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  • Transcript

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (promo/theme song)

    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 project, your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We know that there’s a project on your plate right now for this week and it’s probably the one that your spouse has been nudging you about getting done …

    LESLIE: Nagging, just say it. (chuckling)

    TOM: We’ve been there. We’ve been there, we’ve done that and sometimes we occasionally even do projects for our spouses in our houses because we get the same kinds of nudging that you do. But we’re here to help you; we’re on your side, so give us a call with that question that’s standing between you and marital bliss. (Leslie chuckles) The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    God, it’s beautiful out today in our part of the country. Hope it’s nice where you are, too. And it reminds me that summer is right around the corner. So this hour, we’re going to talk about enjoying the great outdoors in your very own backyard. We’ve got some project ideas to make your home your escape; you know, things like hanging a hammock, setting up a swing set or building a deck – all great projects you could tackle this summer to help you enjoy that space that is so close to home that you can do without a vacation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also ahead, you know, while a lot of us love the sunshine, summer is also about finding that perfect shady spot to escape from all of that heat that the sun can beat down on you. That’s why later this hour, we’re going to dig into the best way and the best place to plant a tree with tips from This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook, a little later.

    TOM: Plus, a backyard pool makes it seem like you’re on vacation all summer long but safety is super important, especially if you have kids. We’re going to talk about the best pool fences and how they can help protect children, in just a bit. And by the way, it’s not just fences; most importantly, it’s those gates. They need very special hinges and very special latches to make sure that the little guys can’t get in there; at least when they’re not supposed to.

    LESLIE: Exactly. And you know what? It happens so quickly, so you really do need to pay attention when you have a pool in your backyard.

    Plus, this hour we’re going to have a very cool prize to give away. We’re giving away the Stanley 3-in-1 tripod flashlight this hour and it’s a prize worth about 30 bucks and it would make a perfect gift for Dad on his special day. So if you win it, just hide it away, save it til June and then it’s going to be a great Father’s Day gift.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joe in Pennsylvania is dealing with a leaky toilet. Can you tell us about the problem?

    JOE: Sure. I have this recurring problem, actually. Underneath the tank is a valve that is leaking and I bring a plumber in, he fixes it; a year or so later, the valve starts leaking again and I’ve got to call a plumber again. I just wanted to know if there’s any way I can permanently fix this.

    TOM: You talking about the shutoff valve?

    JOE: Yes, the shutoff valve. Exactly.

    TOM: And it leaks every year and they keep replacing it.

    JOE: Well, that’s – it not’s replaced. He comes in, tightens some things up …

    TOM: That’s kind of dumb because there’s a valve seat there that’s obviously loose; he tightens up and then, just through normal expansion and contraction over the course of the year, it – this is a plumber who is just trying to guarantee himself some income. You just want to replace the valve. It’s a very inexpensive thing to do, it’s a very easy thing to do and if you replace the valve – because this one is obviously worn out – that problem is going to go away.

    JOE: Oh, alright. So I can just tell him to replace the valve – or a plumber to replace the valve.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, fire that plumber. OK?

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Don’t reward him with any more work. Go get …

    JOE: OK.

    LESLIE: You’ve given him enough money.

    JOE: Alright.

    TOM: Yeah, go get another plumber and have him replace the valve and be done with this.

    JOE: Alright.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOE: Sounds great. Alrighty.

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

    Can you believe that guy?

    LESLIE: But look, I’m bending down under your toilet and I’m tightening something. Here, give me some money.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’ll be 100 bucks. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: It’s stopped leaking now because I tightened it.

    TOM: I must have fixed it.

    LESLIE: Done.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Lavonne in Kansas needs some help with a flooring project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    LAVONNE: Well, I have an old farm home; it was built in 1942.

    TOM: Wow.

    LAVONNE: And the wood is black walnut flooring. So over the years, it’s starting to show some real wear and I don’t know how to – what do I need to do to get it back to looking great?

    TOM: Well, that’s a beautiful flooring. Well, it depends on how much wear you’re seeing. I mean obviously you have to sand it. The degree of sanding is what you have to decide. Now, you can sand it right down to raw wood with a floor sander, which is like a big belt sander, but we don’t recommend that you do that yourself because the equipment, even if you rent is, is a bit hard to handle.

    If it just needs a light sanding, you can use a machine called a U-Sand machine. I think their website is U-Sand.com like the letter U, dash, Sand.com. And it’s a four-head, rotating disk sander that’s designed for floors; a lot easier for an amateur to handle because it’s very hard to do any damage with it and has a vacuum built in so it sort of sucks the dust off.

    But one way or the other, you’ve got to sand the floor down and then you have to apply a couple of coats of polyurethane. I would use oil-based polyurethane and that’s all there is to it.

    LAVONNE: Alright, what kind of – do I need to put anything on top of that as maintenance or just …?

    TOM: Nope, nope.


    TOM: Once you put down a couple of coats of polyurethane, you’ll be good to go.

    LAVONNE: Alright, sounds good.

    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project.

    LAVONNE: Thanks for your help.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on.

    It is a few, short weeks to Memorial Day, so is your yard in tiptop shape? Well, if it isn’t, we can give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, it’s time to head outside. Are you thinking about a deck, a fence, a swing set, a project for your backyard? We’ve got some tips to make those backyard projects and lots more quick and easy.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you can be part of The Money Pit by giving us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got the 3-in-1 LED tripod flashlight from Stanley and it’s got a really cool, hands-free, tripod design and it’s actually three flashlights in one, so you can use it as one super-mega-powerful light or three individual flashlights. So it’s really great. You can use it however it works for you. You can get in tight spots; you don’t need an extra person to hold the flashlight for you. It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours for free if we pick your name at random from all of the callers who get on the air this hour. Just pick up the phone and call 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And by the way, Leslie, this would be a great gift for Dad for Father’s Day.

    LESLIE: Hmm. (chuckles)

    TOM: So you can pass that hint on to my kiddies. You know, I love those homemade pencil cups I’ve been getting for years but a Stanley 3-in-1 flashlight would be a better gift and something that I could really use around the house, not that I don’t enjoy the pencil cups and only got so many desks. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, plus, what do you have; 36 pencil cups right now? (chuckles)

    TOM: Well, for more great gift ideas, you can visit MoneyPit.com and check out our Father’s Day gift guide; a dozen dandy gifts for handy dads.

    LESLIE: Alright, Tom, so the kids will get you the flashlight if you give them that brand new playset that I know you’ve been promising them for years. They’re always asking; you say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” (Tom chuckles) So now, if they give you that flashlight, you’ve got to promise …

    TOM: It’s a trade.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s how it’s going to work.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: But seriously, I know we’re joking but a backyard playset – if you’ve got kids, you know you’re always going back and forth to the park and everybody wants to stay for hours. So if you’ve actually got a playset in your backyard, it’s going to give your kids just a place to chill out for years to come right in your own backyard. But you want to make sure that it’s sturdy and well-installed; safety is key. Because otherwise, as kids really get going, you’re going to find that swing set will develop a mind of its own and then start jumping up and down and moving all over your yard.

    Now, a great product to help you lock things down is QUIKRETE fast-setting concrete. Because there’s no mixing involved; all you need to do is dig your post-hole or dig whatever hole that you’re going to support something in and then you pour right from the bag into that hole, add the water and it sets. And it is the perfect product for setting fenceposts, swing sets, deck posts, lampposts, posts for a hammock, mailboxes. You name it, it could not get easier.

    TOM: You know, it’s a good product. It’s a special blend of concrete, sand and gravel and it sets in about 20 to 40 minutes. We actually used this product when my son built his Eagle Scout project which was a bridge.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, the bridge.

    TOM: Yes, the bridge over a stream or a local …

    LESLIE: The River Kwai? (chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, the bridge over the River Kwai. Now, it was a bridge over a stream in our town park and we wanted to get going on it right away; so we were able to dig the holes, pour this and have it set and get back to the construction pretty much immediately thereafter. I mean it really set up nicely.

    LESLIE: It does.

    TOM: After lunch, we were able to get right to it because it was a really strong-setting concrete.

    You can find it in the red bag; that’s the key because there are a lot of different products out there.         QUIKRETE fast-setting concrete is the one in the red bag.

    And if you want more tips on easy outdoor projects, you can go to their website at QUIKRETE.com or pick up the phone and give us a call right now. Tell us about your project because we are here to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Roger in Texas joining us with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    ROGER: Hey, love your show.

    TOM: Thanks, Roger.

    ROGER: I have a house that was built about 1975. It has a composition roof on it, 3-in-1s.

    TOM: Yep.

    ROGER: Have about a 3/12 pitch. I want to put a metal roof on it. Do I have to strip that down, the old roof, before I put the new one on.

    TOM: You don’t have to but it certainly would be a better way to do the job. I really don’t like to trap old roofing material under new roofing material if I can help it, and so I would suggest that you take it off. The metal roofing that you’re going to put on, you’re doing that this year?

    ROGER: Probably, yes.

    TOM: Because if you do it this year, I want you to be aware that you could qualify for a tax incentive. There’s a tax credit that’s available through the end of the year and because the metal roofing has a low-e paint, it actually will help cut your energy bill there in Texas by reflecting some of that sunlight and that UV back out so it’ll lower your cooling costs.

    ROGER: Hey, praise the lord. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Because of the energy-efficiency. You don’t usually think of a roof as being energy-efficient but when it comes to metal roofing, it can be because of the coatings.

    ROGER: Ah, OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    ROGER: Is there a preferred color; a best color; a best …?

    TOM: No, I don’t think so.

    ROGER: No? OK.

    TOM: I don’t think so. I think that the low-e paint works with …

    LESLIE: It’s the type of paint that they use, regardless of the color.

    TOM: … yeah, a wide variety of colors.

    ROGER: OK. Well hey, thanks a lot. That helps a lot.

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

    LESLIE: Cathy in Illinois is dealing with a mold situation in the basement. Tell us about the problem.

    CATHY: Hi, my daughter and my son-in-law purchased a home about three years ago and the first year, they didn’t notice any smell of mold in the summertime. And then they painted the walls and put carpet on the floor and now the last two summers they’ve noticed the mold smell but there is no mold. And I’m just wondering …

    LESLIE: There probably is mold, Cathy; it’s just in a place where your kids can’t see it. It’s probably living in that carpeting because when you’re dealing with a basement situation – and they probably put the carpet directly on top of the carpet slab; you know, didn’t sort of lift the floor slightly to create some air underneath to circulate out that moisture – what you’re doing is you’re putting an organic substance – the carpeting, the carpeting padding – right on the concrete. Now, when it rains outside, the ground gets super-wet and then the concrete floor is like a sponge and it just sucks everything from the earth around the house up through the floor and now into this carpet, which is why they’re getting the mold smell. So they can’t see it but I guarantee you it’s in there.

    CATHY: OK.

    LESLIE: Do the kids have a forced-air system in the house?

    CATHY: Yeah, they do.

    LESLIE: They do. And is there ducting in the basement area?

    CATHY: The ducting is but there’s nothing for the cooling or the heat; nothing down there.

    LESLIE: So yeah. So, there are no registers. Because had there been registers – I mean maybe it’s worth adding something to the basement for the benefit of it because you can get a whole-home dehumidifier which gets built into the HVAC system and then it can focus on that basement 24 hours a day until it regulates the situation and then only kick on when it needs for that area. But it can remove up to 90 pints of water a day and you never have to empty a bucket. But I mean since they don’t have ducting down there – or registers, I should say – I think the best bet is to get portable dehumidifiers; get a condensation pump – condensation pump; is that what I’m talking about?

    TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm, yep.

    LESLIE: Because you don’t want to have to deal with a bucket because you’ll forget and then all of a sudden you’ll go on vacation, it’ll get full and then you’ll forget about it for a week and then you’re dealing with that same moisture situation. So if you get a condensation pump, it’ll lift out that water out a window into a sink, somewhere where it’s constantly emptying that dehumidifier.

    And once they get a handle on that, if they look outside and deal with where this moisture might be coming in – gutters, downspouts, the grading around the house – that’ll really cut back on the amount of moisture that’s getting in and reduce that mold and mildew.

    CATHY: Right. So the condensation pump connects to the dehumidifier, then?

    TOM: Yeah, it sits next to it and it’s a very …

    LESLIE: Is it a condensation or a condensate? I know I’m …

    TOM: Condensate. Condensate pump.

    LESLIE: Condensate. I know I always confuse them. Sorry.

    TOM: Yeah. Condensate pump. But it’s a small box. It’s maybe about 6″x12″ or something like that. It’s float-activated; so as it fills up it pumps on and it lifts the water out and drops it outside. I have one in my basement and it works great.

    CATHY: OK. OK, thanks for your help, guys.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And ask our two cents next before you want to put basement carpet down, will ya? It’s not a good idea.

    LESLIE: Valerie in North Carolina has got a kitchen project. What’s going on and how can we help?

    VALERIE: Yes, I replaced the kitchen cabinets in my kitchen. It’s been over 10 years ago. And I had a freezer in the kitchen but I’ve gotten rid of that since then. And now I’m trying to fill that space in with a cabinet that will look OK and I’m having a hard time matching what I have here.

    LESLIE: Well, have you thought about not exactly matching and choosing something that’s in the same finish but complements it; say, with like a glass-front door or something a little bit different that makes it it’s own special piece?

    VALERIE: Well, I thought about that. The person that I talked to about the glass front said the inside would still have to match and because the color has changed that I’d have a hard time doing that also.

    LESLIE: What color are your existing cabinets?

    VALERIE: It’s an oak; just like a golden oak color.

    LESLIE: Is it something where if you got an unfinished cabinet you’d be able to purchase a stain and stain it on your own to match?

    VALERIE: I guess that’s a possibility. I hadn’t really thought that way.

    TOM: That’s probably the best way to go because this way you’d have control of it. If you got the unfinished oak cabinet, what I would also do is go out and buy a couple of pieces of oak scrap …

    VALERIE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: … and then you could experiment with some different stains. Get one that’s maybe a little lighter than what you have; one that’s a little darker; and come up with one that matches as close to that cabinet as you possibly can get it. If you use an unfinished cabinet and you have total control over the coloration, I think that’s probably the best way to get something that’s really close to what you have. And then even if you put it in and it still looks a little bit different, as the sunlight gets to it over the years you’ll find that it gets warmer and warmer and eventually it’s probably going to match perfectly with what you have.

    VALERIE: OK, well that’s a good – I hadn’t thought of doing that myself.

    TOM: Yeah, in this situation I think that makes the most sense.

    VALERIE: Can I ask another question that’s related to that? I’ve got – since that freezer left I had laminate floors put in.

    TOM: Right.

    VALERIE: And somebody told me that I was going to have trouble putting something down on top of a laminate if a put a cabinet there.

    TOM: Why would you have trouble putting it on top of laminate?

    VALERIE: They said something about it kind of floats; the floor should float.

    TOM: This cabinet is going to go on top of the existing laminate floor?

    VALERIE: That’s right.

    TOM: I don’t see any reason you can’t do that except you’re going to find that the laminate floor went up to – like against the original cabinets; that you may find that a new cabinet is taller when you put it side by side.


    TOM: And if that’s the situation you have two options. You can either cut out the laminate and sort of drop the new one in.

    LESLIE: So that it’s at the same height as the others.


    TOM: Or you could cut the new base cabinet.

    VALERIE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Cut a half-inch off it or so and make it a bit shorter so that it fits right over that floor.

    VALERIE: Oh. OK, well that’s a good idea then. I’ve come across all kinds of problems and I didn’t realize it was going to be so difficult just to put one cabinet in there.

    TOM: Well we are your problem solvers, Valerie, so thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    VALERIE: (laughing) Well, thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, they give great shade, provide protection and make plenty of fresh air and they can cut up to $250 off your energy bill. Up next, we’re going to chat with Roger Cook from This Old House with tips to help you plant the perfect shade tree for your yard, so stick around.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma because we are here to help you get those jobs done.

    Hey, are you feeling a little green guilt from all that bottled water you’ve been consuming while you do those home improvement projects then promptly tossing the bottles away and on their way into the landfills? Well, if you visit MoneyPit.com, you can get the latest information from Consumer Reports. They’ve got ratings on water filters; really fascinating story. They talk about how filters can actually be less expensive than buying bottled water and which filters work best and which ones to totally stay away from. I mean with some of these filters, the cost of the water is probably more than the cost of a gallon of gas. It’s so crazy.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: You can visit MoneyPit.com and check out all that information right there.

    LESLIE: Bob in Missouri is calling with a heating and tax question – because they do go hand-in-hand this year. What can we do for you?

    BOB: Tom and Leslie, thanks for taking my call. My granddaughter is in the process of putting her home, a small home, on the market. And in the process of doing so, she replaced a floor furnace with a more efficient unit.

    TOM: OK.

    BOB: The question – does that qualify for a tax credit and, if so, how does she apply for that?

    TOM: It depends. I mean it has to be a very, very efficient furnace. I don’t know how efficient that floor furnace is and, typically, floor furnaces, frankly, aren’t that efficient. But the requirement is that it has an annual fuel utilization efficiency of 90 or greater – abbreviated AFUE. And if the furnace has that level of efficiency – I’m sorry, it’s 95 or greater for gas or propane; it’s 90 or greater for oil. But if it has that level of efficiency, it would, in fact, qualify for the tax credit.

    And if that’s the case, there is a form that’s called tax form 5695 that you return with your tax return and you can actually earn up to 30 percent of the cost, including installation and labor, up to $1,500 as a tax credit.

    BOB: I see. OK.

    TOM: So she needs to check the efficiency. If it’s an AFUE of 95 or better, she’s good to go.

    BOB: Where would I find that information?

    TOM: A good source is the Energy Star website.

    BOB: OK. OK.

    TOM: EnergyStar.gov.

    BOB: OK. I’ll try it. Thank you.

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

    And one final point on that, just because a product is Energy Star-certified, doesn’t mean that it will qualify for the tax credit; so you have to really look into the requirements for each, individual type of product. And as I said, with furnaces, it needs an efficiency of 95 or greater.

    LESLIE: Well, trees provide shade, natural protection for your home and a place for your kids to play and plenty of oxygen for the earth. So if you’re thinking about planting trees on your property, you are on the right track.

    TOM: Just make sure you choose the right spot and plant thoughtfully. We get expert advice right now from This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and landscaping expert Roger Cook.

    And guys, it’s a fairly big project but it can absolutely cut your energy bills.

    KEVIN: Yeah, that’s right. Planting a tree takes a lot of energy but doing so can actually save you some energy when it comes time to heating or cooling your house.

    ROGER: Kevin, this is a tip we learned from the farmers from hundreds of years ago. If you look at an old farm, there are always evergreens planted on the north side to block that cold, winter wind and even the snow from getting to your house.

    KEVIN: So you like evergreens on the north side.

    ROGER: That’s right. But on the south and east sides, I like deciduous trees. In the winter time, there won’t be any leaves; it’ll allow the warming rays of the sun to get to the house. But in the summertime, it’s full of leaves; it’ll block that sun and actually help cool the house.

    KEVIN: Sounds like a good idea. But does it really save money on your energy bills?

    ROGER: The US Department of Energy estimates that just three trees properly placed around the house can save $100 to $250 annually in cooling and heating costs. Even if you can’t shade your entire house, just shading the AC unit can save you as much as ten percent off your energy bill.

    KEVIN: Good tip. And we’ve actually got a lot more energy-efficiency tips and step-by-step videos on ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And don’t forget that adding those trees can really beef up your curb appeal.

    ROGER: It can, if they’re properly placed.

    KEVIN: A beautiful house that saves you money.

    TOM: Thanks to you guys, we know just how to do that.

    Kevin O’Connor, Roger Cook from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: And you know what? This is really a great idea because you’re making your property look beautiful and then the best part about it all is that you can save a good amount of money and there’s lots of ways, if you’re creative, to save money.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    And today’s edition of This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.

    Up next, we’re going to stay outside with tips to help protect kids from the dangers of drowning in a backyard pool. It is the number one cause of death for small children but the solution is a properly-designed fence. It’s easily to accomplish and we’re going to teach you more, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. 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 and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour we’re giving away the 3-in-1 LED tripod flashlight from Stanley. And it’s got a hands-free, tripod design which is great because if you’re working in a tight spot, you can just set up the flashlight; no one has to be there to give you an extra hand. It’s perfect for the handy man who has a project to do on his own; even the handy woman.

    And you know what else is cool about this is it’s actually three flashlights sort of bundled into one so you can have like a super-light or three little lights. So it’s a great prize. It’s worth 30 bucks but it could be yours for free if we pick your name at random from all of the callers this hour, so give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Let’s take a minute now and talk about pools and especially pool fencing. This is the time of year when folks are getting ready to go outside and get their pools ready for the season. And we would certainly hope that you have a pool fence around your pool to protect it from kids because kids will wander into the backyard; they can get themselves into trouble. But you need to make sure that the pool fence is properly designed.

    First, the fence height needs to be at least 48 inches and the spacing between the chain links, well, that’s actually 1-1/4 inches and that’s important to note because a standard chain-link fence, it has a 2-inch gap between the links but a pool fence as a 1-1/4-inch gap. Now why is that important? Well, because if it’s got a very small square of the chain link, it becomes non-climbable. Kids can’t get a toehold in it and that’s really, really critical. So the fence must be a non-climbable fence.

    Now, if you have a metal fence, that also needs to be non-climbable. Typically, that means that you will not have any of the horizontal supports positioned in such a way where kids could work their way up and over that.

    But it’s important, if you work with a pool contractor, they’re familiar with pool fencing and so are the fence contractors. Just make sure that whatever kind of fence you put in is a non-climbable fence.

    The next thing to be sure is to make sure that all of the fences have self-closing hinges to prevent the gates from being accidentally left open. And also very important that they have latches. And with pool latches, you want the position of that latch – the actual part of the latch that you have to actuate to open or close …

    LESLIE: Like pretty high up?

    TOM: Pretty high up, that’s right. You want that at least 48 inches tall as well. Sometimes you’ll have latches that have to be triggered by a little post that sticks up off the top of the gate and that’s why.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, yeah. It’s like a plunger, at our family summer home.

    TOM: Yeah, actually, I think it’s 54 inches for the latch, if I remember correctly.

    LESLIE: It’s pretty high.

    TOM: So those are all real important numbers to remember. Make sure the latch is high, make sure the gates have self-closing hinges and make sure that the fence type itself is non-climbable because, as you said before, Leslie, it can happen very, very quickly. You know, whenever you read about these tragedies, there’s usually a …

    LESLIE: The people are standing right there.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s an adult that says, “Well, I just looked away for two seconds.”

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: You know? Or something like that. But I mean, frankly, two seconds is too late. You really need to stay on top of this. And if you can’t be there on duty 24/7, you need to make sure that you’ve got some help via layers of protection and one of the most important layers of protection with a pool is a pool fence. So good thing to think about before the summer comes a-knocking.

    888-666-3974. Why don’t you pick up that phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement project. We’re here to help.

    LESLIE: Audra in New York has a question about a koi pond. Tell us what’s going on.

    AUDRA: Hi. I have a 2,000-gallon koi pond with a small filter on it; have some fish in there. But I’m really having a hard time keeping the algae down, so I wanted to know how to treat it without killing my fish.

    LESLIE: Which is always a good question. (chuckles)

    TOM: So hard to explain that to the kids. (Audra chuckles)

    LESLIE: Oh. I think what’s important here is – you may have even answered this yourself when you said you have a 2,000-gallon koi pond and a small filter. Now, the reason why you keep getting algae forming in the koi pond is algae forms when the nutrient levels get too high in your koi pond, causing the algae to bloom. And the nutrients come from two places; one being the koi food and then the second, of course, being the koi waste themselves. You know, they have to go to the bathroom and they have to eat.

    So what happens is the filter acts as the remover of the koi waste and then the food residue from the water to keep those nutrient levels sort of normal or low. Now, when the filter is not doing its job properly, you’re going to get a higher level of the nutrients and then you’re going to see the algae blooming. So what you need to do is you need to make sure that you have an appropriately-sized filter for the pond size, which might not be the right thing.

    And if you’re in the market for a new filter anyway – if you find out that it’s not properly sized for the amount of fish, for the amount of water, whatever it might be – you want to make sure that you’ve got a mechanical filter, which is going to remove the waste and the debris and then get it sort of trapped in the fiber; then you want to make sure that the filter itself has an area that can manage chemical filtration so that you can add something to the filter that will help to adjust the levels in the pond.

    And then some filters are even available with a UV light, which is great because what that’ll do is that’ll kill any sort of floating algae or bacteria before it even enters the main filter. So all of these three parts sort of work together to help you create a clear environment because a koi pond – I mean they’re gorgeous and they’re supposed to really reflect all the hard work that you put into it and if you can’t sort of manage the levels, it’s just going to look not so great.

    AUDRA: I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s our pleasure.

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

    LESLIE: James in Texas is calling in with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    JAMES: Hello, I’ve got two houses I’m planning on putting a – thinking about putting a new roof on. The first house is a 600-square-foot with a gable roof and it has no vent in the overhang but on the north and the south sides there are louvered vents; it measures 12×18 inches. I was wanting to know is this sufficient for ventilation in the attic?
    TOM: OK, James, you say that you have soffits; you have the overhang but there’s no vents in them?
    JAMES: Right.
    TOM: OK, the best type of ventilation system, James, is one where you have continuous soffit vents and a continuous ridge vent. The vents in the gable are not that efficient; although certainly roofs were vented that way for many, many years. But we know now that the best ventilation system is when you have vents in the soffit and vents in the ridge and here’s why: because as air blows over that roof, it tends to depressurize the ridge vent that draws out the hot air in the summer, the moist air in the winter and the wind also blows against the soffits and pushes it in. So, basically, you have a positive pressure at the soffit that pushes air under the roof sheathing, goes up under the sheathing and exits at the ridge; so, basically, it’s a 24/7 system that does a really good job of efficiently taking the heat and the moisture out of your attic. Gable vents by themselves, not so much.
    JAMES: OK. I’ve got another house that is 1,000 square feet with a hip roof and has a – oh, I guess about a 10-foot ridge vent with vents in the overhang and there’s also a motorized power vent. You know power vents don’t have a tendency to last very long.
    TOM: No, they don’t and what happens – especially if that attic fan, is what I think you’re talking about, if that is near the ridge vent, what’s going to happen is it’ll actually depressurize the ridge vent so it’ll suck in outside air, take it through the attic and push it right back out again. It’s kind of like a dog chasing its tail.
    JAMES: Oh, OK then.
    TOM: Alright, James. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Well, with the warm weather wakes up lots of creatures that sometimes we love and sometimes not so much, like woodpeckers. (Leslie chuckles) So we’re going to answer some questions on how to repair woodpecker damage and perhaps deter those little creatures from knock-knock-knocking on your house, especially at like 6:00 in the morning when you’re trying to get some sleep.

    LESLIE: And I think you mean knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knocking. (chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckles) Exactly. They never knock three times.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) No.

    TOM: That’s coming up after this.

    (theme song)

    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’d love if you would follow us on Facebook. Just text “Fan TheMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 from your cell phone and you will be instantly added as a fan. You can stay on top of the home improvement stories that we find all week long. You may find some humorous ones. You may find some helpful ones. You’ll definitely have a lot of fun.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And while you’re snooping around the website, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we will answer it like we do. Right now I’ve got one from Joanne who writes: “How do I repair holes made in my house by woodpeckers? Some are six inches or wider.” Man, that’s huge.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: “We do try to eradicate them but others return.” I wonder if she’s talking about the birds or the holes. (they laugh)

    TOM: Well, you know, the woodpeckers will drill for two reasons: first of all, they’re staking out their territory by making a big racket; secondly, they’re looking for food. And they can be tough to get rid of. In terms of eradication, a little trick of the trade that works very well is aluminum pie pans or pie tins.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: If you tie those off to a string and then tie that to the wall or the area where the woodpeckers like to hang out, as it blows in the breeze, as it twirls around, it does have a healthy effect of scaring them away without hurting them and that should deter them and perhaps send them flying off to your neighbors’ house where you may hear them but at least they won’t be chewing up your house.

    As far as the damage is concerned, it’s a basic wood repair like anything else. If you’ve got a hole that big, you’re going to have to cut out the siding very, very carefully and just replace it. Just make sure you go a bit wider than the hole itself. You probably want to go at least a foot on either side; patch it in there; reprime that piece – make sure you use some primer; and then paint the entire length of the clapboard and that should blend in quite nicely.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. That’s a large hole from a woodpecker.

    TOM: Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is.

    LESLIE: Alright, next up we’ve got one from Bill who writes: “What should I stain my new cedar decking with, if anything?”

    TOM: Well, I would recommend you do stain it. Even though the cedar is insect-resistant and is decay-resistant, it’s not sun-resistant and the UV rays of the sun will cause …

    LESLIE: Are the most damaging.

    TOM: Yeah, it does cause a lot of damage. It causes the wood to shrink and crack and check and get real splintery. I think what I would do is, within the first six months, I would apply a solid-color stain with a UV protector in it. If you want to beef up the stain a bit, you can add a pint of polyurethane to it; gives it a little more sticking power. And I think if you do that now, before the wood has a chance to get super-dirty or mossy or anything like that, it’ll last a long time; you’re probably looking at at least five to ten years of coverage on that. So I definitely would stain the deck even if it’s cedar.

    LESLIE: And cedar is gorgeous, so great choice.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Alright, Roxanne writes: “In my rec room, which is over a crawlspace, I have vinyl flooring with Berber carpet glued down over it. I want to put laminate wood flooring down. Now laminate comes with a padding that goes down first and a laminate is put on top of that. Can I skip the padding and just lay the laminate flooring down directly on top of the Berber carpet? I’m trying to avoid having to remove the Berber since it’s glued down.”

    TOM: Hmm. I think that I definitely would try to remove the Berber if you can.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: I mean you probably could go on top of it because most laminates are designed to float on top of existing floor.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to trap in that mold and mildew-grower.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s just kind of sloppy. Right. So I mean you don’t have to worry so much about getting the glue off. If you could just rip up the main Berber material, even if you have some glue residue behind, then apply the underlayment that’s recommended for the laminate floor and go down on top of that, I think you’ll avoid trapping – Leslie, as you say – anything that’s in between there. You’ll give it a proper, solid connection. Because the Berber could end up being too soft for the laminate and it could cause the joints to come apart.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Mold and mildew are like the number one allergen-causing thing in the land; so if you can get rid of that carpet, avoid all of that potential for a health-risk, you’re going to have a great floor, it’s going to last a long time and it’s an easy project, Roxanne.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s about all the time we have but the show does continue online at MoneyPit.com. And remember, you can always pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-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.

    (theme song)


    (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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