Stain Tips for Decks and Fences, The Buzz on Backyard Bee Hives and Tips for Screening Porches and Patios
TRANSCRIPT FOR MAY 30, 2016, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: On air, online at MoneyPit.com. Been looking forward to talking with you about your home improvement projects. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Whatever is going on in your money pit, we will try to make it better, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s program, this is a great time of year to give wood decks or trim or your fencing a spruce-up. We’ve got tips on how to pick the perfect stain or brighten it to have it looking great for the season ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, backyard honeybee hives are becoming a huge DIY trend. We’re going to share the buzz on this very sweet project.
TOM: And we’ve got tips on how to make your porch living more enjoyable by keeping out pests and harsh sun with retractable screens that you can even custom-fit to big spaces.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a very smart product from The Home Depot. It’s the B-hyve Smart WiFi Sprinkler Timer. It’s actually so smart that it can adjust your watering schedule based on the weather.
TOM: It’s worth 99 bucks but going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ilene in New York is on the line and has a question about generators. What can we do for you today?
ILENE: My son has sleep apnea and he’s on manufactured oxygen. He has to have it whether he naps or sleeps all night or he could go into cardiac arrest. I’m wondering if it would be practical for him to get a small-type generator, not the ones that you fill the gas in. But it would go through the gas line in my home in the basement.
TOM: I think it’s an excellent idea, Ilene. And you have lots of options. The generators come in a wide variety of sizes. You know, you may have one that covers parts of your home or you may opt to get one that covers the entire home. I would look at both and here’s why: because the core installation cost is pretty much the same, especially after you have to hook up a plumbing line and run some electrical cable to it and set up a transfer switch. You’re going to be doing that whether it’s a generator that handles a dozen circuits or a generator that handles 25 circuits.
So, I would look into both options. The difference is one’s called a “standby,” one’s called a “whole-house.” And I think that’s an excellent application for a generator.
ILENE: OK then. Thank you very, very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ilene.
ILENE: And I listen to your program. If I wake up early on Saturdays, I’ll turn it on and it’s a lot of information.
ILENE: You’re very descriptive of everything, you explain everything good to people. And I think it’s great.
TOM: Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate that. Thanks for listening.
LESLIE: Scott in South Carolina has got a question about a garage-door opener. Tell me what’s going on.
SCOTT: Just got an 8×7 garage door. I had the attic access in front of the garage door. And in order to mount an opener, I need to offset it by 8 to 10 inches from center. Is that possible?
TOM: Yeah. You’re going to have to move it. You’ve got to do a new one. Basically, what you’re going to have to do is de-install the one you have and then move it over to the next set of bays or floor – ceiling joists that are about 18 to 24 inches apart, depending on what size.
SCOTT: You mean the access door?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. You’re going to have to shift it at least one set of rafters.
SCOTT: Yes. I thought about that but there’s no way to offset the garage-door opener itself.
TOM: I’m not going to say it can’t be done. I’ll say I’ve never seen it done. But I think that’s a good question from the manufacturer. There may be certain types of garage-door openers that – where you could have the operational mechanism to one side or the other and not right in the middle. But I’d say that all the ones I’m familiar with have to be in the middle.
Can you not move the staircase? It’s not a big job if you’ve got the space.
SCOTT: Yeah. I can. But I was looking for an easier way out.
TOM: Yeah. I think that is the easy way out. I think you’re going to have a hard time finding one that’s going to work and allow you to keep it in place. And remember, when you put a new staircase in – if you decide to put a brand-new in – one in – that that staircase, that bottom has to be fire-resistant because it’s opening into a garage. And a lot of people forget that. The bottom has to be fire-resistant. So it has to be covered with metal or another fire-resistant material.
Alright. Good luck with that project. 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.
We are jumping into June, everybody. What are you working on? We want to give you a hand. Plus, don’t forget the dads in your life. We’ve got Father’s Day coming up, as well. We’re here to give you a hand with all your home improvement needs at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s a good time to make sure your deck and fencing and trim are looking sharp for the season. We’ll share staining tips to help you get this job done quickly and easily, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Looking forward to talking with you about the projects you’re taking on in your home this season. Give us a call right now. We’ll get started at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And you might just be this hour’s lucky winner of the B-hyve Smart WiFi Sprinkler Timer. It uses WeatherSense technology to automatically adjust watering based on the weather. So there’s no more guessing about how long to water or even watering in the rain, which is a complete waste of water.
TOM: The B-hyve Smart WiFi Sprinkler Timer is available at The Home Depot for $99 but it’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call, right now, with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CAROL: We have a new porch that we put on the back of our house. And we used on it a treated lumber and we put a transparent stain on it. Now we have two other porches on two different other buildings and they did not get stained or anything. They were treated wood and now they’re kind of weathered looking. You know how they turn.
So now we’re wondering if we pressure-washed them, could we put the transparent stain on them?
TOM: You could but I wouldn’t recommend it. And here’s why: because the transparent stain doesn’t have any pigment in it. And so it doesn’t really do a good job of keeping the UV away from the wood. It’s not – you can’t – the natural color of the wood is, unfortunately, impossible to maintain. What I would recommend is that you do clean those surfaces to make sure they’re ready for a new stain, let them dry thoroughly and then add either a semi-transparent or a solid-color stain to that porch surface. You’ll still be able to see the grain of the wood underneath but it’ll be well protected.
CAROL: Thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Carol. Good luck on that farm. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sam in Louisiana is on the line and has a question about insulation.
How can we help you?
SAM: I bought this old house a year ago, in the middle of July when it’s so hot. It was built back in 40s, ’45, something like that. It’s 2,000 square foot.
When I went up in the attic and was looking at what kind of insulation I was going to have to do to it – and I realized that the old insulation is no good. It’s all kind of been smushed down over the years. And it’s got the knob-and-tube wiring in it.
I’ve checked with several of the insulation companies. They tell me that they cannot blow insulation – the loose insulation – over top of the knob-and-tube because the knob-and-tube gets too hot and that it (inaudible at 0:08:10). Then I talked to the fire department and their fire prevention. They say they have – that that is not a problem with them. They don’t work fires that have that as the main cause.
TOM: Let me stop you right there. The fire department has it completely wrong.
LESLIE: I can’t believe the fire department is saying that.
TOM: Yeah, I’m surprised. Just because they haven’t had a fire doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, which I think is the answer you’re getting.
So, first of all, knob-and-tube wiring. Knob-and-tube wiring is called that because it was the original – the first ever type of sort of built-in electrical wiring system. And the wires were run through ceramic tubes that were installed in joist beams and so on and across knobs that sort of kept them about an inch or so off of the beams that went along parallel with it. It was done that way because it’s an air-cooled system. That air has to circulate around that wire in order to keep it cool. So you cannot cover it with insulation because that defeats the purpose.
Secondly, knob-and-tube wiring is inherently dangerous. This old wiring in your house has got to be removed and it’s got to be upgraded. I would not continue to use it. Another reason we don’t like knob-and-tube is because it’s ungrounded and it’s ungroundable, which makes an electrical-shock hazard. And finally, that insulation on it – especially in a warm climate – tends to dry out and fall off and expose the live, raw wires.
So knob-and-tube wiring is a real antiquated system, Sam. And I know you called us because you had an insulation question. But now I’m going to turn this into, unfortunately, a bigger project for you. You’ve got to abandon that knob-and-tube wiring. Now is the time to do it while everything is open before you insulate. But I would definitely not keep that. I would not be comfortable at all with that. I think it’s potentially a fire hazard for you.
Now, in terms of the insulation, you have options. Yes, you could use blown-in insulation or fiberglass insulation right in those joist bays. Or you could use spray-foam insulation, which is going to be far more efficient, although more expensive. I’ve had both. I’ve had a house – an old house – that was insulated with fiberglass and lived in it that way for many, many years. And then when I had the opportunity – I was doing a roof-replacement project. And so, in the course of doing all of that, we opted to add spray-foam insulation at the underside of the roof sheathing. And I’ve got to tell you, my utility bills went way down, even though the house was originally insulated with fiberglass.
So, either way, I think you’re going to get more efficiency by insulating that home better.
SAM: OK. Even with the insulation that is fire-retardant, you’re saying I still cannot?
TOM: Yeah. Because you definitely cannot cover that wire. You’re not worried about the insulation catching on fire. I’m worried about your house catching on fire, including those wood beams that are just inches away.
SAM: OK. Well …
TOM: So I would take the opportunity to basically deactivate as many of those circuits as you possibly can. It may not be as hard as you think. And run new, modern, up-to-code electrical wiring throughout that house, OK?
SAM: OK. That’s great. Thanks for you all so much.
TOM: Take care. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, there’s nothing like the beauty of real wood for decks and fences, as well as siding and trim. But if you want to keep it looking that way, you need to protect it with a good, solid coat or two of exterior wood stain. So here’s what you need to know to get that project done.
LESLIE: Well, first, if you’re working on new wood, you’ve got to give that time to dry out. That’s going to allow the pores to open and then that piece of lumber is going to actually receive the stain instead of it just sort of sitting on top and washing away. So to test that the wood is ready or “aged,” as they call it, you want to pour a cup of water on the wood. If it’s absorbed in 30 seconds, it’s ready.
If the wood’s older, it’s important that that wood is clean and free of dirt or mildew or algae. You want to use a pressure washer. They work really well for cleaning up the surfaces. But make sure that you keep the pressure low. This way, you’re going to avoid damaging the wood.
TOM: Now, keep in mind that there are a few levels of transparency, so to speak, with outdoor wood stain. You start with a clear stain, which is pretty much what it says. It can – you can see right through the stuff very, very easily. Then you have semi-transparent, which gives you more color but doesn’t obscure as much of the grain of the wood. And then you have what’s called “solid-color stain.”
Now, I think, personally, that solid color is the best because it has more pigment, which means it lasts longer. Plus, you can still see the grain. It’s not like paint. Don’t confuse the two. So, I always recommend solid-color wood stains, especially for siding and deck and trim.
Now, when you’re ready to start, you want to apply the finish top to bottom so that you can catch any drips. And be sure to work the entire length of the board so you don’t have any lap marks. It’s also important that you’re mindful of the weather.
You don’t want to start the project if it’s going to be in direct sunlight and in temperatures of 80 degrees or higher right after you’re finished. Because, basically, what happens is that stain dries too quick and you do get all sorts of brush marks and nastiness, not to mention the fact that it’s really, really hot to be working outside in that kind of weather.
So, that’s a great project you can tackle this weekend. If you’ve got more questions, you can reach us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rose in New Jersey is on the line and she has a very busy tree that’s causing lots of problems with roots.
What’s going on, Rose?
ROSE: Well, the tree – the roots are ruining the lawn. And they suggest I have the tree taken down. But it’s so beautiful. I don’t want to take it down. So they’re suggesting I wait until September and have topsoil put down. And I was just wondering, what do you think I should do?
TOM: Well, I mean they’re correct. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You can’t trim back the roots. You can trim back other things on a tree but you can’t trim back the roots. So, you have to either cover those roots with more topsoil or wood chips or anything else depending on how you – what you want it to look like. Or you’ve got to say bye-bye to the tree.
It’s funny you mention this because just today, I had to take out a big maple tree in my yard, which I was really sad about because I love the tree. But it was just dying from the inside and it was getting dangerous. And so the tree company I hired ground out the stump for me and left about 6 inches or 8 inches of wood chips sort of flush with the soil. So I had to – I took three barrels – wheelbarrows – of wood chips out of this hole, filled it all with topsoil and planted seed. That was my project for today.
So, I do feel your pain. If you love this tree, you want to save it, you’re going to have to put up with those roots and you’re going to have to cover it. And if you’re – if they’re telling you to wait until September so the grass grows – but the other thing is if you’ve got a big tree, you’re going to have a hard time getting the grass to grow. So, you might want to think of another type of plant – a shade plant – that could sustain itself there. Because right under that tree, it’s not going to be easy for the grass to grow.
ROSE: Oh. Because the tree is so big. It’s about 25 years old. Beautiful tree.
TOM: Yeah. Well, then just keep it and enjoy it. Deal with the roots. You’re going to have to cover it with something.
ROSE: So you think I ought to have the topsoil put down and have it reseeded?
TOM: Well, you can do that but like I said, I don’t know that you’re going to get much grass to grow under a big, old tree. The sun can’t get there. So you might want to think about a shade plant, like Pachysandra, for example.
ROSE: OK. Well, thank you so much for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Katherine in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with an issue with sod. And Arizona is pretty darn hot, so tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live, actually, in the mountains in Arizona and so our issue is not the heat but the cold. And so what we’ve had happen is that we laid sod about eight years ago. And unbeknownst to us novice homeowners, it had mesh netting on the back side of the roll. And I don’t know if we were supposed to remove that or something but now the sod did not take to our climate and it has died.
And we would like to reseed or lay on some new sod or something like that. But in order to prepare the soil and till it and all of that, I just don’t know what to do. Because there’s this mesh netting all over the ground. And in some areas, it’s exposed and some areas, it isn’t. But I just wondered what your advice would be.
TOM: So the sod never really bit, so to speak? It never really grew through the mesh netting and connected with the soil below?
KATHERINE: Not really. It did in some areas but it just did not grow well for our climate. It couldn’t handle the winters; it just wouldn’t recover.
TOM: Well, the first thing you want to do is a soil test. You can – sometimes, your county extension services and services like that will do the test for you. Or have a landscaper do the test. But you need to know what’s in that soil and how to adjust the pH to get it just right to reseed.
LESLIE: Yeah, to fertilize correctly and …
LESLIE: You know, in other words, you might not be giving it the stuff that it needs and it won’t grow.
TOM: Yeah, you’re working blind.
Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that the best time to do this is not at the beginning of summer. The best time to do this is in the fall when it’s a little cooler out. Because even if you did everything right and it started to grow, the intense heat that follows a month or two down the line will burn it out and kind of ruin all the good work that you did. So I would spend this summer getting the information that you need to kind of come up with a plan.
Now, in terms of whether or not you remove the old sod or not, if it’s really loose and disconnected and not really knitting – sort of sitting on top – then, in that case, I would take it out and then prep the soil below. If it has connected, then I would leave it.
Now, if you have sod – is it weedy? Is it also weedy, Katherine?
KATHERINE: There are lots of weeds. So it’s not so much the sod that’s the issue but it’s the plastic mesh netting, that was on the back side of the sod rolls, that’s there. And I just don’t know – can we till with that there or is that going to get all caught up in the tiller?
TOM: I think you probably can. In my experience, those types of backers are designed to stay there and not be removed. And they just sort of deteriorate naturally away.
KATHERINE: Hmm. OK.
TOM: So I don’t suspect that that would be an issue. Because otherwise, how would you ever lay it down?
KATHERINE: Right, right. Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t know what was supposed to be common, just that it hasn’t degraded at all. After a year, it’s still totally there.
TOM: Well, here’s an idea: one of the things that you could do is you could rent a seeding machine that slices the lawn. There are machines out there that will actually slice it and you – and drops the seed sort of into the slits and that will cut through it. But really, before you do any of that, the first thing to do is do a soil test and see what’s going on there.
LESLIE: Now, this way, you’ll know how to feed it, how to take care of it, when it’s going to want to be seeded. That will really answer a lot of questions for you.
KATHERINE: OK. That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: Yeah. And if the sod – if you end up deciding to leave the sod in place and if it gets really weedy, one thing you could do is something called a Roundup restoration. You can spray Roundup right on the sod and kill the sod and actually leave it in place. And then put the seed right up into the dead grass. It will hold it really well and it will resprout. And the Roundup will not prevent the new seed from taking root.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: It’s called a Roundup restoration.
KATHERINE: Hmm. Alright. That makes sense.
LESLIE: Well, you might be surprised that you don’t have to go to the farmer’s market to get honey. You actually don’t have to go any further than your own backyard. We’re going to share some tips on how to build a backyard beehive next, when The Money Pit continues.
ANNOUNCER: Alright. Hold the work. No one works in the house. Next call’s for picture. Here we go. Picture up. Standing by. Speed. Give me speed in three. It’s all for The Money Pit in two, one and action.
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: We’d love to talk with you about your home projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you’ve got an apartment you’re fixing up, trying to find some storage space, need to paint the walls, paint the ceilings, cover some stains, fix a leak. Whatever is going on in your money pit, we can help. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Stuart in Rhode Island has got a water-heating question for us. What can we do for you today?
STUART: Had an oil-fired, hot-water heater – a separate oil-fired, hot-water heater – separate from the oil burner. And it finally went bad after 13 years. I guess that was a good time period. And my plumber is urging me to replace it with an electric hot-water heater with a timer on it. It’s much more cheaper to do that than buy a – to replace the oil-fired, hot-water heater that I had. But I’m just wondering, are there any negatives to it?
TOM: Well, it’s a little more expensive to run than oil but as you say, it’s a lot less expensive to buy. I’m actually surprised that it only lasted 13 years because oil-fired water heaters seem to last a lot longer than standard water heaters. If you’ve still got the warranties, the standard water heaters – the electric water heaters – may have a 5-year warranty on the tank, maybe a 10-year warranty on the tank. But I found that oil-fired water heaters last 20 to 25 years on a regular basis. So the fact that it failed at 13 is just plain bad luck.
I have nothing against the idea of you putting an electric water heater and saving some money there, as long as you are using it with a timer. It won’t last probably as long as what I would have thought your oil water heater would have lasted but it will save you some money.
I presume your house also has oil heat. Is that correct?
STUART: It does.
TOM: And is it hot air or hot water?
STUART: It’s hot air.
TOM: It’s hot air. OK. Yeah, so the water heater is completely stand-alone. Yeah, so I think it’s a potential – I don’t really have a strong feeling one way or the other. It’s really a personal preference. But if you want to save some money, there’s no problem putting – there’s no reason not to put the electric water heater as long as it’s sized properly and it is on a timer. Because, of course, you only want that to run when you have to.
Water heaters are dumb; they heat the water 24-7, whether you use it or not. So you want to make sure that it’s properly insulated and the timer is set up so it’s not running all night long when you don’t really need it running.
STUART: Right. OK. Any idea how many hours I should probably have that shut off?
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would shut it off kind of after you’re done with your evening cleaning tasks, because the water will stay warm for a while. So, if you like to shower and bathe at night, whenever that part of the evening is done, that’s when you want to shut it down. Then bring it on about an hour before you wake up in the morning.
If you leave to go to work on a regular basis, you can turn it off while you’re away at work. But if you’re home or you work from home and you need it on during the day, you might have to skip that cycle. But the key time to have it off is in the middle of the night.
STUART: OK. Very good, then. I think I’ll stick with it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if fresh, local honey sounds good to you, you might be surprised that you don’t have to go to the local farmer’s market to get some. You actually don’t have to go any further than your own backyard.
TOM: Well, that’s right. Backyard honeybee hives are becoming a huge trend. Here to tell us what all the buzz is about is This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook.
ROGER: Oh, I get it. Buzz.
TOM: Get it? Get it?
TOM: Hey, people are setting up a lot of beehives in their backyards. It seems to me that the first condition – the first concern might be safety, right?
ROGER: Well, you have to remember that bees are quite docile. Don’t get me wrong. If you mess with them, they’ll mess with you. But they have stingers. And if they sting you, they lose their stinger and they die. So they’re not real anxious to do that. So unless they’re really agitated, they’ll behave themselves.
TOM: So what is the big attraction of backyard beekeeping? Why are so many people getting into it these days?
ROGER: It’s really exciting to watch the actions going in and out of the hive. There’re so many bees coming and going and dropping off food, taking off and coming back again. And then when you learn the internals of the hive, it’s even interesting to know what’s going on inside.
LESLIE: Now, this is really interesting. Do you buy a kit to start your hive? How do you start this whole idea of “I’m going to have this in my backyard”?
ROGER: Well, you want to locate a place where the hive can stay, where it’ll be out of the wind and safe from intruders or anything like that. Then you order your kit and your kit shows up. And you’re going to set it up. And we can go through some of the mechanics, which is where you put down a couple of cinder blocks about 2 feet apart. And then you get the kit. And in the kit is a bottom pan. You put a brick under one end so this has a slight tip it. And that’s going to give the hive a pitch so that all the rain will wash out and not sit inside the hive.
ROGER: Then you take and build around the four corners. And they’re dovetailed together, usually. It’s pine. And that sits on top of the base. And then you put in the individual hives. They’re like hangers, like a file hanger. And you just drop them in. And then you put the top on.
TOM: Now, you just wait for the bees to show up at that point?
ROGER: Yeah. They just show up on their own. No. Actually, you purchase a kit.
ROGER: And in the kit is a female – which we’ll set aside – and then a hive of about 10,000 bees. I believe it’s about 3 pounds.
TOM: So 1 girl and 10,000 guys.
ROGER: She’s a busy girl.
TOM: That’s why we call her “the queen.”
ROGER: Yeah. So what you do now is you take and you get those bees into the hive. You open them up very gently, brush them into the hive. Put some sugar and water in the bottom and that’ll help keep them fed for a small period of time. The female gets set on the top and you put it so one end has a screen on it and the other end has candy on it.
ROGER: And believe it or not, she has to find a date with all these guys that are here. So, very slowly they get to know her and take her into the hive, so to speak. And they’ll eat out that little bit of candy on the end.
TOM: To get access to the queen?
ROGER: Access. And then she comes out and starts laying 1,000 eggs a day.
ROGER: She’s tired.
TOM: Yeah, I bet. That’s pretty cool. So by having sort of that candy plug, that’s what gives the bees enough time to kind of get used to the queen and vice versa.
ROGER: Exactly. Yeah.
TOM: And once they mix, then she really can go to work.
ROGER: Yep. And just – they’re bringing the honey to her and she’s eating and just laying more and more eggs.
LESLIE: So if we’re getting the honey from the honey that they’re bringing to her and creating within the hive, don’t they need that honey to sustain their colony? I mean how can we harvest that?
ROGER: They do. And what we do is we just take a little bit. We don’t strip it completely of honey. So there’ll be enough there for the winter.
TOM: Speaking of winter, what happens in the winter? Do the bees actually stay there? Do they generate enough heat through their own activity to not freeze?
ROGER: I just saw them headed to Florida the other day. No, they do. They generate enough heat in the hive for everyone to hopefully survive for the winter and start anew in the spring.
TOM: So if we’ve done the job right and they are all truly busy as bees, how much honey can a hive actually produce? Is it worth it?
ROGER: Well, in a mature hive, which is two or three or four years old, the hive can product as much as 60 pounds of honey.
ROGER: Now, half of that – about 30 pounds – the hive will need to survive the winter.
TOM: That’s still plenty.
ROGER: The other 30 pounds we can harvest.
TOM: Still plenty for your tea.
ROGER: Yeah. More than plenty.
LESLIE: And your crusty bread and all your wonderful places that you can spread honey on.
ROGER: Well, it’s not just the honey. It’s even the honeycomb they can use to make candles and different things, too.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a lot of – there’s a lot to go around.
Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit with sweet advice.
ROGER: Oh, that’s a real buzz to it.
LESLIE: You guys are terrible.
You can 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 Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Make comfort personal.
Up next, do you want to enjoy a summer dinner outside on your porch without the bugs? We’ll have tips on retractable screens to keep you bug-free, 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.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with everything you are working on at your money pit, because we all know that things kind of build up fast when they start going downhill at your home. And we’re here to help you with that. But also, they also kind of build up fast when you’re starting on a décor or design project and you just keep going. So let us help you get those projects done right the first time.
And this hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs to one of our lucky callers. We’ve got a super-smart product. We’ve got the B-hyve Smart WiFi Sprinkler Timer.
Now, this is a program that allows you to control your sprinklers at the timer or from anywhere in the world right by your smartphone. And it’s great because you can adjust it based on the weather. And it’s actually so smart, it will adjust itself based on the weather. So you’re only watering when you need to and not wasting our valuable resources. It’s a prize available at The Home Depot. You can check it out at HomeDepot.com. It’s worth 99 bucks but one of you lucky callers gets it for free today.
TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pat in Iowa is on the line with a question about painting. What can we do for you today?
PAT: Yes. I would like to paint my aluminum siding on my home. I can’t afford to side it right now and I was wondering if it’s possible to paint aluminum siding.
TOM: Absolutely. There’s no reason you can’t paint aluminum siding. What you want to do is clean the house really well, power-wash it perhaps. And then you’re going to have to prime that siding. That’s really important.
LESLIE: Otherwise, nothing is going to stick.
TOM: Exactly. So you need to do a primer coat.
PAT: OK. Well, what kind of primer?
TOM: Well, you’re going to use a primer that’s designed to work with the paint that you select.
So, for example, if you’re going to work with the Benjamin Moore family of paints, you’re going to use a Benjamin Moore primer.
TOM: And the primer is the glue; it’s the adhesive coat. That’s what makes the paint stick. And then you put the topcoat on top of that.
PAT: Now, will this peel on the south side where the sun hits?
TOM: No, not if you do a good job on the prep. You know, that’s why we’re telling you to prime it. And because the siding is metal, that paint job should last you a good 8 to 10 years. Less if it’s an organic material, like wood siding. But with metal siding, it can last a long time if it’s done well.
PAT: Oh, good. That’s a good thing to know. OK. I wasn’t sure I could even do it. I thought maybe it would just peel right off.
Now, the power wash, is that with – I’d have to hire somebody to probably do that.
TOM: Yeah, unless you happen to have your own pressure washer, yeah, you’d have to hire somebody to do that. And they’ll use a detergent and clean off any dirt and debris and algae and so on that’s on the metal. Then you let it dry really, really well. Then you prime, then you paint.
I mean it’s a big project, Pat. If you’re not comfortable with 10-foot and 20-foot ladders, depending on how high your house is, you might want to hire a painter to do this.
PAT: No, I’d probably hire someone else to do it but do you think it’d be real expensive? Or would I be better off to find a good vinyl-siding man to put …?
TOM: Well, I think that you don’t have to side the house. You don’t have to put siding. You can paint this house and paint it successfully and I think it will be less expensive than siding.
PAT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Pat. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, do the cooler evening temperatures draw you to the front or back porch? Or would you like to be able to open up your doors to the breeze whenever you can? Well, if you’d like to enjoy the summer breezes and lower those cooling costs without harsh sun or bugs, you might want to consider adding retractable screens.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, retractable screens, they can roll out when you need them and then fit neatly back into their hidden casings when you don’t want them. And they can be customized to any size for a window or a door, even to larger spaces.
Now, porches, for example, can be easily transformed into a shady, screened-in space when the bugs are on the hunt and then back into a complete, open-air space when you’re ready for some sunshine.
TOM: Now, they come in many different styles and even mesh designs. Some of the mesh designs can look transparent. They’re very cool. They can also be customized by color or even the tightness of the weave.
If you’d like to learn more, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “retractable screens.”
LESLIE: Going out to Wisconsin, right now, where Beth is dealing with a stinky refrigerator.
Beth, you’ve tried everything. What’s going on?
BETH: I’ve had a stinkiness for about a month now. I keep washing it down and the stink still stays. I put baking soda in it. Nothing’s getting rid of it. I was wondering if mold could grow in the walls of the refrigerator or if there’s some sort of filter in there or …
TOM: Well, bacteria can certainly grow. And sometimes when – especially if you’ve had a power failure or if a refrigerator sits outside and it kind of gets damp and moist, you get bacteria that will grow in the foam that’s in the wall or the insulation that’s in the wall. If the insulation got damp, that could be causing it.
The one suggestion that I might have for you, if you want to try this one more time, is to take everything out and clean the whole thing down with oxygenated bleach. So not just a simple kitchen spray but true, oxygenated bleach because that has the best chance of killing any bacteria. But the problem, again, is if the bacteria is in the insulation, you’re not going to get to that. So, I would give it a good cleaning with oxygenated bleach and see if that will solve the issue.
BETH: OK. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Hey. Are you stuck with walls or ceilings that simply date themselves back to an era when textures and popcorn texture was super popular but not so much today? Well, we feel your pain. We’ve got some solutions. We’ll share them, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by for your calls and questions about your money pit. Let us help you improve your home by picking up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question online at MoneyPit.com. And that’s what Marley did from South Dakota.
LESLIE: Alright. Marley writes: “My house was built in 1979. Like other houses of that time, the interior walls have a textured finish, which I believe is called ‘skip trowel.’ I really want smooth walls. Is this something I can do on my own or do I need to hire a pro?”
TOM: Skip trowel, huh? Or just yuck? Those textured walls, what were they thinking when they put those in, huh?
It’s really hard to take a wall that’s been textured, Marley, and make it perfectly smooth again. You can sometimes sort of abrade away a lot of the roughness of that wall. But even if you were to sand it – I mean even with a vibrating sander, a battery-powered sander – you’re still going to have an uneven wall finish.
So, what I would suggest that you do is one of two things. Either go into this with the idea that you’re going to try to smooth it out and not have it perfect. And in that case – that’s the case, you absolutely positively want to paint it with flat paint because anything with any sheen whatsoever is going to make it look worse.
Or what you could do, if it really bothers you, is you could put a second layer of drywall over top of that first layer. Now, you don’t need to use ½-inch drywall; you could use ¼-inch-thick drywall. And basically, when you’re done, you’d have perfectly flat, smooth walls. Of course, this does mean that you need to extend your electrical outlets and light switches, perhaps adjust your trim, because that extra thickness of the wall has to be accounted for.
Can you do it yourself? Depends on your DIY skill level. It certainly is something that’s not complicated. It’s not structural. It’s kind of hard to get in trouble with that kind of project. But again, when it comes time to the taping and finishing of the seams, if you don’t do that every day, it may not look so good. At least for that part, you ought to think about hiring a pro.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know, I think it’s interesting. Some textured surfaces – like this with the skip trowel, where it’s actually almost like a stucco finish – it’s done with the spackle or the joint compound. And it’s fairly permanent. Others, like the popcorn texture, that’s almost like a Styrofoam that’s imbedded in another material, then sprayed on your ceiling. That’s more removable as a DIY project, if you wanted to do it. You would wet it with some sort of garden sprayer. And then you’d take a wide painter’s trowel and smoothly and carefully scrape along the ceiling surface. And it does peel right off.
Now, you have to be careful in your approach to that because you can really ding up the drywall underneath. And then when you go to paint it afterwards, you’ll see those mistakes or those divots that you’ve made into it. But it is a doable DIY project. Again, like Tom said, you want to prime it well. And make sure you use a flat paint, which you’d use on a ceiling anyway. But that’ll hide that. And that’s definitely a do-it-yourself.
TOM: Alright. Jeff in Maine writes. He says, “I’ve noticed what appears to be rot around the bottom of my wood siding. I noticed it after my wife put in plants right up next to the wall. Could the plants have caused it and what do I do about it?”
Uh-oh. Sounded like Jeff’s trying to blame his wife’s plants with his rotted siding.
LESLIE: Anything to blame somebody else.
TOM: Listen, I don’t think the plants are solely responsible for this, Jeff. If you’d been on top of the maintenance, dude, this wouldn’t be a problem. Because if you let that siding fade a bit, it’s going to be more susceptible to moisture.
First of all, the more sunlight you get into that space, the less decay you’re going to have. But if you do have rot, you’re going to want to make sure that you remove the rotted pieces. If that’s siding, you’ll probably remove and replace them, prime them and then repaint the whole section. And yeah, try to keep the plants about 12 inches away because the added moisture – it doesn’t cause it, I don’t think, totally. But it certainly doesn’t help the situation.
LESLIE: And Jeffrey, you know what? You can find other things to blame on your wife, I’m sure but not this, OK? Now, go outside and make a nice garden and go have fun.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show does continue online with our Money Pit podcast at MoneyPit.com. And we welcome you to post your questions all week long at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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.)