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How to Take Advantage of Micro Climates, Get Rid of Furniture Rings, Instant Hot or Filtered Water 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 with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, now that we are so well entrenched through the summer, you may be noticing – in fact, you may be, at this point, throwing in the towel – and saying, “There is no way I am ever going to be able to get my garden to grow.” If your garden is not growing, it may not, though, be your fault. We’re going to have some tips this hour that can help.

    Your problem may not be tied to any lack of a green thumb. Rather, plants that don’t seem to grab on might be the result of climates that actually surround them. And we’re not talking here about an area as big as the Northeast or the Southwest.

    LESLIE: No. We’re actually talking about something more like a microclimate within your own yard. That’s right. Did you know that you even had all of this weather-system stuff going on right out your back door? You know, we’re talking about that area – like maybe there’s a little corner that gets no sun or another area that’s always damp. If you know where those microclimates are in your yard and garden, then your whole outdoor space is totally going to benefit.

    Now, you can even create microclimates for certain plants that will benefit from those conditions. And we’re going to learn all about this when This Old House landscaping expert – and thank goodness we have him – Roger Cook joining us, in just a little bit.

    TOM: I do have one plant that dies every year I’m going to ask him about.

    Hey, also ahead, we’ve got a simple fix for an annoying problem: water rings, the kind that we get all the time here when our kids leave glasses on the wood furniture despite the …

    LESLIE: Ah, lack of coasters.

    TOM: No. Oh, no, we have plenty of coasters; they just don’t use the coasters.

    LESLIE: Oh, of course.

    TOM: There must be 20 coasters in my living room but they all stay neatly in the coaster tray. But there is a way to get rid of them; I know because I’ve had lots of practice. We’re going to teach you how to do that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a prize package that’ll keep you bug-free for the rest of the summer, including a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit.

    TOM: It’s worth 55 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 to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    MICHAEL: I had standing water in my basement last Monday: about 4 inches worth.

    TOM: OK.

    MICHAEL: After three or four days, I started noticing mold was popping on my walls.

    TOM: OK.

    MICHAEL: And I started ripping up the trim around my walls and there was this black mold covering everywhere.

    TOM: Oh, boy. That’s not good. First of all, I would stop right away and make sure you contact your insurance company. Because if this is the result of a storm, which that’s what it sounds like it is – in other words, it’s not ongoing; it’s a point-in-time occurrence – then you very well may have – and I say may, not for sure – but you may have insurance coverage.

    MICHAEL: I don’t.

    TOM: You don’t have homeowners insurance?

    MICHAEL: Well, I have homeowners insurance but they do not cover mold.

    TOM: Yes but they probably cover water damage.

    LESLIE: Water damage, yeah.

    MICHAEL: I’ve been calling them every day and I’ve been in – they haven’t sent – they didn’t – they said that the inspectors are too busy to come out right now.

    TOM: What do you mean the inspectors are too busy? That’s crazy.

    Here’s what I want you to do. You pay these guys good money to be your insurance company. They’re telling you they’re too busy to look at it? I want you to contact a private insurance adjuster. Private insurance adjusters work on a commission basis. They are specifically trained to deal with insurance-company hassles.

    The thing that bothers me about insurance companies is that they make the filing of the claim, as you’re experiencing, so painful that they hope that you will just go away and save them a lot of money. But a private insurance adjuster will work with you. They’ll know, based on the type of policy you have, what’s covered and what’s not covered. They will help you put together a claim reflecting exactly what’s covered and for the most possible money that you’re entitled to and then see that through to collection with the insurance company.

    I would not do this yourself until I exhausted that issue. I mean these guys are not going to cost you anything except a percentage of what they get from the insurance company. It’s well worth it if you find a good one. You might want to call your insurance broker and see if they have any private adjusters that they can recommend or check with your friends, your family. Check Angie’s List, check ServiceMagic, check some of those online review sites. Find a good insurance adjuster and file the claim with them.

    Now, aside from this issue, I will tell you that the reason the basement flooded is most likely because of the grading and the drainage outside the house. You’ve got too much water that was discharging near the foundation. It might be that the gutters were clogged, you don’t have gutters, those (inaudible at 0:05:57) are too close to the corners. You’ve got to fix all that up and this way, you won’t have a problem that crops up the next time


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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Edie on the line who is dealing with some dirty windows. What can we do for you?

    EDIE: Hi. Yes, I’m just calling to see how I can keep my windows clean. I have a problem with water from when the (inaudible at 0:06:27) water hits my windows?

    TOM: OK.

    EDIE: And it builds up and I have to take a razor blade and scrape them. I can clean them but the next time I water the lawn, they get dirty again. Is there anything I can put on the windows that would keep them from being so dirty from the rainwater – I mean from the sprinkler water.

    TOM: Yeah, I have two thoughts for you, Edie. First of all, can you – is this a home that you own or rent?

    EDIE: It’s my parents’ home.

    TOM: OK. So then you have control of the sprinkler system. Those sprinkler heads can be adjusted so that they’re not hitting your windows. They are adjustable and you don’t have to put up with them spraying in the windows. In fact, you’re probably wasting water. So, first of all …

    EDIE: Well, I actually – it’s actually in a basement that I live and the grass comes right up to the window.

    TOM: OK. I understand that but you can adjust them, you can change the flow to them. You may be able to reduce the volume of water.

    That said, the other idea I have for you is – and this is a product for cars but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for your basement windows – is to put Rain-X on them.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s really smart.

    TOM: When you put Rain-X on your windshield, the raindrops just sort of blow off of them as you drive down the road; it kind of causes them to bead up. And there’s no reason you couldn’t use Rain-X on those windows. So that would definitely save you some number of cleanings because – probably at least cut them in half, I would think.

    EDIE: Yeah. Now, I’ve never used Rain-X. Is it a product that just sprays on?

    TOM: No. It comes in a little, like liquid container and you sort of squirt it on. Then you clean the windows and you squirt it on there and you let it dry; it dries to a haze. Then you take a slightly damp cloth and wipe it off again and it’s crystal-clear when it’s all done.

    EDIE: OK. Perfect. I’ll try that. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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, August is upon us. I cannot believe how quickly the summer, end of this year are just flying by. So if you’ve got some projects you want to tackle before the fall season starts to come in, give us a call. We’ll give you a hand with those last-minute summer projects before the summer season is through. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, a simple recipe to fix a common problem that drives us all a little crazy. We’re going to show you how to make those white water rings on wood furniture disappear for good. That’s coming up, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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 should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win the Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. The winner is also going to get a copy of our book and a $25 gift card from The Home Depot, which totals up to a prize package worth 55 bucks, all for picking up the phone and letting us help you solve your home improvement problems. So pick up the phone right now and call us at 888-666-3974. One caller we talk to on the air this hour will win.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with what you are working on. But first, it is time now for this week’s Fresh Idea, which is presented by Trewax, makers of Trewax All-Natural Floor Cleaner.

    Well, we’ve all forgotten to use a coaster from time to time, unless you’re Tom’s kids; then you forget all the time.

    TOM: All the time.

    LESLIE: Or my husband, who also forgets all the time. And you guys know what happens when you forget to use the coaster and your cold drink sits on a nice piece of wood furniture: you end up with those really not-good looking, white water rings.

    Now, there’s a couple of easy ways to get rid of these and they’re pretty annoying, so you do want to get rid of them. First of all, you can actually make a paste of baking soda and water and then you can rub it into the surface. Then you want to let it sit for a few minutes and wipe it off.

    You can also use an oily product, maybe like mayonnaise or petroleum jelly, not together. One or the other. And just let them sit on the ring for a bit and then wipe it away. And next time, just keep those coasters handy because it’ll save you a whole bunch of elbow grease if you just skip putting your cup down in the first place.

    TOM: This Fresh Idea has been brought to you by Trewax, makers of All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. And man, do they know how to keep those water rings off, huh? This is great for wood furniture, also, because it’s made from 100-percent all-natural ingredients. It’s perfectly safe to use around kids and pets. Visit Trewax.com to learn more.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Fred from Georgia on the line who’s dealing with a bug issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    FRED: Well, I have an exterminator to take care of everything on the inside of the house and my wife is really scared about poison around the kids and the pets.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    FRED: And this year, we have – I call them red bugs but I guess down here they’re chiggers and they are really bad in my yard.

    TOM: OK. Yeah.

    FRED: And I wondered if there is a way to control that without using poison.

    TOM: Well, I mean chiggers need moisture and shade so, generally, if you cut your grass fairly short, that becomes sort of a very bad habitat for them. And over time, if you do that, you’ll have fewer and fewer chiggers in your lawn.

    FRED: OK. Like what kind of time?

    TOM: Well, I can’t tell you for sure. I would expect that over a season, you’re going to start to thin them out.

    In terms of putting in a pesticide, yeah, I agree that it can be an issue. I know a lot of folks will use aerosol sprays, like permethrin-type sprays, and put them on their clothes that they wear outside. So it’s not exactly on your skin but it’s on your clothes and that stops them from attaching. An insect repellent that has DEET in it will also work.

    FRED: OK. Alright. We’ll, I’ve got fescue in it. It’s the top of summer here, so I don’t want to lose my lawn for the rest of the year.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Right.

    FRED: So, I’ll try to cut it a little bit short and just deal with it, I guess. I was hoping there was some way to do it bio or naturally that would give them an element they didn’t like, so …

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, try to keep your lawn as dry as you can because it’s really the moisture that they like. So, if you can water less frequently or shorter spouts more frequently just to keep the lawn maintained but not saturated, if that makes sense. This way, as it dries out in the soil, they’ll just burrow deeper and deeper or find somebody else’s yard.

    FRED: OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate it. Thank you, guys, much.

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

    LESLIE: Dan in Oregon is dealing with some squeaky floors. Tell us what’s going on.

    DAN: Well, I’ve got this hallway and the house is about 35 years old. And the only place in the house where you walk, where its squeaks all the time, is this particular hallway down to the bedrooms. The bedroom rooms themselves don’t squeak when you walk on them. The bathroom floor, it doesn’t squeak; it’s just this particular hallway. And I’m thinking about tearing up the carpet and putting new carpet in but I need to find out what I should do. It’s subflooring, 2×6, with pressed plywood on top of it.

    TOM: Alright, well, two options. Are you thinking about putting new carpet in now?

    DAN: Yes.

    TOM: OK, good. So here’s what I want you to do. When you pull up the old carpet, you’re going to find that that subfloor was nailed down to the floor joist. What I want you to do is to screw it down to the floor joist. You’re going to use long, case-hardened drywall screws. You can drive those in with a drill driver or a screwdriver. And that’s going to pull that floor in tight to the floor joist and make those squeaks go away.

    The noise that you’re hearing are either the tongue and grooves of the boards rubbing together – if you have tongue-and-groove plywood subfloor or a particleboard subfloor or even waferboard – or you’re hearing the nails as they pull in and out of the floor joist. So if you put screws in and pull that floor down really tight, that makes it absolutely silent.

    Now, there’s a way to drive a nail through carpet and do this and it works pretty good but it’s not nearly as good as screwing the whole floor down. So because you’re in the middle of a carpet-replacement project, once that carpet’s up – in all of the rooms, because you know as soon as you put the carpet down, even in those rooms that were fine, they’re going to start squeaking – screw the entire floor down. It’ll take you a couple of hours and it’s well worth it. Just again, do it with a drill driver. Real easy to do and the best way to stop your squeaks.

    DAN: Is there a particular type of screw?

    TOM: Well, depends on the thickness but I would probably use a 2½-inch drywall screw.

    DAN: A drywall, not – OK. Not …

    TOM: Yeah, a drywall screw. You put it in.

    LESLIE: They work for everything.

    TOM: You put a drill-driver bit in your power drill and you drive it in. No work involved.

    DAN: Alright.

    TOM: OK?

    DAN: I’ll give it a shot.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    It will work.

    LESLIE: I tell you, though, those types of projects are like the worst on your back. If you’ve ever done that in a big room, it makes you want to get …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I’ve seen – or maybe I’ve dreamt this. I swear I’ve seen a drill driver that’s sort of on a stick.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah, you have. You have. It has – there’s an attachment to a drill driver where it auto-feeds the screws and you’re right, it’s like a long sort of snout that goes off of it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, so you can do it standing up.

    TOM: Yeah, so you can do it standing up. Mm-hmm, that’s exactly correct.

    LESLIE: Because I’ve installed planking or decking on a deck – many decks.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: And halfway through those projects you’re like, “Oh, man, my aching back.”

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Well, good. I’m glad I didn’t dream it up.

    TOM: You got it.

    LESLIE: Kathleen in Colorado is looking to create an indoor garden. How can we help you with that project?

    KATHLEEN: Hi. Yes, I’m actually living in a basement apartment and so the lighting doesn’t seem to be as good. And I’d like to have an herb garden and the only place that I can really put it is in a darker corner, close to my kitchen. I don’t have any southern exposure at all and in the room where I would have it, I would have a little bit across the room of some eastern exposure in the morning and western exposure at night.

    I was looking at possibly putting up a baker’s rack and attaching grow lights somehow. I don’t know if you have any experience with this or if you think that would work.

    LESLIE: Hmm. So you want to create an herb garden in your basement apartment. You need lots of light. There’s actually – I mean there are so many different – I believe they’re called grow lights or horticultural lights. But each light has a different output that is meant for different types of gardening or plantings.

    And there’s actually a good website online called LittleGreenhouse.com. And they sort of sort out which type of grow light is best for whatever it is that you’re growing and where you’re growing it. There’s all sorts of things with wattage and wavelength. I do not have a green thumb, so I’m talking about this in a way of like, “I understand the concept but I would kill everything.”

    But I found the website to be useful in sort of sorting out what would work best for what conditions.

    KATHLEEN: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come, do you ever wonder why that one specific spot in your garden never bears any fruit on that tree? Well, the cause may very well be the climate that surrounds that particular plant.

    TOM: That’s right. They’re called microclimates and Roger Cook, the landscaping pro from TV’s This Old House, will join us next to show you how to make them work for you and your plants.

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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: And we make good homes better.

    Say, has your gas grill seen better days? If you are on the market to replace it – maybe you promised yourself that this would be the last summer and it turns out yes, it is the last summer. “I’ve got to replace it right now.” If you do so, you might want to check out our article on the features you should look for. Just Google “money pit gas grill” and we’ll bring you right there and you’ll know what to look for before you hit the market.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nick in Iowa on the line who’s building a new home and needs a hand. How can we help you?

    NICK: Yeah, I was wondering if you could tell me the proper way to insulate the exterior walls and the vapor barrier of the inside.

    TOM: Well, what are you – what kind of siding are you using?

    NICK: Right now, probably vinyl.

    TOM: Vinyl? OK. So, what you would do is you would insulate the interior walls. Do you want to use fiberglass?

    NICK: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. So, you would use a fiberglass with a vapor barrier attached. So the vapor barrier always goes towards the heated space or the living space, so the fiberglass will create the vapor barrier on the inside surface on which drywall goes. Outside, you would use a product like Tyvek, which is a different type of vapor barrier that goes under the siding. That helps stop some of the air infiltration, as well.

    So, basically, on the inside, you’re going to use the vapor barrier that’s attached to the fiberglass insulation. On the exterior, you’re going to use a building wrap like Tyvek.

    NICK: So like a paper-backed interior insulation?

    TOM: Yes.

    NICK: OK. Because they won’t let – in our area, they won’t let you put a vapor barrier like Visqueen or anything on the wall.

    TOM: Well, you wouldn’t put Visqueen, because you want something that’s vapor-permeable.

    LESLIE: And Visqueen is going to trap that moisture in and then cause mold.

    TOM: Yeah. But you use the vapor barrier that’s attached to the fiberglass insulation. That’s the easiest way to go.

    NICK: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    NICK: Great. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mary from South Dakota on the line whose kitchen is just cracking up and running away. What’s going on with this granite?

    MARY: Well, I thought it was a pretty sturdy stone but I noticed – we’ve been living in this house – we built it in 2006 – April 2006. And I noticed the other day when I went to clean off the countertop, I thought, “There’s a crack there.” And the granite piece is probably about 2 feet by 6 feet and this is at the right-hand side. It’s about 10 inches from the corner.


    MARY: And the crack is probably about 20 inches – 10 inches long. It’s a crooked crack and there’s just a very, very slight elevation on one side of it. And I didn’t think – I didn’t know granite really cracked, you know? I’m confused. So I’m calling you guys.

    TOM: A crooked crack. That’s the worst kind.

    MARY: It is the worst kind?

    TOM: Well, the thing is, granite is going to crack if it’s not supported well. So, there may be, for some …

    LESLIE: Yeah, I wonder if there’s been some movement with a lower cabinet.

    TOM: Right. It could be structural movement in the floor, it could be movement in the cabinet. It may be it wasn’t set right to begin with. But if it’s not held solidly, it doesn’t bend and so, what you’re seeing is the result of that.

    I’m wondering if – is it open enough where you want to seal it with something or you just want to live with it?

    MARY: Well, we’re not really sure. I thought I’d check with you and see what you think is the best thing is to replace it or if there’s any way to conceal it. I don’t think the house has really settled at all because I don’t see any cracks in the walls or anyplace. I haven’t really checked the level on the piece of granite, so I don’t know if it’s uneven or not but …

    TOM: If you could seal it, you probably would use a silicone for that. But you have to do it very carefully or it’s going to spill out all over the surface. So, what you’re going to do is have a very, very small opening to the caulk tube and squirt just enough to flow into the crack and then let it dry really, really well. Walk away, let it dry. Don’t touch it, don’t try to wipe it. And if there’s anything extra that gets on top, you can use a razorblade and cut it away.

    LESLIE: Just slice it off.

    TOM: It’ll become – it’ll be rubbery.

    MARY: OK. Do you ever hear that happening very often?

    TOM: No, not really. Because usually, if it’s going to crack, it happens when it’s first installed. But if you get past the installation – I’ve never heard of it cracking after the fact. So, I suspect something moved and that’s what happens.

    LESLIE: Well, when you’re planning your landscaping or your garden, it’s always a good idea to choose plants, shrubs and even flowers that are native to your geographic area.

    TOM: Absolutely. But beyond your geographic area, you can also get very specific about the climate right around your plants. These are actually called microclimates and planning for these very local conditions – here to tell us more about microclimates and help make sure that they assure the success of your garden or landscape is Roger Cook, the landscaping expert for TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: How are you?

    TOM: We are excellent. And how micro exactly are we talking here, Roger? Are there different climates kind of theoretically going on in different places in your yard?

    ROGER: Well, let’s start off with a broad point of view.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: There are hardiness zones that break up the United States into different areas of high and low temperature.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: This tells you what plant will survive in that area. Like if you buy a plant, you live in zone five? You go to the nursery, you find a plant that’ll grow in zone five so you know you’re safe.

    TOM: Got it.

    ROGER: Now, if the zone goes colder, like zone four, a zone-four plant will grow in a zone five. If you have a plant that likes warmer temperatures, like a zone seven or eight, and you put that in a zone five, it’s going to die.

    TOM: So palm trees in New Jersey don’t do so well.

    ROGER: Only if you can take them inside for the winter. But as a general rule, no.

    TOM: Alright. So, we know that we have to match our planting to our specific hardiness zone but beyond that, when you get into your own yard, there are conditions that can actually change that and almost move a section of the yard into a different hardiness zone, theoretically, correct?

    ROGER: That’s right. And it happens both on the warm side and the cold side. We’ve had several places where the sun will hit off a concrete wall and that gathers and retains the heat.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So that area there, we could actually grow a plant that would be out of its zone, because of those warm temperatures. The other thing that happens in that warm zone is those plants will grow faster or flower earlier than other plants in the yard.

    LESLIE: But will that zone – that new sort of microclimate that you’ve created just because of this perchance that you’re reflecting the sun off of this building – will that continue throughout the year? Or once you get into a winter season, is that going to be really detrimental to that plant?

    ROGER: It’ll revert back to whatever zone you’re in, so you’ve got to be careful. Most people find that with a warm microclimate, the plants bloom earlier and they’re always wondering why. And that’s why.

    Then there’s the other side of the house: the north side. Now, it doesn’t get any sun and that stays colder, so you’re almost in a colder area. So what you should do is balance that: make sure you put the right plants that will take that coldness, like a zone-four plant, in that area.

    LESLIE: Now, Roger, this is all really fascinating. I mean so many things can affect how your garden succeeds so is there an example where you’ve seen this in effect?

    ROGER: We actually did a project on Ask This Old House where we had a homeowner who had a set of stairs with matching plantings on either side of the stairs; they had a dwarf Alberta spruce on either side. The one side, the plant was all shriveling up and diseased because of the heat that was caused in that one corner. The other side, the plant was beautiful.

    So we took out the dwarf Alberta spruce, which wasn’t dealing well with that heat in the sun, and we put in a yew, which had the same shape as the other dwarf Alberta spruce but would tolerate those conditions there.

    LESLIE: And it all worked out?

    ROGER: It all worked out beautiful.

    TOM: So it sounds like what you’re saying, Roger, is that, typically, we see a plant that doesn’t do well or seems to do extraordinarily well and we always blame it on the plant or on the soil. But we really need to expand our view to kind of think about what’s happening right around that area of the building – of the yard, the sunlight, the reflecting surfaces – to really get an understanding of what’s going on there.

    ROGER: Right. That particular microclimate could be affecting that plant’s performance and you described it perfectly, Tom.

    TOM: So the choice might be to move up or down in hardiness zones based on what you’re seeing in that particular area, if the plant is not doing well.

    ROGER: That’s right. So we’ve just about confused everyone and they don’t know what to do.

    TOM: Well, I think the point is that there’s a lot more than just choosing the plant in the zone; you really need to look at what’s around it. And this kind of advice is very, very insightful. We’re going to have a lot of gardeners out there going, “Aha. Now I know why it’s not doing so well.”

    Roger Cook, who always helps us do well with our landscaping chores, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: You’re welcome.

    LESLIE: And remember, guys, you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House, which are on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Still ahead, a mini-kitchen makeover in the form of some gadgets that can make life easier. We’re going to tell you about kitchen improvements to make your home more accessible, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    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 you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because we are going to help you with all of your summer home improvement solutions. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. And the winner of this kit is also going to get a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit and a $25 gift card to The Home Depot.

    It’s a prize pack worth 55 bucks but you have to call 888-MONEY-PIT, ask a home improvement question on the air. Don’t worry; we don’t bite. And one caller that we talk to is going to win this great summer prize.

    TOM: Well, making your home more accessible for you or even for an older loved one is a good idea and also a good investment. That’s why it’s time now to tell you about some simple ways to do that, in this episode of In the Kitchen, which is presented by InSinkErator.

    A good first step for accessibility is to consider using lever-handle faucets or even touch faucets. Have you seen these?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It’s the newest technology and it turns the water on and off just by a touch of the faucet. It’s kind of like the touch lamps but it turns the faucet on and off.

    LESLIE: Can I tell – my mom still has one of those.

    TOM: Really? She (inaudible at 0:29:52).

    LESLIE: She does.

    TOM: I bet she has the Clapper, too? Clap on, clap off?

    LESLIE: No. She’s not there yet but she’s got the touch lamp, so I know the faucet is not far behind.

    TOM: Well, another easy upgrade is to add a pot-filler spout near the range, which can help you avoid carrying a heavy, water-filled pot from the sink to the stove. I think that that makes so much sense because all of those big sauce pots and – are what, 2, 3 gallons? And at 8 pounds per gallon, that’s pretty heavy.

    LESLIE: It gets really heavy.

    And then what you can do when you’re emptying the pasta is have a really deep bowl next to it with your strainer or your colander, rather, and just scoop out your pasta and put it in that colander. This way, that hot water is going into another bowl and then you can just walk away with the pasta and somebody else can help you with that heavy water again.

    TOM: Exactly.

    Now, you also might want to consider adding an instant water dispenser. InSinkErator water dispensers not only give you instant hot water at 190 degrees but they also provide cool, filtered drinking water, which I think a lot of folks don’t realize that those water dispensers deliver both hot and cool filtered water.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s great if you’re making coffee or tea or even just warming up a baby bottle. You know, there’s so many uses for this kitchen appliance, it truly makes your life easier. And with 11 designer finishes, InSinkErator offers a range of models to really complement whatever your design style, whatever your kitchen is looking like.

    If you want some more information or just to check it out, head on over to www.InSinkErator.com.

    TOM: That’s I-n-S-i-n-k-E-r-a-t-o-r.com. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Jean in North Carolina needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    JEAN: Yes, ma’am. Got quite a bit of blood on my nice carpeting and had a professional carpet cleaner in. He put a protein on. It helped but there’s still blood there.

    TOM: Do we need to know why you got blood on your carpet?

    LESLIE: Should we be calling the authorities? 

    JEAN: No, I just fell on my nose. 

    TOM: Oh. Oh.

    LESLIE: Oh and what – that bleeds so much when you hit your face.

    TOM: I hope you weren’t doing a home improvement project at the same time.

    LESLIE: Hmm. What color is the carpet? Is it a dark color or is it super-light?

    JEAN: It’s solid, dark. It’s a nice blue but a little bit on the dark side.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Hmm. Because, generally, a good remover is going to be hydrogen peroxide but that might also take the color out of the carpet.

    TOM: I think if you go a little bit at a time and try the hydrogen peroxide and see if it removes the blood without removing the color of the carpet, you may find that you could lighten it up a bit.

    JEAN: I’ll try it in the corner where no one would see it.

    TOM: Give it a shot.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a great summer picnic is a nice way to have fun in the sun, right? But if your napkins and tablecloths are now showing signs that perhaps folks had a little bit too much fun and left all sorts of picnic stains behind, you might need a few laundering tips. We’re going to share some great stain-solving advice, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by The Iron Shop, the leading manufacturer of spiral stair kits. Visit www.TheIronShop.com today to find out how you can own a beautiful, iron spiral staircase.

    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 summer means dining al fresco. But while picnics are fun and cleanup is usually easy, eating while balancing a plate on your lap can sometimes lead to a wardrobe malfunction in the form of stains that need special laundering.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what to clean what stain with, it really kind of gets confusing. Because if you do one thing, it’s going to set it but if you do another thing, it’s going to make it go away. So we created a master list of tips that’s going to help you get rid of all sorts of picnic stains that happen to find their way to your pants, especially if you’re wearing white pants.

    So all you need to do is go to MoneyPit.com and search “picnic stains” and you’re going to learn how to remove stains from your clothing, your outdoor furnishings, all types of things: barbecue sauce, mustard, berries, even sunscreen. So check it out because there’s a lot of formulas you have to follow: a half a teaspoon of this, a little bit of that. And if you get it right, you’re going to get all those stains out.

    And while you’re on MoneyPit.com, please check out the Community section because we’ve got lots of great information there. You are all posting all of the projects you are working on. You’re commenting on things, Tom and I are on there and you can also post a question and we’ll answer those during the show.

    And I’ve got one here from Jim in Michigan who posted: “Have you ever heard of having a misting ring on an air conditioner? The water turns on when the air conditioner comes on and mists the coil of the compressor while the unit is running.”

    TOM: Yes. There’s a couple of products out there …

    LESLIE: Well, what is the purpose of this?

    TOM: Theoretically, it is designed to lower the temperature of the intake air on the air-conditioning compressor using the principles of evaporative cooling.


    TOM: Now, not to get too technical but the easiest way I’ve ever been able to explain what evaporative cooling is is you know when you go to a bathroom, like in a restaurant, and have one of those hand dryers? And you put your hands under it and it feels cold right away?

    LESLIE: Yes. Yes.

    TOM: And you figure, “Well, it’s just not warmed up yet”? Well, it actually …

    LESLIE: But it’s taking the moisture out, right?

    TOM: Right. It’s evaporating the moisture off your skin. That’s why it feels cold, because as the moisture evaporates, it changes from what’s called latent heat to sensitive heat and that’s the coolness that you feel.

    So imagine if you were to spray moisture on the back of an air conditioner near the intake side, as air is drawn into it, the moisture actually forces evaporative cooling and cools the temperature, cools the coil. So theoretically, if the air is cooler, it’s going to run a little bit more efficiently.

    Some people love them; some people don’t see any change whatsoever by using them. If they’re not too expensive, you want to try it, see what you think, that’s fine. I really don’t have a strong feeling about it one way or the other. Personally, I’d rather buy an air conditioner based on the energy-efficiency ratio, the ER number, and just kind of count on that without trying any other gizmos or gadgets. But there are people out there that swear by them.

    And I don’t see any harm, as long as the water is only coming on when the A/C is on. It’s not very much water, so you’re not wasting a lot of water. But it’s basically designed to cool the air temperature as it goes into the unit.

    LESLIE: OK. Well, alright, Jim. I hope that sorts that out for you.

    Now I’ve got one here from Jane in Alaska who posted: “My grout in the shower is flaking off. It is charcoal gray in color, so it’s very noticeable. Should I clean it thoroughly with a stiff brush and reseal it with grout sealer or do I have to replace it?”

    If it’s flaking off, it’s probably time to replace it.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah.

    LESLIE: If you clean it, you’re going to lose half of it.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you can clean it. It’s something structurally wrong with it. So I think you’re going to have to take it out. If it’s just not sticking, I would take it out.

    You can get a grout knife and – which is sort of a hand tool for getting it out. Or you can use various types of grout saws that are out there that sort of grind out the grout. But definitely, do a really good job cleaning it all out, spray it down with a mildicide, get everything out that’s behind it so you have no moisture or mildew in there. Then re-grout the whole thing and you should be good to go.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Once you’ve re-grouted and it’s all set, go ahead and seal that grout. This way …

    TOM: Immediately.

    LESLIE: Immediately. Don’t even shower first. Let it dry, seal it. Otherwise, you’re going to get some stains on there; it will never come out. So seal it while it’s clean.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com, where the show continues right now. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Remember, you can pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question, any time of the day or night, at 888-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.

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    (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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