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Microwave Cleaning Made Easy, Home Automation Tips and Simple, Wallet-Friendly Guest Room Facelifts

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We’re here to help you with your next home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you’re not sure how to get something done around your house, if you’re not sure if you need to hire a pro or can do it yourself, pick up the phone and call us 888-MONEY-PIT. Looking for some quick décor makeovers before the guests arrive for the holidays? We can help you with those at 888-MONEY-PIT and lots, lots more.

    Coming up this hour on the program, there is so much to do this time of year but winterizing your home should be on the top of that to-do list. If you’re not sure where to start preparing your home for those cold temperatures, we’re going to have the best spots to save cold, hard energy-cash that you may be wasting, coming up.

    LESLIE: And with the holidays just around the corner, guests will very soon be on their way. You want to make them feel right at home and wow them, too. So we’re going to share seven simple guest-room facelifts that you can do this weekend.

    TOM: And to help you do just that, one lucky caller this hour is going to win a $50 Home Depot gift card. It’s perfect for picking up LED holiday lights that last longer and get you bang for your buck. So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Justin in Rhode Island is on the line with an interesting project at a very old building. How can we help you?

    JUSTIN: I’m calling about a property that I just purchased. It is a church building that I’m in the process of converting to a residential and I have some questions about a heating system for this building.

    TOM: How can we help?

    JUSTIN: It’s an enormous building. It’s about 2,800 square foot on the top main level and about 2,600 square feet on the bottom. And in the past there, was a coal system with radiators. For about 20 years, there’s actually been no heating in the entire building and I just finished replacing a lot of the damage that was caused by that. And now, with the winter coming, I’m looking to having a heating system as soon as possible, really. And I’ve searched around quite a bit, different HVAC specialists, and they seem a little uncertain about how to heat something this size.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s more of a commercial project than a residential project.

    Now, the work that you’ve done to repair, do we know if the radiators are in good condition? What kinds of radiators are there?

    JUSTIN: Actually, there’s nothing left currently. The previous owner had removed everything.

    TOM: Oh, so you got nothing.

    JUSTIN: Everything. It’s a pretty blank slate.

    TOM: Do you want to air-condition the home, as well?

    JUSTIN: It’s not necessary, 100 percent, but it wouldn’t be bad to have that, certainly.

    TOM: So, first of all, you have to decide if you want to use a forced-air system or a hot-water system. If you use a forced-air system, you’re going to have a duct system installed that will provide both warm air and cool air in the summer, warm air in the winter. If you want to use a water system – a hot-water baseboard system or a radiator system – then that would cover the heating but not the air-conditioning. Most folks today use forced-air even though it’s a drier heat. It’s less expensive because you’re not kind of putting in two separate systems. So I think that this is completely doable.

    You probably need to speak to – not your sort of your local HVAC residential contractor but somebody who’s more experienced with commercial work to figure out the best way to get the duct system run, to make it look good, put it in such a way where it could be hidden behind ceilings or walls or featured, if that’s the kind of look you’re going for: sort of that industrial look.

    But there’s calculations that are involved to be able to tell, based on this many square feet, and more importantly, this many cubic feet that have to be heated or cooled, how many BTUs you need of heat, how many BTUs you need of cooling power to be able to make that building comfortable. And that sounds to me like you just haven’t found the right guy yet.

    JUSTIN: More recently, I’ve been kind of reading into radiant heating from the floor. The forced hot air was the first thought and it’s become somewhat of an issue because of the original tin ceilings, actually, on both levels. And we really didn’t want to disrupt without having to replace any of that again by running ductwork through the basement or through the attic. So I was really interested in what your opinion was on radiant-floor heating for something this size.

    TOM: I think radiant-floor heating is fantastic. You can do a lot with PEX piping today – cross-linked polyethylene – and it certainly is an option. But again, it’s a big project. And given the size of your home, it’s going to have to split up into many zones. Are you taking – was it a big, open space that you’re sort of dividing into rooms?

    JUSTIN: The plan is to have, really, just one enormous space. It’s about 70 by 40, roughly. Just a big, open rectangle for the most part.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean I think radiant-floor heat is a great idea but of course, that doesn’t help you on the air-conditioning side. If it comes to air-conditioning, there’s a type of system called SpacePak, which is a high-velocity, low-volume system where you have very small air-conditioning hoses, so to speak. They’re about 3 inches in diameter that are a lot easier to hide. And they’re very often used in buildings that are design-sensitive, where you don’t want to do a lot of disruption to put in big, old heating ducts.

    JUSTIN: OK. OK, great. OK. Thanks so much for your call.

    TOM: Sounds like a fun project, Justin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dorothy in California is on the line and she needs some help with a wall texture. Tell us what you’re working on.

    DOROTHY: Well, what we had – we have the wall and it was a heater there. We took the heater out; it was – it’s in the hallway. And then we finished everything and now we’re trying to find a way to kind of match the texture that was there originally.

    TOM: And what kind of texture would you – how would you describe this texture, Dorothy?

    DOROTHY: Well, it would have – like some of them will be a round shape and the other ones like an oval shape. And then they would have little, tiny circles. And then, in some cases, you would have – like they went over with a brush or something. So they’re kind of a different type of shape and sizes of circles or oval shape.

    TOM: OK. So, one of the things that you can do is you could – once that’s all patched and repaired – is you can apply some spackle to the surface of the drywall, like we used to do when it was Plaster of Paris?


    TOM: And then you can take a wallpaper brush – which is a big, heavy, bristled brush – and twist that brush with your hand. Twist it and it makes circles in that wet spackle. And if it’s a big circle, use a bigger brush. If it’s a smaller circle, use a smaller brush. And you can twist it and try to sort of match the pattern as closely as you can to what was there before. And then just paint the whole thing the same color and it’ll probably blend in pretty nicely.

    DOROTHY: Alright. Thank you so much for your help. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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 or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Later this hour, add a little shine to everything this season, including your laminate floors. We’re going to tell you how to make laminate floors look great for your next party or get-together, when The Money Pit continues 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.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will, of course, get the answer to your home improvement question or dilemma. We’re not going to judge. If you need help, we are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour.

    TOM: That’s right. We’re giving away a $50 Home Depot gift card. You can take that gift card to shop the huge selections of LED and smart-home products featured at The Home Depot. Get the lights and the latest smart-home products that best fit your home and your lifestyle, including LED holiday lights. They are so cool. Online, right now, and in store at HomeDepot.com.

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

    JOHN: I’m working on a cement fireplace cap on top of my fireplace. What I’m needing to find out is what kind of paint or some kind of sealant I can use to keep my cement fireplace cap from being weathered so fast.

    TOM: Well, generally, you don’t use a finish on that at all. You could use a masonry sealer. If you do, make sure you get one that’s vapor-permeable, because that means that the moisture can evaporate out of it, doesn’t get trapped underneath and then freeze and sort of crack. But most importantly, you want to make sure that that cement cap is pitched properly so it’ll go from the clay liner, out to the edge of the brick. And if you make it so it’s a bit thick at the edge, it’ll be a little bit more durable as that – because that’s the edge that will typically chip off and break off the quickest. Does that make sense?

    JOHN: OK. Well, I thank you very much for your advice.

    TOM: Good luck, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    ANNA: Well, I have a problem with a painted banister. We have a white staircase – white banister – painted. And after a while, we’ve been cleaning it and it gets a lot of dirt into the paint and the paint has become sticky. I need to know what to maybe seal it with or some suggestion.

    TOM: Well, at this point, if you’ve gotten kind of a sticky mess on your hands, there is no sealing. You’re going to have to go back to the …

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve worn through the finish.

    TOM: Right. You’re going to have to go back to the raw wood and get as much of that old paint off as possible. So I would use a paint stripper first. There’s a pretty good product called Rock Miracle that we like, that does a good job. Get as much of that paint off as you possibly can, then use a good-quality primer – oil-based is best – and go up from there. There’s nothing at this point – if you’ve got a goopy, sticky, yucky surface – that you should put on top of that. It’s only going to make the matters worse, Anna.

    ANNA: It’s not (audio gap), it’s more just sticky and it gets grime into it. It’s the only thing I can tell you.

    TOM: Yeah. Right. And …

    ANNA: I was hoping I could maybe save it but it’s an awful lot of stripping.

    TOM: Yeah, I understand that. But the problem is that anything you put on top of that is just going to make it worse right now. When the paint gets to be that – in that kind of condition, you’ve got to really start taking off some layers. I mean you may not have to go down to raw wood but you’ve certainly got to get off the upper couple of layers and go from there.

    ANNA: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, was hoping you had a magic but …

    TOM: Sometimes we do but not always. Sometimes, the only magic is the hard elbow grease that has to go into a project.

    ANNA: OK. And what kind of paint would you suggest? An oil-base, I know that.

    TOM: Well, for priming, yeah. Just an oil-based primer. At least you get better adhesion with it.

    LESLIE: And then it’s better to use a glossy finish, because anything with a glossy finishhas more layers of that finish in it to achieve that high gloss or a semi-gloss. And then it’s more cleanable or easily wipeable.

    ANNA: OK. Alright. Thanks so much.

    TOM: Well, smart home is certainly a hot trend in home improvement, as many of us take advantage of the technology to do things that used to be more of a manual task. Now, what makes this so attainable is the widespread proliferation of Wi-Fi connectivity. The fact that we can grab a signal to run these devices from just about anywhere now makes these smart homes really an affordable reality.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, smart-home devices and products, they’re really growing in popularity, for a lot of reasons. For example, one of the biggest benefits is having remote access to your home. So if you forget to close your garage door or turn off a light or turn down the heat, well – and we all know all of these things have happened to us on many occasions. Now you don’t have to worry. You can do all of those remotely, which is great.

    TOM: And in addition to that access-from-anywhere capability, you also have the convenience of being able to manage those lights, manage the other systems throughout your house from a single screen, basically from the comfort of your couch or your easy chair or your office chair. Anywhere you are, you can do this management.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think the other part that people forget is the security aspect. Now, you can have cameras, lights and alerts from your door locks and even smoke alarms. It can all be monitored from one place. And of course, there’s the energy savings with the latest bulbs and Wi-Fi thermostats.

    Now, more and more devices are working really well together and that’s making your home smarter, safer, more energy-efficient, convenient and comfortable.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Home Automation Tip, presented by The Home Depot, the destination for smart-home solutions and technology, with the huge variety of brands and expansive platforms both in store and online at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Like the Cree Connected 60-Watt-Equivalent LED Bulb. This bulb can be controlled from anywhere. Now, you install with a compatible hub, sync with an app and then you can control your light settings with your iPhone or your Android.

    TOM: Check it out at Home Depot or HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading out to Washington where Robert has got a stainless-steel question. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBERT: I got these stainless-steel appliances and I have started to develop small, little rust spots on them. And I’m not sure what’s causing that.

    TOM: Well, it’s because not all stainless is the same. There’s actually over 100 grades of stainless steel. And some are more prone to corrosion than others. So the fact that you have some rust on your stainless-steel appliance doesn’t surprise me.

    What you’re going to have to do with that is two things. First of all, you’re going to have to remove the rust, which you can do with steel wool or a Brillo pad, something like that. You really don’t want to use a lot of abrasion, so as little abrasion as possible. And then you have to coat it with a stainless-steel polish.

    And the polish will help seal in the surface and prevent the rust from coming back as frequently. But there is some degree of maintenance associated with stainless steel. And the stainless steel that’s of poorer quality will rust more frequently. I think a lot of folks think that stainless is stainless is stainless but it’s not. There’s a lot of different grades and some are better than others.

    ROBERT: Alright. Well, that makes sense because it’s all the same brand but it’s only happened on my stove and on the range there.

    TOM: Right, right.

    ROBERT: And it hasn’t happened to the dishwasher or the refrigerator.

    TOM: Yep, that’s right.

    ROBERT: So that does make sense. OK. Well, hey, thanks a lot.

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

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

    SANDY: Well, I have a situation where I have a plastic kind of sink that’s in my laundry room.

    LESLIE: I’ve got the same one, uh-huh.

    SANDY: I made the mistake of taking a pan that had rust on it – kind of a good bit of rust on it at the time – and I soaked it, thinking I was getting some drippings or something off of the pan. And I let it sit there for days. And then I picked the pan up and went, “Oh, cool, that was great.” Now I have a big rust stain in the bottom of my sink from that rusty pan. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh.”

    It looks to me like this is going to be the way it is unless – or until I replace that sink. I tried vinegar, soaked rags for a couple of days. I tried CLR. The vinegar-soaked rags helped a little bit.

    TOM: Did you try Bon Ami?

    SANDY: No, not yet.

    TOM: It’s a powder cleaner. And I’ve got a – well, I’ve got a Corian sink that – it’s white and it tends to stain a little bit. And I’ll tell you what, for any type of a synthetic material like that, you sprinkle that Bon Ami in and let it sit for a bit and it comes out really white. It’s almost like bleaching your sink.

    LESLIE: It’s like a gentler Comet.

    SANDY: Wow, OK.

    TOM: Yeah. I would give that a shot. I’m sure you can find it in your supermarket. Bon Ami – B-o-n A-m-i.

    SANDY: I certainly will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Roland in North Carolina on the line who needs some help removing some rust. What can we do for you today?

    ROLAND: I have some exposed I-beams in my basement that support a poured-floor garage above. And during construction, obviously they experienced some rust. And they’re 20 feet long, 12 inches high, so I’ve got about 400 square feet, if you will, of rusted steel. And I’m looking to paint them or finish them off a little bit.

    And I was looking at the Rust-Oleum products and figuring I would go through 15 or 20 cans just to cover that amount of space. So I was wondering if you guys had a better idea and how much prep I should do. Should I just – they haven’t rusted since the house has been finished but it does have a coating of rust on there. Is there a better way? And how should I be concerned about prepping them before painting?

    TOM: Well, a light sanding would be important to remove any of that loose rust – that loose surface rust. And it’s not deep; it’s just on the surface.

    ROLAND: That’s right.

    TOM: And then using a Rust-Oleum primer would be the next step. Not the surface paint but the primer. Now, instead of using individual spray cans, why don’t you buy the gallons of Rust-Oleum and rent a sprayer if you have to – a paint sprayer from a rental yard? It would make it super easy.

    ROLAND: Right. That’s the best way to go?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, you’re inside. And using a can of spray paint is not going to make you feel very well and it’s certainly going to make the house stink up a storm. While certainly easy for application, it’s not really the best approach for an interior project. If you’re using regular paint through a sprayer – as long as you protect everything and cover up your ceiling from overspray and the floor, et cetera – you’re going to be in great shape.

    TOM: What I like to do is to try to depressurize a room when I’m spraying in it. So how would you do that? Very simply. You’d open up a window, stick a window fan in it, make sure it points out and then open up another window or door on the other side of the room and get some cross-ventilation. This way, you’re always moving the air outside the house, replacing it with fresh air.

    ROLAND: Sounds good. Is there any concern with the rust coming back through?

    TOM: Not if you prime it. If you don’t prime it, it can definitely come right through. But if you prime it, especially with a rust-inhibiting primer like Rust-Oleum, it’s going to kind of lock that in place. And as long as you don’t have any kind of serious leakage or something like that, I don’t expect it to come back through.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, there is one part of your home that gets a lot of use without much thought. We’re going to tell you how you can find the potential danger and stay safe on your stairs, coming up.

    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 LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, if you need to tackle a project, nothing is more frustrating than to find yourself without the proper tools, especially once you’re sort of in the middle of it and don’t want to have to run back to your shop, your garage, wherever you store that stuff. The way I solve that problem is I always take my STANLEY Mechanics Tool Set with me, because it really has everything I need in it.

    Here to tell us about the latest development in that product line is Tom Chang. Tom is the director of product management for Stanley Black & Decker.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM CHANG: Nice to be here.

    TOM: And I really do mean that. It’s kind of a go-tool set for me because the way you guys have assembled the tools in the Mechanics Set, it really has everything that I need. And I’m never surprised by not having the tool that I need when I’m in the middle of a project. Is that the intent?

    TOM CHANG: Yeah, that’s right. I mean we usually have a large selection of products within our Mechanics Tool Sets, which includes ratchets, sockets, wrenches, screwdriver bits and screwdriver handles, as well as some extensions and even some deep sockets if you need it.

    TOM: So, while I use these primarily for home improvement projects, I guess it’s also a good product if you do a lot of work on your automobile or say, your RV.

    TOM CHANG: Yeah, that’s right. If you have any type of basic jobs that you want to do on your car to tighten down your dashboard or something’s come loose on your bike, that would be a great project for that. Also, on your RV, it’s really – the sockets are mixed with a huge variety of sizes so that you only need to carry one set at any time.

    TOM: Now, I’ve used socket sets where after a short period of time, they sort of break down internally. That’s never, ever happened to me with one of your products. Talk to me about the quality that goes into delivering the strength and durability of the STANLEY Mechanics Tool Sets.

    TOM CHANG: Yeah, that really talks about the Stanley brand, because the Stanley brand always offers high-quality tools at a great value. Our STANLEY Mechanics Tool Sets are made from chrome-vanadium steel, which is one of the highest grades in steel that you could use for mechanics tools.

    TOM: Now, one of the frustrating moments when you need to use a socket set – especially if you’re trying to loosen a bolt or a fastener that’s really stiff, really hard, kind of really stuck – is when the socket slips off of the head. Yeah, not only is it frustrating, you can bang your knuckles and get hurt. You guys have built some technology into your products to stop that from happening. Can you explain how that works?

    TOM CHANG: Yes, definitely. So, this is what we call the MaxDrive Technology. And we have that on all of our sockets, both standard and deep sockets. The MaxDrive Technology is a technology that allows the socket to grab more onto the sides of the bolt versus the corners. And that really helps you prevent any kind of slippage and rounding of the bolts.

    TOM: That’s fantastic.

    We’re talking to Tom Chang – he’s the director of product management for Stanley Black & Decker ­- about the STANLEY Mechanics Tool Sets.

    Now, you’ve got a number of combinations of these products. What’s going to be new, say, coming up in the fourth quarter?

    TOM CHANG: So, we actually have nine new sets, ranging from $15 all the way to $80. And our biggest set is a 173-piece set that includes all 3 drive sizes, which is ¼-inch, 3/8- and ½-inch. Within these sets, we also have two home improvement sets or home repair kits that have a mixed variety of tools. And one includes a hammer, some pliers, screwdrivers and hex keys, really ideal for putting furniture together and different jobs – small jobs – around the house.

    Another one, which is a larger set, a 51-piece mixed-tool set, which also includes a knife, a tape measure and some sockets, ratchets and a screwdriver.

    TOM: So what about a warranty? I think that that’s so important to consumers today. They want to make sure that the company’s really standing behind the product. What is the warranty on the STANLEY Mechanics Tool Set?

    TOM CHANG: So the STANLEY Mechanics Tool Sets actually come with a limited lifetime warranty. And what that means is if there’s any issues with the product, simply call the 1-800 number or go to StanleyTools.com and send us (inaudible at 0:24:11).

    TOM: Doesn’t get any easier than that. Tom Chang, the director of product management for Stanley Black & Decker, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the latest in STANLEY Mechanics Tools.

    TOM CHANG: My pleasure. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, are you hosting family and friends this holiday season? Well, whether they’re staying a night or a week, make sure they feel right at home and wow them with a few special touches, too. We’ve got easy facelifts for your guest room that will make it a stay to remember, later this hour.

    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 we’ve got a $50 Home Depot gift card to send out to one lucky caller who picks up the phone and reaches us at 888-MONEY-PIT and asks their home improvement question. Make that you. Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, you know what’s perfect for this time of year? You can use that gift card to get some holiday LED lighting. There’s so many cool, new technologies. You can have a whole dancing-light performance, all right on Home Depot’s gift card. Go check it out.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?

    MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.

    TOM: Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?

    MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?

    MARY: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside, looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.

    We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to stop a leaking basement” and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.

    And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETEhas a patching-compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.

    Then, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.

    MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?

    TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff.

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

    LESLIE: Well, talk about unappetizing. All that splattered, hardened food that collects in your microwave, it’s enough to make any stomach turn and enough to leave you feeling embarrassed if your guests open that microwave door.

    TOM: Well, definitely. But if you love your microwave oven’s convenience but you hate its hard-to-clean mess and odor, you want to try Glisten Microwave Cleaner with Foaming Power. It gets rid of both by taking the mess out of microwaves, literally.

    LESLIE: I mean my gosh, guys, it’s so super easy to use. You place a foam scrubber in your microwave and heat it for the amount of time determined by your microwave’s size. Then, let that foaming scrubber sit for three minutes afterwards. You can use it easily to wipe away loosened splatter and buildup on the microwave walls, tray, floor, everywhere. Could not be easier.

    TOM: Use Glisten Microwave Cleaner, just before company arrives, for a spotless microwave interior and afterward to clean up the remnants of even the messiest meal. Learn more at GlistenCleaners.com.

    LESLIE: Brad in Tennessee is on the line with a home that probably has the best practical joke already built into it: you flush the toilet, the shower gets cold. Why do you want to change that?

    BRAD: Well, because my four-year-old son seems to think it’s more of a joke than it’s a real thing.

    TOM: Than his parents?

    BRAD: Yes. That is the problem.

    TOM: Alright. So the shower valve itself, right? There’s an easy solution to this, first of all, Brad. It requires you to change the shower valve into something called a pressure-balanced valve. Now, I know you don’t have a pressure-balanced valve because your water temperature’s changing when you draw off water, in this case, by flushing the toilet. It would probably also happen if you ran other fixtures in the house. But it’s because you have a differential in the pressure or the mix, as you say, between the hot and the cold.

    What a pressure-balanced valve does is it keeps that mix the same and regardless of what happens to either the cold-water supply or the hot-water supply. So you can have more or less of either temperature of water but the ratio of the mix together doesn’t change. You may get less pressure when you flush that toilet after this valve’s installed but it won’t be a shock, OK? It won’t change the temperature dramatically. That’s what a pressure-balanced valve does and it sounds like you don’t have one and that would be the solution.

    BRAD: Excellent, excellent. Well, I will run out and get one.

    TOM: Alright. It’s a bit of a project. You may not be able to install it yourself. It’s pretty much you have to re-plumb the shower valve there. You may need a plumber to help you but it definitely will solve this.

    BRAD: OK. Well, excellent. We found out where to start now and where the joke ends.

    TOM: Alright, Brad. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we are confident that your four-year-old will find something else equally amusing to bother his parents with.

    BRAD: I’m sure he will. Thank you so much, guys.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in Georgia on the line calling in with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?

    ANN: What happens is there is an excessive amount of dust in the house.

    TOM: OK.

    ANN: I mean it’s huge. So I just rake my finger across a table and you can see long particles, long hair-type – it’s not hair but it’s like long string. And it’s really, really thick. And when the pollen was really bad down here in the spring, when it was yellow pollen outside, you could – it was in the house.

    TOM: Let me ask you some basic questions, Ann. First of all, you’re talking about a fan. What kind of heating system do you have in this house to begin with?

    ANN: It’s a heating pump.

    TOM: OK. It’s forced-air. It’s a forced-air system, right?

    ANN: Yes, yes.

    TOM: Alright. So, the best type of air-filtration system would be an electronic air cleaner. An electronic air cleaner would be installed on the return side of the air handler, so it would clean the air as it goes back to the air handler. And good-quality electronic air cleaners can take out all of that dust, all of that pollen, right down to virus-size particles.

    Most of us rely on the fiberglass filters, which are very inexpensive; they cost maybe $1 apiece. But they don’t do very much, you know? We call them “pebble stoppers” because everything else goes right through them.

    So, if you really want to clean up your house and reduce the amount of dust, you simply need a better filtration system on your HVAC system. And so, an electronic air cleaner would be that. You could take a look at models by Trane or by Aprilaire. And there are a number of others, as well.

    But don’t be confused by electrostatic versus electronic. You want an electronic air cleaner because these work. And some of them charge the particles so that they have sort of magnetic attraction to the filter material. Some of them combine electronic cleaning with filtration cleaning. But either of those two brands – either Trane or Aprilaire – make very good-quality electronic air cleaners. And you’ll see a huge difference. But it’s the kind of thing that you have to have an HVAC technician professionally install. It’s not a do-it-yourself project.

    ANN: OK. Sounds great. OK. Thanks so much.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, if you’re shopping for a dishwasher, how you ever even wondered what the difference is between a dishwasher that’s plastic inside and one that’s stainless steel? Well, the answer can help you shop for dishwashers smarter and maintain yours better, too. Get the details, after this.

    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 LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, from running down them Christmas morning, to dragging boxes up and down them all season, your stairs get a lot of use over the holidays. That’s why it’s important to make sure they’re safe. We’ve got tips on securing and fixing your stairs, your banisters and your spindles on our website, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post a question just like Sherry did. And Sherry writes: “I’m shopping for a new dishwasher and I’m curious. What’s the benefit of a stainless-steel dishwasher interior over a plastic interior?”

    TOM: Well, generally, stainless steel in dishwasher interiors are preferred over plastic for a couple of reasons: first of all, they’re generally quieter than plastic, they can be more energy-efficient and they can endure higher temperatures, which means your dishes can get a better cleaning process.

    But they do have drawbacks. You’re going to pay more for stainless steel, for that durability is going to cost you. There is a risk of rusting over time. Even though it’s stainless, it depends on the quality of the stainless. Some stainless steel will rust. And the hard-water stains, the calcium buildup on stainless steel is enough to drive some people really batty, because it does stick to it, it does show up there, it does need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

    There’s a great product that can help with that, though. It’s called Dishwasher Magic. Simply put it in, run the cycle and it will clean those hard-water stains. But if you had the choice, I would probably always recommend you go stainless over plastic. I just think it’s going to be more durable in the long run.

    LESLIE: And I feel like it looks a little bit more industrial, so that makes me think it’s cleaning better. Even though I know it is, it just sort of does that to my brain.

    TOM: Well, the holidays are on their way, which means for many of us, the houseguests are not too far behind. Now, even on a tight budget, guest rooms can add a memorable touch to any stay. That’s why Leslie has got tips for punching yours up easily and inexpensively, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, here’s the thing about guest rooms, guys: they should offer the simple touches of home but also a dash of luxury for friends and family who are spending time on the road.

    Now, one of the easiest ways to add both is with matching towels used exclusively for your guests. Not the mish-mosh Minion ones that you use for your kids. Beautiful, clean, white towels only for your guests. And you want to lay those out each night in their room. Soaps, shampoos, lotions, even if you just collect them from your own hotel visits, those can really give an added dose of luxury, as well.

    Now, fresh, clean walls, they’re the mark of any great hotel. So make it a standard for your guest room, too. You can add a coat of bright, fresh color or simply touch up the scuffs before the guests arrive. Magic Erasers do a fantastic job of doing that. But you want to make sure to do it long enough before their arrival so that if you are painting, the room doesn’t smell like fresh paint anymore.

    Now, bedside tables, they are key for travel items like keys, tickets, phones, phone chargers. If you don’t have one already, add a table or ideally, two. And that should include plenty of space on top for all their odds and ends.

    And finally, you want to make sure that their bedding is fresh and clean and top it off with pillows and more pillows and even more pillows and a nice, cozy blanket. Whether they’re simply decorative, it gives guests something to lean on while they’re reading or relaxing. And pillows just really are a beautiful mark of a luxurious stay. I always know I judge my hotel by how fantastic my pillows are. So, really, lay down on the floor in the store if you have to but pick out a good pillow for your guests.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you searching in vain for a little extra living space? Well, the answer might be just beneath your feet. We’ll have tips on what you need to know before converting a basement to living space, 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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