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Replacement Window Efficiency Guidelines, Caring For Trees in Spring, Getting a Better Night’s Sleep, How to Get Product Safety Recall Information 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 it’s time to start your spring home improvement projects. We’re here to help you take that all-important first step by answering your questions about your home improvement projects, your repair projects, that to-do that you’ve been putting off for the long, cold, chilly winter that has officially passed and get you started, to make sure that project gets done on time and on budget. Give us a call; that’s the first way to help yourself. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And now that spring has sprung and most of the snow has thankfully melted, you might be noticing that we had some very wet and mushy, muddy ground underfoot. And that caused us to ask the question: “What’s that going to do to all of our lawn-and-garden needs?” We’re going to have tips to help you care for your trees this spring, especially after all that salt was put down that could be having a very negative effect on whatever we’re trying to grow this spring.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And also ahead, are you having trouble sleeping? We’re going to help you find out what changes you can make in your bedroom to get a better night’s sleep.

    TOM: Plus, shopping for replacement windows can be overwhelming. Low-E, U-value. What do all those letters mean? We’re going to clear it up for you, just in time for a spring window-replacement project.

    LESLIE: And one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a prize package from Dickies, including a softshell light jacket with hood and the new Dickies Ultimate Work Shirt.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth 104 bucks. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Colleen in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    COLLEEN: Yes, I was wondering about a product called Restore. It’s called Liquid Armor Resurfacer and I have a dock that I wanted to put it on.

    TOM: Alright. I’m familiar with those Restore products. I’ve not used them but I know what they’re supposed to do. One thing I would tell you is – I don’t know about the brand you mentioned. I would make sure it’s a brand that’s been around for a long time. Because we’ve seen some of those thick-paint products do more damage than good.

    I know, for example, that Rust-Oleum, which is a good brand, makes a product called Restore. It works on concrete and decks, as well as vertical siding. So I might start by taking a look at the Rust-Oleum product. Just make sure you stick with a name brand that’s been around a long time so that you know that you’ve got a really good product that you’re putting on the deck.

    And I would also make sure that you tested it in an area, maybe on a couple of deck boards, to make sure you’re completely happy with it before going all-in on the entire deck or dock.

    COLLEEN: And is it harder to use this type of product versus just a regular paint?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s going to be more difficult because it’s about 10 times thicker than paint. So the application has got to be done right. You’re going to use similar tools but it’s just going to be slow.

    COLLEEN: OK. Well, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dean in Pennsylvania on the line who’s got an insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    DEAN: I have an older home. It has a brick exterior and then the stud walls on the inside. And between there is the air space. And that air space, it dumps down in the basement. And in the wintertime, I’m feeling the cold air sinking and I want to try and get my kids to use the basement a little bit more but it’s a little on the chilly side. And I don’t know if I’m – if that’s like a vent of some sort, if I’m allowed to insulate that or will I cause problems if I close it off or what?

    TOM: You can actually see where this gap opens up to the basement?

    DEAN: Yep, mm-hmm.

    TOM: There’s no reason that you can’t insulate that. That would be along what we call the “box beam” or the “box insulation.” And that’s actually a standard place to add insulation.

    The other thing that you could consider doing is you could use an expandable foam in that area to kind of seal the gap, if it’s not too wide, or simply add some fiberglass-batt insulation there. I think that’s the easiest thing to do. That will stop some of that draft from getting through to the basement and make being down there a lot more comfortable.

    DEAN: Yeah, right. I didn’t know if that was how you have insulated windows now: two panes of glass with the air space in between. I didn’t know if it was something like that.

    TOM: No, there’s not quite that much thought put into it. It’s just kind of the way those old homes were built. So you can certainly insulate that space.

    DEAN: Awesome. That’ll do.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we’re glad we could help. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, has insomnia taken over your life? It could have more to do with your bedroom than you think. A few changes might help you catch more Z’s. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to take your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who calls us this hour is going to win a very cool prize pack from Dickies. It includes a softshell light jacket with a three-piece hood and an adjustable bungee cord.

    LESLIE: And along with that, the brand-new Dickies Ultimate Work Shirt. It’s got wicking technology, a mesh-lined back for breathability and UPF – that’s ultraviolet protection factor – of 50 sun protection.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth $104. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bonnie in California. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BONNIE: We have a condo that we’ve – been rented for 12 years. And when our renters moved out, we were going to sell it. And we saw stains on the carpet and we thought, “Well, we’ll pull up the carpet, replace it and just paint and clean up and put it up for sale.”

    TOM: Right.

    BONNIE: Well, when we pulled the carpet back, the cement slab – it’s a cement slab, single-level condo, 1,600 – almost 1,700 square feet with a cement-slab floor. And when we pulled back the carpet, we found that it was very damp and there was that white, fuzzy kind of effervescence or whatever they call it that comes up from the cement.

    TOM: Efflorescence. Mm-hmm.

    BONNIE: Lots of that. We tore up all the flooring and thought, “Well, we’ll go ahead and hire a contractor and have it all fixed and put new stuff down.” And it didn’t dry out; it just was damp.

    But in any case, this problem is not getting solved. We have – we don’t know where to go from here. We want to figure out if there’s some way to seal that floor that is going to keep it from, you know, ruining the carpet and wood again and get it for sale. But fix it so that it’s – so that we can say it’s fixed.

    TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I think is going on, based on your description. If you’ve got that much of a water source that close to the concrete slab – concrete is very hydroscopic. It will really absorb water like crazy. And so if the ground outside is saturated, that is clearly drawing through the concrete into the interior and that’s why the floor has been so wet. My concern is that this could develop, if it hasn’t already, into a mold problem.

    The bad news for the condominium association is that if they’re responsible for the structure of this building, which would include the floor, this is their problem to fix, not your problem to fix. And if I was advising them, I would tell them to stop calling contractors to check leaking ponds and start calling professional engineers that can analyze the building and figure out exactly what’s going on and prescribe the proper fix. They’ve got to think big here, not think small. Because I think they have a lot of liability because it’s probably not you; you just happen to be the one that found it. But if your neighbors start pulling up carpet, they’re going to probably find the same thing.

    All that you can do on the inside is really stop-gap. You can clean up the efflorescence, you can put a masonry sealer on the floor. But the problem is that that concrete is going to continue to get wet, continue to get damp and eventually it’s going to pull back into the unit. So, I think that you need to have a very serious sit-down with that condominium association.

    BONNIE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: Alright? Good luck, Bonnie.

    BONNIE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mark in West Virginia is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    MARK: I was just wondering if I could put a metal roof over top of a shingle roof without removing the shingled roof.

    TOM: Well, you can but why do you want to do that, Mark? It’s kind of sloppy.

    MARK: I just – I’ve never worked with metal and I didn’t know if you could do it that way. Because you can shingle over an old asphalt shingle; you can put another – a layer over top of it. Just getting rid of them – the hassle of getting rid of them in a landfill.

    TOM: Technically, you can but I just think it’s going to be a neater, cleaner, more professional job if you take off the asphalt shingles. And they’re not that hard to remove.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you don’t know how many layers are underneath your existing roof. Plus, I don’t know, really, but I’m imagining that a metal roof is going to have some weight to it. And why put that extra stress on the structure? And it’s a lifetime roof; you know, you’re looking at 50 years on a metal roof, so …

    MARK: How about cutting it? Any special tools? Do you have any idea?

    TOM: Yeah, I mean it’s all done with shears.

    MARK: Yeah.

    TOM: And you can use hand shears and you can use power shears. But when you work with that stuff all the time, you have the tools that you need to do that. But that’s what you’re going to have to cut it with.

    MARK: Well, hey – well, thanks – thank you for being so – and I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we’ve all dealt with a bout of insomnia from time to time and it can be a symptom of physical issues or stress. But your bedroom can also contribute to your lack of sleep, so here are some things to know.

    TOM: If you think the TV might lull you to sleep, it could be just the thing that keeps you awake. It turns out that the light that comes from the screen sends an alert signal to your brain. And even if your eyes are closed, it can have a detrimental effect. So, turn off the TV or better yet, just keep yours out of the bedroom.

    LESLIE: Now, if you suffer from allergies, you may be tempted to spend money on hypoallergenic pillows. Keep in mind, though, that hypoallergenic just means it’s made of something you can’t be allergic to. Instead, get dust mite-proof covers for your pillows and that will prevent allergens from building up.

    TOM: And lastly, remember to sleep cool; you’ll save some money on the energy bill. And 66 degrees is what most doctors recommend for a good night’s sleep.

    LESLIE: Amy in Iowa is on the line with a question about a dirt basement. Tell us what’s going on.

    AMY: Hi. I recently have purchased an old farmhouse and in the basement, it has a dirt floor. And I was wondering if I should lay concrete on it or if I can lay that thick plastic and put gravel on top to help with the radon and try to keep some of the heat in there.

    TOM: Do you know that you have a radon problem?

    AMY: Well, I don’t. They talk about it in Iowa being an issue. And with it being a dirt floor, I didn’t know if that was something I should have tested first or go ahead and just leave the plastic and the rock and be …

    TOM: I would definitely test because you don’t know what you’re dealing with. You may have to put stone down and then put a concrete floor and then do a ventilation system where you draw the gas up off from underneath the concrete. So, the first thing you have to do is test.

    So, do it yourself or hire somebody. And do it right. The testing has to be done under closed building conditions with all the windows and doors closed, except for normal exit and entry. And find out what you’re dealing with and then you can take the appropriate steps after that. But don’t just put it down thinking that if you have a radon problem, it’s going to solve it. Because frankly, it may not.

    AMY: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: George in Iowa is on the line with a decking question. What can we do for you today?

    GEORGE: The wife and I have done the sealing with the deck twice. And both times – the first time, it lasted a year and it peeled up. And we sealed it again last year and it peeled up again this time after the winter snow had melted. So, we’re not sure – do you have any tips or some advice for us to help us out there?

    TOM: Well, you might want to think about doing a deck do-over where you just pull off the decking material and add a composite deck. Keep the structure. You won’t have to do this again.

    Some of the decking sealants, if you don’t strip down to the original lumber, they never absorb properly and they’ll bead up and they’ll peel off. So, your options are – to do that, strip off everything that you have there and you’ve literally got to strip it off down to the wood and sand it. And then you can use a primer and a solid-color stain and that will give you the maximum chance of adhering.

    The other thing you might want to think about doing, as I mentioned earlier, is doing sort of a deck makeover where you pull up the deck boards and then you replace just the deck surface boards with a composite, like Veranda, for example, which is available at The Home Depot. And this way, you’ll never have to worry about staining again. You can even keep your existing railing or you could go further and change out the railing, as well.

    But it doesn’t affect the structure of the deck because the material is still sitting on top of the old, original joist. Just that the deck surface has now been completely made-over. It looks great and you never have to worry about staining or sealing again. Because it’s a lot of work and you don’t want to have to do it every year, that’s for sure. Make sense?

    GEORGE: Yep, that makes sense. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

    TOM: George, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Pat in Georgia who needs some help with a cleaning project. What’s going on?

    PAT: I have granite countertops. And I am wondering if there is an advantage to using the store-bought cleaners versus a homemade cleaner. And what would the homemade cleaner be?

    TOM: So I guess you don’t have a recipe for a homemade cleaner. Is that what you’re saying?

    PAT: No, I don’t.

    TOM: If you happen to run across one that you like, tell us about it because I have not found one. But I will say that the commercial cleaners are usually very well-developed and are designed to give you a longer-term protection than you can probably get out of anything that you could mix up on your own countertop.

    There’s a website called StoneCare.com that specializes in these types of products. And our listeners have always had good success with them, so I would take a look at that website.

    But the thing about granite tops is a lot of folks buy them and think, “Well, it’s stone. I’m not going to have to do much work to the top.” But the truth is it’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Pat?

    PAT: It very certainly is.

    TOM: It really is. And if you don’t stay on top of it, it gets pretty nasty-looking. So, you are going to have to invest in some regular cleaning and I would just buy a good-quality product from a good brand manufacturer and just accept it as reality, OK?

    PAT: Thank you so very much.

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

    LESLIE: Jack in New York needs some help with a crawlspace. What can we do for you?

    JACK: Well, I have an area that is – was a crawlspace and we dug it out. And so it’s – we have about a 7-foot ceiling now. And I put some gravel in it and I wasn’t going to do anything but now I want to expand my shop. And I don’t really have access to where I can put concrete in it. And I was wondering if you would have any ideas.

    TOM: Well, first of all, Jack, since you dug it out down to 7 feet, how did you support the soil under the foundation wall?

    JACK: We left a step. This dirt that was in there was so compact that it was almost impossible to dig it out, so we weren’t too worried. But we did leave a step around the foundation, the footer.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    JACK: There’s about 2½ foot – we went about 2½ foot below the footer.

    TOM: That’s what we call, in our part of the country, a “Yankee basement” where it’s dug out. It’s not a joke; that’s actually what they call it. They call it a “Yankee basement” or, well, sometimes a “root cellar,” where basically you take the interior perimeter of the foundation wall, move in about 2½, 3 feet and then dig down there. So you leave this sort of berm of soil to support the foundation that’s under the footing.

    So, options for cleaning – for finishing that floor. Why can’t you get concrete into the floor? Because most times, there would be a situation where they’d set up a chute that goes right through a window and pour some concrete into that floor. That’s clearly the easiest way and fastest way to create a floor in a basement.

    JACK: Yeah, I agree with you but I really – the time to – the expense of the concrete and having – you know, doing a whole project would be pretty pricey.

    TOM: How big is the floor area?

    JACK: Well, it’s about 25×15 and then with an 8×8 jut to – on one end of it. So it’s L-shaped, basically.

    TOM: Well, I don’t have any quick ideas on how to create a hard-surface flooring when you don’t want to put concrete down there. You could frame something but I mean it would be very temporary. I would really prefer that you put concrete. And you don’t have to do – it doesn’t have to be 6 inches thick. I can be 4 inches thick and pour it in sections. But I really think you should just budget for and use concrete down there because anything else you do is going to be very substandard. It’s not going to contribute to the value of your house.

    JACK: I hear you. Yeah, it sounds like a foot (ph) I was afraid I was going to hear.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. Well, look, you got all the hard work done digging it out. I would just budget for and save up for some concrete. Get a mason to help you or get somebody that’s used to finishing concrete. And get it all poured and it’ll be done in a day.

    JACK: Oh, yeah, sure.

    TOM: It has to be done in a day because the concrete’s going to cure.

    Alright, Jack? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if a snowy winter has left your yard a soaking, sopping mess, you’re probably thinking, “This can’t be good for my trees.” Well, we’re going to get some tips from a talented arborist, after this.

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    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.

    Well, we all know that it has been a horrible winter. And if you think this winter was rough on you, think about your trees. They got heavy snow and ice and wind and all that excess salt slapping around those tree bases. Think about it: it can actually affect your trees’ health. But there are ways that you can help to care for your trees now that will help them to thrive later this season.

    TOM: Here to tell us more about proper tree care this spring is R.J. Laverne, a board-certified arborist from Davey Tree.

    Welcome, R.J.

    R.J.: Ah, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

    TOM: I bet you guys have been busy, busy, busy, busy with all of the rough weather that we had. Trees were down everywhere across the country, right?

    R.J.: Well, that certainly is true. And whether we’re taking care of trees during the growing season or picking up the pieces as they fall apart during ice storms and hurricanes, it keeps us pretty busy year-round.

    TOM: So, what we want to talk with you about was – specifically was the impact that this awful weather is going to have on trees this spring.

    Now, I know that there is a certain amount of spring pruning that should be going on right now. Do you have concerns about the salt, for example, and just the roughness of the weather having an effect on the trees one way or the other?

    R.J.: Well, the temperature extremes that we’ve seen across at least the northern part of the United States are not as much of a concern, simply because trees have evolved in their climate zones to endure those frigid temperatures during the wintertime.

    LESLIE: So, R.J., even if there are drastic swings in temperature, like one day it’s 70 and the next day it’s 10, do those changes affect a tree more dramatically than, say, the normal swing of temperatures in a winter season?

    R.J.: Well, the time of the year when that is of greatest concern is in the springtime. And that’s because the sap in the trees and the shrubs – starting to loosen up, it’s starting to flow, the buds are starting to swell. If we get a late frost from this point forward, that will certainly damage the new tissue and the buds that are about ready to break.

    On the other hand, if we have temperature swings in the middle of the winter when the trees are dormant, they’re fairly used to that; that’s something that we get on a fairly normal basis during wintertime. But this window that we’re jumping into right now is pretty critical.

    LESLIE: So, R.J., when it is time to prune, really, what’s the best technique? Where do you start?

    R.J.: The best technique is to first take a step back, look at your tree or shrub and simply prune out the dead wood, the broken branches, the branches that are crossing and rubbing. And then, you’ll want to conduct your pruning so that you’re making the cuts just beyond the buds that are on the twigs. In other words, you don’t want to leave a stub of a twig or a branch that sticks out well beyond the last bud.

    So, there’s lots of information on the website. There’s lots of information on the Davey website on properly pruning trees and the timing that is best by species.

    TOM: We’re talking to R.J. Laverne – he’s a board-certified arborist – with tips on how to properly care for your trees after this long winter, which had an awful lot of salt in it, too.

    So, R.J., what impact do you think all that salt on the roadway is going to have on our trees?

    R.J.: Well, some species are more sensitive to salt in the soil than others. But it’s easy enough to say that the salt can pull water from the roots of the trees back out into the soil, when actually the tree is trying to pull the water up through its roots. So an excess of soil can dry out the tree and the sodium and the chloride molecules in the salt can also displace the nutrients that the tree needs. And that shows up in the leaves as they appear very dry and brown.

    So, the best thing that you can do for a plant that has experienced lots of salt in the soil over the wintertime is make sure that you water that plant well throughout the spring. And do your best to try to flush that salt that has accumulated out of the soil and provide the plant with lots of water.

    TOM: Makes sense. R.J. Laverne, Board-Certified Master Arborist, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information on tree care, head on over to Davey.com – D-a-v-e-y.com.

    Thanks, R.J.

    R.J.: My pleasure. Have a good spring.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, the right replacement windows can make a big difference in your energy bills. We’re going to share some tips to choosing ones that will make the biggest impact, next.

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    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.

    We are answering your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT and giving away a great prize to one lucky winner. We’ve got a set of work clothes from Dickies up for grabs.

    Now, you’re going to get a softshell light jacket with a hood. It’s got interior storm flaps, as well as pockets on the inside and out, plus a three-piece hood with an adjustable bungee cord.

    TOM: The winner also gets an Ultimate Work Shirt, which is brand new this year to Dickies. It’s made of nylon, which will keep you cooler and drier than cotton. It’s also got a UPF 50 protection rating. That stands for ultraviolet protection factor. And it’s a prize pack worth $104. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to it.

    Leslie, who’s next?

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

    STEVEN: I have two bathrooms, side by side. They’re divided by one wall. I’m thinking of taking the wall out and combining the two bathrooms.

    TOM: You should approach this project very carefully, Steven, and here’s why: because the number of bathrooms in a house is – has a direct relationship with the value of a house. There’s a difference between a house with two bathrooms and a house with one bathroom and a house with one full bath and one half-bath. So, if you’re going to eliminate an entire full bathroom from the house, that will reduce your home value.

    Now, that might be OK if you’re not concerned about that or you just want a bigger bathroom and you’re just kind of willing to deal with that. But unfortunately, the way homes are valued – and you can check with a local realtor and ask this very same question. I think you’re going to get a similar answer. Will your home be worth less if you combine two bathrooms into a single bathroom? And I think the answer is going to be yes.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But Steven, I’m all for quality of life. If you want that big bathroom, you should have a big bathroom.

    STEVEN: It’s something I’ve been kind of dreaming/thinking about for quite some time and …

    TOM: Well, then, maybe you should do it. We just don’t want you to do it without having all the facts.

    STEVEN: Would I have to bust the slab out in order to relocate drainage pipes?

    TOM: Yes. If you’re not going to put the fixtures back in the same place, you will have to break the slab out to get the pipes where you want them. You’re going to probably end up extending the drain line to where the old location used to be. So, yes, there is going to be some demolition involved in that project, as well.

    STEVEN: OK. Now, what is that going to do to the structural integrity of the slab?

    TOM: Oh, it won’t – well, it’s obviously going to destroy the slab in that area but the slab is not load-bearing in the areas where you’re going to be breaking it apart. It’s not – it won’t have an effect on the foundation because you won’t be impacting the exterior walls. You’re going to be breaking apart the slab in the thinner sections where it’s 4 or 5 inches thick.

    STEVEN: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about buying new windows this spring, you may be overwhelmed at the choices that are out there. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy offers a few recommendations.

    Now, first of all, you want to consider U-value, which measures a window’s ability to insulate. Then, consider the amount of solar energy a window transmits, which is called the “solar heat-gain coefficient” or SHGC. Just remember that the lower the U-value and the SHGC, the more efficient the window.

    TOM: Now, you can also order different glazings for windows, based on the side of your house that they’re going to be installed on. So, for example, you can opt to get the lowest U-value windows you can afford on north-facing windows, since that’s the coldest side of the house. Also, look for windows with double panes, low-E coatings, low-conductivity gas fill between the panes and wood, vinyl or fiberglass frames.

    Keep those tips in mind and you’ll find windows that will work hard to keep you comfortable and safe all year long.

    888-666-3974 is the phone number. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

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

    DOTTIE: We have a patio that had some cracks in it. It is exposed aggregate. My husband dug it out and filled in the cracks. Now, our question for you is: is there a sealer with some colorant that we could use over the whole area?

    TOM: I think what you’re asking us for is a concrete stain. Sealers are always clear. So if you’ve got this crack filled in and you’ve got some color to that, then what you’re going to have to do is stain the concrete to match that and then you could seal it. But you’d have to stain it. And if you’re going to stain concrete, you would use an acid stain.

    DOTTIE: OK. Is there anything you can recommend?

    LESLIE: QUIKRETE makes a great one in a couple of good colors. More neutral than anything a little crazy but it’s an easy-to-apply product. You’re going to get some great coloration there. And you know what? It’s a reputable brand; they know what they’re doing. So I would start there.

    DOTTIE: Oh, that sounds great. And I really love your show.

    TOM: Thank you very much, Dottie. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Jesse in Virginia is on the line and needs some help cleaning some bricks. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JESSE: My wife and I are working on – we are working on renovating a 150-year-old house. And we have recently learned what the true definition of a money pit is. But one of the things that we really want to work on is the exterior brick. We would like to clean it up. Some of the spaces have some moss on the northern side of it. And just, in general, it has 150 years’ worth of crud on it.

    We know that pressure washing is out of the option, just because of the damage it would do to the brick. And I wanted to get you all’s advice. So, is there a better way to clean up the brick?

    TOM: There’s a very gentle cleaner called Wet & Forget that was invented by a couple of New Zealand guys – chemists. And they figured out a way to invent a product that activates with – basically with oxygen and with the sun and kills that algae, kills moss, kills mildew and brightens up those surfaces. It’s used a lot in Florida and places like that. It’s used along – it is used in areas where plant life and …

    LESLIE: Well, they used it on Sydney Opera House.

    TOM: Right. And the Sydney Opera House. They used it there. They use it in places like that. So I would look into Wet & Forget and I think that’s their website: WetAndForget.com. And it’s really easy to apply. You basically just spray it on and walk away.

    Now, it doesn’t – it’s not going to blast the bricks clean but it works over time. So over the days and weeks ahead, you will notice that the algae starts to die and the brick starts to brighten up.

    JESSE: Alright. Well, thank you guys so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright, Jesse. Good luck with that project. Sounds like a fun house.

    LESLIE: Betty in California needs some help with a toilet question. What can we do for you today?

    BETTY: I’m interested in the high-rise toilet and I’d like the pros and con and possibly a brand. Because our plumber is thinking of using KOHLER – the quick flush and we’re on well water and that’s it.

    TOM: Well, there’s really no cons of using – a “comfort-height toilet” is what’s that called. Not a high-rise but a comfort-height. They’re a bit higher than a standard toilet. And in terms of brands, one that I can recommend is called American Champion 4. I’ve got American Champion comfort-height toilets in our house. And it really doesn’t matter what age you are, they are just easier to use. And the other benefit is that they use very little water and they don’t clog.

    So I would take a look at the American Standard Champion 4 toilets and just get the accessible size and you’ll be good to go.

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

    LESLIE: Which came first: the flooring or the cabinets? Sounds like that old riddle about the chicken and the egg but there actually is an order to follow when you’re redoing the kitchen. We’re going to tell you what that is, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And it’s your last chance to pin to win. Check out the spring-cleaning tips on our Facebook page, pin them to your Pinterest boards and you might just win one of three Home Depot gift cards. We’ve got 500 bucks worth of Home Depot gift cards to give away and those will help you get started on your spring-cleaning projects.

    LESLIE: The Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes ends at the end of the month, so visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, now, to enter.

    And while you’re online, you can post a question in our Community section. And I have one here from Jolyn in Nebraska who writes: “We are installing new kitchen cabinets and porcelain-tile flooring. Which goes on first: the flooring or the cabinets? I’m concerned about changing out the tile if it’s underneath the cabinets.”

    TOM: OK. So that’s a great question. First of all, you certainly don’t want to waste all that expensive porcelain tile by running it underneath cabinets. What you would do is you would draw on the floor where the cabinets are going to hit. Remember, you’re going to draw where the kick board of the cabinets are going to hit, so it’s not going to be sort of the full, 24 inches deep; it might be more like 20 or 19 inches deep. And you’re going to tile up to that area.

    Now, the next thing is deciding how high the cabinets have to sit. What I would recommend you do is to use some furring strips to pick up the height of the floor so it’s flush with the surface of the tile. Here’s why: because you’re going to put a dishwasher under those cabinets. And if you try to get the dishwasher in below that tile edge at the front, you may not be able to get it out. We have seen situations where people came after the fact and tiled right up to the edge of a dishwasher and the only way to get it out was to completely remove the countertop, which is a major hassle.

    So keep that in mind: tile only to the edge of the kick board and then pick up the cabinet so that it ends up being flush with the tile, so that when you put a dishwasher in it, it doesn’t get stuck under the tile edge.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question here from Peter who writes: “I want to install laminate flooring in my kitchen. There’s vinyl there now. Do I need to rip that up first?”

    TOM: Not necessarily. I mean laminate floor can go on top of vinyl floor without a problem. But again, that same advice applies with respect to the dishwasher as – of course, a ¼-inch worth of laminate floor is not as much of a big deal when compared to, say, an inch of tile by the time you get done with the backer board and everything.

    It’s generally better to take the old floor up but if you can’t, there’s no reason you can’t go right on top of it.

    LESLIE: And you know what? It’ll look pretty nice. And a laminate floor is a good do-it-yourself project. Just take your time.

    TOM: Well, every year, dozens of dangerous products are pulled from store shelves. But getting the word out about those products is the tricky part. You might even very well have some of these recalled products in your home right now. And Leslie has got the info to help you keep track of those recalls, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Well, have you ever half-heard a product-recall report and realized too late it was actually about something you own? Product recalls, they happen often and it seems like minor news. But if you actually own something that’s affected, it could really make an impact on your family’s safety and that’s another story.

    Now, there’s an easy way that you can get the information you missed and keep tabs on other recalls as they happen. Six different federal agencies have gotten together to better protect you, the consumer, by putting recall information on everything from cosmetics to boats on one site and that’s Recalls.gov.

    Along with details on currently recalled products, you can get safety information and sign up for e-mail alerts on other recalls as they actually happen. Visit Recalls.gov for information in seven major categories. They’re all easily navigated in both Spanish and English.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, warmer weather means kids will be out enjoying the local playground or perhaps even the playset in your very own backyard. But keeping those kids safe at play is important. We’ll have tips to help you create a safe playground, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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