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Spring Maintenance Checklist, How to Avoid Electrical Fires, Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly 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: Here to help you tackle your spring home improvement project. Yes, I dare say spring happens, officially, this week and we are ready to go. I know you are ready to go, so pick up the phone and let’s do that project together, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And now that winter is finally going to say goodbye, it’s time to get outside and tackle some of those fix-up projects, especially if your home’s been sitting, like ours, in the snow. Oh, my gosh, snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm. And maybe you hardly recognize it because of all the damage from that winter weather. We’ve got your spring-maintenance checklist, just ahead, to help you get those projects done quickly and efficiently.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, you know, electrical fires cause $817 million in damage every single year. And many of these fires are caused by bad wiring. Well, you can protect your home with a simple change to your outlets and we’re going to tell you what to do.

    TOM: And are you planning some spring cleaning around the house? That’ll probably include getting rid of paint and lawn-and-garden chemicals and motor oil or as it’s more commonly known: hazardous waste. Well, you just can’t toss it away and be done with it. We’ll tell you how to get rid of that household hazardous waste the right away, hassle-free.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller we talk to this hour is going to win a prize package from Dickies, including a softshell light jacket with hood and the new Dickies Ultimate Work Shirt.

    TOM: And it’s a prize pack worth $104. Going out to one caller drawn at random as a – well, let’s call it what it is, a bribe, for picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. So, let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Linda in Georgia is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    LINDA: We had our floors refinished. We took down a wall between our living room and our dining room. And in doing so, they put the threshold back so every time, even though the room is open, you kind of trip on that threshold.

    TOM: It’s a like a speed bump in the middle of your floor.

    LINDA: Yes, it’s in the middle of the floor.

    TOM: Alright. So, the thing is, you didn’t need to put that threshold back. When you took the wall down between the two rooms – you can’t just take a wall down; you have to sort of join the floor from both sides. And you can’t simply fill in the missing sort of gap there. Usually, you have to go back maybe a foot or more on both sides, where you took the wall down, and then refloor that so that it ends up being one continuous floor and not sort of two floors that used to be separated by a wall.

    So, if the flooring repair is properly completed, you could eliminate the threshold. Unfortunately, what they probably did is left the threshold in there so they didn’t have to figure out a way to neatly join the floor sections.

    LINDA: Exactly.

    TOM: You’ve got to complete the floor project, Linda. That’s the only way to make that go away.

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

    LESLIE: Bill in Ohio is on the line with a drainage question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    BILL: I have a hill that’s – comes down towards my house, in the backyard, OK? And if you’re looking at my house, to the left is where it’s the steepest. Well, I kind of have a swale there between the two houses but I really don’t. And it’s really flat there so when it rains really hard, you can imagine where the water is going off that hill, it’s going in my basement.

    The problem is that I need to kind of recreate the swale there to get that water away from the house. But my dirt is already 6 inches below my brick line, so I really can’t raise that ground there.

    TOM: OK. So what you need to do is you need to build what’s called a “curtain drain.” Do you know what that is?

    BILL: Yes. And believe it or not, I have a curtain drain that runs from one side of the yard to the other that tries to control that water there, OK? But like I said, there’s – what I was really wanting to do is to dig a – is try to pitch that ground away from the house. Can I?

    TOM: Well, here’s the thing. Could you carve from the house down to create the swale? Possibly. But I go back to my original statement that a curtain drain should be able to solve this total problem. I mean it’s done with developments all the time, on a big scale, where you have a lot of water to move. And if you say you’ve already got one – in other words, they’ve already got it, maybe it’s not working, so why try it again?

    I don’t – I think something’s wrong with it if you’ve already got one that’s not working. Maybe it’s not sized right. But if it’s done correctly, a curtain drain should be able to accept all the water that’s coming off that hill and all the water that’s running from the house away and it should fill up and then run that water around and discharge it to daylight somewhere.

    The way I usually build curtain drains is I dig a trench that is usually about a foot wide and usually about 12 to 18 inches deep. We put in about 4 to 6 inches of stone and then we put in a perforated pipe – solid PVC perforated pipe, not that crushable, black, plastic junk that a lot of landscapers use but a solid PVC pipe – we pitch it about a ¼-inch per foot. Always have the discharge, obviously, at the low end. Then you can continue to put more stone around it, some filter cloth and then you regrade it and you seed it. And so when it’s done, it’s invisible. But as the water comes down the hill, it falls into the curtain drain, it comes up into the pipe and then it’s run quickly around the pipe and discharged out to the street so the water never really gets to the foundation wall.

    BILL: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Good luck with that project, Bill. Appreciate you calling The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, spring has officially sprung. At least the calendar is telling us so. So, fingers crossed, no more snowstorms. Although did I just jinx myself?

    TOM: Possibly.

    LESLIE: Let’s hope we’ve got some good spring weather to tackle some home improvement projects. And let us give you a hand with whatever you’re working on. We’re here to help you out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, short circuits in your electrical wiring can cause home fires. We’re going to tell you about the simple fix, 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: Standing by for your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller who picks up the phone and calls us is going to win a very cool prize pack from our friends at Dickies. This includes a softshell light jacket with a three-piece hood and an adjustable bungee cord.

    LESLIE: And along with that, you’re going to get the brand-new Dickies Ultimate Work Shirt. It’s got wicking technology, a mesh-lined back for breathability and SPF 50 sun protection so you won’t get burned working outside in the warm weather.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack from Dickies worth $104. Going out to one caller drawn at random, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    VICKY: I have a house that was built in 1943 and it has a patio out back that is probably that old, with big cracks in it. Not huge cracks but they’re fairly, fairly big. They’re extremely noticeable. And I wondered if there’s something that I could seal it off with, because I’d like to add on to that patio. Or do I have to take the whole thing out and start over?

    TOM: Are the patio sections displaced and causing any kind of a tripping hazard?

    VICKY: No.

    TOM: The thing is you can fill the cracks in. You could resurface the patio. The cracks will show through that because patios built on top of soil, as they normally are, are always going to be in movement; they’re always going to expand and contract with the seasons. And so even if you were to patch that and then resurface the patio, you’ll still end up seeing some cracks.

    So if the cracks are an issue for you, then you’re really going to have to tear it out and redo it. If you’re OK with the cracks, then you could use simply a masonry crack-and-seam filler, which usually has some epoxy qualities to it, to fill the cracks. And then you could use an epoxy patching compound to float over the top of the patio. And that will sort of even out the surface, restore any dips in it, fix an – it’ll go – flow into any sort of chunks that are pulled out, any kind of deterioration on that surface. A good epoxy compound will straighten that out.

    I would take a look at QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have all those products. A good manufacturer of good products. They come in do-it-yourself-sized packages. So if you just need to fix a small area, you can do that without buying a 50- or 80-pound bag of concrete material.

    VICKY: OK. Thank you. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Bonnie in Pennsylvania is on the line with a nail-pop question. What’s going on?

    BONNIE: When they hung the sheetrock here in my house, they used nails to hang all of it. And through the expansion and that of the sheetrock, the nails have worked themselves out. And so I’ve got nail pops popping through in a lot of places in my house. And I was wondering the – what’s the best way to address that problem?

    LESLIE: Well, the best way is to actually remove the old nail and replace it with a drywall screw. Because what’s happening is you’re right: through expansion and contraction, the stud itself is sort of just pushing that nail right back out. So if you were to put a screw in its place, that’s going to tighten in there and stay put.

    Now, if you don’t feel like removing the nail, you can actually take another nail and sort of overlap it kind of to the existing nail so that when you hammer the new one in, it pushes the old head back down.

    BONNIE: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: So it’s kind of up to you. And then, of course, you would put some new joint compound over it or spackle, sand it and repaint.

    BONNIE: OK. I’ll try that. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, more than half of all electrical fires are caused by a dangerous problem called “arcing.” Now, electrical arcing creates a high-intensity heat, sometimes more than 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that could ignite surrounding materials, like wood framing or insulation.

    TOM: Now, there are a few causes, which might include humidity, natural deterioration of older wiring, even animals that chew threw the wiring or you could be the cause. I mean have you ever moved the couch only to realize the lamp cord was pinched underneath it that whole time? That pinched wiring can be damaged and that can cause arcing.

    LESLIE: Alright. So what’s the solution? Well, one of our newest sponsors, Leviton, they’ve got a product called the Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet. And the outlet is going to detect dangerous arcing conditions and then respond to that condition by cutting off power.

    For the typical do-it-yourselfer, it’s no problem; it’s just like installing a typical outlet.

    TOM: I did one of these in my house just to test it out and I’ll tell you what, it went in very quickly and very easily. And it can detect arc faults anywhere in the circuit. So if you use one of these for every circuit in your house, your entire home will be protected. It’s a very affordable technology, too. Less than 30 bucks each.

    LESLIE: You can get Leviton’s AFCI outlet at Amazon.com or at The Home Depot. And if you want some more information, visit Leviton.com/AFCI.

    TOM: That stands for arc-fault circuit interrupter.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Daniel from South Carolina on the line who’s got an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    DANIEL: Oh, well, I’ve got an old house and I have a real high energy bill every month. And I want to try to lower that energy bill, so I was thinking about replacing all my insulation with foam insulation. And I wanted to do under the house and above the house. But I do have a mold problem under the house and I was told that if I needed closed-cell foam under the house, then I wouldn’t have to treat the mold. And I got a lot of different opinions but I’m not sure how to proceed with open or closed cell in the attic or under the house.

    TOM: Well, if you take a look at – it depends on how much space you have. You know, closed cell, you need less insulation to get – they’ll give you a higher R-value. But I would take a look at Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e. They really are the finest manufacturers of spray-foam insulation in the United States and Canada. They’re a Canadian-based company and they really do a great job.

    So take a look at the Icynene website. There’s a lot of good technical articles on those sites about the advantages of the unvented attic and the unvented crawlspace. And in fact, that is really state-of-the-art technology when it comes to building energy-efficient homes today is to not vent crawlspaces, not vent attics and to use spray-foam insulation.

    So, I think if you follow the guidelines, then that is an excellent approach. It’s going to require an investment on your part but you will be converting that to an unvented space, which will be warmer and more comfortable for the rest of the house, for as long as you own it.

    DANIEL: OK. And do you think it would decrease my power bill so that my return on investment would be within five to seven years?

    TOM: Well, I can’t tell you what the return on investment will be, because that depends on a lot of things. But it will reduce your energy cost. And so, if you’re heating by gas, of course, you’re going to use less electricity to run the blowers and that sort of thing. And if you’re heating by electric, well, obviously your payoff might be even quicker.

    DANIEL: OK. Thank you.

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

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

    DIANE: We live in town but we have a septic tank. And I was always told that if you put active yeast in that toilet, flush it down the toilet, that it would keep the septic tank clean and active and fresh in that. And I want to know, is that true?

    TOM: Well, it is true but there’s not like a lot of conclusive proof that adding those biological additives are going to work. I mean the additives include bacteria and enzymes and yeast and things like that and they’re supposed to keep the tank sort of churning away. You’ve got bacteria churning away at breaking down waste. But there’s not a lot of evidence that it does anything significant. I’ll just say that.

    So I’m not telling you that it’s an old wives’ tale and it’s not worth doing but that wouldn’t be all I’m doing. I would make sure that my septic system had yearly inspections. I would make sure that every five years that the septic tank was completely cleaned out. And I would avoid putting down anything into the septic system that could impact that natural bacteriological field. So, for example, you don’t want to put bleach down there. If you have a washing machine, sometimes you want to discharge that into a separate leach field somewhere that is not going to put that bleach in contact with the septic field, because that could be bad for it. Does that make sense?

    DIANE: OK. Well, very good. Well, I appreciate the information and thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Tony in North Carolina is on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you today?

    TONY: My wife and I are in the process of – I guess we’re trying to gather as much information as we can. About to build another home in the next few months and we very much are interested in some of the ENERGY STAR features that we are – have been seeing.

    Just wondering, is it feasible for us – there’s only four of us in the home – to install the tankless water heater or would we be wasting money there?

    TOM: A tankless water heater is an excellent option for a family of four or even more. You buy the tankless water heater based on the number of bathrooms in the house. And the advantage is that you’re only using it to heat the water as you need it. A tank water heater keeps all of that water hot 24-7, whether you’re using it or not. A tankless water heater fires on demand and heats water as it passes across its heat exchanger, essentially. So I do think that a tankless water heater is a good technology for you to consider.

    And how perfect that you’re building a home now and can plan it. One of the most common complaints we get – that you might want to consider, Tony – is people complain that it takes too long for their water to get hot in the morning. So, the reason that happens is because the water heater is very far away from the bathroom. That is a condition that would continue even with a tankless but the advantage is that since the tankless water heaters are very small and can also be direct-vented through the exterior siding, that you could actually have the water heater more centrally located to the bathrooms. So that when you do turn the water on in the morning, you’re not waiting very long for that water to actually get there.

    TONY: OK. I thank you so much for it.

    TOM: Tony, good luck with that project. Keep us posted. Let us know how you make out.

    LESLIE: Sage in New York is on the line with an outdoor-watering question. Tell us what’s going on.

    SAGE: How are you doing? I have an outdoor faucet, which I use to connect my hose in the front. And I believe it’s called a “frost-free sillcock.”

    TOM: Right.

    SAGE: And the problem I have is that when I open the faucet, I can open it full but the water takes, sometimes, up to a minute to come out, if it comes out at all.

    TOM: Now, inside your house, there’s going to be another valve that is designed to shut off that line for the winter. Did you check to make sure that valve was fully open?

    SAGE: It is fully open, yes.

    TOM: So the valve is fully open on the inside of the house, the valve – the hose bib – on the outside of the house – that you open it up and it takes a minute to come out. And when it comes out, is it kind of fast or slow or what?

    SAGE: It comes out slow and I also wondered if the fact that the pressure was lower on this faucet, as compared to the faucet at the back of the house, was part of the problem?

    TOM: And how old is the house?

    SAGE: Oh, the house is only about three years old.

    TOM: Three years old? Alright. So the plumbing should be fine.

    What you’re describing is simply a valve that’s not fully open. And so, if the valve inside is open and the valve outside is open, then somewhere we’ve got a bad valve. Because that shouldn’t be happening; it should be very simple. The valve opens, the water flies out. Three-year-old house, there’s no reason for any corrosion to be inside the pipe or anything of that nature. And so you’ve got a bad valve somewhere; that’s what has to be looked into.

    SAGE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Up next, a hard winter means it’s time to take an extra-close look at your outside spaces. We’ll tell you what you need to know, with your spring home maintenance checklist, after this.

    ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: How’d you like some spring-cleaning advice and a chance to win enough dough to help stock all your cleaning supplies? Well, just visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and start pinning in our Pin to Win Sweeps.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And the Pin to Win Sweeps runs through the end of this month and we’re giving away three Home Depot gift cards. We’ve got up for grabs a $250 gift card, a $150 gift card and a $100 gift card. So, enter today and if you share the contest with your friends, you can actually win some bonus entries.

    TOM: That’s online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

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

    TAMARA: We’re installing some solid-surface countertop. And we were wondering, what would be best sink for that? Would it be an acrylic sink or a stainless-steel – no, it’s going to be an undermount, for sure.

    LESLIE: Definitely an undermount. I was going to say that. Because when you’re dealing with a natural surface, you want to really showcase that and an overlapping sink is ­- or a drop-in is really going to just look a little cheesy with the natural surface.

    Now, it really depends on the look. You know, I love a stainless sink. I think that they gather beauty as they sort of age and patina. Yes, they require special care as far as cleaning products and making sure that you clean them with the grain, if you will, of a stainless sink. You’ll see that it’s got the lines on it. So you want to kind of follow that to keep up the beauty of the stainless. I feel you can’t go wrong with that but that’s totally a personal preference.

    TAMARA: OK. I saw one person that had an acrylic sink and it was black and it was really unappealing to me. So, do you know of all the colors that they come in?

    LESLIE: As far as acrylic sinks?

    TAMARA: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I think they’re going to come in your basics. They’re going to come in white, sort of bisque like that off-white family, and then in the black tones, as well. I still think a stainless is going to be your way to go.

    TAMARA: OK. I think I agree. I think I’m going to do stainless. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome. Enjoy your new kitchen.

    TAMARA: Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, spring is the season when the home improvement bug awakes in many of us and we can finally get started on projects that just weren’t possible with all those freezing temperatures and a whole lot of snow on the ground.

    TOM: It’s also the time to restore and repair after the ravages of Old Man Winter and to get your home ready for the warmer weather ahead. Here to give us an essential spring-maintenance checklist is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So this is the time when we really have to get the to-do list in order and let’s face it: when the weather turns warm, we get the energy to tackle those projects, as well. So, where should we start?

    KEVIN: Well, in the spring, boy, it seems like there’s no end to places you could start. But think about this: it’s probably the first time you’re going to see your roof in three or four months, if you live where I live, right?

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: It’s been hidden under snow and ice for all those years. So, give your roof a once-over, an inspection. If you can get up there with a ladder and put eyes on it, that’s great. If you can’t, maybe break out a pair of binoculars or even a camera with a telephoto lens to get a close-up. See if the shingles are all intact. Check the flashing around some of the plumbing vents, maybe the chimney, as well.

    And in my case, you might have to see if you gouged into the shingles with your hatchet when you were breaking up the ice dams, which you shouldn’t do. But it takes a beating from all the snow and ice and all …

    LESLIE: And the Kevins.

    KEVIN: And the Kevins. That’s right.

    TOM: Yep.

    KEVIN: The angry Kevins that wish he didn’t have ice dams.

    And also the gutters: those gutters which fill up with ice and they kind of expand and contract. Make sure that those are still in good shape, connected and the downspouts are attached to them, as well.

    LESLIE: What about your dehumidifier? This time of year, you’ve got – the ground is thawing, you’re getting a lot more rain. I just feel like the ground is just so much more saturated and those below-grade rooms are just going to be so moist.

    KEVIN: Saturated and in the spring, lots more wet weather coming our way, right? So we’re going to get those heavy spring rains and such. And the dehumidifier can be a great way to keep those basements dry, so I would say just make sure it’s in good, working condition. Give it a clean, take off the filters – clean the filters, that is, to say – make sure that it’s going to be doing the job it should be doing. And keep an eye on the moisture levels in the basement. They should be targeted around 30 to 50 percent. That dehumidifier can be a good friend of yours.

    TOM: And also a good idea to manage the moisture, too. I mean when you’re outside taking a look at that roof, take a look at the gutters and make sure that they’re clean and that water is away from the foundation wall. Because the less water you lay against the house, the less you’re going to have to dehumidify out.

    KEVIN: It’s probably the number-one question I get when we’re out there talking to folks and it’s: “How do I solve my wet-basement problem?”

    TOM: Yep.

    KEVIN: And everyone wants to come up with the magic sealer, the thing that they can paint on the walls and stop everything.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Make the house float, right?

    KEVIN: Yeah, right. But the reality is if you keep the water away from the house, you’re going to probably cut down your problems or get rid of them completely. So your point is excellent, you know? The best way to get that moisture problem under control is to get the water away from the house.

    The amount of water that comes off our roofs in a rainstorm is extraordinary. Thousands of gallons of water. Don’t dump it right next to the foundation; move it away. Get those downspouts 3 feet away from the foundation. Make sure they’re in working order. If you can grade that area, definitely grade it so it’s all pitched away from the house.

    LESLIE: Most of the United States had a lot of snow this past winter. So what should we be looking at on our decking systems to make sure that everything is sturdy and well-supported and …?

    KEVIN: How exciting is it when you can finally see your deck again and you’re going to be getting out during the warm weather?

    LESLIE: Right.

    KEVIN: That really just says “go back to the outdoors.”

    TOM: Absolutely.

    KEVIN: Give it a good look. Make sure that it’s clean on top. Sweep it off. See if there’s any peeling or blistering or cracking. If there is, you maybe want to sand those down. If it needs a good cleaning, clean it with a deck cleaner. It might even be the right time to refinish it, reseal it.

    But also, get underneath it, right? Because this is oftentimes wood in contact with the ground or near the ground, so you might have rot. Give it a good look. Make sure the joists and the posts are all in good shape. And if they need to be fixed, obviously the time to do it is before you start using the deck a lot.

    TOM: Yeah. And check that railing system, as well, right? Make sure it’s nice and sturdy.

    What about your air-conditioning system? It seems like it’s the right time, say, before it gets super-hot and you end up standing in line and waiting for an A/C technician to show up to make sure it’s in good shape.

    KEVIN: Yeah. It’s the same rule that applies to the heating system, right? Don’t wait until it breaks down in the middle of the winter. Get ahead of it. Make sure the guy comes out and does a check on the system of the heating, say, in October, possibly? Now the spring is the time before the hot days of summer come.

    Let the pro look at it, service it if it needs it. They can do a lot of tests to make sure they’ve got the right pressures and such, that they’re working properly. Clear anything away from those outdoor compressors to make sure that they’re functioning properly. As you say, get ahead of it before you actually require this thing to keep your house comfortable in the middle of August and run the risk of it failing on you.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And window units should fall under the same rule, as well. Just because it’s a portable device that you take in and out, you should also maintain those.

    KEVIN: The window units. I go down to my basement and I seem them there on the shelf and I say, “Ugh, I’ve got to install these things again.” But you want them working for you on those hot August days.

    LESLIE: Right.

    KEVIN: At least I know my kids do. So, yeah, make sure that they’re in good, working order. You can actually have them serviced, so get that done. Get it done now before you need them.

    TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Always a pleasure, guys. Thank you.

    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 is brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still to come, as you take on your spring-cleaning projects, have you given any thought as to how you’re going to get rid of all of that extra paint, cleaning chemicals and other hazardous materials that you discover in your journey? We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are answering your questions and giving away a great prize to one lucky winner this hour. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT and the amazing prize is a set of work clothes from Dickies.

    Now, you’re going to get a softshell light jacket with a hood. It’s got interior storm flaps, as well as pockets on the inside and the outside, plus a three-piece hood with an adjustable bungee cord.

    TOM: The winner also gets an Ultimate Work Shirt, which is brand new this year to Dickies. It’s made of nylon, which will keep you cooler and drier than cotton. It’s also got an SPF 50 protection.

    It’s a prize pack worth $104. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Let’s get to the phones, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, as you clean up and clear out your old stuff, make sure that you’re checking out the garage, basement and shed to get rid of any old paints and chemicals that you’ve got just sitting around. Come on. You don’t mean to but we all know you’ve got that stuff in the garage.

    In one sweep, you can actually dispose of all your paint, your thinners, your motor oils, kerosene and even dangerous cleaning solutions at your local recycling center.

    TOM: Now, here’s a little trick. To dispose of spray paint and other types of spray products, like shellacs or solvents, what you want to do is turn the can upside down and hold down the spray button. You can spray it against a piece of cardboard or something like that until no more comes out. Then you can leave the regular cans of paint open until the excess paint dries.

    And make sure you check your local hazardous-waste pickup schedule and find out when and where you can properly dispose of all of those hazmat items.

    888-666-3974 is our phone number. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.

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

    MIKE: What I have is I have a cement-slabbed garage attached to a home that seems to seep water out of the outer walls, especially on one side. And it’s not a lot of water but it’s enough to make me think twice about wanting to caulk on the inside of the garage, because I’m afraid I’m going to trap that water.

    Now, I’ve got a roof that is about five years old. It is brand new with a five-year-old roof. And I have an eave – a soffit – that overhangs the garage about 2 feet. And the cement slab that the garage is on is actually higher than ground level. So I don’t know where that water is coming from and should I be concerned about it?

    TOM: So does the water show up along the floor?

    MIKE: Yeah, right along the floor coming – it appears to come right between the cement slab and the drywall itself or the trim piece on the bottom of the drywall.

    TOM: This could be drawing up from the soil. This could be coming up through the force of capillarity. Capillarity in concrete is an incredibly powerful force.

    If you had concrete that was, say, 6 inches wide and it was in sort of a tubular shape and it had an unlimited length, that water would climb up that concrete to the height of a mile before it would stop pulling. So, concrete can suck up in a slab like that. It can bleed out, leak out, find the path of least resistance and puddle.

    The first thing I would do is I would take a look at the soil outside and the drainage conditions outside. If you can get that area outside that wall as dry as possible by sloping the soil away, making sure you have gutters and making sure the downspouts are pointed well away from that wall, that may slow the volume of water that’s landing in that section enough so that it doesn’t draw into the garage as quickly. Does that make sense?

    MIKE: Well, what really bothers me is – you talk about the draining of the soil. The slab is actually – the lot is actually a sloped lot anyway, going down to a 40-acre lake that we live on. And it is well-sloped down there and in that 2 to 3 foot area where the overhang of the roof is on, we do have mulch and gravel and things that would – water would drain and dissipate from all that.

    TOM: OK. Well, listen, that’s where you’re wrong, OK? Because if you’ve got mulch and you’ve got gravel, you’re holding water against the foundation. The only way to wet – to let water dissipate is if you have nothing but soil – clean fill dirt – sloping away from the wall. Now, on top of that, you can put mulch or gravel to stop erosion. But if you surround it – like many people do the outside perimeter of their homes – with mulch and gravel, that’s just a trap. And that’s going to hold water against the foundation; that will not encourage drainage.

    MIKE: Yeah, because I’ve got Rose of Sharon on that side of the house quite – which are quite large, almost tree – you know, Rose of Sharon are almost trees when they get mature. And that’s why we have the mulch and try to keep the moisture in.

    TOM: Well, these will still have enough moisture for them but I mean I’m telling you, if it’s collecting – do you have any sprinklers that are hitting that by any chance?

    MIKE: In the summertime, no. I’ve just re-aimed – we do have a Rain Bird sprinkler system but I’ve aimed every one of those sprinklers so they don’t come in contact with that part of the house. I use a – just one of those hoses that dissipates the water. The sprinkler hoses?

    TOM: Because you just need to keep it as dry as possible. I think you’re talking about some capillarity here, Mike. And if you can get that area at the exterior perimeter dried out, I think that will help a lot. Does that make sense?

    MIKE: Alright. Thank you very much for your response.

    LESLIE: Well, there are few stains that are more sticky or gooey than tree sap, especially if you’ve dragged it into your home. Now it’s on your floors or your carpet.

    Well, one common household product will make it disappear quickly. We’re going to share that trick, next.

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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: And you can visit The Money Pit Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and start pinning our spring-cleaning tips for a chance to win big bucks. We’re going to give away three Home Depot gift cards. We’ve got a 250, a 150 and a 100, so a total of 500 bucks in prizes going out to one entrant drawn at random.

    And the way this works is if you pin one of our spring-cleaning tips and then you share the fact that you entered the sweepstakes and any of your friends enter, you get five bonus entries for every one that enters the sweeps, so it can really add up. Lots of chances to win. And that’s at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can head over to the Community section of The Money Pit’s web page. And you can e-mail us or post your question there. And I’ve got one here from Bill in Geyserville, California who writes: “I have a pine tree that drips pitch on the sidewalk. I stepped on it, tracking it into the hardwood floor. How can I get it off without taking off the finish?”

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, Bill, there is nothing gooier than tree sap.

    We had a sappy tree this past Christmas, Leslie, and I swear, every time I walk by the thing, I end up picking up some sap. And so I reminded myself of a nifty trick of the trade to get rid of sap.

    And it will work, Bill, on your floor. And it’s simply this: WD-40. It works miracles. I’ve sprayed it on my hands when I get the sap on it. I’ve sprayed it on furniture. And when you get something gooey on it, it melts it right away.

    Now, the only thing I will caution you is that considering the fact that this is a floor and WD-40 is a lubricant, we don’t want you to make a big, oily mess on your floor. And so, make sure after you get rid of the sap that you thoroughly scrub and clean that floor so it’s no longer slippery.

    Now, there’s one other product that comes to mind that we do also have here around the house that works. It’s called Goo Gone.

    Now, Goo Gone will work on sap. I don’t think it works as well as WD-40 but I tell you what Goo Gone works really good on. Ever tried to get the price stickers off of something? It melts them right away. It comes off nice and clean.

    LESLIE: It really is a good trick of the trade.

    Alright, next up, we’ve got one from Will in Dover, Delaware who writes: “I installed a new fiberglass front door.” Great door. “One question. I want to install a door knocker on the door. The installers didn’t want to install them for me. They were afraid they would crack the door. Is there any way to do this safely?”

    TOM: I feel like they’re being a little bit chicken because, certainly, any door can take a door knocker installed to it. You just want to be careful and use common sense when you attach it, so I wouldn’t get too worked up about that. I think you certainly can predrill the door and attach the knocker and it should be just fine.

    You know, fiberglass doors are absolutely beautiful. They have the ability to be much more energy-efficient and need far less maintenance than steel doors. So I wouldn’t be too concerned about just putting a couple of holes for the door knocker.

    LESLIE: Yeah. A really good choice with the fiberglass door. You don’t have to stain it, you don’t have to worry about it warping or twisting or ever just looking bad like a wood door does. So, you really made a good choice. But don’t be afraid. Put that knocker on.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. With all this talk of projects, I am ready to get outside and tackle some of my own projects. That is, once it gets maybe about 10 degrees warmer. Until then, I’ll stick inside and maybe start in the basement and work my way up, get that cleaning done.

    If you’ve got questions – home improvement-related, décor-related, cleaning related, don’t know where to go, don’t know how to get started – remember, you can post your questions on MoneyPit.com in the Community section or on our Facebook page at any time.

    Thank you so much for being here. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 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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