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Safety Tips for the Kitchen, How To Prep a Gas Grill, Use Interior Doors to Add Style to Your Home, and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call because we are here to help you with your home improvement project. You need to turn your house from house to home to castle and maybe out of being a money pit? Well, we can help you with all that. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Are you a do-it-yourselfer? We can help. We can make sure do-it-yourselfers don’t become do-it-to-yourselfers, which can happen if you kind of don’t know what you’re doing or get into a spot that you can’t get out of. Let us help extract you from that situation, get you back on the road to finishing that project successfully, no matter what it is.

    Maybe you’re tackling an energy-saving project this hour, maybe you’re adding some insulation, maybe you’re tackling some painting, some storage, some décor. Want to cut those air-conditioning bills? All great questions to ask us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, do you ever feel like you’re a klutz in the kitchen? Well, apparently, you may not be alone. There are so many people that feel that way that every June, there is a Kitchen Klutzes of America Day. And while we can’t help you be a better cook, we can give you some tips to keep your klutziness from turning into a true disaster.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s actually the perfect time of year to abandon your kitchen and turn to your backyard grill instead. We can call it “outdoor kitchen klutziness”? So we’re going to share some important information so that you can prep your gas grill for its, no doubt, busy season.

    TOM: Also ahead, if you do nothing but slap a coat of paint on your plain interior doors every few years, you’re missing a real decorating opportunity. We’re going to tell you about a way to add pizazz without breaking the bank.

    LESLIE: And one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win a new product that makes carpet stain removal fast and easy. We’re giving away $50 worth of Arm & Hammer Dry Carpet Cleaners. Quick, dry and effective spot-cleaning solutions. They will have you back on your carpet in less than an hour. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement dilemmas and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    REBECCA: We have a tree root that has grown into the foundation of our home. Did not realize it until we took the floor up. And we’ve got the tree down and the stump actually ground down so, obviously, the roots are still underneath the house. We have a lot of problems with the room that was damaged by the tree root, where it came – it has a big hump in the middle of the room. We’ve kind of covered it with furniture; it’s our media room. Used to be the garage of the house but it was enclosed when we bought it.

    We have a lot of problems when it rains. Water, mud comes underneath the rug. And I was wondering if there is a way that we could somehow patch the floor or if we need to get someone to jackhammer up the cement floor that’s in here – because, again, it was the garage at one point, so it’s poured cement – or what we can do to kind of help the problem: if we have to repour the entire section, if we could dig up just that one section and maybe patch it up or what.

    TOM: Well, first of all, there’s no reason you couldn’t cut out that one section and repour just that one section.

    In terms of the water issue, I suspect what’s happening is the water is collecting somewhere outside of that area and it’s finding that the path of least resistance. So it’s pushing down around your foundation, under the floor and up into the garage. So you need to try to track down what that issue is. It’s probably a drainage issue somewhere outside those walls, either with gutters or downspouts or for some reason you’re getting too much water that’s collecting in that area. I would look to that as a source of the water.

    But in terms of the floor, you can jackhammer it up in just a section and cut down – of course, remove all those tree roots. Because here’s the thing: now that the tree is dead, those roots will continue to rot away and you don’t want to have voids under that slab. Once the slab is up, you want to dig out as much of those roots as you can. And then you can put stone in there and repour that and cover it all up.

    So those are the two things that I would do: I would remove the area where the bulge is, remove the tree roots and repour it. But also look to the source of the water, because I think that what’s happening is you’ve got a symptom there. The tree root is not causing the water to come in; it’s just following the path of least resistance and working its way in at that spot.

    REBECCA: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Robert in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. I understand you’ve got a countertop question for us.

    ROBERT: My Formica countertops are starting to come unglued. And I’m trying to find out what a good glue would be to use to make sure that they are fully cemented back into place. It’s not a large section. It goes up about 8 to 12 inches at a time. I do have some C-clamps that I can use to fasten them down.

    TOM: As long as it’s the countertop that’s coming unglued and not you, Robert, we can help.

    What you want to do is use contact cement. Now, the area that is separated, with contact cement what you want to do is try to actually separate that area as much as you can, because you’re going to kind of work in there. So if you can peel up the loose area, maybe put a piece of wood in there or something as a spacer to really have some area in there, do that.

    And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to pick up some contact cement. And contact cement is available as – in either water-based or solvent-based. The solvent-based works a lot better. So a small container of contact cement – not rubber cement, by the way: contact cement, specifically used for laminate. You brush it in there and as the name implied, it dries on contact. So you keep it separated while it’s drying, OK?

    And then once it’s dry – which just takes 15, 20 minutes – then you will pull out your spacers and press that laminate back down in place, working from back to the front. And you can put a towel over it or even a rolling pin works good and roll it down really, really good and really, really tight and that’ll hold it. But the contact cement is what you need. Any other type of adhesive that you – will not work.

    ROBERT: OK. So nothing like maybe LIQUID NAILS or anything like that would …

    TOM: No. In a pinch, for a tiny edge, yes. But if you have a separation like that, contact cement. That’s what it was done originally and that’s what will work. Just make sure you clean it, remove any debris that’s in there and be generous with the cement. Don’t make it lumpy but get good coverage, OK?

    ROBERT: OK, great. Thanks a lot for your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and 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, the number-one cause of house fires is mistakes made in the kitchen. So, in honor of Kitchen Klutzes in America Day, we’re going to give you some tips that could save your skin, your home and even your life, next.

    (theme song)

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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.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to rest a little easier the next time somebody spills something on the carpet. Because we’re giving away $50 worth of Arm & Hammer Dry Carpet Cleaners. It’s dry, so there is no sitting around and waiting for the carpet to dry before you can walk on it and much cheaper than professional cleaning or even renting your own machine. It will have you back on your carpet in less than an hour.

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now for your chance to win. And you can check out the prize at ArmAndHammerVac.com and learn more.

    LESLIE: Angela in Washington D.C. is on the line with a question about waterproofing her basement.

    Angela, first tell us what’s been going on.

    ANGELA: I’m having problems in my basement with water coming in in my garage, not in the other part of my house. But it would have to rain really hard for the water to come in.

    So, I have some mold and mildew downstairs in the corners and I also have peeling of the paint. And also, I have a crack that goes across the wall about 8 feet. And I was interviewing some companies to waterproof my basement and they all wanted to drill my house down to the footer and I really don’t want to do that. For some reason, that doesn’t sit well with me.

    TOM: Yeah, well, and you’re wise to question that advice. Because if you’re talking to these so-called waterproofing companies, they’re in the business to sell you very expensive repairs. And I just would venture a bet that it came with a fair degree of panic peddling about all the bad things that could happen to you if you didn’t open up your checkbook for them. Is that correct?

    ANGELA: Yeah. And I was – I had – gave them money and I was going to do it and they delayed it for about a day because they needed some more of the – whatever they told me. And I went online, I was surfing the net and I came across your article and it said, “Don’t do it.” And I called them right then and there. I said, “I don’t want to do it.”

    TOM: Yeah. Good, good. Well, we saved you and I’m very happy that you found the articles that we have about waterproofing your basement and how not to get ripped off.

    ANGELA: Yeah.

    TOM: That’s actually among the most popular content that we have on MoneyPit.com. We get tens of thousands of people that see that article every single month.

    And so let’s talk about it, Angela. If you read the story, you know that we believe that most water problems that are consistent with rainfall, such as what you’ve described, have nothing to do with rising water table.

    ANGELA: Yeah.

    TOM: And if you don’t have a rising water table, there’s no reason to dig out your basement and put in drains and pumps and all of that. What we need to do is get this in under control from the top down.

    So, you need to kind of go through a checklist here. The first thing is to look at all of the drainage around your house. Start at the roof. How is the water being collected at the roof edge? Do we have gutters? Are the gutters clean? Are the gutters free-flowing? Are they big enough for the volume of roof surface that they’re servicing?

    The downspouts. Are they clean? Are they free-flowing? And very, very important, if I had to pick one thing out of everything, where is that downspout discharging? If you’ve got water in corners of the basement showing in, I bet you there’s a spout above it that’s leaking water there or backing up or clogged or something right above that area. We need to direct the water from the roof away from the house.

    Now, I know in D.C., that can be a challenging area, depending on how close your home is to the next house. Do you have a single-family house or do you have a …?

    ANGELA: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So you have some room to move around, in terms of this drainage?

    ANGELA: Yes.

    TOM: Can you get the water 4 to 6 feet from the foundation perimeter?

    ANGELA: Yes, I could do that.

    TOM: OK. And I’m going to tell you how to prove this point to yourself very easily and inexpensively. Head out to a home center and buy some downspout material. It’s very cheap: probably $10 or $20 worth of downspout material. And just stick it on the end of the leaders and run it out into your yard 6, 8 feet, whatever length they come in. And just stop right there, OK? This is a temporary thing; we’re not going to leave it like this year-round.

    But what you will find, if we move through a couple of rainfalls, that the volume of water and moisture and humidity that you’re seeing in your basement will be dramatically different. Why? Because you moved the water away.

    Now, once we’ve proven that point, how do we do this in a neat and orderly fashion? You’ve got options. You could run it underground through solid PVC pipe, if you can find a place that discharged that to daylight. We want it to come out somewhere low where the water will stream away. So if you have a low spot in your yard where you can do that, great. If you can take it out to a curb and put it into a storm sewer, even better. So that’s a way to make it completely hidden.

    If not, then maybe you tighten up those spouts and try to landscape around them so we hide the extensions. But they’ve got to get out there at least 4 to 6 feet, because those first few feet around the house are critical. If they get wet, your basement is going to flood, because that’s the backfill zone. Soil there is more porous than in other areas of the house; it’s where the house was dug up to build the foundation. So the gutters are critical.

    Second to that is grading. You know, if the soil around your house is very flat, then once the water lands, it has nowhere to go but in. So you want to add clean fill dirt – not topsoil but clean fill dirt – and tamp it to slope away from the walls. You want a slope of about 6 inches over 4 feet.

    And then once that slope is established, then and only then do you put some mulch or top soil and grass seed to control erosion. But you don’t build it up with top soil. Why? Because top soil is very organic and because it’s organic, it’s going to hold water and that’s not what we’re trying to do here.

    So grading and gutters are the two major things to address and of all of those, downspouts are most important. Does that make sense?

    ANGELA: Sounds great. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, are you a disaster in the kitchen? Well, we can’t turn you into a gourmet but we can give you the tips on avoiding the number-one, kitchen-related injury and safety hazard, which is burns.

    Now, for you self-proclaimed kitchen klutzes out there, we want to make sure that you turn the handles on your pots and pans inward so that you don’t knock something off and burn yourself accidentally. You also want to make sure that your potholders are dry, because wet potholders are going to transfer the heat straight to your hands.

    Also, don’t wear long sleeves and loose clothing. And if you’ve got long hair, tie it back. Hair, and especially hair products, are extremely flammable.

    TOM: Also, never drop food into boiling water; place it in gently. And the same, of course, goes for grease.

    Clean your exhaust hood and your duct over your stove several times a year and keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. But make sure you keep it at least 10 feet from your stove. And also make sure it’s on the side of your stove closest to the nearest kitchen exit, even if that means keeping it in another room. You also want to check to make sure that you’re using the right type of extinguisher. The best kind is an ABC extinguisher because that covers it all. It’s good for all sorts of fires, whether they be from grease, from electrical sources or from wood or paper.

    If you want more safety tips for your house and your kitchen, head on over to MoneyPit.com and simply search “kitchen safety.”

    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: He 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. 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 and I’d like 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 know 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: 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 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: 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.

    TOM: Good luck with that project and 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. Did you know that most people have about 20 doors in their home? You probably never notice them. That’s because it’s a major decorating opportunity that’s completely being missed. We’ll tell you how to make the most of it, just ahead.

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    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you probably close and open your bedroom or bathroom doors without a second thought. But a seemingly simple door can create interest, drama and even add a personal touch to your home if you’ve got the right door with the right design.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And there are endless styles and options to your interior doors, including graphic designs, text and even custom carvings. And they are much more affordable than you might think, so here to tell us more is John Monfore of JELD-WEN Windows and Doors.

    Welcome, John. Now, most people have almost 20 doors in their house and you say they are missing a major opportunity to really make a décor difference.

    JOHN: That’s absolutely correct. You know, most people think of paint and flooring when trying to make an improvement but one thing that’s always going to be there are those doors. And it’s a great way to change the look of every room in somebody’s house.

    TOM: Now, a door is something that is perceived as being very complicated to change. It’s not like picking up a paintbrush and adding a new color. You guys, I read, have a system that makes this fairly simple in terms of the measurement and the delivery of the door, correct?

    JOHN: That’s correct. Homes will settle over time. The average house in America is from the 1970s, really, and so over time, houses settle. And so those openings will move and so we have a system that allows us to take the current measurement of those door frames. And what that does is it tells our CNC routers back at our door plant exactly where to cut and prep that door so that when we come back in, it’s just a simple installation of taking the old door off and putting the new door on.

    TOM: Very cool. So it sounds like it’s a lot like replacement windows, where each one is custom-made for the opening that it has to go into.

    JOHN: That’s it. Every opening is unique and so every door coming into that opening is unique.

    LESLIE: And what about the hinges? I mean the hinge placement and installation is usually the hardest part. Is my door coming ready to go with the hinges on?

    JOHN: Absolutely. Because correct, that is the part where people spend time having to chisel out and make sure that those match up. Well, when we’re in there measuring, we call out the – what size of hinge it is, what radius it has and where it’s located on that door frame, along with the strike for where the handle set goes.

    So, again, our CNC router knows exactly where to go to prep that door so when we show up to install it, we’re just taking the old one off, putting the new one on with new hinges, new hardware and just putting it right back in that opening. And it fits.

    LESLIE: Now, how do you even go about starting to think about custom designs? I had read that you all did a project with the Ronald McDonald House and really made the interior doors beautiful by adding some custom, heart-shaped designs.

    Now, that seems truly unique and beautiful for that project but as an average homeowner, where would I even think about getting that specific imagery or something unusual for myself?

    JOHN: Well, you can always start at JELD-WEN.com. We have a lot of images and things to look at. But the nice thing about our Custom Carved Doors is if you can dream it up, we really can design that into the door. And so even the heart design was one that was given to us and we just executed it.

    But really, looking at any interior design or – you can get inspiration from a lot of different places. And we are able to execute on that.

    At JELD-WEN.com, we do have over 100 designs that are packaged up for somebody to choose, to help guide them in the process.

    TOM: Talking to John Monfore – he’s a product manager for JELD-WEN – about how to add interior doors to your house that really can give you a lift in terms of your design and your décor.

    So, John, you mentioned that just simply with an image, your equipment can create a custom carving. So what are some other carvings that you may have done or that folks might be thinking about doing, aside from the heart example you gave us with the Ronald McDonald House?

    JOHN: Well, for some designs, if somebody really wants that custom look and that custom – what we call our Custom Carved Door, we do everything from children’s names, if they want to put their name on it: little Emma or little Joshua. We have – we’ve done butterflies, soccer balls. We’ve done different corporate logos. Really, if somebody wants something specific, we’re able to program that into our CNC router and have that – carve that into the door.

    TOM: Can you carve in “Keep This Room Clean” for my teenagers?

    JOHN: We can but there’s no guarantee on that.

    LESLIE: And does that take a tremendous amount of time to add this custom feature? I mean every time I start thinking about custom anything for design clients of mine, I’m looking at months and months.

    JOHN: Correct. And there’s two different things. For both processes – one, for that door just to fit in the opening, it’s very simple and we’ve made the process easy for that. Also, if somebody wants to have a design into that door that’s specific, we also have a way to submit that to our plants, get approval and have that done. And so we’re very efficient at doing that, so it doesn’t take long at all. It’s definitely not a month-to-month process.

    LESLIE: And I imagine changing the color or even a fresh coat of paint on a new door really changes the look. How can we bring that in?

    JOHN: Well, it does make a dramatic difference. For us, really, a customer can bring in – tell us the manufacturer’s name and code and we’re able to match that color for that door. And so it really just makes a dramatic difference in somebody’s house. And the process is simple.

    LESLIE: Boy, that makes life easy.

    JOHN: It does. Nobody wants to paint a door themselves. Let us do it for you.

    TOM: Well, it sounds like a very cool system. John Monfore, Product Manager for JELD-WEN, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. You really gave us a lot of good ideas on an area that we can improve in our homes – and I think many folks think they’re just stuck with – and that is your interior doors.

    If you’d like to learn more about JELD-WEN and their Perfect Fit Program, you can visit their website at JELD-WEN.com. That’s J-E-L-D – W-E-N.com. Or call them at 800-877-9482.

    John Monfore, thanks so much for being a part of our show.

    JOHN: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Well, does the mere mention of summer have you chomping at the bit to get in your backyard and fire up a new gas grill? Sounds great but it could be a disaster waiting to happen if you don’t prep that dormant grill first. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: Finish wood-staining projects in just one day with new Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish. Better yet, let us do it for you. If you win the Take It Easy Sweepstakes, we will. No purchase necessary. See Flood.com for official rules and to enter.

    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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win a new product that makes carpet stain removal fast and easy. We’re giving away $50 worth of Arm & Hammer Dry Carpet Cleaners, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    And Glenn in Missouri is on the line, dealing with an issue with a door and a dog. So let’s find out what’s going on.

    Hey, Glenn.

    GLENN: Well, a visiting dog, attending some people that came to my house, chewed off a corner of my treadle. I’m sorry if I don’t have all the right nomenclature here but this door is a solid-wood, 3-foot door.

    TOM: Wow.

    GLENN: And it’s my front door.


    GLENN: And there’s the storm door that was up and down on the front of it there. It was flat and screwed against the frame and it’s one of those pre-hung, door-like assembly things.

    TOM: Right. Yeah.

    GLENN: And I’m trying to figure out what to do to get that kind of wedge-y piece of wood out of there, because I can’t remember anything about how it was attached to the vertical parts of the box that went around the door. I don’t want to tear up and just go in the basement and pound it out of there. I might tear up the other edge.

    TOM: I think that dog really wanted to get out of your house.

    GLENN: No, he was trying to come in. It’s outside.

    LESLIE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Maybe to get some food.

    Hey, listen, I’ve got one word for you: Bondo. Bondo works really well. It’s an auto-body filler; there’s also a version that’s a wood filler. And you can pack any area that’s been dug out by this dog.

    LESLIE: Or even build it out.

    TOM: Yep. You can over-apply it, you can build it up and then you sand it down so it blends in with everything else. And you paint and you’re done.

    GLENN: Yeah, OK. Well, that’s a simple solution.

    TOM: Yeah. And next time, don’t invite the dog back. Tell your friend he can come but he’s to bring – leave the dog at home.

    GLENN: Yeah, well, this is a long time ago. I built this house in about ’64 and we nailed it together stick by stick. Never built anything else. I had a lot of trouble getting a construction loan. Not no more knowledgeable than I was.

    But anyhow, you solved my problem and I thank you very much.

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

    Well, summer is a season for sizzling steaks, for sure, but before you do that, you need to make sure your gas grill is good to go.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, if your grill isn’t new, you’re going to need to give it a good cleaning. So scrape off any charred food debris with a wire grill brush. Then go ahead and change out any of your old or burnt lava rocks and also make sure that you clean the Venturi. That’s the tubes that run from the gas or the propane, from the tank to the burners. And this is a place that spiders just love to hang out and build webs. And any kind of blockage could cause a gas backup, which could potentially lead to an explosion. So you’ve got to get take care of it.

    If you want some more information on grill prep and safety, go to MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is our phone number. Pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: John in Massachusetts is on the line and needs some help finding a good, licensed contractor. Good question, John. How can we help?

    JOHN: I own a home in New Bedford and the original part of the house was – it used to be in – back in 1940, it was a one-room candy store and they put additions onto it. And the one-room part of the house that was original – from 1925, when they built it – it was – the sills are rotted. Not because of termites, because I just had it checked out; there’s no active termite damage at all. It’s because water was getting in on the bad side of the house, on the weather side.

    And I found that out right after I bought the home but I never got around to fixing the sills. I temporarily – repaired it temporarily until I can get a contractor that’s licensed. Because in the past, I worked with – I’ve gotten contractors that said they were licensed and they’re not; they just lie. They get it on their card and they’re not even licensed.

    TOM: Well, I think you can confirm all that with the local licensing authorities but …

    JOHN: Yeah, yeah. I know that now but yeah, it was a really hard way to go with a few of the contractors I’ve dealt with in the past, you know? They take your down payment, then they wouldn’t show up for weeks and weeks and weeks and I have to call them and …

    TOM: So, things are a little bit easier today because of the advent of the internet, frankly.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: The fact is that there’s a lot of places where you can research and see contractors and check out their reviews and find one that’s good. One of the websites that was one of the first ones is Angie’s List.

    JOHN: Yep, I called them.

    TOM: They’ve done well with that site. They’ve expanded to other areas, including medical. But as far as contractors are concerned, that was one of their first groups that they had on the site. And there are lots and lots of reviews from people like yourself that have had positive and not-so-positive experiences with contractors.

    So, I mean finding one that way to kind of get started, I think, is a good idea. At least you can come up with a list of folks that have had some bit of experience. And then from there, as you bring them into your house – look, if it’s something like sill repair, there’s not a lot of material expenditure with that. So they shouldn’t be looking for a big down payment; you should be – maybe a progress payment along the way. But let’s face it, there’s not a lot of lumber expense when you’re just replacing sills.

    JOHN: It wasn’t so much in the past of getting ripped off, it was – I had to chase them because they take the money from my job and they would go and do one day here, then they’d go to another job.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOHN: And then – you know what I mean?

    TOM: Well, we want to make sure that the money that they get from your job is based on them finishing your job. Alright? So I hope that helps you out. I would start with Angie’s List and go from there.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online, 24-7, at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s almost that time of year for most of us when we’ve got the A/C cranking 24-7. But if you plan to cool around the clock as those temperatures rise, you want to take time now to make sure your system is running efficiently. We’ll have tips to help you do just that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    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.

    Hey, you guys, we take a lot of questions here from people with wet basements. And if you happen to be one of those unlucky homeowners trying to dry out your basement or crawlspace, head on over to our website, MoneyPit.com, and then search “how to dry out your basement.” And you’re going to find everything that you need to know on how to avoid future damage, how to prevent mold growth, how to stop that water from getting there in the first place. Ton of information online. Believe me, you’re not alone and we’re here to help.

    And while you’re there, you can post a question. And I’ve got one from Alex, who posted in the Community section, from Florida: “I have a four-year-old, central air-conditioning system. It works well except for the front room of my house. It’s always about 5 degrees hotter. Any idea why and how can I fix this?”

    TOM: It’s very difficult sometimes to get the temperature to be even-steven across every single room in your house. It really has a lot to do with air flow, as well as what the load is on that particular room.

    So, for example, if that room is on the south side of the house or maybe an area that gets afternoon sun and that’s when it’s always hot, it may be very difficult to get it to be as cool as everywhere else.

    There are a couple things you can do, though. First of all, if the room is closed off by any kind of a doorway between it and the return duct, you want to make sure that that doorway is undercut at least 2 inches to give the air a place to go back. If the return duct is inside the room, you might want to consider adding an additional return duct to that area or checking at least to make sure that there are no obstructions in the return duct that’s preventing the conditioned air from getting back to the system. Because air-conditioning systems work by basically heating the air over and over again. And if a duct is restricted or blocked, then that might not happen.

    Now, a very simple way to do that and make sure that the return duct is working is to take a tissue and hold it over the return duct while the system is on. If the tissue is pulled into the return duct, then you know you have a pretty decent air flow.

    And lastly, check to see if it’s cooling properly. If you take a refrigerator thermometer and measure the supply air and the return air, you should have about a 12- to 20-degree difference. If you don’t, you might just need to have the system serviced.

    LESLIE: And yeah, Alex, you really need to get this working correctly; otherwise, you’re going to be spending a ton of money on those energy dollars. So take care of it today.

    TOM: Well, it’s picnic time, so don’t let the inevitable stains that accompany outdoor eating ruin your fun. Leslie has got some quick fixes for those stains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, picnics are a great summer tradition but eating outdoors, it can be messy. Here are some stain-removal tips for the most common picnic stains which, come on, we’re all going to get them on our pants. You know everybody likes to wear white pants and shorts and light-colored things in the summer. And food on a paper plate while you’re eating outside will inevitably end up on your lap.

    So, if it’s barbecue sauce, you want to flush with cold water from the underside of the fabric. Make sure you turn it inside out or go underneath, whatever you have to do. And you want to blot with liquid laundry detergent, then sponge the stain with vinegar, apply a stain treatment and then go ahead and wash. Same steps you need to take for ketchup or mustard.

    If it’s a berry stain, mix up a tablespoon of white vinegar with a half-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with a quart of water and let that fabric soak for 15 minutes and wash. If you’ve got super-tough stains, go ahead and blot it with alcohol.

    If you need some more ideas or maybe you’ve eaten something we haven’t discussed, head on over and Google “money pit picnic stains,” because we’ve got a ton of ideas there that will help you get all of those picnic stains gone for good.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next week on the program, you can add beautiful color to your garden without planting a single new flower. We’re talking about creating a butterfly garden. We’ll tell you how to do just that, 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.

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    (Copyright 2012 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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