Solutions for Soggy Yards #0509161
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. If you’ve got one that needs to get done, call us and we will lend a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got the tips, the ideas and the advice to get that job done right the first time.
Coming up on today’s program, with all of the spring rains, is your ground around your house a bit saturated? Well, there’s an ingenious, little, mechanical device called a “pop-up emitter.” We’re going to teach you how these get installed and what they can do to take all of that water that’s ponding in your yard and make it go away for good.
LESLIE: And it could save your life but close to half of you aren’t doing it. We’re going to tell you why calling 811 before you do any yard projects that involve digging is crucial.
TOM: And if you’ve got a lot of stuff lying around from, perhaps, your spring-cleaning projects, have you considered whether you can repurpose? Turns out there’s a lot of things that you can breathe new life into. And we’ll have some tips, just ahead.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a great, summery prize this hour. We’ve got the Weber Q 1200 Portable Tabletop Gas Grill up for grabs. It’s a great prize. You can check it out at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com. And it’s worth 199 bucks.
TOM: And that beautiful Weber Portable Grill is going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: Looked outside this year and we’ve got a building that was built in 1929. It’s got a porch above the patio down below. And on the exposed joists, those carpenter bees have put some holes in there. And it – we’re looking for a way to eliminate the carpenter bees and not necessarily poison everything in the neighborhood.
LESLIE: Well, part of what they’re doing is – you know, they really enjoy eating this natural wood. So they’re coming there because you’ve got something tasty to offer up. And it turns out that they love to bore these holes that are perfectly 3/8-inches round.
So, you can do a couple of things. You can have it treated by a pest professional and then seal up those holes and that should do the trick. But you’re right: chemicals are used and that might not be what you have in mind.
The other thing is you can cover that or replace that joist completely – or whatever the support is – with a synthetic wood or a composite that looks like wood but it’s not actually wood. It could be extruded PVC, it could be recycled plastics. This way, it looks like wood; it’s doing the same job that the wood piece was. However, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, whatever pests like to eat a natural source as wood, they’re going to try it, they’re not going to get into it and they’re going to be really confused and fly away and find somewhere else to eat.
STEVE: Yeah, that sounds like an option. Yeah, I was wondering if there was something that – I assume that painting it would not make a difference. I didn’t know if there was something that could be topically applied to it that would be environmentally friendly and keep the bees out.
LESLIE: Unh-unh. I’ve had them eat through the painted wood that makes up my entire screened-in porch. And then what happens is they bore a hole but they won’t bore all the way through. They’ll bore into the wood, even if it’s just a 1×6 or whatever. They find a way to bore into it and then bore through the wood itself and lay their eggs in there.
STEVE: OK. And it – yeah, it’s amazing. It looks like somebody got out with a drill and drilled the hole in there.
LESLIE: It’s just bizarre. It’s perfect how they do it.
STEVE: So, essentially, the options, basically, are having someone come out and treat it or either covering or changing the material that’s there.
LESLIE: Yeah, changing material is usually the best bet because they won’t eat it. And then, as an added benefit, it doesn’t require any maintenance except the occasional cleaning. You’re not going to be painting it all the time. It really is a win-win situation.
STEVE: OK. Yeah, I’ll look into that. I’ve got a contractor that’s got to come out anyway, so I’ll look into both options. But it sounds like it – I’d prefer something that wouldn’t have to do with pesticides but …
TOM: Steve, I hope that takes care of those carpenter bees once and for all. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Deb in Wyoming, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DEB: Yeah, I’ve got some trouble with an area of grass right in the middle of my yard. It’s probably 20×20.
LESLIE: The yard? Or the problem area?
DEB: The problem area is probably 20×20.
LESLIE: OK. That’s a big problem.
DEB: Yeah. And the lawn is pretty big and it grows really good all the way around this area. And it only – it’ll grow maybe an inch or two and then it kind of heads out and never really gets green. We put extra water on it and we fertilize it and aerate it, just like the rest of the lawn, but it just doesn’t look good. And seems funny that this would be just in one area.
LESLIE: Well, it could be that that area, for whatever reason, has a different pH balance than the other parts of your lawn itself. And therefore that the seed that you’re using is reacting differently to the soil than the other areas.
So, you might want to take a couple of soil samples from the problem area and have those tested. Sometimes, the home centers sell little kits. Sometimes, you might have to contact your local building department to find out who you can do that with. But you can have a soil test done pretty easily and inexpensively.
And once you know exactly what’s going on with the soil in this area, I mean that could be enlightening to have this information. Because you could be using the wrong seed, you could be using the wrong fertilizer. That will tell you exactly what type of fertilizer, when, how to water it. That’s really the key here and that should clear up a lot of this problem.
DEB: OK. That sounds great. I’ll sure give it a try.
TOM: Deb, I hope that helps you out. 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 MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, whatever problem or question or project you’ve got going on at your money pit. We’re here to lend a hand. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if you’ve got a yard that floods, getting water from where it is to where you want it to be can be tricky. We’re going to have tips on a handy product that can be installed to help dry out those soggy yards and make that space much more useable, after this.
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: Well, it is the outdoor-living season. It has begun. And that’s why, this hour, I’m very excited that we’re giving away a Weber Q 1200 Portable Tabletop Gas Grill to one lucky caller.
It’s available at The Home Depot and at HomeDepot.com. And it’s a beautiful product. It’s got a cast-aluminum lid and body, glass-reinforced nylon frame, two folding work tables, a removable catch pan, a built-in lid thermometer. And it comes with a porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grate.
Again, available at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com. Worth 199 bucks but today going out for free to one lucky caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. And I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.
And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.
So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again and I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that, you know, you can fill in with (inaudible at 0:08:44).
LESLIE: Like a Bondo.
BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.
And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.
BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?
BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.
LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.
Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.
So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.
Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.
Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?
BETH: Yes, ma’am.
LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.
And then there is an actual decorative wrap, that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have, that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.
So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.
BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips, alright?
TOM: Beth, it sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you on that job. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve got water that collects in your yard, like around your home, or gutters discharge or low spots in the lawn, figuring out how to prevent that water from accumulating can be tricky. Look, it’s easy enough to collect the water with a grate or a catch basin or even extensions to the leaders. But what if you’d like to run that water to a space where the water can simply run back into the soil?
LESLIE: Well, you can with a handy product called a “pop-up emitter.” Now, that’s made by NDS Drainage and available at The Home Depot.
Now the way this works is that you collect the water with a catch basin or a grate and then run a pipe from that basin to a spot on your property where the water can naturally drain away. At that point, you install a pop-up emitter, which is kind of like a valve that lies flat on the lawn until you need it. Then it pops up and lets the water inside the pipe drain out onto that lower area of the lawn where it’s then absorbed or runs off and it dries out.
TOM: Exactly. Now, pop-up emitters can divert and release water to safe areas that are away from structures or erosion-prone landscapes and poor drainage areas. And they open due to hydrostatic pressure of the water flowing through the drain pipe and then they close as that flow diminishes. They lie flat in the lawn when they’re closed and they’ve got a really low profile that provides plenty of clearance for lawn-mowing, as well.
You’ll find NDS Drainage Pop-Up Emitters at The Home Depot and at HomeDepot.com. The 4-inch Polyethylene Pop-Up Drainage Emitters with Elbow are just $14.20.
LESLIE: Steve in Michigan is on the line with a water-heater question. What can we do for you?
STEVE: My hot-water tank has no good water pressure behind it.
TOM: Where are you spotting this? Is it at a particular faucet or fixture or is it multiple bathrooms throughout the house?
STEVE: Everywhere. My shower, my sinks, my washing machine, anywhere where I have hot – if I just have hot water going in my washing machine, it takes forever to fill up. When I go to take a shower, if I just have the cold – just straight cold water going, I have nice pressure behind it.
TOM: And let me ask you a question: how old is your house?
STEVE: Built in the 70s.
TOM: OK. I think you’ve got a problem with a valve somewhere on that hot-water line that’s restricting the flow. Because the water pressure is going to be the same for hot and cold when it comes into the house. So the fact that it’s going through the water heater and then slowing done means that something is clogging it or something is basically slowing down that flow. So I think that the problem would most likely be at the water heater itself: either the water flow into it or the water flow out of it. And it could be that one of those valves is stuck, closed or partially stuck.
I would close the valves all the way and then open them back up and see if that makes a difference. I would also follow the line back to make sure that every single valve is fully opened on that hot-water side. And I suspect that you’re going to find something that’s partially closed and that’s what causing this.
Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Erin in Louisiana is on the line. How can we help you today?
ERIN: Hi. I have a slab house that’s about 35 years old and it’s showing signs of needing to be leveled. But I thought I heard on a previous show of yours that you do not recommend leveling a house; just fix the issues that come up as it needs it. And I didn’t know if I heard correctly or not, so I thought I would call and ask about that.
LESLIE: Well, tell me, how much of a slope are you noticing, throughout the property, on the interior of the home?
ERIN: No, we’re seeing cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceiling, cracks in the floors.
LESLIE: OK. Now, if you put a marble on the floor in some of these rooms that you’re seeing these cracks, does it roll all around wildly? If it does roll, how fast?
ERIN: I actually have not done anything like that.
LESLIE: Ah, the marble test. It’s very fun. That will tell you if the ground itself is level.
Now, if you’re seeing cracks in the walls and in the ceiling, are they sort of near a doorway or a window or are they just square in the middle of stuff?
ERIN: Well, there’s a crack in the floor that’s square in the middle of the floor and it extends out into a – we have a sliding-glass door and the brick above the sliding-glass door is separated.
And then, we also see it – I also see it in rooms next to the wall, where it’s like – the house is shaped like a T. And where one part of the top of the T goes into the long part of the T, I can see it separating there against the – in the ceiling.
LESLIE: You know, generally, if you see cracks and they’re by a doorframe or a window, that’s just general movement because of the opening in the envelope of the home, being in a window opening or a doorway in an interior wall. Now, if you’re seeing it like in the middle of the floor and above a doorframe in brick, you might be concerned that there could be some structural issues going on. However, you might want to bring in a structural engineer.
You bring in an engineer or even a home inspector and for a couple of hundred bucks, they’ll come in and look at these areas and diagnose, specifically, what’s going on there. Because it could be something structural that could need to be fixed in a way that you can’t just do by repairing the crack. Or it could just simply be natural settlement of the home over the duration of the home’s lifespan and that’s easily fixable.
But because you have a crack forming in the middle of a floor and that continues to a doorway, I would definitely bring in somebody who’s a structural engineer and they can write up a report on it. And the benefit of doing that is that when you do fix this, whatever the problem may be, you are going to have a full, written pedigree of what you’ve done to the problem in the home, how you’ve fixed it and what everything was done correctly. This way, if you go to sell the home and somebody says, “Oh, I saw a crack,” or whatever the situation might be, you can say, “Actually, this happened. We did this repair and it’s all square.”
TOM: Erin, some cracks are really typical wear and tear, so to speak. But this one definitely sounds like you need a pro to check it out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Craig in Pennsylvania is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
CRAIG: I had an exterior concrete porch and I enclosed it. And I’m trying to make it part of the house now. But the floor itself, I said, is concrete. It’s all cracked and it’s breaking up. Is there some easy way or some way I can smooth it out or do something with it to make it look like an interior room now to this part of the house?
TOM: Absolutely. First of all, if the surface is deteriorated, you’re going to have to use a patching compound on it. And I would recommend the premixed QUIKRETE Concrete Patch Compound. It comes in a tub and you simply apply it to the surface. You can fill in all of those areas that are deteriorated; you can fill over the cracks.
And the reason you’re using a patching compound is because it’s designed specifically to stick to the concrete. If you use regular concrete, you’re going to have a problem with that because it won’t stick; it’ll just split off again. Alright? But if you use a concrete patching compound, it will adhere.
CRAIG: Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it can save your life but close to half of you don’t do it. We’re going to tell you why calling 811 before doing any yard projects that involve digging is crucial. So stick around.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this fine weekend? Pick up the phone and call us with that project. We will help you get it done at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Patrick in Iowa is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?
PATRICK: OK. I bought a home; it was a for-sale-by-owner. The roof was put on about four or five years ago. And in the disclosure, he mentioned there was nothing wrong with the roof. But since moving in – now, being in Iowa, we get severe weather and I understand a couple shingles might rip off during a windstorm or something like that. But it’s literally – it’s daily, shingles are coming off.
So I patched some of the shingles but it is – it’s every time we get a wind, shingles are just blowing off. And so I ask him, “Can I have the name of the company that did the roof?” And so, I got the name and phone number and I talked to the workers that did it and they said, “We’ve been out there every single year, year after year. We told him it’s no longer covered. He has to pay for it himself.” And he – and they asked, “Didn’t he mention that in the disclosure?” And I looked through the disclosure and of course, there’s nothing in the disclosure that mentions anything about it.
TOM: Right. Of course. Yeah. Wow. Sounds like you have a pretty strong case of fraud.
PATRICK: And of course, I don’t want to go down a road that is going to take months and months and months or years. But it is – it’s just one of those cases that if it’s not in the disclosure – but then I can prove that it is. I mean is there any recourse whatsoever?
TOM: Well, yeah. The recourse is to hold him legally responsible for the cost of replacing the roof. And this is really more of a question for an attorney than for home improvement experts like ourselves.
But I was a professional home inspector for many years. I’ve seen these situations before. And if you have a seller that outright misrepresents the condition of part of the property on the disclosure, then they should be held liable for that and in some cases, can be held liable for multiples of what the actual damage is which, in this case, is essentially going to be the cost of a new roof.
PATRICK: And it’s not just that. If I was told, then I could have just budgeted for …
TOM: Right. You could have headed it off, exactly. But it’s – some people just want to make sure – just want to misrepresent their home and try to hide all the problems. And that’s why you have professional home inspectors out there which – by the way, did you get a home inspection done, Patrick?
PATRICK: Yes. There is a mortgage on it. Of course, the mortgage company did their inspections.
TOM: Well, no, besides the mortgage company, did you have your own, independent, professional home inspection done?
PATRICK: I did not.
TOM: Yeah. So that probably was a mistake. Because home inspectors work for you and not for the mortgage company. And a good-quality home inspector – for example, one that’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors – would have spent two to three hours going over that house and probably would have seen all of the repaired shingles. Because that’s something that’s actually fairly obvious to see.
So, unfortunately, you can’t focus on the past but you should try to hold the seller responsible and maybe you could take him to small-claims court. I don’t know. Again, question for a lawyer but it sounds like you’re going to need a new roof.
PATRICK: Well, I know that it’s a metal roof that’s going to be going on, so …
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, good luck. Sorry that happened to you, Patrick. Good luck with the project, though. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, as you plan your spring projects, there’s one thing you need to keep handy that’s more important than any tool you own. We’ll tell you what that is, 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.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll help you with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit this weekend or planning on working on before the big holiday: Memorial Day.
Plus, this hour, we’re really giving away a great seasonal prize. We’ve got up for grabs the Weber Q 1200 Portable Tabletop Gas Grill. It’s got a cast-aluminum lid and body, a glass-reinforced nylon frame, two folding work tables that pop out so you can really have a lot of nice areas to prepare everything and get all of your grilling done correct the first time. It’s got a removable catch pan and – I love this – a built-in lid thermometer. It’s porcelain-enameled with a cast-iron cooking grate. It’s really a great grill.
It’s a prize worth 199 bucks and you can check it out at The Home Depot or on HomeDepot.com.
TOM: Going out to one lucky drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joann in Ohio is on the line and has an issue with mold. What can we do for you today?
JOANN: I have two decks in my backyard. One of them seems to be fine but the second one, which has a very large dog pen on it, has developed a lot of mold over the winter. And my thought is to buy a lot of bleach and to dilute it and just scrub the mold off. But perhaps you have something better that you could tell me to do.
TOM: There’s a much more effective way to get that deck clean. It’s a product called Spray & Forget. And just as the name implies, you spray it onto the deck surface and you don’t do anything else. You forget about it and it essentially goes to work immediately. And within a few days, it will degrade and destroy the mold, mildew, algae and moss that forms on your deck.
JOANN: Can I then have it repainted?
TOM: Sure. Absolutely. Mm-hmm. Yeah. You could paint it after that. But the thing is, if you use a lot of bleach, you end up potentially damaging all the landscaping that’s around that, as well. So, I would definitely recommend Spray & Forget.
JOANN: Is this – come in a canister or a powder or something?
TOM: Comes in a bottle. It’s a no-mix bottle.
JOANN: In a bottle?
TOM: Yep. You can find it at lots of places. I think The Home Depot has it and many other retailers. Their website is SprayAndForget.com.
JOANN: Very good. I will definitely do that. And it’s safe for pets, too?
TOM: Yes. It’s biodegradable. It’s a safe, non-corrosive product that works really well. It’s also a great roof cleaner. Sometimes you get moss and it discolors your roof shingles. You can spray this on your roof. It does the same thing.
JOANN: Oh, that’s wonderful. I am going to purchase this. Thank you so much for your information.
TOM: Happy to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JOANN: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dan on the line calling in from Ontario, Canada with a question about a drafty home. How can we help you?
DAN: To try to explain this stuff, you know the backer boards – what they put on cabinets?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm.
DAN: OK. Now picture that made in tile but 4×4 sheets.
DAN: And it’s white and it looks like it’s got this stucco tile.
TOM: Yeah, it’s called “composite siding.” So what’s going on with it?
DAN: Well, I’d like to know if I could put this – they’ve got this paint, OK? It’s like a stucco? I was just wondering if I – could I put that kind of material on this fiberboard?
TOM: Well, you can generally paint fiberboard or composite siding with anything that you – with any typical exterior-grade paint. It doesn’t require a special paint. In fact, it actually requires quite a bit of paint. Because I used to joke that that kind of siding stood up as long as you painted it every day before you went to work. It’s not known for its durability, you know?
So, any paint that’s a good-quality exterior paint should work. Now, are you trying to get a textured look to it to places?
DAN: I’m trying to get that stucco look.
TOM: Yeah, the stucco look. OK. Well, if it’s a paint product that’s designed to do that and you’ve researched the paint product and it is a good-quality product, I don’t see any reason why it won’t work.
DAN: Well, you’re telling me more than what these two guys knew at the paint store.
TOM: Just tell them you want to buy more stuff; they’ll agree with you.
Good luck, Dan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
DAN: Well, thank you. I enjoy your program. It’s very informing.
TOM: Well, as you plan your spring projects, there’s one thing you need to keep handy that’s pretty much more important than any other tool you own. It’s the phone number you’ve got to call before digging. It’s 811.
Now, when you dial it, you’ll reach the Common Ground Alliance. This is an organization that’s dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them. The effort’s been going on for several years and after some devastating and deadly accidents caused by digging into underground gas, electrical or water lines, it is a really important thing to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now this is what you need to do: you call 811 a few days before digging. Then a professional locator is going to visit and mark your dig site. And once your site’s been accurately marked, it’s safe for you to start the digging. It’s a really easy process.
However, the Common Ground Alliance recently announced results from a survey that found 48 percent of homeowners who are planning landscaping, fence or decking projects do not plan on calling 811. When they were asked why, more than half said they felt they knew where the underground utilities were located on their property, kind of. And many more said that they just didn’t think they’d be digging deep enough to hit anything. Those are famous last words, guys.
TOM: Yeah. Do yourself a huge favor and call 811. There’s no cost involved. If you plan on doing the work for the weekend, give them – maybe perhaps call them on a Monday or Tuesday. And then save yourself the inconvenience of the loss of power or water or worse yet, an injury that could put you out of commission. Visit 811.com for more information.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Laura in Michigan. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
LAURA: Hi. Well, I recently removed my – some carpeting from my bathroom floor. And it’s ceramic floor and I’m having a hard time getting some of the, I think – what is it? – glue and part of the back of the carpeting on – it’s still on the floor. Not a lot but I want to get it up. It’s mainly around the edges. And I thought maybe you had a way of doing that that would take less elbow grease, I guess.
LESLIE: Alright. So, Laura – and you’re trying to get rid of this adhesive from the carpet that was over ceramic tile, which is so crazy but at least you’ve got a nice, smooth surface that you can work with to try to remove the adhesive.
Now, some of the things that you could work with are citrus-based and there’s one called Citrus King Mastic Remover. And there’s actually a website you can go to: CitrusDepot.net. And if you go to that website, you can buy a trial container. I want to say it’s like $10 for a pint, so you can just try it out and see if that’ll do the trick. And that’s worth it and that’s a good product to use that’s not going to be stinky and it’ll be good to work with. I’d say give that a try and see how that works with the adhesive that’s from your carpet.
LAURA: That sounds great. I’ll definitely give it a try.
LESLIE: Frieda from Ohio is on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
FRIEDA: Hi. My Amana Radarange microwave, it’s mounted above my stove. And on the bottom, the down light that shines down onto the stove, the light bulbs in that keep burning out. And I have to replace them about once a month and they’re getting expensive.
TOM: What kind of light bulb are you using? Just a regular incandescent?
FRIEDA: It’s like the R11, the little appliance bulbs? Forty watt?
TOM: And is this a fairly new problem, this once-a-month burnout, or has it been going on for a long, long time?
FRIEDA: It’s getting worse. I mean we’ve had the microwave in here – it’s probably about 16 years old or – give or take.
TOM: Yeah, that doesn’t really owe you any money. That’s pretty old for a microwave appliance. You’ve pretty much reached the end of a normal life cycle. In fact, I’m kind of surprised it lasted that long, because it’s been my experience that the microwave ovens that are mounted above ranges don’t last nearly as long as a countertop microwave. Because the additional heat from all that cooking has the effect of sort of wearing on those components.
Typically, when you get a bulb that burns out quickly, it’s either because you have a loose connection, you have a loose ground or you have a problem with the voltage that’s going in there.
Sometimes, depending on what’s happening with the power company, you could be getting, say, more than 120 volts. You might be getting 125 or 130 volts, sometimes, because there could be something that is bad down the line with the power supply – the quality of the power supply. So if you have extra volts going into those lights, that is one of the first things that tends to show it. It’s kind of like the canary in the coal mine. When the lights start to go – burn out frequently – like that, it could be an issue with the voltage.
So, have you been thinking about a new microwave?
FRIEDA: Not really.
TOM: What I would suggest is at this point, you really need to have the voltage tested. So I would call the utility company and ask them to meter the voltage going into your house and see if it’s – let’s eliminate that as a possibility.
If that is OK, I would – the second thing I would check is the plug that it’s actually plugged into. I’d check the outlet to make sure it’s properly grounded. And if it’s properly grounded, then I think you’ve exhausted the two things that are the easiest to fix and at that point, you might want to think about replacing the microwave.
FRIEDA: Alright. That sounds good.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey. Before you throw anything out, decide if it can be used as a side table. Well, does it sound crazy? Well, you guys know I’m filled with crazy design ideas. We’re going to have an ultimate repurposing tip, in just a bit.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And that is what Barbara did.
LESLIE: “We need to replace our wood floors. They’re heart pine and they sit directly on the floor joists with no subfloor. Can we cut new pine or oak 5/8-inch flooring directly on top on the old pine floor?”
Oh, I guess they want to cover over it completely. Now you have heart pine at your house, Tom, right?
TOM: Well, I do but I do have it as the subfloor. Now, in Barbara’s case, it sounds like it is the finished floor and the subfloor together.
I would tell you, Barbara, that you absolutely should leave that in place. You’re going to have a sturdier floor if you do. And then you could add standard hardwood floor on top of that. And then you will be able to nail directly into that old pine floor as the subfloor for the new finished oak hardwood that’s above that.
You mentioned the possibility of putting new pine floor on but remember, that’s going to be pretty soft. So I would tend to recommend that you work with the harder woods as your finished floor, like oak.
And also, don’t forget about the prefinished oak that’s out there today. Because I’ve got to tell you, those finishes are incredibly durable, a lot more than they used to be when those products first came out. Check out the products at a Lumber Liquidators, for example. And even look into the commercial grades for some of those floors if you’ve got a floor that, perhaps, is in front of a doorway or other high-traffic zone.
But I think that you should leave that pine floor in place, use that as the new subfloor and put the new hardwood right on top.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Don.
TOM: Well, that’s right. Don says, “I have a question about roof replacement and whether or not roof shingles insulate. I’m wondering if I should leave the original layer of roof on my house, when I put a new layer on, to improve my insulation.”
Well, the answer is, Don, that roof shingles will not insulate. In fact, they will have the reverse effect. In the summer, they’ll hold a lot of heat and they’ll advance the deterioration of the new roof. So we always think it’s a good idea to remove the old roof shingles before you put new roof shingles on. You’ll find that if you remove the old shingles, the new roof will look better, lie flatter and last a lot longer.
LESLIE: Alright. Good advice. Thanks, Tom.
TOM: Well, the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – are the key to a green lifestyle. Leslie has tips to help with one green table-building project that delivers all three, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, this truly is about repurposing. And this is really a great trick of the trade. You can just turn unusual items that you’ve got around the house into functional and dare I say, quite good-looking side tables.
For example, you know those glazed, ceramic garden stools? You can find them everywhere, from discount shops to even those super high-end stores. Now, those look fantastic. They’re becoming more common now, so to say that they’re unexpected is – some people might be really surprised that they’re in a space like a living room or a bathroom. But they’re so beautiful and they can really make a great difference to an unexpected space. And then go ahead and put a little orchid on them or a small candle. If you’ve got them in the bathroom, maybe a little basket with some rolled-up towels. It’s just a really great way to use something that traditionally would be outside.
Now, rain drums or vintage wire baskets, old suitcases, even musical instruments, they will work just as well. All you need to make the transformation complete is a custom piece of tempered glass to use as your table top. Put that on and all of a sudden you’ve got a really unique side table that’s super functional and really personalized and will work amazingly well for your space.
And I promise you, simple design tricks like this make your space stand out. And all of a sudden, you’ll be the envy of your friends. And don’t be surprised if they’re asking you for help. It’s what happens.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, as a child, you probably asked, “Why is the sky blue?” But have you ever thought about why the barn might be red? We’re going to share the very compelling reasons for why barns were red, houses were white and more traditional color mysteries, 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.
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(Copyright 2016 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.)