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    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: What are you working on this weekend? We’re here to help you get the project done. If it’s a home fix-up project, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you’re doing it yourself, great. Give us a call. If you’re going to hire a pro to get the job done, do you know how to make sure you’re getting the best price, the best work from that pro? We can help with that, too, at 888-666-3974. Help yourself. Give us a call.

    Coming up this hour on the program, are you about ready to climb out from under all of those winter layers? Well, we’ve got tips to make spring cleaning easier and fun. Yes, I did say “fun.” It can be if you know a few tricks of the trade to get it done without a lot of hassles. We’re going to tell you that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Fun, though. That’s a stretch, Tom.

    TOM: It’s going to be fun.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, let’s stick to the other topic: spring. So, are you guys looking to spruce up your yard, perhaps, without dropping too much cash? Well, you can start by fixing your sagging gate. We’re going to have Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House here to help you get it done before all of those backyard guests start arriving.

    TOM: And once that gate’s up off the ground, why not give the rest of your yard a boost? We’ve got some easy, low cost, front-yard pick-me-ups to improve your home’s first impression.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller is about to get a head start on all this cleaning and updating. We’re giving away 2 sets of decorative wall hooks from Home Depot: a 14-inch wooden rail featuring 3 antiqued hooks and a set of 5 smaller hooks.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth $25 to help you get started on your home décor project. Give us a call right now. We’re going to give that away to one caller drawn at random this hour. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Loretta in Massachusetts is obviously scarred from such a cold and snowy winter in Massachusetts and needs some help with a heating question.

    What can we do for you, Loretta?

    LORETTA: Well, I would like to know if it’s going to be cost-effective for me to change a heating system that I have, which is now oil. I do not have heat – gas in my street. And I’d like to make an apartment out of my basement where the boiler and all that – the tank and all of that stuff is.

    TOM: OK.

    LORETTA: So I was wondering, you know, if – can I – is this something that I can do? I have two floors. The basement would be a third, really. And I don’t know if you can have more than one pellet stove or how this would work. Is it clean?

    TOM: So, first of all, you want to add heat to the basement space. Is that what you’re asking us?

    LORETTA: Right. I want to get rid of the mess down there: the burner and the oil (inaudible at 0:03:18).

    TOM: Well, how are you going to heat the rest of the house?

    LORETTA: Well, this is what I was – my big question. Can I heat the whole house with pellet stoves?

    TOM: No.


    TOM: Not unless you’ve got a little cabin in the woods. You need your central heating system. It would be foolish to remove that. Your house would lose dramatic amounts of value.

    If you want to improve the energy-efficiency of it, you may be able to replace the oil burner or replace the boiler itself and pick up a lot of efficiency.

    Now, in terms of this apartment, if it is a boiler, therefore a hot-water heating system, it’s easy to add an additional zone and have that zone only heat the basement. That would be the most cost-effective way to do that and that is one big advantage of having a hot-water heating system. Because with a zone valve and with the plumbing being right there, you could easily add an additional zone and heat the basement on its own zone. So this way, it will only heat when that particular thermostat calls for it. But keep the boiler. You’re going to need it for the rest of the house.

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

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

    BELA: Well, we have a sunroom. And the roof of the sunroom is 4 inches of Styrofoam and on top of that is aluminum. Now, when it rains, it’s very, very noisy. It’s like living in a double-wide. So what I would like to do is put architectural singles on it.

    Now, I talked to one roofer. He said, “Oh, we can just nail it on.” But I don’t think so. I thought maybe we need some plywood – ¾-inch plywood – and even maybe some spacers.

    TOM: This aluminum roof, is it fairly flat or is it shaped?

    BELA: It is flat. Yes, sir.

    TOM: Well, first of all, keep in mind that metal roofs are far more durable than asphalt-shingle roofs. But if you can’t really deal with the sound and you want to soften it, I agree with you: I do think you should attach a plywood decking to that metal roof first.

    And I would do that with screws. So I would drive screws through the decking, into that metal roof. And then, on top of that, I would put ice-and-water shield, which is going to give you protection from any ice damming. And I would probably, since it’s a fairly flat roof or a low-sloped roof, I would probably cover the entire surface with ice-and-water shield. And then over that, I would put the asphalt shingles.

    BELA: OK. Thank you so very much for your help. That is the kind of a thing I’ve been thinking about.

    TOM: I think you’re on the right track, Bela. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, the calendar tells us that March 20th is the first day of spring. Well, many of us, in all sorts of parts of this country, are still looking at multiple feet of snow. So, let’s start planning all of our spring home improvements before we have to get out there and actually do them. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll give you a hand.

    TOM: And right along with spring comes spring cleaning. We’ve got tips to make that project easy, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: And is your money pit doing a number on your patience and perhaps your wallet? Well, we can help because one caller today is going to win advice and a collection of decorative hooks from The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they’re classic and industrial at the same time. But even more, they’re perfect for keeping your jackets, your bags, your book bags and even other stuff all off of the floor in your foyer, in your hallway, even bedrooms. So it’s really a great organizational tool.

    TOM: And that prize is worth $25 but it’s going home free with one caller we talk to this hour. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Zelda in North Carolina is looking for some help with a renovation. What can we do for you?

    ZELDA: Yes. I’ve done a lot with my floors but I put some laminate in everywhere, because I have a little Chihuahua dog and didn’t want to get scratches on real wood. But there is a bathroom upstairs and a small hallway in front and I didn’t want laminate there, because you don’t want it in a bathroom. So, what else would be good? Because I didn’t want the grout issues of tile or – and I didn’t know what else to go to. I thought about bamboo or is there some tile that doesn’t have the grout-y stuff or …?

    TOM: Well, there’s a wide variety of choices.

    Now, you mentioned that you didn’t want to put laminate there. Do you want something that gives you a wood look?

    ZELDA: Not necessarily.

    TOM: Alright. Well, one of the options that I was thinking would be a bamboo floor. Bamboo is very, very durable and it’s also very good in moist, damp areas. It doesn’t swell. And you can pick up bamboo as an engineered product, which means it’s made in multiple layers, which gives it dimensional stability. But of course, that is going to give you sort of that wood look.

    There are also luxury vinyl products that are out today that are very, very thick and heavy vinyl tile that are not very expensive.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like a rubberized vinyl, even. They’re fairly thick. They’re available in a plank style, so it actually looks like wood. Some of those will – some will snap together as the rubberized vinyl. Some will sort of overlap and stick to one another. It depends on the quality of the product, to be honest with you, but they’re both – however much money you do spend on a rubberized vinyl, it goes together very easily and it looks fantastic. And it’s a little bit softer, so it’s more forgiving on your legs, knees, back when you’re standing in the room for a long time.

    ZELDA: Well, yeah, because my first choice, when I went to look, was the bamboo. But I wasn’t sure if that could go in a bathroom. So that really is what I kind of liked the best. Yeah, great.

    Thank you so much. That’s very helpful.

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

    LESLIE: Jacob in Kentucky is on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you?

    JACOB: Hi. Basically, the problem that I’m having is when I’m taking a shower and it – kind of in the sink, as well, in the kitchen. When I turn on the hot water, you can – I mean you could cook macaroni in the hot water.

    You’ve got to kind of fidget with it if you wash your hands too long or something. And in the shower, kind of the same thing. I won’t turn it on full blast on hot but just about normal and it’ll cool off after just a couple of minutes. It’ll just almost go cold and then just, as you’re taking a shower, in the duration of 5 or 10 minutes, I end up going all the way over with the hot water. Just the one knob. And I have to turn it on, I guess, full-blast hot.

    TOM: So let’s see what’s going on here. How old is your water heater?

    JACOB: It’s fairly new. I think it’s just a few years old, maybe three years old.

    TOM: So, electric or gas?

    JACOB: It’s gas.

    TOM: So, first of all, let’s check the temperature of the water heater. It needs to be at about 110 degrees. And see if – there may be a temperature indicator on the valve that you can line up or you could simply measure it with a thermometer.

    Secondly, in terms of the shower, what I would recommend is that you install what’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” So what a pressure-balanced valve does is that once you have set the temperature, it maintains the mix between hot and cold so that you deliver that same temperature, regardless of what happens to the pressure on one side or the other. So if somebody flushes a toilet or runs the dishwasher and all of a sudden, you’ve got less cold water or less hot water, it’s going to adjust. So the flow may be greater or less but the temperature will never change. And that makes the shower situation pretty much go away.

    JACOB: OK. Awesome. What was it called again, the valve?

    TOM: A pressure-balanced valve. It’s a type of shower valve.

    JACOB: Oh, OK. Awesome. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Hey, ask your plumber for it. They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.

    JACOB: Alright. Well, I definitely appreciate your call.

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

    Well, it can be a real drag but spring cleaning isn’t just some useless ritual. It actually packs some serious mind and body benefits.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, cleaning for warm weather helps us to actually shake off winter, yeah. But it also helps you cut down on those allergens and germs that have been causing all those health problems that we’ve had while we’re stuck in our homes this winter.

    TOM: And if that’s not enough motivation, try one of these proven tips for getting your spring-cleaning mojo into high gear.

    LESLIE: Yeah. For starters, kill two birds with one stone. You can tackle spring cleaning with a friend. Now, you might be able to finish both of your houses in one day. It’s cheaper than dinner on the town and hey, no one’s telling you you can’t have a glass of wine or two or three while you’re cleaning.

    TOM: But clean your house first because perhaps you’ll be so exhausted, you’ll never have to go and clean your friend’s house.

    LESLIE: Before the third glass of wine.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    Also, I like to use this tip: we always keep lists. Don’t underestimate the power of lists. If you write things down, you can check it off as you go. And it gives you a little gratification that you’re actually getting something accomplished and it gives you the motivation to keep moving on down.

    LESLIE: And it might sound counterintuitive but save spring cleaning for a sunny day when you can open up the windows, even if it’s just a crack.

    TOM: Yeah, you can clean more effectively when you see all the dust. And the natural air and light will keep you inspired about the warm weather ahead.

    And if you’re inspired to tackle a home improvement project this spring, give us a call, right now, and let’s talk about it at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading to New Jersey where Vicky has a painting question. How can we help you?

    VICKY: I have dining room and part of my living room. I had – the ceiling was peeling – painting and peeling.

    TOM: OK.

    VICKY: As the pieces were spreading wide, opening, coming down, I had a painter come and he scraped all the peeled paint off. And there were parts that were not peeled, so he didn’t touch that. He just peeled the pieces coming down.

    Now, he painted. I have no idea if he put a sealant or not. But after that, about a year or so later, I had the same problem. Now this is all coming down, so I have another painter, another $4,000 I put into this, and it’s peeling again.

    TOM: Let’s talk about what’s probably happening with your paint. When you have paint that starts to peel like that, it’s essentially sort of delaminating. The paint between the layers of paint, it loses its ability to remain sort of stuck together or loses its bond. And it’s very common for this to happen when you have a lot of coats of paint. Because at some point, you’re really at the point of no return where the paint – you can’t just keep adding more paint, because it will peel. You have to strip off the paint that’s there.

    So if you’ve got this problem of paint that repeatedly peels, the next time you work on this project, you have to apply a paint stripper and pull off the old paint. Then you need to prime that space. And I would use an oil-based primer for maximum adhesion. And then you can add the final, finishing touch of a latex ceiling paint over that. But if you keep adding good paint over bad paint, you’re continually going to have this problem where you get peeling and delamination and the process will have to be repeated.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Lauren from Nebraska on the line. What can we do for you today?

    LAUREN: I live in an area where it’s all – a lot of clay in the soil. And we have a basement underneath of our house. And the walls have moved in a little bit from the pressure of the earth. And I notice in the summertime, when it’s very dry, the earth pulls away from the house. And sometimes, it’s like an almost 2-inch gap of air space that – and I’m just wondering, should a guy put something in there when that pulls away or should he just leave it alone?

    TOM: I don’t like to see those big gaps in there. I would be of the mind to tell you to backfill it and add additional soil and tamp it down so that you don’t have those big gaps.

    LAUREN: So that wouldn’t add more pressure when it gets – the soil gets earth – or the earth gets wet and it pushes back in?

    TOM: No. Because I think it’s going to expand equally in all directions. If it’s not pressing on the walls, as it is now, I don’t think it’s going to do that later.

    LAUREN: OK. Well, you’ve answered my question. Thank you very much.

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

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

    JAN: Yeah. My commode is about five years old and it got clogged. I tried vinegar and baking soda, Liquid-Plumr, plunging it out, anything else I could think of because I really did not want to snake it with the rusty snake that I had. Because I knew what I was going to do. Well, after three days, I finally snaked it and got the clog out but now I’ve got all these scrapes with rust, in the bottom of the toilet bowl, that cannot be removed.

    LESLIE: OK. And you’re sure they’re actual scrapes or scratches and not just a rust marking?

    JAN: I think so. I’ve tried to scrub it with a toilet brush and toilet-bowl cleaner and as it – today, when I heard your show and you were talking about don’t – to some other guy – don’t use anything abrasive to remove the surface off of the inside of the commode, like – and you suggested to him polishing compound and something else but be very diligent. And there, right then, I thought, “Uh, oh.” Well, I messed up, because I have totally interrupted the surface.

    TOM: Let’s see if we can pull you back from the brink here.

    So, you are correct. It’s not polishing compound, it’s rubbing compound. It’s used mostly for auto-body work but it’s mildly abrasive and it can remove those stains.

    There are also some cleansing products that work well, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Bar Keepers Friend, which is sort of like a mild abrasive, that tends to work very well on a porcelain surface that does have smaller scratches in it. I mean I don’t know how bad your scratches are but it’s worth a try.

    You may want to drain the toilet out first, just to give you some more ease in actually getting to the scratched area but not 100-percent necessary. Although it does help if you sort of rub it in and then let it sit on.

    TOM: Yeah, I would turn the water off to the toilet bowl and flush it so that the bowl is fairly dry or fairly empty. This way, you can kind of let that sit on there for a while and really do go – and really go to work. And then you could rinse it off.

    So give that a shot and let us know how you do. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    JAN: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Hey, when you step outside, does your gate rip up your yard every time you open or close it? Well, get back that easy swing, not to mention your landscaping. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    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.

    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: Have you ever heard the saying “the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot”? Well, if you’re wondering what kinds of projects we tackle around our homes – and we do tackle projects – we also write about them in our blog. So they’re online at MoneyPit.com and if you’re curious, you can check them out right there.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Randy in Florida on the line who’s got a dehumidification question. What can we do for you?

    RANDY: Our house is off-grade and the crawlspace area has ventilation all around the house. And we wanted to see about encapsulating it, you know, with the vapor-barrier plastic. And with being in Florida, I was just a little worried about humidity and possibly wanting to insulate it and see what you all’s opinion was.

    TOM: Well, I do think it’s a good idea for you to add a vapor barrier. That will help reduce the amount of humidity that gets into the space above the floor. And that can make the home more efficient and certainly more comfortable.

    What you might also want to think about doing is adding an exhaust fan. They have fans that are basically the size of a concrete block or a foundation vent. And you could put fans on one side of the foundation and have vents open out in the other side. Then have those fans operate on a humidistat so that whenever the humidity gets really damp in that crawlspace, the fan can kick on and pull some drier air from outside across that – essentially that crawlspace floor, pulling the moisture out with it. So those two things can help you manage moisture.

    On the outside of the house, you also want to make sure that if you’ve got gutters – you should have gutters on the home and that there’s downspouts that extend away from that foundation. Because when you dump the additional water that collects on your roof right against that foundation, that definitely improves – increases the humidity that’s in that space.

    So all of those things working together can keep it a lot drier.

    RANDY: OK. So, would you be extending that vapor barrier up the walls of the crawlspace or would that interfere with that ventilation unit that you’re sticking up?

    TOM: Well, you don’t want to block off the vents but yeah, I would extend it up the wall, if you could extend to 12 inches or so, just to make sure it’s sealed well.

    RANDY: OK. And then would you add a dehumidifier down there or would that, essentially, be what the ventilation unit you’re talking about would do?

    TOM: That’s kind of what the ventilation would do. I would not add a dehumidifier into that space. It’s not really designed for an unconditioned space like that. Dehumidifiers are not really designed for that.

    RANDY: OK. And then so that would keep the humidity low enough that we could then put the batted insulation between the floor joists?

    TOM: Yeah, it will keep it – it will make it lower. It’ll make it reasonably lower. It’s never going to be 100-percent dry; it’s always going to be damp. But I do think, yes, that will keep the moisture down, which is what you want to do, and allow you to get more efficiency out of the insulation.

    RANDY: OK. Alright. Great. Well, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, given enough time, it seems that most fences will begin to sag and even drag. While a sagging fence-scape might not seem like the biggest issue, the problem can get worse if ignored.

    TOM: Well, luckily, repairing the root cause of a sagging gate is a pretty simple do-it-yourself task. Here to tell us more is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Pretty simple, huh?

    TOM: Well, when you do it, it’s pretty simple. Perhaps you’re going to tell us how to make it pretty simple. It seems like the first problem with a saggy gate is usually not the gate as much as it’s the post that holds the gate, right?

    ROGER: It all starts with the post. That’s where you look first. Obviously, if the post is rotten, you’ve got to replace it.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: Start from square one. Take the hinges off, put in a new post, put some concrete in it to hold it in place properly, reinstall the hinges and then hope the gate works.

    TOM: Now, you just mentioned using concrete to hold the post. In all the years I’ve been doing fence projects around my house, I really don’t use concrete. I prefer to put stone in and pack it around the post. It seems to hold it really, really well. Is concrete more important because it’s being used for a gate?

    ROGER: I totally agree with you except when it comes to the gatepost, the one that the gate’s hanging off of. That needs the extra reinforcement of concrete to support all that weight that’s hanging off it.

    LESLIE: Well, all that weight and all that movement – consistent movement – too.

    ROGER: Yeah. Nothing like a little extra weight and a little extra movement to make you get out of line.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Now, when you put your post in, you let it run tall and cut it off later? So this way you don’t have to be too accurate about the height?

    ROGER: Yeah. Because if you’re trying to adjust the height to be perfect and the hinges and everything else, it’s a lot easier to just put the post in at the right spacing, rehang everything and then cut the top off.

    TOM: OK. So if the hardware is good, now we’re looking at the gate itself. Sometimes the gate is the only part that’s sagged, that’s sort of – I guess the term is “racked.” It’s not square anymore, it’s almost diagonal. How do you address that?

    ROGER: Well, the easiest way to address that is they make kits with a cable and a turnbuckle. You anchor them on the gate and then you tighten the turnbuckle and it’ll pull them back so they’re at – they’re back in the position they originally belong.

    LESLIE: Do you keep that there permanently or is that just until you retighten attachments?

    ROGER: No. That’s a permanent thing, because you can go out every year and turn that turnbuckle a little more and help keep it square.

    LESLIE: That’s smart.

    TOM: So what you’re saying is it’s simple.

    ROGER: Simple.

    TOM: See?

    ROGER: Keep it simple.

    TOM: And that’s where we started. It’s a very simple project now that you’ve explained it.

    Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Oh, thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Up next, first impressions say a lot. What’s the front of your house say about you? We’ve got five easy spring projects that can boost your curb appeal, when The Money Pit continues, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of decorative wall hooks from The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. These hooks have a modern twist on a classic style, so they’ll really work in any décor. The hooks are black metal set against a 14-inch piece of rustic wood.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $25 but free to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. Learn more at HomeDepot.com and give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about two years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?

    And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?

    TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.

    I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.

    So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.

    LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?

    TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.

    LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s not exactly a contest but no one minds having one of the better-kept houses on the block.

    TOM: Oh, it’s totally a contest.

    LESLIE: Oh, it is totally a contest. And everybody wants to be that house but we’ll just – that’s that little, hidden secret.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: But seriously, you know, the extra daylight that’s coming our way very soon is all the more reason that you can be adding a few small touches to your home for spring.

    TOM: Yep. If the outside of your house could use a lift, why not start with your front door? Because whether you paint it, refinish it or just polish the hardware or update the trim, your front door’s appearance does pack a big punch. And surveys show that it delivers a great return on investment.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Next step, why don’t you dress it up with a fresh doormat? I mean they really do improve the appearance and they can get pretty gross after a lot of snow and salt in the wintertime.

    You can even do a stylish address plate or just some new house numbers.

    TOM: And you can improve focus on that new door by lighting your walkway. You can install path lights with lighting kits. Now, these are really easy to do and they add character and class to your front yard, not to mention improve the safety of that walkway leading up to the door.

    LESLIE: Finally, remember that your green thumb doesn’t mean that everything has to be green. A touch of seasonal color really does go a long way. And you can create new focal points by adding spring flowers and foliage around the property.

    TOM: And remember, if you’re on a budget, you can get the most mileage out of drought-resistant plants that are native to where you live.


    LESLIE: Cheryl in Wisconsin has a question about heating. How can we help you stay toasty?

    CHERYL: I have a large area downstairs. It’s about one-third – it’s 11×36 feet and about one-third of that we use for a dining and kitchen area, mainly when we have company.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    CHERYL: And I’m not looking to heat that whole area, just the area where we eat. And I was wondering if one of those oscillating space heaters would be a good idea. One of the taller ones?

    TOM: Well, look, here’s the thing. I think your question is about efficiency and most space heaters are not very efficient. They’re only efficient if you’re going to do what you’re doing, which is – that is to isolate the heat to just one very narrow space of the house. But this is a big area. If it’s 30-something feet long, it might be hard to do that. It’s different if it’s like one individual bedroom or something of that nature.

    But I will say that, generally speaking, they’re more expensive to run than your heating system on a BTU basis: in other words, comparing the cost to create a BTU in your main heating system versus the space heater.

    What kind of heat do you have? What kind of fuel do you use?

    CHERYL: Natural gas.

    TOM: Yeah. Natural gas is always going to be less expensive than electric space heaters. But if you’ve got an area that’s a little bit chilly and you want to just supplement it on a limited basis, like just when you’re using that room for company or dining, I think it’s OK. But there’s just not very much that – there’s not very much that’s efficient about the use of a space heater.

    CHERYL: Yeah. I was just thinking right close to the table in the area where we eat.

    TOM: Yeah. But only in those limited circumstances, when you’re using that area, do you want to use the space heater. Then you’ll keep the heat down the rest of the time?

    CHERYL: Actually, our basement is so cold. When we have company, we really crank up the heat and the basement is still really cold. We live in Wisconsin.

    TOM: Yeah. So even when the heat’s up, it’s chilly.

    CHERYL: Yeah.

    TOM: So, if you’re just using it on a temporary basis to supplement it only when you’re down there eating, then I think it’s probably OK. But I think your original question is: is it efficient? No, it’s just not.

    CHERYL: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.

    TOM: Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit.

    How can we help you, Margaret?

    MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – two of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.

    TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.

    But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.

    So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.

    MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?

    TOM: Yes.

    MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.

    TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.

    MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you not sure whether to keep up that high-maintenance deck or simply get rid of it? Well, we’re going to help you make that decision and tell you what it means for your home’s value, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: And the more you get done now, the more free time you’re going to have when the weather really warms up. So head on over to MoneyPit.com for more springtime prep tips.

    And while you’re at it, why not like us on Facebook? Because if you do, you’ll find even more ways to win prizes on the program.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question in the Community section, just like Kevin did from Massachusetts. Now Kevin writes: “We have a deck off of our master bedroom. It sits on top of our garage, which is becoming a problem because the deck is constantly leaking into the garage. We’ve tried adding drains and covered the deck in outdoor tile but it hasn’t helped. Should we just enclose the deck to solve the problem?”

    TOM: I wouldn’t quite do anything that drastic but just keep in mind that when you have a deck off of a master bedroom that’s over a finished space or an enclosed space, it’s a very, very difficult surface to keep leak-free.

    Now, adding the tile doesn’t really help. What you really want to do, to do it right, is to convert this to a fiberglass deck where, essentially, you’re stripping down all the roofing material. And you’re rebuilding this decking surface using fiberglass, just like the fiberglass that would make up the hull of the boat – of a boat. You essentially lay down the fiberglass and the resin and build it up. And I say “you” but really, this is a professional project.

    The upper layer usually has color, it has some sort of texture to it so it doesn’t become a slipping hazard. But a fiberglass deck is one that’s incredibly durable and will also keep the space below quite warm.

    And also, keep in mind that that deck – that second-floor deck – is really going to add a lot to your home’s value. So I think it is a project worth having but I think you’ve got to do it right.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But it really is a beautiful part of the house, so I’d definitely work on it.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Sue in Florida. And she writes: “How do I remove a rust stain on my driveway? I think it’s from rebar.”

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got rust stains on the driveway, what I would suggest is trisodium phosphate. It’s a paste that you mix up and use to scrub down walls and other things like that, usually when you’re getting ready to paint.

    But I would make it into sort of a thick paste and almost brush it on that stain and let it sit for a while. If anything can lift the stain out, it’ll be that. You may find that it actually bleaches the spot around it but I think, eventually, that will sort of darken up and even.

    But I would use trisodium phosphate. Let it sit on there for a while and then rinse it off, scrub it with a broom and see what you can do. I think that will make a difference.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading to Colorado where Joe writes: “I have a cellulose insulation that’s R-19, in the attic, from 1985. Can I just add more without removing the old? I live at 5,000 feet and have 3 seasons.”

    TOM: You know, you almost always can add additional insulation as long as that original layer of insulation – in this case, cellulose – is not compressed or sagged. Because insulation needs to have some trapped air and it needs to be somewhat fluffy for it to work.

    So if the cellulose looks pretty much as good as the day it was put down, what I would recommend you do, Joe, is get unfaced fiberglass batts. And I would do at least, at least another 6-inch batt but probably even an 8- or a 10-inch batt, especially if you’re not going to be using the space for storage. I would put those perpendicular to the ceiling joists and just lay them end to end, edge to edge, side to side across the entire attic. That will have a huge, positive impact on the energy-efficiency of your home next winter.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Joe, while you’re on the insulation quest here, make sure you have proper ventilation in your attic space. Because if you don’t, you can get too much moisture, which will reduce the effect of the insulation. But you’re on the right track.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And now that Radio Shack has gone, I guess we could use their slogan: “If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers, 24-7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.”

    I’m just kidding, Radio Shack. We’ll miss you.

    888-666-3974. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    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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