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The mattress you can test drive, the resurgence of bedroom soaking tubs, and an easy-to-install outdoor fire pit that’s big on charm – but low on installation cost

  • 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: Hanging out to help you with your home improvement projects. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If there’s a project on your to-do-list, give us a call. Let’s talk about it. We can give you some tips, some ideas, some shortcuts that will save you time, save you money, save you the hassle and make sure that project comes out just the way you’d like it at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, are you ready for a new bed but do you hate the risk of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a mattress that you’ve only tested for a minute or two in the store? Well, we’re going to tell you how to avoid both buyer’s remorse and sleepless nights, with a new mattress that you can actually test-drive before committing to.

    LESLIE: And if you’re tired of waiting for your bathroom to free up so that you can enjoy a nice, long soak in your tub, why not consider the added convenience and luxury of a bathtub in your bedroom? We’re going to share the details of this new, up-and-coming trend.

    TOM: And temperatures should start dropping off in your area soon, if they haven’t already. But you don’t have to take shelter inside. We’ve got tips on a do-it-yourself touch that lets you enjoy the great outdoors, even in the dead of winter.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to get to transform a room with 40 square feet of Timberchic. It’s a reclaimed wood plank that’s actually a wood veneer and it’s got a 3M-adhesive backing, so you get really easy and secure installation.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth 480 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Terry in Mississippi is on the line looking for some help to get rid of termites. Tell us what’s going on.

    TERRY: Yes. I’d like to know, what kind of spray should I get for termites?

    TOM: Well, termite treatment is not a do-it-yourself project. Because termites really need to be professionally treated because of where they live. They live deep in the soil, Terry. And so, to treat them effectively, a termiticide has to be applied to the soil and in a continuous bond all the way around your house.

    And what happens with the modern termiticides is they’re undetectable, so the termites don’t know it’s in the soil. They pass through it, they get it on their bodies and then they go back to the nest and pass it to all their termite friends. And that wipes out the entire nest.

    So, it’s not really a do-it-yourself project. I would talk to some exterminators and maybe ask specifically about a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. Good product. It’s been around for a long time. I used it in my own house and it’s an undetectable termiticide that’s very effective and lasts for many years.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dawn in Nebraska on The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    DAWN: Well, we’d like to redo a bathroom that has an old tub and a shower that’s got the kind of a plastic sheeting – it’s not plastic but the – oh, some kind of that gross stuff you glue on the wall. We’d like to take all of that out, including the bathtub, and then tile the shower and the shower floor.

    My question is: if we tile the shower floor, do we have to put a lip to keep the water from coming out? Or is there some way – if we tile the entire bathroom floor and shower the same, would you recommend some kind of elevation drop, just a little bit into the shower, so the water does not run out? Or is that just a no-no if we’ve got to have a lip at the edge of the shower?

    TOM: OK. You’re missing one critical component of the bathroom makeover you described and that’s a shower pan.

    DAWN: Right.

    TOM: And so I would recommend you purchase a shower pan and use that to install the bottom of the shower and the drain of the shower. There are shower pans that you can tile over if you don’t want to see the shower pan. But frankly, it’s so small. And when you tile a shower pan, it’s just such a maintenance hassle because all the water sits in there and ends up making the grout look nasty. I would just use a standard shower pan and then tile right down to the pan.

    DAWN: OK.

    TOM: You can connect the drains to the shower pan. The shower drains will all be integrated there. Then you’d tile right down over the lip of the shower pan and this way, you have a nice, waterproof seal.

    DAWN: OK. That sounds good. If you do the soap dish or – I’m not sure what else to call it – in the wall and you want to recess it in so you’ve got an 18×18 area to put your shampoos and such, can that be on an outside wall? Will you not smush your insulation to where it doesn’t work or does it have to be at the inside wall?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good question. I would tend to avoid that, I think, because, yeah, you would have no insulation in that space. It would end up being very, very cold and I think I would tend to put that on an interior wall.

    DAWN: Mm-hmm. OK. Very good. 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 MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home improvement, home repair, home design, whatever you’re working on. Whether you’re just getting ready for the autumn or getting ready for a big project, we’re here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you wish that you could get year-round use out of your yard and your patio? Well, there’s a do-it-yourself touch that gives you just that. We’ll have the details, after this.

    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 autumn is on the way and that brings all those fallen leaves with it, as well, which can clog up gutters and cause major water damage after the storms. Have you wondered if gutter guards are an effective solution? Well, we’ve got the answer on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

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

    JOHN: I have these double doors – stormproof doors. They’re made out of fiberglass and they have a steel piece that goes down the middle. And the insulation has receded from where it’s supposed to be and I’d like to know where I would find the stuff to replace it with.

    TOM: So these are metal storm doors, John?

    JOHN: No, they’re fiberglass. The metal rod that goes down the middle – there’s a metal piece that goes from top to bottom, in the middle, and that has insulation in it. And it seems to have receded at the bottom of the door and at the top of the door.

    TOM: Oh, I know what you’re talking about. Yeah, that’s the astragal, which is the piece in between. And that piece of insulation typically will pull back at the upper corner and the lower corner of the door. You should be able to find maybe not that exact type of insulation but one that’s similar, in a weatherstripping-supply center, so a hardware store or home center. You should be able to find either rubber or a heavy felt weatherstripping that could replace that original one that was part of the manufacture. Because sometimes with older doors like that, it’s hard to get the exact part.

    JOHN: Right. And the doors have no labels or anything that tells me who the manufacturer was.

    TOM: Yeah, I know. And that’s a part – that’s the piece of weatherstripping that typically does wear out first.

    So I would think about being creative. You’re not going to be able to find the exact part but you’ll find something very similar that you should be able to make work.

    JOHN: Alrighty then. I think I can handle this then.

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

    LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?

    ANDREA: My question (inaudible at 0:09:08) regarding black hold. And it’s behind my sink, between the sink and the backsplash. There’s a little bit of space. And this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. They’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.

    I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.

    TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.

    So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?

    ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said keep it very dry. “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of this white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.

    TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.

    Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.

    And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.

    As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual, but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.

    ANDREA: I’ll try that.

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

    Well, you think you’re going to miss spending some time outside when the summer is over? Well, there’s no getting around those dropping temperatures but there is a way that you can stay outdoors and enjoy your yard and patio all year round.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Pavestone’s innovative RumbleStone Blocks are do-it-yourself building blocks that stack and assemble very easily, letting you build a very customized outdoor fire pit that’s all your own. You know, it’s perfect for parties or even just spending a quiet night under the stars.

    TOM: We have a fire pit. We enjoy it throughout the entire year. It’s fantastic. And RumbleStone’s block sizes modulate and that means you can get each fire pit a unique configuration and look without the hassle or the expense of a contractor.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Basic construction adhesive is really all that you need to secure whatever configuration that you do come up with. No mortar, no cutting. I mean really, none of that’s necessary.

    TOM: And there’s an amazing number of possibilities. RumbleStone’s 3½-inch base model works with common dimensional lumber, so you can create also pergolas or benches. And they’re also ideal for really sophisticated hardscaping around outdoor grills or mailboxes or flower beds. Check it out and learn more about RumbleStone, the rustic building blocks for adults, at Pavestone.com. That’s Pavestone.com.

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

    MIKE: Hi. Yes, I was wondering – I’ve got a maple tree that’s growing right near my concrete driveway. And it’s starting to actually crack the driveway. I like the tree. It provides a nice shade for the house and keeps it cool during the summertime, so I was just wondering if I have any other options besides taking it down.

    TOM: Well, do you like the driveway?

    MIKE: It’s cracked, so I’d like to repair it. And I guess another question would be: if I do repair it, then how much rebar or how thick should it be in order to prevent a cracking in the future?

    TOM: Well, the options would be: take the tree down, which you don’t want to do; replace the driveway with one that can grow with the tree, like stone – like a stone driveway. Now, if you want to try to set up a scenario where it’s driveway versus tree then, yes, you would have to use some sort of reinforced concrete. But eventually, if that tree wants to lift it, it will lift even the reinforced concrete; it’ll lift the entire slab. It just won’t crack it.

    Now, it could take many years for that to happen but I think those are your options: get rid of the tree; replace the driveway with something like stone, which is going to give you some room to grow, so to speak, with that tree; or if you do replace the driveway with concrete, you’re going to have to reinforce the heck out of it.

    MIKE: Suggestion on the thickness of the concrete? How much?

    TOM: Probably about 5 inches minimum – 5 to 6 inches, I would think – and with woven wire mesh throughout the entire thing.

    MIKE: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit. How can we help you, Margaret?

    MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – 2 of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.

    TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.

    But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.

    So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.

    MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?

    TOM: Yes.

    MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.

    TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.

    MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.

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

    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is up next with an electrical question. How can we help you?

    DOUG: I did some remodeling work in upgrading the island. And it used to be a floating island. And now that it’s fixed to the floor, I’m considering putting electrical outlets. And I’m just curious as to what might be the best location, as well as what the code – the electrical code – might require.

    TOM: Well, are you over a basement or a crawlspace?

    DOUG: I’m over a basement.

    TOM: OK. Because what you’re going to want to do is run the wire up from the basement below, into the side of the island. Is it a standard kitchen cabinet that you’ve used to create this island with?

    DOUG: Yes.

    TOM: Because you can mount the electrical outlet, basically cut it into the side of the cabinet. You’re going to want it off the countertop, down below on the side of the cabinet. And the key safety aspect here is you want to make sure that it’s a ground-fault outlet. Those are the outlets that have the test and reset buttons in them for wet locations.

    DOUG: I did see something online concerning that.

    TOM: Yeah. So as long as you use a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet and you just bring the wire up from the basement, that’ll be the most practical way to do it. It’ll probably end up not being on the same circuit as the kitchen because, generally, what you do in a situation like that is you grab the closest power source that you can, that’s convenient and safe, and just kind of go up from there.

    DOUG: OK. Sounds good. Thanks for your help.

    LESLIE: John in Wisconsin is on the line with a washer/dryer question. Tell us what you’re thinking about there.

    JOHN: We were thinking of putting a washer and dryer in our spare bedroom. And where we want to is next to an inner wall. And I was wondering, if we vented it up through into the attic, through the insulation so it’d come out on top, would that be damaging to the – it’d be too much moisture in there or not?

    LESLIE: Now, would this still remain a guest room or would this become a new, snazzy laundry room?

    JOHN: Yeah, it’d be a laundry room, yeah.

    LESLIE: Generally, when you talk about resale value, the amount that you could possible resell your house for directly correlates to the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms that you have. So, you may want to start by talking with a local realtor who’s familiar with home values in your neighborhood, as to what the effect might be to removing a bedroom.

    Now, if you have no intention to sell and you’ve got this dream to have just a kick-butt, gigantic laundry room with perhaps a sewing area and enough ironing space, then this could be awesome for you guys.

    TOM: Now, in terms of your technical questions, obviously, you’re going to have to get hot and cold water there and you’re going to have to get electricity there for your washer and your dryer and 240-volt if it’s an electric dryer. Venting was the one question you had and can you go up through the wall into the attic? Yes. But you can’t stop there. You have to continue with that vent, John, until it gets outside. You cannot dump the warm, moist, lint-ladened dryer exhaust up into the attic; you’ve got to take it outside.

    So, what you should do is only use solid-metal piping, not flex ducting. Get it up in the attic and turn it 90 degrees and then run it across the floor, so to speak, above the joists and then out the side wall of the house, with a proper dryer-vent termination on the outside of it. And the test is when you turn the dryer on, you look outside, you should see the flap open up. You really don’t want to have any restriction. It’s very important you get that lint out, because there’s a lot of dryer fires that happen because people collect too much lint inside those pipes.

    JOHN: Oh, I see. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOHN: Yeah. Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, you spend days, months, even years of your life laying on it. So, shouldn’t you be able to spend more than just a few minutes testing out a mattress before you decide that it’s the one for you? We’re going to help you discover the mattress that you can test-drive for a guaranteed night’s sleep, 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: Well, if you’ve been in a mattress or furniture store lately, you know we’re not exaggerating when we say that a new mattress can cost thousands of dollars these days. It’s pretty crazy.

    LESLIE: Yeah. They’re super expensive and besides that, you don’t really even get a sense of what a good night rest is going to be like on a mattress by just spending a few minutes on it in a showroom.

    TOM: Well, one company has solved both those problems and more. Here to tell us more about the best night’s sleep ever, guaranteed, is Susan Chase. And Susan is the executive director of BedInABox.com.

    Hi, Susan.

    SUSAN: Hello. How are you?

    TOM: We’re excellent and this is a great topic because I’ve been shopping for a mattress lately. I was very surprised – because it’s not something you buy very frequently – about how expensive they were.

    And my executive producer told me a crazy story about going into a well-known furniture store. And the salesman asked her to lay down on the mattress and then he laid down next to her, which she felt was just super creepy. So you guys have a much better way to check out and purchase a mattress. So tell us about BedInABox.

    SUSAN: Well, BedInABox, we deliver and sell highest-quality memory-foam mattresses. And we have designed those to get your best sleep ever. The foam has been designed to achieve a deeper, more rejuvenating sleep. People that sleep on our mattresses don’t toss and turn quite as much and it’s designed to relieve pressure points, particularly hips, shoulders and elbows.

    And the neatest thing is it can be shipped directly to your door. We’ve got a 120-day guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can return it. But most of our customers keep theirs because they are sleeping so well.

    TOM: So you can actually try this out for a full four months and make sure it’s just right for you? And if it’s not, you can ship it back?

    SUSAN: That’s correct. Or we can solve an issue if it’s too soft, too firm. We have ways to help you solve those problems.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s very interesting because when I’m looking on your website, there seems to be a lot of different options. They all seem to be memory-foam or a combination of memory-foam and gel. So, how do you get a sense, just looking at what the descriptions are – I mean everything looks super comfy to me but how would I start to even think about what might work for my needs?

    SUSAN: Well, we have a comfort-comparison chart that is located on the website to kind of give you a feel of either a firmer feel, a softer feel compared to what is comfortable for you. And not every one mattress fits all. That’s why we have developed these different products to help our customers get the best night’s sleep possible.

    We also carry latex. We have just a variety of different feels. And our customer care is wonderful in helping walk you through that process of deciding what’s the best fit for you.

    TOM: Besides the mattresses, so many beds or mattresses are placed on box springs. Would you use your existing box spring or is there another base piece that would go under the BedInABox mattress?

    SUSAN: Yes, we do have foundations that have been designed for our BedInABox product. It’s made out of American hardwood. It’s made in the United States, as well. But they could use their existing platform if they had that. We recommend having just a solid surface in which to place the mattress.

    LESLIE: And how can you ensure – not to bring up the elephant in the room but I think bedbugs have been making such a big appearance in the news. So now you’re putting a mattress out there. Somebody might not like it; they send it back. What are you doing to ensure that something like that might not happen in your inventory?

    SUSAN: Well, we do have – we actually also recommend people donate a mattress to a charity. It depends on where they’re located, as far as shipping those back to us. Everything is inspected and we do not take anything back that has been used like that, so …

    TOM: So, basically, it’s not going to be reconditioned or resold. You ask your customer to donate it – which makes so much sense – to a local charity.

    SUSAN: Yes, it does. Because there are people that don’t have a mattress.

    TOM: Now, one of the things I think is noteworthy about BedInABox.com is you guys have done very well with customer reviews. And so many manufacturers die or thrive on those reviews. And you guys have done very, very well. Why do you think consumers are so hip on your mattresses? Why are they so popular?

    SUSAN: Well, we have a lot of returning customers and a lot of ours are shared by word of mouth. And we have very satisfied customers. So they share the love, they share the story of why they’re sleeping so well, that they’re getting their best night’s sleep. Just continued positive ratings, one after another, of how happy they are with their product and how happy they are with BedInABox.

    TOM: Can we talk a bit about the temperature? Sometimes you get complaints with foam mattresses that they’re too warm; they’re almost like an insulator. How do you prevent that from happening?

    SUSAN: So we’ve done several things to help with that particular problem. One is we have an infused gel in our memory-foam, which helps to alleviate some of the heat issues. We also have developed a product we’re calling CoolRest Adaptive. And basically, it’s formulated with a material that was used in space suits to keep the astronauts cool.

    We’re using that same technology in our beds to solve some of the heat issues. So, we’ve used a lot of technology, gone to a lot of sources and really thought through the issues to solve those and make our customers have the best night’s sleep ever.

    TOM: And the best news is there’s a 120-day, zero-risk trial. It’s fantastic. You have to be very confident in your product, folks to put out a guarantee like that. You can order a BedInABox at BedInABox.com. Try it out for almost four full months. And if you’re unhappy, you’ll get a 100-percent refund.

    Susan Chase, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and telling us all about BedInABox.com.

    SUSAN: Thank you so much. And contact us, please, at BedInABox.com. We’d love to help you have your best night’s sleep ever.

    TOM: Fantastic. We will. Again, that website is BedInABox.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, has the for-sale sign changed to sold at the house next door? Well, some new real estate trends can tip you off to who your new neighbor might be. We’ll share that with you, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    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: Well, it’s that time of year when you want to start to bring in your patio furniture. But one lucky caller is going to bring nature indoors, too, because we’re giving away 40 square feet of Timberchic.

    Now, this is a really unique product. It’s a peel-and-stick, reclaimed-wood veneer that can really transform any room.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s beautiful, too. Timberchic’s prefinished wood is sealed and it’s fire-retardant. And each plank’s 3M-adhesive backing is going to stick firmly and securely to almost any interior wall.

    TOM: Learn more at Timberchic.com. That’s Timberchic.com. And pick up the phone and call us for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

    GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.

    There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. It’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.

    GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.

    TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak and …

    GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.

    TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.

    GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.

    TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.

    LESLIE: Well, as you know, real estate trends are constantly in flux. And there’s one noticeable change happening all across the United States: it’s an increase in Chinese home buyers.

    TOM: That’s really interesting. You know, the National Association of Realtors has just released some numbers on this. They say that 16 percent of all international home buyers come from China and it’s a number that seems to be on the rise.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re probably wondering, what’s the reason for all of this? Well, the Chinese economy has grown more than 800 percent in 14 years and that’s clearly created many millionaires along the way.

    TOM: Yeah. And we’re seeing this especially in the metropolitan areas, like Manhattan, where 39 percent of all foreign buyers are Chinese. So are the Chinese buyers coming to your neck of the woods? Well, we’ll see. But they certainly are making an impact on the real estate industry.

    LESLIE: Terry in Tennessee needs some help with a retaining-wall problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TERRY: Yes. I have a leak problem from a drain on my back end of my house. I have a full basement and it’s heated and cool but I use it as a garage/work area, et cetera. From my garage, there’s a retainer wall that goes past the end of my drive. It’s about 20 yards long. I have two drainpipes at the bottom of that.

    And when it rains, well, mud is coming out, so undoubtedly it’s stopped up. And I’m hoping that you can give me the name of some apparatus without digging out the whole entire back of the retainer wall.

    TOM: So the mud gets from behind the retainer wall and then comes out the bottom of it on the low side and what? Runs down your driveway or something?

    TERRY: Yeah, the retainer wall is right at the end of my driveway, coming up from the street to the end of the house.

    TOM: So, the solution here would have been in the way the retaining wall was built to begin with. Because behind the retaining wall, it sounds like there’s a lot of dirt sort of pressed right up against it. The way to build this is dig down around the retaining wall, probably about 2 feet behind it. And then you’re going to have stone that is about 12 inches away from the retaining wall. Behind that, you’d have filter cloth and then behind that, you would have soil. I’m talking vertically now.

    So, up against the retaining wall, you have stone. Right behind the stone, you have filter cloth. Right behind that, you have the soil. And so, if you don’t have something like that and you’re getting a lot of dirt that’s just basically turning into mud and running through the wall, then that’s going to happen.

    Now, I guess your question is: is it really worth it to regrade the area behind the retaining wall to put in the proper type of drainage stone and so on? Or do you just put up with cleaning your driveway every once in a while? For me, if I bought into a house that was like that, I’d probably clean the driveway every once in a while.

    TERRY: Yeah. Well, it’s almost a constant thing when it rains. But when the drainpipe – of course, it was put all the way around the house: the proper drainage factor, like the drainage pipe; the gravel over the pipe; the cover over that. So it was all done that way, as far as having that done.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: It’s just, over time, it’s – the house is 17 years old. Well, it started to leak and some way or another, it filtered down into the drainpipe, which drains past my driveway or it did at one time, anyway.

    TOM: Well, you could always rerun those downspouts so that they’re not discharging that close to the house and keep them well away. That could help you a bit, as well. But it really comes down to how that soil is put together behind the wall, if that makes sense to you.

    TERRY: OK. OK. Well, that was my question and I thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, whether the goal is luxury or just convenience, you’re sure to get plenty of use out of the hottest, new home upgrade: bathtubs in bedrooms. Can your master suite handle your quick rinse or perhaps a leisurely soak? How to find out, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    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: You know, as temperatures drop, it’s time to think about getting your house ready for winter. And a good place to start is your chimney. You need to make sure it’s safe for those toasty fires that you’ll be lighting in the months ahead. If you want to get chimney and repair/cleaning tips, they’re on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And if you don’t find what you like on the home page, why not e-mail us your question or post it in the Community section? Dave from Massachusetts wrote: “What type of dirt should I use to build up the grade around my house and keep my basement dry? When it rains, the water is flowing back towards the house instead of away from it.”

    TOM: Well, the type of dirt that you use is fortunately the least expensive kind. You want to use clean fill dirt and you want to tamp it to slope downward so it drops about 6 inches over 4 feet, Dave. Now, once that grade is established, you can add a thin layer of topsoil to support grass seed or cover it with mulch.

    But you should never just use topsoil for the project, because it’s just too organic. It’s going to hold water against your house. That’s just not going to work out the way you would expect. But make sure you do that and keep your gutters clean and those downspouts also dropping at least 4 feet from the house and that basement will dry right up.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Jackie from Virginia writes: “I have a relatively new dryer with a short vent since the dryer sits against an outside wall right next to our wood deck. So all the lint hair makes a mess where we eat and entertain. How can I put some sort of extension on it? Because we do a lot of laundry.”

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you might want to direct it underneath the deck and away. You’re probably going to need to put some elbows to do that, Jacqueline. Just do this: put as few elbows in as possible. Every time you turn a duct like that 90 degrees, that’s equivalent to the resistance of 20 foot of straight run of duct. So you want to have as few elbows as possible, because that also means that the clothes are going to dry quicker.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Really. And you want to make sure, now that you’re starting with a clean vent, every so often – maybe twice a year – you want to clean that vent with sort of like a lint-eater tool. You don’t want anything building up in there so that you end up with a potential for a fire.

    TOM: Well, when you see these opulent bathrooms that are just huge and they have these really big soaking tubs in it, do you ever think that – “Hey, I’d love to have one of those in my bathroom but it’s just too small.” Well, it turns out that bathtubs are no longer just being put in bathrooms. They’re being put in master bedrooms, as well. Leslie has got the lowdown, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Think about it: whether you want to feel like royalty or maybe you just want some added convenience, why not consider adding a bathtub to your bedroom? Listen to this: as it turns out, bathtubs were very common in bedrooms in the 19th century. Ah but before you move forward with your modern take on this very old-school trend, it’s important that you make sure your bedroom is a fit for this idea.

    The first thing you need to do is hire a few plumbers. They’ve got to come in and give you some quotes on what it’s going to cost to connect your water and drainage pipes into your bedroom. And they’re also going to tell you if this is even possible for your space. I mean it might just not work out at all for you.

    Next, you want to be sure that you carefully calculate the weight of the tub. Not when it’s empty but when it is full of water and you. So you have to make sure that your bedroom floor is structurally sound and up to accommodate that extra weight. Free-standing tubs, they’re often heavier than the standard versions and it’s not a bad idea to reinforce your floor, regardless. Because the last thing you want is your nice, relaxing soak in your tub to end up in your downstairs den. Bad idea.

    And if you’ve got carpeting in your bedroom, you want to make sure that the flooring material immediately surrounding the bottom of your tub is waterproof. Because you want to keep mold and mildew out of your new, luxurious bathroom suite.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we are all at risk when emergencies strike but seniors who live alone face the most danger. We’re going to have some tips on how you can create an emergency weather plan for the senior in your life, whether that’s a parent or a grandparent or a friend or a neighbor next door. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to get that done, 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 2015 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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