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  • Transcript

    (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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. But you need to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number, so give us a call right now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. There’s got to be something, as you look around your house, that you want to get done this weekend. Short of coming to your house with our tool belt, we will gladly, though, help you put on yours and get that project done.

    Got a busy show planned for you. Lots of great tips and advice coming up, starting with this: environmental advocates are asking companies now to come clean on cleansers and they are looking for laws that would require ingredients to be listed on containers. I think that’s a very good idea. I don’t see any reason not to do that.

    LESLIE: I agree.

    TOM: However, if you don’t want to wait around for the laws to be changed, because it takes forever …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s true.

    TOM: … and you want a more natural option, you have to look no further than your pantry. This hour, we’re going to give you some recipes for homemade cleaning supplies that you can mix up in just a few minutes and they do an amazingly good job.

    LESLIE: I mean think about how people use to clean before we had these store-bought products ready to go.

    TOM: Good point.

    LESLIE: I mean seriously; so we do know they work.

    And also ahead, now the key to an efficient heating and cooling system might be how well it communicates. We’re going to talk to an expert from Trane about why communication between your HVAC system’s components can help keep it running at optimal energy-saving levels.

    TOM: If I could get my kids to communicate properly and not turn the heat up …

    LESLIE: I’m telling you. You need to put a lock on thermostats when there are kids in the house.

    TOM: You know, that’s a good idea. I should get one of those restaurant boxes; those clear boxes with the lock on them.

    LESLIE: (Leslie chuckles) That goes over it.

    TOM: You know, we would save an enormous amount of money by doing that.

    LESLIE: But do you remember that one time you and I went out to eat in Philadelphia and you kept messing with that restaurant thermostat?

    TOM: (chuckles) Hey, I was really hot in there. I wanted the air conditioning on.

    LESLIE: (laughing) We’ll have to get that for you.

    TOM: (laughing) I forgot all about that.

    LESLIE: I did not.

    TOM: Yeah, but I got away with it. They didn’t catch me. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: I know and it was far more comfortable in there. It’s true. Dang-it.

    TOM: Ah, you know, if you take a home improvement expert to a restaurant, that could happen.

    LESLIE: Can’t take them anywhere. (chuckles)

    TOM: And also ahead, we’re going to talk about spring gardening. We’re going to give away, in fact, a set of garden tools that comes to us from the folks at Deeco. It’s worth 65 bucks; going to go out to one caller that reaches us at today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So, let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Hey, it’s time to talk roofing with Dave in Montana. How can we help you today?

    DAVE: Hi. I heard the tail-end of one of your shows the other day about putting metal roofing over asphalt shingles. Was that correct?

    TOM: Yes. Yes, you can do that.

    DAVE: Not a problem with the weight or anything? You just …

    TOM: No, not an issue. Look, I’d much prefer to take old shingles off but that’s only because I’m a perfectionist. There’s no reason you can’t put the metal roof on top of the asphalt shingles. I just don’t see any reason to leave the old shingles in place for the next hundred years.

    DAVE: What about the cost differential?

    TOM: Well, reshingling is going to be a lot less expensive. I mean metal roofs are probably about three times the cost of asphalt roofs but …

    LESLIE: Right, but they’re going to last five times as long.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: Check out a great website; it’s MetalRoofing.com. Good information there, lots of great pictures, different examples, you can find a contractor.

    DAVE: OK, great. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Claire in Rhode Island who’s dealing with some water pressure issues. Hi, Claire. How can we help you today?

    CLAIRE: Hi. We live in a house that was built in 1953 and whenever you use the water like in the kitchen and then someone flushes the toilet or turns on the shower or you have the washing machine going, the pressure decreases.

    TOM: Right.

    CLAIRE: So, you can’t really have more than one thing going on at once.

    TOM: Hmm, OK.

    CLAIRE: So I was just wondering if it’s caused by the pressure coming from the street or if there was something in the plumbing that we could fix or change or whatever.

    TOM: Well, we’ve got to look at this one element at a time. First of all, you said the house was built in 1953?

    CLAIRE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So you probably have a copper pipe coming in from the street. Is that correct?

    CLAIRE: Yes.

    TOM: So you don’t have to worry about internal corrosion. You would check the main water valve to make sure that it’s not partially closed. I would also have the pressure checked. You can have the water company check the pressure coming into your house at the meter. And you really need to have 50 to 70 pounds of pressure; if you don’t, you could actually have a plumber add a booster pump right at the main which will step up the pressure.

    CLAIRE: Oh, really?

    TOM: Yep. And that may solve all your problems. But if it’s the water company is not delivering enough pressure, then that’s a solution – they may even do it, too. But that’s the solution. You can add a booster pump right there at the main.

    CLAIRE: OK, and how much do those usually run?

    TOM: Probably looking at a couple hundred dollars. It’s not a terribly complex project. You’re going to have to have an outlet wired for it or electrical connection made and you would, essentially, cut it into the main water pipe. It’s typically done if you have a big house and you have a lot of bathrooms and you really don’t want to depend on the street pressure to push the water all the way upstairs. But you know, really it works for any size house. There’s really no downside to it.

    CLAIRE: Well, it’s a one-story house but we did put a bathroom in the basement and we have the washer and dryer in the basement.

    TOM: Then this might be a good option for you.

    CLAIRE: OK, great. I’ll pass this on to my husband and put it on his list. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, you do that. (Claire chuckles) You do that. Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com and we would love for you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call with 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.

    Up next, use all-natural cleaning supplies for your spring cleaning chores and don’t think twice about it because what you’re using will be safe around pets and kids. We’re going to have those recipes for you, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Fiberon Horizon decking and their new tropical hardwood colors. Ensure your deck stays as beautiful as the rest of your home. Insist on Horizon decking. To learn more, visit FiberonDecking.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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Just call right now. You can get in on our giveaway this hour. Up for grabs is a seven-piece cutting combo pack of garden tools from Deeco. You’ll get a pruner, a trowel, a cultivator and more. All the tools have nonslip, contour-molded grips plus a canvas tote bag and garden apron to complete the set. That’s my favorite piece. I love to wear a garden apron as I prune my roses.

    LESLIE: Listen, when you’re digging in the garden, my first instinct is to take my dirty hands and wipe them on my pants. This would save me a lot of laundry detail.

    TOM: (chuckling) It probably would.

    So one caller is going to get that who comes on the air with us and asks their home improvement question. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re into gardening like I am and wiping things on your pants as you dig in the mud …

    TOM: I think it takes a real man to wear a garden apron.

    LESLIE: Listen, all kinds of people do gardening; apron-wearers included. (Tom chuckles)

    So, for those of you out there that do like gardening, you know, gardening goes hand-in-hand with liking things that are green. So if you are into green and the environmental activities out there, you might be aware of the call by activists to reveal exactly what goes into those common household soaps like laundry detergent and those kitchen cleansers that we all use on a daily basis.

    Now, the companies are ramping up efforts to list those ingredients but for right now, what’s under your sink is mostly likely a mystery – I know it is for me. But what you use to clean your home doesn’t have to be; in fact, there are items in your pantry that often work just as well, maybe even better than those harsh chemicals.

    TOM: Absolutely. And your grandmother probably used things like vinegar, for example, as a cleaning product. You can do the same thing. All you need is a 1/4-cup of it and a gallon of water to clean floors. And this recipe, by the way, is especially good for hardwoods because you want to be really careful what you put on. A paste of baking soda is another good product. You can use a paste of baking soda and water to polish very shiny surfaces like chrome. And if you have a copper-bottomed pan, which a lot of folks do, do you know that if you use fresh lemon juice and salt …

    LESLIE: Salt, right?

    TOM: … it’ll clean up all the tarnish like lickety-split. It works really, really well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: If you’d like more all-natural recipes, you can go to MoneyPit.com and search that term, “natural recipes.” You will find the natural cleaning recipes online at MoneyPit.com. I think there are 15 or 20 of them there; everything from shoe polish to toilet bowl cleaners.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: How about that?

    Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gary in North Carolina is working on a home theatre. What can we do for you today?

    GARY: I’m trying to find out what’s the best color to paint it.

    TOM: Ah.

    LESLIE: Oh, goodness gracious. That’s like asking me to read your mind. (Gary and Tom chuckle) But with home theatres, generally the thoughts are you want to choose a color that’s fairly neutral so that it doesn’t compete with what you’re viewing or your décor. You also want to make sure that you do not paint the ceiling white because it reflects a lot. I mean how big of a screen are we talking?

    GARY: Sixty-five-inch.

    LESLIE: OK, that’s a pretty big TV.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I would definitely – I did a home theatre in a brownstone in Manhattan and I used a Benjamin Moore color called Stardust which was like a taupey-gray but really warm and very neutral. And then I stepped it up to do one lighter than that color and I painted the ceiling in that tone; because first we started off white and that was just way too bright and they had a huge screen in this house and you know, you’re dealing with a fairly large screen there, too. So I would paint the ceiling a similar tone to the wall color but lighter. And you know, the darker the better for the walls, I feel, just so that you’re not reflecting that color from the screen all around the room.

    GARY: And what about the trim? Does the trim make any difference or should I leave that flat, too? They say either flat or satin and that’s not too bad.

    LESLIE: Right, you don’t want to do anything glossy. Do the trim also in satin and don’t do the trim in white or doors in white. Stick with that same color that you might do the ceiling.

    GARY: OK. Yeah, because I read just a little bit on Google; they’re saying that the browns and the grays were the best color for that room.

    LESLIE: If you go to – if you happen to be by a store that carries Benjamin Moore, it’s in the color preview booklet. There’s a card; it’s Stardust/Silver Fox/Brown Horse. Those are all sort of really warm grays that have like a brown quality to them that I found worked really nicely.

    TOM: Those are very trendy right now, if you look at the data that comes in from the paint color institute.

    GARY: Yeah.

    TOM: They talk a lot about those warm grays and browns just being very hot right now.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, I love clay, putty.

    TOM: Putty, yes.

    GARY: I’m partial to gray because I’m an old man and they call me a silver fox. (Tom laughs)

    LESLIE: And that’s actually the color I used on the trim, so go check it out.

    TOM: See that. (Gary chuckles) So it’s meant to be; meant to be, Gary.

    GARY: (chuckling) Yeah, right.

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

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Julie in Pennsylvania who’s dealing with some drywall cracks. How can we help you?

    JULIE: Well, actually, it’s in my living room ceiling and it goes the whole length of my ceiling. And unfortunately, it seems like it’s right under where the dormers are upstairs in the upstairs bedroom; we live in a Cape Cod.

    TOM: Hey Julie, how old is your house?

    JULIE: Probably it was built in the 40s.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what I thought. I think what you have is plaster lath. So the way your house would have been constructed is on top of the framing would have been something that looks like what we call drywall today but then on top of that was a plaster coating. So it was sort of used in between wood lath and straight sheetrock, which is what we have today. And the good thing about plaster lath ceiling construction or wall construction, it’s really dense stuff. I mean when you knock on it with your finger you can feel it; it’s a really hard wall. But it’s not very flexible, so you do get cracks; they’re going to be along seams and it’s not unusual for it to go from end to end.

    If it really bothers you, you can repatch that with a drywall tape. We would recommend a perforated tape for that.

    JULIE: OK, so I would just put that the whole length of that and then I put the spackling over that?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to – when you put the spackle over it, you want to start pretty narrow, the width of that fiberglass tape, and put a nice coat on it just so it covers over the edges. Let it dry, sand it down; then you want to put another coat over it, go wider than you did before. Let it dry, sand it down. You want to get it to about three coats and get wider and wider and wider, sanding in between each so that it gets nice and smooth and covers everything up.

    TOM: When you think about all the work, the crack doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

    JULIE: Not really, no. (Tom and Leslie laugh) You know what? I’ve been trying to tackle this year after year and it just drives me crazy and I …

    TOM: Yeah, because it closes and opens and closes and opens with the seasons, right?

    JULIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JULIE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, a house is always moving, Julie, and that’s what’s going on and it’s perfectly natural. If you want to fix it, that’s what you need to do.

    JULIE: OK, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Greg in South Carolina needs some help with a wood floor project. What can we do for you?

    GREG: I had manufactured my wood flooring for our log cabin and …

    TOM: You manufactured it? You mean you made your own?

    GREG: Well, yeah. I found some beams from an old tobacco barn.

    TOM: Oh, that’s cool.

    GREG: And I sort of remanufactured those and cut them into slabs and had them made into flooring.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Wow, that’s beautiful.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Fantastic. Nice way to recycle some building material there.

    GREG: Right, right. It did look really good but apparently I didn’t let them dry long enough.

    TOM: OK.

    GREG: And after we got them in, they sort of developed some cracks in between several of the pieces of lumber. So we’re just trying to figure out how we can get those filled. I don’t think there’s an option of actually squeezing them back together. We just really need to fill them; fill the cracks.

    LESLIE: And how large of a crack are you talking about?

    GREG: I guess anywhere from not very visible but up to about 1/4-inch.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Alright, that’s not terrible. You don’t – absolutely do not use wood filler. Don’t use any sort of filling device that they tell you “Oh, put it in. It’ll stay there” because as soon as it dries out you will vacuum it right out. It will never last forever.

    Generally, a good trick of the trade is getting your hands on some corded twine like a jute or something that’s a natural material – jute really works well – of roping. And then what you can do is – and make sure it has many layers of the rope sort of twined together to make that one piece. This way, what you can do is unravel some of it to fit the thickness of that space between your boards. And if you floor is stained a darker color or a certain tone to it, you can actually take that jute and dip it in stain that matches your flooring. Let it dry and then take a paint scraper and you can just shove it into that gap between those planks and that gives it a nice, natural transition between the two spaces. And since it’s only up to 1/4-inch, I mean you’re really not going to see it; it’s just going to blend.

    GREG: OK. So do you re-urethane it after that?

    TOM: Yes. Yes, you absolutely can re-urethane on top of that and because the gap is sort of filled in now, what you’ll find is that the gap will no longer be as noticeable because the urethane will flow right over that dark jute rope.

    GREG: OK. Alright, well it sounds good. I appreciate it, guys.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gloria in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    GLORIA: I had a new kitchen sink put in and it was not level; so they told me to shim it, which I did, but it now needs to be resealed because it’s not level. So can you tell me what I seal it with?
    TOM: Yeah, are we talking about the edge where it overlaps the countertop, Gloria?
    GLORIA: Right.
    TOM: OK. Well, the best thing to use for that purpose is a kitchen and bath caulk and the reason the product should say kitchen and bath caulk is because it’s treated with a mildicide. Of course, being a very damp area, if it’s not treated with a mildicide you’re going to have some problems with mold growth. DAP makes a product that’s a kitchen and bath caulk with an additive called Microban and it’s very effective at not growing mold, so …
    GLORIA: Microvan?
    LESLIE: Microban.
    TOM: Microban and the manufacturer is DAP – D-A-P. So look at the DAP kitchen and bath caulk …
    TOM: … and I think that you’ll find that that’s probably the best way to seal that. Very inexpensive, by the way. We’re only talking about a couple of dollars for the caulk and you definitely can do it yourself.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and what we’ve got here, Leslie, is a failure to communicate. That line …

    LESLIE: Hey, I’ve heard that before.

    TOM: … made famous by Paul Newman. What was that movie?

    LESLIE: Is it Cool Hand Luke?

    TOM: Cool Hand Luke. That’s right. When he said, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” Apparently, though, that also applies to your heating and cooling equipment. Up next, we’re going to have some tips from an expert on how the newest heating and cooling equipment now actually communicates with itself with the thermostat, with your kids, with the outside temperature and figures out how to be super-efficient all the time. We’re going to tell you all about that, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And is communication a problem in your house? It often is in mine and perhaps in yours as well, Leslie.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Always.

    TOM: But we can’t help you with that; what we can help you with, though, is helping your appliances communicate better and, in particular, your furnace. It sounds like a funny question, but there is a whole new type of technology available in HVAC systems that allows all the components to communicate with each other and this helps them adjust for optimal performance and optimal energy-efficiency.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Here to tell us how to communicate better with our home operating systems, we’ve got the Trane ComfortLink II system, is Tim Farmer and he’s the sales and distribution manager for Trane.

    Welcome, Tim.

    TIM: Oh, thank you. Glad to be part of your show.

    TOM: So Tim, communication is key to family life. It also, apparently, is key to making sure your appliances work well together. How have you guys been able to use technology to help appliances speak to each other when it comes to the HVAC system?

    TIM: Well, communicating, like you know, in the family life is very important; two-way communication. With our systems, what we’ve done is been able to connect systems – very similar to a computer-type plug-and-play – where each component of the heating and air conditioning system recognizes and identifies who they are and can communicate between each other. This also allows the homeowner to communicate 24/7, any time of day, and call in through remote telephone access. So not only can the products and components communicate but also the homeowner with the products themselves.

    TOM: So the scenario might be that you have your heating system turned down; you’re going to – perhaps you’re staying late at work and you decide, before you leave to drive home, you want to call and bring it up a few degrees or, if it’s in the summer, chill down your house before you arrive. With a simple phone call you could do that?

    TIM: Exactly. We have several methods to do that and what we’re working with now is the Trane’s link program to either monitor by phone or by internet. The systems themselves, the way they communicate internally, is the controller will recognize your indoor component – which, in this case, we’re talking about the 95-percent gas furnace – with the outdoor unit – say, an air conditioner. It identifies the sizes and capacities of all of the components so that it sets up your blower speed, the air flow throughout the house adequately and also to support the size tonnage of the system.

    The gas furnace is the modulating – it’s the world’s first fully-modulating gas furnace so that it will modify its speed and heat output to according the outside load; in other words, the colder it gets, the more the heat furnace will produce. But again, it’s just part of the communicating system. The controller says it’s getting colder. It checks the air temperature every tenth of a second to see if it’s getting warmer or colder to adjust the output of the gas furnace so the customer is not only happy but they’re also comfortable.

    LESLIE: And then the system will do its best to do everything in an energy-efficient type of way, correct?

    TIM: Absolutely. It not only measures the cooling or the temperature for cooling and heating but it also measures the humidity level and that’s very important because part of your body response to air is “Am I comfortable?” not only to the heat but what’s the humidity level. You know, if you’re in a 70-degree area but it’s high humidity, you’re going to be uncomfortable. So you’ve got to match the ideal humidity level in the house along with the heat temperature.

    LESLIE: Now Tim, since all of these components sort of help everything to operate more efficiently, do any of these pieces or components qualify for the federal tax credit?

    TIM: Yes, they do. Thanks for asking. The Trane 95-percent gas furnace – the fully-modulating version – it qualifies. And one of the ways to tell is – it’s very simple with a gas furnace – it has to be a 95-percent or better efficiency. And what I would recommend is for homeowners to go to www.Trane.comtaxcredit to get more specific information because air conditioners and heat pumps also will qualify but they need to know which level of efficiency for each one of those products.

    TOM: We’re talking to Tim Farmer – he’s a sales and distribution manager for Trane – about the new Trane ComfortLink II system which connects all the communicating components of a home’s air conditioning and heating system together to make the whole thing run better. You’ll be more comfortable and certainly save a lot of money in terms of energy efficiency.

    Tim, before we let you go, I want to ask you about air quality because you have a product that we’ve actually recommended on this show before – the Trane CleanEffects. What have the sales been? How well has the product been accepted? Are people understanding of the air quality issues inside their homes and how important it is to have a system like CleanEffects to take care of all of those very, very tiny particles that pollute our indoor air?

    TIM: Well, the Trane CleanEffects is our indoor air quality product and we have just developed and released our newest, which is a communicating Trane CleanEffects which also ties into the communicating control, the gas furnace and also the outdoor unit. This CleanEffects removes up to 99.98 percent of all airborne particles and allergens from the filtered air. And also – homeowners will love this – can reduce dust accumulation in your home by more than 50 percent. This product, as it reduces particles, it can go down to .1 micron.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TIM: Now what that means is that’s 1/1000 the diameter of a human hair.

    TOM: Wow.

    TIM: And that size, normally it eludes most air cleaners. It’s 100-percent more effective than the standard one-inch filter found in most homes. And as the communication process goes from the controller, which is the thermostat, to the air cleaner, it will allow it to say “Hey, you need to pull out the filter and clean it” or “You need to pull out the media and clean it.” So it notifies the homeowner of time frames when your filter is getting too dirty. It can recognize the static in the system and say, “Hey, I’m not getting enough air through the system, so check your filter.” It’s a great system and it does the best as far as cleaning the air inside the home.

    LESLIE: That’s great.

    TOM: If I could only get it to notify my kids when it’s time to clean their rooms. (Tim and Leslie chuckle)

    Tim Farmer, sales and distribution manager for Trane, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the Trane ComfortLink II system and the Trane CleanEffects.

    TIM: Well, I appreciate your time and thank you for allowing me to share some of the information about our products which help homeowners daily.

    TOM: Our pleasure. Thanks again.

    And for more tips and information on the Trane products, you can go to their website at Trane.com. That’s T-r-a-n-e.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, up next, how does your lawn and garden grow? We’re going to teach you the biggest and most common mistakes that homeowners make when it comes to their lawn care and we’re going to tell you what you should be doing instead, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bondera TileMatSet, the fast, easy way to add the style and value of tile to your home. For more information, visit BonderaTileMatSet.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got up for grabs, a seven-piece cutting combo pack of garden tools from Deeco this hour. You get a pruner, a trowel, a cultivator and more and all of those tools have a nonslip, contour-molded grip, which is great if you get into some wet mud when you’re working in the yard. Plus, it all comes in a canvas tote bag and handy garden apron to complete your set. So again, when your hands get dirty, right on the apron, not on your pants; cutting back on your laundry chores. It’s worth $65 and available at AllGreenhouses.com but one caller who gets on the air with us this hour wins one for free, so give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And while you’re working on your garden, it is also a perfect time to get your lawn ready, too, and one of the biggest mistakes, though, that homeowners make is applying both grass seed and a crabgrass-prevention product on the lawn at the same time. It’s a no-no because a crabgrass preventer cannot tell the difference between a crabgrass seed a grass seed and, therefore, will inhibit all types of seed from germinating.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a huge mistake. (Tom chuckles)

    Now, another mistake is putting down weed-and-feed before any of those weeds are actually up and growing. Now, most weed-and-feed products will only work when the weeds are actively growing.

    Now, you might also be tempted to water your lawn immediately after applying the weed-and-feed. Don’t do it; that’s going to wash the herbicide away. For the best results, you want to apply the weed-and-feed products to a wet lawn and then wait a day or two before watering again. And remember that a thick, well-fertilized lawn is a great way to combat weeds in the first place.

    TOM: And that’s probably the most natural way to boot.

    888-666-3974.   Let’s get back to those phones. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Vicky in Washington has a septic-system question. What can we do for you?

    VICKY: Well, we have a – we’re on a well and septic system.

    TOM: OK.

    VICKY: We live in the country, of course, and we bought a new garbage disposal that is certified for septic.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.

    VICKY: And it seems like, when we run it, it tends to want to have our drain run a little slow afterwards and I wondered, since everyone else is asking the same question around here, “How does yours work?” we don’t quite know what to say and we don’t know …

    TOM: Well, when you say the drain runs a little bit slower, do you mean like the kitchen sink drain or are you …

    VICKY: Yes.

    TOM: Oh. Well, you know, the water does have to run through the machine now; whereas, before, it went right to the trap and out. So you should expect it to run a little bit slower because the water is what actually pushes the food through. So that’s not that unusual. I don’t have any concerns about using that with a septic system. I don’t think it’ll impact the function of the system whatsoever.

    VICKY: OK, and it doesn’t tend to mess up your drain field?

    TOM: I don’t think so.

    VICKY: OK.

    TOM: Nope. Nope, I think you’re in good shape. You should enjoy it. That’s one of those handy household appliances that, once you get one, you wonder how you ever got this far without having one.

    VICKY: Well, you know, I’ve made it alright; I’ve gotten used to not using it too much. But I would die without my hot water dispenser. (Tom and Vicky chuckle)

    TOM: Well, you have our permission to use it as much as you like.

    VICKY: Oh, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Slaying home improvement myths (Leslie chuckles) one item at a time.

    LESLIE: Suzanne in Pennsylvania has a paint removal question. What can we do for you?

    SUZANNE: Hi, I’ve recently moved and the tile that goes around the border of the tile in the bathtub area is like a dark, kidney-bean color. And the edge that goes to the wall, they slopped a lot of paint on and I was wondering what I could use to clean it off without going into the wall area and creating a problem there.

    LESLIE: Well, Suzanne, it doesn’t seem like – I mean it’s just on that one tile; it’s not something that I feel like you need some sort of chemical stripping agent. Have you tried to use a paint scraper or a razor blade?

    SUZANNE: I’ve used a razor blade but the tile is curved and in some areas it’s more difficult to get it off. And since it covers a large-enough area, I didn’t know if there would be something that might be easier to do a neater job other than a razor blade or not.

    LESLIE: Well, there …

    TOM: Why not use a paint stripper; maybe one of the natural paint strippers?

    LESLIE: Yeah, I mean there are several products out there. There’s one that’s – it’s come quite a long way and it uses a lot of natural materials. It’s called Peel Away and the one that uses the more natural of the materials is called Peel Away Smart Strip.

    And now, what you would do is – it’s a very thick paste and you apply it to wherever the paint is that you want to remove and, in some cases, you put a paper over it to accelerate the stripping time; in other cases, you don’t have to. And then you would peel everything away and it gets you right down to that raw surface. So that’s probably a good one for this situation because it will be contained and it’s not something that you have to spray on or worry about running because this is really like gloppy – if that’s a word.

    SUZANNE: OK, that sounds good. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    You know, a harsh winter with lots of snow and ice means deteriorated buildings, sidewalks and driveways; especially if you ended up using a lot of chemical deicers on those surfaces. Up next, we’re going to tell you how to cure all of that damaged concrete on your driveways, walkways. You know it’s there; you’ve seen it, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    TOM: 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. And if you’ve got a hankering for more Money Pit, well, head on over to MoneyPit.com because you can listen to or even download a year’s worth of our past shows of The Money Pit. Or you can even search the website by topic and it is all completely free at MoneyPit.com. We love to give away our home improvement advice. And if you want to e-mail us your question, you can do so through the website and I’ve got one here from Jacob in New Jersey who writes: “We own a beautiful building but the salt we’ve used to melt all the snow this winter has created flaking on quite a few of the exterior bricks. I’ve tried many places to find replacement bricks but to no avail. I’m told that my bricks are jumbo bricks. Is there a solution to my problem? Help.”

    TOM: Hmm. You know, you can mix up a colored epoxy patch compound for these bricks so you don’t have to actually replace them. You could essentially stucco them. You want to use a good-quality epoxy patch compound and then there are colorants that are available in like a powder format.

    LESLIE: I’ve seen that.

    TOM: Yeah, that you can mix into them. I did a patch like that on a brick walkway, actually, at my dad’s house and it came out really good. We had a post for an iron railing that had pulled and needed to put a new plate in and I couldn’t use the old hole, so I patched it and it looked great. So I think there’s a patching option. You don’t necessarily have to replace the whole brick because even if you found it, by the time you mortared it in, the mortar wouldn’t match.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and I think, Jacob, if you take some time to sort of experiment with the different additives to find something that’ll work best for you, that’ll do the trick. And the correct salt, Tom, is that calcium chloride?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s calcium chloride or safety salt. It’s not rock salt or sodium chloride.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, which is what eats away at the stone surfaces. So pick that up for next winter.

    TOM: Well, up next, if you love the look of wood-paneled wainscoting but hate the work and the expense, you can create that same, richly-paneled look using paneled doors; a trick of the trade which Leslie has for you this hour in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word. And didn’t I see you do this on – was it WYWO? Was it While You Were Out?

    LESLIE: It was. I did it on a New Orleans house that I designed for While You Were Out.

    TOM: Thought so.

    LESLIE: And I’m actually doing this project but in a different way. I’m using a six-panel door as a headboard for a friend’s apartment. So doors really can be rich in characteristic and make a great architectural detail; whether it’s a headboard or wainscoting.

    Now, if you want to use it for wainscoting, you need one door, two doors. I mean it really depends. You can go with solid, you can go with composite. The composite, hollow door is obviously going to be cheaper; so it’s probably going to be around 50 bucks if you do go with the hollow-core doors that have the paneling.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Now, you take the doors; you turn them sideways and then you attach them to the lower portion of your walls to create instant wood wainscoting. Of course you’re going to have to remove the baseboard and then reattach it after and you’re also going to have to extend any outlets or connections just to allow for that thickness of the door. Then go ahead and finish off the whole look by putting back that baseboard or adding new baseboard. And then, on the top edge of the door, just so it’s not looking unfinished …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Oh, and I forgot to mention, don’t forget to buy a door that does not already have the hole bored in it for the knobs. Make sure it is a clean door; no holes.

    Now, to finish off that top edge, get a length of 1×4, you know, whatever thickness – you know, width I’m talking about – that you like and attach that to the top edge of the door because it’ll give you a nice ledge; you can put a picture or some candles or nothing at all – I like to keep it clean – but it just finishes everything off there and it’s an easy project that looks great.

    TOM: Great idea. And if you like that idea, you’ll find 49 more just like it in our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, because that is part of our 50 Design Ideas for Less than 50 Bucks chapter. Check it out at Amazon.com.

    You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. That’s about all the time we have for this hour of the program. Coming up next week, though, we’re going to talk a bit about trees. You know, they can protect your home from the sun’s harsh rays and also bring some fresh air, of course, to your yard. So we’re going to have some step-by-step instructions on how to plant new trees with tips from Roger Cook of This Old House, next week on the 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 2010 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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