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Recycling Outdated Electronics, Disposing of Live Christmas Trees, Installing a Walkway in a Freezing Climate and More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: Happy New Year, everybody. It’s time to kiss 2011 goodbye and say, “Hello, 2012.” We’re going to help you get started on the right home improvement projects this year if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We would love to talk to you about what you have on your to-do list for 2012.

    If you hit the jackpot with new electronics as holiday gifts this year, good for you. But here’s a question: what do you do with all the old stuff? We’ve got some great advice this hour on how you can recycle your E-trash and maybe make some money along the way.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, making home improvements that can stand the tough weather ahead takes some planning. We’ve got advice from This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook, on how to build a paved or even a brick walkway that can stand up to the freezing climates.

    TOM: Plus, did you treat yourself to a fresh-cut tree for the holidays? Has it now turned into a needle-dropping dilemma? It’s happened to so many of us and unfortunately, many communities no longer haul away those fresh-cut trees after the holidays. That’s why, this hour, we’ve got a way that you can give your tree a second life.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a bamboo workbench from Gladiator GarageWorks. And that’s going to help you organize all of those brand new tools you got this holiday season.

    TOM: It’s a great prize and a great way to start off your next home improvement project. If you’d like to win, pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. It’s worth over 300 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Patricia in Oregon is working on a tool shed. How can we help you?

    PATRICIA: Well, the tool shed is – has been established and has been standing for probably 15 years and it’s in need of a new roof.

    TOM: Has it served you well as the home for many of your tools for projects all those years?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it’s great. It works as a tack barn and a wood shed and a tool shed. And it’s definitely a good addition to the home and property.

    TOM: Alright. So we want to take care of it. So you’re looking at a roof for it.

    PATRICIA: Yeah. The reason I was calling is because I – in the Northwest here where we live, where it gets a lot of rain and problems with mold and that kind of thing, I see some of our neighbors have gone to these metal roofs. And I’ve heard that they’re quite expensive but I thought I would call and get your opinion as to whether or not it seems worth it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s a sturdy tool shed and one that’s going to be around for a long time, if you put a metal roof on it, it’s pretty much going to be the only roof you’ll ever need. I will say that the metal roofs have become a little less expensive over time. And because it’s a very small building, it certainly could be a do-it-yourself project.

    You know, you could simply use a corrugated metal roof for that. There are dozens of corrugated patterns to choose from. It’s not terribly expensive – it will be more expensive than asphalt – but it’s going to be a roof that’s going to last the life of that building.

    PATRICIA: OK. Do you think it’s important for the – an outbuilding roof to match the roof of the home?

    TOM: Depends. Is it in the back of the house?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it is but we’re kind of exposed all the way around. It’s in a rural area.

    TOM: It’s kind of a – it’s a décor question, I think, more than anything else or a style question more than anything else. But if – a lot of times, folks have sheds that totally mimic the look and the feel of the exteriors in their home. If that’s something you’d like to do, then maybe you want to make them consistent. But from a structural perspective, I think the metal roof will give you many years of protection.

    PATRICIA: What about from an investment one? Do you think that’s a …?

    TOM: If it was on your house, I’d say that it would definitely be a valuable addition to your house. The fact that it’s on a tool shed, I don’t think we could necessarily prove that a metal roof on a tool shed over an asphalt roof on a tool shed has ever had any reflection on the value of a property.

    LESLIE: Right.

    PATRICIA: OK.

    TOM: I mean it certainly could make it more attractive if you have that kind of a buyer but I don’t necessarily think it will impact your home’s value one way or the other.

    PATRICIA: OK. Very good. Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Michael in Kentucky is on the line and he’s got a question about a gazebo. What can we do for you today?

    MICHAEL: Oh, well, I wanted to try and find a way to use my gazebo during the winter. It gets kind of cold here in Kentucky and the gazebo is made out of wood. And I’m looking to put a fire-pit kind of thing but I don’t want to use the wood, because it’s made out of wood; I don’t want it to go up in flames.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. That’s wise. But your gazebo probably has a roof on it, right?

    MICHAEL: Yeah, it has a roof.

    TOM: Yeah, so you can’t really put a fire under it. You just – because unless it’s a tepee with a big hole in the top, there’s no place for the smoke to go. You’re going to collect a lot of heat up there and it’s really generally a bad idea.

    So really, the question is how can you heat your gazebo in the winter months. And there’s a good reason we don’t heat gazebos in winter months, because they’re not really designed to be enclosed.

    MICHAEL: So, I guess it’s kind of an out-of-the-question kind of thing then.

    TOM: It would seem. Typically, if you want to put some sort of a heating system onto your deck, then you could use a fire pit. And you could design it or even have a – like we have a fire – a portable sort of fire – pit that we wheel out onto the patio and put a couple of logs in there. But when you’re in a gazebo like that, you can’t create a fire because you’re going to burn the roof down.

    So it’s a hard space to use. If you had an open patio area or maybe an open area of your yard, Michael, that would be a smarter place to create a gathering place where you could actually really build a true fire pit.

    There’s a great article online on our website on how to build a fire pit. There’s also a radio show that we did with Roger Cook from This Old House where he gave us his tips on how to build a fire pit.

    MICHAEL: OK. So, basically, it’d probably be a better thing to put maybe outside of my gazebo.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Gazebos are just not intended to be enclosed.

    MICHAEL: Well, that sounds like it answers my question pretty well.

    TOM: Alright, Michael. 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. Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that 2012 is everything that you and your family dream of. And if you’re dreaming of some home improvement projects, give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’d love to give you a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, we’ve got tips on how you can recycle all those old electronics and make room for all the new gadgets you scored over the holidays.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And why don’t you become part of The Money Pit fun by picking up the phone and giving us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT? We’re going to help you with your home improvement projects but we’re also going to give away a great prize to one lucky caller.

    We’ve got up for grabs, on this first show of the new year, the Gladiator Bamboo Modular Workbench. And it’s made of one of nature’s strongest and most renewable materials. It’s made of solid bamboo. It’s got a great work surface with a UV-cured, protective coating and a heavy-duty, tubular steel-leg system that’s going to stand up to any project.

    The Gladiator Bamboo Modular Workbench is worth more than 300 bucks but it could be yours for free, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. One caller to today’s program is going to win that great workbench from our friends at Gladiator.

    Hey, if you’re looking for a way to get rid of old electronics and make some room for the new ones you scored this holiday season, you are in luck. There are a growing number of ways to turn E-trash into treasure.

    First, there are several websites now that will allow you to mail in the used electronics for a check or a PayPal deposit. For example, take a look at Gazelle.com. They accept old cell phones, cameras, even DVDs. But don’t hold onto your stuff for too long or it could lose its value.

    And in addition, there are several national retailers that will let you trade in future purchases, including places like Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Walmart and a bunch of others. Just ask about sell-back programs at any of the retailers that you go to.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, another idea is to donate that old desktop computer or cell phone to a charity and you can take a tax deduction. So check your local YMCA or even a Boys & Girls Clubs or a shelter.

    And finally, if you just want to be rid of your stuff or it’s too old to really even be good to anybody, look into recycling programs so that you can get rid of electronics properly, especially if they have batteries, which you are not supposed to just toss into your household trash. They need to be recycled, so do your research before you just pitch something.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you research your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now.

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

    ALAN: Oh, yes. Hi. First, I’d like to say I appreciate your show and always enjoy listening to it and learning things.

    TOM: Well, thanks, Alan. What’s going on in your house?

    ALAN: Got basically a house that’s divided in two by a wall.

    TOM: OK.

    ALAN: And on the one side is the living room, office and entryway. The living room has a fireplace insert in it.

    TOM: OK.

    ALAN: And the living room runs too warm and on the other side of the wall, where the kitchen/dining area is, runs too cool. How can I get some of that heat from the warm side to the cool side?

    TOM: Well, the fireplace is not designed to be a central-heating system so, obviously, it’s going to be hotter in the rooms where – that are closer to the fireplace. That’s the difference between a fireplace and a centralized heating system, because the centralized systems distribute the heat evenly.

    Now, that said, if you were to add, perhaps, some openings – some additional openings – or if you were to add, say, a – you know what might be cool is a duct booster but not really with a duct. What a duct booster is is a fan that fits in the side of a standard register – a duct register.

    ALAN: Sure.

    TOM: It’s designed to fit inside of it. And if you had a hole in that wall between the two and you put this duct booster in it, it would basically be a fan that was on 24-7 that blew air from one side to the other. And so if you did something like that, that moved air from the hotter area into the cooler area, then you may be able to balance out a little bit.

    But understand that you’re trying to do something that’s non-conventional. The fireplace in a …

    ALAN: Non-conventional doesn’t bother me.

    TOM: OK. A fireplace in a really old house, before we had central-heating systems, was in the middle of the home for a reason, because then it did heat the entire house. But in a modern house, when we have it on the end of the house, it’s not going to get throughout to the whole house. It’s not really something that it’s designed to do. You can kind of help it along if you provide that path for the warm air to move to the cooler spaces.

    ALAN: Here’s my thought: opening up and putting a vent in high, just somewhere near the fireplace, and drawing air down through between two studs and bringing it out low on the other side and maybe a duct booster in that kind of a situation or some other kind of a vent fan.

    TOM: Possibly. Yeah, possibly, if you mounted the duct booster on the kitchen side – the colder side – and then the register on the fireplace side becomes a return. Yeah, that’s possible.

    What kind of heat do you have in your house?

    ALAN: We have a heat pump but it’s very ineffective when you get below about 32 degrees.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, they are, they are.

    ALAN: And then you’ve got backup heat, electric.

    TOM: Yeah, right. Yeah, I see, I see. Do you have a space heater or anything like that on the other room?

    ALAN: Yes. And I’d just as soon take advantage of some of this heat, if I can, that we’re generating in the other side.

    TOM: Sure, I understand. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    Have you ever thought about – is it possible to put an additional doorway in between the two spaces? Would that make any design sense?

    ALAN: Probably not, in this case.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean those are your options.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that there is such a thing as a wood furnace.

    ALAN: Oh, sure.

    TOM: There are furnaces that are designed to heat on wood – that heat with wood – and have duct systems and the blowers that move the air through. So there may be some other alternative to that heat pump.

    Do you have natural gas in your area or is that just not a possibility?

    ALAN: Not here.

    TOM: Not here, huh?

    ALAN: My druthers are geothermal but that’s just druthers.

    TOM: Yeah. But that’s a big investment.

    ALAN: Exactly.

    TOM: Even with the rebates, it’s a big-dollar amount. OK?

    ALAN: Oh. But over a period of time, it’s a good return, too.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.

    ALAN: Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome and good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Kelly in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your winterization project?

    KELLY: Well, I guess my biggest thing is I am hoping to live with my son during the winter months. And so, what I need to do to make sure my home is winterized – my pipes aren’t going to freeze and that kind of stuff when I’m gone.

    TOM: So, Kelly, are you going to turn the heat off?

    KELLY: I would think I would turn it down; I don’t think I’d turn it off. Here in West Virginia, easy to …

    TOM: Right. Well, I’m trying to determine what level of winterization advice you need. If you’re going to turn the heat down, there are a few things that you’re going to want to do.

    First of all, you’re obviously going to turn the water off to the building. You would do that at the main. The second thing that you would do is you would be sure to close off any hose bibs that go through the wall so that those pipes don’t freeze and break. You’re also going to want to add antifreeze to all of the fixtures. So you would put some in the tank of the toilet and in the bowl of the toilet and a little bit in all of the drains of the house. This is why – the reason we do this is because if you did lose heat and everything froze, at least those fixtures would not crack.

    Now, you may want to look into a freeze-alert system. There are different types of monitors out there that can monitor your house for a temperature differential and if it drops below a certain temperature, actually alerts you.

    Is there going to be somebody that can kind of keep an eye on your house every once in a while for you while you’re away?

    KELLY: Yeah, there – I have friends that could pop in.

    TOM: OK. I think it’s a real good idea for somebody to check it every once in a while. But turning the water off before you leave is going to make sure that if anything happens to those pipes and you get a burst, that the only water that’s going to leak out is what’s actually contained in the pipe; it’s not just going to run and run and run and run. You understand?

    KELLY: Mm-hmm. Should I – when I close off the water at the main, should I run the water through the sink and stuff just to get out as much out of the lines as possible?

    TOM: Well, certainly, you could open up all of the faucets. You know, the best way to do this is to actually have all the pipes drained.

    In our part of the country, there’s a lot of folks that have homes they close up for the winter. And what they’ll do is they’ll drain all the water out of the pipes, a plumber will come in and usually blow compressed air through the plumbing system so that all the water gets out of the house. And then they completely turn the heat off for the whole season.

    Now, there is a risk in doing that and that is that you’re going to have moisture that kind of builds up in the house. And you will find that sometimes, wallpaper can fall off the walls or doors can swell or that sort of thing can happen. So I do think it’s a good idea to keep the heat on at a minimum. But if you want to be super-conservative, you could have all the water drained from the pipes.

    And in fact, if you’re going to take that step with a plumber, you may ask the plumber, while they’re there, if there’s a possibility that they could put in a drain valve to the plumbing system. Because, typically, what they’ll do is at the lowest part of the plumbing arrangement, they’ll tap in a new valve so that it – basically, if you open up all the faucets in the house and then open up that valve, that any water that’s in those lines will completely drain out due to gravity.

    KELLY: OK. That’s real helpful. I thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Kelly. Good luck with that project and enjoy the warmer months in California.

    KELLY: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Jim in North Carolina has a question about insulation. How can we help you with that?

    JIM: Hi. I went to a seminar and they brought out some stuff that looked like heavy-duty aluminum foil kind of a thing that they talked about lining the house and the attic with.

    TOM: Yep.

    JIM: And it would be so good on cutting your expenses down and all of that.

    TOM: Yeah. Was that seminar paid for by the radiant-barrier manufacturer?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Just took a guess, Jim.

    LESLIE: And on your way out the door, you could buy a whole bunch of it.

    JIM: Yeah. And they wouldn’t take any money right then but they would definitely come to your house afterwards.

    TOM: Of course not. Oh, yeah. Setting you up for the hard close, buddy.

    JIM: And I thought they could buy me a dinner but I’m not necessarily going to buy snake oil because I get bought a dinner.

    TOM: Well, look, can radiant barriers save you energy? Yes. But it’s still somewhat of an unproven technology as far as I’m concerned.

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: And I think that there are much better ways for you to reduce your energy consumption inside your house than using radiant barrier.

    JIM: I was wondering, too, about the moisture buildup. Here in North Carolina, we get a lot of humidity.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: And I thought if you trap all that in the house …

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s another reason. It’s very difficult to put it in in an existing house, too, because you’ve got all those issues to contend with. But the thing – the basic things that you can check, Jim, is to make sure in your attic that you have 19 to 22 inches of insulation – that’s really critical – and then to make sure you have plenty of ventilation.

    How old is your house, Jim?

    JIM: You know, I’m not sure. It’s an older house.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: There are two whirligigs up on the ….

    TOM: Ah, the whirligigs look pretty but they don’t – they’re not very effective as a ventilation strategy.

    JIM: Oh, my wife just told me it was made in 1981.

    TOM: OK. Well, go to our website and look up “ridge and soffit ventilation.” And you’ll see some articles there where we talk about the fact that a good vent, like a ridge vent at the peak of the roof, and then another one at the soffit kind of work together. Because air enters at the soffit, rides up underneath the roof sheathing, takes out moisture in the winter and heat in the summer and then exits at the ridge. That’s a real effective, 24-7 ventilation strategy for an attic. Those two things, I think, will do a lot more for you in terms of energy savings than a radiant barrier.

    JIM: So I don’t need to wrap my house in aluminum foil.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: No, no. Not at all.

    JIM: Thank you very much.

    TOM: The foil is good for baking a turkey and things like that but as far as your house, not so much.

    JIM: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. 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. If you’ve ever noticed uneven bricks or pavers on walkways in your neighborhood, it might be because of the weather where you live. Still ahead, we’re going to tell you how to install a walkway, for a freezing climate, that’s going to stay put.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.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: And if winter gets harsh where you are, you can get armed with all the info that you need to be prepared, including what you need to know to prevent winter’s worst, like ice dams, snow damage and frozen pipes. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Justin in Kentucky is on the line and is calling in about three wood decks around his money pit, which equals a whole heck of a lot of work.

    Welcome, Justin.

    JUSTIN: Hello. Me and my wife are wanting to remove the paint from our decks that are on their (inaudible at 0:22:07) right now and try to get the original wood’s look.

    TOM: OK.

    JUSTIN: But we have had problems with that. We’ve tried using a pressure washer and that has actually ate into the wood a couple times. And so, I then went to sanding and gave up on that pretty quick; that was taking quite a bit of time. And we have since painted over but now the paint is peeling off. The new paint is peeling off but the old paint is still right there. I was curious – have any recommendations on how to remove paint from wood?

    LESLIE: Is it actually paint or is it more of a solid stain?

    JUSTIN: It is a paint.

    LESLIE: So it’s actually paint. I mean really, what you’re going to have to do to get the paint off of that is to use a stripping agent, like a chemical product that’s meant to be rolled on, sit there, eat away the paint, remove it from the surface and then you pressure-wash that away. I think the issue you’ve had with the pressure washer that’s given you some damage to the lumber itself is that maybe you were a little too aggressive with your pressure-washing technique. Because the pressure washer can damage and can splinter the surface, as you’ve found out.

    So start with a good stripper. A lot of people make them: Behr, pretty much anybody. Go to the home center; you can find one. Flood, Behr, they all make good ones. Apply it the way that it says to be applied, let it sit there, pressure-wash it off. You may need to come in and sand a couple of problem areas where you can’t get that paint off.

    And then rather than putting a paint on, I would go with a solid stain, only because a paint sits on top of the surface of the wood and a stain is going to sort of penetrate into the structure of the wood itself. And it’ll apply the color more deeper into the strips of lumber, so it’s going to stay there. So you’ll probably get better results.

    But with a wood deck, you’re going to have to refinish it probably in three to five years, because that’s just how long it lasts.

    JUSTIN: That helps. I will try that.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking of installing a new walkway, there are things to consider beyond the prettiest materials, especially if you live in a climate where frost is a problem.

    TOM: That’s right. And when soil freezes, it expands and it can lift and even break apart walkways, patios, sidewalks or driveways. But that won’t happen if it’s built right. Landscaping contractor, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House is here to tell us how.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: Now, when we build a foundation, we’re accustomed to digging down below that frost line to make sure the foundation won’t move. But with a walkway, it’s not always possible to dig down that deep, nor would you want to. How do we keep that from moving?

    ROGER: Well, whenever I build a walkway or a driveway or any sort of paving area, I like to go down a foot. I take out 12 inches of material. Usually, you get topsoil in the top 6 to 8 inches but I want to go down and make sure I’m below that topsoil level. Usually, the topsoil is brown and it holds moisture.

    TOM: Draining is really the key here.

    ROGER: Right. That moisture is what’s going to freeze and expand and move your walkway. So we dig down a foot. We usually put in what’s called “pack.” And pack is a combination of stone dust and ¾-inch stone. And we bring that up in 3-inch lifts. In other words, we put down 3 inches; then we take a compactor, pack it down and keep working our way up.

    The great thing about pack is it packs up hard, where it’s a good, great base for the walkway but it drains; it lets that water get out from underneath the walkway.

    LESLIE: Now, I know a lot of people talk about – when we’re discussing base prep, they talk about the frost line. You want to be below the frost line. How do you know where the frost line is? Is that a visual cue? Is it something you know by region or like you mention, is it just “OK, I’ve seen the change in the soil and now I’m good”?

    ROGER: Below the frost line only pertains to concrete walls and footings for your house. No one is going to dig down here in New England 4 feet deep for a walkway to get below the frost line, OK?

    LESLIE: OK.

    ROGER: So that’s where picking the material comes into place in how you put the walkway in. I like to do walkways and patios dry, which means there’s no mortar and no cement involved there, set on the pack on an inch of stone dust and then the final top piece is put in.

    If you look – put in a concrete walkway, it doesn’t – it can’t move. It structurally – it cracks. Pavers can move but they’re set in stone dust and if worse comes to worse they do move too much, you can reset them again by just scraping out a little stone dust and putting it back. You can’t do that with a concrete walkway.

    TOM: So does that make pavers a much better choice for a harsh climate than – compared to, say, concrete?

    ROGER: It does in my mind. Up here in New England, concrete is bound to fail sooner or later. In warmer climates, it’s a perfect solution: it’s very efficient to go down, cost effective and will last forever in areas like Florida.

    TOM: Now, what about sealers once the project is done? Do you think it’s a good idea to put some sort of a sealer on a paver? Does that actually help slow down the absorption of water or does it let the water in and trap it?

    ROGER: No, it definitely helps keep water from getting in. But what I tell everyone is to take a couple of bricks, seal them first and see if you like the look. Because it’s a total different look; it tends to be like the pavers are wet or shiny, so …

    LESLIE: Oh, it gives it almost a gloss.

    ROGER: Right. So make sure you look at some before you do the whole walkway and then decide you don’t like the look.

    And there is a reapplication thing; it doesn’t – it isn’t one application that lasts forever.

    TOM: So there is some maintenance involved; it has to be repeated from time to time.

    ROGER: Right, exactly.

    TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House. He’s a guy that knows how to build it once, build it right so you really don’t have to build it over and over and over again.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: It’s my pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    Still ahead, we’re going to tell you about a very green way to give your fresh-cut Christmas tree a second life after the holidays.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Happy New Year, everybody. Give us a call right now. We’ll start your New Year’s off right because this hour, we’re giving away a $300 bamboo modular workbench from our pals over at Gladiator GarageWorks. There is plenty of space underneath to dock two Gladiator, ready-to-assemble modules. It’s got a heavy-duty set of steel tubular legs. It’s going to stand up to any project.

    And new from Gladiator GarageWorks, they’ve got an interactive online tool called the Design Studio that can totally help you design your garage storage space. You can visit GladiatorGW.com to learn more about that.

    But pick up the phone right now, join the program. Tell us about your home improvement project: the one that you’re going to tackle this year. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution for your home. Let us help you get it done at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, a traditional part of the post-Christmas cleanup has been leaving your old Christmas tree on the curbside for your local garbage collector to pick up and tote to the landfill. Well, more and more often these days, however, landfills are off-limits to Christmas trees and most other foliage or even yard waste.

    Now, if your local landfill refuses to take your Christmas tree, then you might be interested to know that many local arborists are offering Christmas-tree recycling services.

    TOM: Not only do recycled Christmas trees save on landfill space, they also provide much-needed and very good-quality mulch for the professional and amateur gardeners.

    Now, the National Arborists website can actually help you locate disposal sites in your area. Their website is NatlArb.com. That’s N-a-t-l-A-r-b.com.

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

    ROGER: I have a home and it has a lot of paneling in it. That is a product called luan.

    TOM: Yes, mm-hmm.

    ROGER: And at one time, I had some remodeling done and there was a divider between living room, dining room and kitchen. And they took that off and we put sheetrock and sprayed it and then painted it. But there’s still quite a bit in. It’s a split-level entryway, a hallway and then two of the bedrooms. And I was wondering if there was any other application could do instead of having it all taken off and sheetrock put on and …

    TOM: Have you considered painting the paneling?

    ROGER: Yeah, well, that was my question.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Before, I thought – I listened to your program and I thought it would be a good question to ask (inaudible at 0:31:11).

    TOM: It is a good question and it’s definitely a doable project.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: And so many of us are stuck with paneling that’s been put up over the last decades.

    ROGER: Sure.

    TOM: And there’s no reason you can’t paint it. The key is to make sure that you get a good, even coat and so priming is especially important, even though there’s a finished surface and it’s not the kind of material that’s going to absorb. But if you prime it first, then you can paint it.

    And I think that we’ve even seen some folks, depending on the style of the paneling, do it with …

    LESLIE: And the room.

    TOM: And the room. Do it with multiple colors or complementary colors, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it really depends. You can make it work. Obviously, there’s a built-in stripe for you. It depends on how you use the space and what your style is, whether you’re going to go with that or not.

    Generally, I find that the crispest, cleanest look when you’re painting over paneling is a glossy white.

    ROGER: OK.

    LESLIE: For some reason, that just gives you a good, neutral base. It really pops. It makes the paneling look not offensive.

    ROGER: Right.

    LESLIE: And it’s wearable, if you will. It’s something that’ll work with any sort of décor.

    ROGER: Mm-hmm. And now, between the paneling – each panel – there is a wooden strip, which would probably – I would take off but – and then that would have to be probably a little gap in there and would have to be filled?

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you fill it, though, on a wall surface, that’s never going to stick.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: Why don’t you work the strip into the design? It’ll give you a little depth to it, a little texture to it.

    ROGER: OK, we can do that, too. Sure.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Once everything goes white, it sort of just becomes one.

    ROGER: Blends right in. Right, right.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    ROGER: Well, I appreciate your input. Any particular brand or type of primer you would use?

    TOM: I would use a KILZ oil-based primer on the wood.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. It’s a little bit more of a hassle to put on but I think it’s going to dry nice, flow well and you’ll be really pleased with the top coat – with the condition of the top coat after you put the paint on.

    ROGER: And then latex would go over that?

    TOM: Latex can go on top of that, yep. Mm-hmm.

    ROGER: OK. OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    ROGER: Well, listen, thank you very much. I appreciate your answer.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Roger. Good luck with that project in Chippewa Falls. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Mary in Delaware is thinking of taking on a stucco project. How can we help you with the job?

    MARY: I’ve got some stucco problems and I don’t know whether it’s good to have it done now or to wait until the spring.

    TOM: Well, what’s going on with the stucco?

    MARY: Well, it’s starting to peel off. It’s kind of in places down – like they were in back of bushes that I trimmed down and it’s come away from the cinder block.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, in the wintertime, when you get a lot of moisture that gets behind the stucco and it freezes and sort of peels away or expands and chips off, that’s when you’re going to get the most damage. So you might want to wait until the spring or the summer or in the early fall to do a project like that, because you’re going to get the best adhesion.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: You’ll have better, warmer, drier temperatures for application. The repair is going to depend on how big of a damaged area you have. If it’s just some small areas that need to be patched, you’re probably going to use an epoxy patching compound. If it’s a larger area, really big space, then you’re going to probably use more of a stucco product and not a patching compound and basically replace what’s there.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: It’s really a job for someone that’s very handy or a professional.

    MARY: Oh, I already have someone in mind.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, I think maybe you want to put that project off to the spring. It’ll look great all summer long.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come, one of the most common dishwasher dilemmas is water that won’t drain from the bottom. For that, though, you don’t need a costly repair or even a replacement. We’re going to tell you what you do need, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Hometalk.com. Join Tom and Leslie on Hometalk.com and log on to become part of the community of folks who love taking care of their homes, at Hometalk.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. And why don’t you get connected with The Money Pit when you “fan” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter? You can get home improvement tweets sent directly to your computer or your mobile device and also learn about special features coming up on the show. Just follow @MoneyPit or search “money pit” on Facebook and you’ll find us there.

    TOM: You can also win cool stuff.

    LESLIE: Totally. And we’re going to let you know what the prizes are and who won, so check us out on a daily basis.

    And you know what? While you’re online, you can e-mail us or post your question. And I’ve got one here from Kay in New York who wrote: “My dishwasher always has a small amount of water left in the bottom at the end of a wash cycle. I suspect that the filter at the bottom of the unit may be blocked and need cleaning. Is there any safe way to get inside the little plastic cage at the bottom of the unit to clean it out?”

    TOM: You know, you may not have to. Because the typical reason that water stays in the bottom of the dishwasher after the cycle is a clogged drain line in the dishwasher. This is the – typically a black hose that goes from the dishwasher up into the drain underneath your kitchen sink or into your …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Up to the sink.

    TOM: Yeah or into the side of the garbage disposer.

    So, what I would do is turn power off – not run water, not run dishwasher – and pull that hose out from where it connects to the sink and take a look inside. You may find that it’s all scummed up and guzz-scuzzed (ph) up with dishwasher debris and food particles and all that.

    LESLIE: That sounds gross.

    TOM: I was trying to figure out a nice way to say it but let’s just say it gets pretty dirty. You need to clean that out. And if you do, it’ll drain fully the next time you run the dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Alright. Gross, Kay. Get under that sink and get ready for some scuzzy tubing. Ugh. Good words, Tom.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got Sally in Michigan who posted: “Our water heater is a long way from the kitchen sink and dishwasher. We’d like to put something inline under the sink or in the basement to give us hot water until the hot water from the water heater reaches the sink. What do you suggest?”

    TOM: Well, I mean you can put a recirculating system in that constantly takes water from the water heater and moves it through the hot-water pipes in the house. But it runs all the time and it’s expensive. And because you’re going to be circulating a lot more water back to the water heater, your water heater is going to run more of the time and that’s going to be expensive, too.

    The real way that you change this is you short-cycle the distance between the water heater and the dishwasher itself or the sink itself by splitting the plumbing system into two, essentially, and using tankless water heaters. Because they’re small, you can put one closer to the action in the kitchen and perhaps a bathroom on the first floor – that kind of thing – and then another one maybe on your second floor, if that’s the way your house is configured, to get water quickly to the bathrooms up there.

    Other than that, I really wouldn’t recommend putting in a recirculating system, because I think it’s going to actually end up costing you more in terms of energy to operate.

    LESLIE: Way more to operate.

    TOM: Exactly right.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.

    Now I’ve got a quick one here from Carol in Philadelphia who writes: “I have a green substance forming on an outside brick wall, below my flat roof, at every spot where the roof meets the brick wall. Do you have any ideas?”

    TOM: Well, I’ll say this: where the roof meets the brick wall – she’s probably talking about what we call the parapet wall; that’s the sidewall – it’s going to be colder there than the wall above where the roof doesn’t hit, because it’s connected to the rest of the sort of structure of the building.

    So I suspect what you’re getting is more condensation in those spots. You’re getting probably some plant growth that’s sticking to the outside and that’s growing into green moss. So I would simply remove that and treat this as a maintenance issue. And clean it with a siding wash and that should make it come away.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Carol? You can also use bleach and water. Just be sure to cover any sort of plantings below and that’ll really do the trick.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. And Happy New Year, everybody. We hope it is a wonderful, wonderful year for you and your family.

    And remember, as you move through the year, when you have a home improvement question, please call us, trust us. We are here to help you get the project done. Short of standing by and handing you the tools, we will talk you through the project and help you make the right choices as you plan your work in your home, your money pit: the one that you love this coming year.

    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.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2011 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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