How to Refinish Furniture Without Stripping, Using a Solar Water System, Tips for Cleaning Windows 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: Pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
So here we are: it is officially the middle of the summer. We’re past the July 4th weekend. Hope you guys had a great Independence Day last weekend but now it is time for us to give you independence from your home improvement projects, with some tips, some advice, some help to get those jobs done around the house. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up, stripping furniture to give it a totally new look can be a fun project, well, except for the stripping part. The rest of it is great. You might be able to get away with not stripping it at all, though, or at least using a product that’s a lot easier on the eyes and on the nose. We’re going to explain to you how to do that project the easy way, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, during these dog days of summer, you probably already know how powerful the sun can be. But have you ever thought about using that power to heat your water? We’re going to share some tips on the latest in solar water heating that will have you feeling warm and fuzzy all over, because you’ll be saving the Earth and saving money in the process.
TOM: And if you’re not outside enjoying that hot weather, you at least want to be able to see outside, so we’re going to have tips on the best way to get your windows squeaky-clean.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller today is going to get big help with a flooring project. We have got a $250 gift card from Lumber Liquidators to give away to one lucky caller who asks us their home improvement question on the air at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Think about how much work you can get done around your house with a $250 gift certificate from Lumber Liquidators. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you might just be getting that gift to get your project started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Sonya in Illinois needs some help with a pergola. What can we do for you?
SONYA: Hi. My husband recently built a pergola on the back of our home and I was wondering if you have any suggestions as to what we could use on two sides to make it a bit more private and to give some protection from the western setting sun. And also, what would a preferred stain method be?
TOM: What did you build it out of? It’s out of wood?
SONYA: Pressure-treated pine.
TOM: OK. Good. Well, first I would start with the staining of the wood. Behr has a line of premium wood stains and finishes that just came out under a new formulation that’s 100-percent acrylic. And they really stand up to the weather quite well. And the application is just so much easier now because it’s an acrylic base. So you might want to take a look at that. There’s a bazillion colors that it comes in. And you want to get that on first.
Now, in terms of blocking some of the sun, Leslie, I think she could probably do something with sailcloth for that, couldn’t she?
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s actually – there’s a company – and I’m completely spacing on the name right now but they manufacture a tracking system that goes on top of the – I don’t know if you would call them joists but the boards that are on the roof of the pergola.
SONYA: Yep, on the support beams.
LESLIE: It sort of would sit on the top edge of that so you don’t see it. And then it runs on those two tracks – panels – of fabric.
LESLIE: So that when you want it open, there’s a stick; you just slide it all the way back and it’s open. And then when you want to close it for sun or get rid of the sun, give yourself more shade, you just grab that stick and slide it across and it becomes a smooth, full panel of fabric. That’s a great way to add privacy. I’m sure a quick internet search will point you in the right direction of the company that I’m completely forgetting right now.
LESLIE: But also, if you look into outdoor fabrics – like Sunbrella is a great manufacturer and they can – you know, you can buy Sunbrella by the yardage or even buy premade, exterior draperies and just put curtain rods up on the side panels that you want to create the draperies on, for privacy. Put a full, long, curtain rod that you can completely then close with your drapes.
LESLIE: And otherwise, you just have them secured to the side. And then you can tie them to the support posts so that they’re not blowing around in the wind when they’re not closed.
SONYA: Right. OK. That’s a great idea. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dave in Texas who’s calling in with a tiling and flooring question. What can we do for you?
DAVE: I was just wondering – we’re going to put ceramic tile down.
DAVE: And I have an area – I want to do my family room and my kitchen. So the kitchen currently has linoleum. Is it OK to put the tile down over the linoleum?
TOM: Well, you can’t glue it to the linoleum. If you’re going to put – you can put an underlayment down on top of the linoleum and then adhere the tile to that. So if you use a tile backer board, you could nail that to the floor right through the linoleum and then adhere the tile to that. You can’t put the tile right on the linoleum, because it’s not going to stick.
LESLIE: Yeah but that’s going to add quite a bit of height to the floor.
TOM: Yeah, it’s going to add thickness. You’ll have to work around that.
DAVE: Yeah, yeah. Because the linoleum right now is only maybe a 1/16 of an inch. I figured I could smooth out that transition.
DAVE: But if it’s not going to stick, then I guess I can’t (inaudible at 0:06:36).
TOM: No, it’s not going to stick. Can’t do it.
LESLIE: But keep in mind, Dave, that when you’re adding, say, the backer board and then the mastic and the tile, you’re looking at maybe an inch of height added to the floor. And you want to make sure that you’ve got clearance for your appliances, especially a dishwasher that would be under the counter. Pull it out, tile underneath, adjust the legs to make sure it fits. Don’t tile in the dishwasher; I’ve seen that done a million times. Tom has had to deal with that at his sister’s house.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
DAVE: OK. So then what’s the easiest way to take up linoleum? That’s what I was trying to avoid is to just try and get that stuff up off the floor.
TOM: Well, I mean it can be difficult because the glue is so unknown. If it turns out that the glue is fairly weak and you can rip it up in pieces, that’s fine. But then again, you’re going to have a rough surface. Now even in that situation, you can’t adhere the tile right to the subfloor. You must have a proper base for tile. If you don’t take the time to create a proper base, what’s going to happen, Dave, is the tile is going to get loose or it’s going to crack and you’re not going to be happy. It really is important that you have a good base for tile or it won’t work.
DAVE: So it’s cement – it’s a cement foundation, so it’ll be all cement.
TOM: Oh, it’s a concrete foundation? OK, well, that helps.
TOM: Alright. Well, that helps.
TOM: Well, you’ve got to get the linoleum up nonetheless. And then the question will be how much glue is under there and can you get a good portion of that up so that you can get the thinset down on top of that?
DAVE: So there’s some kind of scraping tool or something I can rent to do that or …?
TOM: Well, a big floor scraper. Yeah. Not something – well, you could rent it or buy it, I suppose.
DAVE: OK. OK. Well, thanks a lot, guys.
TOM: Alright, Dave. 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. Well, summer is in full swing, so if you need a hand getting ready for a backyard barbecue, maybe a fun deck project, we are here to lend a hand with all of those projects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, I don’t know about you but there’s one part of furniture stripping I really hate to do.
LESLIE: And what is that?
TOM: It’s the stripping part.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s never any fun.
TOM: It’s stinky. You know, it’s hard to do. I love refinishing those old pieces but I would love to skip the strip. If you’d like to do that, we’re going to give you a tip to help you accomplish that project, after this.
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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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, whatever question you’ve got going on at your money pit. And one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.
Now, Lumber Liquidators, they sell brand-name flooring for way less, so you can get a lot more with that awesomely-large gift certificate, because they buy directly from the mill and they cut out that middle man.
TOM: And you could even take that gift certificate and walk into one of their 200 stores nationwide. They also have financing and installation available. If you want to find a store near you, order a sample pack, get a catalog or even shop online, visit LumberLiquidators.com or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, it’s time now for this week’s Fresh Idea presented by Trewax, makers of Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
So if you are in the process of looking for a way to spruce up a room without breaking the bank over at your money pit, maybe you’re thinking about refinishing a piece of furniture. It is a do-it-yourself way to create a statement piece out of a hmm-hmm wallflower. But there are those of you who just shut your ears and say, “No way. I’m not stripping any wood. I’m going to suffocate. It’s going to be a hot mess. I want nothing to do with it.”
Well, think about this: stripping, it does take a lot of preparation. Ventilation is key and time. But take note: stripping the wood might not actually be necessary unless you see that it’s chipped or it’s globbed with layers of old finish. Sometimes, a good sanding is really all it needs.
So get out your sander, give it a try and then you can add your own touches with your repairs, your new finish, maybe some new fabric. Totally up to you. You can really create a knockout piece here.
TOM: Now, if you do decide that the old paint absolutely has to go, you can use an environmentally-safer gel stripper. For example, Rock Miracle is a brand that we work with. They have a gel version, which is called UPTA-6.
Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it, Leslie? It’s UPTA-6. It contains no methylene chloride, which is that nasty stuff that we don’t like to smell and deal with. It’s totally non-flammable and it’s a water rinse.
So, there are products out there – because of the chemistry that these manufacturers are employing – that aren’t stinky, aren’t smelly and do a pretty good job. And you certainly could rely on those for your next furniture-stripping project.
LESLIE: Alright. And that is today’s Fresh Idea, which has been brought to you by Trewax, makers of All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. The 100-percent all-natural formula is great for wood furniture and cabinets, too. And it’s safe to use around kids and pets. Visit Trewax.com for more info.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Margie on the line who’s dealing with sort of an aging brick façade, I guess. What’s going on? Tell us about it.
MARGIE: Oh, we’ve got some – I guess it’s mildew and mold buildup, because it’s an older home and it just seems like it hasn’t been taken care of. Like I said, we just purchased this home for a vacation home and we’d like to get it cleaned up. And we’re afraid if we use Clorox, it might be too harsh on it and soften the brick more.
LESLIE: Now, the brick itself is soft or just the coating on the brick that you feel is kind of mushy?
MARGIE: I guess it could be the coating. It’s sort of an antique-white brick.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And we’re talking about brick on the outside of your house, not brick like over a fireplace or something?
MARGIE: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TOM: OK. And so it – why do you say it’s dirty? Does it look green or does it look black?
MARGIE: But yes, it has a mold buildup and like I said, there’s a lot of trees around there, so …
TOM: OK. Margie, you’re looking for a siding wash. There’s a couple of products out there. JOMAX has a product – J-O-M-A-X – and Clorox has a version of house wash. What you do is you mix them up; they’re usually in concentrates. You apply it to the brick, let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes and then you scrub it off with a brush. You can use it on a broom – like a long-handled brush or on the end of a broom – and then you rinse it off. So you don’t – you’re not too aggressive with it. I’d try that in a small area and see if that cleans it up.
The other thing that you can do is cut back on your trees and let a little more light on that side.
LESLIE: Yeah, reduce the amount of shade.
TOM: If you reduce the amount of shade, the sunlight will do a good, natural job of keeping that area clean.
MARGIE: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, I thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Margie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Georgia is having some difficulty with the air conditioning. What can we do for you?
KEVIN: I’ve got a unit that runs just the third floor of my house and a separate unit that runs the first and second floor.
KEVIN: And it seems that the unit that runs the first and second floor will run, keep it cool at a desired temp – say 79 – and it runs on and maintains and kicks off relatively quickly. But the third floor, it just seems to run constantly for quite a bit of time, maybe 15, 20 minutes. Constantly blowing in that if it’s really hot in the middle of the day. And I’m wondering if it’s just a matter of lack of insulation in the attic or where the thermometer is located in a little hallway or what might be the issue.
TOM: Or perhaps the third floor is the hottest room in the house.
KEVIN: Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean physics are applying here, definitely.
TOM: It’s probably a factor of the size of the compressor. Now this is a central air-conditioning system on the third floor?
TOM: So it’s a split system? You have an air handler and you have a compressor?
KEVIN: Correct. Yeah. And both are relatively new. The compressor is about two-and-a-half years old and the internal unit that’s in the attic is like a year old.
TOM: Well, I suspect that it may not be big enough.
TOM: Because air-conditioning systems are fairly dumb and when you set that thermostat, it’s going to keep trying to meet that goal of whatever thermostat you set – whatever thermostat setting you choose. And so, if it’s really hot upstairs, like it’s going to be in Georgia in the summer, what’s going to happen is it’s going to run and run and run and run and – until it reaches that particular temperature.
So, I would question the size of the unit with the HVAC contractor that put it in. I’d also make sure that the system is serviced in that there’s no refrigerant leaks because even though it may feel cool, it might have to run longer to do the same job. You mentioned insulation? Absolutely. Insulation and ventilation play a big part in keeping your home cool in the summer, especially if you have a central air-conditioning system.
Do you happen to have an attic fan, as well?
KEVIN: No, that was my other question because the attic is …
TOM: Yeah, well, no. Don’t put it in. Don’t put it in, if that’s what you’re going to ask me, because that would just rob more air-conditioned air. When you have central air conditioning, putting in an attic fan is not a good idea, because it typically reaches down into the conditioned space of the house and sucks out the cool air.
LESLIE: That you’re paying for.
TOM: Yeah. Continuous ridge and soffit vents are the best way to vent an attic. But I think that those are all the areas that you need to look into but I do suspect that the system is probably too small; that’s why it runs so long.
KEVIN: How long do you think it can run safely constantly before I’m looking at issues with the blower or the compressor?
TOM: Oh, it can run pretty much indefinitely. It’s going to run until it dies, you know? It just generally doesn’t run for 20 minutes at a time. It’ll run for probably seven or eight minutes and then shut off and come on back on again.
KEVIN: Right. Each room is like 10×12 and I’m pretty sure it’s like a 1½-ton. Do you think it needs like a 2½-ton or …?
TOM: It depends on a lot of factors. A contractor has to do something called a heat-loss calculation. All I’m saying is that what you’re describing to me sounds a lot like an undersized system.
Kevin, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Texas is calling in with a concrete flooring question. What can we do for you?
BOB: Hi, yes. I have an enclosed back porch that the previous owner left a planter box, for lack of a better term, about 14 inches wide, 8 feet long that I guess I’d like to fill in with concrete. I’m wondering, do I need to add some type of reinforcement wire or rebar for that?
TOM: So is this a hole in the existing back porch?
BOB: Exactly. It’s along an outside – an exterior wall. There’s two exterior walls that they built in, closed the back porch.
TOM: Right. OK. And they left kind of a space out where you can have plants?
BOB: Right, right.
TOM: Well, look …
LESLIE: So it’s like a trough, almost.
TOM: Yeah. You can pour concrete in there. Having a little bit of reinforcement mesh is not a bad idea. But it’s never going to adhere – it’s never going to level perfectly with the existing floor. You’re always going to have sort of a seam there.
BOB: I understand.
TOM: But I think you can do a pretty good job of patching it.
BOB: OK. And as far as maybe a suggestion for the type of flooring over the top? Is it …?
TOM: Is this a weatherproof room?
BOB: It’s enclosed back porch. It’s going to be used as a bedroom by some college students. It’s a rental house.
TOM: Oh. Well, if it’s totally enclosed and you don’t have any weather there, then I would use laminate flooring, because laminate flooring will interlock together. It’s very moisture-resistant …
LESLIE: And let’s say it’s super-durable for those college kids and the crazy parties they’re going to have.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah.
TOM: And pretty easy to install, too.
LESLIE: And easy to clean, easy to maintain and they pretty much cannot destroy it.
BOB: Right. Alright. I’ll try my hand at concrete.
TOM: Alright, Bob. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, plain old sunshine does a great job of warming water outside this time of year. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if you could harness that heat to warm up the water inside your house? We’re going to tell you how you can do just that with the latest in solar energy, after this.
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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: Hey, did you ever wonder how you can get in on the prizes we give away each week? Just fan us on Facebook and we will tell you how, when and where to call for your next chance to win. The website is simply MoneyPit.com and you can go there and click on our Facebook link or just go to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We’re there. Either way you find us, we would love for you to join that page.
We also – is the first place we launch new articles, as well. So you’ll be the first to receive tips and advice, like just this morning when I posted a video on how to keep cool and comfortable without breaking the bank this summer.
LESLIE: Bonnie in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BONNIE: We had a hose on our dishwasher that somehow came loose and when we came home, there was water all over the floor. And in addition to that, of course, then it had leaks and we had damage now on our lower level – because we have a ranch-style – and anyway, along the ceiling, as well as down the wall in a basement bathroom.
Now, we’ll need to do some repairs and I’m just wondering, would you have any kind of an idea what the cost might be to know whether to even turn it in on insurance? Or sometimes, I know that I’ve been told you’re almost better just to pay for it because your insurance rates can go up.
TOM: Well, I mean if it’s done significant damage, that’s why you have insurance and I don’t think the occasional claim like that is going to impact you. If it does, shame on your …
BONNIE: Right. Well, I imagine it’ll have to be the ceiling and then, like I said, down a wall.
TOM: Yeah and what I would do is I would consider hiring an independent insurance adjuster because this way, they’ll make sure that you’re not missing anything. If you just use the insurance-company adjuster, they’re going to probably try to do the minimum. But if you use an independent adjuster, basically, the more you claim, the more they make. So they’re motivated to make sure that not only do they get every possible thing but they report it in a standard that the insurance company is used to seeing.
BONNIE: Oh, OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bonnie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever felt warm water flowing from a garden hose that’s been stretched across your sunny lawn, you already kind of understand how solar water heating works.
TOM: And if you’ve ever paid a fuel or electric bill, you can understand why using the sun’s rays to warm water is a really good idea. Joining us now with some details about solar hot-water heating systems is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert for TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hi, guys.
TOM: And solar heat has been an option for a lot of years but I’m happy to see that lately, everyone has become so much more interested in being more green; it’s really taken on some new life. So, how does a basic system work?
RICHARD: Well, the basic setup consists of a heat-trapping solar collector. That’s either going to be these flat panels or the special tubes that sit outdoors, facing south, usually up on the roof.
RICHARD: And there’ll be some sort of water-storage tank down inside the house.
TOM: So, essentially, there’s a circulating pump that moves the water across the collector and then down to the storage unit.
RICHARD: Now, in cold climates, there’s going to be a circulator pump that doesn’t pump water through the collectors; it’s actually going to be glycol, a non-toxic propylene glycol that is an anti-freeze, really.
RICHARD: And it goes up through those collectors, absorbs energy from the sun, brings that down to the tank and transfers that energy into the water that’s inside the tank.
LESLIE: Now, are there certain areas of the country that really this is a better opportunity for or are there ways to make this work, regardless of your climate?
RICHARD: I think people don’t understand. The sun is out in most parts of this country enough that solar thermal – and that’s the solar to make domestic hot water – makes a lot of sense. You can always get 65 to 70 percent of your domestic hot-water production using the sun, even in the northern climates like we are up here in New England, where I live.
TOM: Now, on some days, I would imagine you are heating far more hot water than you really need to. Do you store that? Is there a way to save it until the cloudy days?
RICHARD: Well, that’s the challenge. There are days you actually have more energy than you know what to do with and sometimes, you have to do a heat dump; you have to get rid of some heat. That’s where it’s often good to have a pool; if you want to heat a pool or something like that, it’s terrific.
We’ve even seen people that have solar systems on vacation houses where they’re not there, where there’s a little device that can actually run the solar backwards during the night to take the super-heated water in the tank and dump it to outside because you actually have too much energy.
TOM: Interesting, interesting.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, we actually vacationed once in St. Lucia and the entire hotel had the same solar water-heating systems. And every night, we would hear it draining from all the different rooms and the first night, we were like, “What is that?”
RICHARD: That’s right.
LESLIE: And when we called the front desk, they explained to us the whole system.
RICHARD: That’s right. Right.
LESLIE: Now, with solar water-heating systems, I imagine they’re kind of expensive to put in. Do you recoup that kind of quickly or does it really take a long time to get that back?
RICHARD: Well, as is so often the case, you’ve got to spend money to make money. And so, it really depends, I think, also on the local utility rates. For a family of four, you’re going to do a system – typical system – with an 80-gallon tank. It’s probably 5,000 for the materials, another 2,000 or so for installation. And the payback periods could be relatively quick – five, six, seven years – and it really depends on how much hot water you use.
TOM: Now, comparing that to, say, active solar where you have photovoltaics, though, it’s probably a lot less expensive.
RICHARD: Well, it’s got a high efficiency. The thing about photovoltaics is they have some unbelievable incentives that make it – and that – and the cost of that technology is coming down in price every day. It’s often – it’s like what’s happened with computers; there was a time that computers were much more expensive. As more people bought it, the premium came down. We’re seeing that with solar thermal and with solar photovoltaics.
LESLIE: And I think for the pedigree of a home, when you go to sell down the road, to say, “We have solar water heating,” it ultimately makes the house more valuable.
RICHARD: That’s right.
The other metric that’s not in this discussion is the cost of fuel. In August of ’08, fuel prices got to almost $4. Fuel oil was $4.10 around where I live. We couldn’t keep enough solar in stock; everybody wanted to do solar. And then as the price came down, people got a little more complacent. And so, all that stuff is going to be driven a lot by that fossil-fuel cost.
TOM: And there’s really an opportunity issue here, too. You mentioned it briefly before but the rebates, the incentives, the tax credits, they’re always changing. Keep an eye on that, because there could be a golden opportunity to get a system like this installed if you meet those requirements.
RICHARD: That’s right. The government and the local utility can be your friend in that case.
TOM: Great tip. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
For more great tips just like that, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
Hey, did you know that you can damage your windows if you wash them the wrong way? Coming up, we’re going to have a tip on the right way to get that sparkly-clean view.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by The Home Depot. Upgrade to a Philips 12.5-watt LED light bulb that lasts 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And of course, the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one of you lucky callers this hour is going to win a really great prize that you can actually tackle quite a large project with. We are giving away a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.
Now, Lumber Liquidators, they sell brand-name flooring for less. They’ve got over 200 stores nationwide. They offer financing, they offer installation services; they’re a really great company. Check out their website. It’s LumberLiquidators.com. It’s a great prize: $250 gift certificate up for grabs. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.
Well, on a beautiful, warm day, are you encouraged to clean the outside of your home? If you are, don’t forget the windows. Most importantly, remember that windows do need some very special care. You never want to wash windows or doors with a high-pressure spray. I know it’s tempting as you’re …
LESLIE: Unless you want to clean up glass.
TOM: Yeah. I know it’s tempting as you’re using that pressure washer on your sidewalks and decks but don’t use it on the windows. It could crack them; it can destroy the caulking, the seals around the units. Instead, you want to take some time to individually clean the windows with a soft cloth or a long-handled, soft-bristle brush and very mild detergent.
LESLIE: And while you’re cleaning your windows, you want to give them a good examination.
Now, if you find that the windows aren’t operating so well, it might be a good time to consider replacement windows. Energy-efficient windows, they are a great investment to your home. They provide savings on costly energy bills, which we all like to cut back on our spending. If you want some more details, you can visit Simonton.com or you can download their updated bonus chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. It’s available for free, right now, at MoneyPit.com, so check it out today.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Jeff in Georgia needs some help window shopping. What can we do for you?
JEFF: What I wanted to know is if there are some products out on the market – doors and windows – that are impact-resistant, perhaps, if you lived in tornado-prone areas or areas where high winds could be a real problem. Are there some affordable products out there that you could put into your home to safeguard you against flying objects and high winds?
TOM: Absolutely. They definitely have impact-resistant glass. It’s made very similar to auto glass in the sense that there’s a laminate system where there’s a laminate in between layers of glass. Now what that does is that stops the glass from shattering but it won’t stop it from cracking; just understand that. So it’s designed for safety.
Now if you want to protect the glass from shattering, what you need to do is to have storm shutters made. Now there are storm shutters that are sort of like louvers that unroll and sort of close down over the outside windows and that will stop – catch basically anything that’s being thrown through the air in a storm.
JEFF: Got you. And is it – if you do not allow your house to breathe during a tornado situation, that it could create a roof blow-off? Is that why you need to at least have your windows cracked maybe or what is – is that just a myth?
TOM: Nah. Well, I mean pressurization causes a lot of problems but if you have the home constructed correctly – if you’re building a house from scratch, you would use a hip roof instead of a gable roof, because it’s got less for the wind to sort of grab onto. If you have the roof structure all reinforced with hurricane ties, which securely ties the roof down to the walls and then the walls down to the foundation, that’s the way you build a house that’s reasonably storm-resistant.
JEFF: Right. That sounds – common sense.
TOM: Yeah, occasionally, we do make sense.
JEFF: Yeah, you guys are great. Man, we really appreciate what you do for us out there and just hope that you keep – continue to do it.
TOM: Alright, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Doug in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOUG: I’ve got a crack in my concrete: my walkway in my – the front of my home. And there’s crabgrass that’s continually growing through it.
DOUG: I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried different patches to go in it but it keeps growing, strictly coming right back up through the center of it.
TOM: Well, you’re trying to patch the concrete or you’re trying to kill the crabgrass?
DOUG: I’m trying to do both.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, when you patch – first of all, killing the crabgrass is one thing. I like a product like a Roundup for that. But in terms of the crack, what you need to do is to stop using more concrete or cement to patch that and use an epoxy patching compound.
Epoxy is much more flexible and it adheres to the concrete surface and it doesn’t freeze and break and strip away. So, epoxy products are much more successful in making a repair that’s going to stick and stay around for a long time to come.
DOUG: OK. Well, that sounds good to me. I’ve tried several things but I’ve not tried epoxy.
TOM: I think that’s the solution, Doug. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You’re listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, real wood shingles, they look great but there’s a measure of maintenance involved. So, what looks like wood without the hard work? We’ll tell you, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Hey, why don’t you guys head on over to MoneyPit.com next time you’re in front of your computer or walking around with your mobile device? Because while you are there, you can download our free iPhone app and then you can go ahead and take Tom and I with you wherever you go, like to the beach or to the home improvement center. Whatever you are doing, we want to go and do that with you. You can always listen to our show on the go that way and you can find out how to do that at MoneyPit.com.
And while you’re online, you can check out our new Community section, which is great. It’s full of a lot of wonderful, useful projects, ideas, tips and of course, you can post your questions there. And I’ve got one here from Bradley in Rhode Island who writes: “I am planning to rebuild a house on the water and would like to use cedar shingles. I know they can be stained to prevent them from turning black. As an option, are there any artificial shingles that really look like real cedar?”
TOM: You know, actually, Bradley, there is a natural alternative. There are two types of cedar shingles that are used in housing: one is white cedar and one is red cedar. And it is true that if you use the red cedar, that will turn black if it’s not treated or stained; basically, you’ll be looking at the color of the stain.
However, if you use the white cedar shingle, it will not turn black; it fades to a very nice, pleasant, light-gray look. The downside is they’re a lot more expensive. But if you were going to build a house on the water, that may not be an issue. We’re going to assume that you are rolling in bucks and that you really want to use the best possible material. That would be white cedar shingles.
Now, the only thing that you could maybe put on them is boiled linseed oil, which will help protect them from the UV rays of the sun or one …
LESLIE: Is that something, Tom, you should put on right after you’ve installed them to the home? Or do they need to cure a little while before you coat them with anything?
TOM: No, they’re – no, as long as they’re not wet, you can pretty much put it on right away. And you may even want to use a paint-spray applicator and spray it on, because you’ll get better (inaudible at 0:35:53).
LESLIE: And the boiled linseed oil, that’ll go right through the sprayer no problem? You don’t have to dilute it, nothing?
TOM: Yeah. No and by the way, make sure you use boiled, not regular. Because if you use regular, it doesn’t dry. Boiled linseed oil will dry. And I used it on, actually, red cedar shingles with nothing else on my house. It lasted 20 years, so it’s good stuff.
LESLIE: Hmm. Well, that’s good to know. Alright. I hope that helps you with your awesome beach house and we expect our invitation upon completion.
Next up, I’ve got a post from Bob who writes: “We replumbed our home last week. Now, we have all these drain flies in both bathrooms. The plumber said to throw a bug bomb in the crawlspace. Is that going to solve them? How would the crawlspace affect what’s in the pipes?”
TOM: I have no idea. That’s not where they’re coming from. The first thing you do want to do is confirm if that is, in fact, where they’re coming from in the drain, though, which is where I suspect. So how do you do that? Well, what you want to do is tape something on over those drains.
So, if you don’t need to use one of the bathrooms, tape some cardboard, some Saran Wrap, plastic, duct tape, whatever. Cover the drains and see if it stops the problem. If it does, they’re in the drain. And if they’re in the drain, I can guarantee you they’re in the drain because of all the gelatinous, rotting goo that’s in there that they like to feed on.
TOM: So what do you do? You clean them. You clean them and you clean them. Perhaps in doing this renovation, you didn’t replace or repair or clean those pipes that drain everything. And if there is any type of organic matter in there, that’s what they breed with, essentially.
So, first of all, test to make sure they’re coming from the pipe and if it is, you’ve got to clean them. Get rid of the goo that’s in the pipe and that should solve this once and for all.
Alright. We’ve got one more question here from Sarah who apparently just got her air-conditioning bill, Leslie, and was shocked to find that it was $450. I guess she likes to sort of live in the deep-freeze setting all the time.
Anyway, wondering what to do about it. I would tell you this, Sarah: remember that homes are just as leaky in the summer as they are in the winter. So the first thing you should be doing is to check the insulation. If you don’t have 19 to 22 inches of insulation, you’ve got to add some. And if you do, those energy bills will go right down in the summer and in the winter.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. The show does continue online at MoneyPit.com right now.
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 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)