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Learn an Easy Way to Replace Windows, The Correct Way to Plant a Tree, Learn if Solar Panels Are Right For You, and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you be successful in your home improvement projects. Is there a project you are just dying to get done around your house? You don’t know where to start, don’t know where to begin? Maybe you got in too deep: you already started it and it just didn’t turn out quite right? Pick up the phone because we are here to help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Maybe it’s not a do-it-yourself project; maybe it’s something you want to hire a pro for. You want to know how to do that and not get ripped off? Call us. Let’s talk through the details. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you get your fix. Whatever it is that needs to be done around your house, let us help you first. But you have to help yourself before we can even do that, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, it’s spring. We are enjoying the beautiful weather and it’s time – throw open your windows and let that fresh air in, if you can. If you’re finding some of those windows are not going to open at all, it’s also a perfect time to think about replacing those old windows with very energy-efficient ones. We’ll tell you the easiest way to go about doing that.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, windows, they’re not the only way that you can save on energy. A well-positioned tree can do wonders for your air-conditioning bill.

    In honor of Arbor Day coming up, we’re going to tell you the best way to plant a tree and make sure it grows to be healthy and tall.

    TOM: And of course, the greatest source of energy is absolutely free: it’s the sun. You just have to harness it. We’re going to help you decide if solar panels are right for you. And we’re going to warn you about solar installers that are so slick, they’re talking people into installing panels in places the sun actually never shines.

    LESLIE: Man, will it ever stop?

    And one lucky caller this hour is going to get on the air with us today and they’re going to win a great prize from Bostitch. We’ve got up for grabs a 3-Tool Compressor Combo Kit with a brad nailer, stapler and finish nailer and it’s worth 300 bucks.

    TOM: Love it.

    If you’d like to get your hands on that great prize pack from Bostitch, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s going to go to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Cindy in Fargo, North Dakota is on the line, dealing with winds ripping off storm doors? Well, they’re not doing their job. What’s going on?

    CINDY: I have a farmhouse in a very windy part of North Dakota. And the wind keeps catching my exterior storm doors and it will either ruin them or in a couple of cases, it’s actually ripped them off the screen.

    TOM: Wow. You know, Cindy, storm doors are kind of an old technology. When we had wood exterior doors, it was very necessary to have a storm door for that additional layer of wind protection and weather protection. But the doors today, especially the fiberglass doors, are so energy-efficient that the storm door really serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

    I mean you look at a manufacturer like Therma-Tru, for example. They’ve got fiberglass doors that are far more energy-efficient and tougher than a wood or a metal door. And they’ve even got vented sidelights so that you open up sort of the sidelight and that’s where you get your ventilation. So you don’t even need the screen door because the screening is in the sidelight today.

    So, if you’re not going to replace your exterior doors, then you’re going to have to keep facing this problem over and over again. Certainly, some storm doors are tougher than others. You do need to have the appropriate metal catches and the chains that stop them from completely tearing open, unless the wind is just so strong. But just keep in mind that if you think about replacing that door with a good-quality fiberglass door, you will never really need a storm door again.

    CINDY: That’s really good advice. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Ken in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KEN: So I’ve got a house that I want to put a back porch on but I want to have a covered back porch on it.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And I’m looking at a back porch that’s going to be about 40-foot long and about 12-foot deep. And basically, the deck part of it, I don’t have a problem with that but I don’t feel comfortable doing the roof part and tying that into the rest of my roof.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And I guess my questions kind of revolve around – if I go ahead and build the deck myself, do I need to go ahead and put in 4×4 or 6×6 beams that are going to support the roof? Or can I just build the deck and when the guy comes to do the roof, will he just put beams on top of the porch and build it on the existing structure? Or what’s the best way to go about doing that, I guess?

    TOM: The best way to do this is to have a design that incorporates both the deck and the porch-roof structure above it, because what you would do is you would have columns that basically went from grade up, supported the deck and all the way up and supported the girder that will hold the roof.

    KEN: OK.

    TOM: So, I would invest some time into getting a design complete that is going to address this whole thing. Alright? Then you frame the whole thing first …

    KEN: OK. So really just go do that ahead of time.

    TOM: Yeah, I know what you’re saying, because you’re comfortable doing the deck; you feel like you have the skill set to do that. You’re asking, “Can you do it in steps?” You can. That’s what most people do because they decide to put the roof on as an afterthought. But if you do have this vision of doing it all, I would definitely build it all at the same time. It’s going to come out a lot better and it’s going to look like it was always supposed to be that way, as opposed to something that was an afterthought.

    KEN: OK, OK. And then let me ask you to just follow up on that. What is your take – if I’m building a deck of that size, is it really worth it to go with a composite material?

    TOM: Well, it depends. How do you feel about maintenance? The composite material is going to give you a lot of longevity and it’s come a long way and there’s a lot of options. And I think it’s definitely something to consider.

    KEN: In general, it’s about twice the price, right?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s more expensive but there’s no staining, there’s no sealing, there’s no cracked boards. It looks – 10 years down the line, it looks just as good as the day you put it down.

    KEN: OK, OK. Alright. Well, I think that’s the answer to what I was looking for, then.

    TOM: Well, would you like to learn how you can save money, save energy and maybe do your part to save the planet, too? Just in time for Earth Day, take a look at our green product guide, which is online right now at MoneyPit.com. It’s presented, in part, by Lutron.

    LESLIE: That’s right. With a C?L dimmer from Lutron, you can dim incandescent and halogen bulbs, as well as compact fluorescents and LEDs. So the dimmer you install today will work with tomorrow’s energy-efficient bulbs, because we all know they’re coming out with new ones. Choose Lutron and visit Lutron.com.

    TOM: Up next, windows might be the eyes of your home but they’re also a huge energy drain. Replacing them, though, might not be as hard as you think. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.

    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 with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you do, you might just be the single caller we talk to this hour that wins a great prize, which you will find indispensable. It’s the Bostitch 3-Tool Compressor Combo Kit and includes a 2-horsepower, oil-free compressor and 3 tools. You get a brad nailer, a finish stapler and a straight finish nailer. It is a really great prize.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Ah but wait, there’s more. Get this: you get 1,000 of each time of fastener. That’s a lot. And you get lubricant and a canvas carrying case to totally complete this amazing prize pack from Bostitch.

    Now, the 3-Tool Compressor Kit Combo Pack is worth 300 bucks, so pick up the phone, give us your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Bill in Tennessee is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?

    BILL: My house faces east and of course, you get the west – the sunset in the back of my house. But that sun really pounds down hard on my house and I’ve got wood windows and I’ve got a stained, wood front door. My question is: would I get any benefit to – I need to – I want to scrape the windows down and repaint them. Would I get any benefit to putting an exterior KILZ-type product on there before I paint it?

    TOM: Yeah, I mean you always get a benefit from priming the wood, which is what you’re talking about doing. So, sure, especially if you’ve got loose paint, you want to scrape it down, sand it down, get rid of everything that’s loose, then prime it. If you want to really do a terrific job, I would use an oil-based primer and that’s going to soak in and seal and make sure everything is nice and tight and attached to the wood fibers. Then you put your topcoat on top of that, of paint.

    So priming is always a good idea and KILZ is a terrific product to do that with.

    BILL: OK. Now, let me ask you about the stained wood door. What kind of product would you recommend to kind of seal that in?

    TOM: So the door is stained right now? Does it have any kind of gloss finish on it?

    BILL: No. It’s kind of a walnut-type color.

    TOM: But it has no urethane-type finish on it? You think it was just stained?

    BILL: Well, it’s about – the house was built in ’06, so it’s a couple years old. It’s faded out a little bit. There may have been one there on there at one time but it’s …

    TOM: Well, here’s why I ask. If the wood door has never had any stain – never had any finish on – a topcoat of finish on it, then you could just restain it. And so if you restain it – and again, if you sand it down, rough it up and then restain it, you should be able to get a very rich tone. But then what you do need to do is put a urethane on top of that. Use an exterior urethane because it has UV protection in it. And take the door off the hinges to do all the work, set it up on a couple sawhorses in your front yard or your garage and then work on it there.

    If the door has already got a finish on it, then you may have to sand it down through that finish to get to the raw wood in order to restain it.

    BILL: Great. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    Well, windows can be the most beautiful part of your home but in the summer, inefficient windows can also add as much as 75 percent to your air-conditioning bill. If you’ve avoided replacing your old windows for more efficient ones because of the difficulty in the project, well, listen up: our trusted sponsor, Andersen Windows, has a really cool solution that makes window replacement easy. The Andersen 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window is now custom-sized to fit into your existing window frame. So there’s minimal disruption to your home and that’s going to save you time and money.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what else? It’s a great do-it-yourself project that really requires only basic skills and really no special tools. And it installs from inside your home, so windows on the second story are much easier to replace.

    Now, you just need to remove the top and bottom sash, keep the existing frame and the interior and exterior trim in place. Then insert the new window and that’s it.

    Go to AndersenWindows.com to check out the 400 Series and see what we mean.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: P.J. in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    P.J.: I use a product that I hang inside my tank and of course, when you flush, the bowl is nice and blue of water. But inside the tank, I want to say I think I have hard water and no matter how you try to scrub all four sides of your tank, it’s like it’s stained and you can’t get it cleaned. And I wondered if there was a product I might be able to use.

    TOM: Well, you’re talking about inside the toilet tank?

    P.J.: Inside the tank. Yes, sir.

    TOM: So you really want your house clean? You even clean all the – yeah, most people clean the outside; you want to clean the inside.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    P.J.: Yes.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: Well, it’s a little more of a porous surface and that’s why – it’s not really designed to be as pristinely clean as the outside. But what you could try is CLR. Do you know what that is?

    P.J.: Yep.

    TOM: Yeah, CLR is pretty good at taking out any kind of hard-water stains and stains of that nature.

    P.J.: Just pour it right into the tank?

    TOM: Yeah. But the thing is, you don’t want to do anything that’s too caustic because all of those valves that are in there …

    LESLIE: Are super-delicate. More than you think.

    TOM: Yeah. The seals could start to leak and then you’re going to have runny toilets and you’re going to have to end up having to replace the flush valve and the fill valve.

    LESLIE: Maybe you want to start with white vinegar, because that does a really good job of getting rid of mineral deposits, which happen from hard water. So you might want to start there, since it’s super-gentle.

    P.J.: How much should I pour in? Like a cup? Half-a-cup?

    LESLIE: You know what?

    TOM: I think you’d pour in quite a bit.

    LESLIE: I’m like – I’ve never cleaned my toilet tank. I suddenly feel very embarrassed.

    TOM: I know. We don’t – we’re not really qualified to give you that answer. But we’re …

    P.J.: Well, now, you guys should know better.

    TOM: We’re not …

    P.J.: I listen to you every Saturday on my radio station and I’ll do an awful lot.

    TOM: We don’t consider ourselves dirty people but that’s just one space in the house we’ve never cleaned: inside the toilet tank.

    LESLIE: I have never even thought about it.

    P.J.: Well, I think I have hard water in my area.

    TOM: I don’t know. I’m going to – next time I’m over at your house, Leslie, I’m going to check the inside of your toilet tank and see if you cleaned it.

    LESLIE: I’m going to go and clean it right now. Are you kidding? As soon as we’re done, I’m going home and cleaning the toilet tank.

    P.J.: Take the top off and look inside. See what you see.

    TOM: Right.


    P.J.: Keep up the good work, guys, because I listen to you all the time.

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

    I think P.J. is onto something there, Leslie. There could be a new market for clean toilet tanks, both outside and inside.

    LESLIE: You know, I really consider myself a very neat and organized person and suddenly, to be made aware that I should be cleaning the inside of my toilet tank? I’m frazzled.

    TOM: Who knew?

    LESLIE: I’m frazzled.

    TOM: Alright. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got John in New York who is looking for some help with a condensation issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: Love your program.

    LESLIE: Thank you.

    TOM: Thank you, John.

    JOHN: I have a stone-type house and it seems like it always seems damp inside.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    JOHN: I was wondering if that’s a cause of the stone? I’m really not sure of the insulation under it. I was just wondering if I can use a vapor-barrier paint to stop that. And the trim on the inside is at least a ½-inch sticking out – it sticks out about a ½-inch. I was wondering if they have any sort of insulating-type wallpaper or something that I could help insulate the inside without going through the outside. Thank you very much.

    TOM: So, the interior-wall finish, is there any frame wall as part of that or is it plastered right over the stone? I mean what’s your understanding of the wall construction?

    JOHN: I think it’s plastered right over the stone.

    TOM: Yeah, well, that would make sense.

    A couple of things come to mind. First of all, the humidity and the dampness problem, it’s certainly the stones are contributing to that because any type of a masonry product like that is going to be very hydroscopic. So it holds a lot of water and that water can certainly evaporate into the interior space. However, that said, there are a couple of things that you can do to reduce the volume of water that collects on the outside.

    The first is start at the roof with the gutter system. Make sure it’s clean, free-flowing and that those downspouts are at least 4 to 6 feet from the house when they discharge. Secondly, look at the grading to make sure that the soil around the immediate foundation perimeter slopes away. You want a drop-off of about 6 inches over 4 feet. Those two things reduce the volume of moisture that sort of hangs at the base of the house and in doing so means there’s a lot less water to be drawn up into the walls, which can therefore evaporate into the house.

    The second thing to do is let’s talk about interior ventilation. You want to make sure that you have exhaust fans in the kitchens and the bathrooms that don’t recirculate, that truly take the moisture out of the house.

    And thirdly, what kind of heating system do you have in that house, John?

    JOHN: It’s oil heat – oil-forced hot air.

    TOM: Perfect. With a forced hot-air system, you can install an appliance called a whole-home dehumidifier. There’s a number of manufacturers that make them. They can take out about 90 pints of water a day, so they’re …

    LESLIE: From the entire house.

    TOM: Right. So it’s not just a one-room dehumidifier or one – like a basement dehumidifier. This works in the HVAC system so it takes – the air that’s coming in the returns runs through the dehumidifier, it pulls out the excess moisture and then it sends that drier air down the line. This’ll be especially valuable to you in the spring and the summer months when there’s a lot of humidity around.

    JOHN: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, you’ve seen them on houses and you’ve heard about the savings but are solar panels right for you? Get all of the facts you need to know, just ahead.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Right now at The Home Depot, all special-order Andersen windows, patio doors and accessories are 10-percent off. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Saving 10 percent on Andersen and lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen makes replacing your old drafty windows easy, with a new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Now 10-percent off at The Home Depot. Valid through April 22nd, U.S. only. See store for details.

    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: Well, with the economy still in not-so-great shape, many consumers are considering their green options, not just for the environment but most importantly, to save a little more green in their wallets. And among those options are solar panels. But here’s the question: do they make sense for your particular situation?

    LESLIE: There actually have been a lot of changes in the solar-panel industry lately. Bill Mara is a green remodeler and new-construction expert. And he’s joining us now to help you decide if solar panels are the right choice for you.

    Welcome, Bill.

    BILL: How are you doing?

    TOM: We’re doing great. You have got a really fun job because you are helping people save money and save energy at the same time. So let’s talk about solar panels. It always seems to me – they’ve been out for a long time but for almost as long, they didn’t really make economic sense. Is all that changing now? Can you really save some money if you do a solar installation on your roof?

    BILL: Yes, you can save some money, Tom.

    TOM: What does it really depend on? How do you know if it’s the right thing to do for your particular situation? What are some of the things you have to consider?

    BILL: Well, first and foremost, you want to be a southern-facing direction. What that means is the sun is always rising in the east and setting in the west but it sits in the southern hemisphere. So, when you’re looking at where you’re going to put your panels, you want to make sure they can face the south.

    Number two is you want to make sure that you don’t have any kind of shading: trees or tall buildings around. Because as the sun gets blocked by that shading, your panels aren’t going to produce as much electricity.

    TOM: And you really have to look at the entire sort of arc of the sun from sunrise to sunset, because a lot of us have situations where the sun – yeah, you might get sun in the morning but not in the afternoon because it goes behind a tree and that sort of thing. And that can literally cut your efficiency in half, correct?

    BILL: That is correct.

    LESLIE: Now, let’s talk about, I think, cost versus value. That seems to be, you know, the hot topic. “Alright. I want to spend the money, I want to get this. But am I really going to make money back?” And how expensive is it to put it in in the first place, the solar system?

    BILL: Well, for, let’s say, a 2,000-square-foot house, you can be looking at about $8,000 for about a 2-kilowatt system. What that means is you’ll produce 2 kilowatts of electricity into that – into your home. So, as you’re producing that 2 kilowatts, you’ll be sending the 2 kilowatts back to your utility company. What that means is your meter will be spinning backwards.

    TOM: Wow. That really sounds cool. I mean that’s like a homeowner’s dream and certainly if you have teenagers, let me just say, to have that utility company – have that utility meter spin backwards.

    BILL: Yes.

    TOM: And that’s really, really cool.

    BILL: And then on top of that, you’re going to receive solar renewable-energy credits, which the utility company will then buy from you at the end of the year.

    TOM: And so how do those credits work? How do you spend those credits? I can’t trade them for concert tickets, can I?

    BILL: No.

    TOM: It’s not like AmEx points?

    BILL: No. But you can trade them for cash.

    TOM: Well, that’s even better.

    BILL: Yes.

    TOM: That’s pretty cool.

    It’s not a do-it-yourself installation, though, right? You’ve really got to be a pro. You’re dealing with electricity and you want to get the install right and gosh, you want to make sure that those panels are properly attached so that they hold up in a storm and that sort of thing, correct?

    BILL: That is correct. And most importantly, they are a direct current. So once the sun hits that panel, you have electricity being produced.

    LESLIE: Bill, it seems like this industry is always adapting and changing and becoming more efficient and effective. What’s the next big thing that’s coming down the pike?

    BILL: Well, there’s talk of thin film, which is actually out there now. Thin film is basically a film that they put in front of glass or behind flat – or behind glass or they can put them on metal roofs. And that’s supposed to get more efficiencies out of the production.

    TOM: Yeah, I guess the game here is how much electricity can you grab per square foot, so to speak? And the thin-film technology is going to increase that efficiency, which means your panels actually get smaller, right?

    BILL: That is correct.

    TOM: Bill Mara, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and giving us the facts on solar panel.

    If you’d like to learn more, you can visit Bill Mara’s website at GreeningTheHouse.com. That’s GreeningTheHouse.com.

    Thanks, Bill.

    BILL: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. So, do you want to add style, grace and stateliness to your home? Plant a tree. We’ll tell you the best way to plant.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board and brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one lucky caller that gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a great prize that you are soon going to find indispensable. We’ve got the Bostitch 3-Tool Compressor Kit Combo Pack up for grabs. And it includes a 2-horsepower, oil-free compressor and three tools: a brad nailer, finish stapler and a straight finish nailer.

    TOM: You also get 1,000 of each type of fastener. It’s got all the lubricant and even a canvas carrying case included. It’s all from Bostitch. The 3-Tool Compressor Kit Combo Pack is worth 300 bucks. Going to go out to one caller, though, that reaches us with their home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now I’ve got Regina in Texas on the line who’s got a window question. Tell us what’s going on.

    REGINA: Hi. We bought the house in 2002 new and here it is, 2010, when I started noticing we have got something – it looks like it’s going between the double panes of our windows. Not on all the windows, just some of the windows. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re just facing north, south, east or west.

    LESLIE: When you say it looks like there’s something growing, does it almost seem like it’s a condensation that’s almost like a fog that’s permanently in there?

    REGINA: No. It looks almost like a lichen or something.

    LESLIE: Really?

    REGINA: Yes. It looks like somebody has splashed some brown, dirty water up in there. There are no uniform sizes; it doesn’t cover the whole thing. There’s big spots, small spots, kind of like they took a paint brush and flicked it.

    TOM: Yeah, it sounds like you’ve got bad seals and you’re getting humidity in there and you probably are growing some mold on the humidity.


    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because there’s probably some dirt or dust that got in there and then the moisture gets in and now mold is growing. And unfortunately, when a bad seal happens with a window – which just sometimes is the luck of the draw – there’s really nothing you can do about it.

    REGINA: OK. Except replace the window or have unsightly windows, am I correct?

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Yes, that’s correct.


    TOM: The good news is that it’s probably not affecting your energy-efficiency too much and it’s not a leak in that it’s damaging the exterior walls. It’s really a cosmetic issue at this point and while it’s really gross-looking, it’s going to be something that you have to live with until you’re ready to replace the windows.

    REGINA: OK. Well, that was – I was hoping I – you can’t get in there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, no. I’ve looked.

    TOM: Yeah. No, you really can’t. It’s not designed to let you in there either. Those windows are sealed in a vacuum.

    REGINA: Well, I’ll just replace my windows eventually but the house is new and I hate to do that just for cosmetic reasons.

    TOM: Yeah, understood.

    LESLIE: Well, Arbor Day is the last Friday in April and what better way to honor it than to plant a tree? Hey, besides all that oxygen and shade it’s going to provide, it also adds value and charm to your home. But like anything else do-it-yourself-related, you need to do your homework.

    First of all, you want to choose a tree that’s right for your soil and your space. Then this is super-important: you need to call 811 and by doing so, you’re going to make sure that you won’t be digging into any cables or gas lines or anything else. And you also need to make sure that there are no permits needed for digging a really deep hole that you might need, depending on the tree you get.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s 811, not 911; 811 is the call-before-you-dig number nationwide.

    LESLIE: No. Oh, God, no.

    TOM: Now, also pay attention to the season. If you plant in the early spring, that’s OK. Otherwise, wait until the fall. This way, the summer’s high heat is not going to stress out your young tree.

    When you do plant, you need to dig a hole that’s two to three times the width of the root ball and loose the dirt so the roots can actually dig in. Cut the root bag or the wire basket off the tree and avoid handling the roots so the dirt will stay in place. And then place that tree in the hole. You can add some compost if your soil isn’t rich but don’t use a commercial fertilizer; it’s too strong for a tree.

    Then lightly fill the hole with soil and then lots and lots of water and mulch. You’re going to need 1 to 3 inches of mulch but keep it a couple of inches away from the trunk or the trunk could rot. After an hour, go back and water it again. Then watch as your little tree project starts to bloom and grows into a beautiful shade tree for your yard.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We can help you grow your next home improvement project and make sure it comes out great.

    LESLIE: Martie in Nebraska is on the line with a fencing question. How can we help you with your project?

    MARTIE: Hello, Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    TOM and LESLIE: Hi.

    MARTIE: I have a question – actually, two questions – about our wooden fence. We have a 4-year-old, 6-foot wooden fence that we want to either stain or paint this summer. My first question is: do we need to put a primer on that fence? And my second question is: would it be better to stain it or paint it? And if we paint it, what type of paint?

    LESLIE: Hmm. And there’s nothing on it currently?

    MARTIE: No, no.

    TOM: Yeah. So what I would do is I would wire-brush it to make sure you get off any of the dead wood fibers.


    TOM: Then, you know, if you use an oil-based, solid-color stain – if you prime …

    LESLIE: It’ll give you the kind of look of paint.

    TOM: Yeah, if you prime it, it will last longer but it’s a lot of work for a fence to do priming. But certainly, it will last longer. You need to use an oil primer underneath it. I did my last fence without a primer but I did use a really good-quality, oil-based stain with lots and lots of solid color, so it had lots and lots of pigment in it. And I’ve got to tell you, this wood fence is about ready to be replaced now but it’s been probably 15 or 16 years since I put it in there.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: It’s lasted an amazing ….

    MARTIE: Oh, my goodness. That long?

    TOM: Yeah. And you know why? For two reasons. First of all, because I did a really good job finishing it and secondly, most of the fence installers put fences in that are too close to the ground. I made sure – I stood over the installer’s shoulder and said, “I want this thing to be about 3 inches off the ground so that the boards don’t come in contact with the dirt at all or with the grass during normal growth.”

    LESLIE: With the floor at all.

    TOM: Because when it gets wet on the bottom edge of the boards, that’s what starts the rot kind of riding right up the board.

    MARTIE: OK. So, that didn’t happen when ours was installed; it is flush with the ground.

    LESLIE: Touching the ground? But that’s OK.

    TOM: Alright. So you can undercut it. You can undercut it. So, take a board – like a 2×4 – lay it on the ground so – then draw a line 3 inches off the ground.

    LESLIE: You can even snap a chalk line from one end to the other.

    TOM: Yeah and cut that – those boards – so you have a little bit of air space underneath there.

    LESLIE: Do you have a circular saw?

    MARTIE: Oh. Yes.

    LESLIE: Because that’s great. If you snap a chalk line right across the entire length of the fence at the desired height, you just plunge-cut your first plank off and zip right across. Just watch your posts. Make sure …

    TOM: Yeah. You know why the fence installers put it in that way?

    LESLIE: So you’ll need a new one.

    TOM: It’s job security.

    MARTIE: Oh, oh, OK. So wire-brush it, then use – after it’s undercut, wire-brush it and then use a really good, oil-based stain.

    TOM: Solid color. Yeah. Solid-color stain. Solid color.

    MARTIE: Solid color, right.

    TOM: Right. As opposed to semi-transparent.

    MARTIE: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    ESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. If you’ve been looking at your garden with shame, we’re going to tell you some quick ways to green it up without a lot of work, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Kleer Decking, the high-quality, low-maintenance PVC decking solution that will look as great in 25 years as it does today, thanks to superior stain- and fade-resistance and a lifetime warranty. So you can rest easy on your beautiful, brand-new deck. Learn more at KleerDecking.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: Hey, if you’ve not stopped by lately, why not head on over to our Community section of our website? Because we’ve got a panel of experts standing by that can answer any of your home improvement questions. Just log on to MoneyPit.com, go to the Community section and post your question right there. We always love hearing from you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s one that Jake posted: “I’m going to be putting laminated wood down in my kitchen but the existing floor has bumps. Do I need to level it out first or will a new floor take care of that?”

    Hmm. I wonder what the existing floor is and what kind of bumps those are.

    TOM: You know, I mean look, every laminate floor has specs in terms of how level the floor has to be. But the thing is, with laminate floor today, they all lock together, which is great. You don’t have to glue them together; they lock together. But if you try to put them over a bumped area of the floor, that joint is not going to stay together. It could open slightly, you can get dirt in there, it could look nasty. It could affect the pattern; maybe things won’t line up.

    So, if the floor is out of level – again, comparing to what the manufacturer says in terms of spec; they’ll tell you how flat it has to be across a certain distance – then what you’ll need to do is one extra step, Jake, and that is you’ll need to use a floor-leveling compound, which is a liquid-like solution that – sort of thick, almost like pancake batter. It’s spread across the floor. It’s lightweight and it takes up all those dips and valleys in the floor, leaving you with a very, very level surface on top of which you can put your brand-new laminate floor.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps and really, enjoy that beautiful new floor. It’s going to make a tremendous difference in your kitchen.

    Next up, we’ve got a post from Ryan who writes: “Do you know any affordable ways I can soundproof my bedroom? Between teenagers and traffic, I’m losing lots of sleep.”

    TOM: So getting the teenagers to move out, I guess, is not an option.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, it’s too soon.

    TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, there’s a product called Green Glue. And Green Glue gets applied to the wall, then you put a second layer of drywall on top of that. And it will help to isolate some of the sound.

    Truth be told, if you really, really, really want to soundproof a room, you have to take all the walls down to the studs and seal all of the gaps where wires come through and things like that. But if you just want to try to do something that maybe is not quite dramatic – as dramatic – you can add a second layer of drywall to the room using Green Glue in between.

    And also, heavy draperies and things like that can help, as well. But the second layer of drywall, perhaps just on the wall between your room and the teenager’s room, might do the trick.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And earplugs are always helpful, as well, when it comes to teens.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve been thinking it’s time to make your yard a little more lush but you don’t have a lot of time, Leslie has got some tips on how to get that done the easy way, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Many people enjoy the look of a lush yard but they just don’t want to be chained to caring for it. So here’s a really great tip.

    Number one, native plants. Those grasses and trees and flowers, even shrubs that are naturally found in your region, are going to grow much better than any of their imported cousins would. In other words, don’t buy Birds of Paradise plants if you live in Minnesota; it’s just not going to work.

    Now, native plants are going to also need far less water, less fertilizer, less herbicides and even pesticides. And if you don’t know what’s native, just look around, see what’s thriving in your neighborhood. Or go to a local lawn-and-garden center and ask questions. They will know your zone, they will know what grows well in your area and will really be a huge help in creating a yard that’s going to be low-maintenance and low-cost. It really is better for you, better for your wallet and better for the environment if you do go native.

    TOM: And speaking of the environment, Earth Day is once again upon us. I think it’s 40 years now that we’ve been celebrating Earth Day. So in honor of Earth Day, we’ll be offering you some eco-friendly ideas for your home. We’ll have tips on products, materials and things that you can start doing right away to go green, 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.

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    (Copyright 2012 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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