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  • Transcript

    TRANSCRIPT FOR MARCH 23, 2009, HOUR 2
     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 2 TEXT:
     
    (theme song)
     

     
    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 and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone if you’ve got a do-it-yourself project that you want to tackle and you do not want to become a do-it-to-yourselfer. Yes, it’s happened to us. (Leslie chuckles) But we will prevent it from happening to you. Perhaps you don’t want to do it yourself; maybe you just want to direct it yourself. We will tell you how to get that job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    Well, it’s spring – yes, it’s officially spring and that means spring showers – but besides bringing those flowers, they also bring a lot of flooded basements. We have been getting lots and lots of calls about basement flooding. Is that what’s happening at your money pit? Well, if it is, we’re going to tell you how to fix it fast and on the cheap, in just a bit.
     
    LESLIE: And also ahead, it’s about that time of year to get out your mower and power it up for the first cut of the season. But as we all know, just because it worked fine last fall doesn’t mean it’s going to fire up on that first pull this spring. So coming up, we’re going to have the tips on the right way to prepare your mower for its first foray out into your yard.
     
    TOM: And also ahead, we’re going to have some tips on protecting your pets, especially in the event of a severe storm or natural disaster. Did you know, for example, that 600,000 pets were either left behind or died in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? What a catastrophe in and of itself.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So terrible.
     
    TOM: Most Americans are not prepared for disaster and of course, if you have pets, it’s especially important to know what to do. We’re going to talk about exactly what you need to know when we interview Michael Coffin. Now, he’s the author of the personal pocket guide to pet preparedness. That’s coming up in just a bit.
     
    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’ve got a great prize to give away. We are giving away a set of Husky Tough Tapes and the entire prize package is worth over 50 bucks and I guarantee you will be measuring it to your heart’s content on your next home improvement project.
     
    TOM: So give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    Leslie, who’s first?
     
    LESLIE: Steve in Arizona needs some help with a tiling project. What can we do for you?
     
    STEVE: Yes. I have an all-tile floor.
     
    LESLIE: OK.
     
    STEVE: And of course, around the edges of the tile, the grout is cracking.
     
    LESLIE: Around the edges of the room itself?
     
    STEVE: Yes.
     
    LESLIE: OK.
     
    TOM: OK.
     
    STEVE: So I want to see what you would recommend to replace the grout with, because obviously I don’t want to put grout back …
     
    LESLIE: Mm-mm.
     
    STEVE: … because that’s just going to crack, so …
     
    TOM: Yeah. No, not between the edge of the tile and the moulding.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And the wall.
     
    STEVE: (overlapping voices) Exactly.
     
    TOM: What you want to put there is a piece of – another piece of moulding called shoe moulding and that covers that gap, because you’re always going to have expansion and contraction between the baseboard and the tile.
     
    LESLIE: It’s like a quarter round.
     
    TOM: Yeah. It looks like quarter round.
     
    STEVE: So some kind of caulk …
     
    TOM: No, no.
     
    STEVE: … would not do the trick?
     
    TOM: Well, no. Not if – I mean …
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Depends on how big the gap is.
     
    TOM: Yeah.
     
    LESLIE: I mean that’s something that I’ve done in a bathroom situation, where it’s tile to tile. I’ve used caulk to bridge the gap rather than grout because the grout is just going to crumble away. But in a kitchen or a finished room where you have baseboard, the shoe moulding – it looks like a quarter round, so a circle cut into fours – and that just sort of covers up that whole space and you paint it the same color as the baseboard and it vanishes.
     
    STEVE: Oh. OK. Thank you so much.
     
    TOM: You’re very welcome, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Debbie in Indiana needs some help with a leaky ceiling. Tell us what’s going on and how much water is coming in.
     
    DEBBIE: It’s not a lot of water. It’s like drips of water but it’s from my ceiling, which I have a small, maybe six-inch crack in it, in the plaster area. And I’m wondering if like the heat from the house, when it goes up to the attic, is causing moisture in the attic and then it thaws out and comes right back down; if that’s what it is. Because we just had a new ceiling – or not a new ceiling – a new roof put on it like three years ago and around the stink pipe or whatever, there’s a new boot on it with – my grandson put tar around it and everything so I know it’s not the roof but …

    TOM: Well, does it leak consistent with rainfall, Debbie?

    DEBBIE: No, not too much. It’s like in the wintertime – no. No. You know, when it gets cold and then it’ll like – it’ll warm up and then all of a sudden it comes down again. So, I was wondering – they went up there last year and the insulation was wet, so they …

    TOM: Well, obviously – it sounds to me like there’s a leak there somewhere.

    DEBBIE: In the ceiling?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) And I don’t – if you told me that this was leaking in the summertime and you had ducts up there, I might recommend that you take a look at the condensation that could be forming on those ducts. But that’s not …

    LESLIE: Is it possible that a bathroom vent fan would be vented into the attic and that could produce enough moisture?

    TOM: Not likely. I don’t think so. I think you’ve got a roof leak. And the thing is about roof leaks is that you have to remember that they can leak and then run over 10, 15 feet before they show up.

    DEBBIE: OK. So …

    TOM: But I think you’ve got to get up there and take a real careful look with a real strong flashlight the next time you get these conditions.

    DEBBIE: OK. So, (inaudible at 0:05:43.4) …

    TOM: Because I don’t think this is happening by condensation. I think it’s, pure and simple, a roof leak.

    DEBBIE: OK. That’s what I was wondering because I didn’t want to put a lot of money into it and then – or have somebody tell me, “No, it’s not that,” and you know.

    TOM: No, I think that’s what’s going on and, Debbie, listen, when you get it fixed, then you can use some fiberglass tape across that crack and a couple of layers of spackle; then prime it and paint the whole ceiling and you’ll be good to go.

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

     
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call because you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with all of your home repair or your home improvement questions. All you need to do is dial 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, the single, easiest way to make sure spring showers don’t bring you wet basements.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    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. And the number here at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now, because one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a set of three Husky Tough Tapes from Iron Bridge Tools.
     
    Now, these are those extra-tough tape measures with numbers on both sides of the tape and magnets to help when you’re working by yourself on a project. Totally a fantastic feature on these tape measures. It’s a prize worth over 50 bucks, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and be ready with your home improvement question. So give us a call right now for your chance to win.
     
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Alright, here is the secret to avoiding the dreaded, wet basement, especially with all the spring showers upon us and it starts at your roof with your home’s gutters.
     
    Now, they serve an important purpose. They, of course, divert rainwater from your roof and they protect your siding, your windows, your doors, your foundation and you if you’re standing outside (Leslie chuckles) under the eave of the roof in a rainstorm. But keeping them clean is also the single, easiest way to avoid a wet basement. If you don’t believe me, ask Leslie. (Leslie chuckles) One clogged gutter flooded her entire basement.
     
    Now, you can hire somebody to do this or you can do it yourself but it’s a job that has to be done. If you use a ladder, make sure you are very careful. Put it on a firm, level surface. If you’ve got a low-pitched roof, you can work from there but be very careful when it’s cold and especially if it’s still a little icy where you live.
     
    LESLIE: Now, when you get to the nitty-gritty, you want to make sure that you scoop large debris out with a garden trowel and you want to make sure that you wear safety gloves and safety goggles, because having cleaned my own gutters, it is absolutely gross, a lot of the things that you are going to touch in there. So make sure you are wearing some gloves and goggles.
     
    Now, you can also flush the gutters with a high-pressure nozzle on your garden hose. And if your downspouts are obstructed, you can use a snake to unclog them. You want to plan this project twice a year; more if you’ve got a lot of tree cover near your house. If you do this, your gutters are going to be free-flowing and let me tell you, speaking from experience, it was a huge disaster in our basement. Ended up with brand-new flooring, a lot of repair work; all because of one clogged downspout. So stay on top of it and save a ton of unnecessary home improvement dollars, OK?
     
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let’s get right to the phones.
     
    LESLIE: Mike in Delaware has a question about the value of his home. How can we help you today?
     
    MIKE: Yes. My wife and I are thinking about renovating bathrooms in the home.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
     
    MIKE: And we have a full bath in the hallway …
     
    TOM: Alright.
     
    MIKE: … and we would like to convert it into just a walk-in shower and not a tub and we were wondering if that would affect, possibly, the value of the home without having that tub in the house.
     
    TOM: Do you have another tub …
     
    LESLIE: Anywhere else?
     
    TOM: … in the bathroom? In the house?
     
    MIKE: Yes, we have – we will have a tub in the master bedroom that will be a whirlpool tub.
     
    TOM: Then I think you’re probably OK. I actually did exactly that in my house. I needed more closet space so we gave up the bathtub, put in a shower stall and picked up some additional closet space in my very old house where, of course, storage is really at a premium. And I wasn’t too concerned about the value because I knew I had another bathroom in the house …
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: … that had a tub.
     
    LESLIE: I think if it were the only one and you were getting rid of, then you might encounter a potential buyer who would be turned off by the fact that they would have to do, then, some substantial work to put a tub back in.
     
    MIKE: Mm-hmm.
     
    LESLIE: But I think since you’ve got another one, it shouldn’t be a problem.
     
    MIKE: OK. Thank you very much.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Wilson in Montana needs some help with a basement floor. What can we do for you?
     
    WILSON: I have a concrete floor that’s got a crack in it that runs across the whole house. It’s not – the gap is not great; it’s not more than probably an eighth of an inch but …
     
    TOM: OK.
     
    WILSON: … it’s a pretty significant crack, so I wanted to have a – get a product that would fill that and also wondered about some kind of surface coating or decorative coating for the cement that would – that I could make to simulate rock or tile; preferably something I could do myself.
     
    TOM: Well, first of all, the crack is not unusual – that’s very typical – and you’re probably going to seal that with a caulk but in terms of what to put over it, I would look at the epoxy floor-coating systems. QUIKRETE has a new one out now that comes in 60 different colors and 4 different types of color flakes, so you can have something that looks like your plain, old gray floor or it could look like a brick color, brown, blue – whatever color you want.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: It’s pretty attractive and it’s easy to clean when it’s done.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what’s interesting? If you wanted to take the time and effort to sort of tape off different areas and almost make it look like it has seams, the way the flake looks – depending on the color that you choose of the floor finish – you can make it almost look like travertine, which is that marble with that specking in it. Or QUIKRETE just released – we saw this at The Builders Show in January – there was a very interesting QUIKRETE product that sort of does acid staining and it came in like a reddish, a gold tone and in like an olivey-green and when done on the interior and polished in the way that they have the interior finish, it looks beautiful. And depending on the age of the concrete, the sort of acid-etching material that’s within the product causes it to get these different depths and tones of the color. So, in almost – if your concrete is older, it looks better. And that’s a new product; it’s an acid-staining home kit that they have.
     
    WILSON: Do they have directions for how you apply and color and so forth these things?
     
    LESLIE: Absolutely. And they’re very easy to follow and this new acid-staining kit is just a two-step process and the epoxy kit is also the same.
     
    WILSON: OK. And can you put a design in those things like, you know, make it look like stone or tile and that sort of thing?
     
    LESLIE: With the acid-staining, you absolutely can and you can do the same with the epoxy kit as long as you take time to sort of tape things out and work in a methodical method, if you will, to sort of create these areas without trapping yourself in a corner and letting things dry.
     
    WILSON: Uh-huh. OK. And would I just find these at just any home improvement store?
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I would start with the QUIKRETE website, just because the acid-staining kit is a new product for them, so I’m not sure what the distribution is.
     
    WILSON: OK. And is that just QUIKRETE.com, you think?
     
    TOM: Yeah. It’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
     
    WILSON: Alrighty. Thanks very much.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome, Wilson. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Well, most homes are stick-built but you could find yourself with a manufactured home, which is then a great opportunity for a great home. (chuckles)
     
    PAM: Well, my husband and I are going to start a construction project on a new home – sometime in the next year – and we’ve been considering the manufactured housing. And the local company that we have near us that we’ve been looking into, when they put the drywall up they used glue instead of nails. And I want to know about the long-term, I guess, durability of something like that; how well that glue works, if you know something about that.
     
    TOM: If you’re going to glue your drywall, it has to be nailed in place or screwed in place while the glue is drying. It’s a good construction technique but it can’t be done one without the other.
     
    PAM: They tell us that’s all they do.
     
    TOM: I find that hard to believe. Never saw drywall hung that way, yeah.
     
    PAM: (overlapping voices) Really? Really?
     
    TOM: It would be impossible. How are you going to hang a heavy sheet of drywall upside down?
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Especially on the ceiling.
     
    TOM: On the ceiling, yeah.
     
    PAM: Well, now …
     
    TOM: Unless they’ve developed a special brand of drywall contact cement.
     
    PAM: Yeah.
     
    TOM: (chuckling) I can’t imagine that that would work.
     
    PAM: Well, they tell us it’s pretty strong but it just sounds a little unusual. I guess we were also concerned about the safety issues, like toxicity and things like that, I mean, as far as the long-term effects of the …
     
    TOM: Well, you know, it’s always a good idea to try to use low-VOC products when they’re available.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
     
    PAM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: But when you’re building a house, it’s very well-ventilated; it’s going to off-gas plenty probably before you get it all closed in. So, I would be more concerned about the quality construction right now. So, if you’re going to install drywall and glue it, that’s great; but also you want to make sure it’s screwed in place. Screws are the best way to keep the drywall boards on; you’ll never have nail pops. It’ll be real rock-solid.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And you know what? If …
     
    PAM: (overlapping voices) So even with manufactured housing, you haven’t really heard of just gluing on drywall.
     
    TOM: You know, unless there’s a way to do it at the factory where the boards are glued and then there’s – it’s pressed on …
     
    PAM: Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: … you know, in a factory setting so it dries. I could see that.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You know, you might want to, Pam, question the manufacturer about the brand of the glue and then call that glue manufacturer themselves and find out what the proper technique is, because maybe …
     
    TOM: Yeah, but when it comes to manufactured homes, I think that those are just fine. I mean they, in some respects, are better built than stick homes.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you’re not dealing with any weather conditions.
     
    PAM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. We toured the factory. It was very impressive touring the factory; just to watch.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. They really are good homes.
     
    PAM: Yeah. OK. I heard you talking about them a couple of weeks ago on the radio and …
     
    TOM: Yep.
     
    PAM: … the reason I was kind of curious about that. OK. So, I will do that; I will find out what kind of glue it is and maybe call the company.
     
    TOM: Alright, Pam.
     
    PAM: I’ll pursue it a little bit more. Thanks for taking my call.
     
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Mike in Delaware has a question about the value of his home. How can we help you today?
     
    MIKE: Yes. My wife and I are thinking about renovating bathrooms in the home.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
     
    MIKE: And we have a full bath in the hallway …
     
    TOM: Alright.
     
    MIKE: … and we would like to convert it into just a walk-in shower and not a tub and we were wondering if that would affect, possibly, the value of the home without having that tub in the house.
     
    TOM: Do you have another tub …
     
    LESLIE: Anywhere else?
     
    TOM: … in the bathroom? In the house?
     
    MIKE: Yes, we have – we will have a tub in the master bedroom that will be a whirlpool tub.
     
    TOM: Then I think you’re probably OK. I actually did exactly that in my house. I needed more closet space so we gave up the bathtub, put in a shower stall and picked up some additional closet space in my very old house where, of course, storage is really at a premium. And I wasn’t too concerned about the value because I knew I had another bathroom in the house …
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: … that had a tub.
     
    LESLIE: I think if it were the only one and you were getting rid of, then you might encounter a potential buyer who would be turned off by the fact that they would have to do, then, some substantial work to put a tub back in.
     
    MIKE: Mm-hmm.
     
    LESLIE: But I think since you’ve got another one, it shouldn’t be a problem.
     
    MIKE: OK. Thank you very much.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, does your money pit have a few pets running around there? Well, when we come back we are going to have emergency planning advice in case you ever need to evacuate, so you won’t leave your little friends at home behind.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Did you know that adding a Therma-Tru entryway can add as much as $24,000 to what others think your home is worth? To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
     
    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: And our motto around here is always be prepared, which we borrowed from the Boy Scouts but they don’t seem to …
     
    LESLIE: They don’t mind.
     
    TOM: They don’t seem to mind that so much. Speaking of preparedness, you know, there are 110 million households in this country and most are unprepared for a natural disaster. Are you one of them? You know, Katrina showed us that from a local level on up to the top U.S. agencies, we were not completely prepared for a major and catastrophic disaster.
     
    LESLIE: That’s right. And in Katrina’s aftermath, we learned that 600,000 pets either died or were left behind, which is so heartbreaking and it’s exactly what prompted our next guest to come up with the Pet Emergency Pocket Guide. So we’ve got Michael Coffin. He is the COO of Informed Publishing, joining us now to share with us how we prepare in such an event.
     
    TOM: Michael, welcome to the program.
     
    MICHAEL: Hi. Thanks for having me on.
     
    TOM: So Informed Publishing actually generates a whole bunch of these preparedness guides. What got you started on this?
     
    MICHAEL: Well, we’ve been publishing for public, safety and health professionals for many years but after Katrina, when we saw how much preventable suffering there was, we decided to put out a guide for families in the home and from there we extended to pets, because pets also, as Leslie pointed out, were largely forgotten and suffered greatly during the recent storms.
     
    LESLIE: Oh, gosh, it’s so terrible. I could never think of anything like that happening to Daisy; we just adore her. So, where should I start to make sure that we’re all prepared should something happen and our pets will be OK?
     
    MICHAEL: Well, firstly, you want to lay up some supplies: a 72-hour kit with food and water and meds and family photographs with you and your pet. Have those supplies, sufficient for your family members and your pets, and put that in a safe place in your home.
     
    Secondly, have an escape plan. Know how to get out of your house or apartment building, wherever you live. Have a plan laid out in your mind and on paper so you know what to do.
     
    Thirdly, have a rendezvous point away from where you live; preferably a hotel or motel that is pet-friendly, so that you can take your pets with you.
     
    And lastly, have a place in your home where you can shelter in the event that you are not able to leave your home; that’s typically a safe room in your house. And we provide rules in the book on how to choose the best room in your house for that purpose.
     
    TOM: Good point. Now, Michael, it seems to me that pets are really creatures of habit and we’re always cautioning that if you’re going to tackle a major home improvement project in your house, you really need to think about what its impact is on the pets. Not only do you have potentially dangerous things that they could get into around; it really does change the routine. I guess a lot of that applies to a disaster. When the surroundings are different, the pets can, I guess, get pretty confused.
     
    MICHAEL: That’s right; they can. Pets are creatures of habit and they suffer more when you make poor decisions about what to do for and with them. You know, one of the things in the pet guide that we paid close attention to was providing information on helping you avoid poisoning.
     
    Now, poisoning after a major weather event takes on an entirely new meaning because groundwater becomes contaminated; food supplies can become contaminated and animals are used to eating things without question, right?
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
     
    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, sure.
     
    MICHAEL: If your dogs are like mine, they’ll eat anything that’s in front of them. So it’s important that you understand how they could be poisoned. It’s also important to be able to diagnose problems that your pet is having and we provide a glossary that is illustrated, that shows you the different types of maladies and conditions that a pet may be suffering from. And of course, they can’t directly communicate with you; you have to watch their behavior to figure out what’s going on.
     
    LESLIE: Is there sort of, Michael – to jump in – is there sort of a pet first-aid kit that might have certain medications, should you be away from your veterinarian, that you might need in the event that something like this happens or would something in, say, a people first-aid kit sort of do the trick as well?
     
    MICHAEL: Actually, it’s the same for both humans and pets. Your 72-hour kit needs to have medications in it and basic things to help you survive for three days without access to 9-1-1 support because that’s an important point that we overlook as Americans because we have it pretty good here in North America. But the fact is that we could go two to three days without support from government agencies if something major like Katrina happens again.
     
    TOM: Good point. Michael Coffin from Informed Publishing, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
     
    The website is InformedGuides.com. Take a look. These guides are extremely well done, easy to handle, very nicely organized and a nice, essential product, certainly, to have on-hand for any emergency.
     
    Thanks, Michael.
     
    MICHAEL: Thank you.
     
    LESLIE: Well, now that we’ve got you ready to get out in an emergency, when we come back we’re going to talk about your lawn. You’ve been neglecting it all winter and now you’re finally ready to give it a much-needed trim but not before you give your mower a tune-up. When we come back, we’re going to tell you exactly what to do so that your mower works the first time.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement question and you might just get in on our prize giveaway this hour, because we’re giving away the Husky Tough Tapes. There’s actually three of them, measuring 16, 25 and 40 feet each. They have measurements on both sides and are worth over 50 bucks. Going to go out one caller who reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: That’s right. Give us a call, especially if you’re thinking about getting out there in this lovely, spring season and doing some work around the yard. If you’re ready to give your lawn a trim for the first time this season, you want to cover a couple of things before you rev up that mower, so you want to make sure that it’s really going to work right and it does require some attention.

    So, first of all, pull out the spark plug and clean it carefully. You want to make sure you remove any carbon deposits and you want to be careful, though, not to disturb the gap in the plug while you’re cleaning it. Then, you want to put it all back together and check the spark plug wire connection.
     
    Once you’ve got that all set, you need to check the blade. If it’s dull you can sharpen it with a file. You want to make sure that you clean it inside and out, lubricate all of the moving parts, including the wheels – don’t forget about the wheels. And finally, if you’ve got last year’s gasoline in it, empty it out and start with a fresh tank.
     
    Next fall, make sure you repeat the steps before you stow it away. All of this will give a lifetime of usage from this mower. It will keep things running smoothly and really fantastically once you’re ready to get out there. Now that it’s spring, get to work.
     
    TOM: Yeah, a lot of folks don’t realize that if you have gas in the mower, it only actually lasts for 30 days.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, even with the extender. What with the extender, you get six months?
     
    TOM: Yeah, about that. So, yeah, you really need to have some fresh gas.
     
    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
     
    LESLIE: Steve in Illinois is dealing with some radon. How can we help you at your money pit?
     
    STEVE: We live in a house that is – well, we’re the original buyers. We’ve been here about 33 years. And I ran a radon test and it came out to be like 9.4; which is quite high, in my understanding.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which is high.
     
    STEVE: And what I was concerned with – somewhere down the line, we may wind up, you know, having to sell the house and I would like to get this cleared up, if possible, before we would sell it. And I was wondering if you guys have any economical ways of handling this.
     
    TOM: Certainly. You could open up all the windows, Steve, and that would solve it, once and for all.
     
    STEVE: Right.
     
    TOM: Did you do the test in the basement?
     
    STEVE: Yes.
     
    TOM: Alright. So that’s going to be the highest place in the house. And you did this test in the winter?
     
    STEVE: Yes.
     
    TOM: And that’s going to be the highest time that you’re going to get a high reading, because the house is more sealed up than it would be any other time of the year. So I think what you’ve identified here is a seasonal high for radon. You’ll find that it does go down across the space of the year if you were to do multiple tests. But because it’s over 4.0 picocuries per liter of air, you do need to put in a radon mitigation system.
     
    The systems are reasonably expensive and probably (Leslie chuckles) in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.
     
    STEVE: (overlapping voices) Ooh! OK.
     
    LESLIE: But I mean, well worth it because there are health problems associated with radon.
     
    TOM: Well, yeah and also a real estate problem if you want to sell this house and it almost always falls to the seller. You might get it done for less, especially in this market right now.
     
    But the way it works is they drill a line into the floor of your house; it’s called a sub-slab ventilation system, in the basement. And they carve out a space under that hole, kind of like the size of a sump pump. And sometimes you can do this right from the sump itself, by the way, if you can seal the top of the sump. And basically, you have a pipe that goes on there that’s hooked up to a radon fan and it sucks out the gas from below the slab and pulls it outside. And that runs 24/7 and it costs $5 or $10 a month in electricity to run but it will reduce the radon level to a safe level.
     
    So the question is when do you want to do that. Do you want to do it now or do you want to wait until you sell your house? If you’re using the basement a lot, I’d do it as soon as possible; if you’re not, you know, maybe I’d put it off a little bit but you definitely are going to have to get it done one way or the other. 9.4 is high but I’ve seen houses that have been 50, 80, 100 picocuries as well.
     
    LESLIE: Wow.
     
    STEVE: Wow.
     
    TOM: And the interesting thing is it costs just the same to get rid of the gas.
     
    LESLIE: (chuckling) Whether it’s 9 or 100.
     
    STEVE: (overlapping voices) Right, right.
     
    TOM: Yep.
     
    STEVE: OK. Well, I appreciate your help. At least that gives me an idea of what I need to look to, to get it done.
     
    TOM: Alright, Steve. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Lucy in New Jersey is dealing with a flooring issue. What’s going on at your money pit?

    LUCY: Yes, I’m thinking about buying a carriage house and investing a little bit more than a usual one and I would like very much to have your expertise on whether I should put a concrete slab there first and then put the shed on top of it.

    TOM: OK, you’re talking about a shed that looks like – not an entire house, right? (chuckling) Just a shed.

    LUCY: No, no, dear. No, it’s like 8×10, I think.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. If you could, I would definitely pour a slab because these sheds – these pre-built sheds – can go right on the ground but it’s not nearly as nice as if you can have a cement slab. So, if you want to spend a little bit of money, I think it’s a good idea to put in a 10×10 cement slab.

    LUCY: Yes.

    TOM: But listen, Lucy, before you do that you’d better make sure that you’re not violating any zoning restrictions, because sometimes there are zoning laws about how many of those and how much of that you can put on your property, if at all, and how close it can be to a property line. So before you order this thing, go down to your local municipal hall, talk with a zoning official or whoever’s in charge there and make sure it’s OK for you to do that. Make sure you get a permit too, because if you do this and you don’t have a permit they could make you take it out.

    LUCY: Yes. And then there’s usually a fine, too, on top of it. OK.
     
    TOM: Yeah. And we don’t want to have to bail you out of jail now, Lucy.

    LUCY: (chuckling) OK, Tom. Aren’t you wonderful? (Leslie chuckles) Yeah. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And Tom is near by to you, so (Tom chuckles) you could call him for that.
     
    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Everybody loves the look of a granite countertop in a kitchen because they’re durable and they are beautiful if they are installed properly. When we come back, we’re going to help one listener figure out why hers keeps falling apart at the seams, so stick around.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
     
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we here at Team Money Pit, we take your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but we also take your e-mails, so head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us your e-mail questions. And we’re going to get to those right now.
     
    Marcia in Ohio writes: “Within six months, the granite countertops in my newly-built home separated at the seams. The contractor re-glued and caulked them but they came apart again. I don’t know who is at fault: the cabinet installers, because base cabinets are not perfectly even, or the granite installers. Somebody has to make this good. Surface spills leak into my cabinets and it looks terrible.”
     
    TOM: I think that the countertop installers are the ones that are primarily responsible here for making sure that your countertops do what they need to do.
     
    LESLIE: Because even if the cabinets aren’t even, they put shim systems underneath to make it all work out.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, exactly. And I frequently see that the granite countertop installers take the extra steps necessary to beef up the base cabinets. I mean, they’re there evaluating whether or not the cabinets are strong enough to support the countertop and if there’s something wrong with the cabinets, it is their responsibility – and their responsibility only – to make sure that they are reinforced so that they can support this granite countertop.
     
    So I think that your beef, Marcia, is with the (Leslie chuckles) guys that installed the granite top. You need to get them back in and have them take care of this.
     
    LESLIE: Alright. Well, now that we know where the beef is, let’s talk to Bill (Tom and Leslie chuckle) in Delaware who writes: “I installed a new Therma-Tru fiberglass front door. Great door. One question: I want to install a door knocker. The installers didn’t want to do it because they were afraid it would crack. How should I go about it safely?”
     
    TOM: Thanks, Will. And we love those Therma-Tru doors as well and, in fact, they are a sponsor of the show. In terms of installing the door knocker, not a problem. You can simply add a washer to the inside and that will support that. You should have no fear of cracking the door. Make sure you pilot everything out according to the instructions of the hardware but you shouldn’t have any issues with that. You can easily install the door knocker or peephole, whatever you need, even a mail slot. In fact, the Therma-Tru folks have specs for just that on their website at ThermaTru.com.
     
    LESLIE: Alright. Bill in California wants to know, quickly: “How do I get pine tree sap off of my hardwood floor?”
     
    You know, Bill, a great trick to try is if you’ve got rubbing alcohol at home in your first-aid kit in your closet. Use that with a cotton ball on the floor. It’s not going to take the finish off and with a little elbow grease – probably not that much – you’ll be able to get that sap right off.
     
    TOM: Well, if you’re thinking about tackling some spring cleaning, one thing that you might find you need more of is storage. To do that, you probably need some shelves but it doesn’t have to look very utilitarian. Leslie has got some great ideas to make sure your shelves look great, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah, you know, shelves don’t have to be boring and you don’t have to head to the home center and get those simple, steel brackets that, you know, are completely invisible except for this ridiculous line on your wall with all these screws in it. If you take a little time and do your research – maybe head over to the craft store or even look at some architectural stores online – you can find beautiful, corbel-styled brackets. Use these instead of those simple, boring brackets and your shelf is going to stand out and really be a design feature in your room.

    If you’re looking for some more, even architectural-style art, you can attach a painted, paneled wood door right below the shelf and in between those corbel brackets so now it’s almost like a piece of art below the shelf. And if you do an age-y technique – maybe a crackle – something to that door itself and make it look like it’s been around the block a few times, it will make that wall really stand out and make your storage much more fashionable and design-y than you ever imagined it could be.
     
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program – they’re small, they’re slimy, there are millions of them and they are there for one purpose and one purpose only: to eat your house. We’re talking about termites. Swarm season is upon us. We’ll tell you what you need to know to keep your house off the menu, on the next edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
     
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    END HOUR 2 TEXT
      
    (Copyright 2009 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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