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Learn Ways to Keep Your Gutters Clean, How to Tell If the Treasures in Your Attic Are Junk or Gems, How to Clean and Store Window Screens, 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: We are here to answer your home improvement projects, help you solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. If there’s a project on your to-do list, let’s put it on the done list. Give us a call right now; we’ll help with that project, 888-666-3974.

    It is the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall season. You know, it’s all around us now. We’re moving from one season to the next, so that means you’ve got to start thinking forward about those projects you want to get done this fall. So give us a call; we’ll help you take the first step, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And speaking of fall, it’s called “fall” for a really good reason, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: And it won’t be long before those leaves are clogging up gutters.

    Now, gutter guards can help if you know which ones to choose, because they don’t all help. Sometimes, they just help drain your wallet. We’re going to tell you which ones work the best, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, amongst all of that junk that you’ve got hanging around your house, could you actually have a few hidden treasures? We’re going to talk to the host of The History Channel show, Picked Off, about what goodies in your attic or your basement or your junk drawer might be valuable and about how to find new treasures at yard sales. I love this investigative finding. It’s great.

    TOM: And it’s about that time of year when most homeowners find themselves closing the windows to keep out the chill. And this is the perfect time, therefore, to maintain your window screens. We’re going to have tips for cleaning and storing those screens, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, let’s face it, in your home, is the plunger not one of the grossest tools that you’ve got?

    TOM: Hmm. Maybe.

    LESLIE: What, you’ve got something more gross than a plunger? I don’t think I even want to know what that could be.

    TOM: Lots of plumbing tools are gross, lady.

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: But I tell you what, when you need it, you need it.

    LESLIE: Well, one caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get Rubbermaid’s new Clean & Dry Plunger. Because it repels all liquids – so it’s not going to drip, which is really the gross part – and stays super-clean. And you’ll also get a spraying scrubber, an extendable scrubber and cleaning pads. So if you win this, you’ve got no excuse; you’d better have the cleanest bowl in town.

    TOM: Well, you certainly have all the tools to clean up the mess that you made, that’s for sure.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: It’s a giveaway worth 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    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 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. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, your fall fix-up questions. Whatever you are working on, we here at Team Money Pit want to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, this time of year, the turning leaves can be beautiful, until they fall and clog up your gutters. Now, if that happens to you, gutter guards could be the solution but only if they work. Find out those that do, after this.

    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 you 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. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love for you to be part of the home improvement fun. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and one of you is going to, of course, get your home improvement question answered but one of you guys is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away, you know, something that’s going to make probably the most unpleasant chore in your home a lot easier. We’re talking about fixing a clogged toilet.

    We’re giving away Rubbermaid’s newest plunger called a Clean & Dry, which kind of sounds like, “How is that even possible if I’m sticking it in the toilet?” Gross. It’s got a special coating on it that makes all of what-have-you just run right off of it. So, it’s not going to get dirty, it’s not going to drip that transfer from the toilet to the sink. Come on. You know you’ve all been there.

    TOM: Too much information.

    LESLIE: You know you’ve been there. You’re also going to get two scrubbers, a cleaning pad to make the entire experience more sanitary and pleasant.

    And you know what, Tom? If you can’t joke about it, what’s the point?

    TOM: If that sounds appealing to you and you want to win it, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. That package is worth 50 bucks from our friends at Rubbermaid.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with a stinky fridge. What happened?

    LARRY: Yes. I had a power company disconnect my combination freezer/refrigerator by mistake, at a second home I own down on the desert, elevation 2,000 feet.

    TOM: OK.

    LARRY: No air conditioning. I didn’t discover the problem until three weeks after it had been disconnected. Obviously, I had a terrible odor problem and it was very difficult to remove. And I’m just wondering if you folks might have had a suggestion. I still have a lingering odor but for the most part, I think it’s pretty much gone. But it was a mess and lots of people suggested I should have just thrown the combination freezer/refrigerator out and had the utility company buy me a new one.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    LARRY: They thought they were disconnecting for lack of payment but it was a neighbor three doors down.

    LESLIE: Oh, my God.

    TOM: Ugh. Wow.

    LARRY: But it’s a second home that I only get to maybe once a month.

    TOM: Right. So you didn’t know about it, yeah.

    LARRY: Yeah. I spent three days working on it.

    LESLIE: I can imagine. And you probably used all the standard tricks of the trade: the baking soda; white vinegar and water; baking soda, making a paste of it and putting it all around the refrigerator and cleaning that off; then taking fresh vanilla – like real vanilla seed pods – and putting that on a damp paper towel and then sticking that in the refrigerator.

    LARRY: I think so.

    LESLIE: Those are generally the tricks of the trade. But what happens is there’s an insulative layer inside the refrigerator and freezer that makes it stay cold. And when you have something that spoils and stays in there and the odor stays in there, it seeps through the plastic that sits on top of the insulation and then gets into the insulation. And at that point, there’s nothing you can do short of reinsulating the refrigerator/freezer. And it’s going to be probably more money than buying a new one.

    LARRY: Boy, isn’t that the truth? And what happened, it was on the freezer side, mostly wild-game meat, which can’t be replaced unless you’re lucky enough to get drawn for a hunting permit in Arizona.

    LESLIE: Oh, God.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

    LARRY: And it turned, of course, to liquid so it basically permeated the bottom of the refrigerator.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LARRY: And the biggest problem was getting rid of the odor from the rubber seals.

    TOM: Well, you can replace those rubber seals.

    LARRY: Yeah. But the more I think about it, it may not be too late to approach the utility company and verify what I did and what I was dealing with and maybe they’d replace it.

    TOM: I think that’s exactly what you should do.

    Well, fall is one of my favorite times of the year. The temps are pleasant, the leaves are turning, they make the neighborhoods look like sort of postcard-perfect. But there is a reason it’s called fall and that’s all those leaves that end up in your gutters. You don’t want to leave them there because if you do, you could have major problems that can occur.

    If you let your gutters clog, first of all, in the mosquito season, you’re certainly going to have an infestation of mosquitoes like you’ve never seen before. Secondly, that water overfills those gutters and then lands at the foundation perimeter. It will saturate that soil and end up in your basement. In the winter, it can freeze and crack the foundation walls. There’s a lot of really good reasons to keep your gutters clean. But if you’re going to do that, what’s the best way to proceed?

    LESLIE: Well, you know, there’s a bunch of options out there and you could actually start with gutter screens. They’re less expensive, they’re going to do a pretty good job of keeping out the majority of leaves and the debris that’s going to fall on top of them. But eventually, the leaves are going to rot on top and you’re going to have to pull the screens out and clean them. So you or somebody you’ve got to pay is going to be climbing up the ladder less often, true, to do the chore but it’s still going to need to be done a couple times a season.

    TOM: Well, there’s also a wide selection of gutter guards that are available. Some work better than others but basically, they allow the leaves to wash over the gutters and onto the ground. How does that work? Well, the guard actually sits flush with the roof and the leaves run over the top of the gutter and fall past the gutter and down. But the water, through the force of surface tension, sort of sticks to the gutter guard and then falls into a small gap between that and the gutter itself.

    They do work pretty well most of the time but still, even with the best ones, I found that occasionally it will get a clog and you’ll have to get up there and clean it the old-fashioned way but not very often. I’ve actually had one on one side of my house that lasted several years before it backed up and I had to actually get up there and clean it out.

    So, take a look at them carefully, get references from the contractors that are pitching them to you. There’s a lot of guys out there that are selling these these days. Shop price. I haven’t found one gutter guard that’s particularly better than the next. There is a wide variety of prices on these. I’ve seen them anywhere from $5 to $25 a foot.

    So shop carefully, choose wisely. But if you do put them in, you can guarantee that you will not be going up there quite nearly as often to clean them out.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Albert in North Carolina on the line who’s got a well question.

    ALBERT: Well, I’m not getting enough water from the well that I have existing on my property.

    TOM: OK.

    ALBERT: It’s what they call a “dug well” instead of a “bored well.”

    TOM: Right.

    ALBERT: It only goes down 15 feet before it hits the – what they call the “surface water table” here.

    TOM: Right.

    ALBERT: But I’m kind of – we’ve been in a semi-drought in my area and if I go to use the water to water the lawn or fill up the swimming pool for the grandkids or whatever, it runs out of water.

    TOM: Is this well only being used for non-domestic purposes, like washing cars? Or are you drinking this water, as well?

    ALBERT: Drinking it, too. And well, we have had it tested and everything. It’s fine; it’s good water.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    ALBERT: We’re up here at the top of the water cycle in the mountains so – I mean that’s what I understand and everything’s fine.

    TOM: OK.

    ALBERT: But they said in order to increase the water, there would be no guarantees that the wells in this area – to hit bedrock and hit a subterranean aquifer. There’s anywhere between 85 and 600 feet and there’s no guarantee, once they start …

    TOM: Boy, really narrowed it down for you, didn’t they?

    ALBERT: Yeah. And there – and it’s very expensive, too.

    TOM: Oh, I bet.

    ALBERT: I didn’t know if there was any other – I’ve talked to a couple people but nobody else has any ideas about adding additional pumps or digging another well or – I really – and that kind of money is a lot to spend.

    TOM: Yeah, well, that’s what I was going to suggest. I wonder if you created – if you dug another shallow well on the property and tried to tap into another piece of this aquifer, whether that would solve it. When the water goes down, do you know that it’s the aquifer running dry that’s causing this?

    ALBERT: It really doesn’t run dry; it gets muddy and …

    TOM: It gets muddy.

    ALBERT: Yeah. And we have filters to take out the mud but the filters get clogged.

    TOM: Right.

    ALBERT: And of course, if I let it replenish – just stop watering for a day – it replenishes and we have enough water.

    TOM: Right.

    ALBERT: But it still – it’s becoming – it’s irritating and it …

    TOM: More and more of a problem, yeah.

    ALBERT: Yeah.

    TOM: So is there any of the well-drilling companies that will give you any type of a fixed cost? Or is it all going to be on – determined by how deep they’ve got to go?

    LESLIE: Depending on how deep you go.

    ALBERT: Yeah, it’s how deep and it’s by the foot.

    LESLIE: Wow. Has anybody in your area done a bored well and have any sort of recommendations as to how deep they had to go to reach it?

    ALBERT: Well, my neighbor, who’s about 100 feet away, they had bored a well all the way to bedrock and hit it at 85 feet.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    ALBERT: And the well company I’ve talked to said that’s fine but it’s really a – they’ve bored wells 20 feet away from existing wells and not hit. So there’s no guarantee.

    TOM: Right.

    ALBERT: So it’s kind of strange.

    TOM: Yes. It’s kind of a crap shot.

    ALBERT: I know. I’ve got to replace my roof. We’ve finally been in this house for 30 years. I need to put a new roof on but now I have this well problem come up. I don’t know.

    TOM: Yeah, well, if you don’t fix the roof, you can just collect water in buckets and solve your problem.

    ALBERT: That might – yeah, that might be an alternative.

    TOM: What you have to really think about here, Albert, is what’s reasonable and customary in your area. And it sounds like everyone’s suffering with shallow wells when they start to get muddy. And the solution is to drill the well.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how much this is going to cost you, so I would suggest that – try to put your energy into finding the most reputable, reliable, reasonable well-drilling contractor out there that’s not going to hold you up for more money or try to stretch you out. And really try to find somebody that’s got a really good reputation. You can use …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I bet you could look on Angie’s List.

    TOM: Yeah, you can use sites like AngiesList.com or ServiceMaster.com to find contractors that have had some references. You want to find some that have had some good customer experiences and that those are documented online, as well.

    The good news is it’s a lot easier to find a good guy these days, because so many people will just post very generously what their experiences are, good or bad, with a contractor online. I think that you really should focus on trying to find the best pro and then whatever it will be will be.

    ALBERT: Yeah, that’s really good advice. I should go online. My wife has one – has signed up for Angie’s List for this roof project and (inaudible at 0:18:31).

    TOM: Well, there you go. And that’s a good time to do it. There’s a small membership fee and – but they seem to do a really good job with the site. And if you’ve got a couple of projects that are going on like that, you could really take advantage of it.

    ALBERT: Right. Well, I think you’re correct and I appreciate your time.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, we all have things that we’ve been hanging on to. Maybe they’re left to you by grandma or grandpa or maybe you’ve picked them up at a yard sale or it was an eBay find you couldn’t resist. But what’s junk and what’s a gem? We’re going to get some treasure-hunting advice, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America. Now enjoy 10-percent off all special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot, including the Andersen 400 Series Double-Hung Replacement Window, making it easy to replace your old windows. Valid through September 12. See The Home Depot for details.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, has your home just swelled up so much with excess stuff that you are more than ready to just start getting rid of it? Well, if you’re wondering whether you should keep it or toss those so-called collectibles that you’ve been hanging onto, that’s a really good question.

    TOM: Well, before you post your yard-sale sign, a little research might be in order so you don’t drop a valuable collectible into the dollar bin. Here to tell us how is Todd Merrill. He’s a judge and appraiser on History Channel’s new hit competition show, Picked Off.

    Welcome, Todd.

    TODD: Hi. How are you doing?

    TOM: We’re doing great.

    Now, this is something that I think goes through everyone’s mind, especially if they’re maybe cleaning out a house that might have been owned by an elderly relative or something like that. What are some basic rules that people can follow to make sure that they’re not tossing out good stuff with all the junk?

    TODD: The first thing is you probably want to consult an expert and a certified appraiser and have somebody come in. If you think you have a bunch of stuff that looks like it has history, that it has a value, then call an expert in. And if you’re just sort of weeding through the garage, things that are made of quality materials that are well-made, that are signed, that are dated, that have stamps on them, those are things that you probably just shouldn’t put out in the trash. Even if it’s not your taste, it might be something valuable.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean is there anything, or should I say any category, that tends to be more valuable?

    TODD: People have thrown away comic books, movie posters, a Windsor chair that looks like some raggedy old chair and it happens to be a fabulous piece of Americana. It literally can be from paper to a ephemera to stamps/coins to furniture, porcelain. Anything can have value in any category.

    LESLIE: Todd, solve this riddle for a girlfriend of mine. Her great-grandfather passed away and for some reason, in a safe found a stack of vintage Playboys. I want to say from the 40s? And she recycled them and I have been berating her about it.

    TODD: There’s probably money in it. If they’re in very good condition – and condition is everything for collectibles. And if they’re in mint condition, if they had been kept in plastic, if they were kept away from the light, there are definitely collectors for early Playboy. And condition is everything with a collectible. So, that’s what you want to look for.

    If they’re beaten-up badly, chances are they’re collage material or they’re for the fire.

    TOM: We’re talking to Todd Merrill. He’s a judge and appraiser on History Channel’s new hit competition show, Picked Off.

    So, Todd, this whole idea of trying to figure out what the value is in something that you might find around a house is really the basis for this show. Tell us about it.

    TODD: Well, basically, we take four couples and we give them each $100. And we send them out into a huge flea market. It could be a garage sale in a neighborhood, they could – knocking doors. And they have to buy, sell and trade with $100 to find the most valuable item that they can find. And then they bring it back to my brother and I and we tell them, because we’ve been watching them as they go through the process, what they didn’t find, what they should have bought and what the value is of each of their items.

    So based on that, we eliminate one of the couples and then we do it again twice more. And the winner wins $10,000.

    TOM: Now, that’s interesting because have you watched people walk right by something that might be incredibly valuable in lieu of something that really has no value?

    TODD: All the time.

    LESLIE: Is there something that tends to draw somebody, as far as a phony value? Like it’s the fool’s gold, that they see it and they’re like, “Oh, that’s got to be worth something.”

    TODD: Well, there’s a couple mistakes that people make. One, they listen to the stories that are being told to them by the people that are selling things. And so if you’re going outside of your area of knowledge – and that’s the other biggest tip: stick to what you know. But if you’re stepping outside, you can’t listen – you’ve got to listen to what they say and then you’ve got to look at the object. And you’ve got to look at the condition of the object, you’ve got to look at the apparent age of the object, the materials that it’s made of and see if the story you’re being told really matches what’s in front of you.

    And a provenance that says it’s from Lincoln or from Washington or something extraordinary, it doesn’t really matter if there’s no proof and no link to it in front of you, with that piece.

    TOM: Now, what are some of the biggest finds that your teams have found thus far? Anything that’s really super-valuable?

    TODD: Well, we can’t reveal the finds because then we would be giving away the show. But they have – we have had an item that somebody went out with $100 and in three rounds, they were able to turn that into nearly $5,000 in value.

    LESLIE: Wow, that’s huge.

    TOM: Now, do these contestants have any prior experience as pickers?

    TODD: They’re amateurs. It’s hobby only. So we don’t have professionals on the show; we have people who do this kind of on the weekends. You know, maybe they’re looking through classified ads and that kind of stuff for stuff but they’re amateurs. And they usually come to us with a small area of expertise and some general knowledge. And then they have to use basic picking skills, which is the kind of things – we’re looking at provenance, looking at condition and judge the items that are out there and listen to the stories.

    TOM: Well, it sounds like a really fun show. It airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on The History Channel. Todd Merrill, co-host of Picked Off on The History Channel, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TODD: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, cooler temperatures mean it’s time to shut those windows and store your screens. We’re going to have cleaning tips to help you with that chore, after this.

    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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you might be the caller who will never have to gag again when needing to use the plunger, because we are giving away Rubbermaid’s new plunger. It’s called Clean & Dry. These plungers repel all liquids, so they don’t need cleaning and they won’t drip. You’ll also get two scrubbers and cleaning pads to make the chore that much easier.

    The package is worth $50. Going out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a squirrel situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, I have three porches in my house and my husband found that the squirrels were eating all the porch columns. Well, he went – he replaced them all and lo and behold, they came back and they started chewing again. So, I don’t know what to do. He’s painted them and I’m thinking is there something he could put in the paint or some other product we could use to put – to fix these columns with?

    LESLIE: Stop using lamb legs to hold up your porch, geez. Oh, my goodness. I don’t know why they seem to really like your porch posts but they do. And you want to kind of get rid of them in a humane way that’s just going to deter them from chewing on your porch and maybe send them to somebody else’s or just send them back into the wild to eat a tree.

    But are you familiar with the company, Havahart?

    MARY: Havahart. No, I’ve not heard that.

    LESLIE: They have all sorts of humane animal traps and animal repellants and wireless dog fences. And it’s actually H-a-v-a-h-a-r-t.com.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: And they’ve got a product that should work for you. It’s called the Critter Ridder Animal Repellant? And it’s a spray and it’s all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about – around kinds or pets. But it will repel nuisance animals: squirrels, raccoons, dogs, cats, groundhogs, really pretty much anything.

    MARY: Oh, great.

    LESLIE: But it only lasts for about 30 days, so you will have to reapply it. But it has things like black-pepper oil, things that they’re not going to like. And it’s not something that you’re going to be bothered by. So if you’ve got even like a birdfeeder that the squirrels are getting at, you can try this on that.

    But give it a whirl. You can find it online. I think it’s about 12 bucks a bottle; it’s not too expensive.

    MARY: OK.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s hard to believe but it’s time to start thinking about buttoning up your home for the chillier fall temperatures. I’m so excited. I do love it: that first time you turn the heat on and you get the smell of the heating system. It’s so good.

    Well, part of that buttoning-up includes taking care of your window screens.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And it is a good idea to clean them now, after they’ve been exposed to the elements all summer long. And to do that, you first need to remove them from your window. You want to place them on a flat surface because, remember, they are very delicate. You can’t twist them; you’re going to break them. And then use mild soap and water with a soft-bristled brush to remove that dirt and that grime.

    Now, once you’ve cleaned both sides, you can rinse them with lukewarm water and never use a pressure washer to clean those screens or the windows, because the force of the water is just too much and it will definitely damage the units.

    Also, make sure you use extreme care when cleaning the aluminum mesh, since it can be dented or creased, not to mention the fact that as it ages, it oxidizes and gets really weak. And you might just find yourself sticking your hand right through the screen, in which case you’d have to replace it.

    The last thing you want to do, though, is make sure they dry completely before you stick them back in the window.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And now, while most window screens can remain in your windows year-round, some homeowners actually prefer to remove them during the cooler months. So if that’s you and you do choose to remove your window screens, you want to make certain to store them either in an upright or flat position, never leaning them so that they’ll bend. Because they will; over the season, they’ll just sort of start to bend and cave and then they’ll never go back in.

    You can also cover them with a plastic sheet or an old sheet that you’ve got lying around. That will help keep your clean screens clean during the storage season.

    If you want some more advice, go to MoneyPit.com and search “cleaning screens.” We’ll give you some detailed instructions there. It’s definitely a chore you want to tackle now before it gets too cold.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. We are standing by for your home improvement question, so call us now.

    LESLIE: Tony in Des Moines has got a question about a townhouse. What can we do for you?

    TONY: I have a townhome that I am living in right now and we are – my wife and I are moving into our first home together. And we were considering finishing off the basement to my townhouse and renting it out.

    And I was just curious if it would be worth it to finish the basement, because I don’t know how much more it would add to the monthly rent the people would be willing to pay for the – for that finished basement. It’s going to cost me, I’m estimating, six to eight grand to finish the basement with carpet and drywall and everything. I was just thinking that maybe I should leave it unfinished or if I should actually finish it off. I’m pretty handy, so I could probably do most of it myself.

    TOM: But Tony, you are missing a very important opportunity here, my friend. And that is that eventually, you’re going to want to turn that into your man cave. That’s …

    TONY: My man cave? No, I’m going to have my own man cave in my house.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: Oh, the entire house is going to be the man cave. Well, what’s your wife going to say about that?

    TONY: Yeah but (inaudible at 0:31:24) this old property that I own or it’s going to be sold.

    TOM: Alright. OK. Well, I’ll tell you this: a finished basement does add significantly to the amount of usable space. And so, it will be more attractive if you have the finished basement. If you can do it yourself and keep the costs in line, I think it probably is a very good idea for you to do it. Are there any moisture issues with the basement, in terms of dryness or flooding or anything like that?

    TONY: Not at all. I live in Des Moines, so we don’t have a lot of flooding issues.

    TOM: OK.

    TONY: I do have a dehumidifier down there that runs straight into my pump – my added pump that runs it into my tank. So, I haven’t had any problems, as far as moisture goes, at all.

    TOM: Well, what I would suggest is just make sure you do it right, in terms of the heating and cooling and make sure you extend it to that space properly. And then make sure you have plenty of wiring down there. Just do it like you would do any other room in the house; don’t cut corners. You can do this without spending a whole lot of money, I think, if you do it yourself.

    And I think it would add to the value to – of the place and make it more competitive, too, in a tight market, that you have a finished basement like that where folks can create a rec room or a family room, a place for the kids to hang out.

    LESLIE: Anything. Extra office.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s a good idea to have it.

    TONY: OK. Absolutely. Then I appreciate your input, guys. I listen to you guys all the time.

    TOM: Alright? Alright.

    TONY: I really appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Good luck with that project and call us back if you get stuck at any point.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, eye injuries are one of the most common injuries that can happen to you in your home. We’re going to talk about protecting your eyes during your fall fix-ups, after this.

    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 the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Now 10-percent off at The Home Depot. Valid through October 17, 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: And you can listen to The Money Pit Radio Show on the go with The Money Pit iPhone app. It’s free and it lets you take Leslie and myself with you wherever you go, which is kind of stalk-y but you know what?

    LESLIE: Whee! We’re a bucket of fun.

    TOM: We’re a bucket of fun and you know what? You can always pick up the phone and call us to complete the communication with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT because, hey, we never sleep. Well, I do but Leslie usually stays awake to answer the phone.

    LESLIE: Hey, after November and I have a newborn, I’m not going to be sleeping at all.

    TOM: You won’t be able to sleep anyway.

    LESLIE: I’ll just answer the phones.

    TOM: And while you’re online, head on over to The Money Pit website. You can post your question, just like Jack in Nevada did. He says, “My upstairs bathroom had a leak. It was fixed but the walls in the room below now have what looks like bubbles of water between the walls and the paint. What do I have to do to fix this?”

    Well, Jack, first of all, we want to make sure that it’s not really bubbles of water; it might just be bubbles. Because typically, when you get a leak above and then it leaks to a ceiling below, the very first thing that you should do is try to release that water. How do you do that? You do what’s totally counterintuitive: you poke holes in the ceiling and let the water out. Because if you don’t, that drywall can swell and bubble. If that’s what you’re seeing …

    LESLIE: Like it’s super-saturated.

    TOM: Right. If that’s what you’re seeing and the ceiling is deformed as a result of this, in that case, my friend, you’re going to have to cut out the bad drywall and put in a new piece.

    Now, if it’s just small bubbles, like where you got water under the drywall tape or something like that, you can cut those out with a utility knife and then re-spackle over that. Most importantly, when you get done with this project, though, you must prime that ceiling. Don’t just paint it, because the paint won’t absorb right, especially if you’re up against an older ceiling. So prime it first, then paint it and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you’re not getting away with just priming and painting that one spot; you’re going to have to do the entire ceiling. Nothing’s going to match. You want it all to adhere well. So go ahead, prime the whole ceiling, paint the whole ceiling.

    TOM: Well, as you plan your fall fix-up projects, keep in mind that eye injuries send more than a million people a year to the emergency room. And it doesn’t have to be. Many of them could have been prevented with the right safety gear. Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, as you begin work on your autumn to-do list, add “keeping safe” to your agenda. Ninety percent of eye injuries that people suffer at home are totally preventable.

    Now, if you’re giving your grass a last cut before the chillier month, remember that lawn mowers alone account for more than 4,000 serious eye injuries. Household cleaners, they account for another 125,000 and construction workers are more likely to sustain an eye injury than any other worker in this country. So it’s important to think about protecting your eyes.

    Now, if you’re working with wood, metal, cement, wire or pretty much any other home improvement material, make sure that you wear your safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields. And forget about it: if it’s a windy day, I mean all bets are off.

    The goggles, like the old-fashioned, shop-y style ones are the best. Because I remember building something for a While You Were Out project. It was a kind of blustery day and I had safety glasses on, yes, with the side shields but still, they were like regular glasses, essentially. And I had exterior-grade ply, some wind came, blew that dust up and under my safety glasses. And I ended up with a good-sized chunk of dust in my eye, ended up in the ER, scratched cornea. It hurt, it burned, it’s no fun and it’s totally preventable. So really think about those conditions.

    Also, remember you want to keep your kids away from your work areas because, really, taking a few simple steps could save your eyesight or a family member’s, so just be safe while you’re working on your projects this season, guys, OK?

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, your house only gets one chance to make a first impression and a stylish mailbox can be part of that solution. We’re going to highlight popular new options, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 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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