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Protect Your Lawn and Garden From Wildlife, Preserve Paintbrushes By Cleaning Them Properly, Low-Hassle Energy Saving Tips, 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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement project. Hey, it’s spring. What are you doing to your money pit? Are you working outside the house? Are you working on an outdoor room? Are you working inside the house? Are you picking up a paintbrush? Are you going to be freshening your kitchen cabinets? Maybe working on a bathroom project? We’d like to talk to you and we’d like to help you take the first step to get through that home improvement project. That first step is by picking up the phone and calling us, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up in this episode of The Money Pit, you know those cute, little bunnies and the beautiful deer that you see in your yard around this time of year? Well, they could be chomping and stomping away all of the hard work that you put into your lawn. We’re going to have tips on how to keep that wildlife a safe distance from your property.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, if you usually toss your paintbrushes after each project, you’re throwing away a ton of money. You know, paintbrushes are not intended to be disposable. We’re going to teach you how to clean them so you can use them again and again.

    TOM: And also ahead, have you been making an effort to be a bit more green at home lately? The nice thing about trying to make your home a bit more energy-efficient or environmentally friendly is that it doesn’t really take a huge effort to accomplish. Small steps really do add up and we’re going to have a few more easy, green project ideas just for you.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a head start to a brand-new deck. We’ve got a $100 gift card from The Home Depot, which you might use toward the purchase of beautiful Veranda composite-decking materials which, of course, are available at The Home Depot in a variety of colors and finishes.

    TOM: So, pick up the phone, give us a call. Let’s get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?

    PAM: I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen and two other rooms and they are recessed into the ceiling. They’re the kind like you would put maybe into a shop: those 3- or 4-foot-long tubes, T8 bulbs that I hear are going away?

    TOM: Yep. Yes. Uh-huh.

    PAM: What can I do?

    TOM: So, are you having trouble finding the bulbs? Is that what you’re concerned about?

    PAM: I am not now but I’m – hear that they will be not used anymore.

    TOM: Yeah. But they last so darn long. Why don’t you just go shop online and buy a case of them and call it a day? I mean really. Yeah, they’ll be harder to find but they’re going to be available, because a lot – there’s a lot of industrial folks that use those in offices and that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t fret too much about that.

    Listen, if you want to change your lights at some point, then you can plan that project. But I wouldn’t tell you to rip out and remove all your lighting fixtures now just because you’re worried about a supply problem. I’d just go pick up a case of these things. They last forever. And then put the project off until you’re ready to do some real remodeling.

    PAM: I’d rather do that because, otherwise, I’d have a big hole in the ceiling that would have to be patched.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s a bigger project for you because they’re built-in. So you’re going to have to take them out, you’re going to have to drywall over the holes. It’s a big job, so – no, I would just pick up a case of the bulbs and live with it for a while, OK?

    PAM: Great. That’s easy for me. Thanks.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re not too expensive. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David in New Mexico who has bubbles in the toilet? What? What’s going on?

    DAVID: The only time that – when you flush it, you get a bubble in it that comes up.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Starving for air.

    DAVID: That’s what it’s doing, OK.

    TOM: For whatever reason, you don’t have enough ventilation; you don’t have enough make-up air getting into that toilet. Because if you think about it, when you drop all that water in the drainpipe and it pushes down, it’s got to be replaced by air somewhere. You’ve got to let air in sort of through the top of that so it doesn’t gurgle and bubble and you don’t have enough ventilation.

    If the toilet’s working well and it’s flushing OK, you’re not getting a lot of backups and that kind of thing, it’s just kind of an annoyance but I wouldn’t worry about it. If you start having problems with it not flushing correctly, then you might need to get a plumber in to add an additional vent to that waste line so that it does flow as it should.

    Good luck with that project. 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. We hope you’re enjoying your spring season, everybody, and working on some great projects. If you need a hand, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is the local wildlife wreaking havoc on your lawn? Has the deer been dancing? Are the bunnies bouncing around through your garden, chewing everything in sight? We’re going to have some tips on how to keep that wildlife away, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you could be $100 closer to a new deck or perhaps a new fence courtesy of The Home Depot, who has granted us a $100 gift card, which we can give you to you to help you purchase the very beautiful Veranda product at The Home Depot.

    Now, Veranda is a composite material that gives you the beauty of wood without any of the hassles. Whether you’re building a fence or just planning a deck for backyard barbecues, The Home Depot has the products you’ll need to help you get the most out of your outdoor-living space this summer.

    LESLIE: And one caller this hour is going to win a $100 Home Depot gift card to give you a head start on your decking project or even a fencing project. Check out their website, HomeDepot.com, or call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement project.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: John in Wisconsin is on the line with a washer/dryer question. Tell us what you’re thinking about there.

    JOHN: We were thinking of putting a washer and dryer in our spare bedroom. And where we want to is next to an inner wall. And I was wondering, if we vented it up through into the attic, through the insulation so it’d come out on top, would that be damaging to the – it’d be too much moisture in there or not?

    LESLIE: Now, would this still remain a guest room or would this become a new, snazzy laundry room?

    JOHN: Yeah, it’d be a laundry room, yeah.

    LESLIE: Generally, when you talk about resale value, the amount that you could possible resell your house for directly correlates to the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms that you have. So, you may want to start by talking with a local realtor who’s familiar with home values in your neighborhood, as to what the effect might be to removing a bedroom.

    Now, if you have no intention to sell and you’ve got this dream to have just a kick-butt, gigantic laundry room with perhaps a sewing area and enough ironing space, then this could be awesome for you guys.

    TOM: Now, in terms of your technical questions, obviously, you’re going to have to get hot and cold water there and you’re going to have to get electricity there for your washer and your dryer and 240-volt if it’s electric dryer. Venting was the one question you had and can you go up through the wall into the attic? Yes. But you can’t stop there. You have to continue with that vent, John, until it gets outside. You cannot dump the warm, moist, lint-ladened dryer exhaust up into the attic; you’ve got to take it outside.

    So, what you should do is only use solid metal piping, not flex ducting. Get it up in the attic and turn it 90 degrees and then run it across the floor, so to speak, above the joists and then out the side wall of the house, with a proper dryer-vent termination on the outside of it. And the test is when you turn the dryer on, you look outside, you should see the flap open up. You really don’t want to have any restriction. It’s very important you get that lint out, because there’s a lot of dryer fires that happen because people collect too much lint inside those pipes.

    JOHN: Oh, I see. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOHN: Yeah. Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Debbie in Illinois is on the line with a cleaning question. How can we help you?

    DEBBIE: My question is about ceramic tile. What is the very best way to clean the grout? We have a house that’s been – it’s about nine years old and I just need to clean my grout.

    LESLIE: So what color has the grout turned? Do you think it’s like a mold or mildew situation or do you think that it’s just dirty?

    DEBBIE: I think it’s dirty, just dirty, yeah.

    LESLIE: And was it white to begin with?

    DEBBIE: No, it was tan. And it’s just a little darker tan. The ceramic tile is tan and so it’s just – it was a coordinating tan that went with the tile.

    TOM: So there are a couple of options. You can get grout cleaner or grout stripper, which are commercially available products. And the stripper is a little more aggressive. And you can put it on, let it sit and then you work it with a brush until you get the grout to the color that you want it. But the key, final step is to make sure that once you get it clean and it’s really dry – is to seal it at that point, because that will keep it cleaner longer.

    The sealers are silicone-based and they sort of soak into the grout and they stop it from being quite as absorbent. And they help you shed some of the dirt and grime that will follow.

    DEBBIE: OK. So, I’ve also seen it advertised that a steamer is a good way to do that. Would you not recommend a steamer on it?

    TOM: I don’t think a steamer is going to help you by itself. Warm/hot water and steam is not going to make the difference. What you need is the right product to lift the dirt and the debris out of the grout that’s there.

    DEBBIE: OK. And would you recommend a certain type of grout stripper?

    TOM: You might want to take a look at the products by TileLab – Tile-L-a-b. Those are sold at The Home Depot.

    DEBBIE: Alright. Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Debbie.

    Well, as you head out to your yard in these warmer temperatures, you might discover that you’re not the first to get your paws in the dirt. Deer, rabbits and groundhogs can be pleasant reminders of the wonders of spring but they can also be very destructive intruders, trampling and chomping all over your hard work.

    LESLIE: And here is why: you know, deer return to the same feeding grounds every single year and they can consume more than 10 pounds of foliage in a day. Meanwhile, rabbits, groundhogs and other nesting animals, they launch ground attacks on pretty much anything that is budding, so watch out.

    TOM: Now, fencing is one solution, whether it’s in the form of high structures, decorative borders or low walls, as are natural repellants. And with the burrowing animals, well, strategically placed planters or freshly mulched garden beds can disrupt those nesting spots.

    Hey, on MoneyPit.com, we’ve got a great article with all of the tips on how to keep wildlife out of your yard. Just search “local wildlife” on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is up next with an electrical question. How can we help you?

    DOUG: I did some remodeling work in upgrading the island. And it used to be a floating island. And now that it’s fixed to the floor, I’m considering putting electrical outlets. And I’m just curious as to what might be the best location, as well as what the code – the electrical code – might require.

    TOM: Well, are you over a basement or a crawlspace?

    DOUG: I’m over a basement.

    TOM: OK. Because what you’re going to want to do is run the wire up from the basement below, into the side of the island. Is it a standard kitchen cabinet that you’ve used to create this island with?

    DOUG: Yes.

    TOM: Because you can mount the electrical outlet, basically cut it into the side of the cabinet. You’re going to want it off the countertop, down below on the side of the cabinet. And the key safety aspect here is you want to make sure that it’s a ground-fault outlet. Those are the outlets that have the test and reset buttons in them for wet locations.

    DOUG: I did see something online concerning that.

    TOM: Yeah. So as long as you use a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet and you just bring the wire up from the basement, that’ll be the most practical way to do it. It’ll probably end up not being on the same circuit as the kitchen because, generally, what you do in a situation like that is you grab the closest power source that you can, that’s convenient and safe, and just kind of go up from there.

    DOUG: OK. Sounds good. Thanks for your help.

    LESLIE: Carol in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a driveway repair. What’s going on?

    CAROL: We have a single-car, asphalt driveway that goes out of the farm market road, past the front of the house to the back of the house. And it goes between the house deck – I mean the deck on the house – and the storage with a carport. And it’s a single-car, asphalt drive. Goes around a tree and then comes back out. Makes a circle and comes back out and it’s very important to this property. And it’s on a slope. And we want to redo it but we don’t exactly want to dig up the whole thing and start over.

    TOM: OK. What’s the condition of the driveway right now, Carol?

    CAROL: Well, I wouldn’t call it very good; I wouldn’t call it the worst I’ve ever seen.

    TOM: Well, here are your options when it comes to restoring an asphalt driveway. If the driveway is in structurally good shape, it is proper maintenance to repair the cracks, patch any holes and then reseal the entire surface. However, if the driveway structurally is in poor condition – if it’s got really broken-out sections, washed-out sections, if it’s sunken – then all of the sealing and patching in the world is not going to change that.

    So it might be that there’s a combination of things that you’re going to do here but you can do the sealing and the patching yourself. If you want to replace it then, of course, that’s a job for a pro. And there’s sort of an in-between step, too, and we’d have to have a pro look at this to determine if this is possible. But sometimes, you can add an additional layer of asphalt to it and leave what you have in place but put another layer on top of it that’s maybe an inch to 2 inches thick, that could be less expensive than tearing the whole thing out. Does that make sense?

    CAROL: Right. Well, more than anything, we just want it to look better than what it does. What we’re going to do is downsize, because the farm is a lot of work.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading out to Arizona where Rich has a foundation question. What can we do for you today?

    RICH: We pulled up some carpet in a back room and upon pulling up the carpet, we discovered that we have about a 1-inch crack that runs full width of the room. And it’s about a 15×15 room. And we were wondering why that one door that we have that goes off into a spare bathroom – why it stops shutting so clean. So when we pulled up the carpet, we discovered that, yes, we’ve got a crack problem. And it’s about 1-inch wide and I want to know – and it’s as deep as far as the foundation, I think, the slab goes. I want to know how I should fill that in or what would be the proper thing to do.

    TOM: Well, first of all, we want to determine if it’s an active crack or not. And the fact that you had a door that seemed to work properly and then stopped working properly could indicate that it’s active. Do you get the sense that this crack is fresh or do you think it’s something that’s been there for a really long time?

    RICH: I think that it started out small and I think over the last 10 years, it’s maybe – because I’ve been there just over 10 years and I believe that just within about the last, oh, maybe 3 years that the door started shutting kind of stiff.

    But anyway, I don’t think it has been all that active but I do think that it’s definitely progressed a little bit since I’ve moved in.

    TOM: So what you’re going to do is clean it out and then you’re going to repair it with – a flowable urethane material is good. And with the urethane, what you’ll put in there first is a material called “backer rod,” which is like a 1-inch – you would get like a 1- to 1½-inch-diameter foam tube. It’s called “backer rod.” And you press it in there to that crack and then you leave it about an inch below – not an inch – about a ¼-inch below the surface. Then you fill the top of it with a flowable urethane and that will expand and contract with the crack.

    RICH: OK. That’s exactly what I was kind of hoping. Because I don’t think it’s going to be something I’ll be able to do from the outside of the house to maybe – to push the foundation up. Because on the outside, the house looks good.

    TOM: No, it’s a one-way street of cracks.

    RICH: Yeah. So we …

    TOM: And you can’t patch it with more concrete, because it would just crack.

    RICH: Yeah. So, now, when I do that, of course that’ll take care of the visibility of the crack. What can I do to relevel the floor? Because it is quite evident. When you’re off in the hallway and you look into this room, you can definitely see there is a – the floor isn’t level, from the crack over to the wall.

    TOM: Well, you could – there’s a product called “leveling compound” that you can pour on top of the old floor. And you can work it and level the whole thing out. We use it a lot under tile, where you can’t have a tile floor that bends or twists or anything. But it’s a pretty big job and if you’re going to put carpet down, are you really going to see it?

    RICH: Well, no. I’m thinking maybe I’ll put a different kind of flooring down.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then maybe you’ll want to consider it. It’s just called “leveling compound” and you’ll find it in home centers, you’ll find it online. And it takes a little practice to get it to flow out properly. But follow the label directions, start in a small area until you’re good at it and you’ll find it should be able to level it out quite nicely.

    RICH: Boy, I think I’ve got it. I sure appreciate you. Thank you for the advice.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Rich. Good luck with that project. 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. So, do you go out to the store and buy brand-spanking-new paintbrushes every single time you’re starting a new painting project? Well, you need to cut that out. We’ve got tips on the best way to clean your brushes so that you can use them time and time again, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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: Hey, have you taken a moment to “like” us on Facebook yet? If you do, it can open the door to the best home improvement advice around. Plus, right now, you can enter in The Money Pit’s Green My House Sweepstakes. We’ve got a great set of prizes, including a grand prize, which is an ENERGY STAR-qualified fridge from Amana. The first prize is a high-efficiency washer from GE. But as we say in radio, “But wait, there’s more.”

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re also giving away five Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostats and enough energy-efficient light bulbs to power your entire house. Just go to MoneyPit.com and find the Facebook logo and start clicking. You can share the contest with your friends and win some bonus entries for even more chances to win, so enter today.

    Now we’ve got Ron in Virginia on the line who’s got a flooring question. Number-one topic on The Money Pit, my friend. How can we help you?

    RON: I have a ceramic-tile floor that’s been down for almost 20 years. Put it down myself. The tiles are all intact. None of them are loose but I have some tiles that are cracked. And I was wondering, rather than take the tiles up, if I could put a laminate floor over top of it.

    TOM: Absolutely. The nice thing about laminate floors is that they’re floating floors. And so you certainly could put a new laminate floor together. Most of them are lock-together boards these days. And you can lay that right on top of the tile floor below as long as it’s solid, which it sounds like it is.

    Now, of course, it’s going to make that floor that much thicker. I don’t know if that’s an issue.

    RON: No, I don’t think that would be a problem. Do I still need to put down that thin layer of the foam? Put that right over top of the ceramic?

    TOM: I think it’s a good idea because it cushions the floor and it also quiets the floor. It’s not quite as click-y, you know what I mean, when you walk on it? Now, keep in mind that some of the different laminate-floor manufacturers have the underlayment attached to the bottom of the actual floorboard. It’s sort of like a sponge on the bottom of it. But you definitely want to follow their instructions.

    But to answer your real question – can you put it on tile? – yes, you can.

    RON: Oh, great. Well, that would certainly save a lot of time and headache trying to take that tile floor up.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we know you’d rather toss used paintbrushes than actually clean them but contrary to popular do-it-yourself practice, most paintbrushes aren’t supposed to be disposable.

    TOM: That’s right. There is a better way. You can actually clean them. And here to talk about how to care for a brush so it can actually last you many, many years is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: Too many people think it’s just as easy to let the brush get sort of dried up and unusable and then you almost have to toss them.

    KEVIN: Well, you don’t want to get them too far gone, because you will have to throw them out and there’s no reason to do it. So there’s lots of ways you can keep them clean and reuse those brushes.

    TOM: That really depends on the paint, right? Latex versus oil. So why don’t we start by talking about latex.

    KEVIN: Well, there’s this great old adage that painters used to say: “If you’re going to lunch, clean your brushes. But if you’re going to coffee, eh, don’t worry about it. You’re OK.”

    LESLIE: What, are all painters Italian from New Jersey?

    TOM: Just like that. “Eh, don’t worry about it.”

    LESLIE: (inaudible at 0:22:17).

    KEVIN: “Don’t worry about it. That brush is OK. Give me an espresso.”

    But the truth is that a lot of paints, as you guys know, today have very low VOCs.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And that’s good from the environmental standpoint but it means that the paint dries really fast.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And so I don’t think the old adage works.

    So, when you’ve got latex, well, clean as you go, right? So when you’re painting with latex, as soon as that paint creeps up to that metal part of the brush – they call it the “ferrule” – give it a clean. Swish it around in a 5-gallon bucket of water. It’s going to make it a lot easier when it comes to actually give it a deep clean later.

    TOM: That’s a good point because by the time you get about halfway through your cut-in, in a room where you’re doing all the corners and stuff, you actually can see that paint start to cake up in the brush itself and get kind of chunky. And then the next thing you see is you have droplets of dried paint sticking onto the fresh paint. So, taking a halfway-point cleaning break is not a bad idea.

    KEVIN: And it’s going to make the deep clean a lot easier. And so when you’re done with the job, that’s when you start thinking about the deep clean.

    Run the brushes upside-down underneath a faucet and wait until the water runs clear. That means that a lot of the paint has been cleared out of there. And then just go over the filaments or the bristles with a metal comb brush. That’s going to straighten out the bristles and it’s also going to get out any of those little bits of dried paint.

    LESLIE: And I always feel like – you know, my sort of gauge is if I’ve spent a good amount of money on my latex brush, I want this brush to last years and years and years. But I’ve never gone that step with the brush comb. I’ve never deemed that necessary. Does that really make a huge difference?

    KEVIN: Well, you spend extra money on a good brush, right? And it’s because it’s well formed and the bristles are nice and straight and that …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It feels good in your hands.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And that’s why you get a good paint stroke out of it. So, yeah, I definitely think that the comb actually works. If you don’t have a comb, you can think about maybe a wire brush to actually get any of those chunks out, the straight …

    LESLIE: The dog’s comb.

    KEVIN: Well, maybe not the dog’s comb. Just go easy with the wire brush, because you could actually ruin the bristles if you are too aggressive.

    LESLIE: What about when you’re done and everything’s clean? How do you store them?

    KEVIN: Well, I love to put them back in their containers. You ever seen they come with the three or four folded-over cardboard?

    TOM: Yep.

    KEVIN: It keeps them in great shape; it keeps the angle right there. But if you have to, you can stick them in a plastic bag.

    TOM: And what the old painters used to do is take them and wrap them in newspaper really tight in the newspaper and then fold them top over, put a rubber band around it.

    KEVIN: Right.

    TOM: Because that’s sort of a way to make a container if you don’t have one.

    KEVIN: You don’t want it to sort of blow up and get all fluffy on you.

    TOM: Full, yeah. Yeah.

    KEVIN: You want it to keep its shape.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, oil paints. Any paint that’s an oil base. You really have to specially clean these brushes. And of course, you need a specialized brush for that type of paint, as well.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And don’t take the oil brush and put it under water.

    TOM: Bad idea.

    LESLIE: No.

    KEVIN: Bad idea, right. It’s just not going to work, as you guys know. If you’re using oil paint, you’re going to be using paint thinner to actually get them clean.

    And so a couple things to think about when you’re doing that is think of a dirty jar, OK, where you actually are soaking the bristles in the paint thinner. But make it deep enough so that the brush isn’t actually sitting on the bottom of the jar. You don’t want it to be sitting in that pigment of paint and end up getting bent or not.

    TOM: So the dirty jar has mineral spirits in it and you can occasionally dip the brush in there to kind of, again, loosen that paint up and not let it really start to dry and cake in the brush.

    KEVIN: Right. And if you can, you should soak it overnight for that final, big cleanup. And then comb it out so that you can get it back to work.

    LESLIE: And no rinsing, no water at any point in this process.

    KEVIN: No water at any point.

    LESLIE: Not going to work.

    KEVIN: No.

    LESLIE: Now, Kevin, I think it’s really important. I mean we’re dealing with a chemical agent to clean these brushes. How do you dispose of what you’ve got in that jar? Do you just hold onto it and make that your dirty jar of brushes or does eventually this paint thinner become sort of overused and need to be disposed?

    KEVIN: Well, if you’re doing a lot of painting with oil and you’re going to be doing a lot of cleaning up, hang on to the dirty jar. It’s good to reuse it, because you don’t want to just keep pouring the thinner away. But just make sure you seal it tight and you put it out of the way so it’s in a safe place.

    And if you do get to the point where you’re actually disposing of the used thinner, do it properly. These are not things you just pour down the drain. You’ve got to find out how you get rid of those things legally and properly within your town.

    TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and helping us keep our paintbrushes in good shape so that they will take care of us and our projects in the future.

    KEVIN: Always great to be here, guys. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can 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 Ask This Old House is proudly brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Live better. Go to MitsubishiComfort.com.

    Up next, going green in your home might seem like a hassle but it doesn’t have to be. We’re going to have easy, green home tips, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Bostitch professional-quality, pneumatic nailers and staplers. Designed for productivity, built to last. For more information, visit Bostitch.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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a $100 gift card this hour from our friends at The Home Depot, which maybe you want to use to grab a head start on a beautiful, new Veranda deck or even a fencing project.

    Now, Veranda is available at The Home Depot and it’s a composite material, which means it’s a combination of wood and plastic. So you’re going to get the beauty of wood but get this, none of the drawbacks. No shrinking, rotting, decaying and best of all, no termites.

    TOM: And I think the best part is that you don’t have to constantly paint or stain those boards.

    Now, the Veranda is sold by The Home Depot and it’s available for both decking and fencing projects. You can see all the great finishes Veranda is available in at HomeDepot.com. Or pick up the phone right now, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win a $100 Home Depot gift card that you can use to get started on your outdoor-living project at The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sylvia in Texas on the line who’s got some bathroom things going on at her money pit. How can we help you?

    SYLVIA: Whenever I flush the toilet, I can hear the water running through my sink drain – you know, the bathroom sink drain?

    TOM: Right.

    SYLVIA: And so I didn’t know if that was normal or not. And then the other day, we had a real windstorm and I could hear the wind under my house, through my pipes, through that same sink. And I have a concrete slab, so I didn’t know – is that normal?

    TOM: Probably the wind blowing over the roof and you’re hearing it through the vent pipe. The plumbing system is all connected, obviously. And the water drains down and the air kind of replaces it from the top – from the vent on top. And so when you flush the toilet, in some cases you can hear that water run down through the pipe and it be replaced by air. So that’s entirely possible.

    But if it’s behaving properly and you don’t have any odors and everything’s flowing right, I wouldn’t worry too much about that, Sylvia.

    SYLVIA: Oh, OK, OK. Thank you very much. I was just worried about it, because I was just like, “What’s going on with my plumbing, right?”

    TOM: And the other thing about plumbing is it’s – it really carries the sound. Anyone that’s ever had a second-floor bathroom and flushed it to the horror of everyone that’s sitting in the dining room enjoying dinner time knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    SYLVIA: Oh, thank God I don’t have a second floor.

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

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Green Home Tip, presented by Lutron. Saving energy and going green are all the rage. But did you ever ask yourself, “Is it really worth the hassle?” A lot of Americans say that they’re just too busy to prioritize saving energy. But wasting energy hurts your bottom line with those higher energy prices.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And small actions make big impacts. You can insulate your home; you can buy ENERGY STAR appliances and building materials, like windows; get a programmable thermostat; and simply turn stuff off. It matters. Even if you don’t personally care about the planet, you most likely do care about saving some money. And that’s a little green that we can all get on board with.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Green Home Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never be left asking this question again: “Who left the lights on?” A question I used to ask my kids every day until I installed occupancy sensors in their bedrooms.

    Lutron products are available from your local home center, lighting showroom or electrical professional. For more energy-saving ideas, check out our online Green Home Guide or visit LutronSensors.com.

    LESLIE: Judy in Florida is on the line with a countertop situation. What happened? You scraped it? You cut it? What’d you do?

    JUDY: The previous owners had painted it and I took a razor blade and went up under it and I was able to get all of that paint off. But evidently, they sanded the tops and I would like to bring some life back into the top.

    LESLIE: So, wait, is it wood? Is it butcher block? Is it laminate?

    JUDY: It’s laminate, yes. And it’s in good shape. It’s just that it’s dull. It’s got the marble look.

    LESLIE: You’ve got a couple of options. You could paint it again. There are several different companies that make a laminate painting kit. Rust-Oleum has a couple of different products: Modern Masters and – oh, Tom, there was that one we saw in Vegas. It’s named after the guy’s daughter; it’s got two marbling kits in it.

    JUDY: Yeah, I have seen that and I prefer not to do that. I read an article somewhere – and I cannot find the article – that said that you could use car wax, paste wax and buff it?

    LESLIE: Sure.

    JUDY: Would that look – the countertop looks fine; it just needs a gloss. I don’t want a real high gloss; I just want it to look better.

    TOM: Well, there’s no reason you couldn’t use the car wax. It’s not all – except that I wouldn’t want my food to be in contact with it. But other than that, I think it – probably OK.

    JUDY: That’s a good idea, surely. Well, I thank you for your time, your suggestions.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    JUDY: I appreciate it.

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

    Well, of all the topics that we are asked about here at The Money Pit, flooring is tops. Up next, we’re going to help a community member with a fix for warped hardwood floors, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, we are willing to bet that if you’ve got a tool box, your go-to item in there is probably a tape measure. And there’s a pretty good chance that the tape measure in that tool box is a Stanley PowerLock. Why do we say that? Well, because Stanley introduced the PowerLock 50 years ago and the company itself has been going strong for 170 years.

    LESLIE: And we want to send our hearty congratulations to Stanley on the 50th anniversary milestone for the PowerLock. You know, it’s a company that we love, with products that are of the highest quality. And that’s why we are so proud to have them as sponsors of our excellent program, The Money Pit.

    TOM: So way to go, Stanley. Fifty years with the PowerLock Tape Measure. I still remember the one that my dad had. In fact, I think it’s kicking around in one of my tool boxes somewhere.

    LESLIE: It probably is. And it’s probably working as fantastically as that first day.

    TOM: Exactly. They just don’t wear out.

    Alright. Karen is writing us from California and Karen has an interesting question. She says, “A few of the planks in my old hardwood floor are cupping pretty badly. I think it happened when my radiator leaked.” Yeah, good chance of that. “Is there any way to fix these? I’ve heard all kinds of crazy theories from steam to dry heat and weights.”

    OK, look, Mother Nature has swollen the board, Karen, with that water. That’s a natural reaction of water and wood. And so, that radiator water got that board to swell and twist and cup. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube and you can’t straighten out a board that’s twisted.

    So, what you need to do here is to cut that board out and replace it with another board. And the way you cut it out is with a circular saw. And this might be a project – might not be a project for you; it might be a project for a carpenter, because it does take some skill. It’s not the kind of thing you want to do the first time you pick up a circular saw is what I’m trying to say.

    But what you do with a circular saw is you set the depth to be the same depth as the board. So let’s say it’s ¾-inch. So you set it for ¾-inch, maybe a hair more, and then you plunge-cut into that board.

    Now, a plunge cut is a pretty tricky cut; that’s why I say it’s not a do-it-yourself – it’s not a beginner move with a circular saw, because you have to temporarily hold the guard back and plunge the saw blade, while it’s spinning, into the wood. And then, basically, what you’re going to do is put two or three cuts inside of that board. Because the sawdust that comes out of the kerf – the space that the saw blade makes – gives you the room, therefore, to get in there and start chiseling the rest of that board out.

    You’re basically going to extract that board, like kind of taking out one piece of the puzzle. And then once it’s out, then you can lay in a new board. But you’ve got to extract the cupped one that’s there to start with and that’s a bit of a carpentry project involving a circular saw, a couple of good wood chisels and an experienced user.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s not a terrible project, Karen, but it’s definitely going to make a huge difference in the floors, so definitely look for somebody who can help you with that.

    Next up, we’ve got a question from Greg in Illinois who writes: “Is there a time of year that’s best for painting the exterior of a house? Does temperature or humidity affect the paint?”

    Well, it’s not going to affect the paint; it’s going to affect the drying time.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’ll affect the drying time. So, pretty much as long as it’s not freezing, you can paint but there are better times. And the spring and the fall are really good times to paint because the humidity is not as high. You also need to keep an eye on the weather, of course, because I’d like to have at least a full day of dry weather once I paint.

    And remember, if you paint when it’s too hot out, the paint can actually dry too fast. And if it does that, it doesn’t flow right and you get more brush strokes.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you have anything that’s like a wood surface, like trimming or anything that has exposed wood, you want to make sure that that’s super-duper-duper dry before you go ahead and apply anything to it. So, those are some things to keep in mind and you’ll end up with a great paint job.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this spring day with us. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas, some tips, some suggestions, some inspiration to tackle a home improvement project. We know you can do it. And if you need help, remember, you can reach out to us 24-7 by calling 888-MONEY-PIT or heading to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com and posting your question in the Community section.

    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 2013 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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