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Replacement Window Buying Tips, Safe, Flame-free, Solderless Plumbing Connections, Security Tips for Home Sellers 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: Standing by to help you tackle your home improvement projects, to get those do-it-yourself dilemmas done, check them off the list. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us. We are cheap labor. We can get it done. We’re not going to give you a bill and you know what? We occasionally give out the right answer. So, that makes it worth more than what you paid for it. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, if you are looking for a way to not air condition your entire neighborhood, you might want to start looking at your windows. We’re going to have tips on window improvements that can make sure that the cold air stays in all summer long, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if plumbing work scares you because of the thought of what might happen when you combine solder, flux, a torch and the unexperienced hands …

    TOM: In a wood-framed house.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. It could be disastrous. But fear not. We’ve got Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House stopping by with tips on one of his favorite methods for making flame-free plumbing connections, so that’s exciting.

    TOM: And summer is often a busy season for potential home buyers that are shopping for new digs. But if your home’s on the market with all those strangers coming and going, you really need to keep your safety and your security in mind when it comes to protecting your belongings. We’re going to tell you how to do just that.

    LESLIE: And a very special giveaway, guys, today for our listeners.

    TOM: Very special.

    LESLIE: Now, every single one of you who calls us and gets on the air – that’s the catch; you’ve got to get on the air – today is going to win a Citrus Magic prize pack. That’s pretty awesome.

    TOM: Fantastic. Citrus Magic is a 100-percent natural line of cleaning and freshening products for your home that you will just love. So call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Jane in Missouri who’s dealing with some tornado damage. How can we help you?

    JANE: Well, we have – we lost all three of our big trees. They were, I don’t know, probably 50, 60-foot-tall trees.

    TOM: Wow. OK.

    JANE: And there was a little bit of tree left; they were 85 percent on the ground.

    TOM: OK.

    JANE: And we had an arborist come and tell us that the tree is going to get diseased and die if you try to save the – what’s left of it. And we had them cut down.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    JANE: But now we want to replant and there are a lot – there are probably 59 different people coming through here and going, “Can we grind your stump?” And I’m wondering, is it worth the extra money to pay for a backhoe to come and dig it out before I try to replant?

    TOM: I don’t think so. I think if you just grind it below to the surface of the ground and then replant around it, you’ll be fine. I don’t think you have to go through the destruction of having a backhoe come in and totally tear up your yard just to get those stumps out in full. If you get it just ground down to within a foot – a few inches to a foot or so – below the surface of the ground, Mother Nature will do the rest.

    JANE: OK.

    LESLIE: Alright? And good luck with everything you need to do.

    TOM: Yeah, Jane. I guess you consider yourself lucky, though, if all you lost was a few good trees.

    LESLIE: Trees are the issue. You’re fine.

    JANE: Yes, we had to have a new roof put on but that’s been done and we have other little minor damage. But we consider ourselves very fortunate that we still have our home and all of our family.

    LESLIE: Great.

    JANE: And everyone in Joplin cannot say that, so we are very fortunate.

    TOM: Yeah. Alright. Well, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and if you need any more repair help – you and your neighbors in Joplin – don’t be afraid to call us again.

    JANE: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Michael on the line, giving us a call from Michigan with a washing-machine drain issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    MICHAEL: What happens is when the washing machine drains out, it plugs up the sink in the other room. It runs through, it seems like the – all the two lines are connected somehow. But it backs all the way up into the kitchen sink.

    TOM: Right. So, what’s happening is there’s a clog somewhere down the line and whenever you run the washing machine, the water drains down, hits that clog, can’t get through it and then backs up. Now, have you ever had the line snaked out?

    MICHAEL: What we did, we had a guy go down there – down underneath the house – and look at it. And he says where that line enters into – go into the sewage pipe – it tees off.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    MICHAEL: And he could only – and he can’t get the snake any farther in there.

    TOM: Than the T?

    MICHAEL: Because it runs into a T.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And then it can’t get down there.

    TOM: Well, I mean if I was a drain cleaner, I would probably be opening up the pipes somewhere near that T and then going down from there. It may not be the easiest thing to do but I suspect that there’s got to be a blockage there somewhere, because that’s what you’re describing. You’re describing a line blockage that’s causing the water to back up. And if you get to the bottom of that line blockage, then that’s going to solve the problem.

    Michael, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can be part of the fun. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, décor, addition, renovation project. Whatever you are working on, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Hey, are you in the dark about the health of your windows? Stick around with us on The Money Pit. We’re going to help you shed some light on why you should or shouldn’t consider replacing those windows, next.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because we have a very generous and I have to say very unusual giveaway today. Every caller who gets on the air with us this hour and next hour is going to receive a Citrus Magic prize pack worth 25 bucks.

    Now, it includes the Citrus Magic’s 100-percent natural cleaning and freshening products. And you guys know that I love their solid air freshener. It’s totally awesome and really makes your house smell super-duper. So get in on the fun, get your home improvement question answered and win a great prize. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you’ve ever wondered why and when you might want to consider installing replacement windows, you’re not alone. According to the experts at Simonton Windows, energy-efficient replacement windows can deliver immediate added value and help reduce energy bills, starting the day they’re installed. Plus, they’ll definitely improve your home’s beauty and its comfort.

    LESLIE: You know, that’s true. And age is also a consideration.

    Now, windows, they’re like any other part of your home: they’re going to wear out over time. Now, while a typical window may last for about 20 years, you really should inspect your windows yearly to make sure that they’re performing correctly and that they still have all of the energy-efficient features that you need.

    Now, if you need some details on how to check those windows that you’ve got or you want to learn about the latest options in replacement windows, head on over to Simonton.com. You’re going to find details there on easy ways to determine when you should consider a window replacement. Or you can download our recently updated bonus chapter about replacement windows from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And that’s available for free right now at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Every caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Citrus Magic prize pack worth 25 bucks.

    LESLIE: Dee in South Carolina has a problem with the sidewalk. What’s going on?

    DEE: We have a holly tree, about 18 years old. It’s probably around 10 inch in diameter. And it has – it sits between the garage – corner of the garage – and the sidewalk. And it’s pushing up our sidewalk about an inch where they’ve cut it: when they pour the concrete and there’s a cut.

    TOM: Yep.

    DEE: And we’ve got to do something because somebody’s going to trip.

    TOM: Well, the only thing that you can do in a situation like this is you’re going to have to break out the concrete, dig down and cut out some of the roots and then re-pour that piece of the sidewalk. Now, if the sidewalk is in sections – say, it’s got 3-foot sections or something like that …

    DEE: It is in sections.

    TOM: Well, you may actually be able to pull them up one section at a time and not have to actually break them up permanently: may be able to break them out into 3-foot by 3-foot sections. Get a couple of the sections out, dig down and go to work on those roots.

    But I will warn you, Dee, that you’re only really buying yourself some time here. Those roots are going to continue to fill in; they’ll continue to push it up. If you take the sidewalk apart and you cut it down and you do a real good job, you might be able to buy yourself, say, three or four years but eventually you’re going to have to do it again.

    DEE: So what’s – it’s such a pretty tree.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t get rid of the tree. It’s just something that’s going to need some upkeep.

    TOM: Yep, exactly. And I think you’ll find that you can take out a fair amount of those roots without affecting the tree.

    DEE: OK. I guess that’s what we’ll try and do, then, because …

    TOM: That’s the solution, Dee, alright? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Daniel in California on the line who needs some help with a travertine floor. When did you put it down, Daniel?

    DANIEL: Oh, I guess it’s been about a week now.

    LESLIE: OK. And there’s nothing on it?

    DANIEL: Well, no.

    LESLIE: Are you sure?

    DANIEL: Well, OK. There was nothing on it but yeah, actually, I put a sealer on it just like Sunday, after it’d been installed four days.

    TOM: OK. And did your installer give you a sealer to use or suggest a sealer to use?

    DANIEL: No, my installer didn’t.

    TOM: You didn’t. So where did you – what sealer did you select? How did you find it?

    DANIEL: I got it at the home improvement store.

    TOM: OK. And so it sounds like you did the right things. You know, it’s a beautiful floor. It’s a little bit absorbent, so you are going to need to seal it from time to time. But what’s your question?

    DANIEL: Well, my question is, well, one, after I put the sealer on, then I did some reading and I found out that there’s some that are better. This one’s probably the third; they’re not the best.

    TOM: OK.

    DANIEL: Is there a problem with buying the better one and putting it on top of it or …?

    TOM: Potentially. I would save that for the next trip. See, this has already soaked into your floor and so …

    LESLIE: And travertine is so porous.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: With the first thing you put on it, that’s in there.

    TOM: Just drinks it right up. So I would wait until the next time it’s – until it’s time to apply this again and choose a different product that time. But I would definitely not put a second coat on top of this with a different product because you’re – you don’t what kind of chemical reaction you’re going to create there.

    LESLIE: How are they going to react to one another?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It could be bad news.

    TOM: Not worth it. I’d just enjoy the floor.

    DANIEL: OK, great. Could I ask you a little follow-up question?

    TOM: Sure. Go ahead.

    DANIEL: Yeah. Also, I was reading – they were saying that mats with rubber bottoms are bad for it. Is that true?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. For travertine …

    TOM: Well, it’s not bad for marble; it’s bad for vinyl.

    LESLIE: Yeah, if you have a vinyl floor and you put down a kitchen mat or a bath mat and it doesn’t move and it stays in its spot, the backing on the mat has some sort of weird chemical reaction with the floor and causes a discoloration. I mean we get calls a lot for people being like, “I’ve got this weird stain that’s the same as my bath mat. How can I get it out?”

    TOM: Yeah and it won’t come up. Yeah, right. Because it oxidizes the rubber against the vinyl. But I don’t know that there’s a problem putting that against marble; I’ve never heard that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, I’ve never heard that.

    DANIEL: OK. Great, then. Thanks a lot, guys.

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

    I’ll tell you what, he’s treating it at the right time. There’s never a better time to treat it than when it’s brand new.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Right at the beginning. Because if you wait and it gets even slightly dirty, you may never be able to get that stain out and then you’re going to seal in that stain. So it’s like just do it right away.

    Gene in Texas is refinishing his deck. What can we do for you today?

    GENE: I’m talking about wood decks on the lake, around the house. And what I’m wondering is, what solution – like a wood stain, a preserver, things of that nature.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, there’s been great advances in wood-stain products. It used to be that they were all oil-based and they were difficult to apply. Now, the best stains are acrylic, so they’re water-based. They’re easy to clean up.

    Behr has a line that just came out this summer called the Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes. Now, these are either semi-transparent or solid-color and they’re made of 100-percent advanced acrylic, which means the application is easy to do and they soak into the deck very, very nicely and they protect it for many, many years.

    So I would take a look at those products. You can see them at The Home Depot. They have these little WoodSmart kiosks set up in the store where you can actually check out the colors that are available. There’s a whole lot of colors; they can mix it to exactly what you need. But I think that’s the right approach for a wood deck right now.

    GENE: So you think the acrylic is better than an oil-based type?

    TOM: I do. If you have a good manufacturer like Behr and you use 100-percent advanced acrylic formulation, what you’re going to find is you’re going to get a product that soaks into the wood a lot more than the oil-based ever did. And it really gives it ongoing protection for a number of years.

    GENE: OK. And what you do is put it on with a roller, a paintbrush or that’s like …

    TOM: Yeah, actually, a little bit of both. The idea is to get that material spread out there, so I think you’re probably – if it was me, I’d probably be brushing to get it in between the cracks but then I’d also be rolling it over the surface.

    TOM: OK. Now we’ve got Bea in Texas who’s dealing with a drainage issue, I guess. What’s going on, Bea?

    BEA: My mother and I live in a retirement village. We’ve got small lots. We had a sunroom built on the back of the house and they put in a couple of grate boxes with 4-inch pipes going out. We had a rain, the rain came into the back of the room. We had someone come out and they put in French drains for us. We had another rain, we got flooded again. They came back out and extended the French drain and put another drain that tied into five downspouts between our house and the neighbor’s house. We’ve had a third rain and we’re at a loss now on what to do.

    We’ve had two proposals and my question to you is: which proposal do you think would be the best one? The first proposal is from the same gentleman that has been doing the French drains that have not worked. And he says we need to put in a dry river bed behind the sunroom and down part of the side of the house. The second proposal is by a new contractor and he is suggesting a channel drain with catch boxes.

    TOM: And where is he going to drop the water once he collects it?

    BEA: There is – there will be one pipe that will go out the back of the sunroom. There’ll be one that will go down the side of the sunroom that’s at – they will be at 90-degree angles.

    TOM: OK. But once we carry that water off beyond the sunroom, where is it going to end up?

    BEA: It goes under the sidewalk and out to the street.


    TOM: OK. Alright. That’s the idea I like. I think contractor A is basically suggesting something we call a dry well, which is essentially a hole with stone in it. And that has a – it’s like a small retaining pond.

    LESLIE: And that water still has to go somewhere.

    TOM: Yeah. Theoretically, it sits there and fills up and then it slowly goes back to the water table. But if you can get it around the house and out to the street, I think that’s your best chance of success.

    BEA: OK. That’s what I needed to know.

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

    Now, when it comes to plumbing projects, some of you master do-it-yourselfers can even be scared away from those plumbing projects that actually require an open flame. But have no fear because, up next, master plumber Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, he’s going to join us with tips on how you can plumb without burning the house down which, of course …

    TOM: Always a good tactic to have mastered, you know?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You don’t need to have the fire extinguisher standing right next to you when putting in a faucet. So, stick around because we’re going to share those safety plumbing tips, after this.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And, Leslie, have you noticed that our studio smells especially fresh today thanks to the fine folks at Citrus Magic, who dropped off a very nice supply of products to help us maintain a very pleasant environment here in the broadcast booth?

    LESLIE: Well and thank goodness they did because sometimes it gets stinky in here.

    TOM: Yeah, they did.

    LESLIE: I’m not going to say anything or point fingers at myself.

    TOM: This and the fast food and the pizza. It’s terrible. I wish you would start cleaning up, would you, please?

    LESLIE: I know. Plus, the deodorant thing.

    TOM: Hey, they’re going to do the same for you, though, if you’ve got some strange odors in your house. Because every single caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to receive a Citrus Magic prize pack of 100-percent natural cleaning and freshening products, from our friends at Citrus Magic.

    So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call us right now with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Terri in South Carolina is dealing with an issue on the screened-in porch. Tell us what’s going on.

    TERRI: Hey, Leslie. We have a porch that was built around an original deck, so it has the basic kind of 2×4-style decking on the floor?

    TOM: OK.

    TERRI: But there are little gaps in that floor and so even though the screens have been replaced around the walls of the screen porch and that’s all tight, I think maybe bugs are still coming in through the cracks in the floor. Is that possible, as far as flies and mosquitoes and those things, so you don’t want to be out there?

    TOM: Sure. Yeah, sure. Yeah, sure. Entirely possible.

    Is there a skirting around the outside outskirts of the deck? I mean could you put some screening there?

    TERRI: There is on one side but there is one side that’s open.

    TOM: It’s completely roofed?

    TERRI: Yeah, it’s completely roofed.

    TOM: Well, then I don’t see why you couldn’t put screening on the underside of the deck, if you can get under there. You know, if it wasn’t roofed and you were getting a lot of grit and grim in there, I might be concerned about the screening sort of holding the dirt but …

    TERRI: Yeah. I had thought of that. And I kind of wondered the same thing because we do have dogs that go in and out.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TERRI: Their door to the outside is through that porch.

    TOM: Well, why don’t you put it on the underside of the floor joists, so this way it’s not pressed up against the underside of the deck board itself?

    TERRI: Oh, yeah. So there’s a gap.

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    TERRI: So if dog drivel off of their feet and maybe food crumbs or something falls in between there, it goes down where you can’t see it.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Exactly.

    TERRI: Awesome. That’s a great suggestion.

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

    LESLIE: Well, even avid do-it-yourselfers often shy away from tackling plumbing work, mostly because to make any changes, you need to know how to handle flux, solder and a torch.

    TOM: And that can be pretty dangerous. Well, DIY plumbers, though, can rejoice because there are ways to fit pipes together without the fear of burning your entire house down. Here to tell us about those options is This Old House plumbing guru, Richard Trethewey.

    Richard, welcome back to the Pit.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: And these new fittings make the process of joining pipes a whole lot easier. Tell us how they work.

    RICHARD: Well, most people never have to think about connecting any plumbing pipe; they move into a house, everything’s fine. And the first time they might have to think about it is they buy a new refrigerator and in that refrigerator comes a little thing called a saddle valve. And that’s designed to send water to the ice maker.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: Now, this is a valve that is going to clamp over a piece of copper piping. As you tighten it up and you screw it in, it’s now going to pierce a small hole into a copper pipe. It’s got a little rubber gasket between it. And in many states, it’s illegal and it should be.

    TOM: And why is that?

    RICHARD: Well, over time, it just isn’t going to last long enough. The clamp itself is made out of metal. If you have a high-condensation basement, it can rust the metal away and all of a sudden, you’ve got full city water pressure. So, in our state, you can’t do it at all but that’s the one thing that homeowners tend to do and it’s actually – it ends up being dangerous.

    TOM: So as easy as they are to install, they may not last and they may be basically more trouble than they’re worth.

    RICHARD: That’s right. There’s a little bit of a risk to them.

    So, the most common thing we see people doing is these things called compression fittings. And that means you’re going to connect two pieces of copper pipe and it’s going to use a thing called a ferrule. It’s a little brass ring.

    And so, imagine you’re going to make this connection to copper. You put the nut on to the pipe, then this little brass ring called a ferrule. Then you bring the fitting in and now when you bring it all back together again and you tighten that nut, as you tighten the nut, it’s now compressing that brass ring so tightly down over the outside of that copper that it makes a beautiful, watertight seal.

    TOM: So that’s pretty reliable if you get all those parts assembled in the right order?

    RICHARD: Right. Right. That is the standard connection that everybody sees underneath, on the connections at their toilet and underneath of their faucets. So there’s plenty of those connections around.

    LESLIE: Now, what about the SharkBite fitting? You hear so much about this at the home centers and they seem fairly simple for a do-it-yourselfer to tackle.

    RICHARD: Yeah. These are a relatively new innovation. They’re code-approved fittings and they’re available in all these configurations that allow you to quickly connect a variety of sizes of pipe. You’ve got to just cut the pipe, clean up the rough edges, get rid of any burrs and then push it onto the SharkBite fitting. And it’s really just like what they call a Dutch finger: it goes in once and it locks in. And now you’ve made that connection without soldering, without any wrenches and things like that.

    Now, it doesn’t hold the pipes as rigidly as the compression or a solder connection, so that they can move. So you’ve got to really be sure you hang the pipes correctly because it’s moving around a little bit more.

    LESLIE: Properly.

    TOM: So if it moves, it could loosen up and break.

    RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. Right.

    TOM: Now, the SharkBite fittings, whenever I see them, they remind me of the finger puzzles, like the Chinese finger puzzle: the tube where you stick your fingers in either side and you can’t pull them out.

    RICHARD: That’s right, that’s right. Don’t stick your fingers in there, please. Right, right.

    But they’re actually pretty popular with homeowners. The fittings are much more money but you don’t have to do the additional work of the solder, the flux and the cleaning.

    TOM: Right. That’s because they compare the cost against the plumber.

    RICHARD: There you go. We’re affecting the market.

    LESLIE: Is there ever a plumbing project that a homeowner might think, “Aha! I could do that.” But you’re just saying really leave it to the pros?

    RICHARD: I think there’s more plumbing projects that scare people. I think the fear of flooding their house away, so that they’re going to do what they think their skill level is. And just doing a basic connection to an outside faucet or something like that, I think they can do it.

    The key to – for anybody in plumbing – is to know where the main shutoff is in that house. It’s to know where all the important shutoffs are. They should be labeled.

    LESLIE: And everyone should know where they are.

    RICHARD: Right. I don’t think a house should be changed hands. I think it should be part of the process of buying a house is that all the important valves should be labeled so that you – so that in an emergency, you can control the damage.

    TOM: Absolutely. That main water valve is the key. And in fact, I always tell folks there’s no reason not to turn it off when you go away.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: Why leave yourself open to the risk?

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. My father, the super-plumber, he made sure his water main was off every time he went away.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Now, if you do that, is there anything that you have to do to the fixtures in the house or it’s just a week, turn it off and you’re fine?

    RICHARD: That’s right. You just want to take the pressure off or just make it see – if you had a leak, you wouldn’t have full city water pressure for the entire time you’re not there.

    LESLIE: It’s a nice surprise to come home to.

    TOM: Exactly. Well, if your water heater ruptures when you’re away, you’ll lose 40, 50 gallons. But if that main is open, they’re going to see it running out your front door before it’s done.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Four thousand gallons. Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Oh, good Lord. And then the dolphin I always dreamed of having in my basement as a child is a real possibility.

    TOM: Now, Richard, what about PEX? That’s the newest pipe out there. Is that a lot easier to connect than the metal piping?

    RICHARD: Yes. The issue with PEX is there are a variety of connection methods and some of them have proprietary tools that can become expensive. But the basic crimp fitting has a relatively inexpensive tool. The tradeoff is that that crimp fitting isn’t the strongest connection. So it’s a – I like the ones that require the proprietary tools and if you have those tools, it’s easy.

    TOM: Definitely more of a pro project, then.

    RICHARD: Right. But PEX as a product, as a material for the pipe, it just – it lasts and lasts and lasts and it’s really here to stay.

    TOM: And without the torch, it’s got to be a lot safer system to use.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    For more great tips just like that, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And remember, you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House, which is on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more savings, more doing.

    Still ahead, are you one of the millions with a house on the market right now? Well, if you are, listen up. We’re going to have tips to help you sell that house without sacrificing personal safety or security, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone right now, give us a call with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you do, we’re going to send to you – and if you come on the air with us, we will send to you a $25 gift pack chock full of Citrus Magic 100-percent natural cleaning and freshening products. You’re going to get the odor-absorbing solid air freshener, the odor-eliminating spray air fresheners and the grease-cutting, all-purpose cleaner.

    Going out to every caller that gets on the air with us this hour with their home improvement question. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a prize, which we’re going to do today to everybody who calls in with their question.

    And maybe you’re thinking about selling your house. Now, if you’re thinking about putting your home on the market or if your house is already on the market, you may start to look forward to having lots of those potential buyers sort of traipsing through your home, very casually wandering about. “Oh, I need to be in this room by myself. I want to get a sense of the space.” That’s what people start to say and maybe some of those people might not be that honest; maybe they might actually be thieves.

    Now, I don’t want to freak you out but it is possible. So in some cases, having your home on the market can actually be an invitation for danger. But there are some things that you can do to make the process safer.

    First, get as much information as possible about the potential buyer before he or she comes into your home. You want to make sure that your realtor makes a copy of their identification of anybody who comes into your house to look, as well as secure mortgage preapproval letters to make certain that they can actually afford the purchase of your home and they’re not just willy-nilly walking in your door.

    TOM: Yeah. Because it’s a recreational thing that they do every Saturday. They go home shopping never intending to buy a single property.

    And hey, unless you’re holding an open house, you also want to only show your home by appointment. If someone sees a sign and drops by, get a phone number and have them make an appointment rather than letting the stranger in then and there. And make sure your kids are on the same page. With all the comings and goings, kids could be tempted to let in anyone who comes to the door.

    Also, make sure to lock up and hide collectibles and valuables. And don’t forget about the safety of your pets. If you want to keep pets from getting scared or more importantly, scaring away those potential buyers, well, just keep them out of sight while the tour is going on.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got William in Massachusetts on the line who’s dealing with ants in the driveway. What’s going on, William?

    WILLIAM: Yeah. These ants are pushing up dirt and making mounds in their track. I feel as though they’re weakening that area, you know?

    TOM: Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about them weakening the driveway, William. It’s probably more of an annoyance to you than anything else. They can’t push away so much dirt that it’s going to undermine your driveway.

    But if you want to just get rid of the ants, you could use a multi-insect killer: a product like Bayer. Bayer has an advanced garden multi-insect killer product or something like that to get rid of those mounds. But I don’t think you have any structural concerns as a result of ant mounds in your driveway.

    WILLIAM: Also, how can I prevent the grass from growing in between those cracks?

    TOM: Ah, how can you prevent the grass? Yes, that’s another trick. And what you want to use for that is Roundup. You spray the Roundup and you get it on any part of the grass and it’ll go down and kill it at the root. But here’s the thing: be very careful at the edge of the driveway where it’s near the lawn. If you get any overspray, it’ll kill your lawn, too.

    A little trick of the trade is to take a half-liter bottle – like a soda bottle or something like that – and cut out the – cut off the top – the nozzle part – and cut off the bottom and use it as a funnel so that you cover the actual grass you’re trying to kill. And then spray down through the top, into that and that controls the flow so you won’t get any drift-off into the rest of the yard.

    WILLIAM: Wow. OK, that’s great. You’ve been very helpful. Thanks.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up, if you are thinking about buying some new carpet for your home, getting just the right amount is key to making sure the job gets done without overpaying for waste that you’ll never use. We’re going to have tips on how to do just that, after this.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we invite you to join The Money Pit community online because by becoming a member of our community, you are going to get great project ideas from fellow do-it-yourselfers, as well as Tom and myself, also. And it’s all right there in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.

    And while you’re there, you can post a question. And I’ve got one here from John in Florida who wrote: “Part of my front porch never gets sun and there’s both moss and black mold growing on my wood railings. How do I get rid of it? Is there a way to prevent it and keep it from coming back?”

    Wow, in Florida, you get a ton of sun. How come we can’t get sun on this porch?

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, there is a good product. It’s called Wet & Forget. Their website is WetAndForget.com. And as the name implies, all you have to do is apply the product and it will deteriorate. It will degrade that moss and stop it from growing back. Works quickly, works efficiently and one application lasts a long time and that will solve that problem for you, John.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And John, keep in mind, when you apply it, you want to put it on, you want to leave it. And it might not work immediately; it takes a couple of days to sort of start kicking in. So if the first minute you’re like, “Why isn’t it gone,” give it time. I promise you it will go away and it will stay away.

    Alright. Patricia in New Jersey posted: “What’s the best way to measure carpet, especially when there are stairs concerned? I need to order carpeting for my double set of stairs, with a landing in between, a hallway upstairs with odd-shaped nooks and corners. And I don’t want to be short or pay for extra that I don’t need, which I’m afraid is going to happen if the carpet place measures for me.”

    TOM: Alright. Two things. First of all, to measure how much carpet you need, you want to multiply length times width and divide it by eight to get the yards. Now, you’d say, “Why would I divide it by 8 when there’s really 9 square feet in 1 square yard?” Well, that allows for the waste. So you divide by eight and not nine.

    In terms of the stairs, you assume that you’ll need 1 yard for each step. So, get the carpet yardage figured out for the hallway, the landings just by doing the math and for the stairs, just count each stair at 1 yard for each one and you will be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Bill in Columbus, Ohio who writes: “I have a pink substance on the floor of my shower that won’t go away. I think it’s from the water but it only appears in the shower.”

    Oh, that’s probably residue from soap and maybe it’s a hard-water situation, too.

    TOM: Yeah. I think it’s a combination of mineral salts and soap and all the other scrunge that collects in the shower. A good cleaner like CLR will go a long way towards getting rid of that. That will melt away the mineral salts; it’ll clean up those stains. If you apply it, let it sit for a while. I think it’ll do the job just fine.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And that’ll really do a good job of getting rid of it.

    TOM: And we’ve got another post from Suzy who wants to know if we’ve got any good ideas on how to keep cats out of her yard. The people across the street feed them. “I’ve tried cayenne pepper, egg shells, moth balls, orange peels and even managed to spray a few with the garden hose to no avail.”

    Well, I think the cats have won, Suzy. And listen, let me just tell you, seriously, that feral cats -cats that are bred in the wild – are a big problem in many neighborhoods. The most effective way to get them is to return them to the wild. So what you want to do is trap and release.

    And there are lots and lots of designs for cat traps online. I know, in fact, there was a local scouting organization that actually built a whole bunch of traps for ASPCA so these feral cats could be caught in our part of the country. So there’s lots of resources to help you but trap and release is the best way; you’re not going to chase them away with a garden hose and all these other things that you tried.

    LESLIE: That is so funny. Alright. Good luck with that. I hope you get rid of those cats.

    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. We hope you found some useful tips to make your home more comfortable, safer and perhaps a bit more energy-efficient. Remember, if you have a question, you can reach out to us 24-7 by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting a question to our community at MoneyPit.com.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

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    (Copyright 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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