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Stain Your Deck to Protect from Sun Damage, Fertilize with Compost Tea, A New Line of Mechanics Tools for Many Jobs, 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: And welcome to this hour of the program. What are you doing this weekend? You tackling a home improvement project? Let us help you take that first step. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Want to know the best way to get the job done? Need to know what materials to choose, which ones to spend money on, how you can save some money with that project? Give us a call; we would love to help.

    We have a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about protecting your wooden decks and fences. Did you know that 20 million decks go unfinished every year because people are afraid to stain them? They’re confused about that staining process. We’re going to sort that out so that the deck that you have in your backyard can last for many summers to come.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are you tired of spending a mint on fertilizers for your lawn and garden? Well, Roger Cook from This Old House will tell us how to brew up a tea from your compost that you’re not going to want to drink but it’s going to fertilize your garden better than anything you can buy.

    TOM: And before you take on your next do-it-yourself project, we’ve got a heads-up on some brand-new mechanics tools, some very cool wrenches and ratchets with new technology built in to make them safer to use.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, one lucky caller is going to have a sparkly, shiny car. We’re not giving away a car but we’re giving away something that can help you make your car look awesome. We’ve got the brand-new 3M Paint Defender System up for grabs. And it’s actually a protective film that you spray on as a liquid and it’s worth 45 bucks.

    TOM: So, let’s get to the phones. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s program will be receiving that 3M Paint Defender System.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    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. Mm-hmm.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Laurel from Louisiana on the line with help with a tiling project. How can we help you today?

    LAUREL: My husband and I are building a new house right now and we’re putting ceramic tile in the living room and the kitchen. And it’s not going to be sealed, so we were wondering what was the best kind of sealant to put on that ceramic tile?

    TOM: What kind of tile are you using that’s not sealed? Are you trying to say that it’s not glazed?

    LAUREL: No, it was glazed but I was told that you need to put a sealant over it to make the tile last longer?

    TOM: No, not true. The glazing is plenty tough enough to protect the tile. What you – the sealant usually refers to the grout. And if you seal the grout, it can help keep it cleaner and repel water. And the grout sealants are silicone-based.

    So, as long as you use a good grout sealant – and the time to do this is before you move in, you know? Because once you move in and you start grinding some dirt in that tile, it becomes a lot harder to maintain. But if you seal the grout right after the tile is installed, that’s the best time to do it.

    LAUREL: What would be the best kind to use?

    TOM: A silicone one. A silicone-based grout sealant is what you’re looking for.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to look for one that applies in a manner that you are comfortable with. Like if you’re doing a smaller grout line, you would look for one that almost looks like a nail-polish brush or a rolling foam wheel. With a floor tile, you could be looking at a ¼-inch to a ½-inch grout line, so that’s easier to apply. But you want to make sure you have something that you feel comfortable applying strictly to the grouted areas.

    LAUREL: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Laurel. 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, we are a few short weekends away from the actual start of summer, so is your money pit in tip-top shape? Are you getting ready to be outdoors a whole heck of a lot more? Well, we can give you a hand to get everything in order. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, don’t let your deck or wood fence become the victim of sun damage because you’re afraid of a staining project. We’ll tell you how to get that done yourself, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by DeWALT. DeWALT’s new rugged and innovative line of mechanics tools are so tough, DeWALT is proud to back them with a full lifetime warranty. When there’s a tough job to get done, rely on a trusted name. Rely on DeWALT. Available at Sears. For more information, visit DeWALT.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, call us now with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win the new 3M product that we’ve got to give away. It’s the Paint Defender System for your car. Sprays on like a liquid and turns into a clear, durable film, which protects your car from common road concerns for an entire year. You’ll get the Defender spray film, the application kit and a spray trigger.

    The prize package is worth 45 bucks. Going to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Luke in Illinois is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    LUKE: So I have gotten a few people to – estimates. I want to put steel roofing on my house. And one guy will tell me that I need to sheet it and the next guy will say that I can put it over the shingles. And I didn’t know what the standard process for that is. And now, I was also told by the same contractor, “Well, every few years, you have to replace the screws.” And that – I had never heard that before.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s something we’ve never heard.

    Now, when it comes to whether or not to remove the existing roof or shingles, I should say, before you go ahead and put on a metal roof – I mean in this instance, a metal roof is expensive. They’re very long-lasting, up to 50 years, and they’re beautiful. And I think the situation would be that you would want to remove the existing shingles, just to give yourself nice, smooth sheathing to go on top of – less weight on the roof, less heat being trapped and best usage of your money and use of the metal roof.

    TOM: Luke, what kind of roof do you have now? Under the asphalt shingles, do you have solid sheathing?

    LUKE: Only on part. I have a house that’s over, probably, 200 years old. And it has – what they did – I’d say a shifty contractor put tar paper over the – where the slats were for the shake.

    TOM: Did you have original, wood, cedar shakes underneath that?

    LUKE: No, it’s just – they just tore all the shake off and just put tar paper over it.

    TOM: OK, look, the best thing for you to do here, as Leslie said, is to strip down to those rafters, re-sheathe the roof, then put the metal roof on top of that. Yeah, it’ll be less expensive to put the metal roof over the asphalt but you’re not going to get as clean or neat of a job.

    And there’s really no point in adding to the way it’s been assembled right now, in kind of the inappropriate way it’s been assembled now, by sandwiching those shingles forever underneath that metal roof. I would take it completely down. And the guy that’s telling you to do that is, I think, giving you the best advice.

    LUKE: Alright. Well, thank you very much for answering my questions.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nancy in New Jersey on the line who needs some help cleaning a fireplace screen.

    Welcome, Nancy.

    NANCY: The screen is made out of iron. It was one of those hammered iron – it’s a hammered iron that was silvery black. So, it’s old. What happened is we had 2 feet of water in the house with the Hurricane Sandy and it hit the screen. And the half of the screen on the bottom got rusty, so I did use something to get the rust off. What I want to do now is be able to shine it again, to bring some luster.

    TOM: And of course, you want to do something that’s going to stand up to the heat.

    NANCY: Right, right.

    TOM: So what I would recommend you do is if it’s – all the rust is removed and it’s clean and ready for paint, I would pick up some grill paint. Grill paint is designed to go onto charcoal grills or gas grills and stay up to – stand up to very, very high heat. And while the screen in the fireplace doesn’t get near that kind of heat, it still gets pretty hot. And if you use grill paint on it, you’ll get a shiny, black finish and one that you don’t have to worry about being impacted by the heat.

    NANCY: Alright. I think that might do it then.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we came across a statistic about home improvement that really surprised us. Out of all the homeowners who take on do-it-yourself, home improvement projects this year, only one-third of them say they feel comfortable with a staining project. But staining is actually easier than painting.

    TOM: Well, the experts at Cabot tell us that 20 million wooden decks and fences go protected every year against the sun and elements. So this means that damaging UV rays can get into the wood, they’re going to dry out all of the natural oils that are in the wood and that causes it to gray, to crack, to splinter and it can actually be pretty dangerous when you’re walking on it.

    So, the solution is to protect it and Cabot has a new product out that can do that. It’s called the Cabot Clear Wood Protector. And it’s designed to penetrate very deep into the wood so you don’t have to worry about lap marks or uneven coverage. And most importantly, it protects against both water and UV degradation, which is really where most of the damage happens.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you’re also going to get mildew and algae protection, as well. Seriously, if you can paint a wall, you can certainly do this.

    You can check out their website – it’s CabotStain.com – and look at the how-to videos to see exactly what we’re talking about. The Cabot Clear Wood Protector, it only costs $30 and can actually end up saving you thousands in deck and fencing repair, so make sure you check it out.

    And don’t be afraid. You can stain it, I promise.

    TOM: That website, again, is CabotStain.com.

    LESLIE: Catherine in Michigan is on the line with a basement-window question. How can we help you with this project?

    CATHERINE: Yeah. I’m just wondering if block windows are the best option for basement windows, as far as security and energy efficiency?

    TOM: Well, block windows are – they may be secure, because they’re block windows, but they’re certainly not energy-efficient. And most importantly, they’re not ventable; they don’t open.

    LESLIE: Nor are they an egress. You know, you need to have a window that you can escape out of from a basement.

    TOM: Well, if you have living space down there, you need a window that you have to escape out of. But if it’s a traditional basement window that’s a small window, it’s never going to be an egress window but it sure is nice to have one that you can open to – and you can get some ventilation when you have to, so …

    CATHERINE: But we would get the vents that they put in the middle of the block window.

    TOM: Yeah, still not very big. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about block as an option for windows. I would recommend a traditional basement window. You can get a thermal-pane basement window. Very energy-efficient. If you need security, then you can install window bars. But just make sure they have an escape mechanism that you can activate from inside so that you can get out through that window if you had to.

    So I mean that’s our two cents. If you like the block windows and you think you’re going to get enough ventilation out of it, then go ahead. But for me, I would never put a block window in a basement. I’d always use a traditional window. I think that’s what people expect in homes. I think doing something different like that could adversely affect my home value. I think I’m going to get the best overall results by doing just that.

    I hope that helps you out. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?

    AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.

    LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?

    AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.

    TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?

    AMANDA: Right.

    TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?

    AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.

    TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?

    AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?

    TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.

    Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?

    AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.

    TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.

    So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently and see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.

    But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.

    AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.

    TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.

    AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.

    TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.

    AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.

    TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    BEN: I have a really old house, kind of like what you guys have, and built in the early – probably early 1900s. Don’t know exactly. But it’s got a rock foundation and we’re in southwest Minnesota, so the ground does freeze pretty deep.

    And basically, the mortar between all of the rocks has pretty much turned to sand. Some places, they worked on re-tuckpointing it here and there. But it’s all kind of coming apart again and some of the rocks, especially on the corners, are even tipping out a little bit. So I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to fix that, if I need to dig down. I have access to equipment. I work in the HVAC business, so we have lots of equipment and I do lots of stuff on my own. So, just seeing if you guys had any pointers for me.

    TOM: So, the foundation is damaged or you’re just concerned about the rocks that are sticking out?

    BEN: Yeah, well, the foundation isn’t particularly damaged; it’s actually pretty solid. It’s just that the mortar – since it’s so old, the mortar between all of the rocks has deteriorated to the point where it’s almost like sand. You know what I mean? And it just falls out from between the rocks.

    TOM: So what you need to do is simply to repoint or replace that mortar. Pointing is the act of mixing up new mortar and pulling out the old stuff and then pressing new mortar into place.

    And the type of mortar that you use for repointing is a little stickier than the mortar that would have been done originally. Usually, it has a bit more lime in it, which tends to make it a bit gooier and it sticks to the old stuff pretty well.

    So, what you do is you work one section at a time. You do remove all that loose stuff and then you repoint it up with new mortar. And that’s pretty much normal maintenance with a 1900 foundation. You do have to eventually repoint a foundation like that; it’s not unusual. You can slow it down with proper drainage and things like that but essentially, that’s what we would expect, OK?

    BEN: Right, OK. Perfect. Hey, thanks so much for your time and the advice.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. 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, do you want to stop buying expensive commercial fertilizers but still have a spectacular lawn and landscape? You can if you make your own compost tea. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is here with the recipe, next.

    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: Hey, do you want to make your backyard into the envy of the neighborhood? In my case, it’s the place all the kids want to hang out. Well, why not build an outdoor theater? We’ve got the step-by-step on MoneyPit.com and it’s not as expensive or even as time-consuming as you might think.

    LESLIE: And now we’ve got Kimberly in College Station, Texas with a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.

    KIMBERLY: We bought this house many years – several years ago. And we had an inspection of the house and we didn’t know that we had a problem with a roof leak. The inspector didn’t catch it because the people who owned the house first put some plastic over the leaking areas. So when it rained, it held water and we didn’t know that until four or five months afterwards, after we bought the house. And then our insurance wouldn’t cover anything.

    And we’re just – we’ve got more leaks now because the house is getting older. And so, instead of replacing the entire roof, we’re looking for some suggestions on some kind of a seal. And we don’t even know – there’s all these things out there. We don’t know what would be the best, if there’s anything available or what we should do.

    TOM: OK. So, you say that they covered this with plastic and your home inspector never noticed that it was covered with plastic? I mean duh.

    KIMBERLY: No. And it was – it’s on the – up in the inside of the house. And also, they painted the ceiling. They had a 5-gallon can of white ceiling paint in our garage, which – so they kept it covered all the time, which – nobody caught that. Now, I didn’t think anything about it.

    TOM: Was this roof accessible? The area that was covered with plastic?

    KIMBERLY: Yes. And he walked around up there and it – and I guess it hadn’t rained in a while. So, those little sealed-up areas weren’t full of water at this – at the time.

    TOM: Let me ask you this: is this a sloped roof or a flat roof?

    KIMBERLY: Sloped.

    TOM: And has it ever been covered with tar or anything like that?


    TOM: So the metal is still fresh in the sense that it has never been tarred over?

    KIMBERLY: No, it’s not tarred.

    TOM: Well, have you had a roofer look at it?

    KIMBERLY: We have; we’ve had several. And one told us that it would cost us $6,000 or $7,000 to put a seal on it. And now there’s some of those things out there at the home improvement stores. We just don’t know if …

    TOM: OK, look, let me make this real easy for you. You don’t seal a metal roof; you repair a metal roof. Metal roofs can last 100 years. So if any roofer is trying to sell you something in a can that he’s going to seal the roof with, that is a disaster waiting to happen, for a lot of reasons.

    First of all, it’s not the right way to fix it. Secondly, it actually does more harm than good and here’s why: because when you seal a roof with tar – a metal roof with tar – water still gets in; it gets under the tar and then it quickly rusts the roof away. If you have a roof that is cracked or has rusted out in a piece of area, then you repair those; you don’t tar over them like you might, say, an asphalt roof.

    So, that’s – what you need to do is to find a roofer who is a craftsman. And I realize that that’s easier said than done. But if you find a roofer that’s a craftsman that really has experience with metal roofs and doesn’t just know how to tear one off – that doesn’t count as experience with a metal roof which, unfortunately, many will just say, “Oh, we’ll tear it off and do something else.”

    No. If you find somebody that really knows metal roofs, then that should be completely repairable. And I would not encourage you to put any kind of sealant on it but to figure out where it’s leaking and why it’s leaking and fix it.

    You’ve got to dig into it further, Kim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, you’ve heard us tout the benefits of making your own compost. It really is a great way to reduce the organic waste from your home and of course, come up with a rich fertilizer for your yard.

    TOM: Well, now there’s another method of composting that can get the nutrients to the soil quicker and it might just be your perfect cup of tea. In fact, it’s actually called “compost tea.” And here to tell us how to brew a batch is Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: What flavor do you want, Tom?

    LESLIE: Oh, I don’t think I want to drink this.

    ROGER: No, no?

    TOM: I think we want to make our lawn grow, though, so why would you use – well, first of all, what is compost tea and why would you use it over sort of more traditional compost?

    ROGER: Compost tea is simply taking a bag of compost, suspending it in a 55-gallon drum and aerating that water so that it takes all the nutrients out of that finished compost.

    TOM: So it’s kind of like brewing a cup of tea except you’re just putting the compost into the water until it sort of transfers to the water?

    ROGER: Right. All the good nutrients – the micronutrients, the mycorrhizae – everything great in that compost is now in a liquid form.

    LESLIE: So you can spray it and put it where you want it? Is that the goal here?

    ROGER: You can spray it, you can put it in a watering can. Any way you can get it on the plants, it’ll work.

    LESLIE: But essentially, you’re still making that compost, right, first.

    ROGER: You can – right. You can make or buy the compost. It has to be finished compost, which means it’s heated up and killed all the bad stuff in the soil. Then you use that to make the tea.

    TOM: Now, what’s your recipe for compost tea? You start with carbon-rich browns, for example, as a beginning?

    ROGER: Well, I usually use a 2-to-1 brown-to-green.

    TOM: OK. Brown-to-green.

    ROGER: Brown is leaves, wood, small pieces of wood, bark. And green is all – usually always the grass.

    TOM: And some people use additives like kelp and things like that.

    ROGER: There’s a lot of things you can add to it. Some of the formulas we’ve seen have added molasses, kelp, fish oils. There’s a lot of different recipes and recipes for the grass are slightly different than what’s for the plants.

    TOM: Ah, so you have to really look up the right recipe and make that (inaudible at 0:25:26). Now, what’s the reason that you might choose compost tea over straight compost? Does it get to the roots faster?

    ROGER: It’s available right away. As soon as it gets there, it’s instant and it just gets into the soil and helps the soil without having to physically either spread compost on the top and letting it break down and get in the soil or using an aerator first and then putting compost on. It’s an easy way to get all the nutrients to the lawn. There’s some major universities who have switched to using compost tea and they no longer use any form of fertilizer.

    LESLIE: Hmm. So now you’re saying take the browns and the greens 2-to-1, put whatever additive in it. And you’re saying put it in a mesh sack and suspend it in a 55-gallon drum?

    ROGER: Right. Just like putting a tea bag in a cup, only the cup is a 55-gallon drum. And you put an aerator like that, like you would have in a fish tank.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: And that bubbles and that makes all the nutrients come out of the bag and into the …

    LESLIE: So now you’re taking the 2 parts brown and the 1 part green. Is this the leaves and the grass? Is that in their raw state, like I’ve just picked them up off of my lawn and then putting them into this compost-tea contraption?

    ROGER: No, they’re going into the bag as a finished compost product, which means they’ve been blended together, they’ve sat and cooked, which means they’re heated up and killed all the bad weed seeds inside it.


    TOM: And once you put it in the barrel, how long do you have to kind of steep the tea, so to speak?

    ROGER: Eighteen to 24 hours. It’s not – doesn’t take a long, long time.

    TOM: Oh, that’s all?

    LESLIE: That’s not bad.

    TOM: Oh, wow. So you can keep doing this over and over again. If you start with real, true, finished compost, like you say, you make a batch, you apply it, make another batch, you apply it.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: It really is a quick way to distribute it.

    ROGER: And because it’s in a liquid form, it reacts instantly with whatever you’re putting it on. You get results from vegetables, lawn, even flowering plants.

    TOM: So besides lawns, what else can you use compost tea on? And would you ever maybe choose to use it as sort of an emergency shot of fertilization to something that maybe wasn’t doing well, because it does get in so quick?

    ROGER: I would, absolutely. Anything that was discolored or wilt-y or something, this would be a great product to hit it with to try to revive it right away.

    TOM: Very quickly.

    LESLIE: It’s like a vitamin B-12 shot for the celebrities.

    TOM: Exactly.

    ROGER: Yeah. Plastic surgery, now, let’s not go there.

    LESLIE: It’s BOTOX for plants.

    ROGER: The one thing to remember is that the formula, when you use it, will have more browns in it when it’s for plants and more greens in it when you use it for a lawn. That’s just the way the different funguses should work.


    TOM: So brew it for the specific plant that you’re trying to serve.

    ROGER: Exactly. Yep.

    TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. 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 proudly brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Live better. Go to MitsubishiComfort.com.

    Up next, are you a tool aficionado like we are? Well, DeWALT has just launched a brand-new line of mechanics tools that have some really interesting new features and benefits, including a way to make them far safer to use. We’ll tell you all about it, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by DeWALT. DeWALT’s new rugged and innovative line of mechanics tools are so tough, DeWALT is proud to back them with a full lifetime warranty. When there’s a tough job to get done, rely on a trusted name. Rely on DeWALT. Available at Sears. For more information, visit DeWALT.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one lucky caller this hour is going to get 3M’s Paint Defender System. And it’s actually a brand-new product. It’s a new, hands-on, paint-application system for your car that sprays onto the surface like a liquid but then it hardens into a protective foam. It’s worth $45 and it includes the spray film, the application kit and a spray trigger.

    You can check it out, because it’s pretty cool, at 3M.com. And you can give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win and of course, help with your home improvement projects.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jesse in Virginia is on the line and needs some help cleaning some bricks. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JESSE: My wife and I are working on – we are working on renovating a 150-year-old house. And we have recently learned what the true definition of a money pit is. But one of the things that we really want to work on is the exterior brick. We would like to clean it up. Some of the spaces have some moss on the northern side of it. And just, in general, it has 150 years’ worth of crud on it.

    We know that pressure washing is out of the option, just because of the damage it would do to the brick. And I wanted to get you all’s advice. So, is there a better way to clean up the brick?

    TOM: There’s a very gentle cleaner called Wet & Forget that was invented by a couple of New Zealand guys, chemists. And they figured out a way to invent a product that activates with – basically with oxygen and with the sun and kills that algae, kills moss, kills mildew and brightens up those surfaces. It’s used a lot in Florida and places like that. It’s used along – it is used in areas where plant life and …

    LESLIE: Well, they used it on Sydney Opera House.

    TOM: Right. And the Sydney Opera House. They used it there. They use it in places like that. So I would look into Wet & Forget and I think that’s their website: WetAndForget.com. And it’s really easy to apply. You basically just spray it on and walk away.

    Now, it doesn’t – it’s not going to blast the bricks clean but it works over time. So over the days and weeks ahead, you will notice that the algae starts to die and the brick starts to brighten up.

    JESSE: Alright. Well, thank you guys so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright, Jesse. Good luck with that project. Sounds like a fun house.

    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.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    So, what happens when a giant in the power-tool industry decides to take on hand tools in a big way? Stick around to find out.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, before you tackle your next do-it-yourself project or if maybe you’re a pro looking for a new set of tools, you might be happy to know that one of the best-known names in power tools, DeWALT, has now ventured into the hand-tool business and has launched a new line of mechanics tools that I got a chance to play with recently and was duly impressed with.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And with Father’s Day just around the corner, we’ve got Rob Kamieniarz from DeWALT Tools joining us to share some gift ideas and to tell us about this great, new tool line.

    Welcome, Rob.

    ROB: Hello, everybody.

    TOM: Now, Rob, what I’m always amazed about when a great manufacturer tackles a new project – in this case, mechanics tools we’re talking about: wrenches and ratchets and things like that – is you never leave well enough alone. And I got a chance to attend the launch for this product and what was really impressive was one of the demos.

    And I will describe it for you, Leslie, since you weren’t there. But imagine this: Rob and his guys had an entire engine block hanging off an open-end wrench. And the reason the wrench didn’t fall off the bolt that it was attached to was because they’ve redesigned the wrench to have better grip. And they proved it by hanging an engine block from it.

    Now, I tried to get Rob to lay under the engine block. He wouldn’t go there.

    LESLIE: I was going to say.

    TOM: But we were still pretty impressed.

    So, Rob, you guys really put a lot of research into this, didn’t you?

    ROB: That’s correct. We spent the last nine months researching, designing, testing and manufacturing this line of tools, actually, to meet the demand of the world’s most demanding tradespeople. I mean we had mechanics, service technicians, fabricators in mind, so we definitely designed tools that are heavy-duty, high-quality and that will perform on the job site.

    LESLIE: Now, Rob, I think it’s really interesting, since this is your sort of first venture into the hand tools. When it came to ratcheting and ratchet tools, you know, what were you guys thinking about in your approach to creating those?

    ROB: Well, we definitely wanted to design a tool that is heavy-duty, that has the highest life cycle in the marketplace. As a result, our ratchets are three times the life cycle of the average ratchet that you can find in the marketplace. We have used superior vanadium steel to deliver a heavy-duty tool for the end user. We’ve added a lot of features and benefits to all three drive sizes that we have available. We have a 72-tooth gear system that delivers ultra-short, 5-degree actuation angle. It gives you better maneuverability in the tight access areas.

    We also included anti-slip grooves on the handle for maximum grip and control, as well as the low-profile, directional lever to reduce annoying catch points and permit easy, one-hand operation.

    TOM: So bottom line, you basically redesigned ratchets, from the bottom on up, to make them easier to use, to make them last longer in our tool box.

    We’re speaking with Rob Kamieniarz. He’s the global product manager for mechanics tools, a new line of hand tools available at DeWALT.

    Rob, before we let you go, we also learned recently that you guys have partnered with Sears. They’re going to be the retail outlet for this, the exclusive retailer for these products, correct? Tell us about it.

    ROB: That is correct. We are very excited to partner with one of the biggest retailers in North America. You will be able to see the DeWALT mechanics tools at Sears starting next week. A lot of the stores have already been set and the product is available.

    TOM: Just in time for Father’s Day.

    Rob Kamieniarz from DeWALT, telling us about the brand-new line of mechanics tools which, by the way, make a perfect Father’s Day gift for the DIY dad in your life.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Rob.

    ROB: Thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The show continues online, 24-7, at MoneyPit.com.

    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 2013 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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