Fast Fixes for Furniture Flaws #0206172
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Fast Fixes for Furniture Flaws #0206172

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  • Transcript

    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: We are here to help you, so what are you working on this chilly weekend? Are you trying to make yourself more comfortable in your money pit? Are you planning a project for the spring? That’s just a couple of months away now. Hooray. Because I’ve just about had it with the chilly weather. But whatever is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to the Community section at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve got an active household, your furniture is likely to take a few hits from time to time, especially if you’ve got kids. Well, we’ve got some tips to make water rings and dings and dents and scratches disappear quite easily.

    LESLIE: Or how to put your beautiful, new coffee table back together after you find out that your children have somehow destroyed it.

    TOM: Uh-oh.

    LESLIE: But that’s another story.
    Well, we all know that hosting a party is very festive and fun, that is until someone enthusiastically sends a glass of red wine flying. Well, don’t panic. We’re going to have simple solutions for all your Merlot mishaps, just ahead.

    TOM: Plus, did you know that the average American home has no less than two dozen electronic gadgets? I think we’ve got double that in my house. We’ve got some tips to help keep all those cords and chargers straight.

    But first, let’s get to your calls. What is going on your to-do list today? Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ruth in Pennsylvania is on the line with some questions about kitchen cabinets. How can we help you?

    RUTH: I have oak cabinets in my kitchen. And they were beautiful when they were put in but that was in 1977.

    TOM: Well, OK.

    RUTH: They’re getting pretty shabby looking.

    TOM: I bet.

    RUTH: What do I do with them?

    LESLIE: Well, in keeping along with an actual wood, depending on what – and you said it’s a light stain currently?

    RUTH: Yes, it is.

    LESLIE: Do you want to stay in the light family or do you want to go darker?

    RUTH: I think I would like to stay in the light if I could. Or would you think it would be better to do the darker?

    LESLIE: No, it just depends on how you like it. You know, the darker could be a little bit easier to achieve with a few less prep steps. But if you want to stay in the light family, I mean you’re definitely going to have to start with a good cleaning. And then I would start by sanding them down. Not a tremendous amount but enough to get the sheen off from that top layer of the stain or whatever that finish is and get you to some raw wood and to a uniform layer of it, actually. And then you can go ahead and apply the new stain.

    And it’s really best to do all of this while everything is down. You want to take the cabinet doors down. And you want to make sure you label which door came from which cabinet. As much as they are supposed to be set in the same exact locations, something could be slightly off. So you want to make sure that as you take each one down, you put a little piece of tape on one and say, “One-one,” or whatever your method’s going to be. This way putting them back is much easier than it could be.

    RUTH: But you definitely have to take them down to work on them? Is that right?

    LESLIE: I think it helps because if you’ve got them up, gravity is going to work against you. And while some stains are more thick than others, you could end up with drips or uneven areas. So it does help to take each cabinet door off and the drawer fronts off, as well. And that will help you just to achieve a more professional finish, I think.

    RUTH: OK. That sounds good. And then what would you do – what kind of finish would you put on them then?

    LESLIE: Well, it really depends. So if you want to stick with just the natural look, you’re not going to put any tinted color in, you want to use some sort of urethane. And the oil-based ones work better. And you want to make sure that you get one that – some of them will say “non-yellowing,” because for some reason in the kitchen, with the high moisture content in the air, the finish will tend to yellow. And then you can get one that has a satin finish or a glossy finish, whatever you’d like it to be.

    RUTH: Yes. I believe mine was satin.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Satin is actually quite lovely. But you can also – there are some stains that have a finish built into them. So if you’re looking to put some sort of a tint into it, you can pick one that already has the finish built in.

    Now, those are going to be sort of a one-coat wonder. You put those on; you don’t wipe them away. You kind of have to really be careful with how you apply them so you get a uniform application. But those are really great. Those, I think, are called “gel stains” and those work very well.

    RUTH: OK. Thanks a lot for your input.

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

    LESLIE: David in Massachusetts has a question about mold. Tell us what you’re seeing.

    DAVID: I have a problem. I have a driveway, which is about six years old. And in the summer, we get mold up on the shady area. Not too much but enough. It comes about maybe 2 feet by 3 feet wide, OK? I used bleach on it, tried to kill the mold. But within months, it’s back again. I scrub it with soap and water. I did stuff with detergent and it’s still come back. I think it loved the water.

    TOM: Mm-hmm, yeah. Well, listen, there’s a very simple solution. There’s a product called Spray & Forget. And when you apply Spray & Forget, it basically is a mildicide. And it will kill the mold, the mildew, the algae, the moss that’s there and even the lichen if that’s what’s causing it. And it has sort of a residual effect to it, so it sticks around for a couple of months and then you reapply it. So it’s really easy to do. And as long as you keep that – keep doing that, you’re never going to have a problem with that building up again.

    The problem with bleach is you’re basically just taking it off one time and then it starts – from that moment forward, it starts to regrow. But if you use Spray & Forget, it’ll have some mildicide that will stay back and stop it from reforming.

    DAVID: Now, can I purchase this Spray & Forget at Home Depot or Lowe’s or what?

    TOM: You can find it at – yeah, you can find it at home centers. Go to SprayAndForget.com. There’s a store locator there, I believe, and you can find out where it’s sold right near you.

    DAVID: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question. Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell us what’s going on.

    NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between three and five years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean like somebody-just-shot-up-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.

    But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.

    TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation, because countertops aren’t known for their noise.

    NADINE: OK.

    TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.

    I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?

    NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.

    TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up, it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.

    NADINE: OK.

    TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.

    NADINE: OK.

    TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.

    NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – I mean it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?

    TOM: It could very well be, because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.

    NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?

    TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.

    NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with whatever it is you are working on this weekend or planning to work on at your money pit. We’re here to lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, your furniture will never be as nice as the day you had it delivered but what kind of repairs can a do-it-yourselfer really handle? Well, it turns out quite a few. We’re going to tell you how to get rid of dings and dents and watermarks, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Home Advisor. Find trusted home improvement pros for any project at HomeAdvisor.com.

    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: Sounds like you had a big-bang crash this last week? What happened with the coffee table?

    LESLIE: Oh, well, there’s many conflicting stories. I love that, you know, I’m at work for the Harry show late one night and I called to say good night to the kids and my mom’s like, “Oh, everything’s great.” And then Henry gets the phone. He’s like, “I had a great day. We love you very much. Bye. We broke your coffee table. Bye.” And I was like, “Ugh, what? What?”

    TOM: What?

    LESLIE: Now, I don’t know if you guys remember, this is that beautiful custom slab of claro walnut that’s all natural and live with those Lucite slab legs. It cost me a ton of money and I saved up a long time for this dream table of mine. Henry will say that he put his foot up and then it fell over and then something else happened. My mom will tell you that one of them threw the other one on top of it and then the other one then threw the other one on top of it. And then they both fell on it and the whole thing fell apart into three pieces.

    My favorite part was coming home to find all three pieces just piled up in the middle of my living room where it had once beautifully stood, with a note on it that said, “I’m broken. Don’t touch me.”

    TOM: That’s what you get for taking them to a World Wrestling Federation match.

    LESLIE: Seriously. So it’s all around. Luckily, because the Lucite slabs were very solid – unfortunately, there’s some little rails that have the screw holes in them so that you attach the Lucite slabs to the bottom. That cracked a little bit and of course, then the holes were rendered useless from the wrestling – the pre-drilled ones. So I kind of moved the legs in and readjusted them and re-drilled the holes and did a little bit of a fatter screw. And I was able to fix it.

    Unfortunately, nobody seems to have any remorse or any care that Mommy’s dream coffee table got totally destroyed in some sort of smack-down event.

    TOM: Yeah. And your poor mom has been sucked into the middle of this conspiracy.

    LESLIE: She didn’t seem to care either, FYI.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve been – if you’ve suffered some furniture fallout around your house, we’d love to try to help you fix that up or any other home improvement project that’s on your to-do list. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Greg in Iowa is on the line and he’s dealing with a radon situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    GREG: Well, my wife and I are in the process of buying a home and we’re in the process of closing on this home. And when we – gone through the whole process of buying it and everything, we had to have an initial – we decided to have an inspection done. And then at the end of this inspection, where they go over everything mechanical and about the house and everything, they then offered a radon test to be done. And I had heard about the test and read about the test and figured it was a good idea to have it done; it was $100, which was pretty cheap compared to what we found out.

    And I guess what I’m trying to find out from you all is – in Iowa, they say that there’s 70 to 71 percent of the homes in Iowa have a radon problem.

    TOM: OK. Now, you had a radon test done. What did the level come back at?

    GREG: It came back at 18.

    TOM: OK. So 18 picocuries?

    GREG: Yes.

    TOM: So 4.0 picocuries is the action guideline. Remember, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector; I got this, OK?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: So 4.0 is the action guideline. So you have a radon problem. It’s not unusual. It depends on the area. And certainly not the worst that I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen homes that had levels of upwards of 100 picocuries.

    GREG: OK.

    TOM: That said, you do need to put in – or more accurately, the seller – is a sub-slab mitigation system where you have pipes that go into the slab and they pull the radon gas out. Now, has that process been started?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Alright. So then you’re on your way. But when you’re done, it’s very important that they test out of this and get a successful number. I will caution you, though, because this is a real estate transaction, remember that you are not in control of that house.

    And one of the biggest concerns that I had as a home inspector doing radon tests was I couldn’t necessarily trust the sellers to leave my test alone. And if they opened the windows or doors during the test, they’re going to vent that house and get that number to be down. So, it’s really important that when you’re doing a mitigation system, you would probably step away from doing charcoal absorption canisters and you would do other types of radon testing.

    There’s one called a “working level monitor” where it basically takes samples on an hour-by-hour basis. And you can look at the results that come off of this and what you look for, as a tester, is a normal pattern. And you’re going to see a pattern that sort of climbs throughout the day and is really high at night when the house is completely still, starts to drop during the day. A good tester can tell if the test has been compromised.

    So just proceed cautiously. Not an unusual situation. Sub-slab ventilation is the way to go and when they’re done, this test should be down to near zero.

    GREG: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. And I think you’re doing all the right things. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve got an active household like my friend, Leslie, does here and maybe your furniture has suffered a bit and may perhaps not totally crashed like your coffee table, Leslie – but I mean if you have the occasional, say, water ring or ding or dent or scratch, there’s some easy ways to bring that furniture back to pretty good shape, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it really depends on what it is. Coffee table in three pieces? We can put it back together. Something a little bit more mundane that you might find in the average household are, you know, white rings on your coffee table or your dining table or any sort of side table. And that’s basically when you put a cup there without a coaster. How uncivilized of everybody. Come on.

    But you put your cup down and you get some condensate and then that water vapor sort of penetrates into the actual finish. You can actually remove that ring by gently rubbing the area with a cloth that’s just been barely dampened with denatured alcohol. Barely, just almost dry. And that’ll really do the trick there.

    Now, if you find you’ve got shallow chips in the surface, that’s really where a clear finish is chipped but the underlying color is intact. So what you can do there is fill those dings in with a few drops of clear nail polish. And then after the polish dries, you can sand flush with a super-super-fine sandpaper, almost like a 600 grit. And that’s going to restore the sheen on satin finishes. If you can – if you want, you can rub with a 0000 steel wool and paste wax.

    For glossy finishes, then you can use auto-polishing compound and a rag. That’s really going to do the trick there.

    TOM: Now, here’s a ridiculously easy solution for scratches or worn edges: just get a felt-tip touch-up marker. It works really well. You pretty much can just color those scratches away.

    Now, these are not just your basic Sharpie. These are designed in a variety of wood tones to match all those sort of typical furniture finishes. And then you can use it to color kind of large scratches or the edges where the stain has worn away. You want to put it only on the damaged area and wipe any excess off before it gets on the rest of the finish. And then coat the whole thing with some paste wax. And that will sort of restore the sheen and make it look like it never was damaged in the first place.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we try to keep you out of home improvement hot water. Give us a call, right now, and let’s talk about your next home improvement to-do at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alice in Illinois is on the line. Alice has got a hard problem: she’s got hard water. How can we help you today?

    ALICE: I have well water and on the well water, I have iron, hardness and manganese. And I do have filters that I use with [salt packs] (ph). But I’m looking for something else besides those [salt packs] (ph).

    TOM: There’s another option that’s an electronic option and it’s called EasyWater – E-a-s-y-W-a-t-e-r. And essentially, what EasyWater does is it installs to your main water pipe and it sort of causes the hardness in the water to polarize, in the sense that it doesn’t stick to the fixtures anymore. And there’s a lot of people using it now. It’s been pretty effective and it’s an alternative to using a salt-based solution for this particular water problem. They’ve been around for about 25 years. They seem to be a good company, do a good job.

    Take a look at their website at EasyWater.com. I know they’ve got a pretty good guarantee, so if you don’t like it, you can send the unit back.

    ALICE: Yes, great. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever spilled red wine on, say, a white carpet, you’ll definitely appreciate an easy solution to make that stain disappear. We’ll share that secret tip, next.

    (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: Here to take your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: How do you know it’s winter? Well, Ken in Wisconsin is dealing with ice and snow in the gutters.

    Ken, sorry you are dealing with this weather. How can we help you today?

    KEN: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a ranch-style home. I put an addition on and since I put the addition on, now, when I get snow – we had this snow – I got about 8 inches on the roof but now I’ve got an ice buildup in the gutters and it’s now backed up a little bit. And I’ve got icicles probably 4 or 5 foot long and I’m afraid it’s going to back up into the house. How do I stop that or is there a way to get it melted and get rid of it?

    TOM: OK. So, this is an addition and it’s only happening on the addition and it’s not happening on the main house?

    KEN: No, it’s happening on the main house and the addition.

    TOM: Both. OK. So, this is what is known as ice damming. And the reason ice dams happen is because warm air gets up into your attic space around sort of the middle of your house, because you don’t have enough insulation. And then it heats the roof right above the heated space of the house and that lets the snow melt. And then the snow washes down the roof edge until it gets to that line of about – right above the exterior wall. That’s when it starts to get a lot colder and starts to form ice. And then more snow melts, more ice forms, more snow melts, more ice forms. So, that’s what’s happening; that’s the reason this is happening.

    How can we stop this? Well, a few things. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look at your level of insulation. And in your part of the country, you really should have 15 to 20 inches of insulation if not a bit more. Adding insulation will stop the ice dams from forming, because you won’t have as much water running down your roof all at once and freezing at the roof edge.

    The second thing that you can do is take a look at the ventilation. If you have good ventilation that goes in the soffit, up under the roof sheathing and out like, for example, at a ridge vent, again, that ventilation stops the difference in temperature across that particular area.

    Remember, we’re holding the heat at the ceiling of the house. Above the insulation, in a perfect world, we want that to actually be the same temperature as the outside. Because if it is, you’re not going to have this disproportional melting of snow up higher on the roof and that water running down and freezing at the roof edge.

    KEN: I’m guessing we have – nothing was a problem until I put the addition on. I wonder if they didn’t put enough insulation in the addition and that’s where I’m having an issue.

    TOM: It may very well have been – that’s why I was trying to figure out if it happens all the way around or just the addition, because I was kind of thinking the same thing myself.

    Now, the other thing that you can do is – and of course, you can’t do it now when your roof is full of ice. But there are heating coils that are designed to go at a roof edge but it’s not the solution. It’s a temporary solution, if anything. And of course, it’s expensive to run and it’s expensive to buy and install. But sometimes in commercial buildings or restaurants, hotels where they want to be sure that none of the ice is going to fall and hurt somebody, you’ll see these electric coils right above those areas for this purpose: to kind of melt the ice and turn it back to water and be done with it. So, that’s an opportunity for you.

    But again, I would rather see you put the insulation in. Because besides stopping the ice from forming, you’re going to lower your heating costs, which are going to be astronomical if you don’t have enough insulation. So take a look at the insulation, take a look at the ventilation. I think your solution lies right there.

    Well, if you’ve ever hosted a party and you had a guest, say, let a, perhaps, glass of wine fly, getting that spill cleaned up quickly is the best way to make sure it doesn’t set. And this is, of course, especially true of anything with a color in it, like red wine. Because what happens is that oxidizes the longer it sits. But there are a couple of ways to make those stains get out.

    First off, it really comes down to the material. If we’re talking about clothing and a particular washable clothing, you want to flush it immediately under a cold faucet, then rub it with some dish soap or laundry detergent and then flush it again until the stain is gone. If you’ve to a dry-clean-only item, you want to blot it out as best you can with paper towels or a dish cloth and then basically get it to the dry cleaner quick so, again, it doesn’t set.

    LESLIE: I’m just going to warn everybody: you invite Tom and I to a party, Tom never spills anything. It’s always me. Just saying. I’m kind of the messy one.

    TOM: You know, that’s so true because one time I asked you – I knew that you liked red wine and we went out to dinner and you were wearing a white blouse. And you ordered white, so – “Don’t you want red wine?” She says, “White blouse.” But you’re smart about that.

    LESLIE: It’s true. And I normally don’t mean it. One time, it was actually at my sister’s wedding. I was dancing and I got over-excited and flailed my arm. And I happened to do that, right at the exact time that the waiter was walking by with a tray full of champagne flutes, and smacked this tray right out of the guy’s hand. I mean there was broken glass and champagne everywhere. Granted, we didn’t have to clean it up there but things like that happen when I go to people’s houses, too. So, I’m just saying if you invite me over, keep me in tiled rooms. Just saying.

    So now, if you do find that you invite me over or anybody and it spills on carpeting or upholstery, here’s what you’ve got to do: if the carpet is the victim, you want to soak up what you can with a super-quick blotting of a cloth. Put the cloth down, stand on it, really do what you can to suck up all of that spill out of the carpeting. Then grab table salt and pour – that’s table salt in that pour-spout container and just mound it up on top of the stain. That salt is going to pull the wine up and out of the fibers. And you’ll be able to tell when that salt is no longer absorbing that wine, at which point you use a vacuum or a dustpan and broom to sweep it up.

    If the spill happened to be on the sofa, do your best blotting with paper towels or cloths. Skip the salt and you can use a fabric cleaner.

    Whatever you do, guys – and I know this is the instinct – don’t rub. Everybody’s like, “Oh, put something down and rub it away.” Don’t do it because though you’re tempted, it’s basically the worst thing that you can do. Rubbing will essentially push that stain further into the fibers. So it’s not ideal considering your goal is to get that stain out. Never rub. And don’t invite Leslie to your party.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. If you need advice on your home improvement project, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Patty in Illinois who’s got a toilet that is running constantly. Tell us what’s going on.

    PATTY: Well, it doesn’t run constantly but it runs about five seconds, several times an hour. And it’s gone to the point that my water bill has gone up quite a bit and I’m needing to know if I need a new toilet or if I need new seals or a new handle pump or – what would you think?

    LESLIE: It’s actually an easy fix and this tends to happen kind of regularly. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that there’s actually some level of toilet maintenance, because it’s just an appliance in your house that’s there and you use it and you expect it to work.

    But inside the tank itself, there’s a fill and a flush valve. And those need to be replaced not that often but every couple of years or so. And of course, now that you’re dealing with this water-running issue – Tom, is it Fluidmaster?

    TOM: Yeah, Fluidmaster is sort of a mainstay of replacement valve parts.

    And they just wear out, Patty, over time, so this is a pretty easy fix.

    LESLIE: And it’s probably 10 bucks to get both of them. But if you go to Fluidmaster’s website, the only reason I recommend that is because on their website, they’ve got a really great how-to video. So you can actually see what the fill valve is, what the flush valve, the flapper valves – you know exactly what you’re looking at and how to replace it. And it’s a really easy do-it-yourself project that you can do confidently and definitely decrease your water bill.

    PATTY: Thank you. That sounds wonderful. I appreciate it and thank you so much for taking my call. Love your show.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Patty. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: And still to come, is your home overrun by electronic gadgets? We’re going to have tips to help you hide those cords, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here’s kind of a crazy statistic, Leslie: it appears that the average American family has two dozen technological gadgets at home. Does that make sense?

    LESLIE: That seems about right.

    TOM: With the whole family, you know, toting around cameras and phones and players and so on, there’s a lot of wires and stuff that kind of get mixed up. So, a couple of tips to keep everything straight is, first off, to label the chargers. Because I’ve got a drawer full of chargers; I swear to God I don’t know what they’re for. So label them so they don’t get mixed up. And think about plugging all those chargers into a single surge protector. And this way, you can turn it off when it’s not in use. One switch basically deenergizes the whole thing.

    And you know what else that is good for? That phantom energy leak when you actually use a little bit of current even when everything is off. It stops that from happening.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The other thing you can think about is really just – in getting organized, think about those shoe organizers that you can hang on the back of a closet door. You can even just use a section of it in a drawer. Do something to really keep those – all of those chargers separate. And you can even label the little areas, if you’re not actually labeling the charger, to help you realize exactly what’s what. And also, it helps you to put them away to the right spot.

    TOM: Good advice. Hey, do you need some good advice on your home improvement or décor project? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Roy in Illinois is on the line and there seems to be a crack in the front of the garage.

    What is going on? Are you getting water in the garage? Is it on the door? What’s going on here?

    ROY: When the house was built about 21 years ago, they brought in a cement saw and they cut marks in it to control the cracking.

    TOM: OK.

    ROY: Well, the first cut is 4 feet from the garage door. Well, now, that part next to the garage has settled down so when it rains, the water runs towards the garage, which is making it worse.

    TOM: Ah, OK.

    ROY: And I saw a commercial on TV for this mudjacking outfit and they say for a little more than half what it costs to replace the cement, they could jack it back up in place. But you will see the marks where they drill the holes to put the cement in and will it last? Should we do the whole driveway over or is there some way we can do something to make it look good and last? It’s a beautiful place. We have no problems with anything except you drive in the driveway and you see that.

    TOM: Yeah. So when you get close to the driveway, that last slab, so to speak, tilts in towards the garage and it’s running water up against the house? Is that correct?

    ROY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s going to – could affect the foundation that’s holding the garage up because you throw a lot of water under it, it becomes less stable and you get a lot more movement. So I do think it’s an important thing to fix.

    Mudjacking will work and it can replace that area as long as they can lift that slab nice and even so it doesn’t crack and become worse. I would just try to get their guarantee that they’re not going to crack the slab in the process. But if they can get the mud underneath it – they’re basically filling in the low spots, bringing that slab up and then it’s not going to collapse anymore, because the concrete they put under it – the mud, so to speak – takes up that void.

    So, I wouldn’t be afraid of doing that. And if it turns out that that’s less expensive than breaking that one piece out and just pouring that one piece new, then I think you can do that. If you decide to break that out, I don’t think you have to do the whole driveway; you can just do that one piece.

    And make sure the soil below is properly tamped. You’re going to have to replace that with fill dirt and stone and get it tamped down. Tamping is really key so it’s really solid. What’s happened is water has gotten over there over the years, it’s softened the soil and that’s what’s caused that slab to sort of rotate with the car going back and forth.

    So I think either option is OK. It becomes an economic choice. My only concern is that you commit to spending money on mudjacking and end up breaking the slab and then you’re kind of almost back to the beginning.

    ROY: OK. Sounds great. Sounds like you’ve got the answers.

    TOM: Yeah, well, we try. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole in Illinois on the line who needs to fix a crack in a wall. And you’re saying it’s from an earthquake? When did you have an earthquake in Illinois?

    NICOLE: Well, it was just a really small earthquake. We get them just randomly, about one or two a year.

    TOM: Wow.

    NICOLE: Because we’re right on – there’s some fault that’s down south of us.

    TOM: And now that fault has worked its way up into your wall. So what does it look like? How big of a crack is this that we need to fix?

    NICOLE: It’s about an 18-inch crack and then that’s going down from the ceiling. And then it goes like – it goes diagonally up the wall and then hits the ceiling and then just moves horizontally on the ceiling for a couple of inches.

    TOM: So it’s 18 inches long altogether?

    NICOLE: Yeah.

    TOM: How old is the house?

    NICOLE: It’s not very old, like ‘99.

    TOM: OK. So it’s a drywall crack then.

    NICOLE: Yes.

    TOM: Many people will simply spackle that but the problem is that if you spackle that crack, the wall is now always going to move – and walls always do move but now that the wall has a crack, the two sides of that are going to move at different rates. And so that crack will reform. The way you stop that from happening is by taping over that crack with drywall tape and then spackling it.

    Now, taping with paper drywall tape can be a bit tricky, so there’s a product out that’s a perforated drywall tape that looks like a netting. It’s like a sticky-backed netting. And that type of perforated tape is the best one to use because you put the tape on first and then you spackle over it. You want to do two or three coats, starting with smaller coats and then working wider as you go.

    And remember, the thinner the coat the better; I’d rather you put on more coats than put on too much spackle, which too many people tend to do. Then it kind of gets all gooped up and piled up on your wall and you’ll see it forever. So, thin coats – two or three thin coats – and that should do it.

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

    Hey, don’t let these last dreary days of winter drag you down. We’ll tell you how to add some spring cheer to your home, after this.

    (theme song)

    TOM: This is 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question or post it to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. That’s what Nancy did in Florida.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Nancy writes: “What are your recommendations for a concrete garage floor in central Florida? I’m thinking about an epoxy-painted sparkle-type floor. Are they durable? Do they tend to peel up? Any suggestions?”

    TOM: I think they can be really durable, Nancy. The key is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the application, because it has to be cleaned.

    Now, when you buy epoxy-coated – the epoxy products, remember that there’s sort of two parts to that: there’s the paint and there’s a hardener and you have to mix them together. And that starts the clock in terms of how long you have to work with the product. Should be plenty of time to use it but it is a timed sort of operation. So, make sure you get everything out of that garage 100 percent. Clean it properly before you mix the product.

    Speaking of cleaning, there’s usually an etching solution in that epoxy-paint kit that you have to apply. That makes sure you get all of the dirt and the grease, anything that’s sort of stuck to that floor that maybe you can’t see or won’t sweep off, off of it so that the surface is ready for the adhesion.

    Now after you apply it, of course, you’ve got to wait. I like to double the amount of drying time the manufacturers will say. And if you want something that is even more shiny than sort of the basic floor finish itself, you could go ahead and put another coat of clear epoxy over that. And that will make it really super shiny, almost like a gym floor.

    But Leslie, Nancy asked about the epoxy coatings. But you can also do something very attractive with just acid staining at that surface, as well, especially if, of course, it’s not been painted before.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, acid staining on a concrete floor can look gorgeous and it’s super durable and it can be in a variety of colors. And there’s also different techniques to applying it. I mean some of them are not very do-it-yourself-friendly; some of them have to be done by pros. But you can look up a lot of different sources online. I think QUIKRETE even has an acid-staining kit. And it truly depends on – the coloration will be truly how that product reacts to the chemical compound or I should say, the makeup of the concrete floor.

    But it looks beautiful and when applied right, can really be gorgeous and last a long time. You’re not going to get those flecks that you’re talking about but it’s definitely a beautiful, durable surface. Either way, the concrete’s going to last.

    TOM: Well, the long, dark days of winter tend to give some project-loving homeowners the blues. But you don’t have to wait for spring to add some cheer. A few dollar-wise home improvement projects can definitely spruce up your home and your spirits. And Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It might sound obvious but the first thing you can do is just simply turn on some lights. This really is a good time to add a lamp or some sconces to your space. Or at least increase the brightness of the bulbs that you are using in the fixtures you’ve already got in your home.
    Another way to bring spring early into your home is to plant an indoor garden. You can actually plant colorful flowers or something even edible to remind you of the spring season. And then transfer it outdoors when spring does arrive.

    Also, think about your front door. You can spruce it up. It can really be a great welcome for you when you’ve been out in the dreariness. And if you’re not going to paint or get a new door, just polish up the hardware. That simple step can change the whole look of everything. You can also even get a new, inexpensive doormat and boost your lighting on the front porch to the maximum wattage allowed by the fixture you’ve got. And that will just change everything completely. It completely changes you outlook, as well.

    Guys, spring is not too far off but a few fix-ups now should make you feel a little cozier as you hibernate in your home through the rest of this winter.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, here’s a common problem that many of us face in baths and that’s what happens when water gets behind your tiled walls and turns them into mush and mold. We’re going to have tips on how to make those tiles watertight, 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 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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