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How to Report and Track Unsafe Products, Garden Ideas for Small Spaces, Training a New Generation of DIYers, Spring Redecorating with Art and Color and More…

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now because we are your how-to assistants. We are here to help you get those projects done around the house that you don’t want to do yourself. We are there with you every step of the way. We are not going to …

    LESLIE: We’re your support system.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Well, we’re not going to hand you the paintbrush or anything like that but …

    LESLIE: I’m not unclogging your toilet for you but I’ll tell you how to do it.

    TOM: Exactly. 888-666-3974. So why not unclog the home improvement projects that are not getting done in your house and calling us? Because we will help you take that first step or maybe just figure out that final piece of the puzzle that it takes to get the job done, so that your spouse gets off of your case. We all know what that’s all about.

    Hey, coming up this hour, it just got a whole lot easier for you to find and report on unsafe products. The folks at Consumer Product Safety Commission are out with a new, one-stop website that basically has all the information there so you can make sure that you are buying something that is totally safe. And if you discover something that’s not safe, well, it’s also a one-stop shop to report it to them. It’s very well done and we’re going to tell you all about that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if gardening is your thing, well then this is your time of year. Now, if you’ve got a good-size backyard, there’s plenty of room for you to grow plants and flowers. But if you are tight on space or maybe if you live in an apartment, we’re going to share some great ideas, in just a few minutes, for unique, spring planting techniques.

    TOM: Plus, we’re going to tell you about a program that helps train young people in the trades and teaches them skills that can put them on a path to a lifelong career in home improvement and dozens of other professions. These guys will be the future home improvers of America.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs, especially for somebody who is a home improver or a do-it-yourselfer or, shall I say, a dropper of a phone into a concrete vat? We have got the Motorola i686 and it’s really designed to take a beating, so it is perfect for all of you weekend warriors.

    TOM: It’s worth 289 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Gloria is on the line, calling from Illinois. And you’ve got a question about flooring. How can we help you today?

    GLORIA: My neighbor on the left has laminate floors and they’re glued. And she loves them and I love them. My neighbor on the right has the click type of laminate floors but they look funny. They don’t look level and when you walk on them, they move and not just a little bit. So what do you recommend?

    TOM: Is the floor relatively flat in your kitchen? Is it wavy in any way, shape or form?

    GLORIA: Well, not that I know of, Tom, but it’s carpeting so I don’t really know. I guess I’ll have to use a level.

    TOM: Gloria, first of all, to find laminate floors that are not click-together is rare today. I mean most of them do have some sort of a click assembly. This one floor that you saw that didn’t look like it was laying flat, there may have been an installation issue here that’s causing that. That’s what I suspect because the manufacturers are pretty good at this. And when you put these together and you get them to lay flat, they look really good.

    I will say, though, that I’ve actually assembled some of these pieces and I do know that you’ve got to really do a good job on the assembly. There’s no room for error. You’ve got to push it together just right and get it to click and get it to lay flat. If you don’t get it lined up just right, then it may not completely close the seam between the two pieces of flooring.

    LESLIE: Well and Tom, I also know that some of the manufacturers, when you’re using laminate flooring – even though the majority of them are click-and-snap-together and meant to be used in a floating situation. But most of the manufacturers will say, “If you’re using them on a concrete slab, you could glue them down.” It’s not something that you have to do but you can if you want it.

    But I really don’t think there’s a necessity for it. I know we have a laminate floor in my home, in the basement, on a concrete slab and it’s great. It doesn’t move, it doesn’t budge an inch and it’s floating.

    GLORIA: Okie-dokie. Thanks so much.

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

    LESLIE: Chuck in Arkansas needs some help with a countertop situation, I guess? What’s going on at your place, Chuck?

    CHUCK: Yes, ma’am. We have some old countertops that are outdated and I’m just trying to decide whether or not it would be better off for me to actually hire somebody to do that or if it’s a project that me and my brother could tackle ourselves.

    TOM: What kind of countertops are they?

    CHUCK: Laminate countertops.

    TOM: OK. So you actually, Chuck, could relaminate these tops if you’re looking for something – an easy way to replace them to save some money. If you pull them out of the kitchen – if you take out the sink, pull out all the plumbing, anything that’s attached into them, get them out on some sawhorses – you actually can put a second layer of laminate – whatever that is, whether it’s Wilsonart or Formica. You could put that right on top of the existing layer.

    And I would do probably the countertop first and the splash second. And there’s a special router bit that actually trims the laminate so it all comes out nice and clean and square. And you use contact cement for adhering the one layer to the next. So I think that that’s an easy solution; it’s a definite do-it-yourself project.

    Chuck, 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 be part of the home improvement adventure, so give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, outdoor question. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’ve got gardening ideas for homeowners or apartment dwellers who are short on space. That’s all coming up, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Motorola i686, which is perfect for anyone who loves being outdoors or works in extreme conditions or does home improvement, because this phone can take a beating. It’s actually built to military-grade specifications, plus it’s got a 2.0 megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth and an mp3 player all in one.

    LESLIE: Very cool.

    TOM: It’s worth $289. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us right now with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, it is that time of year when your thoughts are turning to the garden and we are all thankful to be trading in our snow shovels for a rake or a hoe, whatever it is. As long as it is not a snow shovel, I am super-happy to be out in that yard.

    But if you are short on space, we’ve got a few ideas to help you out. You know, vertical wall gardens are cropping up everywhere, from airport lounges and shopping malls to restaurants and even nightclubs. And a wall garden can soften a sleek, modern apartment, as well. You can use a trellis or a grid and then you can plant any kind of vine on it.

    TOM: Now, another idea is a community garden, where people are actually transforming unused pieces of land in their neighborhoods into gourmet gardens for fresh produce. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors because everybody takes a turn at tending the garden and everyone reaps the harvest.

    Now, I’ll bet you bad form is, though, when you take somebody else’s tomatoes or something like that, right? And you’ve got to like …

    LESLIE: And you don’t want to have the reputation as the one that kills everything like, “Ugh. Don’t let Leslie out there.”

    TOM: Yeah. That’s right.

    LESLIE: Another great idea are roof gardens and they’re really gaining in popularity, as well, because not only are roof gardens a great way to create urban microclimates but they also can help create an oasis in the city.

    And finally, hanging potted plants, they are back and thank goodness for it because I just love them. And you can hang them on a balcony or a porch and they can hold things like strawberries and tomatoes or ferns. Whatever you like, you can put into a hanging planter. But remember, because they’re hanging and they just have the dirt that’s in that pot, they need to be watered very, very often because they do dry out super-fast.

    If you want some more ideas, just check out our online article called “Gardening Ideas for Houses and Apartments.”

    TOM: You know what the problem is with roof gardens, though?

    LESLIE: What’s that?

    TOM: It’s getting the lawnmower up there.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Every week, what a hassle carrying that thing up the ladder.

    LESLIE: Up the stairs, down the stair.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Bob in Iowa has got a situation with a refrigerator. Tell us about it.

    BOB: Well, I got an older, 70s-model refrigerator that still works; it freezes everything and keeps everything cold. But the problem I have is some mold and the seal is sort of hardening a little bit. I was wondering if I can restore that or clean that up somehow.

    TOM: So you’re talking about the gasket?

    BOB: Right, right.

    TOM: Yeah, well you can replace that refrigerator-door gasket. They have appliance – that’s called appliance gasket. Essentially, it’s an easy-to-find product; you can usually get it at a hardware store or certainly at an appliance store. Or you can go to a site like RepairClinic.com and order some new appliance gasket and just basically replace the seal all the way around the refrigerator.

    BOB: OK. Well, the gasket is still in good shape. It’s not cracked or …

    TOM: I thought you said it was starting to get hard.

    BOB: Yeah, it is. It is starting to get hard and stuff. I just didn’t know if it could be – if there’s something you could use to clean it up and soften it up or would it be better just to …

    TOM: No. No, because what happens is you get some – you get degradation from UV light over the years and it deteriorates the vinyl or the rubber. So you can’t bring it back but you can replace it and it’s not expensive. I will say, though, this inherited, old fridge is not doing you a lot of favors energy-wise because the new refrigerators today – even the real inexpensive ones – run on about the same electricity as about a 100-watt light bulb. A 1970s fridge, on the other hand, is costing you quite a few dollars to run every month.

    So, frankly, the energy savings alone is enough to warrant replacing this thing. If it costs you any money more than just a couple of dollars, you really want to think about just getting a new one because they’re very wasteful, the old refrigerators.

    BOB: OK. Well, I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Larry in Schenectady, New York is finishing the basement and needs help with a project. What can we do for you?

    LARRY: Hello. I love your show. You guys do a great job.

    TOM and LESLIE: Thanks, Larry.

    LARRY: What I’m doing is I’m – I have started framing out my basement with 2x4s and R13 insulation in between the 2x4s.

    TOM: OK.

    LARRY: But I’m wondering if I need to treat the walls with any kind of a vapor barrier. Or is it OK if I just leave the walls a couple inches away from the actual concrete block?

    TOM: Yeah, good. That’s the right thing to do. You want to leave some space. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use a so-called damp-proofing paint because what it’ll do is it’ll stop some of the evaporation of moisture in the wall. Because the concrete block is very hydroscopic, it’s very absorbent and you will get some degree of moisture that wants to sort of draw into that; it can evaporate into the basement. So putting a layer of the damp-proofing paint on the inside of that block wall is not a bad idea. Now that’s not going to stop a flood; if you have bad drainage outside, the water will still get through. But for the most part, it’ll stop some of that sort of surface transfer of humidity into the basement.

    Building the wall a few inches away – you know, maybe a hand-width away from the wall so you have some air between the block wall and the frame wall – is a good idea. I hope you’re using pressure-treated studs or metal studs, because you don’t want to use – I mean for the sill plate, at least. Pressure-treated sill plate or metal studs for the whole thing.

    And then the last thing is that when you get done with the wall, put a couple of fake vents in it – couple up high, couple down low – to let some air sort of circulate behind that wall back and forth.

    LESLIE: To keep things dry.

    TOM: It can look like a heating duct but it’s not really a heating duct. But it’ll circulate some air behind the wall, keep it nice and dry.

    LARRY: Oh, OK. Great. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Carol in Illinois is boosting her curb appeal with a fresh coat of paint but needs some help. What can we do for you?

    CAROL: Well, I think I need the procedures of how to go about it. I have a garage with a porch attached to it and the other part of the garage is vinyl siding and the original siding is still on the porch side. And I’ve caulked last year the area of the sides, as well as next to the windows and the door area. But I don’t know as to what the next procedures are to go about – because you mentioned primer to some lady and I thought, “Well, it must be something besides primer, besides doing something else to it.”

    TOM: Now what kind of siding is this again, Carol?

    CAROL: It’s regular wood siding.

    TOM: OK, so it’s regular wood on both the porch and the garage?

    CAROL: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. Well, the first thing you want to do is to wire-brush the surface to get off anything that’s loose; scrape it, wire-brush it. You want to get off any loose paint because you can’t put new paint over bad paint, because it’ll simply delaminate again. And yes, priming is the next place to start after you get all the loose paint off, because what primer is is essentially the glue that makes the paint stick.

    So no matter what’s underneath this – how old the old paint is, how deteriorated it is – putting a good-quality primer on is going to really stick to that wood surface and then give you a nice, even surface for you to put the topcoat over that. So that’s why the primer step is important, especially with old work like this when maybe the surface is a bit deteriorated.

    So we would start with the scraping and the wire-brushing and then we would prime it and then you’d put a topcoat of paint over that.

    CAROL: OK. Thank you very much and I appreciate your time on the show. Thank you very, very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Quinn calling in from Battle Creek, Michigan who, as Tom likes to say, is battling an air-conditioning unit that’s gone awry.

    Quinn, what’s going on?

    QUINN: Well, let’s see. I have a house and it has central air and – well, there’s a line – a hose – that goes from the air-conditioning unit and it runs down along the bottom of the floor and runs down to the drain in the floor.

    TOM: Right. That would be the condensate line. Correct.

    QUINN: OK. All of the manuals that I have for this don’t have very good diagrams about this part of the unit.

    TOM: OK.

    QUINN: You know, I’ve got electrical diagrams and such but …

    TOM: No, you normally wouldn’t have a diagram for that.

    QUINN: So, basically, what happens is I run – if I run the A/C hard on one of the summer – hard, hot days of summer for a week, let’s say, it must build up enough water where it just – it basically just about floods that part right around the furnace.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    QUINN: Because it just fills it with water and I’m assuming it’s …

    TOM: OK. So listen, the hose that comes down, is it running somewhere where it can drain or are you telling me that it leaks out before it gets that far?

    QUINN: I think it leaks out before it gets that far.

    TOM: OK.

    QUINN: Either the plug – either it’s plugged where that hose comes out or there’s a drain pan or something I don’t know about inside. I haven’t …

    TOM: Alright. So here’s what happens. Sometimes, inside the air-conditioning air handler itself, where the evaporator coil is, you get dust, dirt or sometimes even labels that come off the equipment and sort of float on down and will partially cover the hole where the condensate line comes out.

    So, what you need to do is take the condensate line apart and stick a flashlight in there and see what’s in the way. There’s probably something clogging that particular area and so the water is not rising to go down that hose.

    The water has got to get up high enough and be unblocked so it goes down the hole and runs off. What you’re explaining here is just a normal operation of the air-conditioning system. On a hot and humid day, you have more moisture in the air. You lower the air temperature and that moisture turns to condensate. The condensate collects and has to run off. If the plumbing system that’s designed to do that is blocked, then it’s going to overflow the furnace and get water all over the floor.

    LESLIE: Brad in Oklahoma needs some help adding onto the house. What can we do for you today?

    BRAD: Well, I was wondering if turning my garage into a den adds or takes away the value of a house, because I would be losing the garage.

    TOM: That’s a really good question. It depends on the neighborhood and what other folks have done. If it turns out that most of the folks in your area have garages and you’re the only one that doesn’t, that makes you kind of odd man out. And I think …

    BRAD: It’s about 50/50.

    TOM: It’s about 50/50? Well, if it’s 50/50 then maybe not. But remember, you’re going to find people – when it comes time to sell this house – that are going to want the extra room and you’re going to have other people that would have preferred a garage.

    I will say this: if you are going to convert this garage, make sure it looks like it doesn’t look like a garage anymore. That means changing the front façade, to side it, to landscape it, to modify the driveway. All of those things are important, because there are so many times when people will modify garages to create finished living space and still leave the garage door or do something else that’s kind of schlocky like that. And that really takes away from the value.

    BRAD: Yeah, I agree.

    LESLIE: And I would say if you’re taking away the garage and your property allows for it, build a functional and attractive shed so that when you do sell, you have the added benefit of saying, “I’ve got this storage.” And plus, for you, it’s like where are you going to put your lawnmower? Where are all your tools going to go? It’s like you do need that secondary storage area.

    BRAD: Right. See, I’ve already got a 12×24 shed already in the yard.

    LESLIE: Oh, great.

    TOM: Oh, so you’re in good shape.

    BRAD: Yeah. So, OK. Well, that was my question.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, we’re going to tell you about an organization that is training an entire generation of young people for trades and skills to last a lifetime. Find out where the next generation of home improvement pros will be trained, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    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 has anybody seen my contractor lately? Isn’t that the way so many of us feel because it’s always – it seems to be harder and harder to find a trained professional when you’re looking for one, to get projects done around the house. And you know what, though? There is an entire program out there that does nothing but prepare young people to enter into not only the carpenter trades but so many more trades that we’re going to rely on, moving forward in our lives.

    LESLIE: That’s right. That’s why we’re welcoming a great guest this hour. We’ve got Tim Lawrence, who’s the president of SkillsUSA.

    Welcome, Tim.

    TIM: Thank you, Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    TOM: Well, we’re glad to have you. And Tim, I got a chance to meet you at your national awards event a few months back. Very impressed with the good work that you’re doing with young people around the country. Very interesting to meet a lot of the kids that are involved in this program.

    So let’s start with the basics. You’ve got about 300,000 students across the country that are enrolled in SkillsUSA. What are they learning?

    TIM: Oh, thanks, Tom, so much. Yes, we have 300,000-plus annually enrolled in a program called SkillsUSA. We were once known as VICA, the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America.

    But these kids are enrolled in what we call career and technical education. Some of your listeners may remember vocational education. And vocational education has certainly evolved into something much different than we knew it in our day and time.

    But our students are studying, as you said, carpentry but they’re specializing in things like cabinet-making, masonry, HVAC. But it also moves into robotics, free engineering, automated manufacturing. Students are even studying things like culinary arts and crime-scene investigation, law enforcement and public safety.

    TOM: Wow.

    TIM: They’re studying IT – the IT field: everything from 3-D animation and design to computer repair – the health sciences, graphic design, the list goes on. SkillsUSA serves kids in programs – over 130 occupations, actually, across the board, across the nation.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s really phenomenal because you truly are giving an entire generation of people the skills that they need to sort of go into a hands-on career, which I think has sort of dwindled across this country. What have you seen that has sort of triggered this need for people to really have a true education in these fields?

    TIM: Well, the – my generation is retiring; the baby boomers are leaving the work force. In fact, in the construction industry alone, in talking with the National Center for Construction Education and Research just today, we’ve lost 2 million construction jobs, both residential and commercial, in this recession.

    But at the beginning of the downturn, there was an estimate that 20 percent of our construction trades’ folks would retire in the next 2 to 4 years. We’re at 3 years into the recession now and we’re going to need, by the year 2014, a new 1.5 million in the construction workforce. The Construction Labor Research Council estimates 185,000 construction workers annually for the next decade. So it’s the pipeline that needs to be filled behind those retirees. It’s also, as the economy swings back and we’re starting to see the beginning of that now, a real need.

    In fact, in the construction industry, the executive director of that organization tells me if the – when and if the upswing comes, they could be facing the most severe shortage of skilled workers in the history of the construction industry. So, there’s a definite need and there’s never been a better time in this country for a young person with technical skills coming into this emerging workforce.

    TOM: We’re talking to Tim Lawrence. He’s the president of SkillsUSA, a program that educates 300,000 students all across America in a wide variety of skills.

    Now, Tim, how do you actually facilitate the hand-off between the education part of this and the actual career placement? Do you help these kids get jobs?

    TIM: We actually have a partnership and SkillsUSA is defined, Tom, as a partnership of education and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. And what we have in SkillsUSA is the strongest business-education partnership in the nation. We have around 1,200 companies and trade associations and labor that supports us in making sure these students are being trained on the latest technology, the latest equipment, the latest standards.

    So as we look at business and industry as a partner, yes, these students are finding jobs, especially those that move through the program to the highest levels. And even at the world level of competition, we have students moving through competitive events at the local, regional, state level. State championships in SkillsUSA are happening all across the country in March and April. Our national competition for these occupations will happen in June. And we are sending a team of the best USA students to the WorldSkills competition in London this October.

    TOM: Wow.

    TIM: So, there are opportunities for industry to step in and for students to step into industry at every level.

    LESLIE: That’s so great. I mean you really are helping a lot of people out, with just the simple step of giving people a hand.

    TIM: Right. And what’s unique, Leslie, about SkillsUSA – yes, we’re about hands-on skills but we’re also about a well-rounded student who’s not only learning the best techniques and rising to the standards and technical skills but also the academic skills and what we like to call the employability skills.

    So SkillsUSA’s core – we’re a professional organization. We’re really about leadership and character development, making sure that as our students enter the work force, they understand time management. Showing up to work on time is important. They understand how to work as part of a team. They’re good communicators. Our students are the best at those kinds of skills: what we like to call professional skills or employability skills.

    TOM: Well, that’s terrific. Tim Lawrence, the president of SkillsUSA, an organization that is training America’s contractors: the folks that are going to be taking care of your homes and your life in so many ways in the future.

    Great work, Tim, and congratulations on all the success of this program. We’re so happy to see it. You know, I was an industrial arts teacher many years ago. I taught vocational education and you’re right, the program is different today. We’re bringing up generations of kids that literally are not taught which end of the hammer to hold.

    LESLIE: Right?

    TIM: Right.

    TOM: And the folks that are in your program are going to be so much farther ahead. They’re going to be very employable and they’re going to be very good contributors as students and also as adults when they move on. So, well done, sir. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling our audience in all about that.

    Is there a website that folks can go to if they’d like to get more information on it?

    TIM: Absolutely. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie. It’s www.SkillsUSA.org.

    TOM: SkillsUSA.org. Tim Lawrence, the president, thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TIM: Been a pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, do you want to know if what you’re buying is safe before you actually go and lay out that cash? We’re going to tell you about a new website where you can find and report dangerous products quickly and easily, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    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.

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We are giving away the super-durable Motorola i686. And it is perfect for anyone and everyone, really, but mostly for those folks who love being outdoors or who work in extreme conditions, because this phone can take a beating. And it’s got a camera and it’s got a Bluetooth and an mp3 player and a GPS. It does everything except make your morning coffee but it might tell you where to go find a cup.

    It’s worth 289 bucks, so give us a call right now for your chance to win. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has just made it a lot easier to report on product-safety problems. The CPSC now has a new database at SaferProducts.gov where consumers can actually submit reports of problems or dangers with products that they own. And they can also search on the reputation of products that they own or those that they are considering buying.

    And the cool thing about this new system is that once a warning or a report is taken, the CPSC actually has 5 days to contact the manufacturer and the manufacturer has to be responding within 10 days. So, basically, it’s a pretty cool system that will enable you to research products, to report dangers and to make sure that those reports are taken seriously and followed up on promptly. All good stuff. The website, again, is SaferProducts.gov.

    LESLIE: Mark in Texas needs some help with a door project. What can we do for you?

    MARK: That is correct. Hey. And I wanted to ask you guys, if I have a regular, sliding-glass patio door and I wanted to move that to a French door, in that operation is that pretty much a true fit basically where, typically, as long as I make sure that the French door matches up in terms of dimensions, is that pretty simple in terms of moving – removing the patio glass – patio door – sliding-glass patio door and putting in a French door?

    TOM: OK. Yes. I mean typically, the openings are going to be the same size, assuming that you buy the same-size door. I’m going to be guessing it’s probably a 6-foot door. But typically, it would be exactly the same size, so that means you would be removing completely from the frame the old patio door and then inserting the new French door – which, of course, is a hinged patio door – in its place. There is going to be probably some shimming and obviously retrimming to make sure it all stays leak-free.

    But in terms of the rough opening? In most cases, it should be exactly the same size. I will give you one tip. Sometimes, the new-construction doors and the remodeling doors are different by about an inch. And that inch can be really important if you’re on the wrong side of it. So, find out from the door manufacturer. Measure your rough opening and see if they have an option for a remodeling door versus a new-construction door, because the remodeling door may be just a tad shorter and therefore easier to fit into the opening.

    MARK: Oh, that’s good information. Well, then you’ve been very helpful. Thank you very much. I love listening to your show.

    TOM: Our pleasure. Well, thank you very much. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Mrs. Chaplin calling in from Illinois with an insulation question. How can we help you?

    MRS. CHAPLIN: Yes. I need to know, do I buy faced or unfaced?

    TOM: Faced or unfaced, there is the question.

    LESLIE: OK. Well, are you putting it in your attic? Where are you putting it?

    MRS. CHAPLIN: Yeah, I put it in the attic.

    TOM: OK. You have insulation there now?

    MRS. CHAPLIN: Yes.

    TOM: And so you’re going to add to it?

    MRS. CHAPLIN: Yeah.

    TOM: Unfaced. And you need a total of about 19 inches of unfaced insulation, including what you have there now. You can bring it up to the edge of the eaves but don’t block your vents.


    TOM: Alright? Since you want air to get in and circulate around that.

    MRS. CHAPLIN: And unfaced.

    TOM: Unfaced, fiberglass batt insulation. Good source for that is Owens Corning. Their website has lots of information on how to add additional insulation. It’s OwensCorning.com.

    MRS. CHAPLIN: Okie-doke. OwensCorning.com.

    TOM: You’ve got it.

    MRS. CHAPLIN: OK. I gotcha. Thank you, guys.

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

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

    SETH: Yes. I moved into an older house about six months ago and it’s got a couple quirks that I need help with. One is that the washing machine is piped out to a pseudo gray-water system, just piped out into the yard.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    SETH: And I sort of want to develop on that but I need some advice on how to do it up right, because it’s just dumping out next to a tree and soaking the yard in that one spot.

    TOM: Yeah. So what you want to do here – and that’s not unusual in some areas, because the working theory is that you want to keep your waste water from your washing machine away from your septic field so it doesn’t affect the organic disintegration that’s going on in that space.

    LESLIE: And that’s an issue with the detergent, correct?

    TOM: Right. Detergent, bleach, that sort of thing. So, if you don’t want to see it spill out across your yard, what I would do is I would simply build a pit there. So what you would do is you would dig a hole, say, about 3 feet wide and maybe a couple of feet deep. And you’d aim that gray-water pipe from the washing machine to kind of come in maybe a few inches below the surface. So now that pit will sort of fill up with water, that water will soak into the soil and it won’t permeate the top of the pit.

    Now, at the top of it, what you do is you put filter cloth and then soil and grass, so the whole thing will be invisible when you’re all done.

    SETH: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still ahead, guys, we’re going to tell you how to redecorate your home for spring, by using art and accessories in the most exciting and trendy colors for the season, so stick around.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And if you can’t get enough of The Money Pit, why not listen to The Money Pit Radio Show on the go with The Money Pit iPhone app? You can get full show archives, you can ask us a question on the Community forum or you can connect with us and all of your fellow do-it-yourselfers on Facebook and Twitter. Head on over to MoneyPit.com to learn more now.

    TOM: And while you’re there, post a question in the community just like Bill did from Chicago. And Bill says, “I want to put a new doorway through a wall on the first floor. However, there are two separate, 6-inch vertical duct pipes, going into the second-floor bedrooms, in the way. Can I shift the opening to leave one pipe undisturbed on the side? If I tie the second pipe in with the first with a T, will the heat supply at the end of the line be adversely affected?”

    Well, Bill, the answer is yes. Because whenever you put an angle into a pipe to sort of turn it around something, think about this: one 90-degree angle in duct work is equivalent to 20 feet of straight duct run in terms of the resistance. So one turn is the same as adding an additional 20 foot of pipe, so you really need to think this through.

    Now, there’s more than one way to run a duct and simply taking them in their existing positions and turning them and sort of twisting them around may or may not be the best thing. What I would do is I would have your HVAC contractor come in and take a look at where these things are going and see if we can find a more intelligent way to run them than splitting them and dividing them off like you’re suggesting. Because we want to make sure, in the end result, is that you have plenty of airflow up there. Otherwise, it’s going to be too hot or too cold.

    LESLIE: Alright, Bill. I hope that helps. Thanks for posting your question.

    TOM: Well, spring has sprung and if you want to bring that look to your home, there are plenty of ways to do just that. Leslie has got those tips in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Well, you might not be able to walk around yet in your favorite shorts and flip-flops but you can feel the warmth of late spring by brightening up your home right now.

    Now, spring color trends include bright colors like classic red, hot pink, apple green and orange. And you can accessorize your home with brightly colored draperies, wall treatments, throw pillows, maybe a new side chair or even some fun artwork.

    Now, if you find that bold colors really aren’t your style, why not try shades of turquoise and white? It really just feels of Greece and wonderful happiness. I love going to Athens and if you travel to the Greek islands, it gives you this wonderful sense of summer. And going with turquoise and white will really transport you there.

    And you can actually repaint a chest or picture frames in your favorite, subdued turquoise hue or you can even use throw pillows in a different shade of white. Just layering in those nice, creamy richness of whites, vanillas, off-whites really does open up the feeling to a summer trend.

    Now, print designs are also very popular this season and you can easily make them a part of your home. Just choose from big prints, even to smaller prints from stripes to floral patterns. And then incorporate them into your space with wall treatments, maybe curtains, pillows, upholstery, wall décor, carpets and whatever else you like.

    If you find a piece of fabric that you really love but don’t know where to put it, buy a half a yard and have it framed or put it in a frame and it instantly becomes a great piece of art. And then you’ve got that item that you love up on a wall without spending a ton of money. So you really don’t have to spend a fortune to reinvent the look of your home. If you start with a nice, neutral base, you can easily add seasonal décor trends to your home for a low cost and change the whole look.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to have tips on the easiest way to change up your house for spring, by adding a coat of paint. It looks great on a wall or an entire room or maybe even some trim. However, the one part of painting that folks don’t like are the fumes.

    So if painting is something that you find challenging because of all of the stinkola that goes along with it, we’re going to have tips on how you can find the best in no-odor, low-VOC paints, next week on The Money Pit. It definitely is the future of painting and I will say that they finally perfected these paints to the point where they no longer have the odor but they actually do a really good job with painting your walls or your furniture or your floors, all at the same time. That’s coming up, next week, on the program. Thanks so much for listening.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2010 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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