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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Now, we gave you a break last weekend but it is no longer Labor Day Weekend. That means you need to do some labor this weekend and fix up your house. Get it ready for the fall season, which is just a couple of weeks ahead now. You know, when it gets chilly and the leaves fall down and the gutters get clogged and your energy bills go up, oh, my God, let’s fix all that this weekend. Pick up the phone and we will help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, you probably have a staple gun around somewhere. But if you think a stapler is only for papers and craft projects, you could be very, very wrong. We’re going to have tips on why a staple gun can be a toolbox staple for you and to help you with dozens of projects around the house.

    LESLIE: And if one of your projects is turning your basement into a place that your family is going to actually want to spend time, you need to be careful when it comes to adding a bathroom to that below-grade space. We’re going to tell you how installing plumbing in the basement is very different.

    TOM: Yes. It’s called “gravity” and it doesn’t work with you down there.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: And if you’re looking for a fall project that can save big on those winter energy bills, we’ve got a great idea for you. It’s a good time right now to think about replacing your front door with a fiberglass entry door. Not only are fiberglass doors very energy-efficient, they’ll also make the front of your home look really great and can drive up the value of your house, as well. And now is a good time to do that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s right. Coming up, we’re going to tell you which fiberglass door got a big thumbs-up for the Best Buy from Consumers Digest Magazine.

    TOM: And also ahead this hour, we’re going to give away a HydroRight Dual-Flush System for your toilet. It’s worth about 20 bucks and it is a great way to save water and money all year long. So give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma, your decorating dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Barbara K. on the line, calling in from Minnesota, who’s got truly a geographically unique question. Barbara K. accidentally wore her ice cleats on her boots into her home and did a number on the floor.

    TOM: So Barbara, was there ice in the house that caused you to wear the cleats inside?

    BARBARA: No. I did break my arm, though, in February – both bones – and my son give me his boot-cleat thing and …

    TOM: Oh. So you weren’t really used to having them on?

    BARBARA: Yes, I – well, the bird food I keep in the porch. And I would come in the back door and go through the linoleum kitchen, the dining room hardwood floor, the living room hardwood floor and the porch hardwood floor. And these are 1900 wood floors: all different woods. And there must be billions, if not millions, of – not on the whole floor, of course, just the …

    TOM: Oh, my God. So you turned around at some point in this journey and saw the holes that you now pierced into your floors.

    BARBARA: Yep. Well, about a month-and-a-half later, I didn’t notice them because it’s always so dark here in the winter. And then one day, the sun did shine and it hit them at an angle and I thought, “What the heck is that?”

    TOM: So were you wearing these cleats all winter long while you fed the birds?

    BARBARA: No, no. No but I would go for a walk every day and then get my mail and come home and feed the birds last and …

    TOM: OK. Yeah and so you just kept those cleats on until you got done with all your routine and now you’re faced with hole-y floors.

    BARBARA: Yeah. With a broken arm, they were hard to get on and off with one arm, so I left them on and I didn’t – I’ve never had them before.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    BARBARA: I was stupid. I was in a lot of pain for about two months, anyway, so I wasn’t thinking straight.

    TOM: Yeah. Your judgment was clouded by pain medication, I’m sure.

    BARBARA: Oh, no. No, no. I’m allergic to everything, so that wasn’t a problem.

    TOM: OK. So let’s tackle these one floor surface at a time.

    BARBARA: Yeah.

    TOM: The hardwood floor – if it’s solid hardwood floor and they’re not too terribly deep, you could lightly sand the surface and refinish it. If they are kind of deep, then you’d have to have it professionally sanded so we can get down below those dents.

    Linoleum, no, I don’t have any solutions for you on there. There’s no way to patch that, so you’re going to have to live with that and eventually replace it. But the hardwood you may be able to sand out.

    BARBARA: Yes and I did measure the cleats. And I don’t know what they were new before walking on concrete for a couple of months but right now, those cleats are between 1/8-of-an-inch and a ¼-of-an-inch long. So that’s how deep: just under a ¼-of-an-inch deep holes.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty serious damage and I’m pretty sure it’s not covered by homeowners insurance, either.

    BARBARA: I know. But you think sanding, huh? I mean there’s no – there’s nothing I can pour on it or …?

    TOM: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    LESLIE: Well and if you do, any sort of filler that you put in, because it’s a floor, it’s just going to pop out when you vacuum, traffic, movement. It’s just not going to ever stay.

    TOM: Just consider it a little Wisconsin character very, very special to your area and a great story to tell people. And by the way, may I suggest that you wear slippers next time?

    BARBARA: Yeah, well, then I will break another arm.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Mitch in Texas on the line who’s dealing with a popcorn ceiling and like most people who have one, wants to get rid of it. Welcome, Mitch.

    MITCH: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: So tell us what’s going on. Where is this popcorn ceiling? Is it truly popcorn? Are you sure it’s not a stucco texture?

    MITCH: No, it’s a true popcorn ceiling. What’s going on is in our bedroom, we’re wanting to get rid of the popcorn ceiling and make it just a flat ceiling. But the thing is, underneath the popcorn are circle paint patterns – you know how when they do ceilings, sometimes they’ll take that brush and create circles all throughout the …?

    TOM: Oh, you’ve got the double-whammy of textures: you’ve got popcorn and you’ve got textured spackle.

    MITCH: Correct.

    TOM: OK.

    MITCH: And so I’m wanting to know the best way, if there’s a product or something to help me get that off without having to replace the sheetrock or cover it up.

    TOM: Man, I tell you, that’s very difficult because the texture is probably in the spackle itself. And if they’ve done it the way I think they’ve done it, you have to sand that stuff off.

    I wouldn’t do it. What I would do is I would get 3/8-inch drywall and cover that, man, one 4×8 section at a time. I know it sounds like a lot of work but in the end result, it’s the quickest and – quickest way to cover it up with the best possible result because you’ll have flat, smooth, perfect ceilings. Even if you were to go through the hours and hours it would take you to get rid of the popcorn and the textured spackle underneath and then painted that, it’s always going to look uneven and a bit rough.

    MITCH: OK.

    TOM: So I really think the best way to do it is to just to put another layer of drywall. You don’t need to use ½-inch; you can use 3/8 or even ¼ on top of that. Spackle it, prime it, paint it and be done with it.

    MITCH: Now is there any special tool or thing to make the popcorn stuff come off that much easier or does it pretty much come off?

    TOM: No. You can – well, if you spray it with a little bit of water and then just use a spackle knife, you can get the chunky stuff off that way.

    LESLIE: Like a wide spackle knife.

    MITCH: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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. Well, with the kids back at school, is your house a little quiet this weekend? Maybe you’re looking for some projects to tackle around your money pit. If you are and you need a hand, we’re here to help you with all of those to-do lists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to have tips on how you can transform the exterior of your home, save money and drive up the value, all with one simple project. That’s coming up, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want you to pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we are going to give you a hand with your home improvement projects that you might be working on this weekend or planning to tackle next weekend. But we’re also going to give you a prize for one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour.

    And we’ve got up for grabs a really great prize that’s going to actually save you water and money at your money pit. We are giving away a HydroRight Dual-Flush System.

    Now, what this does, this is basically a flush valve that’s going to convert your standard toilet into a water-saving, dual-flush system with no tank removal necessary. You can actually do this project yourself. So, when you need, you can get a quick flush just for liquids and paper or you can get a full flush for other business.

    So it really is a great prize. It’s going to save you a ton of money and it truly is one of those projects when you tackle it yourself, you’ll be like, “Wow, I did that.” And you’ll be so green and so forward-thinking, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    You know, we are very fortunate, Leslie, to be able to work with some of the best companies in the world as sponsors of this program. And that’s why we want to take this opportunity to send out a huge congrats to our friends at Therma-Tru Doors, who are the winners of the Consumer Digest Magazine designation as a Best Buy in fiberglass entry doors. That’s pretty powerful.

    When you have a magazine like Consumers Digest designate you as a Best Buy, that means that you’re really delivering a lot of value and a lot of quality. And they qualified for all five collections of the Therma-Tru Classic-Craft fiberglass entry door: the American style, the Mahogany, the Rustic, Oak and Canvas. They were all included in the Best Buy designation, so well done, Therma-Tru.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? This is really exciting because this is the first time that Consumers Digest has ever even focused on reviewing fiberglass entry doors as its own category. In fact …

    TOM: Oh, is that right? That’s interesting.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean this is the first time that they’ve thought about it.

    TOM: That shows how entrenched fiberglass doors are in the market right now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they really are a great choice that more and more people are making on a daily basis. In fact, the magazine even wrote: “No other door that’s in this price range replicates the look of a wood door better than the Classic-Craft series does.”

    And it’s true. The Therma-Tru Classic-Craft series, their fiberglass doors, they’re not only beautiful – and they really, really are beautiful; they look exactly like wood – but they’re energy-efficient, they’re strong and they’re secure. And really, if you put a fiberglass door next to a wood door, I’d bet you you’d pick the wrong one when you would think which one’s the fiberglass door. So check out their website.

    TOM: Leave them there in the sunlight for about a year; it’d be pretty obvious.

    LESLIE: You’ll know which.

    TOM: Because the wood door is going to fall apart and crack.

    If you want more information on Therma-Tru Doors, you can go to their website at ThermaTru.com – T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jean in West Virginia who’s got a question about cleaning windows. Tell us what’s going on.

    JEAN: Hi. First of all, I’d like to say that I love your show.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    TOM: Thank you.

    JEAN: I have a few Plexiglas windows in my home and there’s a cloudiness to them. I’ve tried cleaning them with vinegar and water, with the straight vinegar, Windex, even soap and water trying to get the dirt off of it and nothing keeps – I can’t use it. I haven’t found anything where I can clean them and I was hoping you guys might have a solution.

    LESLIE: Jean, unfortunately, you kind of said something that made me a little nervous about what’s been going on with your windows. You used Windex on the Plexiglas and while Windex is great for glass or surfaces, with Plexiglas it causes a reaction on the surface of the Plexi which then causes a cloudiness that is not removable.

    JEAN: Oh, so I did it to myself.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Unfortunately.

    LESLIE: There are special Plexi cleaners that you can pick up at home centers, supermarkets. They’re not hard to find; they’re made especially for Plexiglas and it’s the – it’s really – you can’t go back, though.

    JEAN: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: Like once you’ve done it, it’s done.

    JEAN: OK. And I can find that at Lowe’s?

    LESLIE: Oh, completely. Any home center, you’ll find it. It’ll be in the cleaning aisle and make sure it’ll say “special Plexiglas cleaner.” And it’s made specifically for that, because otherwise it causes a chemical reaction.

    JEAN: Oh, OK. I understand. Alright. Wonderful. Well, I do appreciate that.

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

    JEAN: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Andy from South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a storage and let’s call it an organizing issue. What’s going on, Andy?

    ANDY: Well, it’s not a boat in the basement but the stuff in an attic.


    ANDY: And the question is – the stuff is mostly at the end of the house, directly above a two-car garage. The good news is the two-car garage is away from the street. And I would like to, in some way, be able to remove the stuff out of the attic. And I’m thinking that the louvered vent – it’s at the peak of the roof, on that end of the house or something – that either I can hinge or I could take out completely and reinstall it or put a new one in.

    TOM: Oh, you mean to get the stuff out, as an easy way out? Is that what you’re thinking?

    ANDY: To get the stuff out, because I’ve got lots of stuff.

    TOM: I see.

    ANDY: Most of it is way too big.

    TOM: How big of a vent do you have there?

    ANDY: It’s a better part of 5 feet tall and about close to …

    TOM: Oh, it’s a big vent. OK. Well, then I think that’s probably a reasonable solution that’s a pretty quick way to get all the stuff out of the attic. And then next time, don’t fill it up so much.

    ANDY: Well, it was filled up a piece at a time through the years.

    TOM: Yeah, I know. Not all at once, right? Yeah.

    ANDY: It’s kind of like that boat in the basement thing but it’s stuff in the attic. And my wife said I would not bring it down through the house.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I think it’s a reasonable solution if you have a vent that is that big. If it’s 5 feet wide, you’ve already got the structural hole in the attic. And if you can take it apart and get all that stuff out, put it back together, it might not be that big of a deal.

    Once you get that out and the space is now empty, it’s a good opportunity for you to also reinsulate in that area. Does it have a floor on it?

    ANDY: It does.

    TOM: Alright. So, you might want to think about checking under those floor boards, seeing what kind of insulation you have. If it’s filled up, you could actually add some additional insulation on top of the floor. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to re-store things there because what you really want in your part of the country is about 16 to 18 inches of insulation. That will really keep those air-conditioning bills down, as well as the heating bills if it gets chilly.

    ANDY: Well, I recently had the house reroofed and I put in a nice, new, high-end ridge vent when we did all of that.

    TOM: Well, that was smart.

    ANDY: And we also went back with these power turbines.

    TOM: Well, that wasn’t smart.

    ANDY: Power turbines weren’t smart?

    TOM: No. If you put a ridge vent in and you matched those with soffit vents, that’s really all you need. You don’t need an attic fan, you don’t need these spinning vents. They’re not as effective as continuous ridge and soffit vents.

    So, get the stuff out of the attic, improve the insulation, improve the ventilation and you will be good to go.

    ANDY: Sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: Jim in Minnesota is on the line and has got a question about roofing. How can we help you with your project?

    JIM: Yeah. I have a 28×40 building with an average roof pitch and the shingles need replacing.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: Should I put tin on the roof boards? Or I hear that we should put boards that run horizontally under roof boards, then nail the tin on top of the – these horizontal boards.

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, Jim, you have asphalt shingles on there right now?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Are you planning on removing those shingles?

    JIM: Absolutely.

    TOM: Alright, good. So once you remove them, then I think you can put the tin right on top of the sheathing. I’m assuming you have sheathing there. If you don’t have sheathing, then you would have to have stripped sheathing put on: those strips that you’re talking about, those furring strips. Yeah, you would have to add those. But if you have standard sheathing, I think you can put the metal roof right on top of that.

    And it’s a good project to do. You know, those metal roofs really do last indefinitely and the coatings that are on the metal roofs today are reflective of the heat in the summer, so it keeps the buildings cold, cooler, as well. So, good project.

    Does that help you out?

    JIM: Yes.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up, are you thinking about installing a bathroom in your basement? Well, the biggest challenge can be summed up in a single word: gravity. We’re going to tell you how to make that plumbing system flow uphill, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the HydroRight Drop-In Dual Flush Converter, proud sponsor of Water Conservation 2011. The HydroRight easily converts your toilet into a water- and money-saving dual-flush toilet. Push the quick-flush setting for liquids or the full-flush for more. Look for the HydroRight at The Home Depot and other fine retailers or visit SaveMyToilet.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you can also visit with The Money Pit on Twitter and Facebook. Either way, you will get money-saving home improvement tweets or posts sent directly to your computer or your smartphone. Just follow our handle, @MoneyPit, on Twitter and /TheMoneyPit on Facebook. Not slash as in go away but slash as in Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Just want to be very, very clear about that.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robert in Tennessee on the line who thinks the foundation in their home is not very firm. How do you know? What have you been doing, poking at it? What’s going on, Robert?

    ROBERT: Hey. No, it’s just any time the boys or the dogs run through the house, there’s a couple of areas where vases and things start shaking on top of furniture. And we just want to know the best way to shore it up.

    TOM: Oh, so you’ve got some bouncy floors.

    ROBERT: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, let’s see. A 1919 house is going to have beams that are a little bit smaller than what we would put in today and probably not much in the way of bridging. So you can put in some mid-span support to that. You could add another girder down the middle of the floor joists to kind of half the distance that they’re traveling.

    Now, this girder doesn’t have to have the traditional foundation associated with it. Some stiff lally columns would do the trick here, because really what you’re doing is just trying to take the flex out of the floor joists. But that kind of bounce is not really that unusual in an older house and I wouldn’t be too terribly concerned about it. But if it’s bothering you, you could put in a mid-span girder to take the bounce out. Does that make sense?

    ROBERT: It does. I have put a couple of them in. I just find that I wonder when the blocks will ever settle that they’re under, because it seems like every other year I have to go back under there and jack them back up some more.

    TOM: Tighten them up? OK. So I mean if that’s the case, then you might want to go through the trouble of digging yourself out of footing. It doesn’t have to be 3 foot deep but if you dig out the floor to the point where you’ve got maybe a 2-foot square hole, fill it up with concrete and place the lally column on top of that and make sure that’s under the girder, then I think it’ll be a longer-term repair for you.

    ROBERT: OK. Sounds good.

    TOM: You can mix it up yourself just with a couple of bags of QUIKRETE or something like that.


    LESLIE: And Robert, you can always enforce the speed limit in the house with the kids.

    ROBERT: Well, that’s a never-ending problem there.

    TOM: I hear you, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    ROBERT: Thank you, Tom and Leslie.

    LESLIE: Well, today, more and more extended families are coming together under one roof, whether it’s for an economic reason or a health issue. And if that’s the case in your house, you might find yourself looking for more space or even an extra bathroom.

    TOM: And one of the best places to expand is actually down under. And no, we’re not talking about moving to Australia; we’re talking about your basement.

    Basements make really terrific living areas if they’re properly finished and that includes installing a below-grade bathroom. To find out how to do just that, we turn to a guy who knows exactly how to make a plumbing system defy gravity: our friend, Richard Trethewey, from TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys.

    TOM: And most people think that putting in a bathroom below-grade requires a lot of work and expense but that’s not necessarily always true, correct?

    RICHARD: Well, it always was, you know? You had – because you didn’t have gravity to work with, you always had to open up the basement floor and put a thing called a sewage ejector: this big pit, like a sump pit, that everything came into. And that was pretty extensive.

    And then we saw this product some years ago that allows you to actually put a basement bathroom in without having to dig up the floor and it’s pretty, pretty ingenious.

    TOM: OK. And what’s that called?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s a product called Saniflo and it has a variety of iterations. One is just a straightforward unit that’s a toilet that sits on the floor and it has a macerator in it so that it’ll grind up and pump out the waste through a relatively small pipe – a little ¾ pipe – and that will go into the OP and then into the drain system.

    And then they also have one that can allow you to have a tub or shower drain off the side of it and also allows you to bring a lavatory, so that it – but it makes most of its work be done above the finish or above the basement grade of the floor.

    LESLIE: Now, is there any limitation to – as far as the distance you might need to actually move the waste to get into the main sewage? Like can you only keep it under a certain distance?

    RICHARD: No. There’s no practical limit in residential. I mean you could – I don’t think there’s a house that we couldn’t get this thing to pump it out.

    TOM: Now, because it’s sitting on the floor, do you have to build a throne to put your throne there?

    RICHARD: Well, no. It comes off the back. It’s designed that way, so you do see this little, white tank off the back of the toilet.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And then it has a place – you may have to build up your shower height. So if you have a really low basement, if you’re trying to do a shower stall it might get you into a little bit of trouble.

    TOM: So the toilet is different than – the toilet doesn’t drain below it. It drains out the back?

    RICHARD: No, it’s expressly made for this device and it’s a matched unit, so it’s not – you’re not putting a conventional toilet there.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    RICHARD: But it’s an ingenious – it’s really ingenious because there are so many people that just would love to have a basement bathroom and historically, it was just prohibitive to get this thing done.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, I know. In so many communities, there are a lot of limitations to what you can do as far as a bathroom in a basement area. So really, I think the first step is going to your town’s building department and find out what the rules are.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    LESLIE: Because since I’ve started working as a decorator, I can’t tell you how many families who’ve just bought a house and there’s a bathroom in the basement. And they’re going to go do some decorative work and they go to file the permits and the town’s like, “Whoa. That bathroom’s not legal. You’ve got to get rid of it.”

    RICHARD: I always prefer to be up-front with the local establishment and sort of – when I had to do a – build a house, I went right to the town hall and said, “Tell me how to do it the right way.” And it’s amazing how they become – they go from potentially your adversary to your advocate.

    TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    And to see a great video of how to install a basement toilet, including that Saniflo system that Richard mentioned, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And remember, you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    Still ahead, when you think about staples, do you think about the flimsy things you use to attach to your school papers? Well, forget about that. We’re going to tell you why a staple gun should be moved up to the top of your tool box because of all the projects it can complete, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    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, don’t forget we are giving away a great prize to help you save money and water this hour. One caller who makes it on the air with us is going to win the HydroRight Converter. It changes any standard toilet into a dual-flush system. It’s got a quick flush for liquids and a full flush when you need it and you know when you need it.

    This was invented by a plumber. It’s really easy to install, actually. No tools required. Worth about 20 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with what you are working on.

    And given the nature of the job that Tom and I have, we get asked a lot of questions about home improvement, what types of tools you should have. And I’m always asked what is my favorite tool, what is my must go-to tool. And for years, I’ve got to tell you, it’s always been a staple gun.

    Now, if you’ve got one, then you know – and maybe you don’t know but there are actually lots and lots of projects that you can accomplish with a staple gun. If you do not have one, go out and get one. Because today’s staple guns, they’re ergonomically designed and they’re easier to use than a hammer and a nail and there’s no thumb-hitting involved at all, I promise.

    And it really gives you a fasten that’s just as tough, if not tougher. And because of the design, it’s very easy on your hands. In fact, ever since my high school days when I was gathering my first working tool kit for my design projects and my theater work, there has always been a staple gun in that kit. And I’ve always turned to the Arrow Fastener Company for the most-quality staple gun on the market.

    Now, Arrow has been in the business of making professional-quality fastening products since 1929. And they are the maker of the world’s best-selling staple gun, the T50.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, the project ideas for a staple gun are really endless. You can use it to add insulation to get ready for the colder weather this time of year. And with the holidays approaching, simple projects can really make a big transformation to your home: everything from updating the fabric on older dining room chairs to even adding decorative trim and molding to walls and even furniture. You know, the ideas are totally limitless and once you have a staple gun in your tool box, you’re going to wonder what you ever did without it.

    Now, if you’ve got an older staple gun, you might want to think about updating it to a newer model. They are easier to hold and to use. And if you want to see the absolute best staple guns on the market today, you’ve got to check out ArrowFastener.com. Arrow makes the T50, which has been the best-selling staple gun in the world for five decades and you can see it in action at ArrowFastener.com.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Jackie in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JACKIE: Yes. We’re remodeling our – a bedroom in our basement and we have a door – we had a door in there that – to the closet; it’s a walk-in closet that opened into the room. And I would have – I would like to replace it with one of those pocket drawers that – pocket doors that pull across so it won’t take out any of the room in the …

    TOM: Yeah, you’re talking about the kind that slides in so it becomes hidden? It slides into the wall? Or are you talking about another …?

    JACKIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. Not the kind that’s more like an accordion.

    JACKIE: No, I want the kind that goes into the wall.

    TOM: OK.

    JACKIE: And our contractor told us that that’s a bearing wall and we can’t do that.

    TOM: Alright. Well, look, even if it’s a bearing wall, you can frame for it but here’s what you have to do. If your door is 2-feet wide – the finished width is, say, 24 inches – the size of the opening that you need for this is double that.

    LESLIE: It has to be like double it, right?

    TOM: It’s even more than that; it’s more like 50, 52 inches. So you frame an opening for, say, a 52-inch-wide opening. You put the pocket door in and the hardware for it and you leave the exposed part and then it slides into the wall and that part gets covered with drywall. That’s why the header has to be twice as big.

    It’s not – in a normal door, if it’s a 2-foot door, it’s going to be a 26, 28-inch header. But with a pocket door, it has to be twice as big. So that may be why he’s trying to talk you out of it. I would further clarify that with him because you can put a header. I mean if you can have a 2-foot door, you can have a 4-foot door; it’s just a slightly different header size.

    LESLIE: Yeah but there’s – a pocket door goes in the wall. There’s something that they call – I think it’s like a barn-style door where you put this mechanism on the exterior of the wall, so you would see it in the room. And it can be kind of modern-looking or it could be kind of funky- and country-looking and the door hangs on this track and will slide over the wall.

    TOM: It slides over the wall. Right.

    LESLIE: And you can get a fantastic-looking door and a really great-looking track where it could be rustic and country and then a great, salvaged-wood-type door. So if it’s a look thing that you like, it can be functional and then you don’t have to worry about the load-bearing wall at all.

    JACKIE: Oh, that sounds good. I can match it with track lighting.

    TOM: Sure.

    LESLIE: Yeah, totally.

    JACKIE: Yeah, that’s – I like that. In fact, I think I even like that better than the pocket door.

    TOM: Alright. So there we go; we gave you a new idea. Jackie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Sue in New York on the line who’s got a problem with cleaning laminate flooring. How can we help you?

    SUE: How do you – what’s the best way to clean a laminate floor?

    TOM: Damp-mopping it or with a very light cleaning chemical.

    SUE: Like what?

    LESLIE: Well, I would even say just vinegar and water.

    SUE: Vinegar and water?

    TOM: Yep.

    SUE: OK. Because plain water just doesn’t do it when you’ve got two big dogs.

    LESLIE: No, it doesn’t.

    TOM: No, I could see that.

    SUE: But vinegar will work?

    TOM: Yep, it sure does.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Vinegar and water will work. Also, depending on the manufacturer of your flooring that you have in the house – like I know Armstrong has their own brand of laminate-floor cleaner, which is essentially a mix of things that are appropriate to that type of surface, that won’t cause chemical reactions in our – actually a soap base in there that gives you a little bit of extra cleaning oomph that you might need for the dogs.

    SUE: OK.

    LESLIE: So look at the brand; search them up online, whomever you’ve got. And I bet they’ve got one that you can get at a home center.

    SUE: Alright. Thank you.

    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. Still ahead, stucco, it can have a beautiful finish and really look great until it cracks and then it doesn’t.

    TOM: Not so much.

    LESLIE: So we are going to tell you how to restore stucco that’s not weathering well, when The Money Pit continues.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by The Iron Shop, the leading manufacturer of spiral stair kits. Visit www.TheIronShop.com today to find out how you can own a beautiful, iron spiral staircase.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you have a question on a DIY project? If you can’t reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT, you can always log on to MoneyPit.com and tell us what’s going on. You can even send pictures of your projects and just wait for a bit of expert advice from us or from any of the other thousands of members of The Money Pit community. It’s all online and it’s all free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re there posting your question, get you a quick answer on Money Pit live right now. We’ve got one here from Florida and this person wrote: “I have a fairly new home. It’s a concrete-block house with stucco on the outside. The stucco is cracking all over the place. I want to repaint within a year but I’m unsure as to how to remove the old paint, fix the cracking and prep the stucco. Is it OK to use a pressure washer on the stucco? Should I use a certain kind of paint? Any advice would be extremely helpful.”

    TOM: Well, my first concern is to make sure that the stucco is structurally sound. You say it’s cracking; there’s kind of two kinds of stucco cracking. You either get the cracking or it gets really loose and chunky and sort of falling off the house. You can get the other type of cracking where it’s sort of like shrinkage cracking.

    And if it’s loose and chunky and falling off the house, then you have a structural problem with your stucco and it has to be pulled down and replaced. If it’s just shrinkage cracking, you can remove the paint using traditional methods: paint strippers, that kind of stuff. I would not use a real aggressive pressure washer because you’re going to put a lot of water into it. Plus, pressure washers that have – that are set strong enough to remove paint are going to score that stucco; you’ll leave, literally, lines in it.

    Now, there is a type of paint called an elastomeric paint. There are epoxy-based elastomerics that are a little more stretchy. And these types of paints can be applied by a professional painter and they will have a lot of give to them. So if the stucco expands and contracts a bit, they will kind of ride with that and not let the cracks go through. But it is very important to do a very good prep job and we’ve got an article on the step-by-step called, I think, “How to Paint Stucco.” And it’s right online at MoneyPit.com, so head on over there for all the details on how to solve this problem.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Sally in Missouri who writes: “My floor joists are 2x10s, 16 inch on center. Before I drywall the basement ceiling, I would like to stiffen the floor joist to eliminate bounce by installing new pieces of 2×10 perpendicular to the existing joist. How far apart should I put the new pieces of 2×10? I’m trying to find the balance between having it work and overkill.”

    Now, is this known as “sistering,” when you’re sort of putting them right up to one another?

    TOM: No. Sistering is when they’re side by side. She said perpendicular; she’s talking about blocking or bridging.

    LESLIE: Gotcha. Bracing them across to one another.

    TOM: Bracing them, right, across from each other. And basically, I would take the run of the 2x10s. So, let’s say they’re 12 inch – 12 feet, I’m sorry – from pressure point to pressure point or resting point to resting point, go right in the middle and put the blocking right down the middle of those floor joists, Sally.

    Now, a little trick of the trade is you can use solid 2x10s and you can offset them by an inch-and-a-half. Why would you do that? Because this way, you can end-nail and not have to kind of get those nails in on a crazy angle. If you offset them by an inch-and-a-half, you can just end-nail everything. Be very careful around the wires, the pipes; don’t cut any of that stuff out. And that will make a big difference on how stiff that floor feels, how much bounce it has. It’ll really take that flex right out of it.

    LESLIE: Now, if that’s not enough, go a quarter of the way or you’re good?

    TOM: No, I think that going halfway is fine. The thing is, you have to do the whole thing from end to end; you can’t just do a piece of it or it won’t work.

    LESLIE: Alright. Enjoy that project. Love working overhead; getting in your arm exercise for the day.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hope you got some useful home improvement tips, some ideas, some inspiration to avoid some perspiration on your next home improvement project.

    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 2011 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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