5 Pro Tips for Great, Lush Gardens

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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: Thank you so much for joining us on this fine weekend. What are you working on? Look around the house. I know that if you’re not standing there with a paintbrush in your hand or a shovel or knee-deep in the middle of a home improvement project – maybe you’ve got the pressure washer out and you’re scrubbing the sidewalks. Whatever is going on at your money pit, put those tools down. Pick up the phone and call us. We’d love to talk with you, we’d love to hear what you’re working on and we’d love to help you if you’re facing a challenge. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: And here’s a fun fact: a new national gardening survey shows that more people than ever are gardening, including a whole host of new millennial gardeners. Whether you’re just getting started with a garden or you’ve been at it for years, we’re going to walk you through the five steps you’ll need for lifelong success.

    TOM: Plus, whether you have a green thumb or you need to hire out the job, sprucing up your yard is a great way to step up your landscaping. We’re going to have some tips on how you can create a beautiful landscape plan that will help you dress up the exterior of your home, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you’re sprucing up your cushions, drapes or awnings, we’re going to have some tips on how to choose the best fabrics for outdoor use.

    TOM: And if you do love the outdoors, we’ve got a great product we’re giving away this hour to one caller drawn at random. It’s the DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap worth 129 bucks. It works quietly to clear up to a ½-acre from those very annoying invaders.

    LESLIE: And water quality is a big topic of conversation as the weather is getting warmer, so we’ve teamed up with The Home Depot to provide you the perfect water-quality solution for whatever your needs are. Today, we’re featuring the Brita Water Filter Pitcher with a supply of long-lasting filters to give you healthier, great-tasting water with every glass.

    TOM: And those fantastic Home Depot products are going out to two callers drawn at random. So make that you and you and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it. Phones are lighting up.

    Look at that, Leslie. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: David in Alabama is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you?

    DAVID: Several years ago, I discovered some termites. And it turns out the insulation of the house insulating the ducts was all soaking wet, so I took it all off and replaced it. And the termite people said, “Well, you’ve got batts under your house for insulation between the joists. And you need to take all that out of there because it tends to trap moisture and cause mold.” So they treated all the wood and I yanked all the insulation out of there.

    I had two power ventilators put in under the house. I’m not sure how well they’re working but I was toying with the idea to put the insulation batts back at least under the living room, which seems to be cold. You know, the floor does.

    TOM: Alright. So here’s a couple of things, David. First of all, I never would have told you to remove your insulation. That’s kind of crazy advice that the pest-control operators gave you. If you have high moisture under the house – is this on soil? Crawl is on the sand floor? Is the crawlspace on the sand floor or what’s the base?

    DAVID: Yes, it’s a crawlspace. Starts out about 5 feet.

    TOM: It’s on a dirt floor or is it on concrete slab?

    DAVID: It’s a dirt floor.

    TOM: And do you have a plastic vapor barrier on the dirt floor?

    DAVID: Oh, yes. I do now, yes. It was kind of in bad shape when I replaced it but I’ve got it all put down now on the floor, on the dirt.

    TOM: Yeah, you do now. Alright. So here’s all the steps that you need to take. First of all, to reduce the moisture, you start not in the crawlspace but outside the house. You check that your gutters are – that your gutters exist, the downspouts are extended 4 to 5 feet away from the house, not just dropping right at the corner of the foundation as most do. And you make sure that the soil slopes away from the exterior wall. Those things will reduce the amount of moisture that gets in there.

    Next, you’ve got a vapor barrier. And the vapor barrier should be all across the floor of the crawlspace and up the walls about a foot. You can seal the lip to the wall so that moisture doesn’t come out around that. You mentioned you had power ventilators. That’s good if you install those on a humidistat switch. So when the moisture comes up, those ventilators will kick on and draw it out.

    Now, as to the fiberglass insulation, you have another option and that is spray-foam insulation. You could opt to not use fiberglass, which does have to be vented and kept very dry. And you could switch to an Icynene closed-cell, spray-foam insulation. Closed-cell, spray-foam insulation is very moisture-resistant and has the added benefit of stopping drafts from getting through it, up into the house. And it’s sprayed on very thin and then it expands. It has about 100:1 expansion ratio and as it expands, it insulates and seals.

    We have a very old house, where my family lives up in New Jersey, and this house is 125-or-so years old. And we had it insulated with fiberglass until I converted to Icynene and really, I’ve never been happier. It’s been quite warm and comfortable. In fact, our air-conditioning bill last summer was about 50 percent of the cost it was the year before, when we did not have the Icynene. So I think that Icynene is a good product for this particular application because it is going to seal out that moisture and it’s going to leave the floor really super-warm. And it’s going to really step up your comfort.

    DAVID: Who makes that product?

    TOM: Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e. Go to Icynene.com. They have a dealer locator. You can have a pro come out to your house and scope it out.

    DAVID: OK. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: It’s good stuff, David. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading over to Washington to talk with Jean about moss. What can we do for you?

    JEAN: Well, I would like to know, is there a product that I can use safely on blacktop or cement to get rid of moss?

    TOM: Yeah. You can use trisodium phosphate – TSP – which you can buy in the aisle of a – paint aisle of a hardware store or a home center.

    JEAN: OK. Then if you spray that on, do you need to also wash it away and wash it off?

    TOM: Yes. Yeah, you do. You need to let it sit there for a while and you can scrub it and then rinse it away.

    And then another option is a product called JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. And that’s available at home centers and hardware stores, as well. And that’s made by the Zinsser Company. And that’s a house wash and mildew-stain remover, so that’ll work well on the algae, too.

    JEAN: OK. And is that a spray-on?

    TOM: You mix it up and you spray it on. That’s correct.

    JEAN: OK. And then do you think you need to rinse it off, too?

    TOM: I would follow the label directions. I believe you do. And that will take care of it, OK?

    Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us, Jean, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: And just ahead, if you’d like to avoid becoming dinner for a horde of mosquitoes this summer, you need to pick up the very effective DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap. We’ll tell you about it and give one away to a caller drawn at random, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And our listener line is presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Now, if you do that, you’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a product that I enjoyed all summer long last year. It’s the DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap.

    I loved this thing. It protects up to a ½-acre. It totally guards your family from nuisance insects that might bite and spread diseases. And the way it works is it produces CO2 and that’s kind of like your breath. It’s an attractant for mosquitoes. And it does this through a chemical reaction, so there’s no lures, there’s no attractants or baits needed. It’s completely non-toxic, so it’s safe around the kids. You can use it indoors or out.

    You’ll find it at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can look at this product. Check it out at DynaTrap.com. But this product is worth 129 bucks and I tell you, it is well worth it because I don’t think we got bit all summer long around my house. And you know what? Mosquito, that ought to be the state bird in New Jersey. You get a lot of them here. And this thing was just really impressive, so glad that we had the opportunity to tell you about it here on the show.

    We’re going to give that away to one lucky caller drawn at random. So if you’d like to win it, give us a call right now. And you’ve got to have a home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rob from Utah is on the line who’s looking to save some green by going green and needs some help with an energy audit.

    How are you doing today, Rob?

    ROB: We are interested in getting a home energy audit and mostly trying to figure out what to expect. Like how much should it cost?

    TOM: Well, that’s a great question. Now, have you looked around for audit providers?

    ROB: I haven’t really reached out to people yet but tried to get in a little bit. But no, not really.

    TOM: OK. So I would start with your local utility company. Because sometimes, they provide home energy audits themselves or will provide those at a discount. What I would like to see you find is someone that’s not tied in with a repair operation, so you get somebody that’s truly independent. There are some energy auditors that work for the same companies that offer insulation services and weather-stripping and that sort of thing. And what you really want to do is find someone who’s completely independent.

    The scale of the energy audit can vary dramatically. A couple of things that I would look for – one thing that is really good to get is what’s called a “blower door test.” And this is where they take a device and pressurize your house with air or depressurize it and can measure the amount of leakage your house has. And that can help you pinpoint the worst offenders and teach you how to get those sealed up.

    Other parts of an energy audit would determine how energy-efficient your windows are, how much insulation you have in your attic space. Does it match with the right kind of ventilation? How efficient are your appliances? You know, it really looks at all of those areas.

    And then it should boil down to a specific list of recommendations that are prioritized. Because I think a lot of times when we try to make our homes more efficient, we guess. We guess at where we’re suffering the most, whether it’s new windows or insulation or whatever we think we need or a salesperson tries to sell you. It ends up being a guess. But an energy audit really can nail that down with some cold, hard facts and help you prioritize where to put the money.

    ROB: OK. Great. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    DONNA: I live in an old – it’s two-story, cedar-shingle house. And anyway, years ago I used to be able to put Olympic stain on it and I kept up the stain. But then they changed the law where I couldn’t stain anymore. So it was painted in the late – oh, probably ‘99. Well, now the paint started peeling, so I had – one of my sons came and pressure-washed it.

    This was about two years now but he couldn’t get all the paint off. And it’s flaky and because of the shingles and these little grooves, you can’t get it all out. And I live in a two-tone house: a brown stain where the paint’s peeling and the green where the paint’s not peeling.

    And it looks terrible. And I’ve called – I’ve phoned two different contractors and gave them the address and they must have just come by and looked at it. And they never even called back, let alone stopped by.

    TOM: Chased them off, huh? Yeah.

    DONNA: Yes. Plus, they have to have a special license because the house is so old it has to be – in this state anyway, it costs them thousands and thousands of dollars because – or in case there’s lead outside in the paint. Well, it was stained, not painted.

    TOM: So, aside from all the drama associating with this, it’s really quite a basic problem. When you have all of these layers of paint that are on the material over all of these years, at some point you’re going to lose adhesion to the original substrate, which is the cedar. The only solution, in that case, is to remove the paint to get down to the originally natural wood.

    So, pressure-washing it is fine for the loose stuff. But beyond that, you’ve got to scrape and sand. Because you’ve got to get some of that natural wood to kind of show itself through the remaining stained areas that are painted. Because once it’s ready – truly ready – where you’ve got all the loose stuff off and your surface has been abraded properly, then you can apply an oil-based primer. And the purpose of the primer is kind of a layer – it has different qualities than paint.

    Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And so, if you use an oil-based primer on there, you’ll get very good adhesion to the cedar. Once that thoroughly dries, then you can paint on top of that. And the topcoat of paint does not have to be oil-based but the primer does. That’s what’s going to give the adhesion. But you can’t just keep putting good paint over bad paint, otherwise the problem of peeling will just continue to repeat itself. Does that make sense, Donna?

    DONNA: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to take on a project that delivers long-lasting value for your home and a solid return on investment, you can’t go wrong with anything on the exterior. We’ve got some ideas to help spruce up your landscape in today’s Exterior Home Improvement Tip, presented by Tando.

    TOM: Now, landscaping is really one of the most cost-effective improvements that a homeowner can make. But whether you’re starting from scratch or you need a total makeover, planning that space on paper before you put the shovel in the ground can really help make sure it comes out perfectly.

    LESLIE: Yeah. There’s really four things that you have to consider. First of all, what’s the space going to be used for and by whom? Is this a kids’ play space, a garden, a casual relaxed area, a showpiece? What is it?

    Next, you’re going to have to prioritize your wish list: your needs versus what you really just might like to have.

    TOM: Now, next, you want to decide how much time you’re willing to set aside for maintenance. And this is a big one because the best laid plans are not going to pan out if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to take care of that landscaping.

    And finally, you need to think about the budget. How much do you want to spend on the project and the maintenance that’s needed to follow?

    LESLIE: Landscaping really is one of the best ways to quickly increase a home’s value with little cost put upfront. Even just planting colorful flowers in landscaping beds, grooming your lawn or just adding some potted plants can create a drastic transformation and then gives your home a higher perceived value.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Exterior Home Improvement Tip, presented by Tando Exterior Cladding. With Tando, you can replace dated wood and stone exteriors with beauty, longevity, low maintenance and moisture-resistance. TandoShake Signature Stain features six stain colors with a true semi-transparent wood stain for rich color. And TandoStone has the rich look without the weight, messy mortar or maintenance. Ask your contractor to use Tando to accent any other type of siding for a visually interesting, mixed-materials look. Learn more at TandoBP.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bob from Rhode Island on the line. What can we help you with today at your money pit?

    BOB: Well, my money pit is a house, actually. And usually is everybody’s money pit, I guess. I’ve got a – the family’s homestead – it’s been in the family since 1948. And I’m in the process – I’ve gutted it all out. I’m down to the studs, so I took all the studs and the – I mean I’m sorry, I took all the plaster and the laths off the walls and the ceilings. And I’m looking at these two chimneys in the house. It’s a two-and-a-half decker house. And I’m trying to decide if I want to eliminate the chimneys.

    You know, the new boilers today, they’re all direct-vented and I’ve got to do the roof anyway. So I’m saying, is this the time to remove the chimneys? What do you think?

    TOM: Well, I think it might be. If you want to get rid of the chimneys, it could be the time to do it. Do you feel like the chimneys contribute to the aesthetics of the house?

    BOB: Well, that’s a thought, too. That’s part of the reason why I’m calling is because I’m – they kind of do, in some way. And I’m looking at – when I tear the – when I tore the walls out, I exposed the chimney. I do like the brick but then again, I can change the layout of the kitchen without one of the chimneys. The one in the kitchen is quite large, so …

    TOM: Do these come up through the middle of the house or they come up the outside wall?

    BOB: No, they’re in the middle. Not in the middle but they’re inside. They’re all in …

    TOM: OK. So that’s not so bad, yeah.

    BOB: Yeah, they’re not like a newer house where they were outside – on the outside of the house, no.

    TOM: And your furnace, your water heater, they’re all direct-vent today, so they’re completely disconnected from the chimneys themselves?

    BOB: Well, they’re not now. I’m going to replace them. I’m going to put a Navien system in and …

    TOM: OK. Alright. So you’re going to use a PVC, probably, vent pipe to take that up and out.

    BOB: Correct. Yes.

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, if you – it does make sense to remove the chimneys. They are, obviously, a maintenance headache and a source of many leaks. Since you’re doing the roof, now is the right time to do that.

    Removing the chimney is not as difficult as you might expect, because it’s basically like taking apart the building blocks. You start at the top and knock those bricks loose and take them down one at a time until you get below the top of the chimney. Probably go right down to the attic floor, I would imagine, so that it’s not in the middle of the attic. And then go ahead and resheathe that roof, fill the hole in. And once they roof over, it’ll be a distant memory.

    BOB: And the funny thing is, as you said, that’s the proper way. But years ago, I had a friend of mine helping me doing another house and my – and it was a three-decker. And I told him, “I want to remove the chimney.” And all of a sudden, I hear this ridiculously loud noise. Sounded like a locomotive. He went down to the basement and knocked out the chimney and it’s a wonder he didn’t get killed. The entire chimney came all the way down to the basement.

    TOM: The whole thing came down?

    BOB: Yeah. He was entirely covered in soot. It’s a wonder he didn’t get killed. The entire basement was full of brick.

    TOM: Yeah, well, let’s hope he learned his lesson.

    BOB: Yeah. Well, good. Well, thanks for the advice. And I love your show. I listen to it every weekend on WPRO-AM in Rhode Island.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Just ahead, a new gardening survey shows that more people than ever are gardening. Whether you’re just getting started with a garden or you’ve been at it for years, we’re going to walk you through the five steps that you need for season-long success, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, here’s a fun fact: a new national gardening survey shows that more people than ever are now gardening, including a whole host of new millennial gardeners.

    LESLIE: Well, whether you’re just getting started gardening or you’ve been at it for years, Danny Watson can help. He’s the gardening expert for The Home Depot and joins us now with the tips and trends you need for a season-long success.

    Welcome, Danny.

    DANNY: Thanks for having me on.

    TOM: So, Danny, we mentioned this new national gardening survey. It’s pretty interesting because it just came out and shows that more people than ever are getting into gardening. I’m sure you’re seeing that at the store level. What do you think is driving the trend?

    DANNY: I think there’s so many benefits of gardening, from the physical aspect of it, plus just the beauty. And I see so many people – a younger generation – coming in to buy plants. And they’re really – they’ve done their background, they’re really knowledgeable, they know what they want. And if – as a gardener myself, it’s really exciting to see this many people getting involved in it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’ve given us five points here to look to if we want to get our gardens ready. And the first one is to kind of get familiar with what plants are going to grow best in your area. Do people get that wrong? And how can they get it right?

    DANNY: Well, you’re right. You need to get familiar with the plants that do best in your area and the ideal time to plant them. Sometimes we jump the gun. We get some really great spring – early spring weather. And I see it here in Atlanta, then people just grab the plants and maybe it’s a little too soon. Maybe it’s the time to prep your ground. We all have this spring energy. Get the areas ready, get them prepared.

    So it’s important to stay in tune with the right planting times and what does well in your area. And I’ve got to tell you, what’s great at The Home Depot is we have 15 different regions in the country. And we have local nurseries and local growers that provide our plants for us. So what you would see in Atlanta you would not see in the Southwest. So it’s tailored to your specific area.

    LESLIE: I mean I know when I go to the garden center, I find something that’s so beautiful and amazing but it’s also terribly complicated for my gardening skill set. So do you guys recommend that you choose plants that are kind of low-maintenance or more resilient?

    DANNY: Absolutely. Especially for our new gardeners. If you have a new green thumb, we want you to be successful and choose those low-maintenance plants. So plants like succulents, they’re really popular right now. The Vigoro Drop N Bloom Succulent Mix is premade. All you have to do is drop that down into the pot. And then some really great beginner varieties – like marigolds, begonias, geraniums, coleus – those are diehard just favorites that will give you color all summer long. You just can’t go wrong with them.

    TOM: Now, Danny, you also advised that for more experienced gardeners, you should be choosing your tools carefully to make the task of gardening a lot easier. What options are out there?

    DANNY: Well, Fiskars has a fantastic product. And it’s basically ergonomic tools that reduce the strain on your hands. Because if you’re an experienced gardener, you’re in the garden all the time. So choose tools that’s going to make the job easier.

    LESLIE: Now, it seems like everybody wants to try and grow their own vegetables or their own herbs. Do you find that that’s a trend? It seems like a lot of younger people really want to grow these things themselves.

    DANNY: You’re exactly right. And I see a lot of folks come in and they’re buying garden kits, raised garden beds. And Bonnie does our vegetables and they do a fantastic job. Mint, basil, cilantro, those are all really popular varieties that you can grow in the summer and they’re easy. And those are plants that you’re going to use when you’re cooking. But yeah, I am seeing a huge trend in garden to table.

    TOM: We’re talking to Danny Watson. He is the gardening expert for The Home Depot.

    And Danny, you say that there’s a lot of new technology now in sprinklers that can make irrigating these gardens a lot easier. How does it work?

    DANNY: Well, you can connect some of these devices to your smart device and it takes all the brain power out of it. The Orbit B-hyve Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler with Wi-Fi, it allows you to adjust the watering from your phone. So let’s say you realize you didn’t turn the water on or you’re out of town, the garden needs watering, you can just – you can program that and just turn that on. And if you have a larger property, the Rachio 2nd Generation 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller, that’s going to do a much larger job. And it’ll allow you to control the watering in the entire yard or your garden.

    TOM: Who would’ve thought that we would have Wi-Fi to help control our garden hose?

    DANNY: I know, right? Well, we’re doing it with your thermostats, so now with sprinklers.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Why not?

    DANNY: Exactly.

    TOM: So, Danny, another popular trend that you mentioned is vertical planting. So you don’t have to just plant horizontally. You can go up, perhaps, with a nice wall, right?

    DANNY: You’re right. And vertical gardening is huge. It allows you to maximize your garden space and grow flowers, greenery, edibles on a trellis. Or you could even do a tower of pots. And we have tons of options here at Home Depot that will allow you to utilize small spaces. It’s a lot easier to maintain and just easier to work with.

    LESLIE: Now, the Garden Club really seems like something that’s perfect, whether you’re a starting gardener or really an avid gardener. Can you tell us more about it?

    DANNY: Well, The Home Depot Garden Club, it’s tailored to your region. So it’s a great tool to go to to see – to get plant information, to find out what deals are going on in The Home Depot Garden Center. There’s coupons. You can go to GardenClub.HomeDepot.com to sign up for that. But there’s free advice, there’s great DIY ideas. It’s just a great garden resource that, again, it’s tailored to your specific area.

    TOM: Danny Watson, the gardening expert for The Home Depot, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. I can’t wait to get outside, start turning some soil and in my part of the country, I want to get my tomato plants in because we live on those all summer long.

    DANNY: Thanks for having me on today.

    LESLIE: Alright, Danny. Thanks so much.

    You’re listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: And just ahead, would you like to step up the quality of your water? Well, Home Depot has everything you need, including the new Brita Water Filter Pitcher. We’ve got one, along with a supply of long-lasting filters worth over 60 bucks. And we’re going to send that out to one caller drawn at random. So make that you. Pick up the phone, right now, and give us a call with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great product to help you improve the quality of water in your home.

    LESLIE: Yep. We’ve teamed up with The Home Depot to provide you the perfect water-quality solution no matter where you live. And this hour, we’re giving away the Brita Water Filter Pitcher. It’s got a supply of long-lasting filters that are going to give you healthier, great-tasting water with each glass.

    Now, these filters are carbon-spun and they’re going to help eliminate that chlorine taste and any odor and of course, reduce the amount of toxic metals that are in the water, for healthier living. From pitches and faucet mounts to whole-home systems, The Home Depot is a great place to pick up whatever water-quality solution you might need.

    TOM: This Home Depot water-quality solution package is worth 62.89 and is just one of the many we’re giving away this spring. If you’d like to win it, pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bob in Iowa is on the line with a flood that just sounds like a disaster. What happened, Bob?

    BOB: A contractor upstairs. And he was remodeling our upstairs bathroom. We completely gutted it and started over. And they had put a subwall in for the walk-in shower and they figured out that they had to move it ¾-inch. They pulled all the screws out and moved it over. A couple hours later, they went to go downstairs to go to lunch and the downstairs bathroom was flooded clear out into the hall. Hardwood is in the hallway.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    BOB: So he panicked and ran down to the basement to shut the water off and there was water all over the floor down there, so …

    TOM: Yeah, gravity being what it is, that happens.

    BOB: Yeah. And they just remodeled the man cave the winter before. And so they quickly fixed that before the boss came around. And now it kind of took them a long time to get around to get back to me for the downstairs bathroom. I finally had to put the pressure on them to say, “When are you going to do this one?”

    TOM: Yeah. But if they damaged that bathroom, you just moved to the top of the priority pile, as far as I’m concerned.

    BOB: Well, I kind of thought so, too, but – and you almost have to schedule a year-and-a-half to two years ahead to get in.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah.

    BOB: And I’ve used him for years. He’s fabulous, he’s meticulous. You know, I couldn’t – don’t think you could find a better carpenter.

    TOM: OK. So where are we at now and how can we help?

    BOB: Well, he finally got around and he came over and he gave me a quote. And I was kind of thinking it seemed awful high.

    TOM: So, wait a minute. You’re remodeling this downstairs bathroom because of the leak damage caused by the upstairs bathroom?

    BOB: Yeah.

    TOM: So, why is he giving you a quote as opposed to just fixing the damage that his guys caused?

    BOB: Well, he wanted to just come in and cut the old tape out and spackle over some of the bad spots and repaint it. And I said, “No. I don’t know if there’s mold behind it or whether the insulation has been ruined or anything.” I said, “That’s all going to be taken off and replaced.”

    TOM: OK, look, the problem is that you’re mixing two things here, OK? He’s not responsible for – if the guy caused the leak upstairs, which it sounds like he did, he’s not responsible for more than just the damage that it caused. If you, on the other hand, want a completely remodeled bathroom, now you’ve got sort of two things going on here.

    On one hand, what he owes you is just a ceiling repair. On the other hand, what you want is a complete bathroom remodel, which is an upgrade. So, you’re mixing the two, which is making this a very complicated sort of business arrangement.

    If you were to keep it really clean and just say, “I want just the leak damage fixed,” then that’s a pretty simple discussion. But if you want the leak damage fixed and “oh, by the way, while you’re at it, I want my bathroom completely remodeled,” then yeah, he’s going to charge you for that.

    So, I don’t know what to tell you, Bob. You’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot. You’ve got to decide what you want out of the guy.

    BOB: Oh, I’m paying for the materials for this shower and the tile and everything and paying the – those contractors to do the job. All he’s doing is ripping the drywall out and putting it back.

    TOM: Well, if it’s just the drywall part of it, then maybe he’ll give you some consideration on that. But you understand what I’m saying. You’re taking one project and you’re making it much bigger, so there’s going to be a cost at some point.

    BOB: Well, he’s not doing any of that work, though. I am. I’m paying for that with the other contractor.

    TOM: Well, are you having him take out more drywall than he would normally have had to take out?

    BOB: The whole bathroom had to go because there’s cracks in every square inch of all the walls and everywhere there was a screw, there’s a big popped-out mark.

    TOM: Well, look, if you make it really super-clear that your line of demarcation is drywall damage, that he has to be responsible for removing and replacing all of the drywall and any insulation that was damaged behind that and that you’re doing everything else, then I think it’s fair to take that position.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if your outdoor cushions or pillows are looking a bit faded from years of use, reupholstering them is a very doable DIY project. But you need to make sure that you’re choosing fabric that’s designed to stand up to the elements.

    Here’s what you need to consider: first of all, you want to look for woven acrylic fabrics, which are more fade-resistant than printed acrylic or even polyester printed fabrics. Now, the dark fabrics are going to fade faster and all of that fading, because the fabric is dark, is going to be way more noticeable than bright colors or even patterns. So you want to choose this fabric very carefully.

    TOM: Now, most outdoor fabrics are water-repellent but you want to look further to see if they’re also mold and mildew-resistant, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You also – that’s a really good point, Tom. If you’ve got cushions for the outside and maybe you’ve had them for a while, you might not have an insert inside the cushion that – inside the fabric cover, I should say, that’s not moisture-resistant or mold-resistant. So you want to check. If your insert itself is looking a little worse for wear, now is the time to replace that, as well.

    Now, some fabrics are actually harder to clean than others, especially those that have a protective coating on it. And sometimes that coating can be washed off if you don’t launder it correctly.

    TOM: Now, if you really want to nail it on the durability, you ought to think about picking up Marine-grade fabric. Consider it. If it can stand up to the high seas, it’s probably going to do just fine on your porch or patio.

    If you’d like more tips on choosing the perfect outdoor fabric, head on over to MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Eric in Arkansas is on the line and has a problem with smoke damage at his money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    ERIC: Yes, I recently bought a foreclosure that’s got some smoke and fire damage. And I was curious. Is there a product or a special way that the walls need to be treated? Some kind of special primer to cover up the smoke damage to get rid of the smell? Or do I have to gut the whole thing?

    TOM: You know, one of the best primers for this particular purpose is made by Zinsser and it’s called B-I-N – B-I-N. And essentially, it’s a synthetic shellac. And what it does is completely seals in the odor that’s kind of soaked into that wall. So if you do a really good job applying this type of a primer, I think that the odor will go away and you’ll have a terrific base upon which to apply your sort of topcoat of color.

    ERIC: OK. Now, Zinsser? Is that what it was called?

    TOM: Zinsser is the manufacturer. Their product is called B-I-N – B-I-N.

    ERIC: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Just ahead, outdoor living can include the occasional side effect, like a stain from, say, a dropped hot dog loaded with mustard or even drips from a tasty but very greasy summer burger. We’re going to have solutions to make those popular picnic stains vanish, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Post your question at MoneyPit.com or give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, why not go over to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section? And I’ve got one here from Anita in Illinois who writes: “I’m going to have to bite the bullet and install a new central air-conditioning system this year. How do I know what size to get for my 1,800 square foot, single-story home?”

    TOM: Well, on average, you usually assume about 600 square feet per ton. So that would mean you need a 3-ton system. But truth be told, there’s a lot of things that factor into how big or small the A/C has to be to be sized properly for that house. We’re talking about what kinds of windows you have. Is it single pane? Is it double pane? Is it triple pane? How thick are your walls? Do the walls have full sun? Is there landscaping in the way? How much insulation do you have in your attic?

    These all get factored in what’s called a “heat-loss analysis.” And it’s a simple calculation that’s done by an HVAC professional. And in doing this, they can determine, basically, how many BTUs of cooling power you need to be comfortable in that house. So while you can kind of shoot from the hip and guess that it’s going to be around 3 tons, it might be 3½, it might be 2½.

    Now, you think to yourself, “Well, why don’t I just go bigger, just in case?” No, you don’t want to do that. Two reasons: number one, you’re wasting a lot of money because it’s going to run more than it has to. And number two, if it’s too big, what happens is you get short-cycling. The air conditioning comes on and then it goes off very quickly before it has a chance to dehumidify the house, so the house feels very cold and clammy. So you want to get it right and get exactly what you need. Not too much and not too little.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question here from Frank in California who writes: “I want to replace windows and walls of stucco. What’s the best way to cut and remove the stucco?”

    TOM: The best way is to not cut and remove the stucco, Frank, because that’s a boatload of work.

    LESLIE: Right.
    TOM: What you want to do in your case is use a replacement window.

    Now, the difference is a replacement window fits inside the old, wood frame of the old window. Once it’s done, you don’t even see that old frame. You take out the sashes, you take out the molding. You just leave that last piece of jamb that surrounds the opening of the window. You drop the replacement window right inside, so they’re all custom-made exactly to fit. Then you can re-trim it on the outside. On the inside, you’re good to go with no window and most importantly no stucco damage to repair.

    Well, it’s picnic time once again. Don’t let the inevitable stains that accompany outdoor eating, though, ruin your day. Leslie has got the quick fix for stains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: That’s right. Picnics are a great summer outdoor tradition but eating outdoors can just simply be messy, guys. So here’s some stain-removal tips for the most common picnic stains.

    Now, for barbecue sauce, you want to flush the stained area with cold water from the underside of the fabric. And then go ahead and blot with a liquid laundry detergent and then sponge on some vinegar. That’s really going to do the trick to absorbing all of that stain right out of the fabric. Then you can go ahead and apply a stain treatment and then wash the way you’re supposed to wash whatever piece of clothing this has gotten on. The same steps are going to work great for ketchup and mustard.

    Now, berries, they’re a lot stronger. I mean that’s – berry juices are used to actually make dyes in a lot of cases. So you want to make sure that you work quickly with a berry. So, if you have a berry stain, you want to mix a tablespoon of white vinegar with ½-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and then add a quart of water. Let the fabric soak for about 15 minutes and then wash. If you’ve got a really tough stain that’s just not budging, you can actually blot that stain with some alcohol.

    If you want some more tips on stain removal, check out picnic stains on MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, are your kitchen cabinets a clutter of pots and pans that fall out when you open the doors? We’re going to have simple storage solutions that can help, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2017 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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