Junk Drawer Fire Dangers You Need to Know

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    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: What are you working on this fine spring day? We’re here to help you if it has something to do with your house. If you are planning a remodeling project, maybe an outdoor-living project, that has just grown by leaps and bounds. We know that about 40 percent of Americans are thinking about improving their outdoor space this spring and summer. If you are in that bucket, pick up the phone and give us a call. Maybe you’re thinking about improving your bathroom or your kitchen? Wondering what the latest is in terms of the best technology in fixtures and faucets and cabinets to use? All great questions. We want to hear what you’re working on. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve made a visit to your junk drawer lately, you may have missed a seemingly harmless stash of common household items that can potentially put your home at major risk. We’re going to tell you about a simple storage mistake that has some houses going up in flames, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And you might know that wood floors are super popular. But today, the flooring market is flooded with wood-look products and it makes it tough to know whether or not you’re purchasing the real thing. We’re going to sort out the fakes from the real deals, just ahead.

    TOM: Plus, if you’re ready to dig into some spring cleaning for your home’s exterior – perhaps your siding, your walkways, your driveways – and get rid of all that winter dirt, a pressure washer is definitely one of the handiest tools to have around to speed that process along. We’re going to have a review on a super-affordable, new Greenworks electric pressure washer that’s just out at Lowe’s.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to help you with your spring home décor and home improvement plans. So give us a call now so we can help you get started to kick off this warm-weather season perfectly.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    LESLIE: Tony in Florida is on the line with some noisy plumbing. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TONY: It’s in the walls. It seems like the clanking is going on in the walls. And I can’t get to the pipes because they’re hidden – they’re all covered by the walls. So every time I put the faucet on, hot or cold, bang, it’s one slam and that’s it. That’s what I get. And I’m just wondering, is there some easy, quick fix for something like that, you know?

    TOM: Yeah. So does this happen, Tony, when you open and close the faucets? Is that when it’s worst?

    TONY: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. That’s called “water hammer.” And what water hammer is – you have to remember that water is very heavy; it weighs, actually, 8 pounds per gallon. And so, as the water is traveling through the plumbing line and you open or close a faucet, the inertia of that water just keeps moving. And it’ll shake the pipe and that’s what makes the banging sound. And of course, pipes transmit sound like crazy and so you’re getting that kind of sound to it.

    So, what can you do? There’s two things that you can do. All the piping that you could possibly access – so that would be like in the basement or crawlspace or attic. Any place where you can see a pipe, you want to add some additional strapping to the wall so that takes some of the bounce out of it.

    The second thing that you can do is you can install – or have a plumber install – something called a “water-hammer arrestor,” which is, essentially, a shock absorber for a plumbing system. And it will take that inertia from the water and absorb it slowly so it doesn’t bang the pipe.

    But what you’re describing is a very typical, very normal condition in an older house. Generally, unless it’s really super-bad, it doesn’t cause damage. But it’s more of an annoyance than anything else.

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

    LESLIE: Bonnie in California, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BONNIE: We have a condo that we’ve – it’s been rented for 12 years. And when our renters moved out, we were going to sell it. And we saw stains on the carpet and we thought, “Well, we’ll pull up the carpet, replace it and just paint and clean up and put it up for sale.”

    TOM: Right.

    BONNIE: Well, when we pulled the carpet back, the cement slab – it’s a cement slab, single-level condo, 1,600 – almost 1,700 – square feet with a cement-slab floor. And when we pulled back the carpet, we found that it was very damp and there was that white, fuzzy kind of effervescence or whatever they call it that comes up from the cement.

    TOM: Efflorescence. Mm-hmm.

    BONNIE: Lots of that. We tore up all the flooring and thought, “Well, we’ll go ahead and hire a contractor and have it all fixed and put new stuff down.” And it didn’t dry out; it just was damp.

    But in any case, this problem is not getting solved. We have – we don’t know where to go from here. We want to figure out if there’s some way to seal that floor that is going to keep it from ruining the carpet and wood again and get it for sale. But fix it so that it’s – so that we can say it’s fixed.

    TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I think is going on, based on your description. If you’ve got that much of a water source that close to the concrete slab – concrete is very hydroscopic. I mean it will really absorb water like crazy. And so if the ground outside is saturated, that is clearly drawing through the concrete into the interior and that’s why the floor has been so wet. My concern is that this could develop, if it hasn’t already, into a mold problem.

    The bad news for the condominium association is that if they’re responsible for the structure of this building, which would include the floor, this is their problem to fix, not your problem to fix. And if I was advising them, I would tell them to stop calling contractors to check leaking ponds and start calling professional engineers that can analyze the building and figure out exactly what’s going on and prescribe the proper fix. They’ve got to think big here, not think small. Because I think they have a lot of liability, because it’s probably not you; you just happen to be the one that found it. But if your neighbors start pulling up carpet, they’re going to probably find the same thing.

    All that you can do on the inside is really stop-gap. You can clean up the efflorescence, you can put a masonry sealer on the floor. But the problem is that that concrete is going to continue to get wet, continue to get damp and eventually it’s going to pull back into the unit. So, I think that you need to have a very serious sit-down with that condominium association.

    BONNIE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: Alright? Good luck, Bonnie.

    BONNIE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thank you 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: And just ahead, of all the things floating in or around our junk drawers, there’s one surprisingly common item that can flare up and cause a major house fire. We’ll tell you what it is, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Joe in Texas is looking to collect some rainwater. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JOE: Alright. Well, we have a ranch near Stephenville, about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Dallas/Fort Worth. And it can get pretty arid out here. So, we have some rain barrels – or some black, large barrels – hooked up to our rain gutters. And we’re trying to get it to where it’s actual potable water that we can use and drink in – just in our ordinary, daily lives. So we were kind of wondering what type of filtration system to put on to run that water through and also how to keep the junk from our gutters blowing in there.

    TOM: Well, rainwater harvesting is something that’s actually gone on for centuries. And there are modern systems that are available to help you both collect the rainwater and purify it, because that’s the key and you want to make sure it’s safe.

    A good place to start is RainHarvest.com. That’s a website for a company that has specialized in this area for many, many years. And they have everything from small, home-size systems up to industrial-size systems. And they also have the specialty filters you asked about keeping the gunk out of the water. There are special filters to keep out the leaves and the tree droppings and things like that from getting down in there.

    So it sounds like you’re kind of well on your way but what you’re going to need to pick up is a purification system. And that’s a good place to start: RainHarvest.com.

    LESLIE: You know, another good site that’s out there is HarvestH2O.com. A lot of articles on there about filtration, purification, some products. Good list to resources and inventors, as well, there.

    JOE: Alright. Thank you.

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

    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. 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.

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

    Well, we’ve all done it: trying to clean up the house, get stuff out of sight, we’ve shoved it to drawers and into closets. But there’s a chance that when you straighten up, you’re also putting your home and your family at serious risk.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, too frequently you’ve got stuff sitting around your house that can go up in flames if it lands in the wrong place, like too close to heat sources. But here are some dos and don’ts that will help you remember to keep everybody safe at home.

    First of all, never use your home’s furnace and water heater area for extra storage. These rooms are usually small and storing anything in them, really, is inadvisable.

    TOM: Now, the National Fire Protection Association has a recommendation for this. They say nothing flammable should be within 3 feet of any heating equipment. Now, that includes rags, half-empty paint cans, wet clothes you’re drying out and all that random stuff you may have stored near your hot-water heater right now.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of flammable, there also have been a lot of reports of house fires starting when 9-volt batteries come into contact with everyday metallic objects, like a paper clip or a thumbtack. Even a battery that you might have thought was dead or wasn’t sure so you just threw it in that junk drawer, that’s a terrible idea.

    TOM: If the terminals on that battery are cross-connected – like, say, you have a pair of scissors in the junk drawer or the paper clip – if that battery comes in contact with both sides of that, it could potentially spark. And of course, if there is some paper in there, you’ve got kindling and well, you could figure the rest out. It’s not good.

    So, to be safe, before you toss any batteries into a drawer, what you can do is put some tape over the battery’s terminals. A little piece of electrical tape works well. And this will keep those electrical currents in their proper place and keep you and your house safe.

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

    DIANE: We live in New Jersey. And my dad had the Pennsylvania Dutch come all the way to New Jersey. And they put up a beautiful gambrel pole barn with that nice shape to it.

    TOM: OK.

    DIANE: But I noticed there are little rafters along the edge. And even though they have little holes in them, every year the flies come in through there and I have hundreds, all dead, at the end of summer. And I don’t know what I could do to stop that problem.

    TOM: So, you have – this is a barn that you have and it’s a fairly open barn? I mean you’re not going to keep the flies out of the barn. You can’t make it that tight because by the nature of the building, it’s pretty drafty, correct?

    DIANE: Well, actually, my dad – we never had any animals near stalls but he – it’s completely closed all the time. It’s got two electric doors at either end and a door, so it is contained. The only way they’re getting in is through – under the edges of the roof, there’s a – it looks like a – I don’t know. You know the gutters, sort of? It looks like gutters – gutter situation. And there’s an opening there and the sunlight and the air go through, which I guess you need for animals. But we’re not using it for animals.

    TOM: So at the room edge, the rafters, does it have a complete soffit? Is it constructed so that you have a flat, vented area underneath it? Or is it just wide open?

    DIANE: No. There is a vented area. They have looked at it closely. And it appears to have – and it’s got little holes in it big enough for flies.

    TOM: So they’re not getting in this soffit area where you’re suspecting.

    DIANE: I don’t know. I thought they were coming through those holes.

    TOM: Yeah. But if they’re that small, they’re not coming in. Look, typically, soffit ventilation is too small for insects to get into. So they’re probably coming in a different way. Do you have a ridge vent at the peak?

    DIANE: Actually it’s just for looks because when I – there is a staircase that goes up to the top of the barn and there’s no openings in the roof.

    TOM: Diane, if you’re trying to keep these barn flies out of the barn, there’s really two ways to approach this. Mechanical, which is what we’re talking about in terms of making sure that you have screening wherever it’s necessary. This would include any vents, gable vents, cupola vents, soffit vents and the like. And of course, you mentioned that it has large doors that generally stay closed. I guess there’s not much you can do right there.

    But the second technique is chemical. And there are professional pesticides that are designed specifically to deal with these flies. There’s usually some formulation of pyrethrin that essentially is sprayed inside the barn to control these insect populations. And in fact, in some cases where you actually have livestock, there are formulations that can also be applied to the livestock without harming them.

    So, I would do two things: I would make sure that I examine the barn very carefully for any additional openings where these flies can get in; and then I would consult a pest-management professional for an appropriate application of pesticide, because you have such a severe problem. I don’t think this is anything you’re going to be able to handle with, say, a more natural, smaller-scale approach like I might give you for your house. In this case, I think you need to choose the right product and have it applied properly. And when done, in accordance with all the label directions, I think it is a relatively safe thing to do.

    I hope that helps you out. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jennifer in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a flooring project. Tell us about it.

    JENNIFER: We are planning on laying hardwood in our home. We have a two-story home and I’m wanting to know if it is better to lay each plank the same direction, upstairs and downstairs, or can we switch it up?

    TOM: Generally speaking, you want to go in the long direction of the room. So in other words, you want the boards to be parallel to the longest wall. I don’t – I would not switch that up because it’s going to look odd, don’t you think?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It makes the room seem bigger.


    TOM: Now, what kind of hardwood floors are you putting down, Jennifer? Are they prefinished hardwood floors?

    JENNIFER: Yeah, it’s the snap-and-lock.

    TOM: OK. So it’s an engineered floor. So, make sure they’re parallel to the longest wall. And remember, nothing is square about a house.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, measure the center of the room as determined by the center point between the walls. And figure it out so you don’t end up with a sliver of hardwood floor on the end.

    JENNIFER: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, a new survey says that two-thirds of Americans prefer wood floors. But today, the flooring market is flooded with wood-look products and that can make it super tough to know whether or not you’re purchasing the real thing. We’re going to sort out the fakes from the real deals, in just a bit.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, according to new research by the National Wood Flooring Association, two-thirds of U.S. homeowners say they would choose wood floors for their dream home. But the flooring market is flooded with wood-look products, making it tough to know whether you’re purchasing the real thing or not.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The NWFA has a new initiative called “Real Wood. Real Life.” to clear up the confusion. With us to talk about that is Brett Miller, the vice president of education and certification.

    Welcome, Brett.

    BRETT: Hello. I appreciate being on.

    TOM: So, there are an awful lot of alternatives to real wood floor today. And there’s reasons for it. Some of it’s less expensive, easier to install. But for those that really do want the look of real wood, what kind of resources are available for them to make sure they’re picking the best floors for their particular lifestyle?

    BRETT: As you said, there are many products that are out there today mimicking the look of wood. And they’re doing – a lot of these products are doing such a great job that it’s difficult – even for wood people, in some situations – to be able to identify the difference.

    As you mentioned, we have recently launched a “Real Wood. Real Life.” campaign, which is designed to reach the consumer and allow the consumer to properly choose and identify what wood floor works for their specific situation.

    TOM: What kinds of things do you need to consider when choosing your wood floor? There are different hardnesses, for example, of different types of wood species.

    BRETT: That’s correct. And every lifestyle is a little bit different. Every home is a little bit different. And every room that has wood can even be a little bit different.

    So, as you said, wood species is big. The hardness of the wood varies across the board, across the hardwoods and the softwoods within the wood-flooring industry. The cut of the wood – the way it’s cut out of the tree – can also affect the durability and the hardness and how it reacts to normal, everyday life as well as the finishes that are used on the wood.

    Today, we’re seeing a lot of natural, penetrating oils that actually soak into the wood fibers themselves and harden from within. Easy to maintain but a different look. And people that are used to a plastic-type coating, like a urethane coating over the top, it’s been a bit of a learning curve in how to live on those types of floors, in terms of how durable they can be and how they react to everyday life.

    LESLIE: And I think the durability is something really important to talk about, because a lot of people sort of think, “Oh, if I get a real wood floor, there’s so much maintenance. How durable is it going to be? I have a very busy family. We have large pets.” How can you sort of clear up the confusion as to what the durability level is to an actual wood floor?

    BRETT: And that’s a great question and I think that’s one that – you know, we were at the Builders’ Show recently. And one of our banners that we put up, that we came out with for this campaign, showed the dog sitting on a wood floor. And one of the keys is that pets are great on wood floors. And the perspective that when a floor scratches, it’s a bad thing is one that our industry and really, every floor covering in the industry deals with. Wear and tear and durability.

    One of the things that we’ve really wanted to focus on within this campaign is the fact that even if you get a dog scratch or even if you get any sort of wear and tear on that wood floor, it’s a part of the story of that floor. Wood floors can last for hundreds of years. And in fact, in Europe, there’s floors that are over 500 years old that are original floors to the facilities they’re in. When maintained properly and when understood that wear of a wood floor is really the patina and the age and the beauty of that wood floor – is a part of the mindset that we’re trying to change.

    TOM: Every scratch tells a story. It’s part of the charm, Leslie.

    LESLIE: No, I mean I agree with it.

    TOM: Brett, when you talk about wood, are we talking only about solid wood? What about engineered hardwood? Is that also what you guys are considering wood flooring in this campaign?

    BRETT: About a year ago, there were some products that came out into the marketplace being touted as wood floors, when all they were was they may have contained wood pulp or wood composites but they had nothing to do with real wood. So it forced us, as an industry, to come out and define what a real wood floor is. And as silly as we thought that was up front, it turned out to be a very difficult task. And we pulled together some of our members to define what a real wood floor is.

    And within that definition, the obvious is solid-wood flooring. It’s a piece of wood from top to bottom, all the way through the traditional ¾-inch solid piece of wood flooring. An engineered-wood floor is also a real-wood floor. Engineered-wood flooring is real from top to bottom but made of multiple veneers. So the top layer would be whatever the species is and then then core and the backing is also made of wood. And then we came out with a third category that helps separate those products that may have real wood on top but may be made of a composite material below. So the core and the backing – who knows? – in 10, 15 years, may be made out of titanium or something funny like that. But at the end of the day, if it’s real wood on the top, it’s a real wood floor.

    LESLIE: Now, do you think that for somebody who’s looking to buy a home, is there a higher perceived value in a house that has real wood floors?

    BRETT: Matter of fact, with some of the studies that we’ve done, as well as the real-estate industry, nearly 80 percent of homeowners believe wood floors add the most value to a home over any other type of floor covering. It has been proven that homes with wood floors do sell faster and for more money than homes without. Real-estate agents indicate that an identical home with wood floors can sell for up to 10 percent more than a home across the street without wood floors.

    LESLIE: That’s a lot of money.

    BRETT: It is. It can be. And one of the biggest values of wood floors – and this being real wood floors – is that the lifespan of that floor can easily exceed even the life of the home, in a lot of situations.

    TOM: We’re talking to Brett Miller. He’s the vice president of education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association.

    Brett, before we let you go, one of the questions we get asked very often here on the show has to do with cleaning floors. If you do have a real wood floor and you’re concerned about not damaging it, what is the best way to clean a wood floor? What kinds of materials do you use? Do you have to be careful about how much moisture is involved? Tell us.

    BRETT: Yes. Probably one of the most challenging things our industry deals with is proper maintenance on wood floors. The best thing to do for a wood floor is to keep dirt and grime off of the floor. And that can happen just simply by sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming but using the vacuum cleaner on a bare-floor setting.

    What we see a lot of is people using products that add a shine or a polish or something to that wood-floor finish and it can ultimately damage that finish. And it also scuffs and scratches very easily. It’s not the same as a wood-floor finish.

    We also see issues with people using steam to clean floors and even the old, traditional swabbing the deck or using wet mops on those wood floors.

    TOM: Right.

    BRETT: So, no moisture is really necessary. The best cleaning is just to keep dirt and debris swept off that floor finish. Because as soon as you walk across that dirt it, in essence, turns into sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes.

    TOM: Makes sense.

    Brett Miller, the vice president of education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information, you can visit their website at NWFA.org.

    BRETT: And thank you, guys, so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you wondering what power tool is the most helpful for your spring cleaning? Well, our vote, for sure, goes to the pressure washer. We’re going to share tips on a new model that’s affordable and effective, 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project. We want to hear about the project that you’re working on for inside or outside your house. Are you planning a deck or a patio? Are you planning to improve your lawn and your landscape? Maybe you’re building a rock wall in the back of your house to kind of hold back some earth, make some more space, eliminate some maybe some soggy places. Maybe you’re doing a kitchen or a bathroom. Maybe you’d like to get organized with those closets. Whatever you’re working on, slide it over to our to-do list. We’ll give you some help by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And 888-MONEY-PIT is 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: Now we’ve got Sparky in Georgia on the line with, fittingly, an electrical question. What can we do for you?

    SPARKY: Hi. I’m in a prewired home that has RG59 coaxial cable coming into each room. I need to replace that now with RG6, which is a thicker coaxial cable. What is the best way of going through to replace all those?

    TOM: Well, generally, whenever you want to rewire anything in the house, it doesn’t always make sense to remove what’s there. What you’ll generally do is cut it back. And you’ll just essentially – you’re going to run the new cable as if you were putting it in for the first time. Of course, because the house is already up, it’s tricky to do this to run it through walls and stuff but you would use wire snakes to do this. And sometimes, if the cable is loose in the wall, you can actually attach the new cable to the old cable and pull it through at the same time.

    Sometimes you can get away with that but it basically takes a lot of skill to run new wires in a house that’s already up. And that’s pretty much the way you do it. The answer is: any way you can. So, if your cable is loose and you can pull one end up and tie the other end to it so that you’re kind of pulling it all the way through, you do that. If you can’t do that because it’s nailed in place, then what you might do is just sort of snip off the ends, tuck it away in the wall and run a new cable next to it. But basically, it’s a bit of a tricky job and you try to get it done any way you can.

    SPARKY: I gotcha. Very good. You’ve been helpful. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we’re quickly approaching the spring-cleaning season. I mean we’re in it. You might be just diving into your spring-cleaning season or you could be spreading it out over the entire season. Whatever you are doing, let’s talk about a really handy tool to have and that is the pressure washer. It certainly can speed up that process very, very quickly.

    Now, Greenworks has a new, 1,800-PSI electric pressure washer on the market now. It’s super convenient to use and it’s got a lot of very helpful features.

    TOM: Yep. It’s got a 13-amp motor and it delivers 1.1 gallons of water a minute. So that’s actually quite a lot of cleaning power. It also comes with five quick-connect nozzles, including the Turbo Nozzle. I have this product and that is my go-to for pretty much all the jobs around my house, whether I’m cleaning the sidewalk or blasting some paint off maybe an old radiator or even cleaning my car. I love having all of those nozzles at the ready, because they’re just so easy to switch in and out of each one to do just exactly what you need to do.

    LESLIE: You know, what we also like is that when this entire pressure washer was designed, it’s been designed so that everything you need is stored on board, like the spray gun, the power cord, all of the tips. So it’s got everything you need right within reach and you never have to run back to the shed or the garage. And it also has an on-board soap tank, also, which makes it really easy to add the detergent.

    TOM: Yep. And it’s especially useful for projects like cleaning your driveway or your deck or your walkways or your siding or even your car.

    I was reading some reviews, too, and people are just loving this product. You’re going to find it for the everyday price of just 169 at your local Lowe’s home improvement store. So, if you’d like something that can really spruce up your spring cleaning, check out the new Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer at Lowe’s.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Virginia where Margaret has a question about a bathtub. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARGARET: We have an old, cast-iron tub and it’s real rusty in spots. And I’m wondering what we could do to restore it.

    LESLIE: Now, when you say real rusty in spots, are we talking about big spots or are we talking about small, little ones from a chip here and there?

    MARGARET: No. We’re talking about big spots because the water – it was not good water when we first moved here. And so it had a lot of wear and tear on it about 40 years before we moved here. And we’ve been living here, probably, about 45 years, so …

    TOM: So your tub is almost 100 years old, huh?

    MARGARET: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, look, it served the house well. It’s not going to last forever. It needs to be reglazed at this point. And I’ve had some experience with folks that have tried to reglaze these tubs inside the house. And it can be done but it’s an awfully messy and intensive job. And unless it’s done professionally, it doesn’t seem to last very long. There are home reglazing kits. Rust-Oleum makes one that’s for tub and tile but I wouldn’t expect it to last all that long.

    The best way to do this is to have the tub taken out and reglazed. But if you’re going to do all that, you might as well replace it and not just have that – not just not have that reglazed unless it’s particularly beautiful. I think those are your options. It’s not easy to do a touch-up to something like this when it’s just got so – it’s got almost 100 years of wear and tear on it.

    MARGARET: Oh. Yes, yes. OK. That was my question. I appreciate that.

    TOM: Unfortunately, Margaret, there’s no easy way to remove 100 years of wear and tear on that tub and so you’re probably better off just replacing it.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you looking for some new bedding? Well, you might be surprised at the prices. Before you drop a boatload of bucks on expensive sheets, make sure you know which sheets are worth the extra money for those extra Zs. We’re going to tell you how, 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.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project, all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: While you’re online, post your questions to The Money Pit and Tom and I will get back to you real quick. Right here, we’ve got one from Marie who writes: “A neighbor’s kid wrote on my fence with permanent marker and I want to get rid of the mess before the nicer weather hits. Any ideas for removing it?”

    Well, if you’ve got a vinyl fence, I say Magic Eraser. And you’re lucky; you get off easy.

    TOM: Yeah. Or WD-40 will break down those markers and take them off. Just make sure you rinse it real good. But listen, if it’s a wood fence, there’s no way you’re going to get it off; it’s soaked into the wood. So, what you need to do is prime it and paint it. Not just paint but put primer on it first. Otherwise, that marker will sort of bleed right through and you’ll be reminded of that rotten kid all summer long.

    LESLIE: Hopefully, it doesn’t say anything too offensive.

    TOM: Well, busy schedules mean most of us have to fight hard to put down the smartphone and shut the laptop and head on off to bed. And once we get there, we need the best sleep we can possibly get. Leslie has the details to help you do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    And Leslie, this is all about the bedding, right? I mean not all sheets are created equal.

    LESLIE: That really is true. But first of all, my opinion: nothing is better than fresh, clean sheets on the bed. It always feels so …

    TOM: Cleanliness comes first, then the type of sheets second.

    LESLIE: But it always feels so wonderful when you’ve just changed the sheets and you climb right into your fresh bed.

    But before you do that, let’s think about the different kinds of sheets, how much you want to spend. Because I think a lot of people get very surprised when they think about luxury bedding, thread counts, fabric types. You could walk up and down the aisle at the home stores and just really be completely overwhelmed. So, before you drop those dollars, know exactly what each type offers and what their drawbacks are.

    Now, first of all, bamboo sheets. You probably see them around. They aren’t just soft, they’re super soft. You can actually compare them to cashmere. And they’re going to get softer the longer that you keep them. But if they’re from China – and most of the bamboo sheets are – there’s a chance that they come from an uncertified factory. So, skip bamboo sheets if all of this uncertainty about where they come from is going to keep you awake at night.

    Another option is organic, Egyptian cotton sheets. These are super sought after and really, with good reason. They’re soft, durable, breathable. They’re good for anyone who gets warm in the middle of the night. But if you love the sight of a crisp bed, you want to pass on the Egyptian cotton. It’s going to wrinkle easily and it kind of always makes the bed look like it’s a little bit messy. So, if you’re a stickler for having everything nice and neat and folded tidy, that’s not the sheet for you.

    Now, for luxury sheets, cultivated silk sheets are the ultimate in softness. But even if you can afford to splurge on this expensive bedding, the long-term cost there might be more than you bargained for. Silk sheets are easily damaged if you’ve got jagged toenails, rough feet, fingernails, rough skin on your elbows. And forget about using your washer and dryer to clean them. You have to hand-wash them or dry-clean them and then air-dry them. And that is something I do not want to deal with when it comes to my bedding.

    So I always go for a high thread-count cotton. I look for something that feels good that’s going to wear well. And at the end of the day, again, a nice, crisp, clean bed is fantastic.

    TOM: Good advice.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time, washers and dryers. You know, those are two appliances that get a pretty serious workout in most homes, especially if you’ve got young kids. And while they usually don’t need a lot of maintenance, they do need some care if you’d like them to keep working safely and efficiently. We’ll have tips on how to do just that, 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.)

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