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Jump-Starting Your Car Battery On Your Own, Home Security Tips for Vacation, and Creating a Salvaged Wood Accent Wall

  • 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. We’re here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We know you love it but we know that you may consider your home a money pit because it needs constant care and feeding. We’re here to help you do just that. We’ll give you the tips, the advice that you need to get the projects around your home done quickly and efficiently.

    Hey, coming up on today’s show, we’ve got the topic of dead car batteries to tackle. Why would we tackle a dead car-battery story on The Money Pit? Well, because you keep it in your garage and that’s usually where it sits when it dies. But there’s a little device out on the market that we ran across recently, at the National Hardware Show, that we’re going to tell you about that can recharge that battery and get it started again.

    But the cool thing is that this little device, Leslie, it’s the size of an iPhone. It’s not your iPhone but it’s the size of an iPhone and it can jump-start your car. We’ll tell you about it, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah, this had to be one of the most impressive things that I saw sort of cross in front of us at the Hardware Show, so definitely worth sharing.

    And also, guys, you might have your neighbor picking up your mail while you’re away but it might not be the only security measure that you need to take. Coming up, home safety tips so you can really relax and enjoy your vacation.

    TOM: And also ahead, you’ve seen it in magazines and on Pinterest boards. Why not make it yours? We’re going to teach you how you can install a stunning accent wall made of salvaged wood or the lookalike, peel-and-stick version.

    LESLIE: And with temperatures on the rise, it’s only a matter of time before you become lunch or dinner or a breakfast or snacks for mosquitoes, unless you are the winner of this hour’s prize.

    TOM: That’s right. No toxins, no chemicals. Terminix Bait & Kill Spray uses sugar bait to cut down on mosquito populations by as much as 90 percent. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win and try it yourself. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Jim in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    JIM: I have a question about cleaning a driveway. It’s probably sitting there for 20 years. House is about 20 years old. I don’t know that it’s ever been cleaned, so the dirt has just ground in. I have pressure-washed one section of it, about 12×14 section. It took me almost two hours to get it clean. My question is: is there any kind of pretreatment that I can put on that driveway that will make the pressure-washing more efficient?

    TOM: Yeah, there are products that are designed specifically for cleaning concrete. For example, QUIKRETE has a product called Cleaner, Etcher & Degreaser. And it’s available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon jugs. I think it covers about 200 square feet per gallon.

    And you apply that onto the concrete. You brush it in. You let it sit and it will start to really loosen up all of that deep grime. And then you could pressure-wash after that and it will, hopefully, make it a lot easier project.

    If you just Google “QUIKRETE cleaner,” you’ll probably find it.

    JIM: Good deal, good deal. Thank you very much. That helps a bunch.

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

    LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?

    TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.

    So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”

    Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.

    MARY: I really like the carpet down there.

    LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.

    TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. I mean things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.

    MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?

    TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.

    MARY: OK, thank you.

    TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We want to give you a hand. We want to find out what you’re working on, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you counting down the days until vacation? Well, an intruder might be, too. We’ve got tips for keeping your house secure while you’re gone. It’s different than it used to be. We’ll tell you what you need to know, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and a leader in air-quality solutions. Haier is a new kind of appliance brand, focused on home solutions designed for each stage of the emerging consumer’s life.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, temperatures are up and so are the odds that you’ll be scratching mosquito bites on your ankles and arms any day now.

    LESLIE: Or maybe not. Finally, Mother Nature and science are on the same page with a chemical-free sugar bait that cuts down mosquito populations by 90 percent.

    TOM: It’s called Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill Spray. Learn more about how it works at BaitAndKill.com. And one lucky caller this hour gets to experience the relief for themselves.

    Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and maybe you will be receiving the Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill Spray. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make it you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Minnesota where Mike has some issues keeping his shingles on the roof. What’s going on?

    MIKE: Since we added on – actually rebuilt – an attached garage to the side of our house, I’ve got a different kind of shingle on there. The ones on the two-and-a-half story home itself were not worn out and so I just left them. They’re the interlock-type shingles.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And I haven’t had – I put those on originally, because we’re kind of out in the country and we live in a very windy part of the country.

    TOM: Right, yeah. And I bet they stayed – that they stayed in really good shape because they were completely locked down.

    MIKE: Oh, yeah. Yeah. The interlocks I have had no problems with. But we put the (inaudible at 0:08:32) regular asphalt shingles on the new garage area. And I know they’re supposed to seal down with the tar strip and all that kind of stuff that’s underneath them but we get high winds. And almost every time we get this windstorm out of the northwest, up to 40-mile-an-hour winds, I get a few shingles that blow off.

    And I’ve been up there – I’m re-nailing, re-tarring, replacing shingles and all that. And I can’t find the interlock shingles in our area anymore and so the person that did the roofing for me last time used these regular ones. I was nervous about them then because I was afraid they weren’t going to hold up to the wind that we get. And I just didn’t know if you had any suggestion.

    TOM: Well, at this point, the shingles are already down. So if you were to replace the roof, there are shingles that are specifically designed for storm-prone areas, hurricane areas and that sort of thing that can stand winds up to – up and over 100 miles an hour. The typical shingle is not.

    Now, when you put the shingles on also seems to make an effect, have a difference. If you put the shingles on in the spring and they had a good, long summer to seal down, that seems to last a lot longer than if you put them on in the winter and they never quite got a chance to seal until the following summer.

    One thing that you could do now – you may already be doing it – is are you putting dabs of asphalt roof cement underneath the shingles?

    MIKE: I haven’t been up there and done that to every one of them but I’ve done a number of them myself in the areas where they seem to want to take the worst beating. And to be up there and put, you know, a dollop of asphalt tar or shingle cement or whatever under every one of them, no. I haven’t done that yet.

    TOM: Does that work? Do the ones that you’ve cemented still peel off?

    MIKE: No, I think those typically stay. But I usually put another nail or two in them, too, and then put the tar over the head of the nails to make sure that that …

    TOM: Yeah, not the best technique but OK.

    So, all I can suggest, at this point, is to put dabs of asphalt cement under the shingle tabs or just keep replacing them. But if it comes time to actually re-roof, you want to use a high wind-resistant shingle. It’s a specific type of shingle that will last to over 100 miles an hour.

    MIKE: Is that – I mean is there a – is that just a generic name? It’s just a high wind-resistant shingle or what – is there a title?

    TOM: They’re available from different manufacturers. But for example, Owens Corning has one that’s called Duration STORM. And the Duration STORM shingles are warrantied up to 130 miles per hour with only four nails per shingle. So, just so you know that these products do exist. But what you bought was just a typical roof shingle and that’s obviously not going to stand up to the kind of wind that you have.

    But if you use a wind-resistant shingle with that kind of warranty, it’s built differently. There’s more layers of material, so the shingles don’t tear off. The adhesive is different, so it really grips tightly and it holds it together.

    MIKE: Yeah, I was going to ask if it was extra-thick or something compared to a standard shingle.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a different type of shingle. It’s designed specifically for high winds. We see them a lot in our part of the country on the shore, where homes are subjected to really high winds off the ocean. But they’ll work anywhere.

    MIKE: I suppose those would be special order from my home building center, huh?

    TOM: It may be. They may be. But it’ll be worth it.

    MIKE: Oh, I appreciate the advice.

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

    Well, most of us will take some sort of vacation this summer and you shouldn’t have to spend it wondering whether your empty house is safe.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We all know the textbook ways that you keep intruders away, like have your neighbor pick up the mail and the newspapers. But serious intruders are onto those moves, which means it’s time that we have to up our game on home security.

    TOM: And one of the most effective steps to keeping your home safe is also one of the hardest: don’t announce your vacation on social media or even post pictures until you’re home. This is a must, even if your social-media account is private. And the same goes for your out-of-office message at work.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, guys? You’d be really surprised at how quickly an empty house looks empty. So you want to time your lights, maybe even put the TV on and other electronics on timers so that they’re going to turn off and on throughout the day at different times. It’s really more effective than leaving your lights on around the clock, which is another telltale sign that you’re not there.

    TOM: And finally, nix that spare key you keep under a rock or under a mat. Give it to a trusted friend or a neighbor instead. An intruder who knows you’re away has plenty of time to figure out your go-to hiding spot.

    LESLIE: Heading to Tennessee and apparently, so are the moles to Kim’s yard. What’s going on?

    KIM: Yes. I’m trying to get rid of these moles in my yard. Please help me.

    TOM: Well, one of the ways to get rid of moles in your yard is to not make your yard quite so attractive, by getting rid of the grubs that are in your lawn. Moles are usually there because there’s plenty of food.

    And so, if you used a product like GrubEx to get rid of the grub – that’s the grubs. These are little, white, juicy insects that moles just love. And if you get rid of the grubs, then the moles will find a new place to eat. But if there’s plenty of grubs, there’s plenty of food, they’re going to stay in your yard. Does that make sense?

    KIM: Alright. Well, good. Thank you so much. I’ll try the GrubEx.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Jerry in Massachusetts on the line who needs some help cleaning the basement. What can we do for you?

    JERRY: I’ve got some efflorescence on the cement walls in the basement. For years, I – when I built the house, I didn’t put gutters up; I had overhangs. And then it started developing. Somebody told me, “Hey, it’s because you don’t have any gutters.” So I put them up right away and it didn’t get any worse but I’d like to clean that white efflorescence off. And I didn’t want to use muriatic acid.

    TOM: No, you don’t need that at all. It’s really simple. First of all, the stains that you have, the efflorescence, is just lime. It’s mineral deposits that are left over when water comes through the wall and evaporates. So what you can simply do is brush that off as much as you can. You can use a stiff wall brush for that. And then just use water and white vinegar together. Hot water and white vinegar. Vinegar will melt the salts.

    JERRY: Do I have to rinse it down after?

    TOM: No, only if you don’t want your house to smell like a salad. Aside from that …

    JERRY: Well, I’m not worried about that. But white vinegar should do it.

    TOM: Yeah, white vinegar does it. It’ll melt the salts. It’s a really good solution.

    JERRY: I thought that but I just wanted to check with you guys first.

    TOM: You buy it by the gallon, you mix it with some hot water and just, you know, brush it down.

    JERRY: I’ll try that. Should work. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Kay is on the line now and she needs some help painting a door.

    Kay, tell us about your project.

    KAY: Yeah. And I listen to you every week you’re on.

    TOM: Well, thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Oh, thanks, Kay.

    KAY: I wanted to paint my wood door – it’s a very old wood door. And we lived here since ’69 and I’m trying to keep it original. It’s red now.

    TOM: OK.

    KAY: My husband painted it only one coat and I think it was blue.

    TOM: OK.

    KAY: It needs another coat to make it real red but I want to paint it white.

    TOM: Well, I mean the color is a personal preference. So, to paint this door, the best thing to do is to take it off of the hinges and lay it flat on a couple of sawhorses. And then you want to sand the old surface. You want to make sure you get rid of any flaking paint, any cracked paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. You’ve got to get all that stuff off.

    KAY: It’s not cracking or anything. It’s smooth as can be.

    TOM: Alright. So then he must have done a great job when he painted it last time.

    KAY: He did. He sanded it down to the wood. It was all original wood, so it’s really smooth. That’s why I wasn’t sure and I don’t know if I can get the paint off like if you – and I didn’t want to scrape it.

    TOM: Well, I don’t think you have to take all the old paint off. If it’s adhering well, then you’re good to go on it. So sand it down and then I would recommend that you put a coat of primer on. Because this will make sure that the new paint adheres as well as the old paint did.

    Primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick. So, put the primer on.

    KAY: Will KILZ work? Because I’ve got a gallon of KILZ.

    TOM: It’ll work fine, yep. You put the KILZ on, let it dry and then you could put your topcoat on that.

    KAY: To sand it, what do I have to do? Knock the sheen off?

    TOM: Yeah, knock the sheen off. Exactly right. You don’t have to sand it down to the raw wood but you have to get that sheen off. So a medium grit, like 100-grit sandpaper, would work really well, OK?

    KAY: OK.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’re going to talk decks and how to keep them beautiful, with John in North Carolina. What can we do for you?

    JOHN: Well, we decided to take unused space and turn it into a deck, so we spent about four months. We toyed with Trex and pressure-treated and settled on cedar. And it looked absolutely gorgeous. We put a can of SPF stain on it. And that was – we finished last September.

    This spring, we look out the window and it’s kind of whitish. It’s not the honey color. It’s like – a western cedar is what we have. So I got with Cabot and they were very surprised. So I guess they’re going to work something out with us. But is there something, either a stain or a – I’m thinking like a polyurethane or something that’s specific for cedar? It seems to be an unusual kind of wood.

    TOM: It’s not that unusual. Basically, what you want to do is you’re going to want to prime it first. And then you’re going to cover it with a solid-color stain. If you use a semi-transparent stain, you’ll – you may see more of the grain. You’ll still see it through solid color but you don’t have as much pigment in it, so it doesn’t last quite as long. But if the deck is primed first – and when I prime cedar, I use an oil-based primer. And then on top of that, I’ll use a solid-color stain and it can last a really, really long time.

    JOHN: Well, the only thing is we didn’t want to do the solid color because the cedar looks so beautiful.

    TOM: Yeah, I get that. But the thing is you’re not going to preserve that natural color. Eventually, it’s going to fade to gray. You may not want to do it now but you will do it eventually. It’s going to happen with you or without you.

    JOHN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we all go gray, I guess.

    TOM: Exactly.

    JOHN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it very much.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, it’s supposed to be a peaceful hobby but gardening accidents cause more than 70,000 accidents each year. We want to make sure that you are not one of them. We’ll share some info when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, what do-it-yourselfer doesn’t love a good power tool? I know I do. But using power tools safely is key.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So here to give us some good advice on how to use our tools safely, we’ve got John Drengenberg from the consumer safety director for the Underwriters Laboratory to help us stay safe.

    Welcome, John.

    JOHN: Well, it’s nice to be with you all again.

    TOM: So, John, power tools are fun. They can help us get a lot of projects done. But so many times, folks don’t follow the basic safety guidelines that are provided by the manufacturers. They do things like taking the guards off, they set blade depth way too deep and they make it a very dangerous experience for themselves and those around it. How do we stay safe when using our power tools?

    JOHN: Well, you’re absolutely correct. Over 90,000 people make hospital emergency-room visits every year because of injuries with power tools.

    And one of the first things you can do is make sure that you use the right tool for the job. Getting up in a tree with a circular saw is not at all what it was designed for. You could have all kinds of problems. That’s where you need a chainsaw if you’re going to do tree branches and logs. So use the right tool for the job but make sure you’re wearing some safety equipment. Having safety glasses on is a great idea because sawdust does fly, wood chips fly very often and you want to protect your eyes, for sure, even your hands. And there’s – all kinds of different body protection that you can buy are a good idea.

    So, it’s something that we all do. And you’re so right: it really gets things done more quickly. But taking a guard off is never a good idea. You mentioned that and it’s true. And Tom, it happens all the time. We get reports of people doing things like trying to take the guard off because they can get it closer to the wall or something of that type. And if you have to do that, put it back on immediately.

    TOM: When is somebody going to invent a table saw where the guard doesn’t get in your way? That’s the guard I think is removed most commonly. Almost all pros do it because they really want to see where the blade is as it’s cutting. And yet it’s dangerous.

    JOHN: Well, that’s true. And we know that table saws do have guards and sometimes it gets in the way of the project that you’re trying to cut. And the reality is you can take them off, if necessary, to make certain cuts. But put them right back on. Because the injuries with power saws – that number that I mentioned earlier – are usually very serious types of injuries that are seen. And with power saws, you can hurt yourself much more severely than even with a hammer when you hit your thumb.

    TOM: What would you say is the most dangerous tool in America? What reports the most number of injuries? Is it a power saw or is it something else?

    JOHN: Well, I don’t have any statistic that breaks it down that carefully but we know that there are thousands and thousands of injuries with power tools and power saws. And we hear a lot about miter saws being very much involved in many of these incidents.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I was going to say tools sometimes operate in a bizarre kind of way. Things get jammed up, something gets stuck, the power stops something. And you’ll get kickback or something will happen kind of in a funny way. How can you be prepared, especially if you’ve never had that happen to you before, so you know where to get your hands, where to get your face out of the way to keep yourself safe?

    JOHN: Well, a good question and there’s several things you can do. One is you can wear protective clothing, certainly protective eyeglasses. Something of that type would help. But also, when you’re making a cut – let’s say it’s a circular saw and you’re cutting a piece of plywood – you don’t want that blade in there too deeply. All you need is a little bit of it coming out the other side. And that’s usually an 1/8- or ¼-inch. That will help keep you from getting kickback.

    And what happens with kickback is that the piece you’re cutting actually starts binding and acting like a brake – a disc brake – on a circular saw. And it keeps the saw from moving the way it should and the saw will ultimately kick back and even kick out of the cut and jump up from that cut and come toward you. And that’s a very dangerous thing to have the saw come toward you.

    So, you want to make sure that you keep the cut as shallow as possible and yet do the job. You want to make sure that you know if you’re hearing that the speed is changing or it’s starting to squeal a little bit. That’s the first sign that you’re going to get a kickback from that saw. And the thing to do then is to make sure you turn the saw off, get your finger off that button and let it stop before you even try to pull it out of that cut.

    TOM: Yeah, great advice. You know, I spent years as a shop teacher before I got into home improvement radio. And I could tell what was going on in my shop even with my back turned to where the tool was being operated, just by – based on the sound. You talk about those squeals. If your tool is making noise, you’re not using it right.

    And by the way, a sharp blade is a safe blade. When your blades get dull, that’s when you put too much pressure onto the tool. You really lean into it. It makes that noise, it complains and you can have some very serious consequences. So, always work sharp, always work smart and always wear eye and ear protection.

    JOHN: You have a lot of good experience and those are all very true. You’ve got to listen for those things and know what’s going on with your saw.

    TOM: John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and keeping us safe with our tools.

    JOHN: Take care and stay safe.

    TOM: If you’d like more information on how to stay safe with the tools in your home, go to UL.com/Newsroom.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, let’s say goodbye to those clunky jumper cables and scary pleas for help. “Please, my car needs a jump.” We’ve got a new device that’s smaller than an iPhone. Alright, I’m going to say it’s smaller than an iPhone 6 because it’s bigger than my iPhone but smaller than an iPhone 6. And it gets your car’s battery back up and running quick, easily and get this, without another car’s juice. We’re going to tell you all about it when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the smart solution for all your electrical needs. Learn how to help improve your home’s electrical safety at GetSafeToday.com. And be sure to enter their June Safety Products Giveaway. That’s GetSafeToday.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, you probably have tried everything but you’re still getting eaten alive by mosquitoes every year. Well, relief is on the way for one lucky caller.

    LESLIE: Yeah, move over, chemicals. Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill Spray uses non-toxic sugar bait to cut down mosquito populations by as much as 90 percent.

    TOM: Check out BaitAndKill.com and call us, right now, for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with The Money Pit and needs help with a tiling project. What can we do for you?

    JIM: We live in Central Pennsylvania but my wife and I just bought a house out in Arizona for our retirement. And the house has all travertine tile in it, except for the living room and a couple – in the master bedroom. So, we don’t really know anything about how to care for it.

    But my – when we were there the last time, this past time to set things up, my wife commented on how the tile looks so dull and everything. So, we were wondering if you folks would have a recommendation, as far as whether we should have it resurfaced or just have it cleaned and if so, what we should use on travertine tile. Because I’m pretty sure you can’t just – specific products you shouldn’t use. So, we just needed some recommendations.

    TOM: Jim, you’re right: you do need to use products that are specifically designed for the material that you’re cleaning which, in this case, is travertine. There’s a good website that has a number of these products all together and it’s called StoneCare.com. And the product there that I’ve used is called Marbalex – M-a-r-b-a-l-e-x. And Marbalex is designed specifically for travertine and it’s basically a streak-free product that is going to do a good job of cleaning it without staining it further.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Or damaging it. Some of the products can pit it, so you have to be really careful.

    JIM: Yeah, like you said, we – my wife noticed it just kind of looked dull. So this – the house was built in 2005, so it’s not an older – you know, it’s a relatively newer house. But the tile does look dull, even to me. So we’re not exactly sure how it’s supposed to look because, like I said, this is our first experience with travertine tile. But the floors do look somewhat dull, so we didn’t know whether we should have it refurbished with that – with those buffing compounds and stuff or whether it just needs a good cleaning.

    TOM: Well, I would give it a good cleaning and do as much yourself as you can. There are cleaners and polishers that you can apply yourself. Of course, if you have a professional come in, it could – they could really do a great job and it’ll stay with you a little bit longer. I don’t see any reason why you might not want to try it yourself.

    JIM: Yeah, well, we’ll give it a shot. Like I said, I was looking for a product and you gave me one. Marbalex, you said? Is that what …?

    TOM: Marbalex, yeah. It’s on StoneCare.com. It might be elsewhere but I know it exists on that website.

    JIM: Very cool, very cool. By the way, I listen to your show every Saturday morning on my long walks. So not only am I getting great advice but I’m getting in shape to your show, too, so …

    TOM: Great. Glad you’re taking us with you.

    JIM: So, yeah, kudos to you guys. But you’ve got a really great show.

    TOM: Thanks, Jim. Appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Well, technology has changed a lot of things over the past few decades but some things still seem a little stuck in the past. I’m talking to you, jumper cables.

    TOM: That’s so true. A dead battery has always meant clunky cables and flagging down another car for help. But that’s finally changing. There’s a new device on the market from Westinghouse that lets you jump a dead car battery much more easily and all on your own, with a device that’s smaller than an iPhone.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s called the Westinghouse Auto Jump and Power Mobile Kit. And it does a lot more than just bring your car back to life. We talked to Jerry Phlippeau from Westinghouse all about it.

    JERRY: It’s a built-in power bank, so there’s a battery system that basically stores energy and power.

    TOM: OK.

    JERRY: And you can reuse it. You can recharge it back through your USB cable, through your cigarette lighter, through your home or whatever.

    LESLIE: How long does it take to recharge?

    JERRY: It takes less than an hour.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: And one full charge on this will jump-start your car once?

    JERRY: Many, many – several, several times.

    TOM: Really? So, will it also …?

    LESLIE: So I could jump-start my car, charge my phone?

    TOM: Yeah, I was going to say …

    JERRY: It could send you out on calls and you could make some extra cash by going and jump-starting down the road.

    TOM: There you go.

    JERRY: No, I’m kidding.

    LESLIE: Geez, Louise.

    TOM: So, yeah, you could really charge up anything with thing, huh?

    JERRY: Right. Yeah, you can charge up anything that has a USB cable. Plenty of power stored. The Westinghouse brand we all know is a very, very, very good brand. We manufacture to a very high standard, so you don’t have to worry about any safety issues with the product whatsoever.

    TOM: And you can listen to the entire interview in the Top Products Podcast section at MoneyPit.com. The Westinghouse Auto Jump and Power Mobile Kit hits the market soon for just 99 bucks, a small price for all of that peace of mind.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading to North Carolina where Fred is on the line with a humidity problem. How can we help you?

    FRED: I’ve got two daughters who, I think, live in our bathroom. Constantly taking showers, which is, I guess, a good problem to have. But I’m starting to smell mold and stuff in the house. I think it’s tied to that. And before I even get into it, I figured I’d do the smart thing and call you guys.

    TOM: Well, bathrooms are sources of enormous humidity during those showers – the extended showers. Do you have a bathroom fan? Do you have a ceiling fan?

    FRED: I do but it’s ancient.

    TOM: OK. Well, it should still work even if it’s ancient. So, here’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, make sure it’s working, make sure it’s vented outside. That’s important.

    Secondly, it’s a good idea to run it for a good 10 or 15 minutes after the shower is completed and after you leave the room. There’s actually a switch that can do that for you. It’s made by Leviton and it’s a humidity sensor and fan control. And essentially, the way it works is it does just that: it senses the humidity level inside the room and will automatically turn it off when the humidity goes down. Because if you can reduce the amount of moisture that’s staying in that bathroom, you’ll dramatically reduce the amount of mold growth that you’re getting on tile and other places.

    So, I would suggest that you check the fan to make sure it’s functional and operational, that you replace the light switch or the fan switch with the humidity sensor and fan control from Leviton. And then give your bathroom a good cleaning to get rid of all the debris and mold that might be there now. And I think you’ll see a dramatic difference because without that moisture sitting around for those long periods of time, you’re just not going to have the same issues.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Fred? If this is a project you want to tackle yourself but you’re a little unsure, if you head on over to Leviton’s website, right on the page with the humidity sensor and fan control you’ll find an installation video that’ll talk you right through it.

    FRED: Ah, OK. That’s why I called the experts.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking for that one home design detail that’s going to have your guests talking for years to come, we have got it: an accent wall that you cover completely in salvaged wood. Going to tell you how you can add one to your home – it is the perfect weekend project – when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    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: Foot traffic in and out of your house is one of the charms of summer. But to keep energy costs down, you want your patio door to do the job right when it’s closed. Head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “patio door purchase tips” to find the most efficient patio doors that will keep air in and keep energy costs down year-round. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com. Just search “patio door purchase tips.”

    LESLIE: Alright. And post your questions, just like Joe did. We’d love to give you guys a hand. So Joe writes: “How do you cut those small, ½-inch glass tiles that you put on a kitchen backsplash?”

    TOM: Ah, that’s a great project for a weekend. And you can really express creativity with those glass tiles or perhaps just having the satisfaction of knowing you cut them yourself.

    So, for starters, what you want to do is be careful with the backsplash layout you choose. You want to end up with as few partial tiles as possible. Try to keep those cut tiles to inside corners, where the rough edge won’t be as obvious as they might be on the outside.

    Now, to cut them, very easy. You need a little tool called a “tile nipper.” It’s like a plier-like device that scores the tile and then cuts it along those score lines. There’s a great glass-tile nipper for just 12 bucks at Home Depot, along with a video tutorial showing you exactly how to use it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? With glass tiles, I mean they come in so many beautiful color combinations, so many sort of degrees of opacity and different textures within the glass. But it gives you a lot of great opportunities to be super-creative in your backsplash design.

    So you can get really sort of into your design head and figure out an interesting layout or maybe a pattern or some sort of graphic-design detail or you can go simple and pick one beautiful tile and go with it for the entire backsplash. But it’s your design and you’ve got a great opportunity to create it with those glass tiles.

    TOM: Well, when it gets too hot to head outside, tackling a project that lets you bring the outdoors in for years to come is a great idea. And one of those projects might be to install a reclaimed-wood wall. That’s the topic of this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Put down those paint swatches. I know you’re struggling. You’ve got a lot of them. You can’t figure out what to do. Just get rid of them. The hottest, new trend in design has homeowners covering their walls not in paint but in panels of salvaged wood. A reclaimed-wood accent wall is not just going to get you compliments and a warm-weather look all year long, it’s also actually very Earth-friendly, too.

    Now, this is a job that you can hire out or you can do it yourself. If you go ahead and take the DIY route, you want to select planks or panels from salvage yards or specialty buyers or even from manufacturers getting on the trend by selling planks specifically for this purposes. Some are even peel-and-stick.

    But what you need to do is carefully remove any nails or other metal and sand the wood, if you need to. It really depends on where you’re placing this wall, who’s going to come in contact to it, how much you want to sort of change the look of the wood. You don’t want to plane it down, by any means, but you do want to sand it a bit just to think about what the finished product is going to look like.

    Next, you want to use a saw to cut the boards to size. Now, inside your house, you want to remove the trim from the wall you plan to cover. And then attach the planks using a level and construction adhesive. You can support each plank with a few nails once the adhesive is dry.

    Now, if you use authentic salvaged wood, you might want to consider sealing it afterwards so that you avoid splinters or even the chance for that wood perhaps containing chemicals and sort of off-gassing at your house.

    So think about it. Choose your wood pieces very carefully. It’s actually a lot of fun to head to a salvage yard. You’d be surprised at the amazing and beautiful pieces of lumber that you can get. You might also be surprised at the price tag but shop around. You’ll find some great choices.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, different types of siding call for different degrees of upkeep. That’s why picking the right one isn’t just about appearance. We’ll have tips on how you can choose the best siding for you and your home, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    Copyright 2015 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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