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How To Seal Cracks in Your Concrete Patio to Prevent Further Damage, Learn About the Drought and What It Means for You, Why You Should Rake Leaves Promptly, 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: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to help you get started on that project that you’ve been thinking about but maybe you’ve been putting off. Make the first step picking up the phone and calling us at 888-666-3974, because we are here to help you. That’s why Leslie and I come to work every day to help you tackle those home improvement projects. So give us a shot. 888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number.

    We’ve got a great hour planned for you. First up, are you enjoying these last few weeks of summer on your patio? If so, take a moment to look down at the patio, the driveway, the walkway. And if you see any cracks in there, now is a good time to fix that, because the winter weather is just ahead. And fixing those cracks now is simple, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive and it will stop them from worsening when the weather turns super-cold. So we’re going to tell you exactly how to do that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, while you may have been enjoying a lazy summer, your window screens have been taking a beating. You know, between the bugs, the bird droppings and pretty much anything else that goes floating on by through the air, now is really the opportunity you should be taking to clean them and we’ll tell you how.

    TOM: And speaking of bugs, we’ve got a great giveaway this hour. We’re going to give away $50 worth of Raid and Off products, so there’s a bunch of products in that gift pack. Going to go out and help you keep those bugs away throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall. If you’d like to win it, pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. We’ll toss your name in that Money Pit hard hat and perhaps be sending that prize package to you. So let’s get to it, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina is just not enjoying the taste of a popcorn ceiling. Tell us what’s going on over there.

    LAURA: Well, a tree fell on the roof of our house, which caused the ceiling to crack in the bedroom.

    TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.

    LAURA: And we’ve gotten the roof fixed and all those things fixed and everything. And so we redid the drywall and the plaster up in the ceiling. But we can’t match the popcorn so that you can tell or not tell that there’s been damage. And we don’t know what to do.

    TOM: How have you tried to patch it?

    LAURA: Well, we took – we patched it first. We removed the section that had actually come through the ceiling and put new – the new ceiling up.

    TOM: Yep. Yeah.

    LAURA: And then we plastered over the crack, because there were two cracks where the edge of the – the width of the tree was, all the way to the middle of the ceiling

    TOM: Right.

    LAURA: And so we plastered that and then we tried to use that popcorn texture that you get at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    LESLIE: In the spray can?

    LAURA: And you – yeah, in the little – no, we tried the spray but that was so, so messy. And then we got the can of it – the little container of it – where you use the putty knife or the paintbrush?

    TOM: Right.

    LAURA: And tried to put that up but it does not – it looks horrible; it looks like watery dripping or big drip marks.

    TOM: Right.

    LAURA: And it just does not match at all and we don’t know what to do.

    TOM: So, did you file an insurance claim for this act of God?

    LAURA: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: You did?

    LAURA: It wasn’t actually an act of God; it was a dead tree from the neighbor’s house that fell.

    TOM: Oh, OK. But it’s covered by insurance, right?

    LAURA: Yeah, the insurance took care of it.

    TOM: So why didn’t they go all the way and just restore the ceiling? This was something that is covered by insurance and you had a popcorn ceiling and you deserved to have that ceiling restored. Why didn’t they just pay for a painter to come in with the popcorn-ceiling machine and just respray the whole thing?

    LAURA: Well, it was kind of a mistake on our part, because there was a gentleman that lives in the neighborhood who’s a contractor that we got. And then he finished the outside and most of the inside but didn’t finish that part.

    TOM: Alright. Well, live and learn. I mean you probably can go back to them but look, are you really in love with the popcorn ceiling? Because most people are not; most of the calls we get about popcorn ceiling is how to get rid of it.

    LAURA: No.

    LESLIE: How to get rid of it.

    TOM: So, the other option here is just to get rid of what’s there and match it all.

    LAURA: Exactly.

    TOM: And you can do that. It’s not really that hard to do. You dampen the ceiling with – you can use a pump-up sprayer to put a little bit of a water spray on it: not terrible, then a lot but just enough to dampen it. Then you can scrape away the popcorn with a putty knife or with a drywall knife, like a spackling blade?

    LAURA: Right.

    TOM: And you get that off the whole ceiling that way. And then you prime the whole thing and then you paint it with a flat paint, because it won’t reflect light when it strikes across the flat paint. And that usually blends in quite nicely.

    So, if you’re not satisfied with the patching – because it sounds like you’re using the right products. And if it’s not looking right to you and you can’t have the entire ceiling restored, then why not get rid of the popcorn that remains and just go with a popcorn-free ceiling?

    LAURA: Yeah, that might be the best – but I didn’t know how hard it would be to remove that ceiling, so we didn’t want to start something we didn’t know if we could finish, like …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not easy but it’s not terrible, either. So, that’s – I think that’s your best approach.

    LAURA: Yeah, it sounds like it’s going to be our only option at this point. Alright. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    You know, I don’t know if Laura did this but if you do have something that you can file with your insurance company for protection on – for coverage on, I should say – you really want to get a public adjuster in at the get-go. Because public adjusters work for you, not the insurance company. They work on a percentage of the claim. They’re always going to find more than the insurance-company adjuster does.

    And this is a perfect example of the kind of thing they would not miss. They wouldn’t put in for the popcorn ceiling to be patched; they would include a big budget number for the entire thing to be restored, completely replaced. And if you do that at the get-go of a project like this, it’s going to come out better.

    And the other lesson, I guess, Laura learned is never hire the nice man that lives around the corner to do your project when – get enough money for it and have a professional do it. It’s not a part-time job.

    LESLIE: No. And it can never end well when utilizing a neighbor’s help.

    TOM: Exactly.

    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 fun. We want to help you with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, organization, back to school. Whatever home improvement project you are working on at your money pit, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you have patios or sidewalks or driveways made of concrete? If so, now is a great time to repair all those little cracks before they become big cracks this winter. We’ll tell you how to do it the easy way, after this.

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    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’re giving away $50 worth of pest products, including the Raid Max Bug Barrier, to one lucky caller. This will help you protect your home by preventing infestations in the first place. And you can do that with the Raid Max Bug Barrier.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Raid Max is specially formulated to help keep those bugs away. And it includes ants and cockroaches and centipedes: pretty much anything that’s going to give you the willies and that you don’t want in your house.

    Now, with solutions from Raid, it’s easy to protect, attack and control those pests around your house and that’s really what you want to do. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Terri in Washington is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you with your project?

    TERRI: Yes, I have an 11×12-foot deck on the back of my home and I’d like to put some kind of a roof over it. I don’t want something to keep the light out but I don’t want it real bright. I’ve gotten five bids and five different ways that they thought it should be done and I’m thoroughly confused at this point.

    TOM: OK. OK. So what kinds of things are you considering? Like awnings and that sort of thing?

    LESLIE: A pergola? An awning?

    TERRI: No. No, I don’t want an – I want it to be permanent so that in the winter, when it’s raining, I can still go outside.

    TOM: OK. And what has been the cost range of these designs?

    TERRI: I’ve had anything from $1,700 to $6,500.

    TOM: Hmm. OK. Well, the problem here is that you have no way of comparing apples to apples, because what you have is apples to oranges. And the reason you have apples to oranges is because there is a critical, missing component of this project.

    LESLIE: A design plan.

    TOM: And that’s a design plan, exactly. So, what I would recommend you do, since the appearance is very important to you is – this is the kind of small project that it would be worth hiring a designer or an architect to lay out for you.

    TERRI: Yeah.

    TOM: For the few hundred dollars it will cost you, you’ll be able to make sure that this is exactly what you want to achieve with this space, Terri. The designer will work with you to choose the materials, to choose the size, the shape.

    LESLIE: And it may, Tom – it may have to be an architect, because depending on what the village/town/county – you might need a variance, you might need special permits. It might be something that you need an architect to have approved specific drawings.

    TERRI: I don’t think you have to have a permit for this size. I think if it was 1-foot larger, we would have to have a permit.

    TOM: But let me give you one of the other key benefits of this and that is that once you have the design done, then you can go back to those five contractors and say, “This is what I want you to build.”

    TERRI: I see.

    TOM: So you’re not relying on them to design it; you’re saying, “This is what is going to be designed; now, you can give me a price to build it if you want to build it.”

    LESLIE: Right.

    TERRI: Right.

    TOM: And this way, you’ll have all five contractors bidding on the exact same project.

    TERRI: And then I can compare apples to apples.

    LESLIE: Correct. Because currently, you’ve got each contractor just being like, “Well, this is what I think.”

    TERRI: OK.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And then the next one is like, “But I think this.”

    TERRI: Exactly. And I tried to narrow them down but – so that they – so we’re all on the same page but it just doesn’t seem to work.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I mean the other thing is if one of the contractors has given you – I doubt there’s drawings associated. But say one contractor has been like, “Oh, here’s my sketch and here’s what I’m thinking of doing,” and you like what’s been presented, you can then use that. But really, an architect, this is where they come in; this is their forte.

    TERRI: OK.

    LESLIE: They’re going to help you determine materials. It really will be exactly what you want.

    TERRI: That sounds wonderful.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a concrete patio, you hopefully got to enjoy it this summer season. But before these cooler temperatures move in – and please, may they move in soon – we want you to inspect it for cracks.

    Now, throughout those upcoming winter months, what’s going to happen is water is going to penetrate through the surface and then saturate unprotected concrete and then, of course, you’re going to end up with the surface cracks.

    Now, QUIKRETE has a quick way for you to stop that from happening altogether.

    TOM: Now, first you need to understand that water flows through cracks in your concrete patio or sidewalk or driveway and then it saturates the base material. And then as the water freezes and thaws, that slab can lift and fall, creating even wider cracks. So it’s really critical that you take care of it now.

    So, QUIKRETE – they are a trusted Money Pit sponsor – they have a concrete crack seal that works on cracks that are up to about ¼-inch wide. Now, the product is easy to use because it’s latex-based and it also blends with that natural color of the concrete. So, all you need to do is to clear away dirt or debris that’s in the crack and then you apply it, kind of like you apply caulk. You can even overfill the crack because the product is self-leveling. It’s going to be dry to the touch in just about 30 minutes and then it hardens in 24 hours.

    So real simple project. Great time of year to tackle it. If you need more details, they’re on the QUIKRETE website at QUIKRETE.com. That’s spelled Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.

    LESLIE: Joe in Illinois is next up with a tedious organizational project. My favorite! What can we do for you?

    JOE: Hi, Leslie. I’m calling because I have unsightly surround-sound speaker wire going throughout my living room and halfway through my house. I kind of want some suggestions on that.

    LESLIE: Do you have a girlfriend or a wife?

    JOE: Yes, I do have a wife.

    LESLIE: And is she super-mad about this mess of wires and that’s why you’re calling?

    JOE: Yes, she is.

    TOM: Yeah. Leslie feels your pain because she’s got a husband that’s got a really great, awesome stereo system which I appreciate but women, they just don’t get it.

    LESLIE: Men. I swear.

    JOE: They do not get it.

    LESLIE: But I tell you, Joe, I think our hearing is different, because I don’t get it. The surround sound freaks me out; it makes me constantly feel like we’re about to be arrested. I’m like, “Great for paranoia.” I’m like, “What is that? Who’s outside? What’s happening?” I don’t know what a subwoofer does and why is that so important? I can’t tell. My husband thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I have a hearing issue.

    But what I can tell you …

    TOM: But you can hide wires.

    LESLIE: Exactly. Is how to hide those wires.

    First of all, any base molding, trim around windows, doors, those things are going to be your best friends. You have got to figure out a way to sort of group these wires together, get them from coming out from behind – and really start from behind your entertainment center. And whatever you can group together neatly, you are going to have to use plastic zippers or zip ties. I’m not sure what you might call them but Radio Shack, Staples, they’ve got them in black, clear, bright colors, whatever you like. But small ones so that you can really tidy up these wires and get them linked together.

    And at this point, when I’m doing this, I might label things, because I know how tedious it is to properly install all of this stuff and to make sure that things go back into the right place, should you have to disconnect something or something comes unplugged or you move or what have you. This way, you know exactly what goes where. You know, you might want to take that time, since you’re going to be back there organizing all of this nonsense.

    JOE: OK.

    LESLIE: So definitely get all of those wires as thinly grouped together as you can. And then depending on where the variety of things are going around the room, you’re going to want to sit things very neatly and contained along baseboards. And use little clips that will group all of those wires together, that you nail in to the top of the baseboard and around door frames and trims.

    And the neater and tighter and closer to that wood that you can make it, the better, because that’s going to do its best. I mean granted, it’s still going to be wire sitting on top of some wood trim that’s going to be a different color: black upon white. So you will see them but if they’re tidy, it’s not as annoying.

    There are little covers that you can get and foam covers and different types of molding that then you could put on top to go ahead and hide all of that. I don’t know how anal your wife is about hiding these things. I know, for me, I like to just not even know they exist. So start …

    JOE: Exactly. She’s the same way.

    LESLIE: Yeah, so I would really …

    JOE: Hopefully, I was hoping that you had a suggestion of the wireless theater system you guys were talking about (inaudible at 0:16:25).

    LESLIE: Oh, you want to buy more audio equipment.

    JOE: Yeah. The new – yeah.

    TOM: He wants us to tell him to do it, too, give him permission.

    LESLIE: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m not doing it. Audio equipment, kibosh. Not doing it.

    Tom, you’ve got …

    TOM: You’d better buy something nice for your wife, first, buddy. That’s all I’ve got to say.

    JOE: OK. Yeah, I heard Saturday morning about the drawing for the chance to win that audio system – the wireless speakers that I talked to …

    TOM: Yeah, the AudioBulbs, yeah.

    JOE: Yeah. I was hoping I could kind of call in and see how we could do that. It could kind of solve both problems there.

    TOM: I don’t think you’d be happy with that. It’s a – I think you want a much bigger system than what’s going to come out of that light-bulb design.

    JOE: I don’t know. I’m pretty easily happy.

    TOM: It could work, huh? Alright.

    LESLIE: Listen, this is an issue between Mr. and Mrs. and I’m not getting in the middle. I’ll just help you tidy it up.

    JOE: OK. You help me tidy it up, I think we – Jim over there, he could help me just solve the whole problem by just giving me the light-bulb system.

    LESLIE: Alright. Shout out to Jim, our engineer.

    TOM: Alright.

    JOE: But thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Susan in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SUSAN: I don’t know if you can mention a brand name. So we got this basement waterproofing system thing installed a couple years ago.

    TOM: OK.

    SUSAN: And it’s supposed to help your house. In fact, it’s made our house settle, because they jack-hammered around the inside walls downstairs and dug up outside. And it’s like my house is settling worse than it was. Is there any way to slow it down?

    TOM: Well, first of all, most of the time, those types of waterproofing systems are absolutely and completely unnecessary. I know that they’re typically sold with a lot of pressure and a lot of promises and had we talked to you a couple of years ago, we’d have told you absolutely to not do it.

    Now that you have done it, I don’t think that anything that they did would make it worse. That said, though, if you still are continuing to get a lot of water that collects around the foundation, that water, although it may be draining down into this drain-tile system on both sides of the foundation, that actually could be loosening up some of the soil and causing an excessive settlement.

    Think about it: when you walk across the yard when it’s dry, you walk on top; when it’s wet, you sink in. Your house does the same thing and these subsurface drainage systems, all they do is they let the water run down along the foundation, collect it and then pump it out. What we generally advise is that you take the steps to improve the drainage condition at the foundation perimeter, so that you slope the soil away from the house, you clean the downspouts, you extend them out away, so that water never, ever gets a chance to collect at the foundation perimeter. It stays away from the house; it never gets anywhere near the basement. And that makes the basement a lot more stable, as well as drier.

    SUSAN: Alrighty. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, we are going to share with you step-by-step directions on the correct way that you should be cleaning your window screens which, probably, right now aren’t looking so great. And you’re also probably asking yourself, “Clean my window screens?” Yes. We’re going to tell you how to do it, when we come back.

    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 find The Money Pit on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and open the door to some of the best home improvement advice around. You could also get sneak previews of our weekly prize giveaways and be the first to get new articles and product reviews from our website, as well as exclusive info reserved only for our Facebook fans. So, head on over to MoneyPit.com, “like” the page. You can click through to the Facebook site, “like” it and you will be in. Now, let’s get back to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mike in North Carolina is doing some work up in the attic. Tell us what’s going on up there.

    MIKE: Hi, guys. Well, I’m a first-time homeowner and I have a two-story house with a relatively large attic. And in the summertimes in North Carolina, it gets very hot and humid in the summertime. So I’m looking to install insulation in my attic to cut down on the energy bills.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: But I’ve been looking specifically at the foam-insulation option, to also close off the attic to reduce the humidity, improve the air quality and reduce insects and bugs and things.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: The main issue I have, though, is that in my attic, I have an air-conditioning unit and a natural-gas heater. And the foam company is asking – is basically instructing me to install an air intake, which basically pulls air from the roof, from the exterior of the house, as compared to pulling it in from the closed – what will be the closed interior of the attic.

    However, the contractors that I’ve spoken with seem to be hesitant about doing that and are trying to sell me on a high-efficiency, 90-plus-percent efficiency type of heater that is intended to be made for crawlspaces or enclosed spaces. And I’m getting some sort of conflicting information about whether retrofitting the current unit is a good idea or will I indeed need to replace that natural-gas heater in order to move forward with the closed attic.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, you’re going to insulate the floor of the attic between the attic and the unfinished attic space and the finished living space below. Is that correct?

    MIKE: That has some existing traditional insulation but no, what they’re intending on doing is spraying the expanding foam insulation on all of the roof and the side walls and closing off the …

    TOM: Why are you – is this attic ever going to be finished?

    MIKE: No, it is not.

    TOM: So why are you doing that? Why are you further insulating an unfinished space? That’s not how you insulate a house. You insulate between the heated and the unheated or the finished and the unfinished space. So if you’re dissatisfied with the amount of insulation, you can add to that insulation. But I don’t know why you’re going to insulate the underside of the roof and the side walls, because that’s not a finished space. That’s not – I don’t see how that’s really going to help you that much.

    How much insulation do you have right now in that floor structure?

    MIKE: It’s approximately a foot of that kind of white, shredded material. I don’t know exactly what it’s called.

    TOM: Cellulose? It’s not – or fiberglass?

    MIKE: It’s fiberglass.

    TOM: OK. So it’s – and you say it’s shredded. Is it batts or is it loose, like blown-in fiberglass?

    MIKE: It’s loose.

    TOM: It’s loose, yeah. Well, look, most homes need about 18 to 22 inches of insulation, so you have about half of what you should have on that floor.

    I would rather – much rather – I know you’ve been investigating foam but I would much rather see you double-up the fiberglass insulation on this attic floor. You’re not going to be able to use that space for storage anymore after that, because the insulation is going to be too thick, but it doesn’t sound like you want to do that anyway. And then what you do is you reserve a space near the furnace so that you can get up there to service it. And that’s going to be a heck of a lot cheaper and I think it’s going to make a difference.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about the fact that the attic gets really hot; it’s supposed to get hot. The attic is supposed to be the same temperature as the outside, if it’s properly ventilated. And that’s another thing to look at, by the way. Most attics are under-ventilated. If you don’t have enough vents, that’s another reason it gets so hot up there. So you could make sure you have a full ridge vent going down the peak of the roof and complete, open soffit vents going down the overhangs and make sure you have plenty of air in there that way. And that’s going to help.

    But I would much rather see you double-up on the floor insulation right now than enclose the whole attic, because I just don’t see that that’s going to buy you that much. It’s the most expensive way to go and it leads to a whole host of other complications, such as what you usually call to ask about, which is: how do you get combustion air to a furnace when you’re sealing the attic?

    MIKE: Right. That is correct. I guess I was under the assumption that my second-floor air-conditioning unit was not able to keep up during the hot summer months due to the extreme heat in the attic. And that was my original intention of wanting the sort of extreme foam, closed-attic situation.

    TOM: You’re not going to cool the attic, OK? It’s still going to be hot up there, even with the foam. And yeah, it is a little less efficient because it’s warm up there, potentially, but I would improve the ventilation to deal with that. Having more passive ventilation is the way to go. But if you double-up the insulation on the floor – because it sounds like that’s what you really desperately need is a lot more floor insulation – that will make sure it keeps the cold side cold and the hot side hot.

    MIKE: OK, great.

    TOM: Alright. There you go. I think …

    MIKE: You may have just saved me a lot of money.

    TOM: I think we did. So our work is done. We can quit for the day.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much.

    MIKE: Well, I really appreciate your answers, guys.

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

    And that’s an example when – sometimes when you’re thinking about doing a project, Leslie, that you sort of take a turn along the way. And it’s sort of a turn down the wrong path. And really, his option – his premise was “if it’s hot in the attic, it must be making my air conditioner not – work pretty hard.” And that’s somewhat accurate but look, it’s – that expansion coil that’s up there is going to do its job, whether it’s 60 degrees or 100 degrees up there.

    LESLIE: Or 100 degrees.

    TOM: And you could also insulate the duct systems, too, if you want to just keep it cooler. But you don’t turn the entire attic into a sealed vessel.

    And look what happens. When you get that idea, all of the insulation contractors are going to go, “Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea. Yeah, spend more money with me.”

    LESLIE: “Oh, well, that’s brilliant.”

    TOM: “Ah, you’re a genius. You must be a pro.”

    LESLIE: “What a great idea. And we exactly have that product for you.”

    TOM: “Well, we agree and we’re happy to sell it to you. Sign right here, sir.”

    So, Mike, I’m glad you called and I’m glad we were able to help you out and save you, potentially, tens of thousands of dollars on this project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, one of the dirtiest parts of your home might be staring you right in the face: it is your window screens. We’re going to tell you how to clean them without damaging them, 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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour may soon be bug-free thanks to the prize we’ve got up for grabs. We’re giving away $50 worth of pest-control products, including the Raid Ant Gel, which is a new Raid product for the summer. You put the gel wherever you see those ants and then the ants pick up that gel and get it all over their little bodies and take it back to the nest. And then that destroys the queen and the colony and blammo, no more ants.

    So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: David in North Carolina is getting ready to take on a siding question. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: I have got a project I’m going to take on myself and it is a – I’ve got an older house. The rear part of the house was put up with cement blocks and the front part of the house is – has the wood-lath siding.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And I’m going to – I’m planning on putting vinyl siding over the whole thing.

    TOM: This is the first time you’ve ever considered installing vinyl siding, Dave?

    DAVID: I’ve messed with it a little bit before on some small projects but – yeah.

    TOM: OK. Because it takes a little bit of finesse, a little bit of experience to get it to lay right and look proper.

    DAVID: Right.

    TOM: So, OK. Well, good. So how can we help?

    DAVID: Well, as far as with the block part of the house, obviously, I don’t think I’m going to be able to nail the siding right up to the block. I’ve got to – I think I’m probably going to have to fur it out. Would that be correct?

    TOM: That’s a good question, David. And the Vinyl Siding Institute actually recommends that when you are applying vinyl siding over concrete-block walls, that you do use a furring strip of at least ¾-inch thick. So that would be the correct way to do it.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: Because this is going to be a new project for you, you might want to take a look at their installation manual. It’s quite detailed, well done and it is available online. If you simply Google “vinyl siding installation manual,” I’m sure you will find it. And it comes, again, from the Vinyl Siding Institute of America, which is an organization that’s supported by all the vinyl-siding manufacturers. So, good, independent expert advice.

    DAVID: OK. And what about as far as any additional insulation? I know they make that kind of a fan fold-type insulation where it opens up accordion-style.

    TOM: Yeah. There is a backer board that’s available for vinyl siding but it adds so little in terms of insulation that I don’t think it’s worth it.

    DAVID: OK. What about maybe doing some kind of a vapor barrier? Would that help at all?

    TOM: Well, a vapor barrier is clearly a good idea but – like a Tyvek or a product like that.

    DAVID: Right. OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your advice.

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

    LESLIE: Well, as summer rolls to a close, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about those cooler temperatures. And one important step in getting your home ready for a seasonal change is taking care of your window screens.

    Now, they’ve probably been collecting a lot of summer gunk all season long and they’re due for a cleaning. And yes, you do need to do it.

    TOM: So, first, simply remove the window screens from the frame. You want to put them on a flat surface, like a driveway, and then use very mild soap, water and a soft-bristle brush to remove the dirt and the grime. Clean both sides around the interior and the exterior of the frame, then rinse off the window screens with lukewarm water and allow the screens to completely dry before you replace them in the windows.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And you want to take your time, too, because you want to think about this: screens, they can be easily damaged if you get too aggressive with your scrubbing. So don’t ever use a pressure washer or you could wind up with a seriously messed-up screen.

    If you want some more complete instructions, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “cleaning window screens.”

    TOM: 888-666-3974. If you’ve got a home improvement question or maybe even a cleaning question, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    JAN: Yes. Thank you for taking my call. I have an older brick home in the neighborhood 70 years. I would like to know the R-factor between double-pane windows and triple-pane. I have to make a choice. Which would be best?

    TOM: Yeah. You know, that’s a great question: whether it pays to go with double-pane or triple-pane. Certainly, triple-pane are a little more energy-efficient and in an area like Michigan, that’s something that we’re very concerned about. But they’re more expensive.

    Now, one of the things that you might want to consider here would be to use a good-quality brand first. So I would kind of concentrate on the brand rather than the panes, because it’s all relative.

    And then when you look at the brands, the next thing you want to look at is something called the National Fenestration Rating Council label. The label on the glass actually tells you how energy-efficient the window is. It will tell you what the heat gain coefficient it is. It’ll tell you what the U-factor is. And you can compare apples to apples, Jan, by using the National Fenestration Rating Council label.

    And I will tell you that on our website, at MoneyPit.com, we actually have a replacement-window guide. It’s a free download, actually, from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. There is an ad right on the home page that will take you right into the page where this exists. And you can download this guide and in the guide, we actually have a picture of the label and we explain how you use it to try to sort out what the best window is for your home.

    So I wouldn’t concentrate so much on double versus triple; I would concentrate on glass quality and that NFRC rating.

    JAN: Perfect.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, do you want to add a unique, very kind of high-style design to your home without spending a fortune? The answer might be in the tiles. We’re going to tell you how to do that, after this.

    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: It’s never too early to start thinking about the next season when it comes to home improvement. So I know you’re still sweltering in the heat but fall is around the corner. And we’ve got a nice checklist on our website, at MoneyPit.com, that’s got the fall to-do list to kind of show you what you need to do to get ready. Why don’t you use these last couple of weekends of summer to do that and you will be good to go before the chilly temperatures arrive?

    LESLIE: That’s right. And while you’re online at MoneyPit.com, you can post your question in the Community section, just like Melinda in Utah did. And she wrote: “Is there a general rule of thumb for how tall a bookshelf or piece of furniture needs to be before it should be anchored to the wall?”

    TOM: You know, it’s a really good question, Melinda. I don’t know that I can give you a specific rule, because so much of this depends on common sense.

    Now, of course, if you’ve got a tall bookshelf, you know that it has to be attached to the wall. But frankly, even something that is only maybe about 3 foot high, depending on the size of the toddler, could be dangerous. So when in doubt, I would say attach.

    And that’s also very important if you have any kind of heavy appliances that are on top of the bookshelf. I mean thankfully, TVs have gotten a lot lighter these days with the advent of flat screens. But if you’ve still got some of the older TVs, those definitely need to be tied off. And there’s lots of hardware available at home centers and hardware stores to make it easy to do that.

    And while you’re thinking about things that can fall, also think about checking for other hazards around a house: for example, the blinds. If you’ve got any blinds with cords, those need to be shortened up or simply choose a blind that has no cord at all.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Sal in Pennsylvania who wrote: “Can you sand plaster? I’ve got bumps and damage on my plaster walls and I’m worried that sanding them could damage them further.”

    TOM: No, you won’t damage them but if you are going to sand them out, you should prime those spots. And you could just – what we call “spot prime”; just do that one little area if it’s a small area. And then repaint the entire wall.

    But if you do truly have plaster walls, it’s usually pretty thick. Even if it’s plaster lath, which is kind of like plaster on top of drywall, it’s a pretty thick application. So I don’t think you’re going to hurt it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’ll give you a nice opportunity to make that surface look nice and smooth before you go ahead and paint it a new color to enjoy the fall season.

    TOM: Well, if you’re looking ahead now to projects that you might tackle this fall and you’re thinking about adding a tile floor, it’s a pretty good idea. They are beautiful, they can add value and as Leslie tells us in this edition of Leslie’s Last Word, you can really make them uniquely yours.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Tile patterning and inlay, these are design options that most homeowners don’t ever even really think about. But it is one of the fastest ways to show your personal style and then dramatically change the look of your room.

    Now, inlay can add color and pattern to your floor or your walls, wherever you are working with tile. And thanks to today’s technology, professionals can produce very, very intricate designs. Now, they use a computer guidance system and cut individual pieces with high-pressure water jets. It’s kind of a combination of old-world craft and 21st-century technology. It’s really, really cool and it does deliver excellent results.

    Now, if you want to try to create a simpler pattern on your own, you could try something like a checkerboard or a herringbone. It is doable, especially if you are a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

    Now, to get started, never, never, never, never assume that your room is going to be perfectly square, because they’re not. Even brand-new homes are not square; it’s kind of amazing. You want to always square-off from the center and begin that pattern along one edge. And make sure that your floor is level; this way, you’re going to avoid any rough edges that might stick up. Then you’re only bound by your imagination.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, saving water has gone from being a good idea to something that’s really a critical need. So we’re going to tell you how you can save H2O just by changing out some fixtures, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2012 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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