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Settle Domestic Design Disputes Once and For All, Discover Simple Pick-Me-Ups for Winter Blues, and Keep Pets Safe Through Winter

  • 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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Let us solve the do-it-yourself dilemma. If there’s a project on your to-do list, pick up the phone, give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you find the simplest, most effective, quickest, least expensive way to get that project done, 888-666-3974.

    Now, about this time of year, we’re all perhaps a bit exhausted having come through the holiday season and now getting our act going, getting our game face on for the new year. And if you’re feeling tired, we have got some easy, DIY pick-me-up projects for your home that will help your spirit, ahead in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Well, as a kid that grew up in the 80s, I will tell you that Pat Benatar totally said it best: “Love is a battlefield.” She knew it and any couple that has decorated a house together will probably agree with that statement. We’ve got some expert advice coming up this hour on finding common ground, from a therapist who specializes in solving DIY décor disputes.

    TOM: I think it’s fascinating that this is such a common problem that there’s now a therapist that specializes in it.

    LESLIE: Right. “My specialty is home improvement issues.”

    TOM: And with winter, we all spend a lot of time trying to stay warm and that includes our pets. We’ve got step-by-step advice for safeguarding your dog against frigid temperatures, coming up. And always, we’re taking your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Jim in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: I’ve got a rear patio that’s an aggregate cement. And there’s a gap between the edge of that that goes under our rear sliding-glass door, under the threshold. It’s a gap of about 3-4 inches and about maybe a foot or 2 in length. What can I use to kind of fill that void so we don’t get like rain in there and insects or even rodents?

    TOM: So, you have space between the patio and the actual patio door? Like it didn’t press up against the house kind of a thing?

    JIM: Correct.

    TOM: You said it’s about 3 or 4 inches deep?

    JIM: Yeah. The gap is, yes.

    TOM: The gap is. And you said it was a foot-and-a-half wide. You threw me on that because it sounded like it’s not going along the entire length of the door?

    JIM: Yeah, correct. It’s just about maybe a third of it.

    TOM: So we need to figure out a way to kind of fill this in and perhaps make it blend in with the patio. What I probably would do here is – can you dig this out and make it a little bit deeper so we can get a bit more concrete in there?

    JIM: I could do that. It’s aggregate, though, so I’m not sure how well it’s match.

    TOM: Because I’m afraid if you put something in that’s not very thick, it may crack and break up very easily. But if you were to dig that out a little bit, put a little stone in the bottom of the pit and then use an epoxy patching compound and mix the concrete up with the epoxy products, then you’re going to have something that’s going to be less resistant to cracking and more likely to stick to the old patio.

    Now, in terms of coloring it, you’re probably going to have to use some concrete dyes. And they come in different colors but you may be able to dye it to get somewhat close to what you have there now.

    JIM: OK. It’s aggregate, so how do I deal with that?

    TOM: So it has sort of a stone – has like a stone-like finish on top?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Well, could you add aggregate to the top of the concrete mix?

    JIM: Yeah, I could try that.

    TOM: So there’s another way to do it. This way, you’ll have the texture and the color, as well.

    JIM: Yeah, OK. Sounds good.

    TOM: Just do it all at once and let it set. But use the epoxy patching compound, which is kind of like a concrete mix except that it’s very sticky.

    JIM: Mm-hmm. How much do I need to cut out? How much should I fill?

    TOM: I mean if the depth of that replacement section was 3 inches, that should be plenty.

    JIM: OK. Sounds good. Well, thanks for your help.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Jim.

    JIM: Will do, thanks.

    LESLIE: Alice in Illinois is on the line. Alice has got a hard problem: she’s got hard water. How can we help you today?

    ALICE: I have well water and on the well water, I have iron, hardness and manganese. And I do have filters that I use with [salt packs] (ph). But I’m looking for something else besides those [salt packs] (ph).

    TOM: There’s another option that’s an electronic option and it’s called EasyWater – E-a-s-y-W-a-t-e-r. And essentially, what EasyWater does is it installs to your main water pipe and it sort of causes the hardness in the water to polarize in the sense that it doesn’t stick to the fixtures anymore. And there’s a lot of people using it now. It’s been pretty effective and it’s an alternative to using a salt-based solution for this particular water problem. They’ve been around for about 25 years. They seem to be a good company, do a good job.

    Take a look at their website at EasyWater.com. I know they’ve got a pretty good guarantee, so if you don’t like it, you can send the unit back.

    ALICE: Yes, great. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very 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. 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, you pull out all the stops to keep your house and family warm for the winter but is your pet doing OK? We’ve got tips to keep pets safe from frigid temperatures, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, think you don’t have time or money for a cleaner, greener house? Well, the Shaklee Get Clean Kit is a terrific solution.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It features a full line of safe, chemical-free, household-cleaning concentrates. And Shaklee cleaning products are not only safer, they’re stronger than what you’re going to pay more for in name-brand cleaners.

    TOM: Head on over to GreenMyMoneyPit.com to join the clean, green revolution and watch my video where I’ll show you how Shaklee can make the toughest stains disappear.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gary in New York on the line who’s got a question about a new roof. How can we help you with that?

    GARY: Back in 2011, down here Binghamton, New York, we had had a flood hit pretty bad. And we had thought that part of the storm that rolled through had damaged our roof. Turns out that the insurance company found out that the roof tiles weren’t installed correctly. I guess they had tacked them in too high and with too much PSI, I guess, with the air hammer or whatever.

    And that’s long-term, so we had a patch actually sliding down, which we paid to have fixed. It was probably about 350, 400 bucks to have it patched. And now, couple years later, we have another patch that’s very close to the original patch job that’s starting to slide down, as well. And I have never really looked into getting a new roof. I was kind of curious what you guys might have for advice for me.

    TOM: So, Gary, the old roof is a standard asphalt-shingle roof?

    GARY: I believe so, yeah.

    TOM: Because when you say tile that slid down, I think you’re just saying – you should explain that the shingle slid down.

    GARY: Yes.

    TOM: And so, Gary, at this point, you just want to figure out the best way to replace that existing asphalt-shingle roof, correct?

    GARY: Well, one of the questions me and my wife have been discussing is the last time we paid to have this patched, where we had the problem where a large portion was sliding down, we paid like 350, 400 bucks. And it lasted about three or four years before we saw any other problems.

    What we’re curious about is there’s probably about – I think it was – we figured out about nine years left on the life of the roof, from when it was installed. And we were curious if we should just keep patching it at 300, 400 bucks a year – 300, 400 bucks every couple of years – or if we should just go ahead and get a whole new roof?

    TOM: How long are you going to be in the house?

    GARY: If we win the lottery, I’m not moving unless they heckle me too much.

    TOM: So, you intend to be in this for most of the life of the roof, whether it’s the existing one or a new one?

    GARY: We’re looking at staying in this house for pretty much as long as we live.

    TOM: Well, I mean if it’s 300 bucks and it’s going to last you three or four years and you’ve got to do it once in a while, I might be OK with patching. But I guess if I had to do that time and time again, then I would start thinking about a new roof. And if I was going to do a new roof, I would remove the old roof, right down to the roof sheathing, and then reroof from there. It’s not a good idea to put a second layer on top of the existing layer.

    First of all, the second layer never lasts as long because the first layer holds a lot of heat. Plus, you’ve already got attachment problems with that first layer, so you wouldn’t want to compound it by putting more roofing shingles on top of that. So, I guess I’d be tempted to do it once or twice but after that, I’d be ready for a new roof.

    GARY: OK. I guess the other question that I had had – and in regards to this – is about a year or two after we had the patch job done, we had had insulation put into the attic. And that cost us a pretty penny to get done because we had – I think it was R30 insulation installed and they had to sister out the joists on the rafters and everything. And since then, we hadn’t noticed any water infiltrating but we just put up drywall inside the attic, as well. Is there any way to check and see if there’s water infiltration?

    TOM: Well, if there’s water infiltration you’re going to see it, especially if you have drywall, because it’s going to stain. So, if you’re not seeing it, then I wouldn’t expect that you’re getting any leakage.

    GARY: And considering we’re in upstate New York, do we have to worry about the weather? Like when should we get the roof redone if we choose to do so?

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do it mid-winter, obviously, but any other time of the year it’s fine. One of the things that you might want to consider when you do redo the roof, because you are in upstate New York, is to make sure that you have ice-and-water shield installed. This is an additional layer of roofing material that goes from the edge of the roof up 3 or 4 feet into the roof structure.

    And it’s specifically designed so that if you get an ice dam, where ice forms at the gutter line, and then the snow above that starts to melts, that water is not going to hit the dam and back up into the house. And because you’re going to pull the old shingles off, it’s the perfect opportunity to do that.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Gary? Here’s a tip from somebody who just had their roof redone last summer: get yourself one of those nail magnets. It’s like a big magnet on a stick that you kind of wander around your backyard with? Because I swear we still find nails in the backyard that show up at the most random times in the most random places. So no matter how well your guys look, there’s still going to be more.

    And also, if you are going to be home at all during this project, try to get out. Because let me tell you, being in your home – I had a little guy, a youngish baby at the time. Charlie was only like six months. It was the loudest, most unnerving thing to deal with: the sound of people on your roof and hammers and …

    TOM: It’s like being awake during surgery.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s like you’re under attack. We just had to get the heck out of the house. So it’s like try to make plans to not be around.

    TOM: Alright, Gary. Hope that helps you out.

    GARY: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, just because they have natural coats doesn’t mean your pet is safe from the cold. Even dogs that love being outside can suffer the side effects of winter’s frigid temperatures.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You want to give dogs an extra layer of warmth with a dog coat. Now, they’re especially crucial for dogs who spend almost all of their time inside and might not have had the opportunity to naturally develop a thicker coat of fur.

    TOM: Now, once your dog does come inside and the extra coat comes off, you want to keep the dog warm with a heated dog bed. There are lots of affordable options out there, including heating pads that slip under an existing bed. And you can also find beds that heat up only when your dog lounges on them which, in my case, would be 24/7 with my dog.

    LESLIE: Right. And you know what? I might find myself curling up on it. I’m always freezing.

    And if you find that Fido does spend most of his time outside, you want to consider outfitting his doghouse with a heater of its own. And not just any heater, though. There are options that exist for less than $100 or so and they’re designed specifically for a pet’s outdoor space. So they’re really thinking about your pet’s safety, as well.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement question. We know you’re thinking about a project. Let us help you get it done.

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

    MARY: My husband and I are trying to install central air in our home. It’s a ranch-style and we bought the central-air unit and the ductwork from a building that had been torn down. And I wondered if we could simply attach the ductwork – and when we’ve cut the holes in the wall and the ceiling for the vents, I wondered if we could just go ahead and attach the ductwork that was there from the previous building or if we had to redo all the ductwork – I mean all the vent piping.

    TOM: I guess the answer is maybe. And the reason is because the duct design is going to be dependent on the building. And it depends on the size of the building and the distance that the air has to travel. And if it’s not done right, what will happen is you’ll either create a situation where you have either too much or too little heating or cooling. And most likely, you’ll have too little. And if that happens, you end up wasting, actually, a lot of energy, because the system has to run a lot more to try to make the building comfortable.

    So, I would suggest to you that in so far as the duct design is concerned, you really need to have somebody that is experienced in designing these systems lay it out for you. It’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project; it’s not the kind of thing that you can tackle, even if you’re very industrious first time out, because you might get it wrong.

    It depends a lot on the size of your building, how many windows are in your building, where the building faces. There’s a heat-loss calculation that’s done and then based on that, you determine how much warm or cold air you have to get to each room. So you can’t necessarily sort of just completely copy what was done in an older house unless it happens to be an identical house.

    So this is a point where it’s good that you got the equipment inexpensively, you got the ductwork inexpensively. You do need to spend a little bit of money on getting it laid out properly, Mary, or you just won’t be comfortable. Does that make sense?

    MARY: Yeah, that was what I wanted to check, because we’re pretty self-sufficient but I had a feeling this might be more than we could tackle.

    TOM: I think that’s a good idea. Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading out to Arizona where Rich has a foundation question. What can we do for you today?

    RICH: We pulled up some carpet in a back room and upon pulling up the carpet, we discovered that we have about a 1-inch crack that runs full width of the room. And it’s about a 15×15 room. And we were wondering why that one door that we have that goes off into a spare bathroom – why it stops shutting so clean. So when we pulled up the carpet, we discovered that, yes, we’ve got a crack problem. And it’s about 1-inch wide and I want to know – and it’s as deep as far as the foundation, I think, the slab goes. I want to know how I should fill that in or what would be the proper thing to do.

    TOM: Well, first of all, we want to determine if it’s an active crack or not. And the fact that you had a door that seemed to work properly and then stopped working properly could indicate that it’s active. Do you get the sense that this crack is fresh or do you think it’s something that’s been there for a really long time?

    RICH: I think that it started out small and I think over the last 10 years, it’s maybe – because I’ve been there just over 10 years and I believe that just within about the last, oh, maybe 3 years that the door started shutting kind of stiff.

    But anyway, I don’t think it has been all that active but I do think that it’s definitely progressed a little bit since I’ve moved in.

    TOM: So what you’re going to do is clean it out and then you’re going to repair it with – a flowable urethane material is good. And with the urethane, what you’ll put in there first is a material called “backer rod,” which is like a 1-inch – you would get like a 1- to 1½-inch-diameter foam tube. It’s called “backer rod.” And you press it in there to that crack and then you leave it about an inch below – not an inch – about a ¼-inch below the surface. Then you fill the top of it with a flowable urethane and that will expand and contract with the crack.

    RICH: OK. That’s exactly what I was kind of hoping. Because I don’t think it’s going to be something I’ll be able to do from the outside of the house to maybe – to push the foundation up. Because on the outside, the house looks good.

    TOM: No, it’s a one-way street of cracks.

    RICH: Yeah. So we …

    TOM: And you can’t patch it with more concrete, because it would just crack.

    RICH: Yeah. So, now, when I do that, of course that’ll take care of the visibility of the crack. What can I do to relevel the floor? Because it is quite evident. When you’re off in the hallway and you look into this room, you can definitely see there is a – the floor isn’t level, from the crack over to the wall.

    TOM: Well, you could – there’s a product called “leveling compound” that you can pour on top of the old floor. And you can work it and level the whole thing out. We use it a lot under tile, where you can’t have a tile floor that bends or twists or anything. But it’s a pretty big job and if you’re going to put carpet down, are you really going to see it?

    RICH: Well, no. I’m thinking maybe I’ll put a different kind of flooring down.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then maybe you’ll want to consider it. It’s just called “leveling compound” and you’ll find it in home centers, you’ll find it online. And it takes a little practice to get it to flow out properly. But follow the label directions, start in a small area until you’re good at it and you’ll find it should be able to level it out quite nicely.

    RICH: Boy, I think I’ve got it. I sure appreciate you. Thank you for the advice.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, we have a guest who’s been called a cross between Dr. Phil and Martha Stewart. That would kind of be a funny-looking person but I guarantee this person is not. Up next, we’re talking with a marriage-and-family-therapist-turned-design-expert with tips on combining Mars and Venus décor styles to bring harmony to your household, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: When you step into the grocery store, have you ever noticed that you can smell the cleaning products four aisles away? That’s indoor-air pollution and it’s exactly what happens when you take those cleaning products inside your home. Shaklee’s green, chemical-free cleaning innovations are a better option. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, when it comes to interior design, women have traditionally been the decision-makers. But that is changing, according to our next guest. Christa O’Leary is the founder and CEO of Home in Harmony Lifestyle.

    LESLIE: She’s also the author of Home in Harmony: Designing an Inspired Life.

    Christa, you say that men are becoming much more aware of their environments and want more say in the home décor that surrounds them? Is this possible?

    CHRISTA: It is. It is possible. And it’s so interesting. You know, I’ve been in business for a couple of decades, at this point, and it’s so fascinating. Within the last probably 5 to 10 years, there’s been this major shift of men really taking an interest in what their environment looks like. So it’s amazing and it’s fabulous. Now, I’m starting to get more and more clients that are men.

    TOM: Well, that’s interesting. So we got a lot of he-said/she-said questions here on The Money Pit with couples trying to make decisions on not only design questions but structural and mechanical questions. Are you seeing that same sort of shift sort of in reverse, where the girls are asking more of those structural and mechanical questions since the guys are asking the design questions these days?

    CHRISTA: I do. I think that it’s one of those things. Roles are starting to really, really blend and it’s one of those things. Because we have so many roles within our own households that we have to fulfill, when you’re working as a team with your partner, you just have to step up to the plate and get things done. Because we live in a society that’s so frenetic and we’re moving at such a fast pace that when balls start to drop, somebody has to dive in and start catching.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s interesting because you have a unique background in marriage and family therapy. And we feel, here at The Money Pit, that if you can survive a major home remodel, you must have a strong marriage.

    CHRISTA: I do. Thankfully, I really do. It is amazing to me because my belief – how you do one thing is how you do everything. And a home improvement project can really bring out either the best or the worst in a relationship. So, if people have high expectations or their communication isn’t good or there tends to be someone who does drop the ball and somebody else has to come in and do the rescuing, you see that on a magnified scale when you’re doing a home improvement project.

    So, as I always say, it’s really important, before the project starts, to sit down and have a discussion around all of these things and talk about putting a strategy in place. What are your expectations? How are you going to communicate? And then set boundaries around it so that this person knows that they’re in charge of A and this person knows they’re in charge of B. And then have check-in points along the process so that the tension doesn’t escalate.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. I have a friend who is in the middle of a big renovation right now. And she’s always asking me for tips, because she says that she’s sort of the doer in the family and her husband kind of just sits back and let things happen. And she wishes that he would help more. And I said, “Yeah. But if he had an opinion on this and you didn’t like it, you’d probably never forgive him for it.” And she’s like, “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

    CHRISTA: Communication is key. I mean it’s key in relationships, it’s key when designing an interior, it’s a key in renovation process. So really just defining what those expectations are is number one. And then the spouses are going to have different ideas of what their ideal interior is or their ideal project is, so taking the time beforehand to figure out what those differences are and then coming together.

    I always recommend to my clients to put together what I call a “visualization folder.” And that is each person figures – comes up – they rip pages out of magazines, print things out of Pinterest and compile sort of an image gallery of what they love. And then the two spouses get together and they look at all the varying styles and then they determine what they like, together, and what they don’t like, together. And so that really gives them sort of a road map to how to put a project together that they’re both going to love.

    TOM: Christa O’Leary, the founder and CEO of Home in Harmony Lifestyle, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    CHRISTA: Well, thank you for having me.

    TOM: And if you’d like to learn more about Christa and her work, her website is ChristaOLeary.com.

    LESLIE: Well, alright. Up next, are you feeling the winter blues? We’re back with a few small home improvements that can lift the spirits, next.

    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 and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Well, technology for the home is gaining popularity as our homes and appliances get smarter. And to make sure that we remain smart enough to cover those changes, we’ve just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where all the newest technology is brought to the marketplace.

    LESLIE: Yeah, like the science behind 3D printers, which I think is the coolest, new technology out there. Dremel actually has a new 3D printer that uses plant-based filaments that are both recyclable and renewable. And it comes with software so that you can actually turn your imagination into a 3D reality. Imagine holding a model of your new kitchen design in your hands so you can actually feel what the space is like and get a sense of it. It’s so cool.

    TOM: It’s amazing what you can do with the technology and we’re going to feature our top picks from the Consumer Electronics Show on MoneyPit.com in the coming week, so check it out.

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

    JIMMY: Couple of weeks ago, I was listening to your show and a person called in and had paneling in their den and they wanted to paint it. And I missed the first part of it. I have paneling in my den. It’s red-oak paneling and my wife has been wanting to paint this stuff forever but you said you had to use a primer. I got that part of it, you know – and a good quality paint – but I think you said you had to sand the paneling first. Is that correct?

    TOM: Well, only sort of lightly sand it. We’d like you to rough up the surface just a little bit because it tends to be fairly glossy, as you know. And so yeah, if you rough up the surface just a bit with some sandpaper and then you apply a good-quality primer and a good-quality paint, you’re going to get the best outcome in terms of that project.

    JIMMY: OK. Because she cleans this paneling every year and she uses an oil-based cleaner to clean it.

    TOM: Well, OK. So on top of that, then I’m also going to suggest that you wash it down with TSP – trisodium phosphate. So, I would give it a sanding and then I would wash it down with a mixture of TSP, which you’ll find at home and hardware stores, usually in the paint aisle. And this way, you’ll clean it of all that oily debris that may still be on the surface that could impede the ability of the primer to stick properly.

    JIMMY: OK. So I don’t know what TSP is. What is that?

    TOM: It’s trisodium phosphate. It’s essentially a detergent. It comes in a powder and you mix it up with water. It’s very soapy but you wash it down with that, rinse it off and you’re good to go.

    JIMMY: Alright. I appreciate it.

    TOM: OK, Jim. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, the days are shorter and colder which, for many people, brings on a case of the blues. But here is a reason to smile: studies show that a few easy changes to your living space can spruce up your home and lift your spirits.

    TOM: For starters, turn on the lights. It sounds simple but improved lighting can make you feel better, especially this time of year when darkness sets in so early.

    Now, it’s also a good time of year for additional lighting, so think about adding a few extra lamps or sconces. They can really make a big difference in your space.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You might also want to consider planting an indoor garden. You can have colorful flowers or herbs that can really go a long way toward reminding you of spring and also kind of reminding you that spring is not so far away. You just want to make sure that you choose a location in your home that gets plenty of sunlight, since most vegetables need as much as six hours of direct sunlight each day so that they’ll grow and thrive.

    TOM: And a pick-me-up for your front entryway can raise your spirits before you even step inside. Polishing hardware or swapping out a doormat are small changes that can go a long way. And new paint or a new door altogether can bring even more freshness to that spot.

    LESLIE: And finally, don’t forget to please the most powerful of all your senses: your sense of smell. Citrus scents are known to energize and rejuvenate. And jasmine and grapefruit can actually ease depression and sadness. You want to use oils, incense or candles and that’ll really add the aroma that you’re looking for to sort of rejuvenate your spirits and your living space.

    TOM: More great ideas to spruce up for winter online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    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: Patrick in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    PATRICK: We’ve got probably a 20 or – nah, 15,000- or 20,000-gallon pool above ground, OK?

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICK: So that’s a lot of weight. Since, I have put in three shallow wells and with a 1-horsepower pump that draws for my sprinkler system.

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICK: We have a standard lot. It’s probably 80×125. And I’m getting some sagging or – not some sagging. I’m getting a decent amount of sagging on the pool fence. So am I sucking too much water out and then the weight is pushing it down or what do you think?

    TOM: The water shouldn’t impact the fence. If the fence is settling, I don’t think it’s because you’re pulling water out from under it. Usually, if you get a lot of settlement, it’s because of the grade of the land. If there’s a lot of water sitting in there, like from rainfall and then you have weight on top of that, then that will disturb the soil, it makes the soil weaker and then things shift.


    TOM: So I don’t know if you can connect the well with the movement of the fence. Just the fence that’s moving?

    PATRICK: Yeah, it’s pulling away from the main post. It …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s probably just a little bit of settlement in that area. Pulling away from a post like that is not that terribly unusual and so I wouldn’t attribute that to some shifting of ground underneath.

    PATRICK: OK. OK. So you don’t think I’m sucking too much water out of the water table and then now it needs to go somewhere?

    TOM: I don’t know what you’re taking out of the water table, Patrick, but I know it’s not likely to cause the fence to move.

    LESLIE: Thank you so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, are you looking to add a little character to your living space? Well, outdated furniture can be upcycled and become your favorite piece once again. We’ll have tips on that project, next.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Are you spending too much time online? Well, make it count. Visit MoneyPit.com for advice on projects in and around your home. Then Like us on Facebook for even more tips, more prizes and more behind the scenes with me and Leslie. It’s easy. Just head to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and click Like.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online post your question, just like Jim in Ohio did who wrote: “My attic currently has blown-in fiberglass insulation about 5-6 inches deep and is ventilated with soffit vents and an attic fan. I’d like to remove the fiberglass insulation and replace it with spray-in foam. Is it OK to apply the spray-in foam in the ceiling joist? And if so, does any wiring or ductwork or electrical boxes have to be protected from the foam?”

    TOM: That’s a great question and actually a project that I just completed last spring.

    So, the answer is that first of all, you can leave the fiberglass at the attic-floor level; there’s no reason to remove it. And then what you can do is you can blow the spray-foam insulation – and we used Icynene – up into the rafters.

    In terms of the loose ductwork, that sort of thing, what I did is I went up and I secured all that stuff. We had a lot of sort of sloppy cable wiring and that kind of thing that we tidied up and made sure everything was nice and neat and secure. Then we were able to essentially encase it in the spray foam. We blocked out around the smoke detectors and that sort of thing. Of course, funny story, the smoke detector actually went off while we were spraying because it generated heat as it cured. But it was solved; it’s done. The house has been super-warm ever since.

    LESLIE: Alright. Jim, I hope that helps with your project.

    TOM: Well, are you about to throw out that old chair or dresser? Well, not so fast. Leslie has tips for bringing new life to old furniture, in this edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, they say don’t judge a book by its cover. Well, you shouldn’t do it with furniture, either. Furniture refinishing and upholstery are really do-it-yourself projects that can create statement pieces out of furniture that’s old and maybe weathered or that once sort of faded into the background in your home.

    So, first off, you really want to assess the piece of furniture that you want to refinish, because different materials are going to require different treatments. Now, the better the original material, the better the ultimate result. So, unless you’ve got a piece of furniture that’s chipped or really loaded with layers of old paint, you can refinish it by just starting with a simple sanding or a simple stripping agent to get some of that off so you can get to a surface where you can actually work with and apply a new finish to. If you find that the piece is just too large or just really in disrepair, you want to find a furniture refurbisher or an upholsterer, depending on that type of piece.

    Now, if you’re looking for somebody who’s in the professional end of that, what I would recommend is if you find a local decorator or a local furniture store that sells pieces that are a little bit more unique than sort of a big-box furniture store in your area – and ask them who they use for their upholstery services or their furniture-refinishing services. And that’s a really good way. I know whenever I was looking for somebody, in my industry, that was sort of specialized in a certain detail, I would ask at the fabric showrooms because they always seem to know. And we all sort of share information together, which is a great way to find out.

    If, however, you’re doing dining chairs, those are the most simple. Those really you can do yourself. The upholstery, that little piece of the seat comes out with four screws. You staple new fabric on as long as everything’s in good shape, refinish the wood itself while you’re working on the fabric and then put it all back together. They’re all confidence builders. Judge by what you can do yourself and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll be so happy with that new finished piece.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, could your home use a little more character? Coming up, we’re going to teach you how to incorporate reclaimed lumber into your living space. It’s not as tough as you think and it can be a fabulous project to really spruce up your space. We’ll have all the details, 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 2015 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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