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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And we are so glad to be here with you. It’s our job to help you with your home improvement projects. So, help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us and we will walk you through it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And coming up this hour on The Money Pit, one of the major causes of household fires is flammable liquids. And it’s not just that extra gasoline that you might be keeping around for your lawnmower. The average home has a lot of flammable products and that’s why we’re going to spend some time, this hour, teaching you how to store them properly so that you can stay safe.

    LESLIE: And we’re also going to talk about one way to keep your family happy and that is with a beautiful, new deck. We are going to get expert advice on how to choose the best material for this favorite outdoor-living spot for family fun.

    TOM: Also ahead, anyone who’s kicked the smoking habit knows giving up cigarettes is tough. But even more difficult sometimes? Getting rid of that smoky odor out of your house. So we’ve got the recipe for ridding your home of that smell once and for all.

    LESLIE: And one caller this hour is never going to have to ask again, “Who left the lights on?” We’re giving away a Lutron Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch and that will turn the lights on with a motion sensor and then also turn them off when people leave the room.

    TOM: And if you’d like to win that Lutron Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch, all you need to do is pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because we are going to give it away to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    MIKE: Hi. Yes, I was wondering – I’ve got a maple tree that’s growing right near my concrete driveway. And it’s starting to actually crack the driveway. I like the tree. It provides a nice shade for the house and keeps it cool during the summertime, so I was just wondering if I have any other options besides taking it down.

    TOM: Well, do you like the driveway?

    MIKE: It’s cracked, so I’d like to repair it. And I guess another question would be: if I do repair it, then how much rebar or how thick should it be in order to prevent a cracking in the future?

    TOM: Well, the options would be: take the tree down, which you don’t want to do; replace the driveway with one that can grow with the tree, like stone – like a stone driveway. Now, if you want to try to set up a scenario where it’s driveway versus tree then, yes, you would have to use some sort of reinforced concrete. But eventually, if that tree wants to lift it, it will lift even the reinforced concrete; it’ll lift the entire slab. It just won’t crack it.

    Now, it could take many years for that to happen but I think those are your options: get rid of the tree; replace the driveway with something like stone, which is going to give you some room to grow, so to speak, with that tree; or if you do replace the driveway with concrete, you’re going to have to reinforce the heck out of it.

    MIKE: Suggestion on the thickness of the concrete? How much?

    TOM: Probably about 5 inches minimum – 5 to 6 inches, I would think – and with woven wire mesh throughout the entire thing.

    MIKE: Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Laura in Pennsylvania needs some help with a lighting question. What can we do for you?

    LAURA: Oh, well, my son gave me some compact fluorescent bulbs because he didn’t like them.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURA: And I had never used them before and I thought, “Well, I’ll put them in my little lights I use with timers.” Only they all blow out.

    TOM: There’s no reason you can’t use a compact fluorescent bulb in an outlet that has a timer. I mean a timer simply automatically turns the light switch on or off, so that shouldn’t have an effect on damaging the bulb.

    LAURA: Yes, that’s what I thought. And I have incandescent bulbs in them now and they work just fine.

    TOM: Well, maybe he gave you some bum compact fluorescents, I don’t know. But it’s kind of an odd thing for it to happen to. Compact fluorescents work really well in most fixtures that take incandescents. In fact, you can even have them work well in fixtures that are controlled by dimmers.

    There are special dimmers today that are designed to work with compact fluorescents and with LEDs, where you can adjust the range of the dimming so that it doesn’t ever flicker or go out. So, compact fluorescent bulbs are a great option. I don’t know why they’re not working for you but the timer shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

    LAURA: OK. Well, maybe I’ll try them again or – I have two left. Or I’ll try and buy some. Maybe he has an off-brand or something like that, I don’t know. Because they should last a really long time, right?

    TOM: They should. And you know what I like better than compact fluorescents are the LED bulbs. Take a look at the Philips LED bulbs. These are – they’re very distinctive. They’re yellow. They look like bug lights but they have a very pleasant white light that comes off of them. And they’re going to be more expensive than compact fluorescents but they last forever and they’re super-energy-efficient.

    LAURA: OK. I will be happy to. That’s a really good idea. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. 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. 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, don’t let improperly stored flammable liquids lead to a disaster in your home. We’ll have tips on safe storage, after this.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because if you do, we’ll answer your home improvement question and you might just be the caller who saves a lot on your lighting bill, because we’re giving away an occupancy-sensing switch by Lutron.

    Now, it senses when someone has walked in the room and switches the light on and also, most importantly, switches it off when the room is empty. We use these in our house in a couple of ways. We have a pantry, which is rarely entered, you know, a couple of times a day.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But sometimes you’re probably going in it with your hands full with a lot of stuff.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. But it’s nice to just – when you go into the dark pantry, the light just pops on. But the place I love to use my occupancy-sensing switch the most is in the kids’ bedroom, because they always forget to turn the lights off, especially when they leave for school in the morning. And my wife and I go up there and go click-click-click, turn the lights off one at a time after they leave, every single day. And now we’ve got these occupancy sensors in. So what happens is if it doesn’t sense any movement in the room, it turns the light off automatically.

    And you can set it so it watches the room for so many minutes to see if there’s action before it turns them off. It’s very intuitive and we really like them and we highly recommend them, as a result.

    You can see all of Lutron’s great, green home products at LutronSensors.com. Or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    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: Nancy in Oregon needs some help with some spring cleaning. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: My siding gets green on it and so does the riser on my stairs. And north flower beds get lots of moss in them and I was wondering how to keep the moss out without harming the flowers.

    TOM: OK. So this is a very common problem and especially when you have shaded areas. When you don’t have a lot of sunlight getting to a space, typically it can get a lot of algae and a lot of moss.

    Now, one way to deal with this is with a mixture of bleach and water but that can definitely kill your flowers. There’s another product out there that is more effective and much safer. It’s called Wet & Forget.

    NANCY: Wet & Forget. Now, that’s for the stairs and the siding?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is a great product, because what you do with it is you just sort of spray it on the surfaces, which would be your siding and the staircase, and then you just let it sit there and do its job. As it gets rained on, as it just sort of sits there, it works to get rid of the mold, moss, algae, mildew, whatever is there. And it works in a way that it sort of just stays there and will continue to work over time.

    You’re going to put it on. You’re not going to see it happen right away but give it a couple of days, a week and you’ll see it start to go away and then be gone. And it’s usually around 35 bucks a gallon or so and you can find it at Ace Hardware and other types of shops like that. And it’s a great product.

    NANCY: So you put it on full strength?

    LESLIE: Yes. Nancy, it’s a concentrate so what you need to do is you want to dilute it about 2½ cups of the Wet & Forget to a gallon of water. And again, you just apply it. Within a few days, you’ll start to notice it working and that’ll really do the trick.

    Now, for your flowerbed, I think what you really want to do is try to get more sunlight into the flowerbed, because that will deter the moss from growing. Obviously, it’s a shade garden so that’s kind of what happens in that space: you’ll get moss. And you probably have plants in there that do well or best in shade. So if you can get a little bit more sunlight in there, that will truly help to get rid of that moss.

    NANCY: Well, Wet & Forget sounds like a good thing to try.

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

    Well, flammable liquids are a major cause of household fires. But if you’re a homeowner, you probably have a few of these liquids stored somewhere. So here are a few tips on how to properly store these liquids to keep your house safe, presented by Money Pit partner Arrow Sheds.

    LESLIE: First, the most common and the most dangerous flammable is obviously gasoline. But there are other highly flammable products that you also need to consider, like paint thinner, charcoal lighter fluid and kerosene, just to name a few.

    Now, the problem is not just spills. These are all going to give off invisible vapors that can ignite if they come in contact with even the smallest of sparks. So you must keep them in properly labeled, tightly sealed and non-glass containers. And you want to keep them as far away as possible from anything that could possibly produce a spark.

    TOM: And it’s also a good idea to keep these liquids safely locked up outside of your house, which is why a good shed makes sense.

    Arrow Sheds manufactures a line of vinyl-coated, steel sheds that are perfect for this purpose and so many more. These are five times thicker than the average shed, for increased strength and durability. And since it’s steel, you’re going to get protection from fire and the elements that a wood shed would not offer.

    It’s a very doable, weekend do-it-yourself project, as well, and they look great. You can see the entire line at ArrowSheds.com.

    LESLIE: Bill in Tennessee is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?

    BILL: My house faces east and of course, you get the west – the sunset in the back of my house. But that sun really pounds down hard on my house and I’ve got wood windows and I’ve got a stained, wood front door. My question is: would I get any benefit to – I need to – I want to scrape the windows down and repaint them. Would I get any benefit to putting an exterior KILZ-type product on there before I paint it?

    TOM: Yeah, I mean you always get a benefit from priming the wood, which is what you’re talking about doing. So, sure, especially if you’ve got loose paint, you want to scrape it down, sand it down, get rid of everything that’s loose, then prime it. If you want to really do a terrific job, I would use an oil-based primer and that’s going to soak in and seal and make sure everything is nice and tight and attached to the wood fibers. Then you put your topcoat on top of that, of paint.

    So priming is always a good idea and KILZ is a terrific product to do that with.

    BILL: OK. Now, let me ask you about the stained wood door. What kind of product would you recommend to kind of seal that in?

    TOM: So the door is stained right now? Does it have any kind of gloss finish on it?

    BILL: No. It’s kind of a walnut-type color.

    TOM: But it has no urethane-type finish on it? You think it was just stained?

    BILL: Well, it’s about – the house was built in ’06, so it’s a couple years old. It’s faded out a little bit. There may have been one there on there at one time but it’s …

    TOM: Well, here’s why I ask. If the wood door has never had any stain – never had any finish on – a topcoat of finish on it, then you could just restain it. And so if you restain it – and again, if you sand it down, rough it up and then restain it, you should be able to get a very rich tone. But then what you do need to do is put a urethane on top of that. Use an exterior urethane because it has UV protection in it. And take the door off the hinges to do all the work, set it up on a couple sawhorses in your front yard or your garage and then work on it there.

    If the door has already got a finish on it, then you may have to sand it down through that finish to get to the raw wood in order to restain it.

    BILL: Great. Well, I appreciate it.

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

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

    SANDY: Well, I have a situation where I have a plastic kind of sink that’s in my laundry room.

    LESLIE: I’ve got the same one, uh-huh.

    SANDY: I made the mistake of taking a pan that had rust on it – kind of a good bit of rust on it at the time – and I soaked it, thinking I was getting some drippings or something off of the pan. And I let it sit there for days. And then I picked the pan up and went, “Oh, cool, that was great.” Now I have a big rust stain in the bottom of my sink from that rusty pan. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh.”

    It looks to me like this is going to be the way it is unless – or until I replace that sink. I tried vinegar, soaked rags for a couple of days. I tried CLR. The vinegar-soaked rags helped a little bit.

    TOM: Did you try Bon Ami?

    SANDY: No, not yet.

    TOM: It’s a powder cleaner. And I’ve got a – well, I’ve got a Corian sink that – it’s white and it tends to stain a little bit. And I’ll tell you what, for any type of a synthetic material like that, you sprinkle that Bon Ami in and let it sit for a bit and it comes out really white. It’s almost like bleaching your sink.

    LESLIE: It’s like a gentler Comet.

    SANDY: Wow, OK.

    TOM: Yeah. I would give that a shot. I’m sure you can find it in your supermarket. Bon Ami – B-o-n A-m-i.

    SANDY: I certainly will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stan in Oregon who’s dealing with a hot-water issue. Tell us what’s going on. It doesn’t come out that great or that hot? What’s happening?

    STAN: It comes out but it just makes a lot of noise. It does a lot of spitting, kind of like there’s air in the lines just, you know, like when you purge the line sometimes and then you put the pressure back on, it takes a while to get the air out? It makes the same kind of a sound. And it only does it on the hot-water side and it does it in every faucet in the house: the tubs and the sinks. All the same, only on the hot-water side.

    TOM: Does it do it when it’s off for a while?

    STAN: Yes.

    TOM: Now, what kind of water heater do you have? Is it gas or electric?

    STAN: It’s electric.

    TOM: OK. Have you checked the heating coils?

    STAN: No, I haven’t.

    TOM: Sometimes if you have a bad heating coil, this can be a condition that occurs. Is this fairly new in terms of you seeing the air spurt out of the faucets?

    STAN: No. It’s been like that. I just bought the house about a year ago and the house has been sitting empty for about two years.

    TOM: OK.

    STAN: It was a foreclosure that I bought, so I have no idea.

    TOM: Here’s what I would do. Now, there’s an easy way to test this but you need to kind of know what you’re doing. So this might not be a do-it-yourself project, alright? I’m warning you, because it involves electricity.

    But the way you check an electric water heater out is you turn the power off at the panel and then you expose the – you open the – take the covers off so you can see the coils. And then what you can do is with a continuity tester, you can check each coil to see if the power passes through it. You have to take one wire off of one side; otherwise, you’ll be checking it sort of backwards. But you could check continuity on each coil to see if the coil is working.

    STAN: OK.

    TOM: So you’ll still have hot water even if only one of the two coils is working but you’ll run out quicker.

    STAN: Right. Uh-huh.

    TOM: And this may be the norm for you: maybe you don’t know that you’re only using your water heater at half its capacity. But I would check the coils first because that could be what’s causing so much air to be in the system. It’s just not heating the water enough.

    STAN: Thank you. I appreciate your time and thank you for the information.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, adding a deck to your home is wise but it can also be an expensive decision. We’re going to get some advice from the experts at The Home Depot next on how to pick the right decking material, so you can maximize your decking investment. That’s all coming up, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor-living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.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.

    Well, there’s nothing better than increasing your entertaining space in the warmer months with a deck. Well, if you’re in the market for one, you know that there are many options, from treated wood to cedar and redwood to even composite-decking materials.

    TOM: Here to help us sort through these options is Geoff Case. Geoff is a decking merchant with The Home Depot.

    So, Geoff, do you get to go from deck to deck to deck all summer long, just as a sort of a professional job?

    GEOFF: No, that’d be really good but no, I don’t.

    TOM: Well, listen, what are some of the options that folks have when it comes to decking? There are so many different materials that are out there. How do you guys help them at The Home Depot sort of sort that out and make the best choice for a consumer’s particular situation?

    GEOFF: Well, Home Depot has a number of great options. Kind of like you mentioned, there is that – depending on where a customer might live in the country, Home Depot stores will stock WeatherShield pressure-treated lumber, maybe Mendocino FSC-certified redwood. In the right markets, we’d have cedar decking. And those are the wood choices.

    And then, of course, Home Depot stocks a number of composite-decking lines, from brand names that customers might have heard of, like Trex or Veranda. And all that said, Home Depot offers a great, free, deck-design software download that customers can – from The Home Depot website can download directly onto their own home computers and then design their own project at home.

    TOM: Now, that makes a lot of sense, because it’s very difficult and it’s very overwhelming when you’re just looking at a big backyard, to figure out how this thing is really going to lay out.

    But of all of those materials that you talked about, any idea – like how many people are going wood these days versus composite, for example?

    GEOFF: You know, it’s probably still kind of an 80/20 mix with 80 percent of the customers still buying a wood deck surface. Wood decking being a less expensive option on there and also being the – in most cases, was on there when they originally bought the home.

    LESLIE: Now, Geoff, Tom and I both have a lot of experience with composite decking and we certainly know the benefits. Do you think that it’s really an education standpoint to inform the consumer that a composite deck is a good choice because of the maintenance issue or lack thereof, I should say?

    GEOFF: I do think that probably the biggest thing that – a customer benefit, I guess, out of a composite deck surface is going to be the lower maintenance that they offer a customer. So, composite decking, they’re offering it in a number of different lengths, colors, brand names, all those kinds of things.

    But they have warranties around some of the – I guess we’ll call the bad things that wood can do when left out in the environment. And so, composite deckings and railings, they never have to be stained or sealed like a wood deck would require. And then a composite deck or rail is warranted against cracking, splitting, warping, twisting: all things that a wood deck can and will do over time, in the elements.

    TOM: So composite decks, therefore, are going to be a bit more expensive but the tradeoff is the fact that you don’t have to maintain them nearly as much as you would wood decking. They just need a simple wash now and again, correct?

    GEOFF: Yes. So a composite deck board, yeah, they are significantly more expensive initially when you just look at them in the store or online or wherever that might be. But really, if you went to a composite deck surface today, while that initial spend is fairly significantly more, a customer can actually offset that in as little as five years in the savings on the sealer and the stain alone. And that says nothing of their time on the weekends actually out there doing the work.

    TOM: Now, you guys have a product called Veranda ArmorGuard. And you mentioned before that many of these products have a warranty. This one seems to be a standout because it’s a 20-year warranty against all sorts of wear and tear. How is this product doing?

    GEOFF: So, yeah, the ArmorGuard, we brought that into stores about two years ago now. And it was a newer technology to the composite business. Actually, it’s a capped product, so there is a cap on top of what would have been the older technology of composite board.

    TOM: Now, let’s stop right there for a second, because I know exactly what you mean when you say “cap,” but I think a lot of consumers are thinking, “That’s like a hat, right?” Well, not exactly. I mean what a capping is is sort of an encapsulation in that this exterior layer completely encapsulates the board. So, it really seals in all sides of it and then as a result, enables you to have a more durable surface, correct?

    GEOFF: Yes. And so, with that said, the ArmorGuard is warranted for 20 years against cracking, splitting, warping, twisting. And now, with this cap, we can also warranty the board for 20 years against color fade and stains. So if somebody spills grease or ketchup, it doesn’t stain the board anymore.

    TOM: Wow. I know that all of us with kids really appreciate that, because we’ve all dropped or watched the kids drop a hot dog or two over the years. And it is hard to get the stains out. You end up having to get the hose out and really work at it to get it clean. But if you can just wipe it away like you would a floor, say, for example, inside your kitchen, what a treat that is.

    Geoff Case, the decking merchant from The Home Depot, a lot to learn about decking choices. And they’re all available there at The Home Depot with help from the pros in those sections of the store. Thanks so much for filling us in, Geoff, and have a great spring season.

    GEOFF: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Hey, if you’d like more information on these products, you can, of course, visit your local Home Depot or go online to HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever tried to get smoke odors out of a home, you know it can be almost as tough as giving up that nasty habit of smoking in the first place. So we are going to share some cleaning tips, after this.

    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.

    Hey, we’re taking your calls right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And guess what? One of you lucky callers who gets on the air with us this hour is going to get a Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch from Lutron.

    Now, it’s going to automatically sense when somebody enters into your room and it’s going to switch the lights on or even off, which is kind of awesome. And if it goes off, guess what? You’re going to see your lighting bill drop right before your eyes. Or maybe you won’t see the lighting bill drop before your eyes, since the lights will be off. But you get what I’m saying.

    It’s worth 22 bucks. It’s a huge time-saver and money-saver. And you can see all of Lutron’s green home products at LutronSensors.com. And pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Paul in Hawaii has got a leaky bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAUL: Yes. In my master bathroom, there’s a granite countertop sink with – it’s a countertop with two sinks. The left sink, underneath the cabinet, constantly has a strong mildew smell. Now, I’ve cut the back of the cabinet out to check the drywall. No leaks. I’ve cut a hole in the floor of the cabinets to look at the concrete. No leaks. I don’t know where it’s coming from. I’ve got a bucket right now of those crystals that absorb moisture. The thing is full of water. I’ve had a friend of mine who’s another contractor – I’m also a contractor – and we can’t figure out what’s going on.

    TOM: So you have high humidity in this cabinet, is that what you’re saying?

    PAUL: Yes. High humidity in the cabinet. I live in a very dry area so it’s not like there’s moisture in the air from the outside doing it. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s causing it. I …

    TOM: And you’re on a slab?

    PAUL: On a slab floor, correct.

    TOM: Slab floors are very hydroscopic. They pull moisture up from the dirt, up through the slab and into the cabinetry itself. You might just want to think about venting this cabinet. Have you ever left the doors open for a week to see if it made a difference? Because I bet it would.

    PAUL: It does. It actually does.

    Now, here’s one thing I must tell you: there’s an outdoor shower on the opposite side of that wall but it’s all granite, sealed to the tile. So I can’t imagine how it would be coming in from that side but anything’s possible.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But could it just be a condensation issue, like when you’re running cold water and the warmth and humidity of just being in Hawaii, moisture forms on the cold-water pipes, drip, drip, drip?

    PAUL: I don’t think that’s it. It just doesn’t seem to – that doesn’t seem to be the problem. The only thing I can think of, somehow moisture is, like you said before, is coming underneath the ground and up into the cabinets somehow. I guess that’s probably what’s happening and (audio gap) how to solve that. But your idea of venting that cabinet is probably a really great idea and there’s a way I could do that. I could put a small, round vent in the – to the outside from that cabinet wall there.

    TOM: I think it’s moisture that’s coming up through the cement slab and it’s congregating in this unconditioned space of the cabinet. And it’s building up to the point where you’re noticing it vis-à-vis a moisture smell, which you’re calling mildew. And I think if you vent the cabinet, that that’s going to go away.

    PAUL: Alright. Well, listen, I’ll definitely consider that venting. That was a very good idea. Thank you for taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Well, one of the smelliest cleaning jobs that you will face is getting smoke odors out of your house. Now, if you’ve kicked the habit or maybe you’ve moved into a new home where somebody once smoked, here’s what you need to do.

    First of all, you’ve got to start with the fabrics, because those things really keep that smoke odor right inside of them. Getting those rugs steamed clean, that’s really going to help a lot. If you’ve got upholstery, get a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment. It’s going to get that smoke odor that’s sort of just sitting way deep down in all that padding and stuffing and everything that’s built into your furniture. It’s really going to work to suck those odors out of there.

    Now, you’re also going to need to wash or dry-clean all of the draperies because, again, that fabric has just absorbed that smoke. And it’s going to release every single time you’ve got humidity in the air or it warms up, you know. It’s gross. You’ll notice it, so definitely take care of the soft goods in the house.

    TOM: Now, as for the walls, you want to wash those down with a solution of trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP. And you can find it in pretty much any home center or hardware store and it’s usually in the painting aisle.

    Now, once you’ve washed those walls down, you’re going to want to repaint them next but here’s a key step that you don’t want to skip. And that is don’t just paint them with top-coat paint. You want to prime the walls and here’s why: because the primer is going to seal in any of that smell that’s left behind. The primer is really important in this case. And if you don’t prime, the odor will come right through the new paint.

    Hey, if you want more tips on how to get rid of smoke odors, we’ve got the step-by-step on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Robert in Michigan is dealing with hard water. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBERT: I have a lot of problems with hard water, a lot of iron.


    ROBERT: And I’ve seen advertised these electric water softeners, where you don’t use salt? It goes through an electric box or something? And in my mind, I can’t figure out how they would work.

    LESLIE: Well, we’ve had some experience with one called EasyWater. And how this one, in particular, works is you take a – I guess is it a power supply, Tom? It’s an electrical cord or wire that you wrap around your water-supply pipe.

    TOM: Well, the EasyWater itself actually – that’s exactly what it does: it creates a magnetic field. And so this is wrapped around the supply pipe and then it magnetizes or demagnetizes, so to speak …

    LESLIE: And pushes everything away from each other so that they’re not going to stick. And then it sort of just rinses through rather than getting stuck where you see all of the issues that you get with hard water.

    ROBERT: Alright. How do they work?

    TOM: Well, they seem to work pretty good. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the system when we installed it. And we’ve heard from folks that have installed it. It worked well for us and it seems to work well for also the folks that we’ve talked to, so I would not be afraid to give it a shot.

    And I know that they have a pretty good warranty on that so if you have any problems, you can send it back.

    ROBERT: OK. I don’t have any information on it now and I don’t see it advertised anymore on TV.

    TOM: Yeah. You know what? It’s actually pretty easy to find, Robert. Their website is EasyWater.com and that’s spelled out E-a-s-y-Water.com. Don’t use the initials, because that’s a competitor. There’s a lot of folks that have been trying to steal their traffic, so to speak. So if you just go to EasyWater – E-a-s-y-Water.com, you’ll find it. The product is made by the FREIJE Treatment Systems Company – F-R-E-I-J-E.

    ROBERT: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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.

    Well, if it’s bright and sunny outside but dark and dingy inside, we’ve got tips on how you can use accent colors to brighten your home and your mood, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor-living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

    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: And now is a very good time to “like” us on Facebook, because we’ve got a great sweepstakes going on. It’s called The Money Pit Green My House Sweepstakes. And the grand prize is an ENERGY STAR refrigerator from Amana. We also have a high-efficiency washer from GE and a lot more.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean really great prizes up for grabs. You can check everything out. Go to MoneyPit.com, find the Facebook logo and just start clicking.

    Now, if you share the contest with your friends, you yourself can win some bonus entries, so you’ll get even more chances to win. So enter today.

    And while you’re online, post your question in the Community section, just like T.J. in Maryland did. And they wrote: “I want to plant a new tree close to my home for aesthetics and to add some shade. Is there a certain distance I should keep the new tree away from the foundation to prevent problems with the roots?”

    TOM: You know, the roots are really not much of an issue with trees that are new, because it takes so long for those roots to ever get potentially big enough to have an impact on the foundation. So I would consider more the type of tree and the recommended spacing for the tree. You don’t want to have a tree that’s too close to your house, where the branches are going to start to scrape on the roof. That’s a more realistic risk of having a tree too close to the house.

    And make sure you move a tree out far enough so that you have plenty of room for it to grow without it having to drop its leaves and stuff in gutters and scraping the roof and that sort of thing. The root growth, yeah, it can happen. And in really old houses with really big trees next to them, it does. But let’s face it: you’re 50, 75 years away from that.

    LESLIE: And you know what, T.J.? If you choose a tree, like an evergreen – that way it’ll stay green all year long; you’ll have something nice to look at out your window season after season. But totally up to you.

    TOM: Well, spring puts so many of you in the mood to freshen up your home. And Leslie has got some tips on how you can brighten your outlook by introducing color and pattern in some unexpected and mood-lifting ways, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you’d like to amp up the energy in any room in your house, an accent wall painted in a fresh, bright shade can be a huge help. Now, coordinate the color with your existing décor or you can even take the opportunity to just completely introduce a brand-new hue.

    Now, if you’re sick of your furniture and don’t have the budget for new furnishings, why not repurpose those tired furniture items with paint, upholstery, even a slipcover? Here’s some ideas. Now, an underused side table can suddenly become a showpiece if you paint it in an awesome, on-trend color like emerald green or pretty much any shade of green. That is the color of the year, after all. Or a new pattern or texture on your sofa is going to create an area of visual interest.

    Now, that doesn’t have to be the entire sofa. It could be just replacing a couple of throw pillows or putting a blanket over an area. It’s really about you being creative and adding a boost of color to this big piece, because a sofa does take up a lot of room and space in the room. Or you can even take the boring out of a bookcase by lining it with a color or print. And you can mix and match your books with keepsakes and photos for a fresh, gallery-style look.

    I always like to take the paper jackets off all of my books. I feel like the book itself is really a piece of art. And I like to sometimes group them by color and almost create a rainbow of the books, as well.

    So there’s lots of great ideas. You’re going to have a great, new room and a great, new mood to match. Just have fun. It’s the spring. Let’s just revamp our houses, people.

    TOM: Then once you get them in that rainbow pattern, do you have to read them in that same order?

    LESLIE: Please. Like anybody is reading the books they’ve got on their bookshelves?

    TOM: I’m just asking.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if stiff winds have ever wreaked havoc on your roof, it might be a good time to consider wind-resistant roofing. Did you know that wind-resistant roofs can actually stand up to winds of over 100 miles an hour? We’re going to talk about your options, 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 2013 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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