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    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 for you, to help you tackle your home improvement projects, to help you tackle the do-it-yourself dilemmas, the projects that you’d like to do yourself but just don’t know where to start. Give us a call. We will help you take that first step. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Summer is just around the corner. I can just about taste it. I mean it’s just starting to have those consistently warm and beautiful days and I can’t wait to get started. But what are you going to get started to help improve the summer around your house? You working outside? You working inside? Let us give you a hand, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on the program, millions of Americans put their homes on the market, traditionally, this time of year. And when they do, there’s one thing that they don’t think about until they really absolutely have to and that’s moving. How are you going to move? Who are you going to hire? Are you going to do it yourself? You going to hire a company? You’re going to rent a truck? What are you going to do? You know, if you start thinking about that early, you can save time, you can save hassle and you can save cash. We’ll tell you how, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it gives you time to read over that lengthy contract to make sure everything’s in place.

    TOM: Yeah. It says, “We’re going to charge you a lot of money. Whatever we break is not our fault.”

    LESLIE: Right. Alright. Also ahead, do you want a water-saving and even energy-saving way to keep your lawn nice and green? Well, think about installing an inground sprinkler system. We’re going to help you figure out if this is an option for you, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic prize that you’re really going to enjoy as the weather warms up. It’s a SodaStream Source Starter Kit. It’s worth $99. It delivers fresh, homemade soda pop with no bottles to toss. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you just might win that great prize from SodaStream.

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

    LESLIE: Erin in Louisiana is on the line. How can we help you today?

    ERIN: Hi. I have a slab house that’s about 35 years old and it’s showing signs of needing to be leveled. But I thought I heard on a previous show of yours that you do not recommend leveling a house; just fix the issues that come up as it needs it. And I didn’t know if I heard correctly or not, so I thought I would call and ask about that.

    LESLIE: Well, tell me, how much of a slope are you noticing, throughout the property, on the interior of the home?

    ERIN: No, we’re seeing cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceiling, cracks in the floors.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, if you put a marble on the floor in some of these rooms that you’re seeing these cracks, does it roll all around wildly? If it does roll, how fast?

    ERIN: I actually have not done anything like that.

    LESLIE: Ah, the marble test. It’s very fun. That will tell you if the ground itself is level.

    Now, if you’re seeing cracks in the walls and in the ceiling, are they sort of near a doorway or a window or are they just square in the middle of stuff?

    ERIN: Well, there’s a crack in the floor that’s square in the middle of the floor and it extends out into a – we have a sliding-glass door and the brick above the sliding-glass door is separated. Then, we also see it – I also see it in rooms next to the wall, where it’s like – the house is shaped like a T. And where one part of the top of the T goes into the long part of the T, I can see it separating there against the – in the ceiling.

    LESLIE: Generally, if you see cracks and they’re by a doorframe or a window, that’s just general movement because of the opening in the envelope of the home, being in a window opening or a doorway in an interior wall. Now, if you’re seeing it like in the middle of the floor and above a doorframe in brick, you might be concerned that there could be some structural issues going on. However, you might want to bring in a structural engineer.

    You bring in an engineer or even a home inspector and for a couple of hundred bucks, they’ll come in and look at these areas and diagnose, specifically, what’s going on there. Because it could be something structural that could need to be fixed in a way that you can’t just do by repairing the crack. Or it could just simply be natural settlement of the home over the duration of the home’s lifespan and that’s easily fixable.

    But because you have a crack forming in the middle of a floor and that continues to a doorway, I would definitely bring in somebody who’s a structural engineer and they can write up a report on it. And the benefit of doing that is that when you do fix this, whatever the problem may be, you are going to have a full, written pedigree of what you’ve done to the problem in the home, how you’ve fixed it and what everything was done correctly. This way, if you go to sell the home and somebody says, “Oh, I saw a crack,” or whatever the situation might be, you can say, “Actually, this happened. We did this repair and it’s all square.”

    ERIN: OK.

    TOM: Erin, some cracks are really typical wear and tear, so to speak. But this one definitely sounds like you need a pro to check it out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Randy in Illinois is on the line with a kitchen-cabinet question. How can we help you today?

    RANDY: Yeah, I recently purchased a home and it had some all-wood cabinets in the kitchen. And they’re half bisque-colored and they’re half of a whiter color, depending on which part of the cabinet you look at. And I’m trying to figure out how – a way to get them back to either all one color or the lighter version.

    TOM: What’s the material that your cabinets are made out of?

    RANDY: I believe it’s oak but it could be pine.

    TOM: Well, assuming that the oak is finished, one of the issues that you’re going to have is that you can’t really stain it and change the color. So you’d have to either paint it or you’d have to sand it down. Since most of those cabinets are covered with veneer, it makes it also difficult for you to be able to sand enough of that finish off to have it accept stain.

    So, your resulting options would be to reface the cabinets, which is adding new veneer to it, or to paint the cabinets to get that consistent look.

    RANDY: OK. OK. That sounds good. I’ll do that. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, the weather is warming up and it’s officially springtime. Actually, we’re almost at Memorial Day. Woohoo! So if you are getting your money pit in tip-top shape for the summer season, give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is your house on the market? And if so, have you planned your move? You should. Smart homeowners think about selling and moving at the same time. We’re going to have some advice on how to do just that, in this week’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at FoundrySiding.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a SodaStream Source Starter Kit, which is worth $99. Making carbonated water and soft drinks is simple with this kit. Just turn tap water to sparkling water in under 30 seconds with no cleanup.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, Tom. Have you used one of these?

    TOM: It’s fantastic.

    LESLIE: It’s fantastic. It makes the best seltzer water, I guess you would call it, carbonated water with these big, tasty bubbles in it. It really is so good. And the kids love to help out because it makes a lot of noise and it’s super-fun. And you can actually enjoy the freshness and convenience of homemade soda. And the best part is it protects the environment at the same time.

    I like this because you don’t have to carry heavy bottles to and from the store, you don’t have to deal with recycling. You can fizz to your taste, which is excellent, and add the flavor of your choice to make your favorite drink.

    TOM: Visit SodaStream.com and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. And I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.

    And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.

    So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again and I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that you can fill in with (inaudible at 0:09:50).

    LESLIE: Like a Bondo.

    BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.

    And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.

    BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?

    BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.

    LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.

    Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper-helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.

    So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.

    Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.

    Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?

    BETH: Yes, ma’am.

    LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.

    And then there is an actual decorative wrap that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.

    So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.

    BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips, alright?

    TOM: Beth, it sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you on that job. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And today, we’ve got some tips on planning your move.

    LESLIE: You know, contrary to popular practice, the best time to actually start planning your move is as soon as you decide to sell your house.

    Now, what’s more is some of the stuff that you’ll do to prepare a home for sale can actually help you with the moving process, as well. You’ve got chores like cleaning out your closets, the basement, the attic. If you actually get through all of those to make it presentable for a potential buyer, you’ll actually have a lot less to do once your home is under contract.

    TOM: Now, there are a number of factors that impact that plan to move, including the distance to your new home. A local move, that might be a do-it-yourself project. But a long-distance move, that might mean you’ve got to spend some time screening and selecting a professional moving company. And that’s a job you want to take very seriously.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you need to be prepared to compare written estimates, you want to ask for recent references and you want to confirm your mover credentials on your way to choosing the moving team that’s going to help you with your transition. And in fact, Realtor.com, they’ve got a moving center and your realtor can actually help you find the right mover for your situation.

    TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

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

    RICK: Well, yes, I have a question about a bedroom wall. I’ll tell you real quick what I have. It’s a cinder-block wall and on the outside of it is a stone facing. And then on the inside, they just had furring strips and then plaster. So, no insulation and very cold in the winter.

    So what we’re doing – we’re tearing down the plaster. We’re going to frame it out. We’re going to put – I guess it’s R-19, I think it is, in there and they drywall it. But my question is – we were talking about putting a thermal barrier onto the block itself. And I guess I have a couple of questions or concerns: A) is it going to be worth it? Is it going to raise the R-value any? And B) there’s not really going to be an air cavity. It’s just going to be the thermal barrier on the wall and then the insulation is going to be touching that, so I’m kind of afraid it’s going to act more of a conductor.

    TOM: Well, what you might want to think about using there is Tyvec.

    RICK: Oh, on the inside.

    TOM: Yeah, on the inside. It’s vapor-permeable, so I think it’ll allow everything to breathe but it’ll keep some separation between the block and the frame.

    And by the way, you’d be wise to leave at least an inch there in between and not have it up against the block, because you really don’t want to have an organic material like wood – and certainly not drywall – that close to a very damp source, which would be the concrete block. Because concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. They suck up a lot of water and – especially in periods of bad weather. So you do want to have a bit of a space there. But I think that I would cover the block first with Tyvec, then I’d frame up against that.

    Now, another option, to kind of kill two birds with one stone, is consider spray-foam insulation. If you did spray-foam insulation, you could frame the wall and then you could spray into the framing, right up against the block wall. And then it would be cut flush with the wall and you would put your drywall right on top of that.

    Now, spray foam has the advantage of being able to not only insulate but seal and draft-proof at the same time. We recently added spray-foam insulation to our entire home. Now, we have an existing home, much like you. And of course, it makes it difficult to get into the walls. But what we did was we put it in the box beams, which were all the way around this sort of perimeter of the basement and crawlspace, and we added it to the attics. And just those areas – without even doing the walls, because we weren’t opening the walls at this time – made a huge difference in the energy efficiency of the house. So, I’m a big fan of Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e – as a result of that experience.

    RICK: OK. Yeah, I didn’t even think about anything like that. I have to check into that.

    Do you know – well, I guess I have to let you head off the line or whatever – if there’s somebody around my area?

    TOM: I’m sure that there will be. Icynene is a Canadian company but they have dealers all across the country.

    RICK: Now, if I didn’t do that and I just put the frame – the stud – up to the block wall – you said to leave an inch. Like what would you recommend? How would you do that?

    TOM: I would just simply frame the wall out away from the block.

    RICK: OK.

    TOM: And don’t attach the frame wall to the block wall. Because I’ll tell you, some of the worst cases of mold infestation we’ve seen is when you have wood framing attached to block walls and drywall which is, essentially, mold food.

    In fact, one other thing you might want to consider is to not use drywall on that wall but use something called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall product. So without the paper face, you don’t have food to feed the mold. Make sense?

    RICK: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is watering your lawn your least favorite chore? It used to be mine before I invested in an underground sprinkler system. We’re going to get tips on how these can save you time and water, from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Bostitch Mechanics Tools. Delivering the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last.

    JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And let me tell you, it’s no fun getting sacked, believe me, especially by your home improvement project. Stay in the game and listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor wood-staining project? Get it done the simple way with Flood Wood Care. With products like Flood CWF-UV, you get long-lasting quality at a great value, plus guidance to help make the whole process easier. Get started at Flood.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Next week, we take a road trip. We’re heading out to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, where we will get the inside scoop on all of the hot home improvement products. And this year, we’ll be covering it from our Top Products Pavilion right on the show floor.

    You can check out all of our top products picks, online, at MoneyPit.com and follow along on Twitter with the handle @MoneyPit. And be sure to use the hashtag #TopProductsNHS.

    LESLIE: You know, we love this show because the manufacturers use it to roll out all of the coolest, new products for the season.

    And one popular project this time of year is cleaning. And Concrobium has a line of mold-control products, including products that clean mold and prevent it.

    TOM: Check it out online in our Top Products Gallery and follow us @MoneyPit on Twitter.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re tired of dragging out the hoses every time you need to water your yard, it just might be time to consider an underground sprinkler system.

    TOM: Sprinkler systems are an effective, hands-free way to deliver the right amount of water to your lawn and make sure it gets exactly where it needs to be. Here with tips on how to choose the best sprinkler system for your house is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: I always wince when I see a sprinkler system delivering as much water to the street and the sidewalk as it does to the lawn. This is just one of the many inefficiencies of a system that’s not properly installed and maintained, right?

    ROGER: Right. But what bothers me most is when it’s running during a rainstorm.

    LESLIE: A rainstorm.

    TOM: Oh, yeah, on top of that, exactly.

    ROGER: Oh, I go crazy.

    TOM: Yeah. So where do you start when you want to go ahead and put the sprinkler system in? How do you assess the lawn? How do you make the right decisions for where you want the sprinkler heads and so on? What are the considerations?

    ROGER: Well, you have to map out your yard to decide where you’re going to put the sprinklers. Break it up into different zones. And you control those zones by a use of a controller so that the water gets delivered just where you want it to go.

    TOM: So it’s, essentially, a valve that – in kind of like a zone and …

    ROGER: A valve that – yeah, each valve for each zone.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And then you have a controller that you say, “Oh, I want that valve to run for so much period of time.”

    And you want to isolate things to common things. You want all the lawn in the sun to be on one zone, because that’ll probably need the most water. You want lawn that’s a little shadier – that gets a little less water, so that’s on a different zone. Your plant material needs to all be on a different zone because they don’t need quite as much water as a lawn does.

    LESLIE: Now, you’re saying this as if the average homeowner is going to be the one out there figuring it out. I mean forgive me if I’m wrong but I’ve never known inground sprinkler systems to be, truly, a do-it-yourself project. Is it?

    ROGER: Well, the design part is the hardest part and that’s figuring out what valves go where and what they control.

    LESLIE: Right.

    ROGER: Once you get the design done – and there’s usually places you can go to get help for that – it’s a matter of digging, putting in pipe together, some connections – plastic connections – and then just hooking everything up and you’re good to go. So you’ve got a lot of work to do but you can do it.

    LESLIE: Do you want to?

    ROGER: Some people do.

    LESLIE: That’s insane.

    Now, I’ve also heard that – for me, we decided to get an inground sprinkler system when the landscaper knocked on the door and said, “There is no point in me cutting your lawn if it is dead or you are not watering it. So please get an in-ground sprinkler system.” So we obliged and the lawn has been beautiful ever since. But I didn’t realize that there are efficiencies, as far as water usage, when it comes to the sprinkler heads. And unless you specify that, you’re not getting that.

    ROGER: Right. The WaterSense label is the most efficient sprinkler system we have on the ground right now. And you want people who use WaterSense-labeled material but are also a certified WaterSense technician.

    TOM: Now, WaterSense, of course, is the EPA’s program for water-efficient products, much like the ENERGY STAR program is for energy-efficient products. This is really products that conserve water, correct?

    ROGER: Right. We want to conserve as much of the water as we can.

    TOM: Now, how do they do that? Do they do that through the engineering of the heads?

    ROGER: Engineering of the heads. They put in a housing and then inside the housing will go a separate, little sprinkler head that they can control how many gallons per minute that will come out with that. And that’s how they’ll determine how many gallons are going to that area.

    LESLIE: Can you always modify a sprinkler plan? Like say you have big dreams to expand or change certain parts of your landscaping but you want to put the irrigation system in at this point. Is it adaptable or do you have to run extra lines to make it work for more plantings?

    ROGER: The key is to get your valves in a spot where you don’t have to dig up the valves. They’re the most work. In other words, the water comes out and it goes into each individual valve, which tells a certain area to water. If you change it, you can simply come off the valves with another pipe and go to wherever you want so that it allows you to do it with the least amount of work.

    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook. He’s the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Roger, one of the most important points of the year, when it comes to maintaining your sprinkler system, is at the end of the season when it has to be drained so that it doesn’t freeze and break. Any tips to make sure that happens correctly?

    ROGER: Do it before it gets below 32 degrees.

    TOM: Duh.

    ROGER: Most of the people who don’t put in their own system will have a professional company come by and blow it out for a fee. And that’s always a good idea because it puts the onus on them to get it done before it’s freezing.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: Most of our watering is done by the end of September, unless you put in new plantings. You could pretty much shut off and drain your system then and you would not have any regard for when it goes below freezing.

    TOM: Do you think that sprinkler systems are ultimately more efficient than hand-watering?

    ROGER: Absolutely. Absolutely. We put a sprinkler out and it just runs and goes everywhere. And before you know it, we’re busy with the kids or reading a book or whatever. So the area that was supposed to get 15 minutes now gets an hour’s worth of water and it’s running down the street. The controller just makes it so much easier for us to run it.

    TOM: And we’re all about easy. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and maybe convincing us.

    If you’ve been thinking about it, this is the season to go out and get that sprinkler system. You won’t regret it.

    ROGER: Not at all.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still to come, we’ve got info on this year’s hottest trends for outdoors. Find out why bright colors are making a big splash, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at FoundrySiding.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. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One of you lucky callers that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a SodaStream Source Starter Kit. It’s worth $99 and it’s a super-lot of fun. You can actually make carbonated water and all of your favorite soft drinks. It’s super-simple with this kit. You just turn tap water into sparkling water in under 30 seconds. No cleanup.

    TOM: You’ll enjoy the freshness and convenience of homemade soda and protect the environment at the same time. There are no heavy bottles to carry, to store at home or to throw away. Fizz to your taste and add the flavor of your choice to make your favorite drink. Visit SodaStream.com and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your question and your chance to win.

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

    STEVE: Looked outside this year and we’ve got a building that was built in 1929. It’s got a porch above the patio down below. And on the exposed joists, those carpenter bees have put some holes in there. And it – we’re looking for a way to eliminate the carpenter bees and not necessarily poison everything in the neighborhood.

    LESLIE: Well, a part of what they’re doing is – you know, they really enjoy eating this natural wood. So they’re coming there because you’ve got something tasty to offer up. And it turns out that they love to bore these holes that are perfectly 3/8-inches round.

    So you can do a couple of things. You can have it treated by a pest professional and then seal up those holes and that should do the trick. But you’re right: chemicals are used and that might not be what you have in mind.

    The other thing is you can cover that or replace that joist completely – or whatever the support is – with a synthetic wood or a composite that looks like wood but it’s not actually wood. It could be extruded PVC, it could be recycled plastics. This way, it looks like wood; it’s doing the same job that the wood piece was. However, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, whatever pests like to eat a natural source as wood, they’re going to try it, they’re not going to get into it and they’re going to be really confused and fly away and find somewhere else to eat.

    STEVE: Yeah, that sounds like an option. Yeah, I was wondering if there was something that – I assume that painting it would not make a difference. I didn’t know if there was something that could be topically applied to it that would be environmentally friendly and keep the bees out.

    LESLIE: Unh-unh. I’ve had them eat through the painted wood that makes up my entire screened-in porch. And then what happens is they bore a hole but they won’t bore all the way through. They’ll bore into the wood, even if it’s just a 1×6 or whatever. They find a way to bore into it and then bore through the wood itself and lay their eggs in there.

    STEVE: OK. And it – yeah, it’s amazing. It looks like somebody got out with a drill and drilled the hole in there.

    LESLIE: It’s just bizarre. It’s perfect how they do it.

    STEVE: So, essentially, the options, basically, are having someone come out and treat it or either covering or changing the material that’s there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, changing material is usually the best bet because they won’t eat it. And then, as an added benefit, it doesn’t require any maintenance except the occasional cleaning. You’re not going to be painting it all the time. It really is a win-win situation.

    STEVE: OK. Yeah, I’ll look into that. I’ve got a contractor that’s got to come out anyway, so I’ll look into both options. But it sounds like it – I’d prefer something that wouldn’t have to do with pesticides but …

    TOM: Steve, I hope that takes care of those carpenter bees once and for all. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, according to the trend reports coming out of the upcoming National Hardware Show, brightly-colored planters and accent pieces for your outdoor spaces are in this season. And as I always say, “Why spend more money than you have to?” You should always spend more money than you have to.

    No way, guys. We’re all talking about saving some cash and making everything look great. And you don’t have to spend a lot to take part in this trend. You can actually take pieces that you already own and paint them in the brightest colors of the season. We’re talking about hot orange – you know, super-super-vibrant orange – yellow, blue and purple. Purple is the Pantone Color of the Year. They’re calling it Radiant Orchid. And it is just popping up everywhere.

    TOM: Now, if you’re going to paint, you want to do a great job. So when you’re prepping your pieces, a good way to get those results is to use 3M’s ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape for Exterior Surfaces.

    Now, the cool thing about this tape is that it holds up in difficult weather conditions. So if your project gets maybe interrupted by some sun, some wind, some humidity, some rain, no problem. Regardless of the conditions, the tape will still lift cleanly up to seven days later. That leaves no adhesive transfer or slivering, where you have those little, tiny pieces of tape that get stuck behind.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Which is such a pain. But you know what else makes ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape super-cool? It actually conforms so that you can mask off curves, so you don’t have to be limited by straight lines when it comes to your creativity. And there’s really no other tape out there that can create those curves and arches that you might be dreaming of.

    Also, this tape has a unique pattern on the back of the tape itself, which makes it really easy to get a straight tear, every time, with one quick snap.

    TOM: ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape is available at home centers, hardware and paint stores and at mass retailers. Visit ScotchBlue.com for more information.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got David from Illinois on the line who’s got a question about a well system. How can we help you today?

    DAVID: It’s my son’s well. He has a well in his house and it – the water system has air pockets in it quite often so that the water will be running and then an air pocket will expel water.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And sometimes, it’ll shoot out of the sink or what-have-you. And so I was wanting to know what you can do to get rid of the air pockets in a well system.

    TOM: Does the system have a pressure tank on it, David?

    DAVID: It has a pressure tank, I believe.

    TOM: That sounds like a problem with the pressure tank. If the pressure tank is missing or if it’s not installed properly or if the bladder has failed, then you’re not getting a chance to build up pressure and then feed off the tank. You might be feeding directly from the well, which could account for the air blast.

    So the first thing I would do is look at the pressure tank, see what kind of condition that that’s in. That’s most likely what’s causing the air getting into the lines.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, a common problem with replacement windows, after some time, is a broken seal. What exactly is it? Does it affect the window’s efficiency? And how do you fix it? Those answers are next.

    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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question or post your question online on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or at MoneyPit.com in the Community section, just like Chuck did from New Jersey, who looks like he had a little bit of a problem with a home sale, Leslie.

    LESLIE: It looks like it became a big problem.

    Alright. Chuck writes: “Our home sale fell through because we wouldn’t agree to replace our dining-room window, which has a broken seal. The window is a double casement. The broken-seal side is only 3 feet by 4 feet. Please explain what a broken seal is, whether it affects the energy efficiency and please recommend if this is something I should do to avoid a problem in the future. We thought this was a minor issue and already conceded thousands on the price of our home. Did we mess up?”

    TOM: Well, look, if those folks didn’t want to buy your house, Chuck, they may not have ever …

    LESLIE: Over a window.

    TOM: Yeah, over a window. They may not have ever bought your house. But the truth is that, yes, a failed seal – a failed, thermal-pane seal – is what happens when the seal between the two panes of glass in a traditionally-insulated window – when that seal fails, you get moisture in there and that causes the window to cloud up. Does that make the window somewhat less efficient? Yes, it does. Is it so much less efficient than anyone would ever notice it? Just one or two failed panes like that in an entire house? Probably not.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But it doesn’t look attractive.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a cosmetic issue because it looks kind of cloudy. So, what I would do next time is if you don’t want to replace that, I would simply disclose it up front. Say, “Look, I know that we’ve got a couple of windows that have got failed seals. We consider it wear and tear. We’re not ready to replace windows so I’m telling you, right now, don’t come back later and ask me to give you money for it, because that’s that.”

    The other thing that you might want to do, Chuck, is to actually have your home inspected by a professional home inspector. In New Jersey, there are both licensed. And I would find someone that not only is licensed but also is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

    And have the house inspected. This way, you’ll get a real good idea of how the house is going to present in the eyes of a prospective buyer’s inspector. You’re going to avoid those last-minute surprises and you’ll have the opportunity to either make the repair or disclose the issue. In either case, you kind of control the transaction rather than letting the buyer come in at the last minute and make a bunch of demands on you after you’ve already negotiated down your bottom dollar. Now, they’ll be looking for more money for things.

    So, it’s better to have the information. Spend a little bit of money – right now, up front – on getting a good home inspection done and then you can be in control. And hopefully, this won’t happen to you again.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean that’s tough. It’s always unfortunate when something falls through at the last second. But depending on how good the deal is, you might want to consider whether or not you take it.

    TOM: Well, there is a lot of emotion that happens in these transactions. And by the time the buyer and the seller are there, the buyer is convinced they’re paying top dollar, the seller is convinced they’re giving the house away. And so, if you get a home inspection done early on in the transaction, then you really have the opportunity to deal with those things before you’re in that hotbed of emotion and you can really make better decisions.

    LESLIE: A house is just a house but it’s also so much more. And it’s almost like when you’re selling it, it’s like you’re parting with a child. So, truly, I can see how everybody gets all worked up.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Jeanie in Connecticut who writes: “My sunroom is only 100 square feet but it needs a new floor. What do you think I should use: hardwood or laminate? I thought with a small area, I’d go for wood but it does get a lot of sunlight.”

    TOM: You know, the prefinished wood today has UV inhibitors built into it, so it doesn’t fade nearly as much as it used to in the past. If you’re concerned, use a lighter-colored hardwood. I think either is a good choice. I’d recommend you choose engineered hardwood because you get more dimensional stability that way and less expansion and contraction.

    LESLIE: Yeah, especially with a sunroom. It doesn’t tend to be as airtight as other spaces, so you might get a lot of moisture.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. It’s time to pick up the tools, get outside and get to work.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 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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