Spring Cleaning Hacks, Tips to Make Soggy Yards Disappear and How to determine if a home is Green
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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project. Let’s solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s program, spring-cleaning shortcuts. Yes, you know it’s got to get done. We’re going to share some cleaning hacks to get it done faster.
LESLIE: And have spring rains left puddles upon puddles in your yard? Well, there’s an ingenious new product in the market that can make all of that go away. And we’ll tell you all about it.
TOM: And also ahead, buying green is all the rage today. But did you ever wonder what makes a product truly green? There actually are a lot of factors and just as many false claims of greenness. We’re going to help sort those out, just ahead.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away, this hour, the Edyn Garden Sensor. Now, this is a prize worth $99 and it allows you to keep tabs on your garden from anywhere in the world. You can learn about your soil and environmental conditions and what plants are best suited for your garden. It’s a pretty cool prize.
TOM: It is. It’s available at The Home Depot but going out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Tom in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TOM IN OHIO: Hi. Yeah, I had a question about cracks in the basement. I’ve got a home that’s about 15 years old and we’re thinking about selling in a year. And we’ve got some cracks in our basement. It’s a full basement. And it’s probably – I don’t know – it’s mostly around an eighth. In some places, they’re kind of chipped up a little bigger than an eighth and they kind of – couple of them start out from the drain and kind of spider out. And I’m just kind of wondering, you know, at what – to what point they become a concern, especially if we’re going to try to resell and what we need to do – need to address the problem.
TOM: OK, Tom. I would not be too concerned about basement floor cracks. Here’s why: that basement floor is not structural. Even though it’s made of concrete, it’s not holding anything up, so it’s really just supporting itself. And it cracks for a number of reasons and made – the soil underneath may not have been prepped properly when it was first installed or the floor could be too thin or it wasn’t reinforced.
So what I would do is I would definitely fill them and there’s a number of ways to do that. If it’s just an 1/8-inch, QUIKRETE makes a concrete patching compound that comes in a caulk tube. It’s really easy to apply. So you can squeeze this patching compound into those cracks, let it solidify.
And then what I would do is I would paint the entire floor. I would use an epoxy basement floor-painting system. It’s a two-part epoxy. It’s a chemical cure, so you mix the two parts together, you apply the epoxy. There’s usually some sort of a colorant chip that you can put in to give it some density to the surface. And you probably won’t even see those cracks when it’s done.
And I don’t think it’s structural, so it’s not like you’re hiding anything. I think it’ll just make the whole thing look really nice when it’s finished.
TOM IN OHIO: OK. Great. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now let’s welcome a husband-and-wife team: Bill and Jean from Missouri, tackling a garage project.
JEAN: We’re building a garage and we were curious about the concrete floor in this garage. Does it need to be 4 inches? Should it be more than 4 inches thick? And then, also, what kind of finish would you recommend that we put on the concrete?
TOM: Well, for a garage floor, especially if you’re going to have any heavier equipment in there, I would probably go with at least 6 inches. And I would make it a reinforced garage floor. In other words, I would pour it through a woven wire mesh or whatever reinforcement to really you choose. You want to make sure that the soil beneath the floor is thoroughly tamped, because that’s where most people go wrong. If they’re in a hurry to get the garage floor poured, they don’t take the time to really thoroughly pack down the soil underneath. And if you don’t, it’ll ultimately crack.
And in terms of the finish, I think probably the best concrete finishes today are the epoxy-based finishes. You mix up the epoxy. It’s two parts; there’s a hardener and the base product. You mix it together, you apply it, you have all sorts of different color and different finish options you could do with that. But it chemically cures. And once it does, it really locks in tight to the concrete so it’s not going to peel off. And it gives you really terrific protection.
JEAN: What about using a polisher to polish the concrete?
TOM: That’s an option, as well, but you still have to have something that’s ultimately going to seal in that surface. Because remember, concrete is extremely porous. And in a barn, who knows what’s going to be spilled on that?
JEAN: Right. OK.
BILL: Yeah, I did a little research on a concrete – or polishing and it’s quite an operation. I mean it’s not …
TOM: It’s not for the faint of heart, eh?
BILL: Yeah. No, I’m not going to do it myself. Oh, no.
TOM: No, you were going to have your wife do it.
BILL: Hey, you ain’t around. No, my concrete man said that 4 inches – all I’m going to put in this garage is a couple of old collector – old cars. Antique cars.
LESLIE: Yeah. Then you want that shiny floor so the cars look awesome.
BILL: That’s right. I want shiny.
TOM: Alright, Bill and Jean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that’s just been built a year-and-a-half ago but I have a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – and that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.
TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?
BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn this cedar look and get all dark.
TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?
TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime them with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain themand I would use a solid-color stain. And the solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid-white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.
Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.
LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.
BEVERLY: Yeah. He said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to hold to the base and then they rot.
TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.
BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call us with your home repair or your home improvement question. Pretty much whatever you are working on, Tom and I can cook up an answer for you and help you tackle all of those projects. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Just ahead, we’ve got spring-cleaning shortcuts. Yes, you know it’s got to get done. We’ll have tips to help ease the pain, after this.
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, with your how-to question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Edyn Garden Sensor.
Now, this is available at The Home Depot and it allows you to keep tabs on your garden from pretty much anywhere in the world. You can learn about your soil and environmental conditions, you can find out which plants are best suited for your garden. You’ll save water, you’ll save money. It’s available for 99.97 at The Home Depot but going out to one lucky caller drawn at random, so make that you. Pick and the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Matt in Texas on the line with a sink-flange issue.
Sounds like a personal problem, Matthew. I’m kidding. What’s going on at your money pit, Matthew?
MATTHEW: Alright. So, I’ve got a regular sink. About 10 feet away, we have an island and it has a single bowl sink on it. The sink flange, after about 6 months, it starts to kind of rust and pit and oxidize. Just the flange itself, not the stainless-stain sink. There’s no caustic chemicals going through it, nothing out of ordinary that doesn’t go through the other sink. The basket that switches from sink to sink, nothing happens there. That’s static; doesn’t change at all. I’ve replaced the flange about three times in the last two years.
TOM: When you replaced the flange, did you put in plumber’s putty underneath it?
MATTHEW: I’ve used three different brands of plumber’s putty. It adds no corrosion on my copper supply lines. I went from stainless steel to plastic P-traps. I have no other corrosion issues underneath the sink. They’re the exact same faucets for both sinks. We have filtered water.
TOM: And the sink flange has a gasket underneath it, as well?
MATTHEW: Yes, it does. On the inside that mats to the sink.
TOM: Right. So there’s no connections, there’s no chance here that this is sort of a corrosive condition that’s happening because of two dissimilar metals, which can occur. The only thing that’s really left here is the quality of the finish on these flanges.
Have all the flanges come from the same source of supply?
MATTHEW: Come from three different areas.
TOM: But is it the same manufacturer or are they different brands?
MATTHEW: No, no. Different brands, different brands. I finally went from stainless steel and put a oil-rubbed bronze one in just to see if that makes any difference.
Now, I will notice that after I’ll change it – after about a month-and-a-half or so, I’ll get a rotten-egg smell out of the drain.
TOM: So that’s a sulfur smell and it’s usually caused by a problem with the water heater. There’s a sacrificial anode in your water heater. And if that sort of wears away, you’ll get a sulfur smell. And you mentioned you had filtered water, so you’re probably filtering out that to some extent. But look, some water is more acidic than others but this is an odd, odd problem. I think it probably has a lot to do with the quality of the stainless and perhaps the acidity of the water.
So I don’t think I have a good solution for you except that I’ve learned over the years that stainless-steel quality varies dramatically. And it may be that everybody you’re buying these flanges for is making the same quality stainless and it’s just having a hard time mixing with your particular water supply here. Because it sounds to me like you’re doing everything else right, man.
I’m sorry I don’t have better advice for you but I think this is a corrosive condition that’s caused by the quality of the stainless and the acidity of the water.
MATTHEW: OK. Alright. Well, I thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Matt. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time now for this week’s Spring Cleaning Tip, presented by The Home Depot. And this week, we have some must-do dusting advice. You know, dusting is definitely one of those more dreaded cleaning chores. But if you have a method to the madness, you can get through it pretty easily.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s oh so satisfying when you do.
First of all, you want to allow gravity to give you a hand. So dust first and then vacuum. Now, start high with your light fixtures, ceiling fans and then your furniture and work your way all the way down to the baseboards.
TOM: Now, work methodically by starting at the doorway and then working around the room in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. And every few months, you want to do a deep cleaning with a polish or oil soap, especially on wood furniture and baseboards.
LESLIE: And that is your Spring Cleaning Tip, presented by The Home Depot. For your cleaning needs and more, check out the HDX Brand at The Home Depot for products like the HDX Easy Eraser.
TOM: This sponge easily removes the toughest streaks and stains in all of your cleaning tasks. There’s no detergent, no chemical. Only water. It’s an amazing cleaner for hard surfaces.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s soft to the touch but acts like a tough eraser. You can use it to gently rub off dirt or stains or even scuff marks. It’s perfect for your walls, your molding and your tiles. And it removes grease and grime easily, as well.
TOM: Check out the HDX Easy Eraser and the entire HDX line, exclusively at The Home Depot and online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s say hi to Katie in Massachusetts who has a whole-house dehumidifier question. What’s going on?
KATIE: I purchased a WAVE ventilation system. It was advertised on one of the radio stations that I listen to. Company is based in Canada. I checked them out, Better Business Bureau; they’re all fine. But my electrician had a question for me that he’s really not sure that I should keep it, because you hook it up in the basement away from the …
TOM: Heating system.
KATIE: The heating system, thank you. And then you open up a vent to the top of the house, which we have. We did that up the basement stairs, into the mudroom. So, there’s a vent there that will feed this system but there’s no return.
And my electrician said, “Gosh, if you don’t have a vent from the outside feeding in air to circulate …” – he just doesn’t see how the whole system will really work efficiently if there is not something feeding this flow.
TOM: I think you’ve got a great electrician there and a guy who really understands building science. Because I’ve got to tell you, I hear the advertisements for these systems all the time and they leave me scratching my head. Because what they claim to do is to dehumidify your basement. And the way they do that is they simply take the basement air and they pump it upstairs.
LESLIE: Yeah. But then what do you do with all that moist air in the rest of the house?
TOM: Well, upstairs, you don’t notice it as much because it doesn’t collect and sit. And the temperatures are warmer so it gets absorbed into the air. And of course, that means that the basement is going to be less humid because that moisture is being pumped upstairs. But if you pump too much airflow upstairs, you’re going to depressurize the basement. And the reason it has to be that far away from the furnace is because if you depressurize the basement, guess what’s going to happen to all of the fumes that are generated by your heating system? It’s going to – the draft is going to reverse and you’ll start filling your house with that combustion gas, including carbon monoxide.
Now, in a typical ventilation system – let’s say you have a really high-efficiency house. Like my cousin is building a house right now that’s an ENERGY STAR-rated house. He’s using foam insulation. You know, it’s going to be a really tight house. And I was explaining to him the other day that because it’s so tight, you might need to bring in fresh air to this house.
And typically, the average house, we don’t worry about bringing in fresh air because our homes are naturally drafty. But when you build a tight house, you have to bring in fresh air to exhaust stale air. And the way they do that is basically by pulling in cold air from the outside and exhausting it with stale air from the inside. But they trap the heat so you’re not exactly just filling your house up with cold air. You’re going to able to sort of transfer; there’s a mechanical way to do that.
These ventilation systems that you’re describing are only one-half of that. They’re basically just sucking the moisture out of the basement and pumping it upstairs. So, to me, it just seems like somewhat of a pointless exercise that potentially could go horribly wrong if the basement was depressurized. Have you noticed that the basement is less humid as a result of running this thing?
KATIE: Actually, we haven’t even put in yet because we’re a month away from moving in. But I purchased it. But this WAVE ventilation system, the system itself is – it’s ducted to the outside. So what it does is it sucks the air in from the bottom – from, obviously the basement but it draws from the top half of the house and it expels it, so – but I don’t know how it’s replaced. It just doesn’t make any sense and that’s what our electrician said. So, the air that is circulated through this system is not pumped back upstairs; it’s actually expelled through the house. But what replaces it?
TOM: And also, the other issue here is if you’re going to take all the moisture, all the air from inside the house and pump it outside, then you’re going to depressurize. And again, you may have to – you may drive up the heating cost as a result or the cooling cost as a result. Listen, I honestly don’t think they’re necessary.
TOM: I would never put one in my house and if you’ve not – if you can cancel the contract, I’d recommend you do that.
KATIE: Really? OK. So what do we do to keep the basement dry?
TOM: Alright. So let’s talk about that. So, there’s a bunch of things that you can do. Keeping your basement as dry as possible starts at the foundation perimeter outside your house. You want to make sure that the soil slopes away from the wall. You want to have it drop about 6 inches over 4 feet, well tamped down and then covered with stone or mulch or grass. But you always want to have that sort of slight slope away from the foundation perimeter.
In addition to that, you also want to make sure that the gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the downspouts are extended 4 to 6 feet away from the house. That can help move the water away from that critical area of the foundation perimeter and stop it from building up in the soil right against the foundation walls, where it will get into the house. Those two things alone will make a huge difference in how much moisture gets down there.
Now, is the basement finishable?
KATIE: Yes. And it’s beautiful. It’s all rock. The original owner who was previous to us built this home and it’s a fortress.
TOM: OK. So if you were to ultimately finish the basement and heat it, that is also going to dry it out, too, because warm air is going to absorb any moist air – any moisture that’s in the air.
The other thing that you can do is you could paint the interior walls with a damp-proofing paint that stops just the normal soil moisture from evaporating into the house itself. And if it does ever get damp, I would put a dehumidifier down there before I put one of these big ventilation systems. I’d just make sure that I drained it outside. And you can do that through something called a “condensate pump.”
KATIE: Sure. OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: I hope that makes sense. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you love tools like we love tools, just imagine how cool it would be if your job was to buy tools for a living. Up next, we’re going to talk to the guy that gets to buy tools for the biggest home improvement retailer in America.
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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: Well, hey, if I wasn’t hosting this radio show, I’d say one of the coolest jobs I could ask for is the job our next guest has. Ryan Duffy is the guy in charge of buying power tools for The Home Depot. And he joins us now with tips on the latest tools and trends.
RYAN: Hi, guys. Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: So, Ryan, you’re the coolest guy ever and you’re really the trend-spotter for power tools. So you’re the first to see everything that’s coming out. So, what’s hot right now?
RYAN: Yeah. Well, you’re giving me way too much credit. But what’s coming new this year is all new lines of lithium-ion power tools. So we have DeWALT 20-volt Platform, which is going to be exclusive to us, along with higher voltage. From EGO, 56-volt products, along with new entries with ECHO 58-volt, RYOBI 18-volt, all types of new platforms.
TOM: So there’s no reason to have a corded tool anymore, it sounds like.
RYAN: No, there really isn’t. Electric cords – one, they’re cumbersome, they get tied up in knots. It’s way easier to slap on a battery and pull the trigger.
LESLIE: I mean so really, the advancements that we’re seeing are in, I guess, power compatibility and then what you can do with that to power, I guess, a larger tool or tackle larger projects, correct?
RYAN: Absolutely. So, the evolution has kind of been cordless tools or battery-powered products for the longest time. We’re replacing your electrical cords, right? So your kind of light-duty string trimmers and blowers and everything. But lately, the trend of the past two years is, with all the technological advancements we’ve had in batteries and in motors, we’ve really been able to start to replicate and even exceed the power of gas in several circumstances, in several of our product lines.
TOM: Wow. That’s amazing. So let’s talk about something that typically requires a lot of gas equipment but not so much anymore and that is outdoor power tools. What’s new sort of in the outdoor space that we’ll look forward to seeing this spring at The Home Depot?
RYAN: Yeah. So starting line is a RYOBI ONE+ line. So, it’s 18-volt line. It’s one of the largest battery platforms out there in the world with over 50 tools that run on that platform. And we have a new line of trimmer, blower, chainsaw and hedge trimmer that all have new, great features and capabilities to them.
In addition to that, a DeWALT 20-volt. So it’s a platform which our listeners know and love and another one of the largest platforms out there, with over 70 tools on the platform. They have a new line that includes a trimmer, a blower, along with a hedge trimmer.
And then finally, EGO 56-volt. So this is really for your high-end customer that’s really used to the power of gas. And they have a new trimmer and blower that really have kind of a record when it comes to a power-to-weight ratio.
TOM: So there’s a lot of choices. But when you’re picking out new outdoor power tools, what do you really need to keep in mind so you make the right decision for your particular needs?
RYAN: Yeah. Most important would be size of your yard, absolutely. So if you really have a – if you’re on a smaller plot of land and consider yourself more of a light-duty user, typically kind of a rule of thumb is 18 to 20 volts is more than enough to get you through what you need to. But if you’re used to using a gas-powered product, you should really look at our 40-volt and above platforms or our high-end 18-volt or 20-volt, which would be the DeWALT 20-volt.
LESLIE: Now, I think a lot of the work, when you’re dealing with a gas-powered tool, is you end up having to do a lot of maintenance just because of the nature of the fuel. Now, with a battery-operated tool, in addition to the normal blade maintenance, is there anything extra that you have to do to keep the tool running well?
RYAN: No. That’s one of the greatest things about battery-powered tools is there is no maintenance. The average customer ends up spending $25 on gas and oil every single year, not to mention about a $50 annual tune-up. So all that pretty much goes out the window. Really, the only maintenance you have is for your wearing items, right?
So, a replacement blade occasionally or a replacement trimmer line. But outside of that, these are maintenance-free products.
TOM: We’re talking to Ryan Duffy. He is with The Home Depot. He’s in charge of portable power, which means he gets to go out and shop for all of the coolest, new products and then bring them into the stores to show to us throughout the season.
So, Ryan, with the batteries, at the end of the season, these are tools that typically, when they were gas and electric, we would leave stored outside. Is it a good idea to bring those batteries and perhaps even those tools to an indoor environment for the off-season?
RYAN: Yeah, absolutely. There’s no reason why you can’t bring them inside, right? Again, you’re not dealing with the fumes from gas, you’re not dealing with the combustion of gas or anything like that. So, there’s no reason why you can’t store them inside.
It’s always recommended to store your batteries and store your chargers and everything at room temperature and everything else or in a garage. So that way, it’s just not exposed to the elements as much. But really, the way batteries have evolved over the past couple of years, they are very weather-resistant and they’re not temperamental anymore.
Ryan Duffy with The Home Depot. He is the merchant in charge of portable power.
Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and we want to let folks know that Ryan has got a guest-blog post that’s appearing on MoneyPit.com that covers all the trends – all the latest trends – in power tools. And you can find that online and on our home page at MoneyPit.com.
Ryan, thanks so much for being a part of the program.
RYAN: Thanks for having me, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright. Up next, now that we are full-on into the rainy spring season, are you noticing floods that show up in your yard, making it really hard for you to use the space? Well, one solution might be to install a French drain if they weren’t just so much darn work. Well, now here’s a prefabricated alternative that lets you install in minutes, not hours. We’re going to share that info, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you with whatever it is you are working on around your money pit this lovely spring season. Plus, we’ve got a very springy prize up for grabs. We’re giving away the Edyn Garden Sensor.
Now, this is going to allow you to keep tabs on your garden from anywhere in the world. So you could be halfway across this Earth and be like, “Hmm. What’s going on in my yard?” And you could find out about your soil, the environmental conditions. You could even learn about what plants are best suited for your garden. It’s going to help you save water and help you save money and really have a just gorgeous garden at your money pit.
You can get it at The Home Depot. It’s a prize worth 99.97 and it’s going out to one lucky caller this hour drawn at random.
TOM: Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Deborah in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DEBORAH: OK. I’m purchasing a home that has a couple of stains on the ceiling. And it turns out the stains are located directly under the vents. I don’t know any other way to explain it but they’re like these tubes on the outside where the roof is. So, I was told by the inspection that those rubber stopper things that go around them need to be replaced.
TOM: OK. Yeah. So, the plumbing-vent flashing is what is leaking here. And the plumbing-vent flashing consists of an aluminum piece of flash material that goes underneath the roof shingles and a rubber boot that is designed to fit over the plumbing pipe. And they very often – that rubber boot will very often crack and deteriorate and does have to be replaced.
Not terribly complicated job. A roofer or a carpenter can do it in about 10 or 15 minutes. They just basically have to peel up a roof shingle or two right around there. You can do that with a flat bar. You can actually put the flap bar under the roof shingle, get it right up to where the nail is and kind of wiggle it back and forth. That nail will come right out. You can kind of disassemble the roof one shingle at a time, replace the flashing vent and put it back together.
So, pretty easy, straightforward repair project and not the least bit unusual, Deborah. OK?
DEBORAH: OK. Well, I appreciate you taking my call. Thank you.
TOM: Yeah. You’re welcome. Good luck, Deborah. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that spring rains have arrived, have you noticed standing water in your yard that happens whenever the skies really open up? If that’s the case, one reliable solution is to install a French drain.
Now that’s essentially a trench that’s filled with perforated pipe and stone wrapped in a filter cloth. And it can collect water and run it away from your home and deep into the soil. The problem is that these kind of drains are a lot of work to build.
LESLIE: Yeah. But now there’s a new product available at The Home Depot that makes that process much, much easier and faster. Now, it’s called the EZ-Drain and it’s an all-in-one, easy-to-install substitute for a traditional French drain. It comes in 5-foot and 10-foot sections and it consists of a corrugated, slotted pipe that’s surrounded by a polystyrene aggregate. And then it’s all wrapped in a durable filter fabric. It’s really a turn-key solution that’s durable, simpler and faster to install.
TOM: I love this product. I saw the videos of the product in action and it is so much easier to install than a traditional French drain. I mean there are basically three steps: you dig the trench, then you connect the EZ-Drain sections together and then you just lay them in the trench and cover them with dirt. That’s it. The way this thing goes together, one person can install EZ-Drain and it can happen in minutes instead of hours. And the product has a 100-year lifespan, so it’s not going to fall apart over time. There’s no loose gravel at all to haul. And instead, the polystyrene aggregate is made of 100-percent recycled content.
LESLIE: And EZ-Drain is the proven home drainage solution that’s easy to install. It’s available at The Home Depot. You can pick up a 10-foot section for under $50. Learn more and check out the instructional videos at HomeDepot.com/NDSDrainage.
And if you have questions about your project, NDS has an expert standing by to answer your very specific questions. He’s called Dr. Drainage and knows his stuff. We’ve even had him on the show. If you want some help, just send him a picture of your yard. His e-mail is DrDrainage@NDSPro.com. That’s DrDrainage@NDSPro.com.
Mark in Illinois is on the line with a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?
MARK: I have a 10-year-old house that, as with a lot of houses, the ground around the foundation is settling. And I need to put some fill-in to keep the rain from – or to drain the rain away from the house.
MARK: And I was wondering if there is a particular type of mixture of soil to use to do that.
TOM: Yeah, it’s called “clean fill dirt.” Basically, it’s not rich, like topsoil, with a lot of organic material in it. It’s very compactable. I always think it looks kind of like the pitcher’s mound. It has that sort of medium-brown color to it and you can really pack it down well.
So, what you want to do is to sort of rig back some of the topsoil that’s there, add the clean fill dirt, establish slope with that. And if you want to prevent moisture problems, then I would slope it about 10 percent or about 6 inches over 4 feet – a 6-inch drop over 4 feet. Then on top of that, you can add topsoil and replant the grass or add mulch or whatever other groundcover. But clean fill dirt is all you need, Mark.
And I would be careful when buying this from the gravel yard, whoever is selling it, to make sure it doesn’t have glass in it. Ask about that. Make sure it’s really clean. Because sometimes, when you buy fill dirt, it has broken glass in it and you don’t want that to happen.
MARK: Alright. And how far out from the foundation should you fill?
TOM: Well, you want to have that first 4 to 6 feet be sloping away. And then after that, it can have a gentle slope after that.
TOM: And just as important, since we’re talking about drainage issues, is to make sure your gutters are clean and your downspouts are significantly extended away. A lot of times, these gutter installers like to just turn them out about 2 feet at the bottom. You want it to go out 4 to 6 feet.
MARK: Oh, OK. Alright, alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Rhode Island has a question about keeping a basement dry. What can we do for you?
KEVIN: I removed the downspout extension that took the water away, maybe, 3 feet from the foundation.
KEVIN: And I replaced it, because someone said it didn’t look good. I replaced it with a cement kind of water carry-away, which is 2 feet. And I noticed I have some water in the basement. So, it’s very damp. It’s damp is what it is.
KEVIN: So I put a little crushed rock at the end of the extension, hoping that that would maybe help out on the water dispersing down or something.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not going to do anything except prevent erosion. If you want to make your basement drier, you’ve got to move the moisture away from it. You were on the right track with the downspout extension.
Now, if you don’t want to see that, you might want to explore the possibility of running your leader into a solid PVC pipe and running that underground. But it has to be pitched and then discharged somewhere. So it depends on kind of the shape of your property as to whether or not you could make that happen.
But I would rather see those downspouts extended away from the foundation wall than deal with the water that can accumulate in the basement as a result.
KEVIN: Good idea.
TOM: Alright, Kevin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, planning to go green with your next home improvement project? Well, you better be careful that the products you choose are as green as they’re cracked up to be. We’re going to have tips to sort it all out, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM:Well, replacing old and worn-out carpeting with gorgeous hardwood flooring can really transform a room.
LESLIE: That’s right. And our friends at Lumber Liquidators are here to help. If you get to your local Lumber Liquidators before May 3rd, you can get more than 50 varieties of easy-to-install North American and European laminates at 20-percent off.
TOM: They also have exclusive deals on beautiful Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Flooring. Bellawood is two times more scratch-resistant and four times more wear-resistant than other brands. And it’s backed by a 100-year transferable warranty.
LESLIE: And no matter what your style, Lumber Liquidators has a floor to match any décor. Check out the latest trends and hottest colors of the season, including distressed and whitewashed flooring.
TOM: With over 370 stores nationwide, nobody beats the flooring experts at Lumber Liquidators. For locations, call 1-800-HARDWOOD or visit LumberLiquidators.com. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
LESLIE: Alright. Now let’s jump into our e-mail questions and our posts from the website. We’ve got one here from Margo who writes: “What is the best method for cleaning carpets? Chem-dry? Steam? Other?”
TOM: Well, cleaning your carpets is a good idea for a number of reasons. It not only makes them smell fresh and eliminates odors, it actually preserves the carpet. Because the number-one cause of wear and tear on carpets is dirt: specifically, the dirt that grinds in under your feet, Margo. It breaks down carpet fibers from the foot traffic andthat damages the carpet and the floor beneath it.
Now, I’ve only had experience with steam-cleaningand it’s always been successful. I am always surprised by how much dirt it pulls out of the carpet. I’ve steam-cleaned carpets in a rental property I own and many times I thought I was going to have to replace the carpet, only to have them look good as new once the steam-cleaning was complete.
So, a big fan of that. Absolutely worth a try. Not expensive even if it doesn’t work out, which I’m pretty sure it will.
LESLIE: Yeah. And what you need to do is when you’re having your carpet steam-cleaned, make sure you give them plenty of time to dry. Just avoid the room.
TOM: Well, green home improvement options seem to be multiplying lately and it isn’t always very clear how much you’re actually helping the planet and yourself with the choices you make. Leslie has some tips to help you sort it out, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, just as organic and healthy are finding their way into every corner of your supermarket, building products and fixtures can easily be green-washed with their true value hidden behind big prices and even bigger claims. So if you’re planning to purchase a home improvement-related product and you want to ensure that it is environmentally friendly, there are a few things that you need to look at, beyond those advertising claims, to determine if that product is truly green.
So you want to start by considering the basics. Let’s talk about the raw materials that go into that product and where they come from. Remember that anything that has to be transported a long way brings other precious resources into that equation that you need to sort of figure out. Then you want to look at the adhesives, the coatings, the finishes, whatever is used to make that product viable and whether or not the manufacturing process leads to the release of harmful substances.
Next, you want to consider product packaging and the likelihood that it’ll release VOCs – and those are volatile organic compounds – into your home environment during and after it’s been installed. Now, the product’s afterlife, that’s also a factor in determining its greenness. Just as there are benefits to selecting a product that’s made from sustainable ingredients, you need to know that those ingredients can be recycled, reclaimed or even repurposed when that product’s time with you is over. I mean all good things come to an end and when that happens, a green one is much preferred.
TOM: Good point. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, outdoor extension cords to power outdoor lighting is the quick fix. But a better and more permanent solution is to run an underground electrical cable. We’ll have tips on this partial DIY project, 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 2016 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.)