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One Stop Shopping to Enhance Curb Appeal, How to Create Manly Spaces Everyone Loves, Repair Foundation Cracks, Bring Dead Grass Back to Life and More…

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, call us right now with your home improvement question because we are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    It has been a hot, hot, hot summer, so maybe there’s a project that will help you cool down around your house. Thinking about changing out your windows? Maybe selected some new windows that don’t let quite as much heat through that glass? We can help you. How’s the A/C? Not cooling things down like it used to? We can help you with that. There’s got to be a project that you want to get done. That’s why we are here: to help you do just that. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, we’ve got the inside info on one-stop shopping to take the front of your home from drab to fab. We’re going to teach you how to take that guesswork out of creating curb appeal, in just a couple of minutes.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, little cracks in your foundation walls could turn into big headaches if you don’t fix them fast. We’re going to tell you how to fix those cracks and the problem that causes them, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And also ahead, guys, has your prize beer-can collection or favorite recliner been relegated to the basement in exchange for a, shall we say, some fancier décor? Well, then get ready for some talk about manly stuff. The author of the very amusing Man Cave Book is joining us with tips on how to create a man cave that everyone can live with.

    LESLIE: Or at least close the door to, so I don’t have to look at.

    And this hour, we’re also giving away a Stanley 3-in-1 Tripod Flashlight and it’s a prize worth about 30 bucks.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got David in Tennessee on the line who’s looking at changing out a water heater. How can we help you with that project?

    DAVID: I’m changing out a tank – electric water heater. But the idea is to change out electric for electric but get one of these energy-saving wall-mounted ones. And if I do that, what anticipated payback theory do I want to be looking at?

    TOM: Well, I think you’re talking about a tankless water heater. And the problem is that electric water heaters are not necessarily very efficient as tankless water heaters. Only gas – either propane or natural gas can – only by using those fuels can you get a very efficient tankless water heater.

    What you can do, however, is you could switch from a standard electric water heater to what’s called a heat-pump water heater. That’s the newest line of efficiencies in electric water heaters. And heat-pump water heaters use a refrigeration system to basically deliver hot water when it can and then has an electric backup.

    In terms of the payback on that, compared to a standard water heater, I think that you will get a decent payback on that. But keep in mind that they’re going to be more expensive in terms of the payment – the initial purchase.

    DAVID: OK. So what I had looked at was going to be somewhere between $900 and $1,200, depending on the volume, you know? And so I’m thinking, “Well, yeah, it makes it a $1,200 investment.” So, if I were to do that, how many years would I be looking at, do you guess?

    TOM: Well, first of all, I don’t know if you were looking at a heat-pump water heater. It sounds to me like you were looking at an electric tankless water heater, which is not very efficient, so …

    DAVID: OK. That is correct. Yes, sir.

    TOM: Yeah. That said, a water heater – a heat-pump water heater – is going to last you probably a good 15 or 20 years. They’ll last a little bit longer, I think, than a standard tank water heater would.

    DAVID: OK. Well, I just know it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right direction in which to head, for the sake of the planet, but I also have to work within my own budget.

    TOM: Absolutely. Well, glad to help you out, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Susan in Texas is on the line, who doesn’t really have a taste for popcorn when it’s on a bathroom ceiling. Tell us, Susan, how much do you hate it?

    SUSAN: Just disliking it comes off the ceiling above the shower.

    LESLIE: Yeah because it’s not really a good application in the bathroom.

    TOM: Not really a good application for anywhere.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you’ve already accidentally stumbled upon how to get rid of it, if that’s the goal: it’s moisture, actually. And since you’re in the bath, it’s probably getting pretty saturated up there. But generally, when I’ve removed it for a client or during a makeover, I take almost like – you call it a Hudson sprayer; it’s a water pump sprayer that you can use for gardening or painting projects.

    And you do kind of have to saturate that ceiling. I mean not tremendously but you want to wet that popcorn and then take a really wide paint scraper and gently and cautiously just go across that ceiling surface. And you’re going to make a big hunk of gathered-up popcorn texture.

    SUSAN: OK. What about if you have the sheetrock around the top of a fiberglass shower that looks like it’s got the tape from where the sheetrock was taped, curling backwards when I try to tape that sheetrock?

    TOM: Right.

    SUSAN: Should I come back in with cement board?

    TOM: Well, if your paper tape is separating, then you may need to take that off and replace it. Does that mean that you have to – is there – is this drywall above the enclosure or is it tile?

    SUSAN: It’s drywall. Yes, sir.

    TOM: OK. So, you can peel off the tape and then re-spackle it or what you could do is you could put another layer of drywall over that. You can use a type of drywall called greenboard, which is water-resistant, and just go right on top of that with a second layer if you’re concerned about the condition of the original layer.

    SUSAN: OK. Well, actually, the condition’s really good; it doesn’t get wet up there but I could just see that that tape was peeling. And so if I can try and see if I can go in with some new tape and spackle, that would be great.

    TOM: Yeah. Peel off the loose paper tape, replace it with perforated fiberglass tape – which has a grid in it; it’s easier to push the spackle through – and then just flat-tape it right against the edge of the fiberglass and you’ll be good to go.

    SUSAN: OK. Perfect. That’s a whole lot easier than I thought.

    TOM: Alright, Susan. Glad we could help. 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, home improvement, design, décor. Whatever you are working on, we here at Team Money Pit are willing and happy to give a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, weak spots in your foundation can turn into full-blown cracks if too much water is allowed to collect there. We’ll teach you how to eliminate that moisture and fix those cracks, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    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. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are going to give you a hand with your home improvement situation because, as we all know, when you’re working on something around the house, it goes very quickly from being a project to a situation. So we can help you with that.

    And also, this hour we’re giving away a great prize to one lucky caller who gets on the air with us. We’ve got the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley. And it’s got a great, hands-free tripod design with three flashlights that can be used separately, so you’ve got three on their own or as one super-powerful light that maybe you can see from the moon. I’m not sure; I’m just putting that out there.

    And the lenses, of course, are shatterproof. It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours if we pick your name at random from the callers who get on the air with us this hour at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Time now to turn our attention to that part of the home that holds it up: the foundation. If yours has cracks in it, it can mean a serious drainage issue exists around the foundation perimeter, especially if those cracks are, in fact, seeping or leaking water.

    Now, the experts at QUIKRETE remind us that those cracks are easily repaired in your concrete basement walls. But first, you’ve got to address the bigger issue that’s causing the cracks and that is, and always has been, water.

    You know, basement water issues are almost always caused by clogged downspouts, clogged gutters that are just not moving that water far enough away from your home’s foundation. If the grading is wrong around the house, that can cause problems, too.

    So if you clear the gutters, make sure those downspouts discharge well away from your home, as well as check the soil slope so that all that water is moving gracefully away from the foundation perimeter. That will help keep water from collecting in that area. It can stop foundation cracks; it can even stop wet basements.

    So, remember, grading and gutters – key to protecting the structural integrity of your foundation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright. Now, once you’ve accepted that yes, it’s water, yes, it’s drainage, this is all of what’s causing these foundation issues. Now, you can actually go and fix the cracks and a great product to use for that is QUIKRETE’s Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant. And it’s a high-performance, construction-grade polyurethane sealant that will permanently seal and then waterproof those cracks in your concrete, masonry and even stucco surfaces.

    And it dries to a durable and flexible finish, which is important because as things move, it’s going to stay put. And it also helps prevent water and ice damage and then it’s textured, also, so that it blends right in with those concrete surfaces. You’re never even going to notice that you made that repair.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s good stuff. It also has excellent adhesion and it’ll be tack-free in about two hours, so easy to work with. If you want to learn more, you can visit QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chuck in Michigan on the line who’s trying to remove some old padding from a hardwood floor. What happened?

    CHUCK: Well, we just bought this house and when we went to remove the carpeting, we noticed that there was some padding glued down to the floor. The glue was spread with a trowel and I want to restore the hardwood floor, so I don’t want to damage it when I remove the carpeting. And I figured I’d give you guys a call and find out what your suggestion would be.

    TOM: Because you were hoping that we would give you the easy, simple, do-it-yourself solution to this problem, weren’t you, Chuck?

    CHUCK: Exactly. That’s what I was counting on.

    TOM: That’s why I hate to disappoint you, buddy.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be so easy.

    TOM: There’s nothing easy about removing these floor adhesives. They’re really into that floor. What you end up having to do is scrape off as much as you can and then you’re going to belt-sand this floor with a floor sander. And when I say, “You,” I mean the sort of – the royal you. I would hire a guy to do this because if you make a mistake with this belt sander, you will damage the floor.

    LESLIE: Yeah, this is not a fun project.

    TOM: But if you put it in the hands of a professional, they can scrape off this glue, get it down to fresh hardwood and get it to a point where you can refinish these and have them look terrific.

    CHUCK: OK. Thank you very much. We’ll try that out.

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

    LESLIE: Randall in Kansas is dealing with some ducting issues. What’s the matter? It’s not cooling efficiently?

    RANDALL: No, it’s cooling just fine; it’s just the fan roars. And they said it’s due to the ductwork being too small.

    TOM: So, fan makes a lot of noise. Is that what you’re saying?

    RANDALL: Yes.

    TOM: It’s more likely – has the fan always roared or is it something that’s a new development?

    RANDALL: Yeah, from the first time it was turned on.

    TOM: Really, huh? Yeah. Well, it’s not likely because the ductwork is too small; it may just be the way it was installed. If it’s slightly out of balance, for example, it can make a real racket.

    So, why do you think the ductwork is too small? Does the system not heat or cool properly?

    RANDALL: It cools just fine. It works all – it works fine.

    TOM: Yeah?

    LESLIE: It’s just noisy.

    TOM: It’s just noisy.

    RANDALL: Just noisy.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RANDALL: Not a rattling noise. It’s a roar-type noise: wind roar.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Has anyone suggested to you that you slow down the fan speed?

    RANDALL: No. Actually, you’re the first person I’ve actually talked to about it other than the dealership.

    TOM: OK. Well, most fans, most blowers inside HVAC systems have multiple speeds. And depending on the run – the length that you have to move the air – you may be able to get away with a lower speed than what the fan is currently set at. And if you slow it down, it’s going to get a heck of a lot quieter, so I think that’s a good place to start.

    You might want to talk with your HVAC contractor about that the next time you have the system serviced and find out if it’s a multi-speed blower – which I would be very surprised if it’s not – and see if you could sort of step it down one notch and see if that makes a difference for you.

    RANDALL: OK. Well, I haven’t even got moved into it. It’s brand new.

    TOM: Oh, well, then the builder should handle that. Why, you’re not getting that kind of cooperation?

    RANDALL: Do some more complaining about it and see.

    TOM: Alright. Well, there’s an option for you. Why don’t you raise that issue, OK?

    RANDALL: Okie-dokie.

    TOM: And make sure – listen, make sure you get a home inspection done before you close on that place, because a pro can come up with a very detailed list of things that need to be tackled. And get it done before you close.

    RANDALL: Well, we’ve already closed.

    TOM: Oh, you’ve already closed. Alright. So you’re dealing with a warranty company now.

    RANDALL: Yeah. More or less.

    TOM: The builder’s warranty branch. Alright. Well, listen, squeaky wheel gets the grease. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pam in Illinois needs some help with a decking project. What can we do for you?

    PAM: Well, I need to know: what is the best product that I can use to get the best results to repaint my deck with another solid color?

    TOM: So you want to do a solid-color stain, Pam?

    PAM: Yeah. What we did first was we put on a semi-color stain and it didn’t last very long, so we power-washed it and repainted it with a solid-color stain.

    TOM: OK.

    PAM: And now it’s peeling off really bad.

    TOM: How long ago did you put the solid stain on it? I want to get a sense into how long it lasted.

    PAM: It’s about three years.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    PAM: And see, it’s in constant sunlight.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, when you put it on top of the previous stain, which was the semi-transparent, did you – I know you pressure-washed it but did you sort of scrape away any of the extra that may have been peeling or did you get it down to a good, smooth surface?

    PAM: Oh, we scraped off what we could.


    TOM: Yeah, because this comes down to an issue of adhesion and right now, you’ve got two products on that deck. You really are going to have to use, most likely, a stripper product to get as much of the old stuff off as you can.

    Behr has a good line of deck and fence and siding stain products that I think would work well for you. But the thing is, you’re going to have to remove the old product first. And so they also – when you buy into a line of finishes like the Behr finishes, you want to use their entire line, so – because they all work well together.

    So they’ve got a premium stain and finish stripper that you would apply first and that is product number 64. And then on top of that, you use the solid-color deck, fence and siding wood stain. And if you get the old finish off and then you apply that and follow label directions, I think you’re going to find that you’re going to have a renewed finish there that’s going to last you a good number of years.

    PAM: OK, great. Now, do we power-wash before or after we use this product?

    TOM: No, you can power-wash initially to get the loose stuff off but don’t be too aggressive because remember, a power-washer is not only going to take off the old finish; it will dig down into the wood and potentially damage it. So be very gentle with that and let it dry really, really, really well before you take the next steps and you start getting into the Behr prep products and then, of course, the Behr stain product.

    PAM: Well, that’s very helpful. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Sue in South Carolina is having some trouble removing wallpaper. Tell us what you’ve done, what’s going on.

    SUE: I haven’t even started yet. I was waiting to get your solution.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: I live in an older home where the wallpaper has been adhered to sheetrock and I know the sheetrock was not prepared in any way. Can you give me some tips as to the best way I can remove this old wallpaper or is there anything new on the market I might try?

    LESLIE: Hmm. Now when you’re dealing with wallpaper and essentially because you know there was no prep work, you’re probably – once you start removing the paper – going to be kind of doing a lot of damage to that drywall but it’s always worth a shot.

    Generally, what you want to do is score the paper first. Some people use a product called a Paper Tiger, which is essentially a bunch of blades on a circular, palm-held device that you can sort of score the paper into tiny little bits on the wall and then you steam it. Other people use just a simple matte knife and do long strips and then sort of steam that, as well.

    And you really do have to kind of saturate the wall with steam; really let it get to the glue. And the reason why you score it is so that the steam and the warmth can sort of get behind the paper and loosen up that glue, so you can sort of peel it away.

    It’s going to be a lot of work but once you start doing that, you’ll see sort of how that drywall is reacting behind it. If you see that it’s just a disaster, you might as well just stop there and get yourself some super-thin drywall and just recoat the entire room and start from scratch.

    SUE: Well, that is an option. I had not thought of that. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Sue. 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. Coming up, has the woman in your life made you give up your NASCAR shrine for those fancy, beautiful window treatments and potpourri and decorative items and family photos?

    TOM: What’s wrong with NASCAR?

    LESLIE: It just doesn’t belong in the living room.

    Well, if this sounds like what’s going on at your money pit, then maybe you are in need of a man cave. We are going to tell you how to get that manly space that you really, really, really want but no one else in the family does, when the author of Man Caves joins us, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And here’s a question for the guys. Have your houses been taken over by things you don’t understand, like gravy boats and what I like to call “pot-porry”?

    LESLIE: Ah, Tom.

    TOM: Because I don’t even know how to say it right. Potpourri.

    LESLIE: It’s potpourri. You know what it is.

    TOM: If you feel that way, you may be in need of a man cave.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Our next guest – who I imagine probably felt that way, so wrote a book – he is the author of The Man Cave Book. And it’s a how-to book filled with all of the essentials that every guy out there needs to know to create his own space: you know, like a clubhouse of sorts but just for the older dudes and of course, with much more expensive toys than we would have as a kid. And of course, then making me jealous that I don’t get my own space. Oh but wait, I have the whole house. Muahahahaha.

    Welcome, Jeff Wilser. Welcome to The Money Pit.

    JEFF: Thanks, guys. Good to be here. I think it’s pronounced “pot-pour-e.” Well, that’s how I always pronounce it.

    TOM: Pot-pour-e. Yes.

    JEFF: I’m pretty sure that’s right.

    TOM: And Leslie brings up a good point. So if the guys get the man cave, what do the girls get?

    LESLIE: The rest of the house.

    JEFF: Well, as she said, the rest of the house. When I was a kid, I asked my mom, “Hey, there’s a Mother’s Day and there’s a Father’s Day. Why isn’t there a Kid’s Day?” My mom said, “Every day is Kid’s Day.” So it’s like that with a man cave: every other room in the house is for the woman. This is the one space the guy can kind of have in his own dominion, without regard to supervision or taste.

    LESLIE: OK. So what exactly do you need to create a man cave? Is there a specific space of the house that you are allowed to take over or can you just walk into any room and be like, “I claim it”?

    JEFF: It’s generally frowned upon to go in there and claim a living room or bedroom as their own; I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone who wants to preserve their marriage. But the good news is that there are a lot of different types of spaces that could work.

    So, the basement, the attic, if there’s a second kind of office-type room. Or a lot of guys will even have an outdoor shed that they kind of refurbish and use as a man cave. So, a lot of possibilities.

    TOM: See, now, a lot of women would like that, just to kick the guys outdoors in the shed.

    LESLIE: But the only thing I can think of with the shed is it’s kind of like a doghouse.

    TOM: Well, yeah. But this is when being in the doghouse is going to be potentially a good thing. Now …

    JEFF: Everybody wins. It’s great.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, Jeff, as you wrote this book, I guess you did man-cave research. Man, that must have been brutal. What kinds of man caves …

    JEFF: You know, it’s – yeah, tough job, right?

    TOM: Yeah. What kinds of man caves did you find?

    JEFF: One thing that surprised me is in the book, we interviewed tons of guys and man-cave owners across the country. And I was shocked by the variety of man caves and we show these photos of different spaces.

    And I kind of assumed, going into this, there’s kind of the cliché man cave that has the sport shrines and NASCAR stuff and beer. And that’s all great and there’s plenty of that. But there’s also high-end man caves, there’s cigar-lounge man caves. There’s one guy in Scotland, I believe, created a man castle with a stone spire. So there’s a really stunning variety of different types of spaces.

    It’s really – what matters is you think about a theme that’s important to you and then stuff as much things as you possibly can in the man cave about that theme.

    LESLIE: So, really, just fill that space to the max with everything that you love.

    JEFF: Absolutely. And one important thesis is that quantity trumps quality in a man cave. Important aesthetic principle.

    TOM: The more stuff, the better, huh?

    JEFF: Absolutely.

    TOM: We’re talking to Jeff Wilser. He’s the author of The Man Cave Book.

    So, Jeff, you spent quite a bit of time on this. How do you know if you spent too much time in your man cave? Do the women have to go down there and pry the guys out if they’re – does that mark a total successful project that they never want to leave?

    JEFF: Yeah, a few warning signs. If you smell like feet, that’s a good sign you’ve been in a man cave too long.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s probably a good one.

    JEFF: If you – naps are encouraged, naps are fine. But if you find yourself sleeping overnight or you’re bringing a cot down there and staying 8, 10 hours, that’s a good sign it’s time for some fresh air. And if you can’t remember the last time you’ve seen your actual friends or actual family because you’re enjoying time with your bobblehead friends, that’s another sign you’ve been in there too long.

    TOM: Yeah. And I guess if your beard gets too long, like Rip Van Winkle, it’s time to get out.

    Hey, what about if you – what do you do if you don’t have the space? We talked about other rooms that you could use but what if you just don’t have an extra room? I mean you live in New York City. Now, there’s not too many – space is at a premium there. There’s not too many places you could put a man cave.

    JEFF: Yeah, man caves are very small and very overpriced in New York City. But I think there’s – it’s definitely possible to find a – worst case, a section of a room. Kind of cordon that off and get – my brother-in-law has a shrine to Dallas Cowboys. Kind of exists in one corner of the overall living room, right?

    So you can have kind of your own space and I guess that’s really the most important thing is to have some section of space that belongs to you and you get to kind of decorate however you want to.

    TOM: So if you can’t do a man cave, you can do a man corner.

    JEFF: Man corner, yeah. Kind of a – I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not the same thing but that’s – it’s better than nothing at all, I suppose.

    LESLIE: It’s like the time-out for your husband.

    TOM: Jeff Wilser, author of The Man Cave Book. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you want to check out Jeff’s work, perhaps figure out where you can pick up his book, I know it’s available at Amazon and major book retailers. You can go to his website, which is ManCaveSite.org. That’s ManCaveSite.org.

    Jeff, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and we’ll let you head back to the cave.

    JEFF: Thanks, guys. Take care.

    LESLIE: Alright, Jeff. We’ll see how quickly one of these finds their way into my home.

    Still to come, guys, we are going to tell you about a one-stop shopping resource that will take the front of your home from drab to fab, with a front entry that will be the envy of your neighborhood, after this.

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    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: Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, this hour we’re giving away the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley, which is now my number-one most favorite flashlight. And as a Boy Scout household, we have a collection but I’ve got to tell you, I like this one because …

    LESLIE: This is your go-to flashlight for all projects.

    TOM: It is. It’s got a hands-free design and none of the others do. It’s got three legs that open up like a tripod and it’ll sit there. It’s great for you to stick under a cabinet or if you’re working on your car. It just sits there and does a great job. Plus, these three lights will come apart so you now have three separate flashlights, which is good if you have helpers that you have to give a light to.

    It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours if we pick your name from The Money Pit hard hat of all the calls that come in this hour. So pick up the phone and call us with that question, that burning question that you need some light shown upon in more ways than one. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Let us know what you are working on and we can give you a hand with that project.

    Now, maybe you’re thinking about doing some work to the outside of your home or just the landscaping or what you see from the street. Well, if you are, keep this in mind that your home’s front entry really says a lot about what’s going on inside your house. If yours is not telling your story correctly, then it might be time to bump it up a notch and it will definitely pay off. You are going to get perceived and real value actually added to your home when you enhance the entry to the house.

    Now, when it comes time to replace your entryway, you can go all the way with one-stop shopping from Therma-Tru. And Therma-Tru now offers both energy-efficient fiberglass doors and Fypon low-maintenance urethane millwork.

    Now, Therma-Tru Classic-Craft entry doors, they come with real embossed wood grain in oak, mahogany and rustic styles. And boy, they really do look real. I mean you’re going to be walking up to the store and thinking it’s real wood but you’re going to get the efficiency of the fiberglass.

    And Fypon’s new Stone & Timber Collection has a synthetic millwork look to it; the pieces feature rich, authentic textures to look just like wood. But you don’t have to worry about moisture, bugs, cracking, warping, splitting, maintenance. Plus, you can actually stain all the pieces to get the look of whatever you want.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, if you like the look of stone, you might want to consider Therma-Tru’s Classic-Craft Canvas Collection, which has doors that are very smooth and paintable and you can add a pop of color to your front façade with that type of a door. Then you can accent it with Fypon’s Stone & Timber Collection, which looks just like cast concrete; it has those sort of arched block sort of decorative block looks.

    And the kits that these come in, they also include column kits, balustrade systems for railings: the newel posts, the rails. It’s all there at Fypon.com or ThermaTru.com. Check it out. There’s a lot options today on ways that you can really spruce up the front of your home without spending a lot of money.

    And it really does add a lot of value because, remember, when folks are shopping for homes these days, how do they do it? Well, they don’t drive by your house anymore; they look at that picture, that little snapshot of the front of your house. And if it looks good, you’re more likely to get them to come in the door and perhaps make a purchase.

    LESLIE: Bob in Michigan needs some help with a siding issue. What can we do for you?

    BOB: Well, I’ve got white aluminum siding and it’s old aluminum siding. Most of it looks pretty good but on the north side, opposite the kitchen and the bathroom – I’m sure that’s where the moisture is coming from – I have mildew along that outside wall.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    BOB: And I’m wondering – it has to be washed off; it looks terrible. And once I wash it off, can I leave it like that or does it need to be coated or painted or …?

    TOM: No. What kind of siding do you have?

    BOB: It’s painted aluminum.

    TOM: It’s painted aluminum. Alright. Well, you’ve got to be very careful about cleaning this up because you may end up taking off some of the paint in the process. But my suggestion would be for you to use a siding cleaner. JOMAX, for example – J-O-M-A-X – is a good start.

    And basically, it’s a product that you mix with bleach and it activates and basically sits on there for a few minutes. It’ll kill the mildew and the moss and then you rinse it off. But you can’t be too aggressive; if you use a pressure washer, it’s got to be on a very light setting. But it’s a two-step process.

    And then after you’re done, you can decide whether you’re happy with the finish or not. I will tell you that you can paint it again, obviously. But there’s nothing you should be putting on there that protects it. If you do cut back on some of the overhanging trees, try to get more sunlight on those two walls, that will have a natural effect on cutting back on the amount of mildew that grows there.

    BOB: I’m doing that right now, so I understand that part.

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’ll be – you’ll find that it won’t come back nearly as quickly.

    BOB: Good, good. Well, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: John in Colorado, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JOHN: I had a question about the venting of a radon installation: a radon pipe?

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And the house I was looking at had this pipe from under the slab.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: Actually, it wound up in the garage and then it went up into the attic of the house.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And in between the garage floor and the attic was an inline fan.

    TOM: Right. That’s correct.

    JOHN: But the pipe terminated 2 feet into the attic.

    TOM: Oh, so it didn’t go through the attic to the outside?

    JOHN: No.

    TOM: Oh, well, that’s a mistake. Yeah. Everything was correct up until you got to the fact that they left the pipe in the attic. No, you want that to go up through the attic, through the roof just like a plumbing pipe would.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: And typically, it turns down, like U-shaped at the top, so water doesn’t get into it.

    JOHN: Uh-huh. But it had seven or eight vents in the roof in that attic.

    TOM: No. Maybe they felt like there was enough ventilation in the attic. But the fan is supposed to terminate outside; you’re not supposed to dump it back into the house in any way, shape or form. So I would take it – and you could simply add to it. You can bring it up through the roof and you put a proper plumbing vent/flashing sleeve around that and then terminate it above the roof.

    JOHN: OK. Well, just another expense.

    TOM: Yeah, well, you know what? You said you were buying this house?

    JOHN: I was looking at it for my daughter.

    TOM: Make it part of the negotiation. I don’t think it was done right.

    JOHN: Yeah, OK. Well, that’s reasonable.

    TOM: Certainly is.

    JOHN: Well, I guess I could even put it into that vent and have a hole there.

    TOM: What vent?

    JOHN: Well, there’s seven – six or seven or eight roof vents.

    TOM: Oh, terminate it near one of the attic vents?

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: I would just run it up through the roof and terminate it above the roof; I would not try to jury-rig it but sticking it near one of the other vents. That’s not the way they’re supposed to work. You don’t know if those vents are going to be pressurized or depressurized, depending on the air flow over the roof structure itself. So I would keep the radon vent away from that, go right up through the roof and terminate it the way it was supposed to be done in the first place.

    JOHN: Good enough. Truly appreciate it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is your once lush lawn looking a bit more like a wheat field in these hot summer days? Well, don’t give up on it. We’re going to tell you how to bring it back to life, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com, where you can fan us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

    And while you’re online, why not stop by MoneyPit.com and post a question in our Community section, just like Kevin did in New York?

    LESLIE: That’s right. And Kevin writes: “My upstairs lights sometimes flicker when first turned on. My home was built in 1969. The downstairs lights don’t do this. The flickering stops after a few seconds.”

    TOM: Flickering is a bad thing and could indicate that there’s something going on in the circuit.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: And one thing that concerns me, Kevin, is that you mentioned that the home was built in 1969, an important date because between 1965 and 1972 in many parts of the country, the standard was to use aluminum branch circuit wiring, which is definitely a fire hazard.

    So I would get an electrician in, find out what kind of wiring you have. If you have aluminum wiring, there is a repair that can be done to make it safe again. It’s pretty expensive; it’s a system of special wire nuts that you can use to attach copper pigtails to the end of it. But if you have it, definitely got to do it because it’s just not safe.

    And even if you don’t, I suspect something is wrong in the circuit. Something is overheating; that’s what’s causing your flickering.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Jeff in Dallas who posted: “I have the drain line from my washer back up and water come out when the washer is draining. The plumber’s explanation is that the drain line is too small for modern washers. Will a low-water usage washer alleviate the problem or do I need to replace the drain line under the house?”

    TOM: Hmm. Maybe but it’s kind of an odd observation on the part of the plumber. I might get a second opinion and if it does turn out that the line is too small, I would replace the line. I would not just necessarily buy a very expensive, high-efficiency washer just because of that particular reason.

    Now, if your washer goes and you need to buy one anyway, then of course you want to buy one that’s as efficient as possible and save as much water as possible. But if the plumbing system was incorrectly installed or if there’s an obstruction or a lack of a vent, those could all cause the condition that you are experiencing. So I would definitely get a second opinion from a plumber and get it fixed correctly.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that gives you a hand and remember, guys, check out the Community section of MoneyPit.com. And post your questions there and we’ll jump into those every hour of The Money Pit, like we just did now.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve ever watched your lawn fade from luscious green to a wheat-field brown, you know how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy lawn throughout these dog days of summer. Leslie has the last word on summer lawn care to get it green again, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. First of all, the main thing that you want to do when you’re dealing with a drought season and the lawn’s looking a little bit dry, first of all, cut back on the mowing. It’s really a good idea to keep that grass a little bit longer in the heat of summer, because cutting too much can actually mean that the grass loses more moisture from those cut tips on those really hot days.

    Now, if you do have a lawn that’s in good shape, you can allow your grass to go into a semi-dormant state by cutting back on the watering. If brown is not really the color you like on your lawn and you prefer to water, make sure you do it really early in the morning. This way, you’re going to give the lawn a chance to dry out by nighttime, which is going to discourage problems with bugs and diseases. Because then it gets too moist and as the evening cools down, even it’s just a little bit, that moisture is not going to evaporate out. And it’s just going to sit there and cause a whole bunch of problems.

    It’s also best to water heavily a couple of times a week to encourage deeper root growth on that grass, rather than light watering every day. And remember that roots that are closer to the surface are more susceptible to the heat and far less likely to turn into a dead grass-looking lawn.

    So, really, take these steps. Summer is almost done. I know it’s crazy to say that but it really is. You know, autumn’s right around the corner. So take good care of your lawn and remember, all of these steps that you do will ensure that it comes back beautifully again in the spring. So keep faith. Summer’s upon us but the cool autumn days are not far away.

    TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, is your kitchen looking a little worn and dated? If so, it’s probably because of the cabinets. We’ll have tips on how you can repair, refurbish or perhaps even replace those on the cheap, 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.

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    (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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