Real Estate: Buy or Sell First? How to Clean and Prevent Mold, How to Prepare for Hurricane Season 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 summer home improvement projects. And it’s so nice to be able to say that word because it is officially summer now. And that means there’s pretty much nothing that you can’t get done when it comes to your house. Outside, inside, it’s all game for you to take on a home improvement project. And if that project needs a little bit of help to get it started, well, that’s what we’re here for. So pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And of course, it means that we’re also going to be spending more time outdoors. One way that you could step up those backyard gatherings is with an outdoor sound system. We’re going to have some tips to help your party get started, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, this is the time of year that many families make the big move: you know, they buy or they sell their home. But if you’re buying and selling, what do you do first? Well, we’ll tell you what factors help determine that answer, in a little bit.

    TOM: Plus, hurricane season is here and if a storm knocks out power to your house, do you know what you need to do to keep your food from spoiling? We’re going to have some tips, coming up.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer. It’s worth 60 bucks. But let me tell you, it’s priceless because it will make your life so easy. I love mine.

    TOM: One of our favorite new tools. So pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?

    ANDREA: My question (inaudible at 0:02:16) regarding black hold. And it’s behind my sink, between the sink and the backsplash. There’s a little bit of space. And this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. They’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.

    I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.

    TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.

    So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?

    ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said keep it very dry. “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of the white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.

    TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.

    Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.

    And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.

    As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual, but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.

    ANDREA: I’ll try that.

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

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

    SCOTT: I put in a wood deck about a year ago. It’s treated lumber; cedar, I think. And the lumber yard or the mill, they stamped it with their stamp that tells the grade or the manufacturer or whatever it is. And I want to stain it with a transparent stain, so I want to figure out how to get that off of there. I’ve tried power-washing it but that doesn’t do any good.

    TOM: No, you have to sand it. It’s in the grain of the wood, so you’d have to sand it out. And you can do that without affecting it because the pressure treatment goes throughout the entire wood.

    But it’ll be a slightly lighter color. But why are you going to go with clear? Why not use a semi-transparent or a solid-color stain?

    SCOTT: So it looks more weathered.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean you can do that. I will tell you, the difference between semi-transparent and solid color is probably about five years of longevity. Because the solid color just lasts a lot longer because it’s got more pigment in it.

    SCOTT: Is that right? OK. So, a solid color will last 10 years compared to 5 or something?

    TOM: Long, long – yeah, yeah, I think so. I think that’s fair. And by the way, you won’t have to worry about that stain because it’ll just go right on top of it.

    SCOTT: Yep, OK. Too easy.

    TOM: That’s what we try to do, Scott. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Occasionally, there actually is an easy solution.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Well, it is officially home improvement season. The weather is warmer, we’re all getting outside, so what can we help you work on around your money pit? Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, are you buying a house? Are you selling yours? Or you doing that tightrope act of buying and selling? It’s a dilemma that millions find themselves in. So which comes first: the buying or the selling part?

    LESLIE: We’ll have that answer in your Real Estate Tip of the Week from the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by KOHLER Generators, who remind everyone that this week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To learn how you can be prepared, visit

    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 the Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer.

    This device packs a lot of functions into an easy-to-use design.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s got a range of 65 feet and it’s got an easy, two-button design. All you do is simply point and click and you’re going to get an accurate measure within an 1/8-inch, so it is very, very, very accurate.

    Now, you can measure distance, area, volume or square footage. And it’s perfect for real estate agents or contractors or landscapers or painters or even just a do-it-yourselfer like you and I. It’s also a great Father’s Day gift, super-affordable and really time-saving.

    Check it out and check out all of our Father’s Day gift ideas at

    TOM: Point, click, measure, done. To learn more, you can visit And give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?

    TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?

    TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40, but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.

    And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.

    TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.

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

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

    NELLS: I’ve got a problem with flies. We have three heat pumps in the house and it takes in the air at the base of the windows. And every year, we get flies that come up out of those return ducts. There’s electronic filters down there and I can’t imagine where they’re coming from or …

    TOM: Well, they may be nesting in the house and they’re birthing themselves right into existence. And the reason they’re probably hanging out around the return ducts is because that’s where air gets drawn into the furnace and they just might be part of that airflow.

    I can’t really diagnose exactly what you need to do to get rid of those but I do know somebody that can. And if you go to the Orkin website, our show expert is a guy named Greg Baumann, who I’ve known for many years. He used to be the expert for the National Pest Management Association; now he’s the director of training for Orkin. They have an expert section on their website and if you post that question there and maybe even put a photo of the flies, I’m sure that you’ll be able to get to the bottom of it very quickly.

    NELLS: Great. Okie-dokie.

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

    LESLIE: Time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And today, we want to talk about whether to buy or sell first.

    TOM: It’s an important decision and one a knowledgeable realtor can help you make. They’ll evaluate how fast homes are selling in your market and help you estimate how long it’ll take to find a new one.

    LESLIE: The decision also depends on your financing, so you may want to consult with a lender to see how you can finance the transition from one home to another if you choose to buy before you sell.

    TOM: On the other hand, if you plan to sell first, be prepared for the transition. If your current home sells before you can find a new one, you may need temporary living quarters, rental storage and the gumption to move twice.

    LESLIE: 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.

    TOM: Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit

    LESLIE: Jackie in Illinois is looking for some small garden-décor tips. What’s going on? Tell us about your space.

    JACKIE: I just purchased my home. It’ll be a year the second of next month. And my yard is big enough for me but yet small enough for anybody else. What I would like to do is put a garden area up along the west side of my fence without having to dig the yard up and make the yard look real tacky. Do you have any hints, suggestions, ideas?

    LESLIE: So, you have a fence along this one wall. You want to put a garden or a flowerbed in front of that. What is the rest of the space?

    JACKIE: Well, it’s – my backyard is fenced in.


    JACKIE: And from my garage, which is on the east side of the property, clean clear to the west side, I get plenty of sunlight.

    LESLIE: OK. But is it grass? Is it patio?

    JACKIE: The biggest portion of the yard is grass. I’ve got a small patio area right next to the garage. And if I could just put a flowerbed or a place that I can put a small garden, it’s what I would like to do. I’d kind of like to use the landscape lumber but I don’t know how much to get or how to go about putting it up.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, my first thought, since you’ve got this patio area in front of the garage and the garage is probably just a blank wall of whatever the siding material is, my first thought is to do a great, little seating area in front of there.

    And you need to think about, you know, are you looking to sit at a table or do you want to sit at a small settee, a little couch area with a chair? So think about how you would like to use that space. Are you looking for eating and entertaining or more like lounging and relaxing?

    JACKIE: Mainly eating and entertaining.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So definitely a table, umbrella, some chairs there. That’s great and does not have to cost a ton of money. I mean you can find some at home centers, department stores that specialize in home décor, for very affordable amounts.

    Now, on that back wall with the garage that’s kind of lackluster, you can either do a trellis with some potted plants on either side, with a climber, like a clematis or an ivy or a night-blooming jasmine, something that will sort of grow up and out of the pots and onto the trellis.

    I did this on the side of my garage with two potted clematis and I have this beautiful, wrought-iron trellis that I found that I’ve put twinkling white Christmas lights on and the clematis sort of takes over it in the summer months and blooms and smells fantastic. And it’s just lovely to sit in front of. You can do something like that very inexpensively and very easily, as well.

    Now, as far as a flowerbed on the opposite side, you’re really not going to sacrifice that much yard space if you do dig up a portion of that lawn. And that really is the best way to do it to create a flowerbed.

    And what you can do is you can use either that landscaping lumber or even stones – river rock or fieldstones – stacked up to create a little wall for a flowerbed. Just remove that layer of grass, fill it in with potting soil and plant away. And that really is a great way to create a flowerbed. And if you go sort of creatively with your shape and edge it a bit, you’re not giving up that much lawn space.

    JACKIE: I thank you so much for your help and I greatly appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Dan in South Carolina needs some help with a garage project. How can we help you today?

    DAN: I just wanted to know, is there any product – linoleum, tile – I could put on my garage floor? It’s been painted already with a stain. And they tell me I have to sand it up and everything. Is there anything I can put on that that would stay when I drive the car in and out?

    TOM: Yeah. There are garage-floor systems – tile systems – designed specifically for garage floors and to stay in good condition when you drive the car over it. These are usually tile systems that lock together. They’re very attractive.

    You could take a look at RaceDeck, for example, You’ll see some drop-dead gorgeous floors there. And there are others, as well. And they’re ­- once they’re installed, they look good, they clean easy and they’re not going to peel up.

    DAN: And there’s no glue involved? They lock together?

    TOM: No, they lock together and they snap together and they’re basically floating floors. But they’re great.

    DAN: Oh, great. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Your place is going to look like Jay Leno’s garage if you put this in.

    DAN: OK. That’s what I want, without the cars.

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

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

    SUE: In the winter, the runoff from whatever snow is on it just pools on the floor in the garage. And I was wondering if there’s some way to slope the garage floor without completely rebuilding the garage.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean you can add an additional layer of material to the garage floor and slope that from high to low. The type of product that you would use for that, I think, would probably be a concrete resurfacer. This is a formulation that’s designed to adhere to existing concrete.

    Take a look at the QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – concrete resurfacing product. Mix it according to label directions. You may have to make it a little thick in order to get it to build up on the high side and then slope it down. But it’s going to be a project because a garage floor is pretty big. So it’s going to take a bit of time and investment of a bit of money to get all the materials together and certainly, if you’re going to hire somebody, that, as well. But I think you could accomplish what you want to do, which is to get the slope away.

    Now, the other thing that you could think about, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of resurfacing, is there are a number of garage floors that are out there. And some of them are tiles that actually sit up off on top of the garage floor. They’re very often used in workshops where people are spending a lot of time on the floor. And you can drive a car over them.

    And they have sort of a pattern to them – a tread pattern to them, so to speak – so that the water wouldn’t necessarily lay on top. It would sort of be there but it wouldn’t be sort of pooling like you’re seeing now. So there’s a couple of options for you and hopefully, one of those is the good solution.

    SUE: Now, the QUIKRETE, that’s something we could do ourselves? Or do we have to hire somebody to do that?

    TOM: It depends on how handy you are. It certainly is a do-it-yourself project. I know that QUIKRETE is very good about having step-by-step instructions on their website. So when you go to, look up the materials on resurfacing concrete. They usually have project guides there with a materials list and photos. And it’ll tell you exactly how to do it, OK?

    SUE: OK. Thank you very much. That’s most helpful.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, you want to pump up the tunes in your backyard? Well, you can install an outdoor sound system to take your party to the next level of awesomeness. This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook explains how, next.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the Stanley Cubix Cross-Line Laser, where compact, lightweight design meets performance and accuracy.

    LESLIE: So stick around.

    ADAM: I am Adam Corolla. I’ve built hundreds of houses. I can tell you how to avoid falling into that money pit: listen to Money Pit Radio with Tom and Leslie.

    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

    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: And we are just back from the largest home improvement trade show in America: the National Hardware Show. And let me tell you, it was in Vegas but what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, as far as we’re concerned. We found some really terrific top products.

    LESLIE: Like the Gladiator Select Series. Now, this is a storage system that’s designed for any workspace, you know, like your garage or your office or even your laundry room. And what’s cool is that it now comes in a new Everest White finish, so you can have a softer alternative to the traditional tread-plate design, which is great.

    TOM: Gladiator by Whirlpool offers storage solutions to keep you organized throughout your home. You can visit

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Damian in Iowa on the line who’s got a mystery noise in the bathroom. Tell us about it.

    DAMIAN: Bought a new house beginning of April and it’s my second house I’ve owned. And in my master bedroom, in the closet – master closet and the master bath – it’s just some weird, like clicking/ticking noises in the walls.

    TOM: Does that happen when you run water, Damian?

    DAMIAN: That does but that’s mainly – I think my plumbing’s in the flooring. And I don’t think this is a plumbing issue.

    TOM: So if it happens consistent with running the water or turning the water on/off, it’s almost always the pipes expanding and contracting. If the pipes are rubbing against the wall as it expands or contracts, it will make that clicking sound and then that clicking sound will resonate. So, it could be originating in the floor and you might hear it in the wall and so on. Sometimes it sounds like a drip, sometimes it sounds like a click. But in a bathroom area, that’s the – almost exclusively the reason that that sound occurs.

    DAMIAN: Here’s my thing. It happens in the closet and it happens for hours at a time when the plumbing’s not even being used.

    TOM: OK. Well, it still could be expansion and contraction.

    DAMIAN: Could it be because – I’m kind of facing the west side and it happens in the afternoon. Do you think the sun has anything to do with it? Stuff heating up in the walls or …?

    TOM: It may very well because when you’re heating things up, then you’re going to get expansion.

    DAMIAN: OK. Yeah, I’m just glad you said – I used to own a brick house and this one’s steel siding, so I never used to hear those kinds of sounds.

    TOM: Oh, well, see, yeah, the expansion and the contraction of the siding is very noisy, too.

    DAMIAN: Oh, could that be it then?

    TOM: Yeah, it could be, absolutely.

    DAMIAN: I’ve gotten to the point where I almost want to take a hammer to my drywall and see what’s going on in there.

    TOM: I think you’d be chasing it for a long time and probably never exactly find the point. But it’s pretty typical and I wouldn’t worry about it. OK, Damian?

    DAMIAN: Alright. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, guys.

    TOM: Alright. Try to get some sleep. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re still carting around your old boom box outside just to get some tunes in your outdoor entertaining space, it might be time to consider investing in an outdoor speaker system.

    TOM: Here to help us with that is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me. Does my 8-track still count as a boom box or something?

    TOM: Well, sure, if you bring it outside.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: And speaking of which, the outdoor room has really become sort of a big selling point for homes these days, not to mention it’s the center of family relaxation and enjoyment. It’s kind of where we love to be whenever the weather permits. Music, of course, is a big part of that, right?

    ROGER: Yeah. And you’ve got to be careful on how you locate the speakers. I mean there’s so many different ways to use them. They have the box types, which we still all have on the inside of the house.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: They have them for outside now.

    TOM: So weatherproof, sort of (inaudible at 0:23:09).

    ROGER: Yeah, semi-weatherproof, yeah.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: They should be mounted where they’re fairly dry.

    LESLIE: But under a cover?

    ROGER: Great, perfect.

    TOM: Yeah, like under a soffit? Under an overhang?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: But the big thing to consider is where you want the music to be out of those. Because you don’t want to light up the whole backyard with noise. Number one, the neighbors won’t like it and number two, you won’t enjoy it as much.

    LESLIE: Sounds like a fun party. I don’t know.

    ROGER: Yeah. But some of those nice, little speakers they have – the ones that look like rocks or something like that – those can be situated in a nice, strategic spot.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: And they work very well. And they’re supposed to be waterproof.

    Now, some of this I take with a grain of salt. If possible, if you could disconnect those outside speakers and bring them in, you’re not going to be out there in the wintertime, at least here in New England, doing much.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: Bring them inside and then put them out again. I have had speakers that were supposedly waterproof become waterlogged. And they don’t play so well when they’re waterlogged.

    TOM: Yeah. So a little bubbly, I would expect.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: Now, how do you plan the speaker system? Because, as you said, obviously you don’t want to deliver rock music, if that’s your choice, to all of the neighbors. It’s going to make you the least popular guy on the street. But you also, to more practically, want to be able to deliver the music where everybody’s going to be congregating.

    And just like home stereo speakers, if you don’t have them in the right spot, if they’re not aimed in the right place, you’re going to lose a lot. There’s a lot of inefficiency in the delivery of that sound, correct?

    ROGER: Right. You hit it right on the nose. You want to know where the people will be so that you can direct the music in that way and not have to crank it. The more you crank it, the more distorted it gets, the worse it sounds. Plus, the neighbors again.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Those darn neighbors.

    ROGER: The neighbors are always a problem, yeah.

    LESLIE: They’re always ruining the good time.

    ROGER: It’d be a great neighborhood if it wasn’t for the neighbors.

    No, so think about where the people are going to be so that you can put the volume there without making it distorted.

    LESLIE: What about the wiring? Is that something that’s difficult to do? Can that be a do-it-yourself project?

    ROGER: The wiring is very, very simple, for the most part. What we do is we – in anticipation of having speakers – and when we do a patio or something like that, we’ll run pipe so that you have a little pipe to fish the wire through.

    LESLIE: Oh, very smart.

    ROGER: You don’t have to dig anything up. But most of the time, it’s low voltage, so you can just very simply dig a trench, put it in and put disconnects on it. That’s where I was talking about earlier, so you could disconnect the speakers right there, take them in the house and next spring just hook them up again.

    TOM: And of course, when you’re planning those acoustics, sound’s not going to bounce very much outside.

    ROGER: No, no.

    TOM: So, it really is – it’s really kind of line of sight, isn’t it, in terms of designing where these things go?

    ROGER: It is. You know, it seems like the landscaping absorbs it so that there’s no reverberation.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: I love that word.

    TOM: That’s a good word.

    ROGER: So there’s no reverberation, so everything just gets sucked in and you just get that single tone. Well, that’s why it has to be somewhere near you. It’ll bounce some off rocks but for the most part, the landscaping seems to absorb the sound.

    TOM: Now, if it seems difficult to run the wiring for the speakers, any wireless options that you like?

    ROGER: Oh, of course. They have all the blue this or blue that, any type of …

    TOM: The Bluetooth?

    ROGER: The great thing about that is you can take your existing system and bring it outside already loaded with all your music you want and then just take it in again.

    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House, helping us design an outdoor sound system so that we can enjoy the great outdoors all season long.

    Thank you.

    ROGER: Thank you.

    LESLIE: 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

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Still ahead, summer storms can lead to power outages and that can often lead to spoiled food. We’re going to tell you how to prevent some of that food spoilage when The Money Pit continues, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by KOHLER Generators, who remind everyone that this week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To learn how you can be prepared, visit

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air today is going to win a really great prize. I’ve only had mine a short amount of time and I already find it completely the greatest tool ever. It is the Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer.

    Now, this device packs a lot of functions in a really easy-to-use design.

    TOM: It’s got a range of 65 feet and an easy, two-button design. So you can measure distance, area, volume or square footage. And it’s great for real estate agents, contractors, landscapers, painters and home decorators – like my friend, Leslie – as well as do-it-yourselfers.

    It’s also a great Father’s Day gift, so check it all out in our Father’s Day gift ideas at And to learn more, you can also visit

    Let’s back to the phones. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Michael in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    MICHAEL: We have a hot-water heater in our garage on like an elevated plateau. And we noticed the other day, there was a slight leak underneath it but it looked like it might have been coming from a PVC-type tube coming from the top of our water heater. And it’s the length of the water heater. It’s a tube. And we’ve never seen water under that area before and we now notice some of that. So I wasn’t sure why – if it was a sweating situation or what – some type of relief valve, maybe, or something like that. But I’m not sure why water would have been there.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a temperature-and-pressure relief valve. It’s mounted on the side of the water heater. It’s designed to open up if the water heater develops too much pressure, as a safety mechanism.

    However, they frequently wear and leak. So, I’m going to tell you what you can try to do but I’m also going to warn you. There’s a lever on the side of that and sometimes you get a little bit of a debris that’s stuck inside that temperature-and-pressure valve. When you pull the lever, it’ll shoot some water out that tube. You want to make sure you have a bucket under it. Just two or three times; it’ll kind of blast some hot water out of there.

    However, the warning is that sometimes, once you do that, the valve never sits back properly and it ends up leaking worse. So it’s possible you could make it worse by doing this but that’s worth trying. If you just want to leave a bucket under it and monitor it for a little while – how old is this water heater?

    MICHAEL: About 1998.

    TOM: Oh. Oh, well, you know what? You’re due for a new one. So, 1998 – I wouldn’t wait too much longer before I replace that because let’s face it, it’s about, what, 15 years old now? And so a water heater that gets past 10 is well on its way to needing – to the end of its useful life.

    So, I would – you could monitor it, stick a bucket under there, keep an eye on it. But I think it’s about time to think about replacing. It’s not an emergency replacement, so you’ve got some time to shop around. One of the problems with water heaters is once they do leak, they usually have to be done immediately and people get taken advantage of because they need it today. But you’re not in that situation, Michael, so you could take some time and shop around and find the one – the contractor – that you want. But 15-year-old water heater, you might want to think about replacing it.

    MICHAEL: Alright, sir. I appreciate that very much.

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

    Well, when the forecast calls for severe weather, you want to make sure you’re ready for the storm. So here’s a tip that can help keep cold foods fresh, presented by KOHLER Generators.

    Now, if a storm is expected and you fear a power outage, there are a few things that you can do first to save some of those frozen foods.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. First of all, you should pack food that you’re going to eat right away into a cooler full of ice. You know, think of things like milk or any leftovers or even cold cuts. Then, turn your refrigerator and your freezer settings to the highest levels, to really almost over-chill the rest of your food.

    TOM: Now, try to keep the doors closed as much as possible. Don’t open them unless you have to. And if your power does go out, use up the cooler food first. With any luck, your frozen foods won’t thaw before the power comes back on.

    LESLIE: This Severe Weather Tip is presented by KOHLER Generators. Running on clean propane or natural gas, a KOHLER standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and comes on automatically within seconds of a power outage.

    TOM: To learn more, visit

    LESLIE: Sandy in Florida is dealing with a squeaky door. Tell us what’s going on.

    SANDY: Well, we’ve had this squeaky door now for three years. We’ve tried putting oil on it, we tried using WD-40 and then we went out and bought three new hinges and put on it. And it still is a squeaky door.

    TOM: Are these hinges sort of standard hinges?

    SANDY: Yes. It’s just three standard hinges.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is go out and buy some ball-bearing hinges. There are some upgraded hinges. They’re often used on heavier doors but they rely on ball bearings to open and close instead of just the metal sitting on top of the metal. There’s actually bearings there that the different sides of the door will ride on. And those will be absolutely quiet and they’ll last forever.

    SANDY: Wow. Where would they carry those?

    TOM: Well, I would expect that you would find them – you may need to go to a home center and order them. Go to the millworks section of a home center, bring an old hinge along and try to order a ball-bearing hinge to match it. Or your hardware store. Or you can probably find them online, as well.

    SANDY: Yeah, that’s what we’ll try. Well, thank you.

    LESLIE: OK. If your home was built in the 80s and maybe has those – some unfortunate, original design elements, you might have a nice burgundy or even hunter-green soaking tub or shower. How fantastic.

    Well, coming up, we’ve got ideas to makeover those outdated fixtures and bring them into the 21st century.

    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: And you’ll find lots of advice, info and how-to tips and our Community section, all online at, where you can even post pictures of your do-it-yourself project.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question and we’ll jump into those now, like Edwina in New Jersey wrote: “I love your show.” She really said that; we didn’t just make that up. And she says, “We have two” – I always feel weird when I say things like that, because I’m reading that she says it.

    Alright. So Edwina writes: “We have two fiberglass showers: hunter green and gray.” Wow, that sounds really terrible. “They look worn, scratched and water-stained. Is there a product that can revive the showers to a new look? And how can I update the rest of the room to match?”

    TOM: Hmm. Two-part question. In terms of restoring the fiberglass, look, you can clean it to get rid of all of those water stains. But in terms of the fade and the scratching, you know, that’s just wear and tear.

    Is it possible to paint fiberglass? Well, I suppose that you could add an additional gelcoat to it. That’s the top layer. But the results may be somewhat inconsistent and you will probably see some brushstrokes and things like that.

    So, you’ll probably get the same results that you would if you tried to refinish a bathtub, which is OK but not great. So, I would suggest that maybe you may want to live with that, clean it up as best you can and then redecorate the bathroom to try to make it look not perhaps so awful and such a standout, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the good thing is one of the pans is gray. So, gray showers, not so terrible. I mean it really depends on what tone of gray. But a gray is an excellent neutral and sort of a good starting point.

    So you can go with gray. You can do turquoise; you can do different shades of blue or teal. You can do yellow, you can do orange. And I’m not talking about paint the bathroom orange; I’m talking about use a paint that’s a neutral sort of light beige but in a warm sort of tone. You’ll find a very sort of neutral one and then add accents of orange or turquoise or teal or yellow. Because all of those colors look really nice with gray. Even chocolate brown.

    Now, the hunter green, that one really sort of dates itself, really, right smack in the middle of the 80s. You probably have gold fixtures, as well, which is also an excellent 80s touch. So, in there, with the hunter green you might just want to go super-super-super-super-neutral: light grays, whites, beiges. Just keep everything else sort of tonal and add in different decorative features. Maybe you do a woven shade that has a green reed through it. Or maybe you pick out a towel that has a green border or a white towel that has a green stripe in it, sort of like those hotel linens? Use that to sort of bring in that green without overpowering it. Because that’s a really big, standout piece there in the room.

    TOM: Alright. Frank in California wants to replace windows in walls of stucco and wondering what the best way is to cut and remove the stucco.

    Well, first of all, Frank, I would say don’t do that unless you absolutely have to. If you have a standard, wood, double-hung window, you don’t have to physically remove the window from the wall. You can purchase replacement windows, which are essentially very energy-efficient windows that would be built to fit inside the existing opening of the old wood window.

    The way it works is the sash is removed. Those are the parts of windows – the parts of the window that slide up and down. And then the new window fits right into the frame that’s essentially left. You can wrap all that exposed wood with aluminum. It will look completely brand new when you’re done but you won’t have to remove that stucco. And that is clearly the easiest way to tackle that project.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Frank, you really don’t want to mess with that stucco unless you have to.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Remember, you can call in your home improvement question 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at

    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.)

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!