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Improve Indoor Air Quality, Composting Lawn and Household Waste, Plumbing Problems Avoided 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    Well, it’s starting to get chilly outside now and that means that we’re going to be spending a lot more time inside our homes.
    LESLIE: Fall, it might not sound like the time of year to take on a gardening project but it’s actually the perfect time to start a compost pile. You’ve got plenty of yard waste around your property to help lay the foundation for the compost pile. We’re going to share tips on composting your yard and your household waste, in just a few minutes.
    TOM: Plus, also ahead, plumbers have told us that this is their busy season, especially with kitchen drains and disposers. Why? Well, there’s one activity that’s very, very popular in the fall, that can really do a number on your plumbing and it keeps the plumbers very, very happy because they get to do lots and lots of service calls. We’re going to tell you what that is and how to avoid doing any damage to your system, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got a $100 gift card to Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends over at Pella Windows and Doors and that’ll help you get a great head start on your fall home improvement projects.
    TOM: So let’s get a head start right now. You’ve got to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Tammy in Michigan is looking to makeover a kitchen. How can we help you?
    TAMMY: Well, I’m wondering if you know anything about or can walk me through the process of using the product out on the market that is – like you paint your old countertops?
    TAMMY: It leaves a hard granite – a hard surface.
    LESLIE: So, currently you have a laminate of some sort?
    TAMMY: I do. It’s a 1979 faux butcher block.
    TOM: Oh, so you want to go from a faux butcher block to a faux granite top.
    TAMMY: Yes, there you go.
    TOM: Alright.
    LESLIE: But it doesn’t have to be granite, you know. There are so many different manufacturers that make these counter paints. One of them is Rust-Oleum, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. They have – it’s a counter paint kit but it’s really just one product in a box and I think they’re labeling it as Counter Makeover, Counter Paint. If you go to RustOleum.com and search products, you’ll find exactly what it is.
    And the only downside is it needs three days to cure, so you need to make sure that once you prep the surface and roll out the paint, that you really, really let it dry. And that’s available in 12 solid colors, I believe.
    Modern Masters, which is like – I believe it’s the same company as Rust-Oleum; under the umbrella – but they’re more high-end finishes, so I think the kit’s going to run in the $200 range whereas the countertop paint’s only going to be in the $20 range. But Modern Masters makes one that is really phenomenal when it comes to trying to get a granite look and it’s very user-friendly.
    There’s another company called GIANI that makes a granite paint but that one’s sort of more like a sponge painting kit, so you get a different effect. Not sure of the price point on that one but whatever you do, make sure you follow the prep procedures, make sure you clean it and do whatever they tell you to do so that you want it to stick. And really let it dry before you put anything back on top of it.
    TAMMY: OK, awesome. Thanks so much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Jim in South Carolina is dealing with a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.
    JIM: We had – I had to have our flooring replaced and it’s been about a year ago. And we have a scratch across the planks.
    TOM: OK.
    JIM: It goes across in an arc and it crosses about six planks. I’ve tried lots of different things. I’ve heard a lot of different suggestions but nothing really takes care of that and I was trying to find out if there’s a way to get that looking decent without removing the boards and putting them back. I do have the wood in case it comes to that but I just wondered if there’s something simple.
    TOM: Alright. How long is the scratch?
    JIM: It’s about 4 feet long.
    TOM: Oof, wow. That’s a big one.
    JIM: It’s 5-inch.
    TOM: And what kind of floor is this? Was it a prefinished hardwood floor?
    JIM: Yes.
    TOM: You’re going to have to replace it.
    TOM: It’s very difficult to refinish a prefinished floor, I will tell you that, because when you sand off the old finish, you almost never – even if you have the materials from the manufacturer – it almost never comes up right. The easiest thing for you to do is to tear those out and replace them.
    JIM: OK. Well I’ve tried and nobody down here wants to tackle the job.
    TOM: Yeah, well, it’s kind of an impossible job. I mean if you had a small scratch, I would tell you to use a wax stick. There’s a way that you can get – Minwax has these stain sticks that work really well. You melt them a little bit with a lighter and they drip the wax into the crack – into the gouge – and kind of buff it and it hides the whole thing really, really well. But you can’t do that with a 4-foot-long scratch.
    JIM: Yeah, right.
    TOM: Why did it take them 4 feet to figure out they were dragging something across the floor?
    JIM: It was a person who was helping me move it across the floor. He didn’t want to use the dolly and he grabbed the end and pushed it across before I could say no.  Son, you know how they are.
    TOM: Oh, well.
    JIM: They know everything these days.
    TOM: You can’t hate them too much.
    JIM: Right.
    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. This time of year, it’s so wonderful to get your home in tip-top shape before the winter season, which is right around the corner. And oh my goodness, Halloween, the first sort of official holiday of this time of year, just sort of springboards us all into Thanksgiving and Christmas. My goodness.
    So let us help you get your house ready for the ultimate busy season, which is right around the corner. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, before you close your windows and doors against all of that chilly, winter weather, it’s a good idea to take stock of exactly what you’re breathing when it comes to indoor air. You can make that air healthier for you and your family, though. We’re going to tell you how, after this.
    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 up to five 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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why? Well, because you’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question plus one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 gift card for Lowe’s, courtesy of Pella Windows and Doors.
    Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project with 31 ways to save during 31 days of October. Spend your money wisely with energy-saving products like Pella’s 350 Series Vinyl Sliding Patio Door.
    LESLIE: Yeah. And these patio doors meet or even exceed Energy Star guidelines in all 50 states. And if you install qualifying Pella products by the end of the year, that $1,500 tax credit is still up for grabs.
    The 350 Series Patio Doors will even match with just about any décor. The hardware comes in white or almond, bright brass, satin nickel or even oil-rubbed bronze, which is so popular right now. Check out Pella.com/TaxCredit for more information.
    And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that great gift card, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Ohio where Rita is looking to experiment with paint chemistry. What’s going on, Rita?
    RITA: Well, we have a basement that has a little room in it. It’s kind of like a cellar. And I had different paints and I want to paint the floor and I want it to look like stone.
    RITA: What I have is a brick color that is gloss, I have some cream color that is flat and then I have some brown and some cream that is satin. And my question is, I want to use them up and I want to know if I can take the gloss and the flat and mix it.
    LESLIE: Mix them together?
    RITA: Uh-huh.
    TOM: Bad idea. Hmm. Bad idea.
    LESLIE: It’s going to mess with the adhesion.
    TOM: First of all, it’s not a good – this is a basement floor?
    RITA: Yes.
    TOM: Yeah. And this is not basement-floor paint, is it?
    RITA: No, this is just an indoor …
    TOM: Yeah, yeah, not – first of all, you’re not going to have the durability that you need for a floor paint, because you’re talking about a wall paint.
    LESLIE: Well, unless you put like a million coats of urethane or something on top of it.
    TOM: On top of it, yeah.
    RITA: OK.
    TOM: Yeah, bad idea. I would save it and look for another wall to apply it to. But for a basement floor, you want to use an epoxy paint today. Basically a two-part epoxy; it’s the epoxy and the hardener. You use that because it adheres well to the concrete.
    LESLIE: And it deals well with that moisture issue that you get from concrete.
    TOM: Right.
    RITA: OK.
    TOM: And it’s also very durable.
    RITA: Even though we have a dehumidifier in here?
    LESLIE: Yes.
    RITA: OK.
    LESLIE: Because the moisture that that concrete floor is going to sort of absorb and wick up is coming from the ground underneath your house and surrounding the foundation. So no matter what you do to control the moisture level inside the basement room, you’re still dealing with everything that’s on the outside.
    And coming with the winter season, you’re just going to get a ton more of that moisture coming up through because of the heat differences: the heated basement, the cold outside, the cold ground. So you really have to be careful with that.
    Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get that epoxy coatings and buy two or three different colors and create your stone pattern to get that same look, with that ultra-durable finish.
    RITA: Sounds good. Well thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: John in Texas is calling in with a power question. What can we do for you today?
    JOHN: I was curious about this device. I was looking on the internet. It’s called the Power Wagon. It’s a gasless generator and it’s 5kw. I went ahead and called the company and did a little research and I understand they’ve got a 10kw, also.
    And I was looking at potentially modifying some of the electricity used in my house with something like that; not only hunting, fishing and other uses I could think of. But what are your thoughts on the availability of that? It’s got these big batteries that apparently are valid for five years. They’re bigger than car and pickup-truck batteries.
    TOM: Yeah but doesn’t this product have to be driven around to charge? It’s basically a trailer.
    JOHN: Yeah. Yeah, they said it did; it does. They have two other options: a wind option and a solar panel. But their look of it is, you know, it takes 40 minutes totally to recharge and you’re going to be going to Wal-Mart anyways. And so I’m looking at it as clean energy.
    TOM: Yeah.
    JOHN: If you’re going to go somewhere and you have the vehicle that can tow it, because it’s not very heavy …
    TOM: Yeah, well let’s think about that. Now, you’re going to spend a lot of energy towing this thing around for 40 minutes to charge it up; so you spent a fair amount of gasoline doing that. You know, there’s a lot of stretching of the term “green” these days and that just kind of feels like what this is. I mean I guess “green” is what it means to you personally but, for me, that’s not feeling real green at the moment.
    I have a backup standby generator for my house. I have a Generac and I like it because it runs off of natural gas. I’m fortunate because I have natural gas. It could also run off of propane, though. And it’s automatically wired into my electrical system so that if I have a power failure, the entire house is repowered within about 15 to 30 seconds. So, that’s a pretty convenient, efficient way of supplying backup power.
    Now, if you were a contractor and you were driving around all the time and you didn’t want to use a gasoline-powered generator, this seems like it could be an option. Basically, it’s a couple of batteries on a trailer, you drive it around, the wheels of the trailer seem to charge the batteries and that’s fine. I don’t think it’s a good option for a house.
    JOHN: Yeah. Well, thanks a lot for the feedback.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You know what? I could see, from a standpoint, say, with these home makeover shows, when we go there and we’re tapping into their power to charge and use all of our tools outside.
    TOM: Right. Right.
    LESLIE: I mean hey, great. Sure, driving to the jobsite anyway; then plug in my tools that I need to use electricity and charge my batteries on that, fantastic.
    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.
    LESLIE: But you’re right. This is not an ideal situation for a house in the event of a storm or an emergency.
    TOM: No. For a contractor it might be a good option but I don’t think it’s a replacement for a standby generator.
    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Henry from New York on the line, calling in about a basement question. What can we do for you?
    HENRY: I have a full basement – a cinder block basement – and I used the pitch-a-static (ph) on the inside and now with the humidity, when it sweats, I’ve got a really bad moisture problem.
    TOM: OK.
    HENRY: And I was wondering what can I use to get the pitch-a-static (ph) off of the cinder blocks?
    TOM: And you put it on the inside?
    HENRY: I put it on the outside and on the inside.
    TOM: You were really trying to make your house float, weren’t you, Henry?
    HENRY: Right, exactly. Hoping.
    TOM: You turned it into a boat.
    HENRY: Yeah.
    TOM: Yeah. So now what you have is the same problem you had when you started and that is that you’ve got a serious moisture problem that’s got to be managed. So, there’s a couple of things that we want you to do.
    Number one, we want you to take some steps to reduce the volume of moisture that’s getting into that block wall and that’s going to start outside your house. So you need to take a look at your gutter system. We want to make sure that you have adequate downspouts, that the gutter system is clean. You need one spout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface and the downspouts are extended well away from the house. And by that, I mean at least 6 feet.
    HENRY: OK.
    TOM: Now once you do that, I want you to look at your grading. We want to make sure the soil around the house is sloping away from the walls. Now, if the soil is flat – if it’s settled, like most homes have – you need to add more. You’ll add clean filtered and you’ll tamp that down so you’ll have a slope of about 6 inches over 4 feet.
    HENRY: OK.
    TOM: Now, those two things are going to stop all the water from collecting around the foundation and wicking back into the house.
    Inside, you’re going to need to do some dehumidification. What kind of heat do you have? Is it a forced-air system?
    HENRY: Yeah. Forced air.
    TOM: And is your basement covered by that system?
    HENRY: Yes, part of it.
    TOM: Well, one of the best things you could do is put in what’s called a whole-home dehumidifier. You have a real serious moisture problem; that’s going to help a lot. That gets installed into the HVAC system and that can take out, oh, somewhere around 11 gallons of water a day from the air.
    HENRY: Oh, OK.
    TOM: Now, that’s going to be expensive. If you want to try something that’s less expensive, there’s a system called E-Z Breathe, which is at EZBreathe.com. And what that does is it actually helps depressurize the basement ever so slightly and replace it with conditioned air from the upstairs.
    Do you have air conditioning in the house?
    HENRY: Yeah, not central air.
    TOM: You have window units.
    LESLIE:  Window units.
    HENRY: Yeah, yeah.
    TOM: Yeah. So that would help, as well. So take a look at EZBreathe.com; think about a whole-home system. But most importantly, you really need to reduce the amount of moisture that’s against the house.
    LESLIE: Up next, Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from This Old House is going to share some advice with us on how to start a compost pile and what you can and cannot put in it.
    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is presented by Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Since 1935, Trewax products have set the standard for quality floor care, with a line of waxes, sealers and cleaning products.
    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: Join us on Facebook, won’t you? Just text “Fan The Money Pit” to Fbook at 32665. We wish you would do this, because our Facebook page needs your face on it to make it perfect. It’s not quite there just yet and you know décor is important to us. And if we feel like if you add your face to it, it’ll just be perfect. That’s the only thing that’s missing.
    LESLIE: It’s the icing on the cake. We need it.
    TOM: So go ahead and “Fan The Money Pit” to Fbook at 32665.
    LESLIE: Kathy in Missouri is calling in with a patio question. What can we do for you?
    KATHY: Ah, yes, I have a big crack in my patio. It’s a long crack and I put like cement or had someone patch it and it didn’t hold. And then there’s a smaller crack going off to the side of it.
    TOM: Yep.
    KATHY: And I’ve had to repair that.
    TOM: Yeah, well, we’re not surprised that it didn’t hold, because you cannot repair a concrete patio with cement; that’s not going to work. Even though it seems like the material should be compatible, they’re kind of not. And the reason is is because what happens is, water gets underneath that new cement patch that you made and it lifts it right out.
    So, what you want to do is get an epoxy patching compound, which is something that you can mix up and trowel on to those cracks. And it’s specifically designed to both fill in the voids and also to seal.
    KATHY: Epoxy.
    TOM: Epoxy, yeah. That’s the best way to repair any kind of a crack in a concrete surface, Kathy. It’s a permanent fix, OK?
    KATHY: OK. Well thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thank you very much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, fall may not seem like the best time to start a gardening project but with a never-ending supply of leaves and yard clippings on hand, it’s actually the perfect time to start a compost pile.
    TOM: That’s right. Composting is a great way to recycle organic material. It’ll give you homemade fertilizer to help you cut down on all that bagging so many of us have to go through to get rid of organic debris. Here to tell us how to get this job done the right way is Roger Cook, the landscaping pro from TV’s This Old House.
    Hi, Roger.
    ROGER: Hi. You know what they say, compost happens.
    TOM: And it’s a very natural process. So tell us exactly how it works and how we get the best compost to have it ready for spring.
    ROGER: Well, it’s a totally natural operation where things break down to their elements.
    TOM: OK.
    ROGER: So what we’re going to break down is the browns, which tend to be leaves, and the green, which tends to be grass material.
    TOM: OK.
    ROGER: Combine this and what I like to do is have people combine it at a ratio of three to one – three browns to one green – and that should give you the perfect compost when it breaks down.
    LESLIE: And you don’t need to add anything into this pile in your yard? Because I know when you get to sort of household composting – you know, food sources inside the house – there might be like a worm or something that goes in there. Truly, everything you need is outside?
    ROGER: Well, there’s a couple things you can do to kind of – I use an accelerator. And usually, the accelerator I use is other compost, because it already has microbes in it. It’ll have worms in it and it’ll have all the things you need to get that pile started. And when you don’t put it in, those things slowly come up from the bottom of the pile and get into the whole pile. But if you turn the pile over with those, then you’re speeding up the process, too.
    LESLIE: Now, do you actually have to build some sort of containment unit or do I need just a free pile of things sitting in my yard somewhere?
    TOM: And is there a location that’s better? I mean does it need more sun or less sun?
    ROGER: Sun is always better and someplace where if it does rain, it’ll get some rainfall helps; so not directly underneath the tree.
    As far as – there are a gazillion things you can buy to do the compost. There are things that spin that accelerate it very quickly. I’ve used chicken wire to make a circle and fill it with that or if you have enough property, you can just make a large pile. The secret is to turn it over. If you just let it sit there by itself, it can become stagnant.
    LESLIE: If you decide to compost your yard items – the grass, the leaves, et cetera – can you then add, say, the banana peels and the things from inside the house from your food or is it better to just sort of keep those two guys separate?
    ROGER: A lot of people will use them but the problem I have is that rodents will end up getting in the pile. If you’re throwing in some meat, some fruit and things like that – I have a neighbor who does it – and a lot of their vegetation ends up in my yard when the rat (Tom and Leslie chuckle) come – drops it on the way through the yard. Yeah, that’s the only problem with that.
    So if you’re going to do that type of product, you need it in something you can keep closed so that the animals can’t get at it.
    TOM: I would imagine that the microbes probably have a harder time breaking down the meats and the cheeses than they might the grass and the leaves, too.
    ROGER: It’ll take a little longer for the whole process to happen, yeah.
    TOM: But the key is really aeration, as you say.
    ROGER: Aeration and water; that’s what it needs to build up the heat inside that. Now, if you are going to add grass to it, the one recommendation I would make is not to put in a grass that has pesticide or insecticides in it. It can affect the microbes in the pile and we want to just keep those out of our whole compost pile.
    LESLIE: Is there any odor associated? Does it …?
    ROGER: If you’re doing it right, there is no odor to it. If you’re doing it wrong, then you will get a smell from the pile.
    LESLIE:  Then it’s going to stink.
    ROGER: And that’s that stagnant smell that you’re going to get. Good compost, you can pick it up in your hand and it just – earthy smell, that’s all it has.
    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook, the landscaping expert from TV’s This Old House.
    Roger, so if we do everything right – we’ve got the right mix; we’ve got the right location; we’ve been aerating; we’ve been watering – how do you know when the cake is ready to eat? How do you know when the compost pile is done?
    LESLIE:  But don’t eat it.
    TOM: But don’t eat it.
    ROGER: Yeah, don’t eat it.
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: Don’t make compost pie. It’ll …
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: You’ll take it in your hands and you feel it.
    TOM: Right.
    ROGER: It’ll be all crumbly; everything’ll be broken down and then you know it’s ready. Some people will go as far as to take a heat sample in the middle of it; they look for 150 to 180 degrees. That’s how much heat it’ll build up in the center of this.
    But most people, we just take and feel it and you can tell when it’s done.
    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    ROGER: You’re welcome.
    TOM: And there are lots of great articles on this topic on the This Old House website at ThisOldHouse.com.
    LESLIE: And remember, you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House, on your local PBS station.
    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
    Up next, pumpkin guts are a perfect addition to that compost pile but there are a couple of places you should never, ever dispose of your jack-o’-lantern leftovers. We’ll tell you what to avoid, after this.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Noritz. Get an Energy Star-qualified Noritz tankless, gas water heater installed in your home and save up to 40 percent on your water-heating costs. Visit LoveMyHotWater.com and never worry about running out of hot water again.
    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 we’d love to hear what you’re working on, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT so we can give you a hand with your project. But also, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away a $100 gift card to Lowe’s and that’s courtesy of our friends over at Pella Windows and Doors.
    Now, Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project with 31 ways to save during the 31 days in October. And you can spend your money wisely with energy-saving products like Pella’s 350 Series Vinyl Sliding Patio Door.
    TOM: And those patio doors actually meet or exceed the Energy Star guidelines in all 50 states. And if you install those qualifying Pella products by the end of the year, you can also qualify for that $1,500 tax credit, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
    So give us a call right now for your chance to win that $100 gift card from Lowe’s. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, every Halloween season, American plumbers get the call to repair garbage disposers and kitchen sink drains, which have become clogged with sticky pumpkin, pulp and seeds.
    TOM: Yuck.
    LESLIE: I can’t even believe this. I’m like, “You should be making those seeds in the oven and throwing out that pulp.”
    Well, the goopy by-product of your favorite jack-o’-lantern is unfortunately ideal for clogging household drains because that pulp, it dries and then it hardens inside of those pipes and your disposers and that can cause a whole bunch of problems.
    TOM: So, here’s what you need to do. Never ever put the pumpkin guts down the kitchen sink. Bad idea. Or worse, don’t ever attempt to flush them down your toilet. Why do we say this?
    LESLIE:  Really?
    TOM: Because people actually try it and they call us for solutions and they call plumbers for cleaning those toilets to get the pumpkin guts out, which is a very disgusting job. Any time you have to clean your toilet out, it’s not a happy place to put stuff. So, get rid of it.
    LESLIE: Well and I mean come on, the pulp is kind of gross pulling it out of the pumpkin in the first place. So imagine what happens to it when it’s down the drain.
    TOM: Right, right. So a better idea is to simply carve those pumpkins on a bed of newspapers and then wrap up the mess and throw all of that pumpkin-related stuff into the garbage can or better yet, pumpkin guts and leftover pumpkin pieces are perfect for adding to the new compost pile, which you know – which you now know how to build thanks to those tips we just got from Roger Cook.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, guys? Better yet, sort out the seeds, rinse them off, spread them on a cookie sheet, sprinkle some salt on them and bake them in the oven at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy the best seasonal snack ever.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to some of those seasonal questions.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jim in North Dakota who needs some help with a propane tank.
    JIM: What I have, I have a 1,000-gallon propane tank and it sits under a tree and it’s been years. I just figured it out, it’s about 15 years since it’s had paint on it. And of course, the sap and things – it hasn’t been washed in that many years, either – so there’s some rust spots that are fairly deep in a lot of places. Most of it on the top; not so bad on the sides and bottom.
    But what I was wondering is what would be best to take the rust. Do I need the – could I use Naval Jelly or is the wire brush the only way to do it or what would you suggest?
    TOM: A wire brush is definitely the best way to do it. You say it’s very deep. Do you feel it’s impacting the structural integrity of that tank?
    JIM: No, it doesn’t. I had the guy that I get the propane from come look at it and he said, “You need to do it now, though, because if you go any longer, it’s going to start eating right into the metal itself.”
    TOM: Right.
    JIM: Right now it’s just through the paint and bubbling and the paint is flaking off.
    TOM: Alright. So here’s what you want to do. You want to try to abrade as much of that paint off as you possibly can. So wire-brush it very, very carefully, getting all that loose stuff off and then, before you paint it, you’ve got to prime it. And you want to use a primer that’s rated for metal; Rust-Oleum or a product like that.
    Make sure you pick a nice, dry day, when you have plenty of time to let it dry. And I bet a 1,000-gallon tank, that’s probably pretty big. You may even want to use a roller on this. And then do a really good solid coat of primer, let the primer dry very well and then do two coats of top coat and I think you’ll have a surface there that’ll last you a good 10 years.
    But take your time on the prep. Get rid of that loose stuff and prime it very well. The primer is key, because what that does is that’s going to stick to whatever is left behind, so to speak. But if you have any loose paint, well, you can’t put good paint over bad paint, so you need to get that off first.
    JIM: OK. Alright. Why, I appreciate it.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Chris in California needs some help with windows. Tell us about it.
    CHRIS: I’m thinking about putting the window film on my windows and I was wondering if it was worth the investment and if it really does reflect the sun.
    TOM: OK.
    CHRIS: And if it does reflect sun for fading, what happens in the winter? Does it keep the sun from warming my house?
    TOM: That’s a good question because I’ll tell you, I remember years ago when I was a home inspector and I was called to do this inspection on a house. The complaint was that the homeowner had installed brand-new, energy-efficient windows and she didn’t think they were working very well.
    And I said, “Well, why don’t you think they’re working well?” She says, “Well, before I put these in I used to sit at this chair in my kitchen table every morning and have my coffee and I really felt the warmth of the sun  coming in and warming my whole body. And now I’m just cold all the time.”  I said, “Well, that’s the point of low-e windows.”
    LESLIE:  It’s working.
    TOM: You see, it is working because it reflects the heat back outside.
    CHRIS: I have the low-e and the dual-pane but I have – what is it, the west-facing side of the house? – wherever the sun beats in in the afternoon and the late afternoon – it just really – it fades the furniture and I don’t have drapes on these windows and sliding glass. So, I’m looking for an efficient way to block some of the heat and keep the furniture from fading.
    TOM: Well, in that particular situation, you sound like a perfect candidate for window films. You know, applied properly, they can give you good UV protection; they can prevent some of the fading of the furniture. I don’t think it’s going to have a tremendously adverse effect in the winter, in terms of your comfort or your clarity of the windows.
    I know that 3M has a big line of window films; they seem to the be the market leader on this. I do know, however, that the application is really, really critical. It’s got to be done right, the windows have to be super-clean, you’ve got to get great adhesion. But if it’s done well, I think it could be very effective in this situation.
    CHRIS: Oh, great. Well, I appreciate your help. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Chris. 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, older homes are built to last but they’re not necessarily energy-efficient; more likely, far from it. Well, you can retrofit an older home to help save money and energy. We’re going to tell you how, next.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers. Choose the brand that pros trust most: Bostitch. Available at Lowe’s and other retailers.
    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. Well, this time of year everybody’s looking to save some money by upgrading your energy efficiency in your house, so why not head on over to MoneyPit.com? All you need to do is search “energy-efficient home improvements.” There will be lists of projects that you can tackle and then all you have to do is spend a little time in your house and you can start watching your bills get lower and your wallet get fatter. And then you can spend it all at the holidays because face it, they’re right around the corner.
    TOM: Alright. Let’s jump into the e-mail bag now and take one from Bob in Sealy, Texas.
    LESLIE: Alright. Bob writes: “I recently purchased a 29-year-old home in the country and both my wife and I love it very much. However, the home seems to lack a lot of energy-saving qualities. We replaced the aluminum windows with double-pane windows filled with argon gas and we put 12 inches of cellulose insulation in the attic. These two accomplishments have helped tremendously. We are now thinking of having the under-deck of the roof sprayed with a radium barrier. (Tom chuckles) Is this a worthwhile expense?”
    TOM: It’s not a radium barrier.
    LESLIE: Oh, a radiant barrier. Sorry.
    TOM: No, that’s what they wrote. That’s – no, you didn’t make that up.
    LESLIE: Oh, OK.
    TOM: It’s a radium barrier. That sounds like it would be bad. A radiant barrier would be much better, though. Yes, a radiant barrier would reflect the heat waves out of the attic and make it cooler. I do think it’s a good idea, especially since you live in Texas where it’s known to have quite-warm summers down there in Texas. And that’s why I think a radiant barrier is a really good idea in that state.
    You start to lose the ROI the further north you move but all kidding aside, in the southern-belt states, it’s a really good idea to have a radiant barrier. It essentially reflects the heat from the sun back outside and doesn’t let it build up inside the house and that’s why it’s a nice, energy-efficient thing to add.
    LESLIE: Now what about that 12 inches of insulation? Is that enough for that part of the country or should they be having some more?
    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. It is a little bit light. I mean generally, you want somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 18.
    LESLIE:  Like 19 inches, right?
    TOM: Yeah. And you also want to make sure you have enough ventilation.
    So that’s the only thing I would add to that, Bob, is make sure that you’ve got enough ventilation so that you get good, fresh airflow through that attic space.
    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps and congratulations on the new home, Bob. I’m sure over the next few years, as you settle into the house, you’ll be calling us a lot and we’ll be happy to lend you a hand in your new home ownership.
    TOM: You know, I want to add that he did the right improvements, too.
    LESLIE: Yeah, the windows …
    TOM: He replaced the windows and added insulation; two very, very good improvements.
    LESLIE: Alright. Well good job, Bob.
    Now we’ve got one from Mike in Lansing, Michigan who writes: “I have a wooden shed that is in dire need of a paint job. What is the best way to do this and make it last as long as possible?”
    TOM: Hmm. Well, the best way to do this is the same way you would do any proper painting project, Mike, and that is A) you need to clean the outside of that shed because I imagine there’s probably a fair amount of mildew on there. And so you’re going to want to use a siding wash on it and the siding wash will get rid of any mildew that’s attaching to it.
    Once you get it clean, you let it dry really, really well. Then we’d like you to use a primer on it. We would suggest an oil-based primer for good adhesion. And after that dries, you can put any exterior paint on it that you choose but you’ve got to do it in the right steps. And we know that it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time but if you do it right, you can have a paint finish on an unconditioned building like that, which could probably last you 8 to 10 years.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And Mike, it’s super-important. Autumn’s a great time of year to tackle a painting project because lower humidity, so things tend to dry out more quickly. But you really have to make sure, especially in this cleaning step – that first step – that once you’re done, you really let that building dry out before you go ahead and put the primer on there. Otherwise, nothing is ever going to stick.
    So choose days that doesn’t look like it’s going to rain, it doesn’t seem too humid. And really, if you do let the things dry out, it will stick and adhere super-duper well.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you lots of tips to help you fix up your home this fall.
    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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