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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (promo/theme song)

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement project, need some help with your do-it-yourself dilemma, call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Our motto: you can never have too many power tools.

    LESLIE: So Tom, you know, this is really the time of the year when everybody gets outside and starts enjoying their outdoor spaces. But while we’re out there, we’re constantly being invaded in our personal space by bugs and mosquitoes and beetles in our gardens. And so many of our callers are dealing with the same issues. And a lot of our listeners – you know, everybody out there in Money Pit land – are looking for a greener and natural way to get rid of these unwanted pests without harming the flower bed or the family members or the family pet. And did you know that you could repel mosquitoes with basil or you could keep cobwebs from forming in the eaves or in the corners of your houses with white vinegar and coconut oil?

    TOM: I did know that because you read the same book I did. This hour, we’re going to talk to Dr. Myles Bader, known as the bug doctor and author of 1001 All Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property. You want to get rid of flies, you want to get rid of mosquitoes, you want to get rid of ants, you don’t want to put chemicals down? We’ve got the solutions coming up later on.

    And we’ve got a great project to give away that’s going to help you really finish off your home with some super nice crown moulding. It’s called the Quick Clips Kit by Focal Point. We’re going to give away this kit that helps you install crown moulding in a 16×16 foot room without all of the difficulty of figuring out all the angles. It’s a clip-in system and it works great. We’re going to give it away to one caller to 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: (singing) Let’s do the time warp again. (laughing) Michelle in Texas is stuck in the 70’s. Ooh! Tell us about it.

    MICHELLE: I bought a house about 1972, circa. And the wallpaper in the bathroom is the foil with the yellow flowers with the matching shower curtain with the little balls on it.

    TOM: So it matched your bell-bottom jeans and your love beads, huh?

    MICHELLE: Love beads, yeah. (laughing) And I want to just paint over the wallpaper but I don’t think that would be wise. So I’ve got to strip it but it’s probably been there – what? – since 1972. That’s more years than I’ve probably been alive.

    LESLIE: Well, that … well, geez. Make us feel old. (laughing) Well, that’s probably going to work for you because the glue’s actually had time to dry out a little bit over this time and it might not be gripping as well as it should be anyway. So the best thing – and I … don’t go with that paper tiger. I always find it makes a bigger mess than it’s worth. But if you get a steamer … just rent a steamer and really take your time and steam those surfaces. It will moisten that glue enough that you’ll be able to peel it away.

    Now Tom, once the wallpaper is off and everything is sort of moistened, she should be able to just take like a big scraper and really get that glue off the wall.

    TOM: Yeah, I think so. Scrape it off and then, the other important step to not forget to do is to simply make sure that you prime those walls with a primer. You want to prime them so you have a good surface to work because you don’t … you don’t want to paint right on top of that old wallpaper paste. You don’t know what you’re dealing with there. Prime it because of the good, even surface and you’ll be good to go.

    MICHELLE: Sounds like a plan. Too bad we can’t get rid of the avocado green toilet and matching tub. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Hey, work with it. I bet it’s kind of cool. Pick some colors that go really nicely with it. Think about it. Make it work for you.

    MICHELLE: Yeah, I think I’ll probably go with some kind of sage maybe or lighter green. I don’t know yet. We’re still working on it.

    LESLIE: Make it the Zen earthy bathroom.

    MICHELLE: Now that’s a good idea.

    TOM: And then just find a mood ring to match.

    LESLIE: Hey.

    MICHELLE: Yeah, exactly. (laughing) Well, everything comes back around, don’t they say?

    LESLIE: What’s old is new again. And you know what? That foil wallpaper – there’s a vintage wallpaper shop in New York City and they sell that by the boat loads for like $90 a roll.

    MICHELLE: Ah, I’m in the wrong area. (laughing) Well, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome.

    MICHELLE: I really appreciate your show.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alicia in Tennessee has got a shower question. What can we do for you?

    ALICIA: The flow of the shower is interrupted whenever water elsewhere in the house is turned on.

    TOM: OK.

    ALICIA: And there’s just a small stream of water that comes out of the shower even on a good day. One thing that we have done, we have soaked the showerhead and removed it before and we can’t find any kind of clog or anything that …

    TOM: How old is the showerhead … the valves? Have they been replaced any time in the recent past?

    ALICIA: You mean the actual head of the shower?

    TOM: Yeah, the actual shower itself. Yeah.

    ALICIA: No. And any … this problem started … we had our house replumbed and …

    TOM: OK, see, this is what I’m getting at. Because what I think has happened here is I think you have a water saving showerhead. And built into the showerhead there’s a water reducer. Here’s a … here’s a test. When you take that showerhead off and throw on the shower so just the pipe is kind of sticking out of the wall …

    ALICIA: Right.

    TOM: … does the water come out full blast when you do that?

    ALICIA: No.

    TOM: Alright. Well then the problem is not with the showerhead. Alright, rewind. (laughing) Let’s come up … come up with another thing.

    I think then, probably, the next step might be the diverter valve.


    TOM: How old is your house?

    ALICIA: Thirty years old. Uh-huh.

    TOM: ’76? OK, so you probably have copper plumbing. And you’re on city water or you’re on well?

    ALICIA: We do have a well.

    TOM: OK.

    ALICIA: We do live in the country…

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    ALICIA: … so we have a well.

    TOM: And is the pressure problem only with the shower or is it really with the whole house?

    ALICIA: It’s only with the shower.

    TOM: Well, there’s got to be a restriction somewhere and it’s probably, if it’s just the showerhead, it’s probably in the diverter. So you might need just to replace the faucets in the tub/shower area and that might solve it.


    TOM: If it’s only limited to that one area …

    ALICIA: Yes.

    TOM: … it’s got to be in the valves that are controlling that area. Alright, Alicia? That doesn’t have to be an expensive job. It should be just a … one trip for a plumber should be able to knock that out.

    LESLIE: Bill in Ohio listens to The Money Pit on the Discovery Radio Network. And you have a suspicion that you might have asbestos in your home. How do you know?

    BILL: I know for a fact it’s asbestos. It says it right on it. It’s asbestos sheeting. It’s located in a furnace room.

    TOM: OK, so it’s a … it’s a solid asbestos material?

    BILL: Right. It looks a lot like a crete board (ph) would.

    TOM: That’s cement asbestos.

    LESLIE: And that should be OK because the asbestos is contained within the cement, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s correct. As long as you don’t disturb it. But that’s a relatively benign form of it. It’s when it’s on the … like a loose wrap that’s around the ducts or around the heating pipes that we get more concerned. But when it’s an asbestos tile product, which it sounds like what that is, then there’s not as much of an issue. That stuff is so durable, they use to use it as roof shingles and it would really never wear out. It would just … you know, it would look bad from exposure to the weather but it really is quite durable. That material is held inside of a binder, like Leslie said, so exposure is not an issue.

    BILL: OK. What about removal? Is that something I can do myself?

    TOM: If you remove it very, very carefully and if you use a proper respirator. What you want to try to avoid doing is breaking it up. If it’s …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but if it starts to crumble, I say call in a pro.

    TOM: If it’s nailed … if it’s a … if it’s a tile sheet and it’s nailed, I’ll give you a trick of the trade. Don’t try to get a pry bar under it and lift it out. Take a nail set and drive the nails all the way through the asbestos sheeting …

    BILL: OK.

    TOM: … because that sort of pierces it. It punctures it and then the tiles will loosen up and pull off. That’s also a good way to …

    LESLIE: And you’re not disturbing the tiles too much so you’re not causing that much of a … an exposure.

    TOM: Exactly. That’s also a good way to replace asbestos shingles if you ever have to do that. You punch the nail through; you don’t try to pry it out.

    LESLIE: James in Rhode Island needs a new garage door. What can we do for you?

    JAMES: We’re replacing a wooden garage door of a one stall car and we’re replacing it with a steel door with double windows. The problem is the opener – the motor – is over 21 years of age. And I had a discussion within the family … should we replace it with a new motor while we’re doing the new job. And I have a feeling that we should.

    TOM: Well, I would agree with you, James. You’re absolutely right. And the reason you want to replace that is not because the one that you have there is not working right. But because there have been so many safety improvements in the last 20 years.

    It used to be that garage door openers would either open or close. The problem was if there was an obstruction, they would keep going down and could possibly crush you or anything that’s underneath it. Then there were improvements where they were required to have a reversing mechanism so if there was pressure on the garage door because something was stuck in there, it would reverse. Then there was another revision where now they have electric eyes or other types of sensors that will not allow them to go down.

    Today, the garage doors have multiple safety precautions built in. They have track sensors; they have door sensors; they have electric eyes; and they’re going to be a lot safer if you replace it right now. So it’s a good idea to take a 20 plus-year-old garage door opener and replace everything – all of the hardware, all of the tracks, everything – with new stuff today. Because it’s just going to be a lot safer moving forward.

    And also, the security of your home is improved, too, because now, the garage door openers are all made with what’s called rolling code technology, which has like billions of billions of combinations of codes. So no one going up and down the street with their garage door opener could mistakenly open yours and a crook couldn’t get in that way. And the old doors are surprisingly easy to break into that way, just by having some of the openers that sort of spin the spectrum of codes and find one that opens you up. With rolling code technology that all these new doors are using, it’s impossible.

    So for all those reasons, I think it’s a good idea for you to replace that garage door opener today.

    Well Leslie, summer is here and it’s hot, hot, hot in most places. If you’ve not gotten to central air conditioning yet, box fans are a great way to circulate and keep your air cool.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Up next, tips to make sure your box fan cools you quickly and efficiently.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you can’t afford central air, it’s not installed yet, you’re dealing with those fans, there are some ways to make sure that they’re working efficiently.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Your box fan. You love it until it stops working. Well, here are some steps to take to achieve a longstanding relationship with your box fan. Are you ready? And make sure folks that you unplug it first. Don’t do any of these things when it’s plugged in. I know it sounds like common sense but you’ve just got to say it. Alright.

    Make sure that all the dust on the blades – anything, even a little bit is going to cause some friction and reduce the air flow, so keep those blades of your fan clean. And what you want to do is you want to remove the grill and vacuum all of the blades, then clean them with soap and water or a window cleaner and then vacuum the dust out of the motor and the bearing holes on the back side. And lastly, spray a little bit of lubricant – such as a WD40 – in every hole and you will find that this will run tip-top shape and keep you cool all summer long.

    TOM: And that is just one of the many tips you’ll find every week in The Money Pit’s free e-newsletter, available right now at MoneyPit.com. Sign up because coming up, this week, we’re going to have some cheap tricks to cool your house. We’re going to talk about fans; we’re going to talk about windows; we’re going to talk about plantings (ph); we’re going to talk about all ways that you can keep cool this summer. Do you know what kind of blinds you need to make sure the sun reflects back outside? Sign up for the Money Pit e-newsletter and learn in the next edition.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And this hour, we’ve got a great prize we’re going to give away to one caller who asks their question on air and also gets a wonderful answer. You’re going to get a great prize. It’s a Quick Clips Crown Moulding kit. And anybody who’s installed crown moulding knows it can be a tricky and sometimes misunderstanding project. But not so with the Quick Clips Kit. It’s going to be everything you need for a 16×16 room. It’s worth 250 bucks but it could be yours for free. So call in now.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Gary in Michigan listens to The Money Pit on WJML. And what’s your problem? What’s going on?

    GARY: Listen, I put a chip in our … we have a brand new American Standard Americast sink. And I put like a quarter inch chip in right by the top of the rail of my kitchen sink.

    TOM: So you’re in trouble.

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: You’re in big trouble.

    GARY: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah, you betcha. (laughing) Anyway, it’s like a $600 sink and I’m looking for a way to repair that.

    LESLIE: Well, is it a porcelain sink or is it a cast iron with a glaze on top?

    GARY: It’s a glazed sink. It’s like cast iron; it’s called Americast, made by American Standard.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a great product, actually, and it’s a one-step product. I know Tom and I were talking about sometimes if you get a chip in something like that, you just might use a paint; but especially if you’re dealing with a deep gash in it. It’s called Porc-A-Fix, which is P-o-r-c-A-Fix. And what it is, is it comes in every shade of any manufacturer’s color that a sink was ever made in, in the past 25 years. And they have a variety of American Standard colors that they list as exactly what the color of American Standard product would call it. And it’s a one-step process and you just brush it on and it will last forever and ever and it doesn’t yellow and it even retains a high gloss.

    GARY: Oh, really?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So that could save your rear.

    GARY: I’m hoping. (laughing) I did it. I admitted it right off the bat too, you know?

    TOM: Well, that’s most important, right?

    GARY: Yeah. And that kind of helped a little bit but the chip is kind of deep. Was it … is this something that I’m going to have to build up and coat?

    TOM: You know, it’s always a good idea – even though some of these products say it’s one step – if it’s a deep one, you want to build it up. Because, generally, the viscosity is such that it’s so loose it’ll sort of sink in to …

    LESLIE: Yeah. This way, each layer adheres better to the layer beforehand.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Almost like with an automotive repair paint. You want to build it up.

    GARY: I’m going to try that. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright. We’re hoping we got you out of trouble.

    GARY: Oh, I … I’m always in trouble; it doesn’t matter anyway. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Ah! Good luck with that one!

    TOM: Gary, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Don in Wisconsin, tell us about these cracks in the floor.

    DON: Well, we built just a couple of years ago – or had someone build for us – and you know, a month or so after we got … we moved in and everything, I just … I just noticed several – I don’t know; three, maybe four – long cracks in the basement floor. We don’t have any kind of water problem and I don’t expect we ever will. We live on the side of … side of a hill kind of. I’m just curious as to whether I should be concerned about, you know, little cracks like that.

    LESLIE: Well, are they fairly wide or are they narrow? Tell us about the crack itself?

    DON: Well, they’re narrow but they travel a long way. There’s probably three of them. When they poured the basement, they cut some joints in them so that it could crack but it’s (inaudible).

    TOM: (laughing) The engineered crack system failed. (laughing) And it cracked wherever it wanted to anyway.

    Yeah. You know, not much to worry about with those (inaudible) …

    LESLIE: Especially since it’s such a new home. It seems like it’s just settling in.

    TOM: Well, what’s happened is the concrete has shrunk. As it’s cured, it’s shrinking and that’s what’s probably doing these cracks. Most important thing is to remember that this concrete basement floor is not load-bearing. It’s not holding up anything; it’s just giving you a surface to work from. So, not a whole lot to worry about.

    LESLIE: It’s making it so it’s not a root cellar.

    TOM: Yeah, (inaudible).

    DON: Yeah, right.

    TOM: Yes …

    DON: But do you think I should … should I try to, you know, fill the crack or …?

    TOM: You could. You could caulk them. If you want to … if you want to paint the floor, use a paintable caulk and caulk them first. And then … and then paint the floor and you’d be done. It’s really not much to worry about whatsoever.

    LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you’re thinking about a drop ceiling. Tell us about it.

    LINDA: Yes. I’m looking to install a drop ceiling – acoustical ceiling – in my basement. And I was wondering if you had any tips or ideas on how to do that in the most painless manner.

    LESLIE: Well, actually, drop ceilings … you know, it doesn’t have to be those foamy looking acoustic tiles anymore. There’s some great new advancements in that; particularly by a company called Armstrong. And if you go to their website – Armstrong.com – you can see a variety of different tiles. So if you’re looking for something different, that’s a good place to start.

    TOM: And the insulation itself is fairly modular. You know, the secret is simply getting that first track up around the outside of the walls. And laser levels have come so far, today, that that really is the easiest way to do it. With a laser level, you can very easily get a level line all the way around the wall so that you get that track in the first place. And after that, Linda, it’s just a matter of snapping the whole thing together. It’s as easy as putting together LEGO blocks.

    LESLIE: Jim in Nevada listens to The Money Pit on KBZZ. And you’ve got squeaky floors. Tell us about it.

    JIM: Our house was built in 1939. Mostly in the high-traffic areas. I’m not sure if it’s coming from the subfloor, which is … I think they’re like 1×6 planks like, between that and the joist or if it’s coming from between the subfloor and the hardwood floor itself.

    LESLIE: Well, have you been walking around and sort of trying to zone in on where the squeaks are coming from, stepping carefully?

    JIM: Yeah, we’ve been walking around and, like I say, mostly in the high-traffic areas. We have like a half basement and I’ve been walking down there to see if there’s any gaps between the subfloor and the joists and I’m not seeing a lot there. Nothing.

    TOM: Well, regardless of whether or not it’s between the subfloor and the joist …

    LESLIE: It’s happening.

    TOM: … or the subfloor and the hardwood floor, in either case it’s being caused by movement in the floor. And if you can arrest that movement, you should be quieting those joists.

    Now there’s two ways to do this. The easiest way is if you can locate the floor joist and you can do that with a stud finder so you’ll know exactly where … you know, you know which direction they’re going but you can figure out exactly where it is. Then what you want to do is pilot hole a very small hole in that wood – in that hardwood – so that you can drive a finish nail in there. The best kinds of finish nails are like #10 or #12, hot-dipped galvanized nails because they have sort of a very rough surface and they tend to hold really well. And you put them in at a slight angle and then you drive the head right through the surface of the hardwood floor so all you have now is this little dot that has to be filled in. And you can fill them in with one of those wax pencils that Minwax makes or something like that.

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: And you’ll have to do that in a couple of places.

    Now, the second way to do this is to drill and screw it down. But then, of course, you’re going to have to use a plug in that floor …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and that’s going to require a little bit of refinishing. But the idea here is to secure the floor so I would take the noisiest, loosest areas and work on that kind of one nail at a time. And if you do it right, you won’t see the nails once they’re installed and it will quiet down that floor quite nicely.

    Well, we all know that our kitty cats love their catnip. But did you know that there’s a summer pest out there – one that you just would love to get rid of – that hates catnip and putting it around will help keep this pest away from your house.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Find out how to keep your next backyard event itch-free. The bug doctor is in, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We promise not to bug you in this segment (laughing) because standing by, we’ve got the bug doctor on the line.

    LESLIE: That’s right. This is going to be a very important interview because three billion pounds of chemical pesticides are used in and around homes in the U.S. each year and that’s a lot of chemicals. But there are actually natural things that you probably have in your pantry or your garage or your bathroom that you can use instead of these chemicals to get rid of just about any unwanted pests.

    TOM: That’s right. And Dr. Myles Bader has literally written the book on home-grown bug control. His books have sold over three million copies. He’s joining us now with some all-natural tips. The bug doctor himself.

    Dr. Bader, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    MYLES: Oh, thank you very much for having me.

    TOM: Well, with all of this interest in going green, becoming more natural in all the things we do, it seems to me that a lot of the advice that folks like yourselves give out is really kind of a throwback to what our grandparents used to do and our ancestors used to do when they didn’t have all these nasty chemicals. Is … are some of these tricks of the trade that have been around for centuries?

    MYLES: Oh, they’ve been around forever and I’ll never do another book like this. It took 10 years to accumulate (laughing) all-natural solutions. You know, it’s easy to come up with a poison or a pesticide. But to come up with an all-natural solution that actually works was really very difficult.

    LESLIE: Well, what are some of the things we might find, say, in our refrigerator, that’ll help us enjoy our outdoors a little bit more?

    MYLES: Well, you know, maybe not in the refrigerator but … not a lot in the refrigerator but there’s a lot of things around the house; like vinegar or basil. Lot of … lot of herbs. Lot of natural things. Just like a lint roller. You take the … you know, use a lint roller on your pet when they first come in from outside to get rid of the fleas, ticks and eggs.

    TOM: Now, there’s a good idea.

    MYLES: Oh, that’s great. I …

    TOM: I can use that on my dog. (laughing)

    MYLES: Well, it works really good. You can use it on your animals. It works on dogs, cats. Works really well. And the book …

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re … when you’re doing something – I’m sorry, Dr. Bader – with any sort of herbs, is it better to use fresh herbs or can you use the kind you find in the supermarket in the jar?

    MYLES: Well, fresh herbs will work a little bit better but you can actually use the ones in the supermarket and they work really well. There’s a lot of oils you can use, too; like oil of peppermint. But you need to get that from a health food store. If you … you can use that on rodents. You’ll never see another rat or mouse or squirrel around your birdfeeder if you use oil of peppermint.

    TOM: Hmm.

    MYLES: Put some in a spray bottle with water, spray the area around the birdfeeder; no more squirrels or chipmunks.

    TOM: Well, Dr. Bader, the summer is here and there’s a lot of mosquitoes flying out; they’re going to start hatching and attacking us very soon. How about some natural mosquito remedies.

    MYLES: Well, what you can do for mosquitoes and flies in the house is use the herb basil. Take some basil, put it in a porous cloth bag and hang a couple of bags around the house; like a muslin bag or cheesecloth bag.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    MYLES: And you’ll never see another fly or mosquito in your home. Now, if you want to activate it even more, put some catnip in there and that’ll activate it more. But you can’t do that if you own a cat. (laughing) It’ll drive the cat crazy and they’ll need counseling. So … and if you’re outside, if you want to keep the mosquitoes and flies off you, use a dryer sheet – antistatic dryer sheet. Rub some … rub one on your skin, put one in your pocket. If you want to go out fishing, put one under your hat. Won’t grow hair (laughing) but it’ll keep the mosquitoes and flies away.

    LESLIE: Can you also rub one on your pet?

    MYLES: You can rub one any place. (laughing)

    TOM: We’re talking to Dr. Myles Bader. He’s known as the bug doctor and author of 1001 All-Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property. And club the bugs and kill the critters. So …

    LESLIE: You know, Dr. Bader, we get a lot of calls, on this show, about moles infesting people’s yards. And they’re always looking for natural remedies. So what do you suggest?

    MYLES: Oh, moles, bolls, gophers, groundhogs. All you have to do … well, what the farmers do in the Midwest – you may not believe me now but they use a small piece of chocolate laxative. And they drop this down the entrance of the gopher mole hole. That sends them on the run …

    LESLIE: (laughing) Literally.

    MYLES: … and they never come back. Now, there’s other things you can do. That’s legitimate. You can take a small transistor radio and put a hard-rock music station on there – a little $2, $3 one – drop that down the entrance to the gopher mole hole. Don’t put Sirius X or XM on there; otherwise, they’ll sit and listen. (laughing) And you can also kill them off with Juicy Fruit gum; put a little of that down there and that’ll jam them up. And … oh, there’s any numbers of ways you can get rid of them.

    LESLIE: Those are all excellent, excellent suggestions.

    MYLES: We haven’t even started. We tell you how to dig the dust mites out of the kids’ animals so they won’t get allergies and how to make a natural flea and tick collar for your pet. (inaudible) everything.

    TOM: And all of these are covered in your book, 1001 All-Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property. Speaking of pest-free properties, let’s talk about the property eaters; the termites out there. What are your suggestions for ridding homes of the wood destroyers of the world?

    MYLES: Well, if you have a really bad infestation, what you want to do is call a professional. I’m not going to tell you that … to use the book. But if you notice a few termites, if you don’t have a bad infestation and you can find the nest, you’re in really good shape. Because there are a lot of things you can do to kill off the nest. You can pour hot paraffin down there; boiling water; you can inject nematodes, which are a microscopic worm you can get from a nursery. You can put those into the nest and they’ll kill off the termites. Catnip tea will get rid of them. There’s a lot … (laughing)

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, there are a lot … there are … there’s more than one way to get rid of bugs with your book, isn’t there?

    MYLES: Oh, there’s a lot of ways and if you can’t find a way, hit them with the book. (laughing)

    TOM: (laughing) Dr. Myles Bader, author of 1001 All-Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property, available online or by calling 800-697-4431, PestFreeProperty.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. Everybody out there, you know those summer water restrictions. They usually mean you can’t water as often as you like. But they don’t have to mean that you’re going to end up with a dry, dead lawn or garden.

    TOM: That’s right. We’re going to teach you how to have a beautiful lawn no matter what the water situation is, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us with your home fix-up questions right now. You’re going to get the answer to your question and a chance at winning a great prize.

    Well Leslie, before the break, we were talking about the fact that we do go through long periods of drought every summer. But there are ways to keep your landscaping looking green no matter what the water situation is.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Here’s a couple things you can do to make the most of whatever amount of water it is allowed … that you’re allowed to use on a weekly basis. So keep these in mind and you’ll have a beautiful lawn no matter how much water they’re giving you.

    First, buy a gauge and measure the amount of rain your lawn gets. This’ll tell you how much water you’re getting across your lawn. And you usually want about an inch so it’s got to saturate pretty well. So you’re going to be watering a lot but if you make sure you water the right amount, you’re going to be doing it efficiently. You want to make sure you water your lawns at dusk or at dawn, when it’s not too hot, to reduce the amount of water evaporating off of the surface. Make sure you put a timer on your sprinklers and make sure you aren’t watering the sidewalk, driveway or street. Don’t waste the water; put it only in places you can use it. If you can, get a soaker hose to target water to your plants directly. And finally, make sure you set your lawnmower blades to three inches or higher. This is going to encourage your lawn to grow deeper roots and it’s going to hold the moisture better. So use that water efficiently, folks, and you’ll have a beautiful lawn no matter what the drought is.

    TOM: And that’s the toughest one because I always want to cut the grass down as far as possible so I don’t have to cut it as often.

    LESLIE: No, it looks nice long.

    TOM: Well, I don’t want to have to cut it as often.

    LESLIE: I know. But it still looks pretty longer.

    TOM: Well, that’s true.

    Alright, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you have a home improvement question, you also could win the Quick Clips Kit by Focal Point. It’s a crown moulding kit. It can cut your crown moulding time in half. Basically, it’s everything you need to put crown moulding in a 16×16 foot room. So phone in your home improvement or home fix-up question right now to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Russ in Rhode Island listens to The Money Pit on WPRO. What can we do for you?

    RUSS: I’ve got a medicine cabinet that I’d like to change. And the house was built in ’64. The medicine cabinet is recessed in the wall. It’s about 40 inches by 36 inches high. And there’s tile all the way around. What’s my best bet to do with this?

    TOM: A chainsaw. (laughing)

    RUSS: Sounds great.

    TOM: Well, you want to get this medicine cabinet out? That’s the whole idea?

    RUSS: I’d like to change it, yeah. It’s getting …

    TOM: Like to change it?

    RUSS: It’s chrome plated …

    TOM: Yeah.

    RUSS: … and the chrome plating is rusted a little bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: I know what you mean. You know, it may not be that hard to take it out. Usually, they’re set inside the stud cavities.

    RUSS: Right. Yes.

    TOM: And if you take all the shelves out, you usually see maybe two or four screws going through the metal …

    LESLIE: On the side.

    TOM: Yeah, on the metal body. Once you pull those out, you could probably wiggle it back and forth and pull it right out.

    LESLIE: You could probably have the whole thing replated; have it dipped. The only thing is, they would have to remove the glass. And if it’s in good condition, they would absolutely be able to do it. And I’m not sure how much the cost of dipping … of course, it depends on what type of finish it is you’re looking for. But there are a lot of people who do it all over the United States and do a wonderful job with it.

    RUSS: Okay. Alright. Now the next question is tub cast iron.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    RUSS: And it’s got a porcelain finish. It’s yellow. I’d like to have it recoated.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    RUSS: What’s the best bet? I mean the thing is, there are specialists that do this?

    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely there are specialists that do it. It’s actually average cost between around $350 and $600, which is just about half … you know, more than half of what a new cast iron tub would cost; anywhere between $1,200 and $5,000 for a new tub. So it makes a lot of sense. Do some research. You’ll probably find somebody who’s able to refinish your tub and actually, you might even be able to find the same person who does plating as well. Because it seems to be a related industry.

    RUSS: Alright, thank you very much. You’ve answered my questions.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Roger in West Virginia’s got a sticky problem. How can we help?

    ROGER: I’ve got a two part question for you. One of them is that I’ve got a basement that had some carpet that was glued to the floor; kind of that indoor/outdoor stuff.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    ROGER: And we’re wanting to go with tile. And we’ve scraped the rubber off but there’s a glue residue there that I don’t know if I can put regular tile over top of it. Or does the glue residue have to come off, too?

    LESLIE: Can you lay an additional subfloor? Can you go ahead and put down some particleboard or some sort of exterior ply so that you don’t have to worry about moisture? Or are you worried about losing the height?

    ROGER: Oh, not at all. I’m not worried about the height or anything. I just want to make sure the tile and whatever you secure the tile with will stick to that.

    TOM: If the glue is intact, that’s the first thing. We want to make sure the glue is very intact so it’s not going to separate from the floor itself. The second thing is, is the glue fairly flat or is it going to obstruct the tile – the new tile – being put on. If the answer to both of those questions is that it is intact and it’s not going to sort of adversely affect the new tile in terms of height, then I think you could use an adhesive mastic and actually go right on top of that. I think that in the most – for the most part – you’re going to get good adhesion to the old glue surface. As long as it’s stuck well to the tile itself, I don’t think you’re going to have a problem.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and as long as it’s not too bumpy or uneven so that as you lay the tile, you don’t want to be stepping on a tile and hit a glue part and then the tile rocks out of its setting. So you want to make sure that it’s a uniform bottom. And if it’s not, you can either try to remove it, which would be like a giant nightmare, or you can lay a new subfloor.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Danny in Nevada finds The Money Pit on KBZZ. And you’re looking for a water heater recommendation. How can we help?

    DANNY: Thanks, guys. I’m curious. I might be in the market for a new water heater. It takes about … almost like a minute to get the hot water out of my faucets.

    TOM: OK.

    DANNY: And is that like this telltale sign or is there any option I do to inspect it to make sure if I, you know, do need to replace it?

    TOM: If you replace your water heater, it’s not going to get the water to the faucet any quicker. That’s a function of the hot water supply pipe. It takes so much time to get from the water heater itself to the faucet. Regardless of the type of water heater you have; whether it’s small, big, tank or tankless, it’s going to take the same amount of time to get that water from the heating appliance to the faucet itself. So that’s not a determination of the wear or tear on the water heater.

    How old is the water heater that you have right now, Danny?

    DANNY: It’s coming up on 12 years.

    TOM: Well, you know, that’s at the end of a normal life cycle. Is it electric or gas?

    DANNY: Gas.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s the end of a normal life cycle. It would not be premature to replace that today. You might want to take a look at the tankless water heaters. They are far more efficient than the tanked water heaters. They’re more expensive but they only heat the water as you need it. They heat on-demand so you’re not basically paying to keep a tank full of water that you don’t need to heat.

    LESLIE: And Danny, if you’re wondering which size water heater to get for your house, there’s a great website; it’s called ForeverHotWater.com. And on that site, you can actually find out exactly which size will work for your house and your needs. So check that out.

    DANNY: Oh, wow. OK.

    TOM: OK, Danny? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heather’s up next and she’s got a tiling question. How can we help?

    HEATHER: I put a pedestal sink where a vanity used to be and on the wall where the tile – the ceramic tile – is, there’s a few holes with – I think you call them mollies – in them. And I’m not sure how to …

    LESLIE: Oh, like an anchor.

    HEATHER: … how to get rid of those or what to do.

    LESLIE: Well, I don’t know if you’re going to be able to repair that tile to its former glory. Do you have any of the tile that was used in the bathroom left over?

    HEATHER: No. It’s old. (chuckling) But it’s in really good shape except for those holes where the vanity was.

    LESLIE: Because, generally, what I would say is pop that tile out and replace it with one. If you can sort of systematically remove a couple of tiles here and there and introduce, say, a patterned tile … you know, something.

    HEATHER: Well, yes, that’s a good idea.

    LESLIE: Because there’s really no way to fill those holes properly.

    HEATHER: Oh, okay. So I guess tiles are kind of standard sizes, though, right?

    TOM: Generally. Is … what kind of tile is this? Is it for a bath?

    HEATHER: Yeah, it’s ceramic tile in the bathroom on the walls.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Probably … probably … yeah, probably 4×4.

    HEATHER: Yeah, yeah. And that’s … I can just get that anywhere, then?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. You can even, if you like something more of a like a 1×1 mosaic tile look, they come on 12×12 sheets on like a mesh backing.

    HEATHER: Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: You could even cut them up into 4×4. You can get four 4x4s (chuckling) … yeah.

    HEATHER: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: You could get a bunch out of it. I’m like my math is off tonight. (laughing) But you can get a bunch out of it – let’s just call it a bunch – and use those systematically as sort of a design element and that gives you some color and it gives you an opportunity to really experiment with your design.

    HEATHER: Oh that’s … I like that idea. That’s a good idea. I think that’s what I’ll do.

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

    Up next, waterfalls are beautiful. Except when they’re coming out of your toilet.

    LESLIE: (laughing) That’s right, Tom. We’re going to have some answers on how to keep your bathroom dry … well, wet in the places that you want them but dry on the floor, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by BEHR From Home, where you can select from over 3,700 paint colors and order samples online for home delivery. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can call that number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and talk to a live Money Pit screener who will take your question. If we’re not in the studio, guess what? We will call you back the next time we are because that’s just the kind of people we are. (chuckling) We’re a full-service operation here at Money Pit headquarters.

    But you know what? You can also email us to MoneyPit.com. Click on Ask Tom and Leslie and we will also respond to many of the emails that we get. And we’ve got one right now from somebody who’s seeing an unwanted waterfall in their basement.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It’s from Brian in Coons Rapid, Minnesota, who writes: ‘I have a toilet and it plugs and overflows in the basement. So we try not to use it so often. The upstairs toilet is fine but there’s more water in the upper toilet. Should I remove and check the toilet. What’s going on?’

    TOM: In a basement, you want to make sure that the waste line, of course, has proper pitch. Now I don’t … you haven’t mentioned here whether or not you’re using any kind of a lift pump, which is something that you would install if the toilet was below the waste line. So I’m going to assume that we have a gravity pipe here. The next thing is to make sure that the toilet is properly vented because if not enough air is getting into that line, it could also clog. And finally, it sounds like we need to do some further investigation and, frankly, the easiest way to do that is to actually remove the toilet and check that line out to the street.

    You know, one time I had a clog in a toilet in my house, Leslie, and I was absolutely convinced it was the roots of the tree outside. So I got up early …

    LESLIE: What was it?

    TOM: … because we had a party that day with people coming over and I dug this big old hole in the ground and I got to the pipe and I snaked it out one way, snaked it out the other way and it was fine. And in absolute frustration, I pulled the toilet off and found a little tiny toy (laughing) that my cute little son had stuck down there. So, even the home improvement experts learn something once in a while.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but were you ready for the party?

    TOM: I was ready on time. Absolutely. With a clog-free toilet. And we had a little conversation with the toddler after that (inaudible) about where toys …

    LESLIE: Toys do not belong in the toilet.

    TOM: (laughing) That’s right. Exactly. So Brian, that’s what you need to do. Take it off and snake it out from the basement out.

    LESLIE: This is from Keith in Maryland who writes: ‘We have just bought our first home and finishing the basement will be our first project. My question is what is the recommended size for a sewage ejector pump for a toilet, standup shower and sink unit?’

    TOM: That’s a complicated question. Well, it depends on how many things you’re putting in there so you’re right in listing those. And all of that is going to be listed on the box when you buy it. But basically, you’re buying a standard size ejector pump. Usually, I’d say about five gallons is the amount of water that they hold. And they do a good job of grinding up that waste. Not the most optimum way to get rid of waste but definitely the only way to do it if the sewage line, as I said before, is above where you’re putting the toilet in.

    Alright, it’s time for my favorite section of the show; where I get to take a break (laughing) and turn it over to you for Leslie’s Last Words. On today’s edition, you’ve got some cheap ways to create an outdoor living area.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. It doesn’t have to be fancy but there’s just a couple of guidelines that you could follow to make your outdoor space all the more livable.

    First, you want to make sure that you create the area. Set up boundaries; whether it’s through plantings or building a trellis. Whatever you’re going to put out there, make sure you decide how you’re best going to use that outdoor area. Is it for a play area? Is it a dining area? Are you going to entertain? Make sure that you set up the area to best suit those needs.

    Then, you can also put some outdoor carpeting out there. And outdoor carpeting does not have to be Astroturf. It can be a beautiful outdoor area rug because they’re stylish and they’re weatherproof. So make sure it’s outdoor. You can also use outdoor fabrics to create pillows, cushions. But make sure everything you pick for the outside is outdoor proof. This way, it won’t fade or it won’t have any sort of moisture problems. And enjoy your beautiful outdoor area, folks. Get out there!

    TOM: It’s never been a better time to do just that; work on that outdoor room.

    Well, coming up next week on The Money Pit, you probably don’t know this but builders have been putting houses together the same way for about the last 150 years. Next week, we’re going to speak to Kevin Ireton – he is the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine – on some new ways to frame houses that are going to be more efficient and stronger than ever before.

    Until then, thank you so much for being a part of this program. 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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2006 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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