Lush Lawn Secrets, Hidden Home Health Hazards, How to Stop Dog Digging in Yard 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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you’re planning to maybe get outdoors for spring, set yourself up for the warm and wonderful summer ahead, maybe work on a deck, build a patio, spruce up the outside or the inside of your house, we’re here to help at 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, your home is supposed to be your safe haven but sometimes your home can turn hazardous to your health. We’re going to have tips on how to avoid the most common home health hazards, like mold, radon, carbon monoxide and more.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, now is the time to get a jump on your yard work so that you can actually have a nice, green lawn come summer. We’re going to share lush lawn secrets, just ahead.

    TOM: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away an Arctic Cove Bucket-Top Mister.

    Now, this is really cool. It’s a fan that can sit on top of a 5-gallon bucket or it can be hooked up to a hose. And it will deliver a cool mist during your summer home improvement projects, your backyard barbecues, whatever.

    Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. It’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alan in Idaho is on the line with a crack in a foundation. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ALAN: You know, when I first bought the house, a contractor buddy of mine said it was no big deal and he gave me some epoxy. Said to drill some holes in it and squirt it in there until it mushed out all the way through and then just go and smooth it off. Well, I didn’t seal it but it’s cracked right again beside it.

    TOM: OK. So you have a crack in the foundation that you filled with epoxy and it’s continuing to crack. Is that the case?

    ALAN: Correct.

    TOM: How old is your house?

    ALAN: Sixty-seven is when it was built.

    TOM: Alright. So it’s concrete-block wall or cinderblock wall, correct?

    ALAN: It’s concrete.

    TOM: Now, do you have any drainage issues around the house?

    ALAN: Not that I know of.

    TOM: Have you had any moisture in the basement or signs of that?

    ALAN: The only time I’ve ever had any moisture in the basement is a previous owner drilled a hole in the floor and ran the condensate drain through the air conditioner into the floor.

    TOM: Alright. That’s not the kind of moisture we’re concerned about. The reason I asked that question is because it sounds like your wall is a little unstable and that’s continuing to move. And the first thing to do when that happens – if it’s not a serious crack, not one where the wall is being displaced – is to make sure that your grading and your drainage conditions are absolutely letter-perfect. Because the more water that soaks around the outside of that house, the more water that comes off gutters and gets discharged against the wall, the weaker that foundation gets.

    It’s kind of like this: when it’s rainy and you walk across a field, you sink into the mud because wet dirt is not as strong as dry dirt. So we want to try to keep the dirt around your house – and specifically, under your footing – as dry as possible. So drainage control is important.

    Now, beyond that, if this is just sort of a hairline crack that’s forming – is that what we’re talking about here?

    ALAN: Yeah, yeah, it is. Well, the original one was a pretty good-sized crack but …

    TOM: Well, what I would do if it’s a hairline crack is I would fill it with silicone caulk, because it will expand and contract and won’t – epoxy is pretty stiff if it’s going to break and crack through it. So I would just fill it with silicone caulk; that will just keep out some moisture and drafts from coming through it.

    ALAN: Alright. And now, if I dig down – I know it doesn’t go clear to the footing because I’ve been down that far. I dug down to see how far it went down. And so, dig down and suggest maybe tarring it up below grade?

    TOM: I wouldn’t go through all that. I mean right now, it’s – I would just improve the drainage conditions and seal the crack from the inside where you can.

    ALAN: OK.

    TOM: Alright? I don’t think it’s going to really add to it to tar up the whole foundation. You don’t seem to have any major moisture problem here, so we’re just trying to deal with the drafts and any potential leakage in the future.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Michelle in Iowa on the line who’s looking to spend some more time outdoors with a fire pit. How can we help with that project?

    MICHELLE: Well, we started making an outside fire pit with fieldstone. And our mortar that we seem to be using, it just seems like it’s awful dry and it’s like it’s cracking. So, didn’t know if you had a different brand that you thought would work or any suggestions.

    TOM: Well, one tip is that if it’s a really warm, dry day when you’re working, you might want to consider putting some plastic over the areas that you’re working on, to slow the evaporation rate. Because if it dries really quickly, sometimes it can shrink and crack.

    MICHELLE: And no certain brand of mortar you think would work best as what the stores recommend for outside fireplaces?

    TOM: Well, QUIKRETE works extremely well, so you could look to the QUIKRETE brand. And one of the advantages of QUIKRETE is they’ve also got lots and lots and lots of videos online that give you the step-by-step on how to properly mix the product, for example, in this case.

    MICHELLE: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just pick up the phone and give us a jingle at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you want the best-looking lawn on the block? We’ve got steps you can take, right now, to make sure your lawn will grow in like a putting green, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to take your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller we talk to this hour is going to win the 18-Volt Bucket-Top Mister from Arctic Cove.

    Now, what this is is a portable and cordless misting fan that’s designed to fit on a 5-gallon bucket. And you can also attach it to a garden hose.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it comes with an 18-volt lithium-ion battery, so it’s going to run for up to two hours at a time. And it’s compatible with Ryobi’s One Plus line, so it’s really excellent if you’ve already got that line of tools and batteries, because you can just keep swapping them out.

    It’s really a great way to keep cool in your yard or at a picnic or even at the beach. You can visit if you want some more information. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dan on the line calling in from Ontario, Canada with a question about a drafty home. How can we help you?

    DAN: To try to explain this stuff, you know the backer boards – what they put on cabinets?

    TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm.

    DAN: OK. Now picture that made in tile but 4×4 sheets.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: And it’s white and it looks like it’s got this stucco tile.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s called composite siding. So what’s going on with it?

    DAN: Well, I’d like to know if I could put this – they’ve got this paint, OK? It’s like a stucco? I was just wondering if I – could I put that kind of material on this fiberboard?

    TOM: Well, you can generally paint fiberboard or composite siding with anything that you – with any typical exterior-grade paint. It doesn’t require a special paint. In fact, it actually requires quite a bit of paint. Because I used to joke that that kind of siding stood up as long as you painted it every day before you went to work. It’s not known for its durability, you know?

    So, any paint that’s a good-quality exterior paint should work. Now, are you trying to get a textured look to the places?

    DAN: I’m trying to get that stucco look.

    TOM: Yeah, the stucco look. OK. Well, if it’s a paint product that’s designed to do that and you’ve researched the paint product and it is a good-quality product, I don’t see any reason why it won’t work.

    DAN: Well, you’re telling me more than what these two guys knew at the paint store.

    TOM: Just tell them you want to buy more stuff; they’ll agree with you.

    Good luck, Dan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    DAN: Well, thank you. I enjoy your program. It’s very informing.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania is on the line and having a hot-water issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    NANCY: Well, my hot water takes so long to – or my water takes so long to get hot when I turn on the spigot. And washing the dishes by hand makes that – I waste a lot of water that way.

    LESLIE: Nancy, is this a new problem or has this always been the situation?

    NANCY: No, it’s an old problem.

    TOM: Yeah. And it has to do with the physical distance between the faucet and the water heater. The farther they are apart, the longer you have to wait for the water to heat up.

    Now, newer water heaters today, and especially the tankless water heaters, are very small. And so the way a lot of builders are addressing this is they’re putting in multiple water heaters closer to the bathing or the washing areas of the house. So, typically, you’d have one for the kitchen and maybe the laundry area and you’d have another one for bathrooms. Because these water heaters are so small and so efficient, they can literally squeeze into anything that’s smaller than a closet.

    In your case, though, it’s just a matter of the distance that the water has to travel. Unfortunately, in a house like this, though, I would say that it’s unlikely you will save enough money in water costs to make the installation of an additional water heater worthwhile, Nancy.

    NANCY: But is there anything else I can do? Like I have been told, different times, that insulating the pipes wouldn’t help or some people say it would.

    TOM: Well, the only thing that insulating the pipes will do is it’ll keep the water that’s in the pipes, once it gets there, warmer longer. But again, it’s a distance thing. You turn the faucet on, the water starts to move from the water heater, where it’s hot, to the faucet. And it has to purge all of that cold water along the way. Once it purges, it’ll stay hot but it just takes a certain amount of time for that amount of water – that amount of volume of water – to move through the pipes.

    Does that make sense, Nancy?

    NANCY: Yeah, it does. And so there’s basically nothing I can do except different water …

    TOM: Well, except moving a water heater closer to the – to you. I mean there are recirculators that sort of take water and recirculate it back all the time. But again, that costs energy, too, and that costs plumbing expense, too. And I just don’t think you’re going to save enough to make it worthwhile.

    Well, are you ready to green-up your yard after the long winter? Well, for that lush lawn and one that’s going to be green all summer, there’s a critical few steps you have to take right now. And the first one is to get a soil test.

    Now, why would you do this? Well, the test of your lawn’s soil is going to tell you things like the pH level and the quantity of nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen. And that’s important information.

    LESLIE: Yeah. With this information, you or your lawn-care pro will know exactly what nutrients your lawn needs and how to adjust those accordingly.

    Next, early in the season, your grass really benefits from added compost, so apply a ½-inch layer over your lawn and then rake it into the surface.

    TOM: And have you ever noticed that weeds seem to pop up right after a spring rain? That is your cue to pull them. If they’re small and the soil is moist, they’ll come out by hand

    So just a couple simple steps taken right now will give your lawn the boost it needs to grow in full and green this season. We’ve got more tips on lawn care, just like that, at

    LESLIE: Jason in Iowa is dealing with some asbestos removal, a topic I’m very familiar with these days.

    Jason, what’s going on at your money pit?

    JASON: Well, we bought a house. And in the basement, the ductwork has crumbling asbestos tape around all the seams. And I didn’t know it was asbestos at first. A gentleman – a friend of mine – kind of told me that it was, which was good to know because I would have just started tearing it off there.

    But I know that it can be dangerous. And I’ve been told to put on a good HEPA-filter mask and wet the filters and such and you can take it off and wear gloves and be careful. But is that really the case? Do I have to legally hire a professional to come in and remove something like that?

    TOM: It’s definitely the smart thing to do, Jason. Because the problem with asbestos is it’s very, very fine. It’s finer than smoke. If you were to release asbestos particles and assuming there was no wind, it would take eight hours for them to hit the floor; that’s how fine they are.

    So what you are seeing is only part of the problem. What you’re physically seeing, those chunks, is only part of it. This is a situation where you really can’t do it yourself.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the other part of the equation is the disposal. It’s like you can’t just take it and put it in a trash bag and stick it outside.

    JASON: Right.

    LESLIE: I’m in the process of having asbestos shingles removed from my home, on the exterior. And they have to be not only properly taken down and packed up in a certain manner but they have to be completely driven off to another state and certified that they’ve been disposed of in a proper manner. Now, I’m sure with just the tape wrapping the piping, that’s not going to be the extreme case there but you do have to make sure that it’s disposed of properly. You don’t want to get in any trouble.

    TOM: And by the way, Jason, you can’t visually identify asbestos. So the very first thing you should do is to have some – a sample of the material tested to confirm that it is, in fact, asbestos.

    JASON: And who would do that?

    TOM: An asbestos lab.

    Leslie, you just had asbestos testing done. Who did you use for that? Was it a local lab?

    LESLIE: It was a local company that also does the removal. But there are several companies. I would just look locally at asbestos removal. And it was fairly simple and the test took about two days. And it gives you a percentage of asbestos found in the item and it’s interesting.

    JASON: Well, thanks so much for your time and hopefully it won’t be too costly that I have to call it a “money pit.”

    TOM: OK, Jason. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pam in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    PAM: Off of my master bedroom, it has a small deck out there. Apparently, the seal has broken. It’s two pieces of glass that had some sort of, I don’t know, some sort of thing inside of it. And it’s now looking really milky. I’m wondering if I can replace it by getting another glass door or can I replace the glass alone?

    TOM: OK. So what’s happening is you have insulated glass and that seal between the panes of glass is called “swiggle.” And when the swiggle fails, then moisture gets in there between the panes of glass and then you get condensation, which is that white, milky, yucky appearance to the glass.

    Now, it impacts the energy efficiency in some way but other than that, it’s pretty much just cosmetic. And I say that because it’s not an easy fix. You have to replace the sliding glass door or replace the glass. And it’s probably less expensive to simply replace the door itself. You get a good-quality Pella or Andersen sliding-glass door there and you’re not going to have to worry about glass that fails for a very, very, very long time. And I think that that is probably the best way to attack that problem. Either live with it and accept the fact that it’s going to be yucky looking or replace it with a new, good-quality slider.

    PAM: OK. Sounds good. Well, thank you for your help.

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

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

    CARL: As a result of some wind damage at my house last month, I need to reroof. I would like to use metal roofing. My existing roofing is felt paper with three-tab, 20-year asphalt shingles. Do you think that it would be OK to have the metal roofing installed with 1×4 wood strips over the asphalt shingles? Or should it all be torn off?

    TOM: I would take it off. You know, that roof will come off very, very quickly and it’s a small part of the job. If you’re going to invest in metal roofing, why put it over asphalt? There’s just no point to do that. So I would strip it down to the original sheathing and then build it up from there. That’s the best way to go.

    CARL: OK, OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it and listen to you every week.

    TOM: Thank you so much, Carl. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ray in Minnesota who’s working on a decking project. How can we help you?

    RAY: Yeah. I just bought a house and it was built in 2008. And I have a big, wraparound porch and it looks like it’s never been really maintained since they built it. And so, especially with the Minnesota winters up here and the weather, looking to seal it but not really sure what to use and also not really wanting to have to do it every single year. So, just wanted to get some advice about what I could do.

    TOM: So, is the porch flooring a finished floor or is it like a deck, like pressure-treated?

    RAY: Pressure-treated wood. It’s a deck.

    LESLIE: And is there anything on it currently?

    RAY: No.

    TOM: So, what you can do is you could apply a solid-color deck stain to that.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: And a solid-color stain is going to last longer than a semi-transparent or certainly a transparent stain. But you use a deck stain because deck stains also have some durability to them.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The benefit of the solid-color stain is that because it’s a stain, it’s actually going to penetrate the surface of the wood, so the color will actually get into the lumber itself. And then a solid stain, obviously, has more pigment to it. So, given the fact that your deck has had nothing on it for however many years, it probably looks a little worn in places and maybe worse for the wear. So a solid stain is going to sort of cover all of that up while giving you some color and still act as a stain, since that’s what it is.

    And you’re – generally, if you apply it correctly, you’re going to get about five years on horizontal surfaces and about seven years on vertical. It really depends on the weather conditions, the application, how you prep it. Is the wood totally dried out when you’re putting it on? But a solid stain is probably the best bet.

    RAY: OK, OK. I had one question about it. I have seen some commercials for some new products that are more kind of concrete-based, almost like more of a paint-type thing. What about those? Are those good or would you recommend using something like that or …?

    TOM: Don’t do it. I think you’re talking about the products that are like liquid siding and things of that nature. If you were going to consider a product like that, I would Google the name of that product and the word “complaints.” Because we’ve seen a lot of complaints about those products that claim to encapsulate the surfaces that they’re applied to. Just not working very well.

    I would stick with the basics. A good-quality, solid-color stain from a good manufacturer is going to last a long time and you certainly won’t be doing it every year.

    RAY: OK, great. Well, I really appreciate the information and the help. Thank you, again, for taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Well, your home is supposed to be where you feel most safe and sound but dangers could be lurking that you don’t even know about, like mold or radon, even more. The solutions to those problems are next.

    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.

    Well, you’re supposed to feel safest inside your own home but sometimes, your home itself can be a hazard. Whether it’s mold or radon or even homegrown bacteria, knowing where the health issues can crop up and then taking care of them will help you get that safe-and-sound feeling back.

    TOM: Here to tell us more about the health issues that can present themselves in a home is Bill Loden, President of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

    Proud member right here, Bill. Welcome to the program.

    BILL: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.

    TOM: So, tell us a bit about ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, before we talk a bit about some of these sick-house topics that we mentioned in your introduction. How is the organization doing? What’s your membership looking like? And why is it important that homeowners consider ASHI members when either buying or selling a home or perhaps just trying to solve a problem with a home?

    BILL: The housing market is coming back. Our membership is growing again and everything is looking great at ASHI.

    We have been – ASHI has been around since 1976. And we have always maintained a very high standard for the – as a matter of fact, we wrote the standards for the home inspection industry. And we have a certification program for our inspectors that requires experience and testing and confirmation. We’re one of the only home inspection associations that actually verify our certification program. We have a third party that verifies our qualifications and verifies that ASHI is maintaining the high levels that we have set.

    TOM: And that’s why we, for so many years on this program, have recommended that folks only consider hiring a home inspector that’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, just because of those standards. There are those organizations that claim to have standards and I’ve got to tell you – in large part, if not in exclusive part – they are just a fraction of what the requirements are to become an ASHI member. So that you know if somebody that – if somebody cares enough to go through the work, the course of study, the commitment that it takes to become a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, that’s the kind of guy that you want to trust with your home inspection – or gal, I should say.

    BILL: Oh, I absolutely agree. And that’s what it’s all about: people who want to make sure that they are the best. They will typically join ASHI and go through the process.

    It can be quite exhausting for a new home inspector. I know when I went through it, I was wondering if I would ever get to the point where I had all the inspections I needed and had everything in place. It’s a very rigorous process.

    TOM: I remember it well.

    BILL: Yes.

    TOM: I did over 100 inspections before I did my first one for a client.

    So, Bill, let’s talk a bit about the topic of radon and carbon monoxide and sewer gas and those sorts of indoor air-quality issues. It seems that as homes have become more efficient and are built tighter, that these issues have become more important, correct?

    BILL: Oh, yes. We’re trapping a lot of gases in the house as we become more energy-efficient. And as a result, people – especially people with sensitive respiratory systems – can get sick from these types of gases.

    Radon is a very serious issue all over the country. There are some areas where radon concentrations in homes builds up higher than others. But there’s no real safe area in the country where you can absolutely say that you shouldn’t test for radon. Everyone should have their house checked for that. I do a lot of radon testing in my area. A lot of ASHI members do radon testing as part of the home inspection process and that’s a perfect time to check it. But it’s also a good idea for homeowners that are not in a real estate transaction to go ahead and have that done, as well.

    LESLIE: And what really are the best ways to test for radon in your home?

    BILL: Well, during a real estate transaction, you’re looking – you’re doing a short-term test because you don’t have time to do the long 60- or 90- or 180-day test. The best time to do the test, though, is when you’re in the home, you’re living there and run a long-term test.

    Now, there are test kits available that you can purchase. There are also testing companies that will go – will come out and set radon monitors and test it. But a long-term test gives you the most accurate result when it’s measured over a period of 60 to 180 days.

    LESLIE: And Bill, is that something that you’re just leaving in the basement of the home and just sort of normally going in and out? Are you closing off that basement space during that extended time period?

    BILL: Well, if you’re doing a long-term test, you want to live in the house just as you normally would. So you can come and go. You don’t have to close the area up. Just live in the house as you normally would, because you want to know what the radon levels are under normal conditions.

    Now, when you do a radon test for a real estate transaction, it’s a short-term test and there are certain protocols that have to be followed, such as not opening the windows and just going in and out the doors as you normally would but don’t leave the doors standing open. Because those kinds of activities can have a significant impact on a short-term test.

    TOM: Good advice. Bill Loden is the president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

    If you’d like to learn more about ASHI and perhaps find an inspector in your area, go to their website at – A-S-H-I.o-r-g.

    Bill, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    BILL: Hey, it was great to talk to you today.

    LESLIE: Alright. Warmer weather means your furry friends are outside more. But are they taking on some habits that you’d rather they didn’t? Maybe digging holes, maybe going to the bathroom where they’re not supposed to. We’re going to tell you how you can keep your dog from digging up all over your yard, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller that we help this hour is going to win the Arctic Cove 18-Volt Bucket-Top Mister worth $99. Now, it’s a cordless, portable misting fan and it’s powered by an 18-volt lithium-ion battery. And it can actually fit on top of most 5-gallon buckets but you can also hook it up to a garden hose.

    And it’s one of those fans that shoots out misty water. Maybe you’ve seen one at the amusement park or some sort of outside concert or festival. I mean they really work great at keeping you cool.

    TOM: Yeah. The Arctic Cove 18-Volt Bucket-Top Mister is available at select Home Depot stores and at

    Call us right now if you’d like to win it. It’s worth 100 bucks. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Susan in Montana is having some drainage issues with the driveway. Tell us what’s going on.

    SUSAN: I had my office driveway resurfaced with asphalt. And I thought that the people did a really excellent job until we got a monsoon rain and all the water was collecting. And I had to leave to go down to Colorado and I got a frantic phone call from my husband telling me that the water was backing up into the house and it was like a big pool. And I called the asphalt people and they’re not responding to me.

    TOM: Well, listen, if they just resurfaced the driveway, they’re not going to do anything to change the pitch.

    SUSAN: That’s true. They did do it but they deliberately – supposedly, they had the pitch so that it would drain off into the lawn.

    TOM: And they didn’t quite get that right. So how do you fix that?

    SUSAN: Yeah.

    TOM: If the water is draining down the driveway back towards the building – in other words, it’s never really draining off to the lawn anywhere – then what you have to do is you have to put a curtain drain in the driveway itself.

    And in a driveway, basically it’s a job where the driveway is essentially sliced in half. They slice out a chunk of driveway that’s maybe 6 inches wide and you drop this trough into it so that as the water falls down the driveway, it drops into the trough – there’s a grate on top – and then it runs out the bottom of the trough. And of course, that requires some additional plumbing, so to speak, because you have to hook it up to a drain pipe to take it to the lowest place on the property to get rid of the water. But that’s how you drain a driveway that’s not pitched properly.

    And typically, that’s put right near the house or right near the garage lip or something like that so that it catches the water at the lowest possible spot.

    SUSAN: So who would I call for something like that? A plumber?

    TOM: You’re going to need a general contractor that can install that for you. A driveway-sealing company is not going to do it. A general contractor that could do that – it’s kind of a handyman project. It’s not a difficult project, it’s not a really time-consuming project but you essentially have to cut into that driveway and install a drain. You’ve got to catch that water and you’ve got to manage it. And that’s the only way to do it, Susan.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, warmer weather means more time outside for your pets and the perfect time for them to take up a favorite springtime hobby: digging holes in your yard, of course. Who doesn’t want to do that? From kids to animals, when the weather is warm and the soil is moist, they’re going to dig a hole.

    So, what you’ve got to do is, you know, figure out why your dog is doing it. And some of them just do it because it’s in their blood. It’s either in their breed or their disposition or it could actually be evidence of anxiety or isolation or even your dog’s desire to escape. That’s right. Sometimes, your dog just wants to get the heck away from you. Or it might just be that something smells really good to them in that particular spot.

    TOM: Well, the thing is that dogs don’t really know that their hole-digging is a negative behavior, so they don’t know that they’re supposed to stop. Experts do say that a dog’s behavior is best changed when the owner is consistent with the training and when other members of the household are encouraged to train the dog, as well. Positive reinforcement works best, such as offering a treat. And that’s far more effective when the dog follows a command. Punishment, however, is far less effective.

    Now, so, what do you do with this information? Well, one way that dog professionals employ to try to change behavior with a dog that’s digging is to use a hose or a sprinkler each time it begins to dig and then offer praise when the dog manages to roam around the lawn without digging. The dog will come to associate the digging with the negative stimulus of being sprayed with water. And likewise, he’ll continually internalize the positive attention that he enjoys from not digging.

    So, it’s as simple as just sort of figuring out what that angle is that’s going to work best with your pet. We’ve got more advice on how to encourage a dog to stop digging in your lawn, online, at

    LESLIE: Steven in Illinois needs some help with a swimming pool. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVEN: We’re just wondering if you had any sort of creative ideas about how we might deal with a pool. We get to use it about four months out of the year and my wife – I told my wife that I was going to make this call and she said, “Well, what they’ll do is they’ll tell you to sell the house.”

    TOM: Or I’d tell you to hire a pool boy.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Now, look, Steven, taking care of pools, as you are well aware, it’s a lot of work. And when you live in the North like, yeah, you do, you’re only going to get four months out of it. It seems like it’s even more work. And if it’s getting to be too much for you, I would definitely tell you to hire a pool-maintenance company because there’s no way to get around the amount of maintenance it takes to manage that pool.

    And to your wife’s point about, well, sell the house, my question to be is: is the pool going to add to the value of the house? “Not always” is the answer when you live in the Northeast. Now, when you live down in sort of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, pools down there are much more commonplace in terms of it’s almost expected to have a pool with the house, like you have central air conditioning. But the farther north you get, some people just don’t like pools.

    I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector in the Northeast and I would get, on a fairly regular basis, a buyer of a home say, “I love everything about this house except for the pool. How do I get rid of it?”

    LESLIE: And it’s amazing – insurance costs. My sister’s home has a pool and when they were shopping for homeowners insurance, the prices she was getting quoted were just insane because of the pool.

    TOM: Right, exactly. So I really think it’s time for you to turn to a professional maintenance company because there’s just no way around it. Pools are a lot of work.

    Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, swimming-suit season is right around the corner. So coming up, we’re going to share how you can look amazing in your bikini. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m just kidding. We’re going to have tips to keep the water warm enough so that you can enjoy an early season dip. Had you guys going there, though, didn’t I?

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are gearing up for one of our biggest annual events: our class trip, so to speak, to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. We’ll be there bringing you all the latest information on the hot home products that are going to be showing up on store shelves, directly from our Top Products Pavilion on the show floor. You can check out the top products, online, at and follow along on Twitter with the handle @MoneyPit. And be sure to use hashtag #TopProductsNHS.

    LESLIE: You know, we love this show because the manufacturers use it to roll out all of the coolest new products for the season. And one popular project this time of year is cleaning. Concrobium has a line of mold-control products that clean mold and prevent it.

    TOM: Check it out online with our Top Products Gallery and follow us @MoneyPit on Twitter.

    LESLIE: Alright. Tildy in Texas sent us an e-mail and she wants to know – “I’m going to paint my son’s room. My husband wants to use non-toxic paint. Is it worth the price difference? What’s the problem with traditional paint?”

    TOM: Listen, it’s always worth paying more for paint because there’s a lot of qualitative differences. And when it comes to non-toxic, you’re going to have zero VOCs – volatile organic compounds ­- like benzene or formaldehyde. You don’t want that around your kids, so I definitely would recommend non-toxic paint – VOC-free paint – when you’re doing a kid’s room.

    LESLIE: Yeah, just play it safe. It’s the smart thing to do.

    TOM: Well, spring has sprung and summer will be here momentarily. If you’re getting ready to open up your backyard pool, you might want to figure out how you can get that water warm enough for a dip sooner than later. There are some easy ways to use the sun to do just that and Leslie has those tips, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You want to heat your swimming pool but you want to keep those heating expenses on the cheap? Why not make the most of the summer sun?

    Now, even if you already use the sun to just warm up your outdoor pool, if you make a few, simple adjustments, you can actually help extend the swim season by up to three weeks.

    So here’s what you’ve got to do. You need to harness the daylight. So you want to soak up maximum heat during the day, so you should leave your pool uncovered, in full sun, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

    Next, you want to put your pool cover to work. You can use a pool cover every single night and that’s going to help hold in solar heat, which is absorbed by the pool water during the day, increasing your pool’s average temperature by 4 to 5 degrees.

    You also want to trim trees. If you’ve got some nearby trees which interfere with sun exposure, try to trim them back. An arborist can actually help you with some more intensive tree-pruning projects and maybe even help you get some more sunshine onto the swimming area.

    Also, you can add solar technology. If you want even more focused use of solar heat, you can add intentional technology to your pool. And you can also install an array of solar pool-heating collectors, which are then connected to a thermal heating system. Or just try a solar-electric-assisted heat-pump pool heater, which is powered by a more discreet hybrid-panel array, really harnessing the sun in the best way possible.

    Now, if you’ve got strategic use of the summer sun, you’re going to increase enjoyment of your swimming pool while saving valuable heating dollars. And I know this could be a huge help for my family’s summer home, because both of my sisters happen to really like the pool heated to something like ridiculously close to 90 degrees, which is not relaxing to me in any way, shape or form. So, we pay a lot for heating.

    TOM: That’s a hot tub.

    LESLIE: Exactly. Basically a hot tub.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, have you tried to buy a light bulb lately? It’s pretty confusing. There’s so many choices now between LEDs, halogens and more. We’re going to have tips on how you can sort all that out and find the perfect light bulb for your home, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2014 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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