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Snow Blower Safety Tips, Clearing heavy Snow from Your Roof, Pest Control for Invasive Species, Install or Change a Vent Hood and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Happy Holidays, everybody. Hope you’re enjoying this holiday weekend. This is one of those weekends when if you’ve tackled a project, you could sit back and relax and enjoy it and show it off to all the friends and family that are coming to visit this weekend. And if you’ve not, well, maybe that’s motivation for you to do that. We will help you get the job done if that’s you. Pick up the phone and call us; we’ll talk you through it. 888-666-3974.

    Now, if your dreams of a white Christmas came true, you might be ready to fire up the snow blower and clear out some of that white stuff. But before you do, we’re going to have some tips this hour on how you can get that job done safely.

    LESLIE: And with your stove working overtime this time of year, we are going to have some tips on how to keep your cooking adventures mess- and odor-free by giving your range hood a tune-up.

    TOM: And imagine this: your name is invaded by a scary monster with hair and fangs that wreaks havoc on, of all things, your electrical system. That’s right. There is a new invasive species of ants making their way across the United States that can do just that. They are aptly named “crazy ants” and experts say that for some unknown reason, they love to swarm around electrical circuits. We’re going to talk to one of the pros from Orkin this hour about what you can do to protect your home from these crazy critters.

    LESLIE: That is just crazy. Good name for them.

    TOM: And creepy.

    LESLIE: Right?

    Alright, guys. And we’ve got a very cool giveaway this hour. One lucky caller to 888-MONEY-PIT is going to get a copy of the book, The Best Homes from This Old House. And it really is a gorgeous book. It’s a look at the 10 best transformations of the PBS show in this past decade. It’s beautiful.

    TOM: And what’s even cooler? It’s autographed by every cast member. So call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Karen in Michigan is calling in with a heating and cooling question. What can we do for you?

    KAREN: Yes. I am looking at a house that has a forced-air downdraft furnace.

    TOM: OK.

    KAREN: And when I was checking out the house, I pulled up the vents on the floor and all the vents do not have any ductwork underneath them.

    TOM: Right.

    KAREN: And it’s a crawlspace underneath, so it’s like a modular.

    TOM: That’s a little strange.

    KAREN: And it’s got a 3-foot crawlspace, so I’m wondering how hard it’s going to be to try and put ductwork in this place.

    TOM: Pretty hard. So let me get this right. So this – it sounds like it was unfinished. Because a downdraft system is not unusual but it pushes the air down to a duct system and then comes up through those registers. So you’re telling me you have registers but you have no ducts?

    KAREN: Correct.

    LESLIE: But could it just be venting for the crawlspace? Would you do that?

    TOM: I don’t know. That makes no sense.

    LESLIE: I don’t know; I’m just trying to understand what’s going on here.

    TOM: Yeah. Karen, you need to have an HVAC contractor look at this and give you an estimate for the work. It wouldn’t be hard; 3 feet is plenty of room to work in, to do that.

    LESLIE: Especially there are so many flexible ducting options.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: You don’t need something rigid. So they can work without having to do major construction.

    KAREN: OK.

    TOM: Alright. But you need to do that. Did you have a home inspection done?

    KAREN: No, we have not yet.

    TOM: Well, that’s another thing that you ought to think about doing. I’d start with a home inspection and let the home inspector look at it. Get this documented into a report because this is definitely something you should be negotiating with the seller.

    KAREN: Alright. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Greg in Indiana needs some help repairing a ceiling at his money pit. What could we do for you today?

    GREG: Hi, Leslie. I have a crack in a textured, vaulted ceiling.

    LESLIE: OK.

    GREG: It’s at the peak. And I have tried putting a – what I think is a higher-quality, siliconized, paintable caulk – and repainted and it seems like it doesn’t last very long and we’re having to redo it.

    TOM: Right.

    GREG: I didn’t know if there was some type of a permanent fix for that.

    LESLIE: Are you using any tape when you’re making this repair?

    GREG: No. Well, I’m trying to avoid taking the texture off.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, because it’s textured, it would be a big deal.

    GREG: Yeah.

    LESLIE: But I feel like you’re going to just continue to make this repair unless you can, you know, get underneath, add some of that fiberglass mesh tape, which will sort of help. Because you’re going to get continuous movement because, as you say, it’s at the peak, so there’s going to be a lot of movement there just from the nature of the structure.

    Now, what kind of texture is it? Is it a popcorn? Is it like a twist? Is it a stipple? Can it be replicated, is what I’m getting at.

    GREG: I’m sure that it can. I’ve just avoided it because it’s a room that is probably, I don’t know, probably 20 to 25 feet wide. The length of the crack would be – so I’ve just avoided doing that. I, kind of in the back of my mind, felt like that was probably the permanent solution but was trying to find an easier way out.

    TOM: Well, I think that you know what the solution is. The fact of the matter is that this crack is a break. The fact that you caulked it is not going to stick to both sides in such a way that it will stretch across and bridge that gap on a permanent basis. You’re always going to have it reopen again and again and again.

    So you can either live with it or you could pull off the texturing and put up a fiberglass mesh tape and spackle it, as Leslie suggested, and then retexture it. I will tell you that there is texture material that’s sold in a can now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That you can just spray on.

    TOM: So you don’t have to have a company come in and spray it. There is patching material for this very purpose.

    GREG: OK. Excellent. I think that’ll do it. Not exactly the answer I wanted but I think that it was – that’s probably – I just needed somebody to tell me to do it, so I thank you.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: Alright. Do it already.

    TOM: Alright. You’ve been tasked.

    GREG: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Go forth and patch, my friend. 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 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, did your dreams of a white Christmas come true? Yes? Well, that’s terrific but now you’ve got to get rid of all that stuff. We’re going to have some snow-blower safety tips to help you do just that, next.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    (theme song)

    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: Happy Holidays, everybody. Hey, pick up the phone right now and call us with your New Year’s resolution for your house. We know there’s a project that’s going to be on your to-do list. Call us. We will help you get it done and not only will we do that, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and – because one of our callers this hour is going to win the book, The Best Homes from This Old House, written by our friend, Kevin O’Connor.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s a really beautiful book and it shows the best interiors and exterior makeovers that This Old House has done over the past 10 years.

    But it doesn’t stop there. I mean this is really cool, you guys. If you’re a fan of This Old House, this is awesome: it’s autographed by every cast member. So call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your holiday home improvement and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if a big snowstorm has you dragging out your snow blower, it’s important to make sure that you follow some steps to keep safe while you’re using this very fun machine.

    First off, one of the most common ways people are injured with snow blowers happens when they try to clear a clog. If that happens to you, turn off the machine and remove the key before trying to clear it. Always use a stick and never use your hands. It’s amazing how many people just want to stick a gloved hand into that chute to clear a clog. Really bad idea.

    Also, make sure that the snow blower is completely turned off before replacing or adjusting any parts, including the chute. It’s always safer to turn it completely off before you do anything.

    And finally, always start your snow blower outside to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sounds normal, right? You would not believe how many people warm up a snow blower in a garage and that garage, even with the door open, can fill up with carbon monoxide and poison people that are in the house. So be very careful when you’re using those machines.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you haven’t used your snow blower in a while, remember that the gasoline that’s still inside it from its last use is really only good for about 30 days, unless you’ve added a fuel stabilizer. So, if your snow blower hasn’t been professionally serviced in a while, get it done now. Mechanical updates like new spark plugs, shear pins or belts, they will definitely keep your machine operating normally and help you avoid accidents.

    And really, it’s smart to do and you just want to operate them safely, because we don’t need any other snow-blower injuries happening this time of year. So just be careful and use them safe and have fun.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. We’ll help you have some fun with your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now and we will tackle it together.

    LESLIE: Beth in Georgia is working on a reglazing project in a bathtub. Tell us how it’s going.

    BETH: I have had my bathtub, what they call refinished, twice. It’s an original tub. The house is 40 years old. It’s iron with porcelain.

    TOM: OK.

    BETH: And they basically etched it and then sprayed a new surface on. And I was wondering if this is the same thing as reglazing and if so, I haven’t had any luck. It’s peeled up both times, so what are my other options?

    TOM: Hmm. OK, did you have a company come in and do this for you?

    BETH: Yes, two different ones.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s hard to get this done and have it really last, I will say. I’ve seen it done a number of different ways but typically what happens is they put on an acid etch and it’s a very corrosive process. I mean the folks that do this have to be well-protected: not only their arms and their eyes and things like that but also their breathing, because you have to really etch that old surface and with a very corrosive material.

    And then once that is etched, they essentially prime it and the primer is usually sprayed on and then the topcoat is sprayed on. And if it’s done well, you might get five years out of it but then you have to do it again. It’s never, ever going to be as good as an original surface of the tub.

    BETH: I guess what happened, in my case, was that it was etched. I’m not sure if they did the primer stage but it only lasted – the new surface they put on only lasted two months each time and then it would start peeling up right at the drain, both times.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not right. That’s not right. Now, did the glazer come back and redo it?

    BETH: Well, they put a guarantee – a nine-year guarantee – and when I called them back in two months, their number has been disconnected.

    LESLIE: Oh, wasn’t that nice of them?

    BETH: Oh, that was my second time around, so I kind of gave up. But I still have the bathtub. It has tile around it and a tile floor. I can’t really afford to tear out all the tile and put a new tub in.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BETH: So I just wondered if there were any other options for me.

    TOM: Well, you could have a tub insert made; that’s another way that this is done. There are a number of companies that make those. They fit inside the old tubs. They tend to make the tub a little smaller, as a result, and they’re not inexpensive. But …

    LESLIE: But they’re really durable.

    TOM: Yeah. Or you can go back to the beginning and try to find a glazer that actually has a reputation, who’s been in business for a number of years and does a good job.

    BETH: Right.

    TOM: It sounds clearly like you got somebody that wasn’t doing a very good job. They didn’t even stay in business for two months after you hired them.

    BETH: Right. OK. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Josh in New York who’s dealing with a grouting issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOSH: Well, I tiled my bathroom and I set the tiles up and set the spacers in so that there would be grout lines. And once I mixed up the grout and put it in, pushed it in and wiped it off, set it to dry, it looks as though there are these little holes in where the grout is, almost like when a wave hits the beach and then the waves retreat and there are little holes in the sand where the clams are. They …

    TOM: Sounds like it wasn’t mixed very well; you got some air bubbles in there or something.

    JOSH: Yeah, yeah. I guess it’s just air bubbles and there are quite a few of them. What I’m wondering is: do I have to take one of those grout scrapers and scrape it all out and then redo it or can I just remix a batch and then go over it again?

    LESLIE: Fill it in.

    TOM: Hmm. What do you think, Leslie? Can he grout on top of grout? I’m not sure that ever works very well, for me.

    LESLIE: I don’t know how well it’ll stick to one another. I’ve never tried it so I …

    JOSH: I haven’t sealed it yet.

    LESLIE: Hmm. It’s not like concrete where you know they don’t mesh together.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: I would say it’s worth a shot, just to see, especially if you can get the mix better and you can fill in those areas and make sure you clean it up properly so you don’t get the clouding.

    And where did you say this was? Is it a floor?

    JOSH: On the shower wall.

    LESLIE: Shower wall. A wall would be OK. If it’s a floor, I might say no just because of the movement you might get. I say go for it.

    JOSH: OK. Well, that should be easy enough, as easy as grouting can be.

    TOM: Grouting is a fun job.

    LESLIE: Which some people find pretty complicated but it’s a matter of technique, as far the application: holding the float at a 45-degree angle so you really get it in there, not putting too much water when you’re wiping it away.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It takes some finesse.

    JOSH: Sure, yeah. This is my first project so I’m infinitely more proud of it than my neighbors would be of it but that’s OK. I’m learning, so – awesome.

    TOM: Josh, you’ve got nothing to lose. Worse comes to worse, you could always get a grout saw and pull the grout out and start again. But this is a great first project. Congratulations and enjoy it.

    JOSH: Alright, cool. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Mary in California is having an electrical issue at her money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, the bathroom plug-ins, where you’d plug in a razor or a hair dryer, in two different bathrooms – opposite ends: one upstairs, one downstairs of the same house – suddenly have no power to them.

    TOM: Right.

    MARY: And I checked the circuit-breaker box and everything is on. I bought one of those little tools to stick in the holes and there’s no power to either of them but I have power all over the house, everything else.

    TOM: Well, there is a very simple solution.

    MARY: Oh, there is?

    TOM: And it’s so simple, it’s going to – you’re just going to laugh.

    MARY: Move?

    TOM: No. No, the outlets that you talk about are covered by a ground-fault circuit interrupter – GFCI.

    MARY: No, they’re not.

    TOM: Well, it sounds like they are. And you’re saying they’re not but I’m going to tell you where to look, OK?

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Because the – somewhere in this circuit – and the circuit could include – do you have a garage?

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Circuit very often includes the garage. It also includes the outside and it could include the basement. Somewhere in those rooms, you’re going to find an outlet that has a ground fault.

    LESLIE: That has a ground-fault circuit interrupter.

    TOM: And you’re going to see one outlet with a test and a reset button on it.

    MARY: Right.

    TOM: And the reset button is going to be popped out and you’re going to push it back in and instantly you’re going to have power in your bathrooms again.

    MARY: Well, I do – in the third bathroom, I have one of those things and it’s connected. It works. It works.

    TOM: But that might just be for that bathroom. The other bathrooms may be on a bigger circuit that covers the entire house. This is a very common problem. We hear it all the time. And people swear that they don’t have one or they can’t find it or they’ve checked. And I’ve had people call me on the phone, when I was a home inspector and had this conversation, and I’d say, “Get a cordless. Walk with me around the house. Go to your garage.” “It’s not here, it’s not here. Tom, it’s not here. Oh.”

    It’s right there, OK? Go find this little outlet with the test and reset button on it.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Because what happens is all of the wet-location outlets are wired together and the ground faults turn them off if somebody’s getting a shock. A regular circuit breaker only turns itself off if there’s – the wires are overheating. And if you’re part of that circuit, you’re in trouble. But a ground-fault breaker turns it off if there’s someone getting a shock and very, very quickly.

    So, you’ve got to find the ground fault. It’s somewhere in an outlet in your house. It could also be outside, by the way. Most typically, it’s in the garage, OK?

    MARY: OK. I will look for that.

    TOM: Alright. Alright, Mary. Let us know how you make out, OK? Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, they invade like crazy and I’m not talking about your family members this holiday weekend. I’m talking about crazy ants. Up next, we’re going to tell you how to protect your home from this new, non-native species of bugs that somehow has ended up in the United States and it’s causing some very creepy problems, so stick around.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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.

    And here’s an interesting topic that we’re going to discuss. They’re like invaders from another planet. You know, they’ve got hairy bodies and fangs. And I’m not talking about Tom; I’m talking about something scary. They number in the millions and actually can invade your home super-fast.

    I’m talking about crazy ants. They’re an invasive species that loves to swarm around, get this of all things, electrical boxes.

    TOM: That’s right. And what makes them so hard to control is that out of their native environment, they have no natural enemies. Well, except one. That’s where our next guest comes in. Greg Baumann joins us. He’s the technical service director for Orkin Pest Control.

    Welcome, Greg.

    GREG: Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: There was a really interesting article in USAToday.com that covered this species of ant: the crazy ant. And what I found fascinating about these things is even though they don’t bite, they really can freak you out. They can totally swarm areas of your house, inside and out. And why is it that they like the electrical boxes so much? Does anybody know?

    GREG: Well, they are absolutely amazing because they don’t just march in a straight line like most ants do; they kind of roll as a very large group, almost like a ball.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Wow.

    GREG: And so, what they want to do is they want to go into areas – in secluded areas – where they can nest and live. And then they’re going to forage in large quantities and move all different directions, which is where they get their name “crazy ants.” So they’re really looking for a hiding place or a nesting place.

    TOM: So it’s like an ant blob.

    GREG: Exactly, exactly. You don’t see that nice, straight line that you see going across your kitchen counter; you see this blob of – could be thousands of ants and they’re just moving as if they just have had way too much caffeine.

    TOM: Now, these are known as invasive species and I guess they’re invaders because they didn’t – they weren’t born here, so to speak. They were – they came in from other countries, correct?

    GREG: You’re absolutely right, Tom. Invasive species means that they were imported here, either accidentally or for another purpose, such as gypsy moths were brought in to take the place of silkworms. But that really never took off and they became a pest on their own.

    These crazy ants originated in South America, worked their way into the Caribbean and then eventually were found in Florida and a couple spots in Texas. And now those two points, Florida and Texas, are kind of merging together.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Now, do you think they’ll find their way across the entire United States or is this really a climate-driven sort of migration?

    GREG: Well, the crazy ant is really a warm-area ant. They mostly live outside but keep in mind, if we provide a nice, warm living space inside, I’m sure they will do just fine. A lot of people believe that they’ll never really get all that much further north than, say, Georgia. But quite honestly, as humans, we’ve been wrong before and always bet on the bug.

    TOM: We’re talking to Greg Baumann. He’s the technical services director for Orkin.

    And Greg, while we have you, we’re in the fall now moving into the winter months. This is not a time when most of us have to think too much about insects. What comes out this time of year that we need to be concerned about in and around our house?

    Like, for example, in my house – and I know in Leslie’s, too – we get these camel crickets that love to show up in the basements where it’s damp.

    LESLIE: And scare the bejesus out of you.

    GREG: Absolutely. Camel crickets are large crickets. They like moisture and the key there is they really don’t do well if humidity drops. And so, if it’s going to be a damp basement, they’re going to do very well. So, my opinion? The real key is to try to dehumidify. And they are going to be with us year-round, because a basement or even a warm crawlspace is going to provide year-round warmth for them.

    TOM: And that’s really true for so many types of insects around our house. If we keep the humidity minimized, it really makes a big difference in how quickly they can reproduce, correct?

    GREG: Absolutely, absolutely. They have an optimum temperature and humidity, just like humans do. And if they are going to be at that temperature and humidity, they’re going to do just fine.

    TOM: Greg Baumann, Technical Services Director for Orkin, thanks so much for spending some time with us today, Greg. Very interesting story about the invasion of the crazy ants.

    If you’d like more information about insect infestations in your own home, you can always trust the guys at Orkin. Their phone number is 800-800-ORKIN. Their website is Orkin – O-r-k-i-n – .com.

    Thanks again, Greg.

    GREG: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, your stove is really getting a pretty heavy holiday workout right about now. So it’s a good time of year to think about updating your stove’s range hood to make sure that your home stays fresh. We’ll tell you what to look for, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call this holiday weekend and we will help you with your home improvement problem. And also, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us is going to get a copy of the book, The Best from This Old House. And it’s a really beautiful look at the best renovations from the past decade of PBS’ This Old House.

    TOM: And what’s cool about this book? It’s signed by each and every cast member, so it’s a real collector’s item. Call us right now for your chance to win. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Hey, that’s a prize that’s got this home improver pretty jealous. So pick up the phone for your chance to win.

    You know, maybe you’re adding or you’re replacing something in your kitchen and you’re thinking about doing some renovations. Well, a range hood is a great way to update the kitchen and improve your indoor air quality. I mean face it, it’s cooler all across the country this time of year, so you’re going to be inside a lot more.

    And there are plenty of range hoods on the market today that can fit pretty much any style and any budget. For as little as $200, you can dramatically change your kitchen’s environment.

    First of all, think about styles, including under-cabinet range hoods, wall-mounted chimney hoods that really add a European flair or even pro-style hoods for a more professional cook.

    TOM: Now, while some kitchens are designed with recirculating hoods or hoods that are incorporated, say, into a microwave, the best choice for a range hood is one that ducts to the outside. Why? Well, the pollutants from cooking can linger around for days before settling on your surrounding surfaces. They can also tarnish finishes and allow those smells to really hang out for a while.

    So, if you want to make cleaning easier, be sure to look for a design with smooth surfaces and enclosed bottoms to help reduce the grease buildup. And you can even look for hoods that have very easy-to-release, dishwasher-safe filters, which makes it easy to stay on top of what can be a real grease collector.

    LESLIE: Rob in Alaska is dealing with a door that swells in the winter, which means you probably are dealing with a swollen door quite often. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROB: Well, it’s actually – the door opens and closes fine but when I try to turn the bolt into the frame, I guess, it doesn’t go.

    TOM: Right.

    ROB: And last year, I had the same problem and I took the thing apart and chipped out – tried to basically move the hole up a little bit.

    TOM: Right.

    ROB: And then again this year, it’s doing it again. So, I’m stuck.

    TOM: Well, I suspect that you didn’t get it exactly in the right place, so let me give you a trick of the trade, OK? I want you to take off the metal plate for the door – for the striker. This is the bolt, right? So take off that metal plate, alright?

    And then open the door and on the end of the bolt itself – you can do this with a wax crayon or with a lead pencil: a real soft, lead pencil; I do it with a carpenter’s pencil – I color the back end of that bolt – just the very end – so it’s really full with just a lot, a lot of lead. You can also do it with chalk. Close the door and then snap that bolt closed a bunch of times. Just snap it; one after another after another.

    And what you’re doing is you’re transferring that lead to the door jamb. And then when you open the door, you’ll know exactly where that bolt is hitting and you’ll be able to put the striker plate back. You can carve it, make it a little bit bigger, chisel it out – whatever you’ve got to do – and it’ll close right every single time.

    LESLIE: Melissa in Tennessee is doing some decorating. How can we help you with that fun job?

    MELISSA: We got a new sink top for my vanity. My vanity is 60 inches long.

    TOM: OK.

    MELISSA: And it has one sink. If you’re facing the vanity, it is on the right-hand side. And I had a mirror that was on the wall. It’s one of those – you just – a mirror only and it was screwed into the wall, OK?

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    MELISSA: So, I’ve been having the hardest time. What I’ve wanted to do is take that mirror down and get a framed mirror that’s really pretty.

    LESLIE: OK.

    MELISSA: But I can’t find that size anywhere.

    LESLIE: Now …

    TOM: Yeah, well, you’re probably going to have to make it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s the other thing that you could do. Is the mirror in good condition and if you could add a frame to it and make it work, would that be a solution? Or is it just a weird size or it’s destroyed and you just have to take it down and replace?

    MELISSA: Yeah. The mirror is just fine.

    LESLIE: OK.

    MELISSA: My only dilemma is where the screw is, there’s a washer in the screw and it’s sort of raised.

    LESLIE: OK.

    MELISSA: So in order to get a piece of 4-inch trim on there, it wouldn’t be (audio gap) against it.

    LESLIE: Well …

    TOM: Yeah but you can carve that out.

    LESLIE: But there is actually one other option. Since your mirror is in good shape and it’s really an odd size – so why pay to replace the mirror if it’s in a good condition – there’s something from Moen; I’m sure you’re familiar with the company. It’s called Mirrorscapes and it’s basically sort of a flat piece that you put onto your mirror with adhesive and then this decorative panel sort of snaps on top of that.

    And it could be fluted molding, it could be more simple, it could have corner rosettes; I mean you really have a lot of options. You don’t have to miter it; it really just sort of snaps into place.

    And I used it for a client of mine in Manhattan who had this, you know, wall-to-wall, gigantic mirror that was just plain and boring, on a wall above a Jacuzzi tub. And this really was the best solution and probably the most affordable solution. I’m not going to lie, it’s not the least expensive thing but it really is a viable solution when you’re stuck with something that could be way more if you were to, say, go to a frame shop, pick out a molding, have them create a mirror for you. This really is a viable solution.

    MELISSA: Well, that sounds great. I’ve never heard of that. So, it’s a Moen?

    LESLIE: Moen Mirrorscapes. And if you go to Moen.com/Mirrorscapes, it takes you right there. But I’m sure if you go to their page and search it, you’ll find it, no problem.

    MELISSA: OK. Well, that is great news. I’m glad because I’ve really had a hard time finding a solution.

    LESLIE: Well, good. And this is something you can do yourself, so it’s really an easy fix.

    Rod in Nebraska is calling with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    ROD: I was wondering what you could put on your laminate floor to make them shine more.

    TOM: Hmm. A laminate floor, huh?

    ROD: Yes. I didn’t know if there was a varnish you could put on them or something like that.

    TOM: No, no, no, no, no, no. You can’t varnish them; you can only clean them.

    ROD: OK. What’s the best purpose for that?

    LESLIE: Do you know, offhand, the manufacturer? Is this something that you put in or was it just …?

    ROD: Yes, I put – I bought it from like the Lowe’s or Menards or something like that and I put it in myself.

    LESLIE: OK. Is it their own brand or is it like Armstrong or …?

    ROD: It would say T-a-r-j-e-t-t.

    TOM: Yeah, Tarkett is actually a good brand and they have a cleaning solution that’s specifically designed for their floor. It’s called the Tarkett SureShine cleaning solution. And if you just go to Google and type in “Tarkett SureShine cleaning solution,” you’re going to find dozens of stores that sell it.

    ROD: Okie-dokie. That’s what it all – I’ll get on the computer and see what I can find.

    TOM: Alright. There you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, would you like to find the most energy-efficient clothes dryer available? Kind of a trick question. We’ll tell you why, 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: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we would love for you to “like” us on Facebook. If you do, you get first access to things we’re giving away on the program. You can get in touch with us on Facebook. We may even reach out to you first if you post a question on Facebook. You can find us at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you are online, post your question. I’ve got one here from Garrett who wrote: “I am getting ready to replace a gas dryer and I was wondering, long term, which is more efficient: gas or electric?”

    TOM: Good question and a popular question. We’ve actually had a lot of debate about this topic on MoneyPit.com.

    Bottom line is that electric dryers are about 15 percent more expensive to run compared to gas. And while that’s usually not enough to justify the cost of installing a gas line and a gas meter, if you’ve got gas in your house, I would definitely go with gas.

    But sometimes we get asked the question as to what is the most efficient dryer out there. And the answer is the efficiency really has very little to do with the dryer; the efficiency has to do with the washer. Why? Because the more water that the washer takes out of the clothes, the less the dryer has to run to dry those clothes.

    So if you want efficiency in your laundry, you really should be concentrating on having the most efficient washer possible: one that uses high-efficiency detergent and really spins the heck out of those clothes. Because if they come out almost dry, that’s going to be the cheapest way to complete that process when you run either your electric or your gas dryer.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Roberta who says, “About five years ago, I had my home re-sided with cedar. We had it painted; it looks great. Just about the end of last year, I noticed nail heads rusting through the paint. What can I do at this point?”

    TOM: You know, what happened was they used the wrong nails. With cedar, you really want to use a stainless nail because if you don’t, you’re going to get corrosion.

    This siding, even though it’s painted, it does hold a fair amount of moisture. So at this point, you’re going to have to basically sand down those nail heads, put a dot of primer on there and then repaint or restain on top of them and do that on an ongoing basis. It’s unfortunate but that’s the easiest way to resolve it at this point.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Is she going to have to paint the entire siding or just spot-paint?

    TOM: I think she could spot-paint and stay on top of it. It should do a good job.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project, Roberta.

    TOM: Well, when winter storms hit, one thing to keep in mind is those heavy snow loads that can form on your roof. In fact, it might be a good idea to take steps to remove that snow so that you could avoid a potential roof collapse from all of that snow. Leslie has got tips on how to make sure that’s done safely, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you’re at all concerned about heavy snow on your roof, the first step is to check things out.

    Now, this can be done from inside. You want to look for any leaks or weak spots and most of the time, a little sunshine and above-freezing temperatures are pretty much all you need to avoid a roof collapse. But if you want to speed up the process, a sloped roof can usually be cleared from the ground. You just want to make sure that you’ve got the right tools.

    Now, snow cutters or snow rakes have a blade or a cutter attached to a long pole that can be used from the ground. Metal tools can catch on and possibly damage your asphalt shingles, so you have to be careful; you really need to take special precautions if you’ve got a flat roof.

    Now, take extreme caution climbing onto your roof to remove the snow. Remember, it’s going to be super-slippery, so it might be a good idea to call a pro for the job. If you are lucky enough to have a metal roof, you might even have a self-cleaning roof system. And as soon as the temperatures climb a little and the roof warms up, that snow is going to slide right off.

    So take special care and pay extra attention to your roof this time of year, to keep you and your family safe.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about New Year’s resolutions. No, we don’t care about the one that you took out about losing weight and that sort of thing, because that never works out. We want to talk about resolutions that you really can get done because we’ll help you. We want to talk about New Year’s resolutions for your home. We’ll have the top 10 most popular New Year’s resolutions for your home, 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.

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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