Cooking up a New Kitchen for Inside and Out

  • Carlton Kitchen Design
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’re here for one purpose and one purpose only: to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor projects, your remodeling jobs. What’s a project on your to-do list? Think about that. Look around. Think about what you want to get done, then give us a call, right now, and we will help you get it done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And coming up on today’s show, toss aside all those cookbooks full of quick and easy recipes. We’re going to show you how to get a stovetop that quicks faster instead. We’ll share everything you need to know about induction ranges, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you love to cook, maybe you love to cook outdoors, also, but you’ve got just a grill. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but perhaps an outdoor kitchen has been on your mind. Well, they’re not as expensive as you might think. We’re going to help you bake up an outdoor space for those sizzling steaks and burgers, complete with grill surrounds, fire pits, benches and more that are so easy to build. Just think stacking blocks.

    TOM: And are you enjoying a beautiful garden but the bugs are enjoying it, as well? Well, don’t let those bugs get the best of your garden. We’re going to give away a supply of the all-natural Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew from Bonide. That will keep bugs at bay and vegetables and many other plants.

    The package is worth 50 bucks and going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call right now. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you may just win that supply of Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew to keep your gardens bug-free. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Michelle is on the line from Los Angeles, California with a cleaning question.

    How on Earth did you spill some glue on your floor? Tell us about it.

    MICHELLE: Well, this is an interesting story. My fiancé and I just bought a condo and it needed some renovations. We weren’t planning on buying a fixer-upper; it’s just how it worked out. And one of the things was the floors.

    He decided that he would install them himself; he’d done it once before. And so, these floors required a glue, which a lot of folks like – we know a lot of people and people were like, “Glue? I never heard of glue.” But that’s what the lady that we bought the floors from said, so we got this really intense glue.

    And he kind of slammed through these floors pretty quickly and now I have this glue in fingerprint and bulges on top of the floors. It’s really terrible. And I’m just wondering – so we’ve tried – the turpentine works but it takes the finish off. That’s what you’re supposed to use to get it off your tools and off your hands and stuff? But it takes the finish off the floor. We’ve tried these 5505 wipes that are like $20; that didn’t work. Those are the recommended product: the anti-product to the glue. We’ve tried something called Goof Off or Goo Off or something like that. I don’t know if you have a trick but this glue is really intense.

    TOM: I think what you’re going to have to do is try to get it off as best as you can but you – just buy into the fact that you’re going to probably want to refinish these. And it’s not that big of a deal, by the way. What you could do is get everything off and then what I would do is I would sand the whole surface. And you could rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. It’s not like a caustic, rough belt sander.

    MICHELLE: Sure. But I don’t think with a sanding screen …

    TOM: No. You put a sanding screen on it and it abrades just sort of the upper surface of the floor.


    TOM: And then once you get that all abraded and even if you have to sand down deeper in the areas that are really bad, it’s OK. Because you get it all abraded and you get it all roughed up just a little bit with the floor buffer and the sanding screen. Clean it up really good so you have no dust and then you get some urethane – clear urethane. You want to use semi-gloss. And you apply that with a lambswool applicator.

    Now, that kind of looks like a mop for a kitchen except there’s lambswool on the end of it. And you essentially pour a little urethane in a paint tray and you mop it on very carefully and very smoothly, working out of the room. And then give it a day or two and it’ll dry and you should be good to go.

    Now, the one other thing I would do is check with the manufacturer of the hardwood floor to see if there’s a specific floor finish that they recommend for refinishing, because I’m not quite sure what they did initially.

    MICHELLE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Michelle. Good luck with that project and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

    Hey, if you survive the home improvement, you’ll survive the marriage, OK?

    MICHELLE: We’ve been living together five years, so this kind of thing is not new, honestly.

    TOM: It’s nothing, huh? Alright, Michelle.

    MICHELLE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Take care.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question.

    JIM: I need a new roof. I’m originally from the Northeast – New York – and up there, it was very common to not strip the old fiberglass roof before putting a new roof on. I’m wondering what the advantage is to not stripping the roof versus stripping it to put a new one on.

    TOM: That’s a great question, Jim, and the answer really depends on one thing and that is: how long are you going to spend in this house? Is this a house that you’re going to be in for the next 20 years or do you see yourself more in the 5-to-10-year range?

    JIM: We’re in the house for forever, the long – for long term.

    TOM: Forever? OK.

    JIM: Yeah, mm-hmm.

    TOM: Alright. They’re going to bury you in this place. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?

    JIM: Exact. We call it our “toes up.” We’re leaving toes up.

    TOM: Alright. It’s your toes-up house? Alright.

    So, if it’s your toes-up house, you’re going to want to make sure that that roof is going to last as long as possible and the way you’ll do that is by stripping the old layer. And here’s why I say that: if you have a second layer of roofing material under the exposed layer, that’s going to hold a lot of heat.

    And heat is the enemy of the roof. The hotter the roof gets, the quicker the asphalt and the other chemicals that make up the roof sheathing’s – the roof shingle’s ability to keep water away dry out, the shorter the roof life. So if you have a roof that’s really warm, it’s not going to last as long.

    And what I have found in the almost 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector, that when we saw roofs that had multiple layers, generally they lasted about a third less than a roof that was a single layer. So if the first roof lasted 20 years and you added a second layer, you might be looking at like, say, 14 or 15 years on the second layer. So that’s why I would suggest that you might be better off stripping off that first layer in your scenario and putting on just one layer.

    But if you had told me that “no, Tom, I’m only going to be in that house for 5 or 10 years,” well, then, who cares? Because you’re not going to be around to enjoy the benefit of the longer roof life, you know? That’s why it makes sense, if you’re going to be there for that whole life of the roof, to go ahead and pull off the first one.

    A couple other things to keep in mind with that roofing project: also a good opportunity to take a look at your ventilation, Jim. Now, in a 20-year-old house, typically you don’t have enough ventilation, because they just didn’t vent roofs well back then. But you want to think about adding a continuous ridge vent down the entire peak of the roof and then a continuous soffit vent down both sides of the soffit. So that this way you’ll have plenty of opportunity for air to enter at the soffit, ride up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. And that will give you a nice cycle of air, 24-7, that’s keeping that attic space cooler which, of course, makes your air conditioning more efficient and also helps the roof last longer, as well.

    JIM: That’s great. That all makes perfectly good sense.

    TOM: I had a good day. Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews and book appointments online.

    TOM: And just ahead, toss aside all those cookbooks full of quick and easy recipes. Get a stovetop that cooks faster instead. We’ll tell you what you need to know about induction ranges, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    And hey, if you’re a gardener, here’s another reason to reach out to us right now. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat to win a supply of Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. It’s an all-natural insecticide that works on vegetables, ornamentals and many other plants. It’s totally ready to spray, so you don’t have to mix it. You just hook it up to a garden hose and turn it on. It automatically mixes at the correct rate and it’s going to control chewing insects, like bagworms and tomato hornworms, tent caterpillars, gypsy moths and many other gross insects we don’t want around our gardens.

    This ready-to-spray product sells for 29.99. We’re throwing in a pint of the concentrate, too, so the package is worth 50 bucks and going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    CELINA: Last week, I had estimates done on my home to have all my drainpipes replaced.

    TOM: Hmm. Why did you do that?

    CELINA: My house was built in 1944 and we’ve had some trouble here lately with clogs and everything. So, I just decided to go ahead and replace all the drain lines.

    TOM: Is that because the – you were getting roots and that sort of thing in the pipes?

    CELINA: I don’t think there’s roots in them, no, because we’ve had those – the pipe from the house back to the drain replaced already. This is just the inside pipe. And they’re old and yes, we have had a couple of them to rupture but I just decided to get them all replaced.

    However, today, my son told me that all of that is useless if I don’t get the main line coming into the house replaced, also. And I wanted to see what your take was on that.

    TOM: Well, we’re talking about two different types of pipes. You’re talking about drainage pipes versus supply pipes. And the supply pipe that comes into the house may or may not need to be replaced. The questions I would have for you are: what’s the pipe made out of and are we having any problems with it?

    Now, in an older house, you may have the original steel plumbing – steel main-water pipe – coming into the house which, if the house was built – did you say the 40s?

    CELINA: Right.

    TOM: That’s a super-old pipe that definitely is at risk of breaking.

    CELINA: OK, great. So when they come back out to do my plumbing, because they’re doing it in two weeks, I need to ask them to look at the pipe. And that means – because none of the people that gave me estimates even mentioned it was bad.

    TOM: Well, I would take a look at that. And typically, in a house, you don’t replace the drainpipes. I’m a little surprised that you’re doing that. Typically, in an older house with steel pipes, you end up replacing the supply pipes. And you do the horizontal pipes first because they’re the easiest to access. And you do the vertical pipes that go up through the walls last because they’re the hardest to access. And you can do it in stages.

    The first step of a steel-pipe conversion is to do the main. The second one is to do all the horizontals in the basement crawlspace and the third is to do the verticals. And so, typically, that’s what you do in a house that has that kind of plumbing.

    You mentioned you had some problems with clogging with the drainpipes but that’s pretty unusual. And I actually have never heard of anyone wanting to replace drainpipes. Typically, they replace supply pipes.

    So you might want to get a second opinion on this and not just take the opinion of the plumber that wants the work.

    CELINA: OK, great. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line who’s having a roofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: It’s probably been 15 years ago I built an addition onto a cabin that I have in the woods on my property and built a bathroom. But I built a flat roof and used an asphalt roofing material to do it. It was more of a tar than an asphalt. Not shingles. But it is – the problem is it’s a flat roof and I’ve got a lot of pines – a lot of tall pines – that leave a lot of debris. And I try to get them off and obviously, the roof is 15 years old.

    We’ve got a serious leak, which I assume is somewhere in the seam because the actual interior – let’s say the main body – seems to be all intact. I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea at all? Should I go ahead and – is it cost-effective to just go ahead and build up a pitch and …?

    TOM: So you’re telling me that that flat roof is 15 years old?

    STEVE: And has lasted that long, yeah.

    TOM: And congratulations, first, on your flat roof lasting 15 years.

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: And may we be the first to tell you that it’s at the end – well past the end of a normal life for a flat roof. You’re lucky if you get five to seven out of there. So, you must have done a really good job putting that roof together, Steve.

    What happens is over time, it loses – the asphalt dries out and the material can become more porous. You can develop very small cracks in it where water can leak through. So, I would just replace that roof and I would do it exactly the same way you did it the first time or you can use an upgraded material. But I think the roof is just worn. At 15 years old, you’re lucky it lasted that long.

    STEVE: OK. Well, thank you so much, yeah.

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

    Well, gas ranges have long been the favorite of home cooks but there’s a new kid on the block that’s gaining heat. Get it? It’s called “induction cooktops.”

    LESLIE: Yeah. Presently, only about two percent of homeowners cook with induction energy. But expect to see that number change. In a recent study, 22 percent of homeowners said their next stovetop would feature this induction technology.

    TOM: So what, exactly, is this technology and how does it work? Well, it uses electromagnetic currents to produce a magnetic field that excites the iron molecules, resulting in heat very fast. One thing induction cooks need to get used to, though, is much shorter heating and prep times.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But the thing that’s the easiest to get used to: the energy efficiency and therefore, savings.

    Now, induction cooktops waste less heat for lower monthly bills.

    TOM: But it does come at a cost. Induction ranges are priced higher than gas or electric cooktops and they require specific cast-iron and stainless-steel pots and pans to transfer the heat effectively.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? How you check to see if those pots and pans are going to work – so if you’ve got anything at home and you’re thinking induction, take a magnet right off your fridge. If it sticks to that pot or pan, it’s going to work on the induction range. And some of the newer pots and pans, when you purchase them, are labeled for induction cooktops. So just make sure you’re buying the right stuff.

    TOM: And you know what’s crazy about that, too? When you put an induction-type pan on the stove and then, say, you try to melt butter in it, butter melts but the pan doesn’t get hot. It’s the weirdest thing.

    LESLIE: Isn’t that crazy? I mean it’s really great technology.

    Robert in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. I understand you’ve got a countertop question for us.

    ROBERT: My Formica countertops are starting to come unglued. And I’m trying to find out what a good glue would be to use to make sure that they are fully cemented back into place. It’s not a large section. It goes up about 8 to 12 inches at a time. I do have some C-clamps that I can use to fasten them down.

    TOM: As long as it’s the countertop that’s coming unglued and not you, Robert, we can help.

    What you want to do is use contact cement. Now, the area that is separated, with contact cement what you want to do is try to actually separate that area as much as you can, because you’re going to kind of work in there. So if you can peel up the loose area, maybe put a piece of wood in there or something as a spacer to really have some area in there, do that.

    And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to pick up some contact cement. And contact cement is available as – in either water-based or solvent-based. The solvent-based works a lot better. So a small container of contact cement – not rubber cement, by the way – contact cement, specifically used for laminate. You brush it in there and as the name implied, it dries on contact. So you keep it separated while it’s drying, OK?

    And then once it’s dry – which just takes 15, 20 minutes – then you will pull out your spacers and press that laminate back down in place, working from back to the front. And you can put a towel over it or even a rolling pin works good and roll it down really, really good and really, really tight and that’ll hold it. But the contact cement is what you need. Any other type of adhesive that you – will not work.

    ROBERT: OK. So nothing like maybe LIQUID NAILS or anything like that would …

    TOM: No. In a pinch, for a tiny edge, yes. But if you have a separation like that, contact cement. That’s what it was done originally and that’s what will work. Just make sure you clean it, remove any debris that’s in there and be generous with the cement. Don’t make it lumpy but get good coverage, OK?

    ROBERT: OK, great. Thanks a lot for your help.

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

    Hey, do you want to turn your patio or porch into a sizzling kitchen space? Well, it’s not as expensive as you might think. We’ll tell you how, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. We’re here to help you with your home improvement and décor project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at

    LESLIE: Debbie in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with a building project.

    What can we do for you, Debbie?

    DEBBIE: My husband broke his hip and we are in desperate need of a handicap ramp. He’ll be needing this handicap ramp after the break heals. He’ll be using a wheelchair and a walker after this. We are limited in income and we can’t afford even the materials to build this ramp. And I’ve been trying to go through government agencies and everything. And all I have gotten is a bunch of red tape.

    TOM: Tell me something: how high up does the ramp have to be? How many steps are you trying to accomplish? Or just kind of describe the layout to me.

    DEBBIE: Yeah. It’s five steps into the house.

    TOM: Debbie, as much as I’d like, there’s sort of no quick fix for this situation. You do need a ramp and the ramp has to – it’s going to be a very large structure and it has to be properly done. So I think your energy is best focused on how to get the professional help and to get the funds necessary to do this.

    Now, there is an organization that is called Rebuilding Together that does this sort of thing. And their website is Or just Google “Rebuilding Together.” They have got affiliates in most states across the country. Their national headquarters is in Washington D.C. And what I would suggest you do is to reach out to the national headquarters and speak with them about trying to connect with an affiliate that’s near you. I see there’s no affiliate directly in Delaware but of course, you can go to New Jersey or you can go to Maryland – anywhere around there – and probably find exactly what you need.

    They used to be called Christmas in April and now they’re called Rebuilding Together. And I’ve done some of their projects in the past. And there – seem to be a good group of people that get a lot of great things done.

    DEBBIE: OK. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: Alright. And we hope that your husband heals up quickly. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: So on TV’s This Old House, we see some pretty tricked-out outdoor kitchens.

    TOM: That’s right. Outdoor kitchens can be a great addition to your backyard entertaining space but they don’t have to be as expensive or as extensive as the ones on TV to do the job. This Old House host Kevin O’Connor is here with some DIY and budget-friendly options.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, I’m sure you never saw a budget you didn’t like when it comes to these outdoor kitchens.

    KEVIN: You know, they don’t have to be as extensive as ones we put on but you really want them to be.

    TOM: Yeah. You really, really want that.

    KEVIN: You guys saw that one we put and he was like, “Oh.”

    TOM: Oh, my God, it’s so amazing.

    LESLIE: I mean they’re beautiful.

    KEVIN: Yeah, it was really nice. They really are. And you want to just – when you see it, now all of a sudden you just want to live your entire life out there on your patio.

    LESLIE: Oh, I know. But most of us cannot afford to spend $25,000 on an outdoor kitchen.

    KEVIN: No, I guess that is true. But you don’t have to, which is the good point. And when you’re thinking about the outdoor kitchen, think about what you have in the indoor kitchen, right? There are basically three things that you need. You need a work surface to prepare your food, you need a place to clean up after you’re done cooking and then, obviously, you need the surface to cook on. So the grill …

    LESLIE: And a pizza maker and a sink and a Kegerator. All sorts of things.

    KEVIN: Did you say Kegerator?

    LESLIE: I may have. I may have.

    KEVIN: I’m all in.

    TOM: On a budget.

    KEVIN: On a budget.

    TOM: That’ll be the next edition of Money Pit and This Old House.

    KEVIN: Right. So when you get the grill, obviously the grill is the place where you go and do the cooking, so you can check that off the list. And some of these grills – a lot of them now, actually – come with a little side area where you can actually do some prep work or put some bowls down or platters while you’re doing the cooking. They’re probably not big enough or sturdy enough to do the hardcore prep work – the chopping and stuff like that – but that shouldn’t stop you from adding one.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And there a couple of things that you can do to add one. You can bring in sort of a rolling kitchen table, put it up next to the grill. You do that, you can have a better surface to work on. Think about the materials in that case; obviously, something that is going to withstand the weather is going to be a good idea. So, protected wood or stainless steel even would be great. But then, if you want, if you’ve got some good carpentry skills, you can build your own.

    You can think about a frame made out of wood and then also think about the material that you want to put on this: a stone top that will stand up to the weather would be a great thing.

    Or you can build these things up. There’s a lot of pavers out there right now, a lot of these do-it-yourself kits where you can build these out of masonry products. It can be a great look, you can do it yourself and you can create yourself a good-looking outdoor kitchen with that prep area.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it can kind of look like it’s built-in, so that’s really neat, too.

    KEVIN: Absolutely. And you can buy grills that are made to be built in. Or you can build it around an existing grill just to at least have that feel of the built-in look.

    TOM: Now, one of the challenges is really the plumbing part of this. You do need water for cleanup. It’s darn convenient if you have it outside. What are some inexpensive ways to create that in your outdoor kitchen?

    KEVIN: To be honest with you, I think you’ve got to think long and hard about whether or not you want to add water to this. Because where I live, all of that stuff has to be shut down in the off-season. It is great to have but it’s a whole ‘nother level of thinking in terms of the off-season.

    However, if you want to go for it, chances are you’ve already got an outdoor hose spigot in the backyard and that can be modified so that you can bring some water over to the grilling area for cleanup. There are actually some manually powered sinks available that can hook up via hose and then you can use a pump with your foot for water flow. And then the sink drain can also be diverted away with a hose to avoid any puddles at your feet.

    And then they’ve got the old-fashioned sort of potting sinks that you would use for gardening. You can get those at a garden-supply center. And think about using one of those next to the grill. But for me, I just bring the dirty dishes inside and tell the kids to start scrubbing.

    LESLIE: I think another luxury – which really isn’t a luxury when you’re thinking about cooking outdoors; it’s almost a necessity – is refrigeration. Because a lot of times you’re sort of staggering the cooking process to keep things at the ready. Or if you’re entertaining for a long period of time, can you do an outdoor refrigerator in there?

    KEVIN: You certainly can. It is probably a luxury, like you say. But if you’ve got power out there, you can bring in a small refrigerator. And they actually make refrigerators that are rated to be outdoors and so you want to think about that. Again, anytime you’re talking about those outdoor kitchens, no matter what you add out there, think about the weather. Do you want it to be able to live out there through the rain, the snow, the heat and all that type of stuff? And there are small refrigerators rated to do that and that could be a nice option. Keep the drinks going, keep the side salads cold while you’re cooking the burgers and such.

    TOM: What’s great about this advice, Kevin, is that you really can approach it in a modular basis. You can start small with, say, just a good grill with some cooking surface and then build on from there. You can add the rolling cart, you could add some cabinetry, you could add the outdoor refrigerator and kind of, over time, create this kitchen.

    KEVIN: And I think when you’re working outdoors, the projects, I think they’re just a lot more forgiving, right? It’s not always finished carpentry and fancy moldings.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: I’m doing just that: building a side table for my grill. It’s got a little wood frame and a big, solid, 4-inch-thick wooden top. It’s just – it’s not that complicated and it doesn’t have to look so refined. It is the outdoors after all.

    TOM: Let us know when it’s ready. We’ll be by for steaks.

    KEVIN: You got it.

    TOM: Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Always a pleasure to be here, guys. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by State Farm.

    Still to come, we’ve got some step-by-step tips on how to build a fire pit in your very own backyard. All you s’more fans, this is for you. We’ll be back in just a bit.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to find the best local pros.

    And speaking of finding the best, Leslie, I found the best bird feed ever recently.

    LESLIE: You did?

    TOM: Yeah. I’ve been looking for a bird feeder that could defeat the squirrels, because we have got the super squirrels.

    LESLIE: Super squirrels?

    TOM: We have got the acrobatic squirrels that they can get into the food no matter what we do. So, I found this bird feeder called SquirrelBuster. And the way it works is you put the seed into the feeder and think of it as sort of a round feeder where the outside of it is sort of like a cage with holes for where the birds can get through to the feed inside. But here’s what happens: when the squirrels jump on, the weight of the squirrel pulls this outside sleeve, which is sort of the cage, down and it shuts the gate to the food. It’s like …

    LESLIE: It’s like a drawbridge.

    TOM: Right. It’s like, “Oh, we’re so close. I can see it but I just can’t get through the darn cage.”

    I put it in yesterday. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. I’m like …

    LESLIE: Have you been watching the whole thing happen?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. It’s quite a show.

    LESLIE: I’m sure it’s entertaining.

    TOM: So, check it out. SquirrelBuster. I’m sure you can find it on Amazon.

    LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors to their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    JEFF: I have a couple of feral cats that are running around in my backyard. I have a birdbath and the cats stop at that birdbath. And when the birds come in to take a drink and then splash, they jump up and they kill the bird. And what I’ve done is I’ve poured the water out of the birdbath to keep the birds away. But how do I get rid of the cats?

    TOM: I mean there’s a lot of initiatives around the country, with organizations that will help deal with the feral-cat issue. Many of them run what’s called a TNR program, which is Trap, Neuter and Return. So, the idea is that they trap the cats humanely, like with a Havahart trap or something like that, they neuter them, then they return them to the environment but hopefully not in your neighborhood where they’re used to finding that source of food.

    And so I would turn to an organization like that that can help you trap the cats and get them off of your property. And if they have the added support that they can neuter the cats – and that helps the overall community from stopping these cats from reproducing.

    LESLIE: And you know what else? We had an issue years ago when – there’s a person on our block who feeds every cat in town. Has about 30 cats and kittens just living in their backyard. And the neighbor next door was doing a ton of work. There was a dumpster with food scraps and stuff in it. And so all the cats kind of just meandered into my yard.

    And I had called the village because honestly, I didn’t mind the cats being there but they were killing a possum. And now, all of a sudden, I had to clean up a dead possum and birds. And I really don’t want to be doing that. So I called the village and the village referred me to the town. So, long story short, I made a bunch of calls to finally get to someone in the county who told me that where I live, feral cats have the same rights as squirrels, which means you can do nothing about them.

    But if you do find a local cat rescue, they might be willing to come and help you take the cats, find them a place to be adopted by. And maybe if you find a place that you feel comfortable with, a donation might not hurt in helping them to get the cats off your property. So, you never know. I might make a call to your town or your village and see where that goes, too.

    JERRY: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    Well, I’m a big hiker. And after a long day on the trail, there’s nothing like relaxing around a campfire. And you can have that same campfire feeling all year long, in your very own backyard, when you build a fire pit.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s not a difficult project. And it’s made even easier when you use RumbleStone from Pavestone.

    Now, RumbleStone is an outdoor building block, basically. Think of an outside Lego. And RumbleStones will fit together quickly and easily. And the only limit is your imagination, so you can put them together pretty much however you want.

    TOM: Now, for a round fire pit that’s about 10 inches high and about 45 inches across, you only need 2 sizes of RumbleStone: the mini-blocks and the trapezoidal-shaped blocks. You can start by creating a stable, level project area. Then, all you need to do is lay out the trapezoidal and mini-blocks in a circle, alternating each one. They can even be secured with construction adhesive. So, no mortar is even needed.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Three layers of RumbleStone is all you need. For the second and third layer, you just have to offset the blocks from the layer below it. Then just line the bottom with sand and you’re going to be ready to fire up those s’mores in no time.

    TOM: For a complete materials list and instructions and more info, visit and look for RumbleStone videos under the How-To Guide tab.

    LESLIE: Hey, has the damp weather brought ants marching right into your home? We’ll have some natural ways to eliminate them, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to help you with your home improvement and décor jobs. You can also post your questions at That’s what Gil did in Georgia.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Gil writes: “I have a minor ant problem and I’m looking for some natural remedies. What are your suggestions?”

    Well, I’m glad it’s not a major ant problem.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s good.

    LESLIE: Minor is better.

    TOM: Minor is better.

    Well, OK, look, so first off, Gil, everybody wants to find a natural remedy but I have to say, honestly, I have never found a natural remedy that’s going to be as effective as an over-the-counter or professionally-applied remedy. And I know that we all think that any of those types of products are just bad for us. But the truth is if you use them as directed, they are …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. In a focused area.

    TOM: In a focused area. Yeah, you’re not broad-spraying them everywhere. They can be extremely effective and safe to use.

    However, if you’d like to try something in the interim, you might want to try mint. Mint is really effective as a natural deterrent, I will call it, from ants. And it also grows like crazy. It grows like weeds. If you plant mint around the outside of your house, the foundation perimeter, the areas, perhaps, where it’s all coming in – maybe it could be the kitchen – that will help deter those ants.

    Now, inside the house, you could also try bay leaves. If you set bay leaves around kitchen canisters, that can have a good effect, too. You can ground them up and put them around the outsides of sort of window sills. That will actually help avoid them, too.

    LESLIE: I will say the bay leaves – it is very effective. We were having an ant issue. They were coming through the radiator, to the dog’s food dish. And so I crushed up the bay leaves and put them sort of in this area, right below the radiator, and it would work until the dog ate them. And then it was a cycle of dog/ant/dog/bay leaves. So, I ended up going with a commercial application, which worked beautifully.

    But if you’re not in an area where a dog is going to eat the bay leaves, they do work.

    TOM: Well, there – speaking of commercial products, there is a product that Bonide makes that’s very effective. It’s called – and I love the name, too. It’s the Revenge line of granules, powder and bait stations for ants. Very effective at stopping those ants from coming in, once and for all.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up here, we’ve got a post from Margo. Now, Margo writes: “What’s the best method for cleaning carpets: chem-dry, steam, other ideas?”

    TOM: You know, Leslie, I’ve always used steam and I think people are afraid that steam is going to somehow damage their carpets or affect its durability or its stain-resistance. But I mean I have taken some carpets that look like they are ready to be torn out and turned them back into pristine condition.

    I think the best example was when my daughter moved out of a condo at college that she shared with her other three roommates. Whole year of college traffic and I think you can imagine what that is, with all the people going in and out and all the parties.

    LESLIE: And don’t forget, your daughter plays sports, so she’s got muddy shoes in addition to visitors and parties. They have sport-laden cleats coming into a house.

    TOM: Yeah. The parents and I thought we were sure going to have to buy new carpets in this place but I’m like, “Let me try it with the steam cleaner.” So I rented one from Home Depot. Man, it came out perfect. It looked like brand new when I was done with it. So, I like steam-cleaning as an effective way of keeping those carpets looking great.

    The most important way, though, to preserve your carpets is simply vacuuming and here’s way. I think a lot of folks don’t know this. It’s not just the dirt you see, it’s all that sand that gets into the carpets from the outside. That is the abrasive. That is like sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes and that’s what really wears it out.

    So, keep the dirt out as much as you possibly can and then steam-clean when necessary.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I think it’s also important to take off your shoes when you get in the house. Keep a little tray or basket right by the door. Eliminate that dirt sort of going further than the entry point.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at Hey, thank you for spending part of your weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and advice and ideas and inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to taking on your home improvement, remodeling and décor projects. If you have questions, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at

    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 2019 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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