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Keep Firework Fun Safe, Solar Pool Heat, Avoid Summer Dangers and More

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    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: Here to help you tackle your home improvement project. We want to solve the do-it-yourself dilemma that is stymying you from getting started with the project that you know you want to get done. Or maybe your spouse knows it and your spouse hopes that you will figure it out. Hey, we can figure it out together, 888-666-3974.

    Let’s face it. There is always, always, always a project that creeps up around your house. Heck, even around my house. My wife comes to me today and says, “Hey, I can’t close the dishwasher.” I’m like, “What do you mean you can’t close the dishwasher?” Well, the dishwasher had disconnected itself from the countertop above and in fact, we can now not close our dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Excellent.

    TOM: So, after my – after we get done with the show today, I’m going to be doing my weekend home improvement project and reconnecting the dishwasher.

    It happens. We understand that; we get it. And we’re here to help you with your project, so give us a call. The number is 888-666-3974.

    Coming up in today’s program, are you constantly misplacing tools? We’ve got some do-it-yourself tool organizational tips this hour to help make sure your DIY projects go smoothly and quickly, because you won’t be wasting time looking for tools.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, do you want to keep your expensive air-conditioned air inside this summer? That makes sense. If you do – and I imagine you do – you’ll want to start at your front door. We’re going to tell you one very efficient way that you can do that.

    TOM: And do you have a way to show your pride for the upcoming Fourth of July? We’re going to tell you how to put a flagpole up to let the Stars and Stripes fly.

    LESLIE: And also, one caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get a great way to hang your clothes or anything, really. It’s called a HangerJack. And it’s a bar that attaches to a wall, with an arm that folds out for hanging things. It’s cool. We’re giving away 2 worth 30 bucks a piece.

    TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Heather in Texas is dealing with a mold situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    HEATHER: Well, I have black spots in my restroom and I’m not sure if that’s mold. And I would like to know: how can he fix it?

    TOM: Without seeing it, I can’t tell you but if they’re black spots, it probably is mold. And where are these spots? Is it on the wall, shower curtain, tile? Where? Ceiling?

    HEATHER: In the wall.

    TOM: On the wall? Do you have wallpaper on the wall?

    HEATHER: No.

    TOM: What you might want to do is mix up a bleach-and-water solution, about 10- to 15-percent bleach and the rest water. Spray it on those spots, let it sit for a bit of time and then wipe it down with fresh water. So if there is mold there, that will kill it.

    The reason we usually get mold in bathrooms is because they’re wet and damp all the time. A couple of things that you can do there is – do you have a bath exhaust fan in this room?

    HEATHER: No.

    TOM: Well, you should have one. And this is one of the reasons you should have one, because it will draw air out of that room when it gets damp, especially if you hook it up to a humidistat so it’s only running when there’s moisture in the room. If you don’t have that, then the only thing that you could do is just get into the practice of wiping down walls or using a squeegee to wipe most of the water off the bath, the shower walls, that sort of thing, every single time and leaving the door open. But if you don’t have a bath exhaust fan, you’re always going to be fighting this.

    When you do repaint next time, make sure you use a paint that has a mildicide built into it because that can also further reduce the chance of developing mold. OK, Heather?

    HEATHER: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Ray in North Carolina who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    RAY: Make a long story short, I’m getting a new roof put on tomorrow, so I wanted to find out what questions to ask. I’ve already asked a lot, as you can imagine. But what is occurring right now is that I have very rotten fascia boards, if I’m pronouncing it correctly. And the gutters seem to leak a little bit, so I’m concerned. It seems to be two separate entities but when they put the roof on, what do I need to ask and what should I be looking for? This is – just so you know, it’s a – I believe it’s called a “dimensional roof.” You know, it’s kind of the upgraded dimensional shingles.

    TOM: It’s a dimensional shingle. OK. Well, first of all, the first thing I’d check is the weather report; let’s make sure we’re not running into a lot of rain.

    RAY: Yeah. Luckily, we’re in good shape on that end.

    TOM: Alright, good. Good. Check. That’s good.

    Now, next, are they taking off the old layer or are they putting a second layer?

    RAY: Correct.

    TOM: They’re taking it off. Good. That’s good.

    So, what do you need to ask? Well, first of all, you want to ask them how they plan to dispose of the old shingles. I mean the right thing to do here is to put tarps around your house so that when they throw the shingles off the roof, you don’t end up with a million little pieces of this. So get their sort of plan and their cleanup plan for this.

    In terms of that fascia, now that’s not uncommon. And typically, what happens is the gutters back up a little bit over the years and the water gets up there and it saturates against that fascia and it rots it out. Now is the time, however, to replace that. To do that, though, you need to take the gutters down, obviously.

    RAY: Exactly. And my biggest question is is that I’ve heard various things. Basically, the roofer is saying it’s a separate situation. “We’ll do the roof first” – because it’s stupid to mess with the gutters, as far as he’s concerned – “because if you put new gutters up or whatever you do, it’s going to create a mess. So let’s do the roof first and then address the fascia and the gutters second.” Is that – does that sound proper?

    TOM: It’s fine. You could do it all at once or you could do it separately.

    RAY: Gotcha.

    TOM: It just – one doesn’t affect the other. You can put the roof on with the old gutters or the new gutters. But one more thing I’m going to suggest to you and that is instead of putting wood back up as a fascia, take a look at a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K.

    RAY: A-Z-E-K?

    TOM: A-Z-E-K, right.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: It’s an extruded PVC material. It’s air-entrained so it kind of looks like it has sort of a wood structure to it but it’s made of PVC. So it doesn’t rot, bugs won’t eat it and you’ll never have to deal with this again. And you can paint it.

    RAY: And if they put it up properly, it should last, so to speak, forever?

    TOM: Forever, exactly.

    RAY: Very good. Well, that’s a good idea.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ray. 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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, have you ever looked for a tool for a project, only to waste time wondering where it disappeared to? I do that about eight times during a project.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Put the tape down, I can’t find the tape. I should take my own advice. We’re going to have tips on tool organization, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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: Standing by for your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets in touch with us this hour might just win a great, new way to hang things. It’s called HangerJack. You attach a 24-inch bar to a wall and the HangerJack arm folds out for great organizing. It’s made of tough polycarbonate that won’t break or scratch.

    And we’re giving away two of the HangerJacks, worth 30 bucks each. Check them out at HangerJack.com or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Don in Wisconsin is dealing with a window-well retaining wall that’s coming apart. Tell us what’s going on.

    DON: We have a window-well retaining wall that has – have railroad ties in there. Been there for quite a few years. Has started to deteriorate and I’m just now – I’ve been trying to check on what to do and been told to try to use retaining blocks and put blocks on there. And then you have to put some kind of a pea gravel in front of the block to hold the sand back, because we have sand here; it’s a sand country.

    And I’m not sure. I never did this before. And I was just wondering if it’s something that a person – because I’m handy – be able to do myself or is it something that you should actually have a professional landscaper do?

    TOM: At the highest part of the wall, from the distance between the ground to the top of the wall, how high is that?

    DON: Thirty-two inches.

    TOM: OK. So it’s fairly low to the ground. Alright. I think this is project you can do yourself. Concrete blocks – the interlocking, retaining-wall blocks – are a terrific option because they’re very easy to install. Because it’s only 32 inches off the ground, it’s not a lot of soil for you to deal with. You’re going to take the wall apart one sort of area at a time and build the blocks as you go.

    The thing that’s going to be different about the concrete blocks, though, is you’re going to have to have them on a bit of a solid footing. Now, that’s one that you might want to create yourself. You could probably create that out of stone that’s well-tamped down. But you’ve got to get them sat nice and level; you can’t just put them right on the dirt, OK?

    And then as – after you assemble them, then you can add the pea gravel behind it and the sand behind that. But I do think that that’s a good option and it’s going to be – literally, if you do it right, you’re going to get a lifetime’s worth of satisfaction out of that because, of course, the blocks are not going to rot.

    DON: Oh, OK. It sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Annette in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a boathouse project. Tell us about it.

    ANNETTE: The deck on top of the boathouse – flat roof, has a bladder. I have removed the carpet that was originally on there 10 years. Want to know what I can put back on there, on the bladder, that will do better than carpet.

    LESLIE: And this is on the roof, so it’s exposed to the elements 24-7?

    ANNETTE: It is a flat roof.

    LESLIE: Now, a carpet – exterior carpet – is probably not the best choice, just because it does tend to wear and tear quite quickly, even though you got 10 years out of it.

    TOM: Rapidly, yeah. Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: You know, it’s probably not the best choice.

    Now, Tom, would you consider a composite decking material or can that not really sit directly on top of that bladder, to get that water away?

    TOM: Well, actually, what I was thinking was to create a deck-like surface on top of that bladder.

    LESLIE: Like a platform.

    TOM: Right, a platform where the deck – you really wouldn’t have the traditional floor joists or even 2x4s. You might have a, say, 2×6 on the flat that lays flat on top of that deck. And then the deck boards sort of lay on top of that on – with 16 inches on center. So it’s kind of like just making the top surface of the deck as the wear-and-tear surface on top of that bladder.

    Is there some sort of a railing system here, as well, Annette?

    ANNETTE: Yes. It’s all railed. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK. So then I would just create a composite deck that lays flat on top of that.

    Now, you can’t just lay the composite decking boards on the bladder; you’ll need some way to keep them together. That’s why I said that what I might do is take a pressure-treated 2×6, lay it on the flat and use that sort of, in essence, as if it was a floor joist that you were attaching these decking boards to. And then lay the decking down on top of that.

    Now, there’s also interlocking wood – and I think it’s made out of teak.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I’ve used, actually, teak tiles like that.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s teak tiles that interlock, right? Then I know – I’ve seen them; people can put them down on top of patios. I suppose you could probably also put that down on top of the roof as long as it wasn’t too soft. So any type of wood decking surface like that would be a good choice.

    LESLIE: And those are interesting: the teak tiles that snap together. Do you have a Christmas tree store near you? You know those stores: it’s not really a holiday store, it’s like …

    ANNETTE: No. Lowe’s is the closest to – I’m 18 miles from any town. I’m way out in the woods.

    LESLIE: OK. Because there’s several different companies, actually, that sell them online. Locally, for me, I found them at one of those discount home decorating stores. But they’re 12×12 teak tiles that almost look like a parquet tile, like a floor tile? And they’re set on a plastic base and they snap together. And you can also get an edging tile to sort of complete the border and that could sit directly on top of the bladder, because it’s got the little plastic base that creates that platform.

    TOM: A good website to take a look at is SwiftDeck. SwiftDeck.com is a company that sells patio deck tiles. They have Ipe tiles. It looks like they also have a composite version. So a couple of options there. Great photos. You can see exactly what this looks like, at SwiftDeck.com.

    ANNETTE: Beautiful. Thank you for your help.

    TOM: Well, are you tired of rummaging through a drawer or a tool box for the gear that you need to take on a project? You can get organized with clever tool storage on the cheap.

    For example, you can repurpose an old tie or belt rack by hanging it near your workbench as an easy-access home for a set of wrenches.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, rigid foam packing insulation, it really makes a great pin cushion for pointy tools. So, you can cut it to fit inside a storage box for a small drill or rotary tool bits or you can actually mount a piece to plywood as wall storage for your screwdrivers, pencils and more.

    TOM: Magnetic strips also make great, stay-put storage for small gear or tool sets. You can even recycle leftover PVC pipe or decommissioned garden hoses as guards for saws and other bladed tools. Just slit the length of the PVC or the hose, slip it on and you’re done.

    We’ve got more quick, tool-storage tips online, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Della in Iowa is on the line with an attic-fan question. How can we help you?

    DELLA: My husband and I – our attic fan went out.

    TOM: OK.

    DELLA: And we don’t know the first thing about attic fans.

    TOM: OK. Do you have central air conditioning, Della?

    DELLA: Yes, we do.

    TOM: OK. How old is your house?

    DELLA: It’s like 35 years old, 40 maybe.

    TOM: And what kinds of roof vents do you have?

    DELLA: We have a slanted – all one roof. It goes straight down. We just have a little portion of the home that’s attic. We have the – it doesn’t have any attic above the living room and the dining room area.

    TOM: Alright. Because generally, we don’t recommend attic fans for homes that have central air conditioning and here’s why: because when the attic fan operates, it depressurizes the attic and then it draws air from inside the house and up into the attic and exhausts it. So what that does is kind of robs some of your air conditioning, because most attic fans are overpowered for the attic spaces that they’re in.

    A better approach is just to use passive vents where you have, say, ridge vents that go down the peak of the roof and soffit vents that …

    DELLA: We have that.

    TOM: You have that.

    DELLA: We have huge overhang with the little vents all the way around.

    TOM: Then I wouldn’t worry about the attic fan.

    DELLA: A guy – one of the guys says that make sure – see, we have three story – it’s not a real story; it’s like 12, 14 to the upper level. Then we have the basement, first floor and then all of our bedrooms and guest rooms are up on the third level. But we thought it would be cooler to get that hot air out of the attic.

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think you need another attic fan. It sounds like you’ve got exactly what you need to have right now.

    LESLIE: Chad in Illinois is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    CHAD: My question is concerning my linoleum floor I have in my kitchen. It was damaged probably during installation and before we moved in, they cut out little squares and they patched it up. Well, over time, those squares have come up and gotten brittle and rolled over and it looks horrible.

    And I want to know, is there a way that I can repair that, kind of like the way they did: just cutting out a square or two from a closet or underneath a stove? What kind of adhesive to use – or am I just fighting a losing battle and should I just save the money and replace the whole floor sometime?

    TOM: Well, if it’s an older floor like that, it might not make sense to keep fixing it. Especially when you consider that remnant vinyl is available, laminate is available. The prices on this have gone way down. I mean you can buy laminate floor now for probably as little as about $3 a square foot.

    So not expensive, pretty easy to install, all lock together. And actually will last a long, long time. And I’ve had laminate floor in my kitchen for 20 years and it’s really not showing any wear whatsoever.

    So I think, given what you’ve been through with this, it’s probably time to move on.

    CHAD: Alright. My wife would totally agree with you.

    TOM: Alright. OK. Well, we’ve now given you our blessing. Go ahead and buy some new flooring, OK, Chad? Make your wife happy.

    CHAD: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Jamie in South Dakota is on the line with a vaulted ceiling with a crack in it. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAMIE: We’ve been living in this house. It’s (audio gap) built in 2000 and I believe it was a modular that was moved onto a basement foundation. And a few years back, we noticed it started to crack. And my husband tried to fix it but apparently, whatever he did didn’t work.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s give him a little break on that. He can probably try it again but maybe he didn’t take some of the right steps.

    Now, first of all, cracks in vaulted ceilings are very, very common. There’s a tremendous amount of expansion and contraction that goes up there, not to mention the fact that it’s one of the warmest places in the house, especially in the summer.

    So what you want to do to try to fix this is to sand over the area where the crack is so that you remove any loose paint, dirt, debris, that sort of thing. Next, you want to cover that with a piece of perforated drywall tape. It looks a bit like netting, it’s a little sticky and it comes on a roll. And on top of that perforated tape, you want to add three layers of spackle. You start very narrow at about 4 inches and you work out to maybe 6 or 8 or 10 inches, in terms of the width of the spackle blade.

    That netting actually bridges the crack and makes sure it doesn’t come through again. If you were simply to go up there and spackle it, the crack really isn’t fixed. So the next time the ceiling expands and contracts, it’s going to show up again. Does that make sense?

    JAMIE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.

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

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

    An energy-efficient front door? Well, it can save you money and it can cut costs if it’s made of fiberglass. We’re going to tell you why, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And one of the best ways to improve your home is by updating your entryway. You want to step up that curb appeal, get yourself a brand-new front door.

    You know, with old-technology doors, they let out the heat in the winter, they let out the cooling in the summer. But a good solution is to consider a low-maintenance, ENERGY STAR-qualified fiberglass entry door. Yes, I said fiberglass. Why? Well, because it offers a lot of benefits over wood and steel doors.

    Now, with me to talk about that is George Nonemaker. George is the national account manager with Feather River Fiberglass Doors.

    Hi, George. Welcome to the program.

    GEORGE: Hey, Tom. How are you doing?

    TOM: We’re doing well. So, talk to me about some of the benefits of fiberglass. It seems like door technology has come quite a long way in the most recent decade and fiberglass is a big part of that story.

    GEORGE: Yeah. Fiberglass, it’s – even though it’s still been out there probably for 20 years, it’s still relatively new to the industry. When people think of wood doors, they think of maintenance, panels can crack, they’re not very energy-efficient. With steel doors, the problems there, they can dent, they can rust and – but they do have that energy efficiency.

    So, fiberglass really is a low-maintenance alternative, where it gives you the look of wood but the low-maintenance factors where – of where maintenance would be an issue.

    TOM: And I think that look of wood is really what’s been the turning point for fiberglass in recent years. Because, originally, it had sort of that plastic look to it, which wasn’t very pleasant. But now, as you mentioned, these doors can really look exactly like a wood door, can’t they?

    GEORGE: Yes. And to your point, before the technology, the grain detail wasn’t that enhanced. But now, when you look at the grainings – we have mahogany wood-grain product, we have oak wood-grain products. So there’s a lot of definition and detail in the panel embossments and the graining, as well as some of the finishes. So most doors are available prefinished and it gives you that really detailed, almost natural, wood-looking door.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about finishes. With a wood door, you’ve always got a lot of moisture, expansion and contraction and those issues. With steel doors, you have rust. With fiberglass doors, what kind of durability do you get out of the finish in a fiberglass door, since you’re not dealing with those organic elements of swelling and cracking or rusting, for example?

    GEORGE: Yeah. So, with fiberglass, you’re going to have the low-maintenance aspect where, hey, it’s not going to crack, it’s not going to rust. But if you are prefinishing, staining a door, probably every two to three years you just want to apply another coat of polyurethane that has UV inhibitors to protect it from the sun.

    TOM: Right.

    GEORGE: And if you’re painting the door, it would just be the annual maintenance on any painted type of product.

    TOM: So, it doesn’t really require any additional maintenance. And you can use standard paints, standard urethanes on fiberglass doors?

    GEORGE: Yes. So for our fiberglass doors, if you’re looking to stain it, you can use an oil-based, water-based or gelled stain. And on – if you’re painting the product, you can use any oil-based product or water-based paint.

    TOM: We’re talking to George Nonemaker. He is an expert in fiberglass entry doors.

    Now, fiberglass doors aren’t all fiberglass; they still have wood components with the jambs. Is that correct? How do we maintain those areas?

    GEORGE: So for the jambs, one thing we have is the Sill Key system. And what that is, there’s a composite component integrated into the bottom of the jamb that helps lift that jamb up off the subfloor.

    TOM: OK.

    GEORGE: So you’ve noticed, though, a wood jamb. The jambs do come primed but you want to basically paint that. And then just keep the upkeep of keeping areas caulked where it meets the – any of the jambs or the brick mould or the wood siding or trim on your house. And just annual maintenance and painting that and keeping that (inaudible at 0:23:48).

    TOM: Now, the Sill Key system, I think, is important because when you plant a door against a surface, like the subfloor, what happens is water strikes that, it rolls down to that. And then because it’s sort of connected, it draws up through the force of capillarity; it’ll just sort of suck it right up. And if you have the Sill Key system that provides this sort of strategic separation, that’s designed to interrupt that force, correct?

    GEORGE: That’s correct. So, yeah – so, to your point of water wicking, water can – if it penetrates into that area – and it can just wick up to the end grains of the wood if it’s just sitting on the subfloor, even around that threshold area. And over time, it eventually rots from the bottom up.

    TOM: Now, your products are available at The Home Depot and online at HomeDepot.com.

    Let’s talk about options. There are lots of choices. What does a consumer have to choose from when it comes to Feather River fiberglass entry doors?

    GEORGE: Yeah, there’s a number of options when it comes to fiberglass, whether you’re looking at a particular type of door type, like a mahogany wood grain, an oak wood grain or maybe you’re looking just for a smooth finish, similar to a steel door.

    And then it comes into the glass designs. So, if you have a Craftsman style in mind or something a little more elegant – and then the caming. Before, brass caming used to be pretty popular. Now you see more of the zinc and patina-type caming, so – to match the different handle sets and lightings around the house.

    TOM: Alright. Well, it’s a great product.

    It’s time for you to take a look at fiberglass doors, folks, if you haven’t yet. I’ve got fiberglass doors on my home for a very good reason, many of which we’ve just stated with George. They look great, they don’t crack, they don’t check, they don’t warp. They need very, very little maintenance and they really step up the curb appeal of your home.

    George Nonemaker from Feather River Doors, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    GEORGE: Tom, appreciate it and thank you.

    TOM: If you’d like more information, you can take a look at their website, which is simply FeatherRiverDoor.com. Remember, Feather River doors are available at The Home Depot and online at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Well, don’t get caught without a way to display Old Glory for the Fourth of July. We’re going to tell you how to put up a flagpole, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We’re giving away two HangerJack systems so you can start organizing. Space always seems to be at a premium for everybody out there. And HangerJack lets you hang just about anything from laundry, to bikes, to all kinds of garage storage items.

    We’re giving away two HangerJacks, worth 30 bucks a piece, so it’s a $60 prize.

    TOM: Check them out at HangerJack.com and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line and looking to replace some windows. Tell us about the project.

    PAT: I am going to replace some windows in an old house. And I am wondering what type of window to go with: a wooden window, a vinyl or a fiberglass.

    TOM: In terms of energy saving?

    PAT: That’s right.

    TOM: OK. So the answer is it doesn’t much matter, because there’s a lot more to determining what type of window is going to be energy-efficient than just the material it’s made out of.

    PAT: I see.

    TOM: There could be extremely energy-efficient windows in all of those materials. But there are dozens of things that go into the energy efficiency of the window: not only what the frames are but what the glass is made out of, what the weatherstripping is made out of, what the frames are made out of and so on.

    So what I would do is this, Pat. First of all, I would only shop for Energy Star-qualified windows. Secondly, there’s a label on the glass and it’s from the National Fenestration Rating Council – NFRC label. It’s going to have a set of numbers on there. It’s going to measure stuff like how much heat gets through the window and how much insulation the window has and so on. And look at the numbers on the NFRC label and use those to help compare brand to brand to brand.

    You stick with a really good-quality window, like an Andersen, just as a new replacement window, for example. It just came out: their Model 400 Series. You really can’t go wrong. But the decision isn’t just what’s the window made out of but it’s the whole package and how that impacts the energy efficiency of your home.

    PAT: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, next month, America turns 237 years old.

    TOM: And she looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

    LESLIE: Really, it’s a beautiful country, so Happy Birthday, America.

    Now, if you guys don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to get a flagpole and have Old Glory flying just in time for the Fourth of July. QUIKRETE has some tips on a fast and efficient way that you can do just that.

    TOM: First, you need to do a little math before you dig the hole for the pole. The diameter of the hole should be three times bigger than the pole. It should also be one-third the depth of the pole, plus 6 inches below that for your frost line.

    Now, tamp the bottom until it’s firm. You pour in about 6 inches of gravel for drainage, on top of the dirt.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Next, you want to position the pole to make sure that it’s level and plumb. And then you can go ahead and pour in QUIKRETE Fast-Setting Concrete Mix. You want to put it in dry, right from the bag, until it reaches about 3 to 4 inches from the top. Then go ahead and add the water to the dry mix, in accordance with the directions, and you’re good to go.

    The Fast-Setting Mix is made of sand and gravel and it’s designed to set hard fast. So in about 20 to 40 minutes, your flagpole will be in place and secure.

    TOM: Now, you can review the instructions, in detail, at QUIKRETE.com. That’s spelled Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.

    LESLIE: Annette in Arizona is on the line and needs some help with a patio project. Tell us about it.

    ANNETTE: The problem that I’m having is I’ve been wanting a patio cover put on my house for the last 20 years.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNETTE: Well, now that my kids have grown up, I’m able to do that now. So, the problem is everyone is telling me that I have a very low roof and my ceilings in my house are only 7½-feet ceilings.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNETTE: So, I don’t have much of a clearance. So of course, everything else seems to be lower in the backyard.

    I’ve called probably eight or nine different builders now to see how much it would cost, this patio cover. And it’s straight across, so it’s 56 feet long, the whole length of the house.

    TOM: Right.

    ANNETTE: And I think probably six of them never called me back.

    TOM: That’s pretty typical.

    ANNETTE: And so the two that have, one of them is a very good friend of mine and I really do trust him in building this patio cover. But he says I need to cut 6 feet into my roof in order to get the pitch that I need for at the very end. So I really wanted a 56-feet-wide by 10-feet-out patio cover.

    TOM: Right. So what he’s saying is that if he adds a roof that starts at the edge of your roof and then kind of comes out from that, you’re not going to have much pitch, is that correct? Because you’re starting so low.

    ANNETTE: Correct.

    TOM: So I think your builder friend is probably correct, from your description. That said, the problem that you have with different builders giving you different advice can be completely avoided if you get a design professional to go in there first.

    So if you’re able to find, for example, an architect in your area that wanted to take on a small project, have them design this patio cover for you and then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can work through all the angles with the architect or the designer. Then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can call those contractors back and say, “This is exactly what I want. Now, just give me a price to build it.”

    Otherwise, you have no way of comparing apples to apples, because every builder is going to have their own solution. And you’re going to get different prices and you’re really not going to know how to compare them, because who knows what one guy is doing versus another? Does that make sense to you?

    ANNETTE: Yeah, I understand. And the problem is I wouldn’t mind him doing it but I am so afraid that wherever he cuts into it to build out – I’m so worried that I’m going to start having problems leaking.

    TOM: I really wouldn’t worry about it, OK? Because builders know how to build roofs and they know how to build roofs that don’t leak. And somebody built that roof that’s over your house right now and there’s no reason to think that your builder can’t attach another roof to it and then reroof that area properly so that you don’t get leaks. I think he’s giving you the right advice, because you can’t – if you start low and then go out, you’re going to end up with almost a flat roof and that’s going to leak like a sieve.

    So if you have a good pitch, that’s going to be the surest way to avoid leaks. I would not worry at all about a contractor that has to dig into an existing roof; that’s done all the time. It’s not a big deal. If somebody knows what they’re doing, they can roof it properly, flash it properly and you will have no leaking issues – new leaking issues – as a result.

    ANNETTE: Alright. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate your answer because my worry was it’s going to start leaking. And then I’m going to have major problems because it’s going to be leaking over the family room, the dining room, the kitchen and the bedroom and the – I said – that’s another problem that I don’t want to get into.

    TOM: Yeah, well, now that the kids are gone, I think it’s time for you to get that project done and enjoy it, right?

    ANNETTE: OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Annette. 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, summer is the season for kids to get outside and play. And adults, for that matter. And with your kids, a swing can help. We’re going to have tips on how you can build your own, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    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: The most popular question here on The Money Pit always has something to do with floors. Why? Well, because a new floor can determine the character of your entire house. If you’d like tips on the latest advances in wood, engineered, hardwood and hardwood flooring, we’ve got a story about how to choose the best type of floor for your home, on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section and post a question there, which we will answer, just like Ernie from Arkansas did. And he writes: “We lost power in a storm recently. And when it came back on, one of the light switches in our kitchen didn’t work. Is this something serious?”

    TOM: It could be or it might not be. Because it’s electrical, it’s not worth taking the risk. I would definitely have it addressed.

    Now, sometimes when you have a storm, you also have surges and spikes and brownouts and basically, an inconsistency of the power being delivered to your house. And so, if you did get, especially, a surge in the line, it could cause a switch to fail, it could cause a light fixture to fail. So, I would definitely have those fixtures looked at, have those switches looked at and maybe just go ahead and replace them. It’s not expensive to do that, especially if you’re going to have an electrician in your house. But don’t take a chance with a light switch like that, especially after a storm.

    And by the way, if it turns out to be a bigger problem than just one switch, it’s probably covered by homeowners insurance. Because something that happens as a result, for example, of a surge – a storm surge with the power – would be something that’s typically covered by insurance.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Blake from Indiana writes: “In the last storm, my vinyl siding appears to have come apart in one section. Can I fix this?”

    TOM: Yeah, actually, you can. Now, there’s a tool – it’s called a “zipper tool” in the siding business. And because – if you’ve ever seen vinyl siding assembled, you put the bottom piece on first and then they layer it from there. Well, when those sections disconnect, they’re a little tricky to kind of snap back in place, so there’s a tool called a “zipper tool” that’s designed to do that.

    You could probably pick one up at a siding supplier. I don’t think you’d find it at a home center or hardware store. But if you have a big place that sells roofing and siding material in your area, they probably sell it. It’s very inexpensive and that’s the tool that you need to put that back together.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s like a real trick of the trade. And if you have one of those tools, Blake, I bet all of your neighbors with vinyl siding will be knocking on your door at some point.

    TOM: Well, would you like to recapture your childhood with a little eye-catching curb appeal? Well, why not build a swing? Leslie has got tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there’s something so innocent and appealing about a swing. And I’m not talking about the fancy metal pole models that you may have in your yard for kids. I’m talking about those old-fashioned, wooden swings hanging from a tree limb.

    First of all, you have to have a limb that’s strong enough to support the swing and you. That’s totally critical.

    Now, you can buy kits online fairly inexpensively or you can make one yourself with two sturdy ropes and a plank of wood. Cedar works excellently. You’d have to drill four holes in the plank, near the corners, and secure the ropes with a very sturdy knot.

    Now, if you have the right tree in your front yard, you will definitely amp up your curb appeal. You can go ahead and paint the seat a bright, high-gloss color and wait for the passersby to point and smile. You may have to shoo them away because it would be so appealing, they might want to jump on. But a swing really is just the best part of summer.

    TOM: Totally agree. We’ve had many years invested in a tire swing that hung in our backyard and the kids just love it. When I think back of all the photos we took around that thing, it really has been a big part of our family. So it’s a great project to do.

    Coming up on the next edition of The Money Pit, with hurricane season upon us, a safe room can protect you and your family in the storm. We’re going to tell you how to build sturdy rooms that will deliver safety and peace of mind, in 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.

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