Test Your Windows for Leaks, How To Transplant a Small Tree, Seal Cracks in Your Concrete Driveway, and more.
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 we are standing by to help you with your home improvement project. We know there’s one on your to-do list. Let’s put it on the done list. Call us; we’ll help you get started at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, trees are great for shade and fun for kids to climb. But on the downside, a tree can block your view or damage sidewalks or driveways with roots that grow totally out of control. If that is happening in your yard, you don’t have to cut it down, because we’re going to teach you how you can transplant it, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if the roots of those trees or maybe some other type of issue have caused your driveways or even your sidewalks to crack, they need to be fixed before the weather starts to turn super-cold. And of course, you know what happens then? Those cracks get bigger. We are going to tell you about a quick and easy fix using a material that requires no mixing or measuring of any kind.
TOM: And also ahead, bugs that are shaped like a shield and armed with a very distinctive odor. We’re talking about stink bugs and they’re turning out to be the peskiest pests around this time of year. So we’re going to teach you the best way to get rid of them and keep them away for good.
LESLIE: Plus, if you love your granite countertops but you’re really not sure how you should be caring for them or cleaning them, we could solve that problem if you give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a cleaning-essentials kit from Granite Gold.
TOM: The kit has everything you need to take care of those tops. It’s worth $55. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.
LESLIE: Preston in Kentucky is on the line who needs some help with a painting project. What’s going on at your money pit?
PRESTON: I was just curious why – I’ve gotten a few estimates on getting the inside of my home painted. And I was curious why they – why there’s such a wide gap in between the prices that I’ve gotten. Is one job different than the other?
TOM: Well, it depends. When the first painter comes, did you have sort of your blue jeans on and dirty shirt and when the second guy came, you were all dressed up in a suit and tie like you had just walked out of the bank?
LESLIE: Dressed from work?
TOM: They bid you as much as they bid the job.
LESLIE: Briefcase handcuffed to your wrist?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, don’t wear the fake Rolex now when the guy comes over to give you a price.
Listen, the thing is what you want to do is make sure they’re comparing apples to apples on these estimates. So there could be a lot of things that they’re doing differently. I would check that first, starting with the brand of paint, because the better paint is going to be worth it; it’s going to be more scrubbable. How many coats they’re going to apply.
LESLIE: Are they priming? What’s the prep work? Is it plaster? Do they need to skim-coat? Is there any repair work that needs to be done to the existing drywall?
TOM: And also, you’re just going to have to – because it’s so labor-intensive, you’re absolutely going to positively have to do your homework on all these guys and get references and talk to people that they did work for recently.
And I like to ask people for references of somebody that they worked for at least a year ago, so we can see over time what their reputation has been. Because you definitely need to have someone who’s careful about their – working inside your house and who’s also a skilled painter. So I would dig in on the references and I would make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples in terms of what the project is that they’re actually doing.
And then another thing that you can do is always go online. And I like to search “complaints against” and the name of the business. And believe me, if there is anybody who’s had a problem, they’re going to pop in a Google search. So if you search the word “complaints” and the name of the vendor, you’ll find out right away.
And keep in mind, there are complaint sites out there. The only reason people go to them is to complain, so you don’t always get a balanced view. But if you see a lot of complaints on a lot of different sites, then you know maybe it’s an issue and you should steer clear. Does that make sense?
PRESTON: OK, great.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Brunie (ph) in Alaska who’s looking for some planting help in Alaska. Some cold plants, I guess. Fake ones.
Welcome, Brunie (ph). How can we help you?
BRUNIE (ph): We have a very narrow swath of grass, which is actually just moss and tall weeds. Can’t quite tell what kind of weed it is and there’s no grass growing; it’s just moss and it’s damp. It’s on the north side of the building and it’s just at the edge of the deck.
BRUNIE (ph): So it virtually gets no sun ever. I think it’s – crabweed, I think it’s called or some kind of a ferocious weed that grows uncontrollably.
BRUNIE (ph): I was wondering if you could make any suggestions what else I could grow there.
TOM: Well, the key here is to understand what hardiness zone that your area of the country is in. And anybody that lives in Alaska is pretty hardy, by my book.
BRUNIE (ph): Yeah.
TOM: But there are actually hardiness zones there.
And taking a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site, Leslie, what zone does it look like she’s in?
LESLIE: It looks like Anchorage is placed in the 3b/3a zone, which would put you in the -40 to -30 degree temperature zone. So that kind of gives you an idea of what hardiness of plant or grass that you would need to sustain those temperature swings.
TOM: And if you go the Almanac.com, which is the website for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they actually have a guide there that has all these plants listed by hardiness zone. So there are actually quite a few plants that will survive, believe it or not, in that hardiness zone. And they’re all listed there in a directory on The Old Farmer’s Almanac. So I think that would be a good source for you. Gives you lots of options on what you can do with that space, based on that hardiness zone and of course, the amount of light. And hopefully, we can get something growing there pretty soon.
BRUNIE (ph): Thank you so much. That would – that’s very nice. I appreciate that.
TOM: 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, I want to officially welcome you all to autumn: as Tom and I like to call it, the Goldilocks season of home improvement. So have at it. Let us give you a hand with any kind of home improvement project you’d like to take on, because the weather is just so glorious. So enjoy these cool, not-humid days and let us help you with a project. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, when the weather turns cold, drafty windows can make you very uncomfortable, as well as drive up those heating costs. But how do you find those drafts and deal with them? We’ve got a simple test that you can do yourself to deliver that answer. And we’ll share that tip, next.
NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re hard at work, we listen to The Money Pit.
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: Taking your calls right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Plus, one caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to win a cleaner home, because we’re giving away a cleaning essentials kit from Granite Gold. These guys are the leaders in stone care. Besides the Daily Cleaner, which is pretty popular, you’ll also get four other products, including a natural-stone polish, which you can use to bring out the stone’s natural beauty and guard against water stains.
Worth 55 bucks. If you want to win it, pick up the phone right now and call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with some siding issues. Tell us what’s going on.
LARRY: What I did is I was watching This Old House a couple years ago and my house was just built four years ago so I just had a brand-new driveway and everything. And they were showing you how – that you could stain your driveway. And I live in Wisconsin, so I decided to stain my driveway and stuff.
LARRY: And then during that time, I got some of that stain on my siding, on my – or yeah, my vinyl siding. And I can’t figure out how to get that stuff off.
TOM: It’s on the vinyl siding, huh?
TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be a challenge. Well, since vinyl is a solid material, have you tried to sand it with a very, very fine sandpaper, like an emery cloth that may be a 220-grit or finer? Or you could try to use rubbing compound, like you use for a car.
TOM: And that’s kind of abrasive, too. You’re going to have to abrade through that surface to see if you can possibly get down to the raw vinyl.
LARRY: Right. I’ve tried Comet and I even – a little bit of gasoline or some mineral oil and all kinds of – you know what, though? I would never, ever put that stuff back on my driveway again, because the first time we had an ice storm and I went to shovel – and all that stuff just peeled right on up.
TOM: Oh, really?
LARRY: Oh, yeah, it was terrible. And then I had to get a pressure washer and rent that and then blow the stuff, you know. It’s just a mess.
TOM: Maybe you need to go back and look at that This Old House segment again.
LARRY: Well, here’s what happened, though. I was in sales for 25 years myself; I sold cars. And if I sold somebody a car, I would sell you an extended warranty, rustproofing, fabric, whatever.
LARRY: So all that contractor had to do was just tell me, “Hey, what color driveway would you want?” And I would have said, “What do you mean by that?” Because they can put that dye in there, that powder and then they could have mixed it right up with the cement and boom, it would have been perfect.
TOM: Exactly, yeah. Yeah.
LARRY: But that didn’t happen.
TOM: You know who was one of the first architects to ever use that technique?
LARRY: Frank Lloyd Wright?
TOM: Frank Lloyd Wright. That’s exactly right. You are correct, sir.
LARRY: Well, he built a lot of beautiful houses right here in my town.
TOM: He did.
LARRY: I live in Boyd, Wisconsin and – oh yeah, he was really gifted, that’s for sure.
TOM: Yeah. Yep. He was way ahead of his time.
LARRY: Yes, he was.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. I think if you try to abrade that with some sandpaper or some rubbing compound, then that’ll do it.
LARRY: Alrighty. I’ll try that. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Janet in Kansas is on the line dealing with a condensation problem. Tell us what’s going on.
JANET: Well, my husband and I, we have steel-framed windows and we get a lot of condensation on those in the winter. And it runs down on the window sills and ruins the finish.
JANET: And I was wondering if there were any suggestions on how I could make that stop.
TOM: Well, the reason that you have condensation is because the windows aren’t well-insulated. So what happens is you have warm, moist air that’s inside the house and then you have cold air that’s outside the house and cold windows. And so as the warm air hits the windows, it condenses. Because the windows will chill the air; they’ll lower the air temperature and then it releases its moisture.
So, short of replacing the windows with better-quality windows, this is going to be a challenging problem. The only thing that you can do beyond that is take steps to reduce moisture inside of your house by making sure you have exhaust fans, making sure your drainage around the foundation is good and making sure that you have proper attic ventilation. So reducing moisture inside the house will help reduce the amount of condensation on the windows but the reason it’s happening is because the windows are not insulated.
JANET: OK. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, when it’s time to shut your windows for the season, it’s also time to start thinking about how energy-efficient those windows really are.
Now, doors and windows, they’re usually the biggest culprits for your drafty energy leaks that occur. Tom has got a simple test that can help identify those drafts and this Energy Saving Tip is presented by Pella Windows.
TOM: That’s right. Now, you can test for air leaks around your doors and windows by doing what’s known as a basic building-pressurization test. Now, the pros do these with very heavy-duty equipment but you can do a very simple version and figure out exactly where those leaks are coming in.
So, the first thing you do is you close all your doors, all your outside doors, all your windows and also fireplace flues. The next step is to turn off all combustion-burning appliances, like furnaces and water heaters. And then turn on all your exhaust fans. Now, these would be in the kitchen, the bathroom or you can use a large window fan to kind of suck the air out of the rooms.
What this does is it increases the infiltration through all the cracks and crevices and leaks that are sitting around the windows and makes them easier to detect. Once you have all the fans going, you can use incense sticks or you can even use your hand around the outside edge of the window. In fact, if you dampen your hand, it’ll be more sensitive because all that air coming in will force moisture to evaporate and you’ll feel that instantly. Once you do that, you’ll be able to detect which windows are super-drafty and then you can decide what you want to do about them.
LESLIE: Now, if you do find that you’ve got drafts, keep this in mind: Pella has got a new series of windows; it’s the 350 Series Vinyl Windows and Patio Doors. And those are Pella’s most energy-efficient products to date and they can actually save you 35 percent on your energy bill, which is a big savings.
Now, the advanced, low-E, triple-pane glass provides industry-leading protection from extreme temperatures. And inside the frame, Pella has added three times more insulating chambers than your typical vinyl window, making them up to 83 percent more energy-efficient.
TOM: Pella 350 Series Vinyl Windows and Patio Doors also help keep your home comfortable year-round. You can learn more at Pella.com.
LESLIE: Now, Hugh is on the line from Texas and needs some help with brick repairs. How can we help you with the project?
HUGH: Got a house down in Houston and every – I’ve forgotten how many bricks but every so often, it’s got a vertical slot between the ends of the brick, as if it’s – I guess it’s a slot for air to be able to ventilate going up. And then up in the attic, it’s – the air can come up there. And I was wanting to find out, would we be better off to seal that up to keep the scorpions and such out? Or do you – does the house need that?
TOM: The answer is no, because you do need that air for ventilation. I’m going to presume that this is a brick façade, so it’s probably over a wood-framed wall. And those weep holes in the brick help the brick to breathe; otherwise, you can trap moisture behind the brick and that could cause the exterior wood surfaces in the structure beneath them to rot.
So it’s there for a reason, Hugh. You really should use it and find some other way to keep those scorpions away.
HUGH: OK. Now, what about insulation? Now, I don’t know that this house had any insulation in the walls. It was built back in the early 70s or something and we bought it secondhand. But would that be where you’d normally put insulation? In between the brick …?
TOM: No, it would not be, so – and here’s why: because you don’t want to, again, insulate that space because that’s there for insulation. If you were to insulate it, it would be in the wall frame itself and even though 1970s sounds like a very old house, I can assure you they were definitely using fiberglass insulation – insulated batts – in walls that were constructed at that time. So you may very well have it.
And in addition to that, if you’re going to add insulation to a house anywhere, the best place to add it is to the attic because that’s where you have the most heat loss, not the walls, not the floors. So the order of priority, in my mind, would be attic first, followed by floors, followed by walls.
HUGH: OK. Well, we’ll leave them open then. I sure do appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Hugh. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lucy in Kansas is on the line and would like some help refinishing some cabinets. Tell us about your project.
LUCY: Yes. We have a home that is about 17 years old. I just moved here about three years ago. And we have solid-oak cabinets and the overall finish is just looking dull. It isn’t awfully bunged up or anything but there are areas like along the upper edges of the drawers where the color looks faded. And so, I don’t know what to use to clean them and I don’t know what to do to make them have some sheen.
TOM: A couple of things. First of all, you can clean them with Murphy’s Oil Soap; that’s a good, mild soap for cleaning any kind of wood surface, including floors and cabinets. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is you can – if it’s just the finish that’s kind of worn a little bit, you can take those doors off, take the drawers out and lightly sand them and then put another coat of urethane on it. You’re probably going to want to use a satin urethane but make sure you sand them first. And use an oil-based, satin urethane. I would not use water-base.
LUCY: I see.
TOM: Even though it’s easier to use, it’s not as durable. So, use the oil-based urethane. And I would dry it on maybe one drawer front or someplace that’s the least obvious in your kitchen, just to make sure you like the way it came out, and then go ahead and do the rest.
LUCY: Mm-hmm. OK. You know, I think that’ll just fix us right up.
TOM: I think so. Lucy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading on over to Rhode Island, where David has got some unwanted visitors in the attic. You’ve got some bees, huh?
TOM: What kind of bees, David?
DAVID: I believe – I’m not 100-percent sure but from talking to people, I think they’re called “carpenter bees.”
TOM: Carpenter bees, huh?
LESLIE: Oh, OK.
DAVID: They burrow through a little – I think it’s slightly smaller than a dime.
DAVID: They form …
LESLIE: It’s perfect dowel size.
DAVID: Yes. Yes.
LESLIE: It’s amazing how they do a 5/8-of-an-inch hole every single time; it’s beautiful.
DAVID: It really is beautiful. So I have an agreement with the bees; it’s like a 15-, 17-year-old agreement: “You don’t sting me and you can stay.” Because they’re not in the living quarters; they just burrow through and they’re in between the living space and the outer wall.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now …
TOM: Right. So, let me tell you something. I’m glad …
LESLIE: Well, they have an agreement with everybody, because they don’t sting, David.
TOM: Yeah, they don’t sting. They don’t have stingers. That’s right.
LESLIE: They’re just large and imposing.
TOM: They’re large and they …
DAVID: Well, I have been told that, also: that they don’t sting.
TOM: Yeah, they will intimidate you. They’ll fly at your head and things like that but they don’t sting.
But carpenter bees, if they are there long enough, they can do serious damage to the rafters. So it’s not something that you want to put up with forever. What you want to do is have them treated and then fill those holes. Otherwise, they’ll come back.
DAVID: Really? So I have been possibly compromising the 2-bys – the rafters and the floor joists?
TOM: If they’ve been infesting the attic for 15 years and they’ve been drilling into your rafters, well, they’ll – they drill in from the edge grain, then they turn and they run horizontal to the ceiling rafter or to the roof rafter and they lay eggs and then come back out. So if they – if your rafters have now hundreds of holes in them from the carpenter bees, yes, you could compromise them.
So, I wouldn’t put up with this; I would definitely have them exterminated and then seal the holes. And this way, they’re gone for good.
DAVID: Alright. Well, thank you so 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.
Say, do you happen to have a tree blocking your view or even hiding your home? Well, don’t chop it down. Transplant it. We’re going to tell you how, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by American Craftsman, an Andersen company. Now enjoy 15-percent off special-order American Craftsman windows and patio doors at The Home Depot. Valid through September 26. See The Home Depot for details.
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 ever wonder how to get in on all the prizes we give away each week? It’s very simple. Just fan us on Facebook. You’ll get inside information on giveaways, new articles, videos and blogs. Plus, we’ll tell you exactly how, when and where to call for your chance to win. We do occasionally record this show at different times in the weekend and if you’re a Facebook fan, we will give you a heads-up so you can be first on the phone lines to get your question answered and possibly win a great prize.
LESLIE: Alright. With the colder weather approaching, Al in New York needs some help winterizing his home. Tell us about it.
AL: Well, it’s the end of the summer; we’re getting into that season now where it’s getting cold at night. And I was just wondering if you had any budget-friendly ways I could maybe save some costs and keep my house warm this winter.
TOM: Well, it all comes down to priorities, Al. And the first place that I would look in any house that I wanted to reduce heating costs on is the attic. And I would be measuring how much insulation you have up there. Now, do you know how much you have right now?
AL: Right now, it’s probably only 6 to 8 inches.
TOM: So, perfect. This is where you want to start. What you really want to have up there is about 19 inches – 19 to 20 inches – of insulation. There’s a new insulation product out right now that’s available at Home Depot called EcoSmart and it’s made by Owens Corning. And it’s a very user-friendly insulation. The way they create the stuff, it kind of looks like cotton candy. It’s easy to handle, easy to install.
I want you to get more insulation and lay it perpendicular to the existing insulation. You’re going to almost triple the amount of insulation that you have in that attic right now. You will see an immediate reduction in your heating bills. If you did nothing else, I would add insulation. It’s very inexpensive and incredibly effective.
AL: Wow, that’s a great tip. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Al. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s face it: sometimes, plans for your yard or even your house change and a tree can become an obstacle instead of a beautiful piece of landscaping.
TOM: Well, if that tree is small enough, you can actually transplant it instead of chopping it down. Landscaping contractor Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, is here to tell us how.
And Roger, you’ve planted a lot of trees on the show and not all of them came fresh from the nursery. So what are the keys to a successful transplant and how big of a tree can we actually hope to move?
ROGER: You can move as big a tree as your wallet can afford.
TOM: Spoken like a true contractor, Roger.
ROGER: There you go. Time of year is critical.
ROGER: We like to move things early in the spring before they leaf out or in the fall when the leaves are falling off the tree. Both good times to put a tree in the ground and get it reestablished.
TOM: So what are we talking about? Like a 3- or 4-inch trunk? Something like …
ROGER: You can do that. You can – in some situations, we’ve brought in tree spades and moved 30- or 40-foot trees that were growing on the site to a new location. Because unfortunately, we don’t plan well enough; we don’t plan for that tree to get as big as it did achieve, so we have to move it.
TOM: Now, a tree spade is obviously a very heavy piece of landscaping equipment. But if you’re a homeowner and just want to move a small tree, what’s the key to doing that successfully? Do you have to make sure you take enough of the root?
ROGER: That’s the key to the whole thing is the more roots you can take, the better off you are.
The first thing I’d do is evaluate the tree. Is it in good health? Is it structurally sound? Is it worth spending some money on and moving? If that’s the case, then we go ahead and we’ll dig the tree.
Now, when we dig a ball on a tree, we like to have 10 to 12 inches of root-ball diameter per inch of tree.
ROGER: So if I have a 4-inch tree, I want to dig a 40-inch root ball.
So, we just lay that out on the ground, we’ll go and dig a trench around, we’ll very carefully cut any roots we come across. Because roots that are cut clean heal faster. So we go down …
TOM: Oh, interesting. So don’t rip out the root; just slice it, essentially
ROGER: Right. If you cut it with a shovel, it’s real ragged, it can get disease or just rot in the end of it.
LESLIE: So are you just exposing the root and then using a good snipper or a saw?
ROGER: Not a good snipper and not a good saw, because you’re in the dirt. We use our old loppers and our old tree saws for this type of work, just to make a good, clean cut on it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. OK.
ROGER: Now, what we’ll do is we’ll dig down until we find no more roots. We usually go down 12 to 18 inches, on the average tree, in depth. Once we dig all the way around and we dig underneath the tree, we’ll take some burlap, wrap it and pin it around the ball to hold the soil in place. And then we put twine – jute twine – around it and tighten it and that even holds the soil together more.
LESLIE: Now, how do you plan for the weight on something like this? I mean that’s got to weigh a ton. You’ve got a 40-inch-wide by 12-inch-deep root ball. It’s not something Tom and I are going to go and be able to pick up this tree.
ROGER: Well, it is if you have the right equipment. On a small, tiny, little tree, you could use a dolly; you know, slide it underneath, tip the tree back. But we have what’s called a tree dolly and that’s set up with big tires and a lip on the front so if you tip the tree down one way, slide the dolly underneath and then tip the tree back, it sits right up on the dolly and we can move it anywhere in your yard. And then if all else fails, I have a Bobcat; I can move just about anything with that.
TOM: Now, I’ve seen those tree dollies; they kind of look like hand trucks but with an extended sort of lift gate, so to speak, or lift.
ROGER: Right, right. And a lot of times, you can rent those at a garden center. They’ll rent them to you for the day and that’s a great way to move trees around.
TOM: Now, once you’ve actually removed the tree and you’ve balled it up, do you have to plant it right away or could it sit, say, for the winter?
ROGER: We’ve taken some out of houses that were having additions put on. And we do a process, which is called “healing in.” We deal a – dig a slight hole in the ground maybe 3 or 4 inches deep, we set the tree down and then we put mulch around it or wood chips. And that encases it and helps it get through the season. And you can leave them there for a year or even two years, as long as you water them.
LESLIE: And that’s while it’s still wrapped.
ROGER: Right. Leave it just wrapped; don’t unwrap it. Just leave it just like it is, water it and then when the addition’s done, you can take them all out and put them right back in your new addition.
TOM: And when it’s time to actually replant, any special steps you need to take?
ROGER: No. Just like you would any other tree, new or old – meaning a new plant you bought or a transplant – big hole, good soil, fertilizer, water.
TOM: Alright. Great advice. Roger Cook from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: And of course, you can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on tree transplanting, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Well, just like the roots that cause them, cracks in your concrete driveway can grow and lead to big-time damage. We’ll tell you how to make them go away for good, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board you brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Happy Autumn, everybody. It is the first official weekend of fall and we’re happy to be helping you with all your home improvement projects.
Now, everybody loves a natural-stone countertop and they’re super-popular for a reason: because they are really durable and they are just gorgeous. But taking care of them, that’s kind of a tricky mystery. Nobody really knows what the right way to do it is. So one lucky caller this hour is going to not ever have to worry about that again, because we’re giving away a cleaning essentials kit from Granite Gold.
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LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.
TOM IN ALASKA: I have a rafter or a trussed – in this case, they’re 9×3½ inches – 9 inches by 3½ inches, 32 inches on center.
TOM IN ALASKA: Now, on top of that, I have 2×6 tongue-and-groove wood. Now, on top of that is where the insulation goes and the insulation currently is some kind of – it’s all one piece. It’s 2 inches or 2¼ of yellow foam with about 3/8-inch or ½-inch of some kind of – I don’t know. It crinkles; it can be broken off with your fingers. And then on top of that, connected to it is what looks like roofing paper?
TOM: Right. Probably tar paper.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: So, what you’re describing is a cathedral ceiling with a sandwich-type roof structure above it. So in other words, typically in a ceiling you would have the insulation in between the rafters. Because your rafters are part of the architectural beauty of the home, the insulation is actually stacked on top of the rafters, kind of on the roof-shingle side almost.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: And that’s not unusual in that type of home. It ends up creating a bit of a deeper fascia at the front edge because of the amount of material you have there but it’s a good, sensible way to insulate that style of home. So what’s your question about this? Are you having problems with it?
TOM IN ALASKA: I would assume that that’s only about R-19, if that.
TOM: It can depend on what exact materials are being used. And you’re right: it’s probably not enough. And so your question might be: “How do I make that better?”
TOM IN ALASKA: Right. And I was thinking of putting something on the inside, which I will lose the visual effect, but I thought if I put maybe a little furring strip or something on the inside, put in a blown-in, rigid foam …
TOM: Well, if you put in blown-in, that’s going to totally mess up the appearance of those rafters. It’s hard to do that neatly. So what you might want to think about doing is adding some rigid foam insulation inside the ceiling, in between the ceiling rafters and then some other type of wood paneling over that so that when you look up, it appears that you’re looking at the underside of the roof still. You understand what I mean?
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: So you can even use a tongue-and-groove thin, pine paneling that’s like 3/8- or ¼-inch thick but have that cover the insulation. And that would still give you the appearance – even if you’re losing a little bit of depth, you might be able to pick up a fair amount of additional insulation.
LESLIE: Well, concrete might be one of the toughest building materials around but with heavy vehicles, extreme climates, tree roots or simply old age, the next thing you know, your concrete driveway is just cracking up. And that’s not good.
Now, water can seep into those cracks and then guess what? It starts to freeze and that causes even more damage.
TOM: Now, QUIKRETE, who is a trusted Money Pit sponsor, has a solution that can help, especially when those cracks first appear. It’s a polyurethane, concrete crack sealant and here’s how it works. The first thing you do is you pick a day where there’s no rain in the forecast. Then you simply brush away any loose dirt or debris that’s gotten into the crack and you apply the sealant.
It comes in tubes, so you pretty much just squeeze it out like caulk. You let it dry for a couple of hours and your cracks are history. It works really well and it’s so easy to apply. The QUIKRETE Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant permanently seals and waterproofs the crack. And that prevents it from getting any bigger and leading to even more damage.
If you’d like to learn more about that product, you can head on over to QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
LESLIE: Denise in Tennessee is on the line about a non-slip floor coating. Tell us what you’re working on.
DENISE: Leslie, I was just wondering – you were talking about the epoxy ceramic paint for cement floors, in garages?
DENISE: Can you use a sand additive so you don’t slip as it gets wet?
TOM: Yeah. I mean I don’t see why not. Are you concerned about this? In Memphis, does it get that snowy and icy?
DENISE: It gets very humid, number one.
TOM: Yeah. OK.
DENISE: And when you have exhaust from your car or dripping A/C unit, which is standard, that can be a problem.
DENISE: I love the look of the painted floors but at the same time, I would like a sand additive added to it; that’s the idea.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The epoxy coatings.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t see why you couldn’t do that, Leslie, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. With the epoxy coating, there are several different components that you have to mix together so that they will work and cure correctly. You may want to – there’s a website called NoSkidding.com, which I think is kind of a clever name.
And they have a different series of products that you would put on after. Because I’m not sure where you would add that sand and if it might affect the curing. And would it absorb one of the chemicals more than another? So you might want to do the epoxy coating with the chips first and then go ahead and add a product over it.
And if you check out that website, NoSkidding.com, you’ll find a series of products for inside, outside. It goes on really easily and it does sort of fix that slipperiness.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, is the grout around your bathtub just cracking and crumbling and falling out and really not looking so great? Well, we’re going to tell you how to fix it for good, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, have you guys checked out MoneyPit.com lately? You know, we are so proud of our website and every day we’re adding new stuff. And right now, we’ve got some brand-new video tool reviews.
Now, you don’t need to guess what’s right for you when you head to the store. You can review detailed videos on fall fix-up tools, like string trimmers and mowers, up close and personal. And that’s really going to help you make a buying decision, so you’re not going to be hemming and hawing at the big-box store; you’ll know exactly what you’re going in there to get. Just visit MoneyPit.com/Videos.
And while you’re there, head over to our Community section. You can post a question, just like Nancy did and she writes: “My bathtub grout is gross. I keep replacing it.” Well, I mean it’s grout, in the bathroom. It’s gross.
TOM: Yeah, pretty much.
LESLIE: “I keep replacing it and caulking the area between my tub and my tile walls but it only quickly turns green and falls out.” Eww. “Is there a way to fix this once and for all?”
TOM: Yeah. Very common problem, Nancy. Everybody has had this a time or two. And there actually is an interesting solution to it.
First of all, I just want to clarify that you’re using caulk and not grout in the intersection between the wall and the tub. You do use grout, of course, in all the tile seams but where the tile meets the tub lip, that should only be caulk. So let’s assume that that’s where you’re at. It just looks really gross and yucky.
What you want to do is strip all the old caulk away. Now, there actually is a product that’s called a “caulk softener.” It’s kind of like a paint stripper for caulk and it makes it soft and pliable – even the old hard stuff – and helps you be able to peel it completely out. You want to do a really good job of getting all the old caulk out.
And then I want you to mix up a solution of bleach and water and spray down that sort of joint area again between the tub lip and the tile, because we want to kill any mold or algae that’s forming in there.
After that dries really well, the next thing you want to do, you would think, is caulk, right? Wrong. Here’s the trick: what you want to do next is fill the tub up with water. But here’s why. The tub will be weighted down by the weight of that water. Then you can apply the caulk, let that dry and then let the water out of the tub. When that happens, the tub will come back up, it will compress the caulk and it won’t fall out the next time you step in to take a bath or the time after that or the time after that.
Now, in terms of preventing that green from coming back, make sure you choose a caulk that’s rated for kitchens and baths, because they’re going to have mildicide in them and that will stop the green from growing.
So there you have it: a couple of quick tips to help make sure that you can clean up that caulk – that gross caulk – around your bathtub and not have it come back.
LESLIE: Alright. And on the gross topic – let’s keep in there – Jim from New York writes: “What’s your advice on getting rid of stink bugs?” They’re gross and I have to say, being a New Yorker myself on Long Island, we’ve had a tremendous amount of them this past summer and into this fall season.
TOM: Yeah, they do seem to be sort of the peskiest fall pests around. So there’s a couple of things that you can do.
First of all, you want to seal up gaps and cracks, the kinds – the same kinds of things that you do to kind of seal your house from winter drafts, like weatherstripping and things like that, fixing holes in screens. Any of those tiny gaps and cracks, you want to seal up because the bugs see the lights inside your house and they try to go to the light.
The second thing that you can do is get a stink-bug trap. There’s a company called RESCUE that makes a whole bunch of environmentally-friendly traps. But these stink-bug traps are very effective. So look up the RESCUE traps. They have an attractant that goes in the trap and the stink bugs pretty much walk right in there and they don’t walk out.
LESLIE: Good. And you know what? Check out their website, because they’ve got some really funny videos that they were showing when they launched this product. And it’s worth a laugh.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this first weekend of fall with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas to get started on your fall fix-up projects. Remember, you can reach out to us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or at any time, log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in our Community section.
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 2012 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.)