Homemade Tick Repellants to Keep Kids Safe

  • 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 you, to help you with your summer home improvement projects. Or maybe you’re thinking about planning a project for the chillier weather ahead. Summer is great because you can plan those projects and get them done while it’s still comfortable to work outside. If any of that is on your to-do list or maybe you’ve just got a décor job or a closet-organization project or a kitchen redo, we’d love to hear the details. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s show, as we head into the heart of the summer season and keep spending more and more time outside, well, the ticks are doing the same thing. And they can be pretty unsafe, so we’re going to have some tips to help you stay clear, including a homemade repellant that really, really works.

    LESLIE: And replacing a water heater isn’t usually on a homeowner’s improvement radar until it is because it’s leaking. We’re going to share tips on what you should be checking for now to avoid needing emergency replacements later.

    TOM: Plus, do you know the easiest door to break into for any house? It’s usually the garage door. We’ll tell you why and share the surprisingly simple steps you can take to secure that entry.

    But first, we want to hear from you. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you do, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we’re giving away two great tools from our friends at Arrow: a professional electric stapler and nailer and the Arrow Dual-Temp Glue Gun. Those products are going out, with a supply of staples and glue sticks and everything you need, to one caller drawn at random. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joe in California is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOE: Well, it’s an old one from the 60s, I believe, but it was beautifully built. It’s 15 foot wide and 2 stories up and I’m on the second story. But the water is going through the mortar coming in and it’s terrible. It’s like a waterfall in the wintertime.

    TOM: So, you say that water is coming through the mortar. Do you know for a fact that it’s coming through in a particular place? Because, generally, when chimneys leak, there’s two areas that we concentrate on. The first is the very top of the chimney. And if it’s a masonry chimney, you probably have a clay flue liner. Is that correct?

    JOE: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. And then so the space between the clay flue liner and the outside edge of the brick chimney, that has to have a concrete cap on it. And that should be sloped away from the flue liner to the outside edge. It can’t have any cracks or holes or gaps in it. And very often, you have to caulk it, if that does develop, around the flue liner, as well as through the cracks.

    The second place that chimneys typically leak is at their intersection with roofs. And unfortunately, roofers have almost universally lost the skill set that would have enabled them to be able to flash this joint properly between the chimney and the roof. Because the proper way to do this is with a two-piece flashing system where you have a base flashing that goes underneath the roof shingle and up against the side of the chimney. Then counter flashing, which is carved into the mortar joint, folds over the outside edge of the chimney and also over the base flashing.

    And the reason that sort of two-piece design is important is because chimneys are always moving and roofs are always moving and they don’t move together. And so, this is sort of a slip joint, so to speak, where they can actually move and shift with the wind and the heat and the rain and the expansion and contraction without actually breaking down.

    So, I would look at those two areas. And then I’ll just give you one other tip. If you have a roof where there’s a lot of water running down before it hits the base of the chimney, in a situation like that, what you want to do is put a diverter on the roof, midway, to kind of short-circuit some of the water that’s running down towards the chimney and run it around the chimney. And that will just simply reduce the volume of water that’s getting in there and potentially leaking through into your house.

    JOE: This has got a flat, metal top over the top of the chimney that mostly keeps the rain from coming down the chimney but I haven’t really looked at the flue liner up there. That’s a good point.

    TOM: Yep. Take a careful look, Joe, OK?

    JOE: OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Norma from Delaware on the line who wants to know what size pipes you need to get good pressure in the bathroom.

    Norma, that sounds like a personal question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    NORMA: OK. I’m going to install a shower panel.

    TOM: OK.

    NORMA: And in order to get good – the right pressure, how big do the pipes need to be?

    TOM: Right. You said you wanted to install a shower panel? So is this one of these units where it comes in and then fans out to multiple spray heads?

    NORMA: Yeah, the jets, right.

    TOM: How is your water pressure right now?

    NORMA: Pretty good. Well, my house is about eight years old.

    TOM: Oh, if it’s only eight years old and you have pretty good water pressure, you should be OK with this. I will say, though, that the water pressure coming out of multiple showerheads is not going to be as invigorating as coming out of a single showerhead. So, it’s going to give you good coverage but it may not be as strong. And I don’t think there’s much that you can do about that. If you’ve got normal street pressure, that’s how those shower-panel units are designed to work. But just be mindful that it’s not likely to be as strong when it’s going to come out of multiple heads, because you basically just need more water to do that.

    NORMA: Oh, OK. Well, I inquired with the builder and he told me that from the basement to the shower floor, I have three-quarter pipes. And then from the floor to the showerhead, ½-inch.

    TOM: And that’s typical. That’s typical. So, that doesn’t change anything.

    NORMA: Oh, OK. Alright. Thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Rick in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICK: When our house was built, in place of the usual wooden boards that are used to trim around the edges of the roofs and around the bottom of the house, they used a plastic composite-type material.

    TOM: OK.

    RICK: And it’s used in place of wood and it’s maintenance-free, lasts forever, that kind of stuff. With the exception that any place this wood is – this composite material is cut, it becomes kind of a haven for mold and mildew. And you get green growth there and it’s – you spend a lot of time and effort continually pressure-washing to clean it out. So, what I’m looking for is some means of sealing – is there some way of sealing this to prevent this mold growth on what is otherwise a maintenance-free material?

    TOM: Well, if it’s composite, it may be a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And that’s paintable. And so you could paint those areas and that might tend to seal it in a bit more. Because I think what you’re saying is that the cut areas are probably more absorbent than the surface areas and so you’re getting a little more moisture. Maybe it’s a trap. There’s a little rougher surface there that might be a trap for dirt that feeds mildew or algae and that sort of thing.

    So, what comes to mind right away is that you simply could paint it. But of course, you know what comes after paint: repaint.

    RICK: Exactly. It takes away the maintenance-free aspect of it.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RICK: But is there a type of paint that would be more conducive or last longer, like an epoxy-type paint or something like that?

    TOM: Not for a surface like that. No, you would just use an exterior paint and you would probably prime it first.

    RICK: So it wouldn’t be latex. It would be an enamel?

    TOM: No, you would use a 100-percent acrylic latex paint. That’s what AZEK recommends be used. And you also might want to take a look at Sherwin-Williams for the paint manufacturer, because I know that they have paints that are specifically made for vinyl or PVC products, which is what that product is. AZEK is simply an extruded cellular PVC.

    LESLIE: Not everybody does this but some contractors tend to skip the step of filling holes when it comes to a composite trimming. You know, they’re like, “Eh, you can’t see it. It’s OK.” But this could give you the opportunity – if you’re going to paint the trim, as well – to go ahead and fill any nail holes. And that’ll really give it almost a more natural wood look, the brushstrokes. It could be a good thing.

    RICK: OK. Thank you very much. That’s a great idea.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: And just ahead, don’t get sick from ticks. We’ll have tips and tricks to help you from getting ticked off, after this.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, right now, and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    LESLIE: Don’t forget, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT where we can give you a hand with whatever it is you’re working on. Plus, if you give us a call now, you’re going to get the answer to your question and a chance to win a really great set of tools to get those projects done.

    We’ve got, up for grabs, the Arrow T50AC Professional Electric Stapler and Nailer, plus the Arrow GT20DT Dual-Temp Glue Gun. Now, these guys have been making fantastic tools for 90 years for both pros and do-it-yourselfers.

    And Arrow really knows what they’re doing. That electric stapler and nailer delivers consistent pro-grade performance with every shot. And I’ve got to say this glue gun is my favorite. I love the dual temperatures. It works great on all different surfaces. You can make sure whatever you’re adhering to one another is not going to melt. It’s truly going to stick.

    We’re giving this away, plus a supply of glue sticks, nails, fasteners, everything you need. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Nils in Delaware is on the line with a fly problem at a new house. What’s going on?

    NILS: Girlfriend purchased a historical home that was located in our county seat where all the court buildings are. It was built in 1806 and they moved it out of town. And so now we’re redoing it a room at a time but we’re trying to keep it in period, because it’s in the register. So, I guess we’ve got to be careful what we do.

    But when we opened up the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom, there was a humongous snake that had died in the ceiling.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    NILS: And all that was left was the skin and she was done when she saw that.

    TOM: Wow. That’s freaky.

    NILS: But we’ve got all these different types of frogs in the yard. We’ve got a million ticks and now we’ve got these – everybody’s calling them “furnace flies” that sees them. But we don’t have a furnace. We’ve got a boiler but that’s out in what’s called a “potting shed” and it’s a detached building from the home. So I don’t know where these flies are coming from.

    TOM: Well, listen, Nils, we can give you some advice on how to tackle the flies. But between the flies and the ticks and everything else that’s going on in this house, I really think you should just cut the pain and pick up the phone and call a pest-control operator – a licensed pest-control professional. Because they have the tools and the techniques and the products that can effectively and safely make this house a lot less insect-infested.

    Now, with the flies, you can make your own fly traps out of apple-cider vinegar. All you do is you take a cup or a jar, you put a couple inches of vinegar – apple-cider vinegar – in it, you cover the top of that jar with plastic, punch some holes in it that are big enough for the flies to get in and they’ll find their way in there and they won’t be able to get out. So I mean we can give you some sort of home remedies like that. But if you’ve got this level of insect infestation in this old house and even the surrounding yards …

    NILS: Oh, no, no, no. There is no infestation in the house. It’s just we’ve got flies that go around the kitchen and her family room. Most of the floor is like 18-inch planks, 18 inches wide. And we just don’t know where the flies are coming from and how to get rid of them. And I have to be careful, because our neighbor was killed in a car accident and we’ve inherited all five of her cats because they had nowhere to go, I guess.

    TOM: Well, I still think that you could have the house professionally treated, safely, even with the animals inside of it. And it’s going to be a lot more effective than chasing them down with any other type of remedy. There are pyrethrin sprays that you can buy over the counter but I just don’t think you should use them.

    A professional is going to come in and sometimes people think, “Well, if the professionals come in, they’re using the really strong stuff.” Well, I always put it this way: they’re using the right stuff and they’re using the right amount of it to do the job at hand. Pesticides today are heavily regulated and they have to be applied very specifically and consistent with the label directions. And they do a pretty good job, because the guys are trained to know how to do it. And so, considering the level of issue you’ve got going on here, that’s exactly what I would do here. OK, Nils?

    NILS: OK.

    TOM: Well, according to the CDC, there are as many as nine different ticks that you can be exposed to when being outside this summer. And each of them can carry a dozen or more diseases and some of which can even be serious.

    So, to keep yourself tick-free, there are a few choices in the repellants that you can take. First off, you want to use a repellant that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Now, any of these is going to give you protection that will last several hours.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, you can also use products that have been treated with permethrin. You can products that are pretreated or you can treat clothing and gear, like your boots, pants, socks and tents with those repellants containing 0.5 percent permethrin. That’s one-half of one percent.

    Now, the permethrin actually remains a protector through several washings, so you don’t have to repeat it for every outdoor adventure, especially if it’s on your tent and it’s raining. But do reapply when you should.

    TOM: Now, you can also make your own tick repellant. Essential oils are great for this. So all you need is 2 ounces of witch hazel or vodka, 1 ounce of water and 20 drops each of any three of the following oils: you can use geranium, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, Virginia cedarwood and Alaskan cypress. You mix them up in a spray bottle, shake well, then apply.

    And we’ve got that complete recipe on MoneyPit.com. Plus, we’ve got a list of plants that you can add around your home that will naturally repel ticks, like lavender, one of my favorites. Just search for “tick repellant” on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Craig in Rhode Island is on the line and he needs some help with a bathroom makeover. What are you working on?

    CRAIG: Well, actually, my second bathroom in my master, it’s kind of old. It has a Symmons water mixer – a shut-off valve. And actually, I’m looking to replace it. It’s cracked, it has some issues. But I can’t get behind the shower to open the wall up to replace it because it’s actually adjacent to my first bathroom shower. It’s a fiberglass, one-piece pop-in.

    My first thought is take the insert out, tile it. But then I have to put a shower pan in. I’d have to do a lot more extra work and money. And then I heard possibly cutting the hole bigger and they have bigger back plates. But I don’t want it to look awkward, as well, you know?

    TOM: So what exactly is wrong with the valve you have there now?

    CRAIG: Well, see, I don’t think the mixing valve – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But the plate on the shut-off valve, it’s cracked. I also have well water. I know it’s been taking a toll on the pipes. The home is 20 years old. I’m pretty sure it’s original to the home, as well. I’ve only owned it for about coming up on two years now and …

    TOM: So you basically are telling me that it’s a cosmetic piece?

    CRAIG: It is, it is. But I’m redoing the bathroom and I want to update the fixtures. And like I said, it’s kind of your typical apartment, Symmons, very like a chrome – the kind of cheap, chrome finish.

    TOM: Well, look, you have the most impossible scenario because you have back-to-back plumbing walls. And typically, you design bathrooms so that one side of the wall’s a closet where you can go and tear out the back wall and then you can get to the valves. But in your case, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, because you either have to take apart the fiberglass shower or you’ve got to take apart the shower that’s basically getting you started here.

    And I don’t really have a good solution for you. I was asking you about the existing valves because I was wondering if maybe – sometimes, plumbers can rebuild all the working parts of that from the action side, from the inside, and maybe pick up some additional faucets that will look like they’ll work in there. I wouldn’t go to the tear-out without at least exploring that.

    I, for example, recently had a new shower valve that had to really be replaced. And it turned out that the valves were plastic – inside, some of the valve components were plastic. The seats? And we tore them out and we replaced them with brass. And we were able to find those at a plumbing-supply store. And so I didn’t have to actually replace the faucet.

    CRAIG: My next step is going to – I’m going to go to a plumbing supply and see if they just have an updated kind of – updated Symmons where I could keep that valve in and everything is kind of pieced together, as well.

    TOM: Right. I think that’s a smart thing. What you want to do is take some pictures of that and go talk to a knowledgeable guy behind the counter and figure out what your options are.

    CRAIG: Yeah, yeah. That’s my next step and it’s not a – I guess I’ll be tiling a new shower.

    TOM: Yeah. If you can figure out a way to make it passable, I think you should do that because you know what?

    CRAIG: Yeah?

    TOM: Nobody’s going to see that space and I’d hate to see you spend a few thousand bucks redoing it if all you’re trying to get is new valves.

    CRAIG: That’s what I’m trying to stay away from. Well, thank you, guys, very much.

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

    Hey, have you checked your water heater lately? Well, doing so can help you avoid water-heater problems. We’re going to explore that in today’s Pro Project, presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On this beautiful summer weekend, what project are you working on? We’d love to hear about it. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Allison in New York on the line who has an unwanted visitor at their money pit. What’s going on?

    ALLISON: My husband – I wish he was on with me – but our mission is to humanely trap we believe to be a squirrel that’s running between the drop ceiling in our basement. And my husband said, “Two-by-eight joint rafters.” There’s like a 2-inch space only and …

    TOM: What I want you to do is to go out and pick up a trap called a Havahart trap. Now, these Havahart traps are live traps in that they’re going to catch this squirrel. And then you’re going to pull this trap out and you can take them out to the woods somewhere and release them.

    What you do with the Havahart trap is once you get it set up, in the back of the trap where you want this squirrel to kind of end up, put an apple back there. And don’t just put it back there but wire it to the back wall of the trap. Take a piece of picture wire, thread it through the apple and kind of tie it off. Because I’ll tell you what, even though these traps are good, those squirrels and other small rascals can sometimes grab that without tripping the door. But if you wire it to the back of the trap, they don’t have a chance. And set it near the opening, wherever you can get access to it.

    And I’ll tell you, sooner or later, that squirrel is going to wander in that trap and bam, you’ll hear the door slap and they will not be happy. They’ll kind of be running in circles trying to figure out a way to get out. But you can cover them with a blanket, throw them in the back of your car, in the trunk, and take it out somewhere. And then as you open that up, believe me, they’re not going to stand around to kind of talk about it with you; they’ll just bolt. As soon as you lift that door, they will bolt into the woods.


    TOM: I hope that helps you out, Allison. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, according to the experts at ENERGY STAR, water heaters are the second highest energy user in the home. And using a water heater can cost a family of four 620 bucks annually. Now, that is more than enough reason to keep an eye on how your water heater is performing. We’re going to have tips on how to do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    Now, first off, it’s important to know your water heater’s age. The average life span of a water heater is anywhere from 8 to 12 years. And unfortunately, there’s no test or telltale sign that a water heater needs replacing, of course, aside from a major leak, which you want to avoid.

    Now, if the water seems less hot, even though the temperature on your heater has not changed, it could be a sign of a malfunction. Other signs could include leakage around fittings and corrosion on the heater itself or any of the plumbing connections.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, sometimes, a water heater can be repaired. But if it’s getting to that 8- to 10-year-old range, you might just want to hire a pro to replace the whole unit. And take advantage of the improved efficiency that newer water heaters can bring.

    For example, a new ENERGY STAR-certified electric heat-pump water heater uses less than half the energy of standard water-heater models and can actually save a family of four nearly $3,750 over its 13-year life span. Plus, many utilities offer incentives for purchasing ENERGY STAR-certified water heaters that can reduce cost and increase savings even more.

    TOM: Now, if your home uses natural gas or propane for hot water, another option to consider is tankless water heater. A tankless water heater lasts around 20 years, which is much longer than a traditional tank water heater. Plus, those tankless units, well, they’re very small and they can actually be installed closer to the bath or the kitchen. That allows the hot water to reach those areas a lot more quickly without running the water needlessly as you wait for it to get warm.

    And while they’re more expensive to buy and install, tankless systems are super efficient and heat the water as you need it, making sure you never run out of hot water no matter how many teenagers live in the house.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

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

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

    JOHN: I have a pressure-treated wood I’ve used. And I put it on – I’ve sealed it with a solid-stain paint. And it seems that within – after two years, my wood, it starts to rot. It gets soft. I wanted to know: why is this happening? It’s pressure-treated wood.

    TOM: When you stained it, first of all, did you do all sides of the board, including the bottom edge of the slat? Because very often, that’s where moisture gets pulled in.

    JOHN: I did the whole board and I assembled it. And it just seems like it holds the – like a moisture within it. And it was in, like I say, two years it’s – you can almost push on it. It’s soft or it starts rotting.

    TOM: Yeah, I suspect that it’s – there’s different layers of pressure-treatment. But I suspect whatever was done to this was not done very well. You know, I had some landscape ties that were allegedly pressure-treated. And within a couple of years, they were rotted away. I stepped on them one day and went right through it. So, I suspect that the quality of the wood in this fencing wasn’t really what you expected it to do.

    I’ve taken just plain fir fence and I’ve treated it with WOODLIFE and made sure that the bottom of the fence was up at least 2 to 3 inches over the grass, because otherwise it gets a lot of moisture that pulls up into it. And I’ve had fences like that, that I treated and then I used a solid-color stain on, last 15 years.

    Just because it’s pressure-treated or not well pressure-treated doesn’t mean it can’t last. But I think it’s a combination of the installation and then the treatment of the stain that was used initially.

    JOHN: OK. Because, see, I have a boat dock and it’s over the water. And I just put clear sealer over it and you know what? It lasts longer than me sealing it with solid-stain paint.

    TOM: And it comes down to the quality of the wood itself. And whatever this fence is made out of just is not comparable to what your dock’s made out of, John. Sorry to tell you that but I thinks that’s what’s going on. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    JOHN: OK. Well, thanks, and have yourself a great day.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, do you know which door is the easiest door to break into for any house? Well, it’s the garage. We’re going to tell you why and share the surprisingly simple steps that you can take to secure that entry, next.

    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: Standing by for your calls, your questions, your DIY dilemmas at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: And don’t forget, give us a call right here at 888-MONEY-PIT. Plus, if you give us a call now, you’re going to get the answer to your question, plus some really great tools to help you get those projects done.

    Up for grabs, this hour, we’ve got the Arrow T50AC Professional Electric Stapler and Nailer, plus the Arrow GT20DT Dual-Temp Glue Gun. These are two great tools from a company that’s been building products for pros and do-it-yourselfers alike for 90 years.

    This glue gun heats up fast and features a drip-resistant glue tip so that you can control the glue flow and really get an accurate point of glue placement, which is so important because you don’t want it on your fingers. You want it on your project. It’s got so many great features and it’s ideal for upholstery, woodworking, crafts, even general home repair.

    If you want to learn more about both tools, check out Arrow’s pro-tool giveaway at ArrowFastener.com. There’s even projects on the website, so you will never run out of things to do with your Arrow tools.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You might just win both tools, plus a supply of staples, nails and glue sticks. That whole package is worth 90 bucks and going out to one caller drawn at random. The number, again, is 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Michael in Virginia is on the line and is working on a decking project. Tell us about it.

    MICHAEL: Hey. So I’ve got a 12×12 deck that came with the house. And it’s about 20 years old. Some boards are starting to peel up. And I know I’ll be able to get a screw to stick in the sublayment (ph). Am I able to sister the underlying boards with 2x4s or something to build up the base? Or am I better off replacing all of the substructure along with the deck?

    TOM: So, if it’s 20 years old – and it sounds like it’s not pressure-treated – and if the existing floor joists have decayed to the point where they won’t even hold a screw or a nail, I think it’s time to replace that deck, structure and all. Because your – the clock is ticking now and it’s going to be potentially very unsafe in a very short period of time.

    So what I would tell you to do is to remove it, replace it and consider using composite for the decking surface. You can use pressure-treated for the frame but use composite for the decking surface. Between the composite and the pressure-treated, you’ll get more than another 20 years out of it.


    Now, I’ve looked at composites and price-wise, they’re pretty pricey. Am I going to be able to save a few bucks by going to a heavier-duty, like a 2×6 kiln-dried board and sealing all that when it goes in?

    TOM: Well, the thing is you don’t – well, I wouldn’t use 2×6. What I would use it 5/4×6 if you want to go with the wood decking. But you’re going to have to seal and stain that every couple of years. The thing with composites is all you’ve got to do is clean it. If you look at a big-box store, like a Home Depot, those composites are not terribly expensive and they look really good.

    MICHAEL: Alright. I’ll have to check them out.

    TOM: Because remember, you’re not replacing the floor joists with it. You’re only doing the deck surface. So if it’s 12×12, it’s 144 square feet, it’s 288 lineal feet. It’s probably worth it.

    MICHAEL: I see. Now, we are thinking about expanding it another few feet, too.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that will be the time to do it, you know?


    LESLIE: So you’re doing – the substructure is still all of the pressure-treated lumber, because you need that for the support and then all of the decking itself and the fascia boards – and you can even do the railings. All of that can be the composite. And it’s really gorgeous. I have one that’s sort of mid-range but it has an interesting grain to it and almost looks like an ipe. You can get ones that are super simple and you can get ones that really look exotic. And I think that’s where your price point is going to swing a lot.

    MICHAEL: Now, how do you deal with the railings and the fencing it in?

    LESLIE: So the posts would come up and that would be the basis for your supports and that would be your pressure-treated lumber. And that would be built up through from the substructure. And then there are sleeves that go over it in the composite. Now, you can get ones that match your decking or you can go with white.

    MICHAEL: And then for the substructure – now, I am talking about staining this out. There are these concrete – I don’t know, they’re about a foot by a foot – blocks that you can buy that you can lay your 4×6 across for – they say it’s for decking in the yard. Am I better off doing that or poured concrete?

    TOM: There are prefabricated footings for decks. They look sort of like pyramids but they’re not like 1×1. They’re like 1×1 by about 3 feet tall and they have a place for a bracket on top. I’d use those. They work really well. They’re a little harder to install because you’ve got to be more accurate with where the hole is. But frankly, I think the easiest thing to do is just to dig it yourself – a 1-foot by 1-foot square that’s a couple of feet deep – and mix up 3 or 4 bags of QUIKRETE and make that the footing. And then you can drop the pressure-treated right into that. And then if you use the right level of pressure-treated, it can actually be in-ground.

    MICHAEL: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks a lot, Tom.

    TOM: You’ve got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Do you know which door is the easiest door to break into for any house? Well, it’s the garage.

    TOM: We’ve got a tip to help you avoid becoming a victim of that kind of breaking and entering.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you’d like to protect your home from intruders, it’s really important that you identify vulnerable areas around your house, like hiding spots that are caused by bushes or trees, as well as easy points of entry, especially if you’re going out of town.

    For example, the garage door may be easier to open than you think. But you can secure it simply by installing a bolt through one of the extra holes in the garage-door tracks. Now, with the bolt in place, that door is not going to be able to roll upwards and the door is going to be secure.

    TOM: Now, for everyday use, you can integrate a smart garage-door controller. And that’s a great way to keep tabs on whether the door is opened or closed, from your smartphone. These controllers will not only alert you when the door is open or closed but they’ll even remind you if you drive away and forget to close the garage door. And then it’ll allow you to open or close that door even from miles away.

    So some great options and a great door to make sure you keep secure to make sure your house stays safe.

    LESLIE: Bill in Nevada is on the line with an LED-lighting question. What can we do for you?

    BILL: I recently replaced a standard, overhead, incandescent lighting fixture with an LED lighting fixture. The installation went OK; everything works. But when you turn on the light, there’s a delay. There’s about a second-and-a-half, maybe a two-second delay before the lights actually come on. Is that standard? What causes it? And more importantly, is there something I can do about it?

    TOM: Yeah, I’ve seen that with some LED fixtures that I have and I never thought it was anything other than normal. LED bulbs themselves are pretty complicated when you look at all the circuitry. And I just presume that’s what it takes to bring the light up and maintain it at that level. So I’ve never thought twice about that being an issue. But I could see how it might surprise you.

    BILL: So you’ve seen it before?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. I’ve definitely seen it before.

    BILL: Alright. Well, that was the question. I appreciate you taking it and giving me a good, quick answer.

    LESLIE: Hey, you already recycle but do you upcycle? We’re going to tell you how to step up to the next level of green living, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show presented by HomeAdvisor.com. You never have to worry about overpaying for a job again. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others have paid for similar projects. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes, book appointments. It’s all online and it’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: Alright. You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com. Greg did just that. He says, “I’m thinking about installing hardwired, integrated some detectors. Is it worth my while? And what should I know beforehand?”

    Well, is it worth your while? I don’t know. You planning on having a fire? I mean you just can’t decide that, Greg, so I’d say yeah, it’s worth your while.

    First of all, just for those folks that don’t know what an interconnected smoke detector is, you know, in the old days, smoke detectors were individualized. So if one went off, it was only that one unless the smoke made its way to the rest of the house. With interconnected detectors, if a detector goes off, say, in the basement or in the garage or in the kitchen, all the detectors go off at the same time. And that’s important, especially if it happens in the middle of the night, because it gives you more time to get out.

    The other thing that you might want to think about doing is adding not only interconnected detectors but those that have dual sensors built into them. That means it responds to both flaming fires and ones that are slow and smoldering, so it covers both kinds of fire. And lastly, remember that a lot of the smart smoke detectors today, they can do all this without you having to actually run electricity to every single one, because that makes them all truly interconnected. And if there’s an area of the house where, perhaps, there are really sound sleepers, you can even get speakers that work with these things to really boost up the volume so that you and your family can be totally safe.

    LESLIE: And you know what? Just knowing that you have these in your home offers such a peace of mind. And you know you’re prepared and that’s really what you’ve got to be – is preparation to keep your family safe.

    TOM: Well, you might be a pro at household recycling but have you ever tried upcycling? If you’re not exactly sure what that is, Leslie has got the details and the ideas in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: That’s when you take your recycling bin and you put it on the top shelf. No? I’m just kidding.

    TOM: Haven’t you done entire home shows based on just the upcycling concept: the idea of finding stuff around the house and reusing it?

    LESLIE: I mean for sure. It’s a matter of finding stuff around the house, finding stuff at thrift stores, finding stuff that’s being thrown away. There’s always a way to use something for something else or to just improve the use of something that you’ve already got. It really does reduce waste, save money and it really can inspire creative summer projects for you and the whole family.

    So, if you’re cleaning out the garage or basement, the storage shed, keep your eyes peeled for items that can be transformed into unique home accents. Now, a forgotten piece of furniture can easily be upcycled into a posh bathroom accessory. An attractive, old window can be converted into a table, mirror, message board. You’ve got to think out of the box with these things.

    Now, if you need new storage for tools and other gear, scan online idea boards for inspiration. You may already have everything that you need to create smart organizers and displays: an old shutter, an old piece of foam board that you wrap with fabric. Always think like, “Hmm. What’s this? Can I wrap it with something? Can I tie it with something? If I put a holder in it, will that do something else?” All of these things can create something new. Something simple as a piece of molding with some knobs or drawer pulls becomes a jewelry organizer.

    Very simple to do these things. Remember, think creatively and try to work those upcycling projects into your summer routine and you’ll end up with some really unique and personalized results. And then post your results. Whatever you make, whatever it is, I want to see it. Post them on MoneyPit.com’s Community section. I want to know what you’re working on. And even if you’ve found something and you think, “What can I do with this?” send it to me. I want to help you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, July is not a month you want to get stranded without air conditioning. If you know what to look for if yours starts acting up, though, there’s a really good chance the fix is an easy one. We’ll tell you what you need to know, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 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.)