show. And really good company with great product at a reasonable price.
So check out Cabinets To Go. That would probably be the only way you could do new cabinets and spend $4,000 or $5,000. If you went to any kitchen showroom, you would probably be talking $10,000 to $20,000, I would suspect.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean you’re really looking at, if you’re doing a full kitchen with a kitchen designer and new cabinets, a much heftier price tag.
The other place – I don’t know if you have an IKEA nearby. They have some really lovely, affordable cabinets. Again, you’re going to have to assemble them but it keeps them more in your price range. I also think that door fronts are a good way to change things if the boxes are of good construction and in good shape. You can go that route with a new countertop and kind of still come into your budget range.
As Tom mentioned, solid surfaces, whether it’s granite or a Corian-type product are pricey. You’re looking in the $30 to $45 per-linear-foot range. So, you’ve got to really consider all of these things and what you want from the end product and what’s most important in your kitchen design. Is it that you want a granite countertop? Is it that you want to add an island? And sort of look at what is the priority or what is the thing that you most want to see. And then you’ll be able to determine where the cabinets are going to fall.
SANDY: OK. Now, a curiosity question. These Cabinets To Go, would that be something that you could do, Leslie? Are you handy?
LESLIE: Am I handy? I’m very handy. I’m not your average gal.
SANDY: OK. Well, I am, also. That’s why I’m going like – it’s kind of like husband and wife, we can both work together on it as opposed to …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
TOM: There’ll be no arguments.
SANDY: OK. Not like hanging wallpaper, right?
LESLIE: No, no, no.
SANDY: OK. OK, well, definitely I will check out Cabinets To Go. Fantastic.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SANDY: Hey. And thanks for the dancing I did before.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome.
SANDY: Have a good one, guys. Bye-bye.
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. Pretty much whatever you are working on at your money pit, we would love to lend a hand. So give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still to come, do you want the look of cedar shingles without the rotting, the warping, the cracking or the buckling? We’re going to have the scoop on a type of siding that has outstanding curb appeal but requires very little maintenance, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. You could get the answer to that question and the very tool that you’ll need to clean up from the project. Because we’re giving away the Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell.
And what’s cool about this is that it’s actually two products in one.
LESLIE: Yeah. The Symphony vacuums and steams all at the same time, eliminating the old process of broom, dustpan, mop, bucket: a whole bunch of tools that, really, Bissell has made unnecessary for this project. And the powerful, cyclonic action will clean away dried debris and the steam-cleaning part will sanitize, actually eliminating up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria.
TOM: It’s worth $219. Going out to one lucky caller. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Charlie in Tennessee is on the line and looking to do some renovating at his money pit. How can we help you today?
CHARLIE: I have a small kitchen that – I’m trying to knock out the walls to increase space, to make my kitchen and my dining room one big room. My dilemma is the fact that I don’t know whether the wall that I’m knocking down is a load-bearing wall or not.
LESLIE: Well, step away from the project and don’t knock it down just yet.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, what kind of house do you have, Charlie? Is it a ranch? Is it a Colonial? Describe it to us.
CHARLIE: It’s a wood-frame home.
TOM: OK. One story or two?
CHARLIE: One story.
TOM: And the roof peaks in the middle? Goes up from the front, goes up from the back, peaks in the middle?
CHARLIE: Kind of. It’s L-shaped.
CHARLIE: And where the wall would be would be pretty much right where the two meet.
TOM: Yeah. So you’re in the middle there; you’re not quite sure. And the dining room and the kitchen are side by side? Is it aligned front to back on the house or is it aligned end to end, so to speak?
CHARLIE: It would be – that wall would be parallel for the front to back.
TOM: So, it’s aligned front to back. OK. I would say that in most cases, that is a bearing wall. That doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water; it just means it’s a little more complicated for you to open this up. Because if it’s a bearing wall, you have to support the structure while it’s disassembled and then you have to put a new beam in to carry that load in the new open-plan design.
It’s not something that you would do yourself. It’s not like – I don’t want to you like, “Hey, I’ve never done home improvement but today, I’m thinking about tearing down a bearing wall.” Bad idea, OK?
TOM: So you need to know what you’re doing or get some people to help you to know what you’re doing or hire a pro. And get a building permit.
And basically, the way it works is temporary walls are built on either side of the bearing wall and this holds up the structure that they’re supposed to be holding. Then the bearing wall is taken apart. The bearing wall is reconstructed but now you would use a girder. And it could be a wood girder, it could be a metal girder, it could be a combination wood/metal girder that goes the whole span. It could be a girder that sits below the ceiling or it could be a girder that’s actually flush with the ceiling so when it’s all done, it’s invisible.
But one way or the other, you’ll need this beam to carry the load above that. And then once it’s all put back together, you know, you’re really not going to know that it’s there. But you’ve got just to do it right so that you don’t damage your house in the process, OK?
CHARLIE: Yes, sir. Thank you. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlie. Good luck with that project. Now, put the saw down, OK?
CHARLIE: No problem. Thank you. I appreciate you.
TOM: Well, I’ve got a very old house that has always had cedar siding. In fact, it actually had many layers of cedar siding over the years because it was added to as time went on. When you get a house into – a house that’s over 100 years old, the cedar is going to wear out; it’s got to be replaced. And they always look great. I mean curb appeal-wise, you can’t beat it. But the problem is that real cedar shingles require a lot of upkeep to keep them looking good.
Now, you can have the look of cedar without all of that upkeep with Foundry Specialty Siding from The Tapco Group, one of our newest sponsors.
LESLIE: Yeah. Foundry offers eight different looks, including cedar styles in split shake and staggered shake. And you can also get the look of stone or brick. And each of the eight profiles comes in a variety of colors, so there is a combination for every style of home and homeowner preference.
TOM: The siding is crafted using molds made from genuine cedar. And the result? Virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. With eight different panel designs for each style, you’ll have very little pattern repetition, to really give you that natural look.
LESLIE: And with Foundry siding, you will never have to paint or stain. And it will protect against moisture, insects and pests. And it’s backed with a limited lifetime warranty for years of unsurpassed beauty and strength.
TOM: You can get Foundry siding from a local contractor or dealer. Check out FoundrySiding.com for more information.
LESLIE: Jennifer in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a flooring project. Tell us about it.
JENNIFER: We are planning on laying hardwood in our home. We have a two-story home and I’m wanting to know if it is better to lay each plank the same direction, upstairs and downstairs, or can we switch it up?
TOM: Generally speaking, you want to go in the long direction of the room. So in other words, you want the boards to be parallel to the longest wall. I don’t – I would not switch that up because it’s going to look odd, don’t you think?
LESLIE: Yeah. It makes the room seem bigger.
JENNIFER: Oh, OK.
TOM: Now, what kind of hardwood floors are you putting down, Jennifer? Are they prefinished hardwood floors?
JENNIFER: Yeah, it’s the snap-and-lock.
TOM: OK. So it’s an engineered floor. So, make sure they’re parallel to the longest wall. And remember, nothing is square about a house.
TOM: So, measure the center of the room as determined by the center point between the walls. And figure it out so you don’t end up with a sliver of hardwood floor on the end.
JENNIFER: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Daniel is dealing with carpenter bees and of course, those lovely, perfectly round, bored holes that they love to make all over your wood house. What’s going on?
DANIEL: Ah, well, I’ve got these carpenter bees that keep drilling holes into my fascia board right there underneath my roof. And I filled them in and I’ve repainted and they keep coming back. I don’t know if there’s maybe something I can do to prevent that or something I can use to paint it with.
TOM: Yeah, a couple of things you can do. First of all, in terms of stopping the bees from coming back, you would have to have the carpenter bees professionally treated with a proper insecticide that will basically exterminate what’s there. Now, even if you did do that, though, they may come back the next season.
A surefire way to make sure they don’t come back is to replace your wood trim with something that’s not wood. I had this exact problem on a garage on our property and I simply replaced the wood trim with AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And there are other brands, as well, but basically, it’s a cellular PVC material that looks like wood, cuts like wood but the carpenter bees can’t eat it. In fact, it was very humorous to me because after I replaced the fascia with AZEK, the bees kept circling it but they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste like wood.
LESLIE: It’s like, “This looks like wood. I don’t understand.”
DANIEL: That would actually be absolutely worth doing just to see them circle and …
TOM: In frustration, yeah. Alright? I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jackie in Illinois is looking for some small garden-décor tips. What’s going on? Tell us about your space.
JACKIE: I just purchased my home. It’ll be a year the second of next month. And my yard is big enough for me but yet small enough for anybody else. What I would like to do is put a garden area up along the west side of my fence without having to dig the yard up and make the yard look real tacky. Do you have any hints, suggestions, ideas?
LESLIE: So, you have a fence along this one wall. You want to put a garden or a flowerbed in front of that. What is the rest of the space?
JACKIE: Well, it’s – my backyard is fenced in.
JACKIE: And from my garage, which is on the east side of the property, clean clear to the west side, I get plenty of sunlight.
LESLIE: OK. But is it grass? Is it patio?
JACKIE: The biggest portion of the yard is grass. I’ve got a small patio area right next to the garage. And if I could just put a flowerbed or a place that I can put a small garden, it’s what I would like to do. I’d kind of like to use the landscape lumber but I don’t know how much to get or how to go about putting it up.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, my first thought, since you’ve got this patio area in front of the garage and the garage is probably just a blank wall of whatever the siding material is, my first thought is to do a great, little seating area in front of there.
And you need to think about, you know, are you looking to sit at a table or do you want to sit at a small settee, a little couch area with a chair? So think about how you would like to use that space. Are you looking for eating and entertaining or more like lounging and relaxing?
JACKIE: Mainly eating and entertaining.
LESLIE: Yeah. So definitely a table, umbrella, some chairs there. That’s great and does not have to cost a ton of money. I mean you can find some at home centers, department stores that specialize in home décor, for very affordable amounts.
Now, on that back wall with the garage that’s kind of lackluster, you can either do a trellis with some potted plants on either side, with a climber, like a clematis or an ivy or a night-blooming jasmine, something that will sort of grow up and out of the pots and onto the trellis.
I did this on the side of my garage with two potted clematis and I have this beautiful, wrought-iron trellis that I found that I’ve put twinkling white Christmas lights on and the clematis sort of takes over it in the summer months and blooms and smells fantastic. And it’s just lovely to sit in front of. You can do something like that very inexpensively and very easily, as well.
Now, as far as a flowerbed on the opposite side, you’re really not going to sacrifice that much yard space if you do dig up a portion of that lawn. And that really is the best way to do it to create a flowerbed.
And what you can do is you can use either that landscaping lumber or even stones – river rock or fieldstones – stacked up to create a little wall for a flowerbed. Just remove that layer of grass, fill it in with potting soil and plant away. And that really is a great way to create a flowerbed. And if you go sort of creatively with your shape and edge it a bit, you’re not giving up that much lawn space.
Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
And still ahead, a quick, easy and inexpensive way for you to reduce the risk of an electrical fire at your house. The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.
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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. We are here to help you take on your home improvement projects. Is it a structural project? Is it a mechanical project? Doing some wiring? Doing some plumbing? Maybe you’re just doing some décor. Hey, I did a floor this weekend; I’ll tell you about that in a minute. But whatever is on your project list, give us a call; let us help you at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, here’s a project you really don’t want to deal with: fixing your house after a fire. In fact, one of the scariest thoughts for most homeowners is fire. And you might not realize how common electrical fires actually are. In fact, they account for more than 50,000 of the fires that impact homes each and every year. And they cause $1.3 billion in property damage.
LESLIE: Well, there is a simple and very cost-effective way to decrease the risk of an electrical fire. And here to tell us about it is Jay Sherman from Leviton.
JAY: Leslie, Tom, thanks very much for asking me to join you today.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure to have you, Jay, because this is a really important topic. Leviton has recently released a brand-new device that we wanted to talk about, because it can just have such an important impact on the ability of homeowners to avoid fires. It’s called an “arc-fault circuit interrupter.”
Now, many of us are familiar with ground-fault circuit interrupters and those are those outlets that we see in kitchens and bathrooms that help prevent shocks. But the arc fault actually goes one step further, much further. In fact, it can actually stop a fire.
So let’s start with this. Maybe you could just sort of tell us: what is an arc and how does this device work to kind of keep us safe?
JAY: So, arcs occur, unfortunately, through damage to electrical conductors. For example, there’s building wire behind walls and if one of your listeners were hanging a picture and inadvertently damaged a conductor behind a wall – let’s say through a nail or a molly bolt that they were installing through the wall – you could have penetration of the building wire. And the exposed copper could, in fact, arc.
Likewise if you had a, say, a lamp cord that was running behind a piece of furniture and inadvertently, over some period of time, the leg for the furniture might either wind up on top of the lamp cord or might be crushing the lamp cord, that cord could become damaged, the copper conductor is exposed and you can have an arc.
So what an arc-fault circuit interrupter does is it recognizes – by monitoring the outlet branch circuit, it recognizes if there’s an arc and it will immediately suspend power to the receptacle.
LESLIE: Now, when you say the “receptacle,” you’re talking about whatever outlets are connected to that one fuse that you connect this arc fault to, correct?
JAY: Leslie, that’s an excellent question. So, an arc-fault circuit interrupter receptacle should be installed in the first outlet within any branch circuit. However, to answer your question directly, any outlet that’s downstream from that arc-fault circuit interrupter will also receive protection against arc faults.
TOM: So you really only need one arc-fault circuit interrupter per branch circuit, if it’s installed correctly, right?
JAY: That’s correct.
TOM: And that’s important. And I think, you know, just to kind of go a little bit further about arcs, I think it’s fair to say that arcs are like mini lightning bolts, in a sense that they’re very hot and they can cause a massive amount of damage. In fact, I think I saw a stat once – and Jay, you correct me if I’m wrong – but I think it said that arcs can actually be up to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Is that correct?
JAY: That is correct. It’s really astonishing how such a small arc can generate such a fabulous amount of energy and heat.
TOM: Now, what’s the cost of an arc-fault circuit interrupter? Are these expensive devices?
JAY: So, arc-fault circuit interrupter receptacles or outlets, as some people prefer to call them, can be purchased for under $30. And they’re no more difficult to install than a traditional receptacle.
TOM: Now, are these also available as circuit breakers?
JAY: They are available as circuit breakers. The difference, frankly, is 1) in cost and 2) in the event you wanted to add to an existing home an arc-fault protection, breakers – as you know, Tom and Leslie – breakers need to fit into a corresponding panel. So, it would require some judgment on whether – and experience – whether or not the breaker that you might purchase would, in fact, fit in your panel. So, we like this receptacle because it fits in a wall box and just requires the termination of a couple of terminal screws and of course, the ground screw.
TOM: I tell you what, this is so revolutionary and so inexpensive. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be installed in every home, especially beginning at new construction. Is there any movement to add this to building codes yet or is it just too new for that?
JAY: Well, first, let me mention that local code always prevails; that’s the code that your audience should follow. But yes, the national electric code does have specific requirements, in a growing number of states as the code is adopted, for arc-fault circuit interrupter protection. You mentioned “breakers”; that’s one solution. And of course, our receptacle is another solution.
LESLIE: Now, this doesn’t replace a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Those are two completely separate things, right?
JAY: That’s correct. Ground-fault circuit interrupters or GFCIs are required by electrical and building codes in any room that’s within the vicinity of water: so, a garage, kitchen, bath, pool area, by your deck. Those are instances where GFCIs are required. AFCIs, while they look strikingly similar to a GFCI, they’re required in a number of rooms, as well. And as I mentioned earlier, local codes should be the code that you’re following whenever you’re installing one of these products.
TOM: Jay Sherman, the marketing direction from Leviton, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us all in on the new Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlet. I will tell you I have one installed in my home – very happy with it – and I’m going to add more.
JAY: You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me. Take care.
LESLIE: Still to come, want a shady spot to sit under this summer? Why not plant a tree in your yard now? We’ve got the step-by-step, right after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 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. And what is so cool about this vacuum is that it’s two products in one. The Symphony will vacuum and steam-clean at the same time. And it’s got powerful, cyclonic action, which will suck up some dry, caked-on debris that you might have kicking around on the floor. And the steam heat will eliminate up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria.
TOM: Now, it only weights about 10½ pounds, so it’s pretty easy to take from room to room. It’s worth $219, though, and it’s going out to one caller drawn at random from those we talk to on the show. So, give us a call, right now, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Sue in Florida is on the line with a shower that doesn’t drain. Tell us about it.
SUE: Well, we’re getting ready to close on a home and after the home inspection, we found that the water stands on the shower floor and doesn’t drain.
TOM: OK. So this came up during the home inspection, Sue?
TOM: Well, I would have the seller fix this. What’s causing it? Who knows? Could be as simple as a clog. It could be something more complex, like a broken pipe beneath the slab or a missing vent pipe. But that’s a mechanical issue and mechanical systems usually have to be in working-order condition at the time of closing.
So I would ask the seller to repair that. And if they’re not going to repair it, to give you a substantial credit because you’re going to have to do the investigation to figure out what it is and get it fixed on your own. And when drains are in floors and probably inside of a slab floor, it could be very complicated, it could become expensive.
Good luck with that project, Sue. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, Arbor Day is the last Friday in April and what better way to honor it than to plant a tree?
Now, besides all of the oxygen and shade it’s going to provide, trees add value and charm to your home. But like anything else do-it-yourself-related, you’ve got to do your homework. You have to choose a tree that’s right for your soil and your space.
You need to – I can’t even stress this enough: you’ve got to call 811 to make sure that when you are digging, you will not be digging right into any cables or natural-gas lines or anything that you just don’t want to possibly break and/or explode. And you need to also make sure that there are no permits needed for digging a deep hole on your property.
TOM: That is so important. Also, pay attention to the season. If you plant now, you’re OK because early spring is good. Otherwise, you want to wait until fall. Because if you wait too long, the heat can really stress out a young tree.
Now, when it comes time to dig, you want to dig a hole that’s two to three times the width of the root ball. And be sure to loosen the dirt so the roots can really dig in easily. Cut the root bag or the wire basket off of the tree and avoid handling the roots so the dirt will stay on when you place the tree into the hole.
Put in some compost if your soil isn’t rich but don’t use commercial fertilizer; it’s way too strong for a new tree.
LESLIE: Yeah. You want to also lightly fill the hole with soil, then lots of water and mulch. Now, you’re going to need 1 to 3 inches of mulch but you’ve got to keep it a couple of inches away from the trunk or you might end up with some rot in the trunk. Either way, you don’t want that, so just be really careful with your mulch placement.
After an hour, you go back, you water it again. Then you can watch as your little tree project will grow into a beautiful addition to your yard.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Vernon in Colorado who’s fixing up the bath. How can we help you?
VERNON: I had heard a while back on your show, if you’re going to recaulk your bathtub, to fill it up with water? But I do not remember if anything was said about removing the water immediately after it was caulked or letting the caulk set up first before you would let the water out. So I wanted to check on that before I started my project with some good kitchen-and-bath caulk.
LESLIE: Well, absolutely. The tip you heard about filling the tub with water is totally correct. And the reason why we do that is when you fill the tub with water, it sort of weighs down and sits down onto the base a little more.
So if you fill it with water and then go ahead and caulk, then you let the caulk dry and then you drain the bath. When it sort of empties out, it’s going to lift back up and compress that caulk. So the next time you actually go to take a bath or a shower and you’re standing in there and the tub presses down on the base, it’s going to stretch the caulk and it’s all going to stay in place.
So that’s really a good trick of the trade because it keeps it in its place longer and it really lets it adhere to where it needs to be.
VERNON: Perfect. OK. That’s what I’ll do. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Roger in Alabama, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROGER: I have a problem with a door. It’s a storm door. And when I originally installed it, everything looked perfect on it. And now, there is a large gap at the bottom and a small gap at the top and the latch doesn’t really want to hold anymore. And I put levels on it and everything looks like it’s supposed to be but it’s not. And I’m at a standstill trying to figure out how to fix it outside of knocking my post out of align.
TOM: OK. So it sounds like the door is out of alignment and it’s not square. Got a situation where the jamb probably has to go up or down. So, for example, if you were to take the jamb and move it down, then the outside edge of the door will move up. If you were to take the jamb and move it up, the outside edge of the door would move down. So it sounds like something is not in alignment.
Storm doors can be tricky because every side of the jamb is applied separately. But what I might do is I might leave the jamb side attached, then try to reset the other two pieces of the door.
In terms of the gap at the bottom, if you can’t close that, just add weatherstrip to the outside of the door. You know, you can pick up a door sweep that has sort of a metal flange with a broom-like bristle edge at the bottom that works very well. We use it on exterior doors all the time. And that will stop drafts from coming through it.
But it sounds like the door is out of alignment. What you’ve described with uneven gaps and a latch doesn’t work means that the door is simply not square in the opening.
ROGER: OK. I think I’ve got an idea of what I can do with it now.
TOM: Alright. Great. Roger, hope that helps. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when the spring showers do come, you feel pretty lucky because you’ve got a natural irrigation system for your lawn and garden. But wouldn’t it be great to actually save that rain for, perhaps, a not-so-rainy day? Well, you can and we’re going to tell you how. We’re going to share some tips on rainwater collection, coming up.
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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 you can win $1,000 in our Go Green for Earth Day Sweepstakes, right now, on The Money Pit’s Facebook page. We’re giving away that $1,000 prize package from Staples to one lucky winner. And it includes 500 bucks worth of Sustainable Earth products by Staples.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s an eco-friendly line that will help lessen your impact on the environment. And it includes everything from office supplies to cleaning products.
Just “like” our page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and you can enter there. And if you share the sweepstakes with your buddies, you can get some bonus entries.
And since you’re being all technical, go to our Community section and post a question, like Phil did who writes: “What is the best way to determine what my walls are made of? I want to hang some pictures.”
TOM: Oh, interesting question. Now, I think my first response is it depends on the age of your house. If you have a house that is quite old – say, 100 years old or so – then you may have plaster walls. If you have a house that maybe was built, say, in the late 40s, early 50s, you could have what’s called “plaster lath” walls which is, essentially, the precursor to drywall except they put a coat of wet plaster on top of the drywall. And of course, anything after that is usually going to be made of drywall or sheetrock, as it’s more commonly known by its trade name.
Now, determining how to hang pictures really depends on what the weight of the picture is. If it’s a fairly light picture, then you simply could nail into the drywall and hang it. If it’s a very heavy object, then you need to use some other type of fastening system. So if you go into the drywall and there’s nothing behind it because you’re in between the studs, you can use something like a toggle bolt.
But the best thing to do is to always try to find the stud in the wall and secure your fastener to that stud. And there are so many cool, very sophisticated, very accurate stud finders out today. Stanley makes many, many very good ones, very inexpensively. Use one of those. Find the stud and see if you can affix the fasteners right to the stud. That’s the best way to make sure that whatever you put up does not fall down.
LESLIE: Yeah. But Tom, you cannot control what your design and décor is going to dictate by a stud.
TOM: Oh, come on, 6 inches to the right or to the left, what’s the difference?
LESLIE: That makes a big difference. Really, though, cleating – the whole object of hanging a cleat on a wall, especially if you’ve got a heavy mirror and it’s kind of a big size – you can actually span a cleat between the studs and then attach the opposite side of the cleat to the back of whatever it is you’re hanging and – bim, bam, boom – design happiness, stud security.
TOM: See that? Bim, bam, boom, done.
TOM: Well, even though we’ve had some pretty serious spring storms already, much of the country is still suffering from a drought. Water supplies are running short and one way you can help is by collecting your own rainwater. Leslie has tips on how you can do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, rainwater collection is actually a time-honored tradition, which dates way before municipal water facilities. And although you’re not going to drink this water or for watering even your edible gardens out there, it’s a great way to gather enough water to use on your grass and flowers.
Now, to do this, you’re going to need a rainwater-collection area, which really is just a fancy way of saying “your roof.” And you need to make sure that your gutters are clean. Then you can place a barrel underneath your downspout. And there are barrels that are made of toxin-free resin, which were designed just for this purpose. And they usually come with a spigot so you can hook your hose right up to them for your lawn watering.
It’s really free water, directly to you, from Mother Nature. And your lawn and your wallet will thank you.
TOM: And speaking of your lawn, this is a chore that comes with warmer weather: mowing that lawn. So coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to have some tips on cutting that grass, that will take a bit of the stress out of the chore and bring you the best possible results.
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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(Copyright 2014 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.)