Learn the Most Repair-Products, Tips on turning your backyard into a home theater, Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips and More
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: What home improvement project are you working on? Oh, you’re not? Well, what’s the problem? Let’s get to it. Pick up the tools and let’s get that done. We’re here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Tell you what. If you pick up the tools, we will pick up the phone when you call and help you get the project done, at 888-666-3974. We are here, standing by, to assist you with the ideas, the inspiration, the solutions to the things that are going on in your home that we know that either you want to do it yourself or maybe you want to hire somebody to do it for you. Either way, we’ve got some advice that can make it easier, make it simpler, make it safer, make sure it comes out exactly like you intended it to be. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, before you spend those hard-earned dollars on the latest gadgets for your home, we’ve got some advice this hour on the products that are most likely to break down. We’ll tell you what those are so that you know what to avoid, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, many people are choosing to keep those hard-earned dollars close to home when it comes to entertainment. So we’re going to tell you how to transform your backyard into a wonderful home theater.
TOM: And another way to transform your backyard is by adding bugs. “What,” you say? Sounds horrible? Well, it’s not and it might just be one of the many eco-friendly gardening tips that could save you some money and help you produce a beautiful garden. We’ll tell you all about that, in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: And if you’ve got a painting project on your summer to-do list, it’s about to get easier for one lucky caller who will make it on the air with us this hour. That lucky caller will be getting a starter kit from HANDy Paint Pail, valued at close to $60.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, let’s get to it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dale in Texas on the line, looking for a fun and easy way to refinish furniture. Of course, I think refinishing furniture is fun. Dale, you might not. Tell us what’s going on.
DALE: Oh, heavens. I love refinishing old furniture. I’m not rich enough to finish, oh, antiques so I just call it old furniture. But anyway, I – one of the things I’ve always done is use alcohol with steel wool in taking off the old shellac or varnish base coatings on the old furniture. Works tremendously.
But when it comes to people painting furniture and I’ve got to strip it off, it is a very difficult thing sometimes to get it all off. But I’ve been using alcohol and, say, number-three or number-four steel wool and I just wondered if – I got to thinking about it later. As bad as stripper is with all the chemicals and all, am I running a risk of mixing alcohol with it to strip it off?
TOM: Dale, why don’t you use one of the gel strippers? You know, Rock Miracle has a version that’s called UPTA-6 – U-P-T-A-6. It’s a very environmentally-safe sort of gel stripper where you apply it, the gel sits and then you peel the gel off and the paint comes with it.
DALE: Oh. So it – you put it on and then it kind of – you said you peel it off or you scrape it off or what?
TOM: Right. It works – right. Yeah, you …
LESLIE: It really depends on the type of furniture. Like when you’re working with something that has a flat run or a trimming edge or the edge of a cabinet, then you sort of lightly scrape it away with a paint scraper. Don’t dig, because you just want to peel it off, kind of, that way?
But in areas when you’re dealing – like I did cabinet doors with it once and when I was dealing with the recessed panels and the routed edges, I kind of used a sponge sander to help me get in there and lift all that stuff up.
And I like it because of the gel. It sits there; it doesn’t run. And the UPTA-6 – the U-P-T-A-6? I’m not sure how they say it but that is their environmentally-friendly product. And Rock Miracle, good company. Been around for ages and they really do work and I’ve used them myself.
DALE: You call it Rock Miracle?
TOM: Rock Miracle.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. R-o-c-k Miracle.
DALE: Oh, OK.
TOM: And that’s their website: RockMiracle.com.
DALE: Rock Miracle. RockMiracle.com, OK. Well, I’ve got that. That’ll be a big help.
TOM: Alright, Dale. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Trish in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TRISH: Well, I’m hoping that you can help me with my counters in my bathroom.
TRISH: They’re Formica and I hate them.
TRISH: I want to paint them a different color and so I’d like to know what to do for prep work and what kind of paint to use.
LESLIE: OK. Well, there’s a couple of options. If you’re looking to do just a very simple, solid-color paint, Rust-Oleum has a kit. I believe they call it their Counter Paint. And it comes in a quart and they have, I don’t know, 10, 12, 15 different colors: really great neutrals, some interesting taupes, some blues, some yellows, a lot of great choices there.
And the kit tells you everything, how to prep it. It even includes the prep materials, so that’s sort of like a one-step wonder. The only downside is you’ve got to let this stuff cure for three days before you put anything on it, before you get it wet. So that’s probably going to be a similar situation with whatever products you’re going to use. So if this is your only bathroom, you’re going to be putting it out of service for a little while.
There’s also another company called Modern Masters and they have a really, really authentic, beautiful-looking granite kit for Formica, so you can make it look like granite. There’s another company called GIANI that has a granite paint. A little bit more sort of home-spun in the look of the granite. You really – it really depends on your technique with both the GIANI and the Modern Masters, so you kind of have to practice your technique. Both are available in several different granite styles.
Of course, the other option is that you can re-laminate the countertop with new Formica. And that’s a fairly simple project that a handyman could do in a couple hours. So there’s a lot of good options there that you don’t need to be afraid of. But again, the cure time for the paint is 24, 48, 72 hours, depending on which one you go to.
TOM: Yeah. And the more humid the day, the longer the cure time, too.
TRISH: Oh, of course. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Trish. 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, home improvement, home to-do. Whatever you’ve got on your home to-do list, we are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, have you ever bought a great new product only to have it break down, maybe even before the credit card bill comes in? We’re going to help you avoid that disappointment with a list of the products most likely to wind up in the repair shop. And that’s all coming up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone, give us a call because one caller who makes it on the air this hour with us is going to get an exclusive starter kit from HANDy Paint Pail, available only to today’s winner. The prize includes a new-generation paint tray with a disposable liner that makes cleaning up a breeze. You can visit HANDy Paint Pail for more information. It is a prize pack worth almost 60 bucks. Going to go out, though, to one caller who joins us with their question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with whatever you are working on. And everybody in my family, my grandparents, we’re Italian. We like to use sayings as we talk about things. And as the saying goes, “They don’t make them like they used to,” – something my grandfather says quite often – you probably have an appliance or tool lying around your money pit that was made maybe decades ago and it still works like a charm. And you may even be of the mind that today’s products break down more easily.
Well, according to the experts at Consumer Reports, electronics and appliances are not breaking down more often but when things go wrong, they tend to go horribly wrong. So Consumer Reports has a list of the most repair-prone products and not surprisingly, home computers top that list.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And as far as those computers are concerned, now most get totaled because of the viruses or the malware that is totally preventable. Not as easy to fix, though, are number one, refrigerators with ice makers. They are twice as likely to break down as those without. And secondly, front-loading washers, which actually break more often than top loaders.
So, what do you fix and what do you replace? Consumer Reports recommends replacing a product if fixing it will cost more than 50 percent of the price of a new product. If you want some more information and have to make that decision, say, with something that’s broken down in your house, we’ve got a great article that walks you through it. It’s on our website right now. Just simply Google “money pit repair or replace” and you will land right on the answer to that question.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Chris in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation issue. Welcome, Chris.
CHRIS: Well, on a previous show, I heard that – this one lady asking about how to keep her third floor from being so hot.
CHRIS: And you had said make sure they have proper ventilation and gable vents and ridge vent.
TOM: Soffit vents and ridge vents.
CHRIS: Soffit vents and ridge vent, of course.
TOM: OK. Right.
CHRIS: And what about installing a thermostatically-controlled power vent to help that in the summer months keep that heat out?
TOM: Right. Only if you do not have central air conditioning is that a good idea and here’s why, Chris. If you use an attic fan – that’s what you’re talking about. If you use an attic fan and it’s on a thermostat so it only comes on when it gets, say, over 100 degrees up there, if you have central air conditioning, it will pull so much air out of that attic that it depressurizes and then reaches down through all the little cracks and crevices in the walls around pipes and around molding and where wires come through. And it’s actually been shown to steal air-conditioned air from the interior space.
So using the attic fan in the summertime, when you have central air, causes you to run more air conditioning, not less, because it’ll actually pull some of that air-conditioned air up into the attic. So if you don’t have air conditioning, I think – and power ventilator – an attic fan is a fine thing to do. If you do have air conditioning – central air – I would not use it; I would stick strictly with passive ventilation. Ridge and soffit vents are best.
CHRIS: Alright. Well, great. That answers everything.
TOM: Alright, Chris. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Vicky in North Carolina has a wood floor that’s gone awry, if you will. Tell us what’s going on.
VICKY: Well, I started the floor and everything was lining up really well. And I just got tired of doing it myself, so I hired a handyman. He came in and did a lot of the work but there’s a lot of gaps between the tiles now and they’re just not square anymore? And he’s not finishing the floor but I’m wondering how to finish it and make it look right.
TOM: So the gaps are between the wood tiles that he put down or are they between the tiles in the wall?
VICKY: No, between the wood tiles – the wood parquet tiles.
TOM: Hmm. That doesn’t sound right.
VICKY: Yeah, no. It’s definitely not right. I didn’t know if I had to actually rip the floor up and start over or if there was some filler material you could use.
TOM: No, you can’t fill in wood tiles that were not put together properly. I mean, occasionally, we’ll get a call and somebody who has a gap that’s developed in a strip floor and you could use a jute rope in between that. But that’s just a one-off kind of thing. If you have a newish parquet floor and the tiles are shrinking or loose, that’s just going to get worse over time and they’re going to start coming up in pieces.
VICKY: Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, they’re definitely not loose; they’re just not really tight together.
LESLIE: Is the floor fully finished? Can you – and is it a kind that is sort of snapped together or have they been nailed together?
VICKY: No, they snap together and they’re glued down.
VICKY: Yeah, they have a tongue and groove.
TOM: Yeah, at this point, your two options are to either take it out or learn to love it.
LESLIE: Or cover with a rug.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: That’s your third option.
TOM: Your third option.
VICKY: Yeah, the cover-with-the-rug option is kind of what I’ve been doing in the meantime.
VICKY: OK. And any ideas on how to – because I still have about 100 square feet that need to be laid to be finished?
VICKY: Should I just put those together the best I can and like I said, cover it with the rug, the bad parts?
LESLIE: Well, because they’re tongue-and-groove, I would say, oh, start at the wall edge. This way, you’re sort of square on the edges that would be exposed from a rug. But then you’re getting to a point where you’re going to have two edges that need to snap into one another.
LESLIE: You know, it’s like at that point, do you just cut off one edge and sort of thin it out from the back side so it becomes an overlay? You’re gluing it down anyway. At least then you know whatever would be exposed around the perimeter of the room is square.
VICKY: Right. Yeah, that sounds like a very good idea. Sounds like a very good idea. OK. Well, thanks for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Frank in California is calling in with a squeaky floor. Tell us about it.
FRANK: I have a rear deck and it keeps on squeaking when I walk over certain joints.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
FRANK: I was wondering, what do you think about that? You think it’s ready for a new deck when it starts squeaking like that?
TOM: Not necessarily, Frank. You said it’s a wood deck, so we’re talking about the exterior deck?
FRANK: It’s a wood exterior deck, yes.
TOM: OK. Very simple solution. What you want to do is identify those boards that are squeaking and you want to add some deck screws to those boards. The nails – there’s probably nails holding the boards down now?
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s probably not a screw in there at all.
TOM: Yeah. And you want to add some deck screws to that. Now, a deck screw is going to be about 3 to 3½ inches long. It’s going to have a wood thread on it and you put it in with a power drill, with a little screwdriver tip on it. So it’s very easy to put in.
And that will tighten those deck boards down and stop them from moving and that will stop them from squeaking. Because the movement of the deck board rubbing against the joists, rubbing against the nails going in and out of the joist below, that’s what’s causing the squeak. So if you screw those boards down, you’ll find it’ll quiet up very, very quickly and easily.
FRANK: OK. Very good.
TOM: Alright, Frank. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we hope that that helps you quiet down your neighborhood.
LESLIE: Sherry in North Dakota is about to take on a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.
SHERRY: Well, I have a basement that my kids have kind of defaced with permanent markers?
SHERRY: It’s cinder-block walls and just a black concrete basement floor. And I would like to get them painted and I’m not really sure exactly what to do so that marker doesn’t bleed through?
LESLIE: OK. And the paint is on the floor and the walls?
SHERRY: Well, the marker is on the walls. They’ve never been painted; they’re just cinder-block walls.
LESLIE: OK. So it’s raw.
SHERRY: And it’s kind of – I’m kind of turning it into a game room. Our foosball table and pool table will be down there.
LESLIE: And the floor is currently just concrete, correct?
SHERRY: Right. Yeah.
LESLIE: Well, you’ve got a couple of options. I mean with the walls, that’s no problem. What you need to get is masonry paint and primer, because that’s really what’s meant to stick to those cinder-block walls. And if you go with anything else, it’s just going to peel off just due to the inherent nature of the moisture in those walls.
So if you go with a masonry primer and a masonry paint, you shouldn’t have any problem with the bleed-through. As long as you get good coverage with the primer and then your top coat, no problem.
Now with the floor, you’ve got some opportunities here. You can either do some sort of epoxy coating on the floor, where you get a painted flooring that might even have a speckle of sort of color sparkles in there? And that’ll do a nice job of sealing up the floor. You can do a laminate floor, which will give it a little bit more of a warmer, cozy feel to it because you can get laminate that looks like wood. Or you can do tile, which would be one step above. You can even do engineered hardwood but for a game room and it sounds like your kids are kind of destructive …
SHERRY: Yes. But well, it was kind of when they were younger but yeah, hopefully I never have to worry about this again.
LESLIE: Right. Now they’ve simmered down.
SHERRY: But I remembered Dad painting the floor and it always wore off, so I thought maybe there was something I could do to make it stay on longer.
LESLIE: Oh, totally. Well, the epoxy coatings are great. They come in a kit. Rust-Oleum makes one, Behr makes one, QUIKRETE makes one. You’ll find them at your home center. There’s usually two or three steps involved. The first step is usually a prepper and a cleaner for the floor and then there’s the color and the top coat are usually mixed in one. And you can add the color speckles in if you want.
Most of them come in a ton of different colors. They’re easily appliable, as long as you do not paint yourself in a corner. But it really does a great job of sealing the floor up and giving it a finished look.
SHERRY: Oh, great. Well, thank you very much. I just caught your show on XM. I’ll be watching for it from now on. I really enjoyed it. Thank you very much.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, a lush garden doesn’t have to mean using harsh chemical pesticides. We’ll have some non-toxic, eco-friendly tips to help make your garden grow, next.
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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 Leslie and I recently returned from the 2011 National Hardware Show. And before we go to these shows, the exhibitors send us all of their advance press material.
And one headline caught my eye, Leslie. It was: “Thousands of Ladybugs to Attend National Hardware Show.” You know where it was from? One of the vendors who was selling beneficial insects to help make your garden grow. And it got me thinking that there’s a lot of ways like that that are very environmentally-friendly, that have low toxicity, that are very beneficial to you and to the environment, that really should be used when it comes time to thinking about growing your garden, as well as the other landscaping around your house.
LESLIE: That’s right, Tom. And that’s why we’ve invited gardening expert, Melinda Myers, who’s going to share a lot of information about the benefits of green gardening at home.
MELINDA: Thanks for having me and it’s always great to talk gardening and eco-friendly techniques.
TOM: Yeah. Well, let’s start by talking about all those insects, because this is not the first time I’ve seen vendors that are offering insects for sale to help with the gardening. Does that really work? Is it a sensible technique?
MELINDA: Well, one of the things that happens with many of the beneficial insects is they collect them when they’re hibernating. So then they ship them off to us and we release them into our garden and they go out and they find something to eat, often in your neighbor’s yard or the block over. So you’re helping the community in whole but maybe not getting quite the benefit you’re looking for.
So if you are going to invest in beneficial insects, be sure to have a few bad guys in there for them to eat in your garden, like aphids, and then release them at dusk so they don’t fly away. But I think you can do a good job of bringing those beneficial insects in on your own.
TOM: It would be so much better if they came trained, you know?
MELINDA: Yeah, I know.
TOM: Just like a dog.
MELINDA: They listen just about as well as children and pets, right?
LESLIE: And it seems like, Melinda, when people think about keeping a green lawn at home, their first instinct is to go for something a little bit more caustic, if you will, in as far as treating weeds and continuing growth throughout the lawn season. But what are some of the more green approaches that we can do? Because I mean we’re all becoming aware that runoff is getting into everybody’s water supply, so the more chemicals that you’re putting onto the lawn, really the worse it is for everybody. So what’s a better approach?
MELINDA: You know, I like to use the plant healthcare approach. And the idea here is you pick the right plant for the growing conditions, provide the proper care, then those plants are going to be better able to fend off insects and disease problems and deal with stress.
For example, weeds in the lawn. Grow your grass tall – as tall as that variety will tolerate – then cut frequently, so you’re taking only about a third of the total height off and leave those clippings on the lawn. That can add as much as a whole pound of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet to your lawn. That’s equal to one fertilization.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
MELINDA: See, you saved yourself some time and money fertilizing. Also, it adds nutrients and organic matter to improve the soil. So then you’re getting a triple benefit: you’re cutting the grass, you’re fertilizing, you’re adding organic matter and moisture to the soil. All that from mowing.
And then keeping your lawn healthy. You’ll still have some weeds but the grass will better be able to fend off the weeds. And research has shown just one fertilization – and I’d recommend a low-nitrogen organic fertilizer – something like a Milogarnite – that slowly releases over time so that your lawn is gradually fed, you don’t burn it if it gets hot and dry: something that’s going to be good for the environment and good for your lawn. Same applies to landscape plants, as well: right plant, right location. Give it the proper care. It’s going to better be able to fend off insects and diseases.
TOM: We’re talking to Melinda Myers. She’s the author of Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.
Now, Melinda, typically at my house, our gardens start small with a lot of energy. They’re very green. They pop up pretty quickly but usually by, say, the second month or so, when they’re really starting to take root and get strong and grow fruit, they seem to get tired. Are there things that we should be doing for those gardens, sort of mid-span, that will help keep them healthy and strong but not put anything that’s toxic in there that we wouldn’t want to take in and put on our dinner tables?
MELINDA: A couple things you can do. One is mulching the soil using shredded leaves, evergreen needles. A layer over the soil surface will not only hold the moisture in – that means less watering for you – but it also keeps the roots cool and moist and that’s very important during the heat of summer.
Some plants may need just a little bit of a nutrient boost. You don’t want to overdo it but again, that’s where a slow-release fertilizer works: low-nitrogen, so you don’t burn the roots. And the other thing, there’s this new product on the market. They’re a class of products called plant strengtheners.
And what scientists found is that molecules – plants under stress produce certain molecules. They were able to isolate those, apply them to other plants and found that those treated plants were better able to fend off insects and disease and deal with the heat and drought and other stresses in the environment. So, it’s a new line of eco-friendly products that really, it’s like an immunization almost with your plants. And it’s a great way to strengthen your plants in a natural way that’s very safe for you.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, when it comes to having an organic garden at home, is there anything special that we should consider when we’re selecting certain types of produce or vegetables that might work better in an organic garden? Or really when you’re growing a garden at home for food, is it all really considered organic?
MELINDA: I think everyone has a slightly different definition of organic, including the government. But basically, I think most home gardeners are looking at using eco-friendly, natural products. So you always want to check the label and that’s why just spraying these plant strengtheners are kind of exciting, because they are classed as organic and they’re natural; they’re from the plant. Things like soaps (inaudible at 0:26:06) will help you fight the insects.
But again, often we can do a lot of that insect control ourself. I like to get kids excited about gardening and I was in Hamilton, Ontario and the kids in that garden did the pluck, drop and stomp method and they would – yes.
TOM: Pluck, drop and stomp, huh?
MELINDA: And that’s a good thing for kids to burn off energy: pluck off the insects, drop them on the ground and stomp them.
MELINDA: That’s how they controlled the bad guys until the good guys, like the lady beetles and green lacewings, moved in.
And so, as long as you pick plants suited to your environment, that’s the main thing. Then they’re going to grow better, more tolerant of stress and less susceptible to pest problems.
TOM: Good advice. Melinda Myers, author of Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MELINDA: Thanks for having me.
TOM: And if you’d like to learn more from Melinda, you should visit her website, which is MelindaMyers.com. And you can also find her books on Amazon, in the garden centers and in bookstores.
LESLIE: Alright. And after you go using all of Melinda’s techniques to turn your yard into a showplace, how about making it a home theater, too? We’re going to tell you some simple things that you’ll need to make your backyard entertainment unforgettable, ahead on The Money Pit.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because one caller who we talk to on the air this hour is going to be getting a great prize pack. I mean we’re about to head into painting season. We’re all going to be indoors a lot more once the fall season hits and why not give your home a fresh coat of paint?
So, if that’s on your to-do list, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour. We’re giving away a starter kit from HANDy Paint Pail and it includes a brush and a roller. And the HANDy Paint Pails have disposable liners, so cleaning up is a breeze. And they also have magnetic brush and roller holders. It’s a prize pack worth almost $60, so give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win and help with your how-to project.
Well, taking your entire family to a movie theater can set you back a pretty penny these days. But there’s another alternative in the beautiful warm days of summer and early fall. Have you ever thought about showing movies at home, right in your very own backyard? It’s not as hard as you might think.
Now, you’ll need the screen, of course, but a canvas drop cloth or even a white wall, if your house happens to have a white wall, will work. You can either dust off your old projector or use one, perhaps, from a garage sale. Or if you’ve got a computer projector that you use for work, that works equally well outside, as well. Just plug all that in and show your movies outside.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? You can also use your own stereo speakers for sound and just hook up your DVD player to that projector.
Now, remember to keep your extension cords safely concealed so nobody trips; you don’t want any tripping hazards. If you want a full list of equipment that you’ll need to create your outdoor theater, Google “money pit home theater” and you’ll find some great ideas there.
TOM: You know, we created an entire home theater for the Boy Scout troop once, on a camping trip, just by stringing a sheet between two trees and using a projector.
TOM: It worked really well.
LESLIE: It’s so great.
TOM: Slipped a DVD into the computer, hooked up the projector, had a power source nearby and we all sat outside the place we were staying and watched sort of a – it was like the old drive-in movies without the cars.
LESLIE: Yeah, I was going to say, it’s really unfortunate for children of our generation who’ve never gotten to experience a drive-in theater. I can remember as a kid going with my mom and dad in the back of the Volare in our pajamas, with pizza pies. And I remember being far too young to watch James Bond films but loving every minute of it. And I feel so sad for the kids who aren’t going to get to experience it.
TOM: It was a lot of fun and it is a good family thing to do. So why not think about creating that backyard theater in your very own backyard? Sit out there and spend a night with the kids; it’s a great family activity.
888-666-3974. Home improvement is also a great family activity, so give us a call right now and let’s get to your next project.
LESLIE: Mike in Minnesota is dealing with a foundation problem with a very old home. Tell us about it.
MIKE: Well, I go down into the basement and I can see it, oh, probably on a multi-basis. It’s starting to fall apart, just deteriorate.
MIKE: I have to take my fingers and scratch at it and it falls apart. Now, the house is – it’s 96 years old.
TOM: OK, are we talking about a brick foundation here, Mike? I know you’re – are you talking about the mortar?
MIKE: It’s the – no, it’s actually concrete and rock.
TOM: OK. And are we talking about the mortar between it that’s sort of deteriorating?
MIKE: Well, the whole thing is just deteriorating.
MIKE: Not just the mortar itself. I mean it’s a concrete foundation but chunks of rock: you know, I’m talking baseball-size rock.
LESLIE: Is it like a deep chunk or is it just like a surface, sort of like a fascia, peeling off?
MIKE: Well, it’s the surface is starting out to come off. And I mean I can just dig at it and it’ll fall off. And I’ve tried to kind of dig at it and I’m trying to find a way to patch it. Is there a product that most – just to patch it, yeah.
TOM: Mike, stop picking your foundation apart, OK?
LESLIE: Yeah. First step: stop picking at it.
MIKE: Yeah. I’m trying to get to the dirt, darn it.
TOM: Well, if you keep doing that, you will.
MIKE: Yeah. But I’m also having a problem with moisture coming through.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, Mike, the reason you’re having this problem is because of the moisture.
LESLIE: Is the moisture.
TOM: You may be deteriorating the foundation; you might be actually witnessing mineral-salt deposits, which will be …
LESLIE: Well, there’s two reasons: the moisture and your fingers.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. But you may be seeing mineral-salt deposits that are left over when the water evaporates and so, let’s address the moisture issue first. We want to make sure that you have a gutter system, that it’s clean and free-flowing and extending the water well away from the foundation; 4 to 6 feet is recommended.
LESLIE: Yeah, you don’t want your downspouts to just deposit the water right by the foundation.
Second, you want to look at the grading around the entire perimeter of the foundation. You want to make sure that the soil isn’t sloping towards the foundation; you want it to slope away. And you need it to sort of go down about 6 inches over 4 feet. So it’s not drastic but it’s enough to move that water away from the foundation.
TOM: Now, once you’ve achieved those two things, I’d like you to monitor this foundation and see if it still appears to leak. If you can remove any of the loose mortar that’s on the surface, you could probably apply an epoxy patching compound to the inside surface here and give yourself a clean place to start. But I wouldn’t apply anything to the inside unless we know we have the moisture under control.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is rusty water leaving you with nasty stains all over your plumbing fixtures and faucets? We’ll have tips on how to get that rust out, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You know, it’s hard to think about the cold temperatures during these hot days but it’s never too early to start thinking about prepping your house.
LESLIE: Well, you can fantasize.
TOM: That’s right. But it’s never too early to start thinking about it and getting your house ready for winter. We’ve got lots of tips on super-easy fall fix-up ideas that will help you save some money when it does come time to trade in those cooling bills for the winter heating bills. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: One way or another, money is still coming out of your pocket.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you are online, you can head on over to the Community section and post a question, which we will answer now. And I’ve got one here from Brad in Connecticut who wrote: “I’ve just purchased a home and it has two all-in-one shower and tub enclosures. I would estimate the age to be 12 to 15 years or more. My question to you: is there a product or products on the market that will clean them or give them some type of sheen? What are your thoughts on having the fiberglass tub/shower units reglazed? One is gold and the other is blue.”
Oh, lucky you. “How does it work and how long will it last?”
TOM: It’s a double-whopper there.
LESLIE: Well, how gorgeous.
TOM: I don’t think you want to make them any shinier than they are; they’ll just be more obvious if you have harvest gold and light-blue shower fixtures.
TOM: Look, I mean yes, you can clean them, you can polish them. There’s lots of solutions out there that can do that. But what you might want to think about doing is replacing them because nowadays, you can get multi-piece shower units where you simply replace the pan and the walls come in three sections. So you don’t have to do nearly the sort of tear-out that you think.
Typically, when you were building homes 15 years or so ago, you would have to set the shower unit first and then frame the bathroom around it. Now it’s no longer the case; a plumber can come in and cut out that old fiberglass system and then put in a new multi-piece system just as good as the original. They lock together; they’re completely water-resistant. But it can be done, essentially, without having to do any structural damage to the room whatsoever.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you can really create a beautiful bath. So do that and enjoy some modern style.
TOM: Well, your garbage cans are definitely heavy-duty helpers around the house but every once in a while, even those trash collectors need a thorough cleaning. Leslie has got some tips on how to clean your cans the right way, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? That garbage can is probably the most underrated helper in your entire house. They do a great job of storing life’s leftovers right in the middle of where we live, eat and breathe and it’s a sneaky way to hide all of the stuff that we’d rather not think about. So here’s a tip to help maintain the trash can’s stealthy persona, i.e. you do not want it stinking up the place, so give it a good cleaning more than once in a while.
Now, once a month, you want to take all of your indoor trash cans outside and really scrub them down. You want to mix up ¾ cup of bleach into 1 gallon of water and wash the interior of the garbage cans, as well as the handles and the interior of the lids. And you want to make sure to use the bleach because the bleach-and-the-water solution is really going to give the time to sort of kill that bacteria and the odors that could be harmful to your family’s health. So let it sit for at least five minutes before you really thoroughly rinse them. Now, you can do the same with cans that get kicked to the curb, because that’ll kill all those nasty germs that cause the odors and really stink up the place.
So keep your garbage cans fresh, let them do their job, which is hide the junk and not even know it’s there. Give them some love, guys. They work hard for you.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week, summer truly is the sweaty season but it’s not just sweaty for you; it can be sweaty for your plumbing fixtures, too, just like your toilet. If that’s ever happened to you and especially if you’ve ever had to replace the rotted floor underneath from all that condensation drip, drip, dripping down all the time, we’re going to have an easy fix 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 2011 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.)