Keeping Kids Safe Around Pools – #0807172

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  • Pool Safety Tips for Kids
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    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: Hey, what are you working on on this beautiful summer weekend? If it’s a home improvement or décor project, you are in exactly the right place because that’s what we do.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you now that we’ve hit these dog days of summer. Backyard pools are more popular than ever. But if you’ve got a pool, you’ve got kids and there are six things that you need to do to make sure those kids are safe. So we’re going to share that super-important to-do list, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, ceiling fans have certainly been getting a workout this summer. And now, the U.S. Department of Energy has released new energy-efficiency standards for ceiling fans that are going to help you save energy and money. We’ll tell you how to find the most energy-efficient models out there, in just a bit.

    TOM: And if you call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’re also going to help you keep your house and deck looking super clean and bright, because we’ve got a Spray & Forget prize package going out to one listener drawn at random that’s going to get rid of mold, mildew, algae and more. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Sandy in Iowa is on the line and she has got a problem where the stairs meet the wall. What’s going on there?

    SANDY: In my stairwell, where the sheetrock meets the floor joist, when they originally did that, they put that – you know how they use that heavy paper stuff and then they mud over that? Well, that cracked. And I peeled that off and now I’m trying to figure out how to smooth that over there between the sheetrock and the floor joist in the basement. Because it’s sheetrock to wood, I don’t know what material to use to fill that crack so that I can paint over and it look smooth.

    TOM: So, what you want to do – it sounds like you pulled the old tape off – the paper tape off. Is that correct?

    SANDY: I did.

    TOM: Well, that’s OK. Because what you want to do now is you want to go out and buy some fiberglass tape.

    Now, fiberglass drywall tape is perforated. It’s kind of like netting; it’s a little tacky. When you cut a piece off, you put it on top of that seam. And what that’s going to do is bridge the gap across the seam. And then you cover that with spackle.

    And you want to do about three very, very thin coats. Don’t put too much on. A little bit of spackle goes a long way. Sand in between in each one and then just build it out and build it up over those three coats and that’ll be fine. And because you put the tape over – the fiberglass tape – it shouldn’t crack again.

    SANDY: That sounds like something I can do.

    TOM: I think you can, Sandy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    STEVE: Many years ago, my wife and I moved into a very small cabin way out in the woods. Very wooded. There’s a lot of – every fall, a lot of debris and leaves and such. And we built onto the cabin a nice 12×12 bathroom with a flat roof. And that was not really my idea; that was – a buddy just said this was the way to go.

    We are now – and granted, it’s given us good service. We did that in 1995. But now, it is – with these last monsoons we’ve had here in North Carolina, we have leaks. And my – I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea, anyway? And then what are the pros and cons of a metal versus shingle roof?

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, is a flat roof a good idea? Well, depends on your perspective.

    Look, there’s a lot of commercial buildings that have flat roofs that last a long time but they’re also very, very well-installed and they don’t have any leaks as a result of that. I will say that a flat roof is one of the leakiest roofs, generally speaking, because very often, when they’re put in residential homes, they’re not put on by pros. And certainly, since you have a flat roof that’s 20 years old, that’s really, really old.

    STEVE: I’m no pro but yeah, I put it in.

    TOM: Yeah, in 1995? I mean you’re talking 20 years ago and that’s a really old roof at this point in time. It would be old if it was a pitched roof. It’s really old if it’s a flat roof, which generally lasts about half that time.

    So, it’s time for a new roof. Your options are to put another flat roof on it, which there’s nothing wrong with that. The new materials today, especially the torch-down flat roofs, work very, very well. I just put a flat roof on my house. But what I did before I put it on there was I added a slight pitch to it.

    You can buy foam underlayment that basically will give you a slight pitch to a flat roof and that helps the water run off. Because you really don’t want anything that’s flat-flat; you really want to have something that has got at least a low slope to it. So if you add a little bit of slope to it and then put a new torch-down roof on it, it should be fine.

    You asked about metal. Metal is certainly an indestructible roof. And if that’s something you’re considering, I would also encourage it. Because if you put a metal roof down once and you do it right, you’re not going to have to do it for 100 years and then who cares, right?

    STEVE: Cost analysis. I mean is a metal roof – and I’ve sort of looked at it. But is a metal roof more expensive than a shingle or – it is, isn’t it?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. It’s about four or five times as expensive. So it’s very expensive, comparatively speaking.

    STEVE: Is that labor or is it really the material?

    TOM: You know, it’s both. So if you’re going to do it yourself, you’re going to save some money. But it’s really the kind of thing that’s kind of tough to do yourself unless you really have some experience working with metal.

    STEVE: OK. Great. And one request. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I wish your trailer music – just let it play. We love it. We love it.

    TOM: We’re going to have to put that whole – we’ll have to put the entire theme music online for those that care to listen to that.

    STEVE: I wish you would. We love your show. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

    LESLIE: Michelle in Minnesota is on the line with a bathroom-floor “thing” is all I can call it. What is going on? You’re getting moisture coming up through the floor?

    MICHELLE: Yes. It’s a laminate floor. This is my third summer in this house and it’s the first time that I’ve had this issue. And it was – it started around the warm and humid days. At first, I thought maybe that it was my toilet leaking, because I had a new toilet put in last summer. But the plumber did come out and pull the toilet and it didn’t look like it was leaking or that the seal was broken on it. So we’re thinking that it’s condensation from the concrete slab coming up between the slats of the laminate flooring.

    TOM: So the laminate flooring is on top of a concrete slab?

    MICHELLE: Correct, yep.

    TOM: What’s this looking – what’s this doing to the floor? Is it causing it to deform in any way? Or is it just showing up as a stain?

    MICHELLE: It is not buckling or anything along the edges. He thinks that maybe it’s a rubber flooring – more of a rubber-based flooring – rather than a wood. And so it has not curled edges or anything like that. It just heats up as moisture – and it comes – like beads up right along the edges of the laminate.

    TOM: Do you have air conditioning in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: I do not. Nope.

    TOM: Yeah, I was thinking cooler, moist air against a warmer floor could cause additional condensation.

    So look, if you want to reduce the moisture that’s coming up through the bathroom, there’s a couple of things I can suggest. First of all, you want to take a look at the grading and the drainage conditions outside that bathroom. Because the slab, if it’s getting very wet, is extremely hydroscopic. So all the moisture in the earth will be drawn into the slab and that’s going to wick up and show up in your bathroom, apparently.

    So, take a look at your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re clean and free-flowing and the spouts are extending 4 to 6 feet from the house. Get all that roof water away and then take a look at the angle of the soil and make sure that that’s sloping away.

    Now, do you have a fan in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: Yes.

    TOM: That is helpful. You might want to think about replacing the fan with one that has a built-in humidistat, because that’s convenient in a couple of fronts. First of all, when you take a shower and you leave the bathroom and turn the switch off, it’ll actually stay on until all the moisture’s properly vented out of there. And if it does get humid on its own, then the humidistat will kick the fan on and also dry it out. They’re not terribly expensive; I know Broan makes a good one. There are a number of manufacturers you can find this from.

    And keep an eye on the floor. Some laminate floors, you know, stand up very well to moisture. I’ve seen laminate floors that can be submerged and they don’t seem to be affected by it. But others will buckle just like hardwood would. So just keep an eye on it. And if it ends up that it does have to be replaced, I would paint that cement slab underneath with a couple of coats of epoxy paint to kind of seal in and stop the moisture from evaporating through and into the room.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: But only if you get that far. I wouldn’t tell you to tear up the floor now. But if you have to replace it, just make sure you seal the slab at the same time.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, OK. Thank you. That’s good, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Post your questions to or call The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home improvement pros that you can trust for any project. And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, check out

    TOM: Just ahead, if you’ve got a pool and you’ve got kids, there are six very important things you need to do to make sure they’re safe. We’ll review that list, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you have mold? Do you have mildew? Do you have algae? Well, we can make it all disappear if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’re giving away a Spray & Forget House-and-Deck Cleaner with a hose and sprayer that can get rid of all that.

    Spray & Forget is a no-rinse and no-scrub outdoor cleaner. It cleans brilliantly. It’s going to tackle any outdoor surface, like vinyl siding and patios and decks and fences and walkways and pavers. It’s eco- and environmentally-friendly and we’re going to send you out enough to clean a 1,000-square-foot surface, so that’s going to do a great job on your house.

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    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Eunice in Arkansas who has a retaining wall that thinks it’s a chameleon. It’s changing colors. What’s going on?

    EUNICE: Part of it is – the part that’s turning white powdery-looking is the part that’s exposed to the weather. It’s kind of spreading. It looks like it’s – you know, the whole thing will eventually turn white. I don’t know if it’s oxidizing or if moisture from the ground is making it change colors or what.

    TOM: And that’s exactly what’s happening, Eunice. What you’re seeing is called “efflorescence.” And essentially, water from the ground pulls up because those concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. So it – water pulls up and then as the water evaporates, it leaves its mineral salts behind. And that’s what that whitish/grayish deposit is.

    So it’s not harmful; it’s really just cosmetic. And there’s not going to be a lot you can do to stop it, though. If it’s an outside wall like that, if there’s going to be a lot of moisture collecting in that area, you’re going to get that sort of thing from happening.

    EUNICE: Oh, OK. So power-washing it or using a chemical or anything wouldn’t make a difference?

    TOM: Well, really, all you need – I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. If you use white vinegar – so if you were to mix up some white vinegar and mix it with water in a pump-up sprayer, that will melt the mineral salts right away.

    EUNICE: OK. Very good.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a pool and you’ve got kids, there are six things that you need to do to make sure they’re safe. Tragically, there are about 300 drowning deaths of children younger than five each year in swimming pools. And a lapse in parental supervision is responsible for those accidents almost 70 percent of the time.

    TOM: Yeah. And while there’s no substitute for watching your kids, the best backup is a pool-safety approach called “layers of protection,” which the idea is that basically you provide several layers of backup to supplement a parent’s supervision. So, here’s where you want to start. The first place is with pool fences.

    Now, you may think you know fences but pool fences are actually very special. They’re designed differently than standard fences. They’ve got to be at least 4 feet tall and they’ve got to be non-climbable, which means a little kid can’t get their foot into the link of a chain-link fence. Those actually – links for pool fences are smaller so you can’t get a toe hold in there. Pool fences don’t have as many cross pieces where, again, you can get a foot in and kind of step up on it. So, it’s important you have a properly designed pool fence and that includes the gate. Because the gate is always the weakest link of the pool-fencing system and pool gates have to have latches that are actually higher than the fence itself. The latch has to be at a height of 54 inches.

    Why? Because you don’t want a little kid to be able to reach up and open that latch. So a pool fence is, definitely, first line of protection.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And let me tell you, those pool-gate latches are usually sometimes so complicated that even I, as an adult, can’t figure them out. So you’ve got to make sure that it’s a difficult process, that takes an adult a moment to think but could certainly stump a child and make it difficult for them to get in. You know, next up, we’re talking about pool covers.

    Next to pool fencing, a pool cover will provide the maximum amount of protection. Your best option is going to be an automatic pool cover, which can be used between swims rather than only at the end of the season. And these covers are motor-driven and with a flick of a switch will automatically creep across the pool and seal out access to the water. The other thing you should be thinking about are door and fence alarms, even pool alarms.

    Now, there’s been some high-tech advances in pool alarms that really make them a must for every home with a pool. And it’s best to use a combination of the door, fence and pool alarm so you know that the door is opened and then you know that the fence is opened and then you know definitely someone’s jumped in that water. So all of those will sound at those exact moments.

    TOM: Yeah, the door alarms are interesting because they’re installed on the exterior doors that lead to the pool. Especially important if you have a fence on, say, three sides of the pool but your house actually makes up that fourth wall of the fence. The way it works is if the door is opened without depressing a child-proof safety button – the bypass button – then that alarm’s going to go off. So if the kid just slides the door open and is not tall enough to hit that bypass, the alarm will go off.

    Fence alarms kind of work the same way and the pool alarms are splash alarms. They’re surprisingly accurate and if you hear that pool alarm go off, then you know you’ve got a problem. So make sure you take the steps necessary to protect the kids by using all of these different ways and all these different layers of protection, to make sure that they have a very happy and safe pool experience at all times.

    888-MONEY-PIT is our number. Let’s get back to those calls.

    LESLIE: Jeanette in Colorado is on the line and needs some help with a radiant-heating question. What can we do for you?

    JEANETTE: I would like to know if it would be good to do the radiant floor ourselves or to have someone else do it. Is it going to increase my electric bill quite a bit? And if it is something I could do, what materials would be best to do?

    TOM: Wow. Lots of questions.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We only said one question, lady.

    TOM: Alright. So, the bathroom is the only room in the house that you want to have a warm floor?

    JEANETTE: Well, for starters. We would like to do it in the kitchen, also. But we thought we’d start with the small project as the bathroom.

    TOM: And what kind of a house do you have? Is it a ranch? Colonial? What are we talking about?

    JEANETTE: No, it’s more of a ranch. It has a – the bottom is not sitting completely on the ground because it’s lots of rocks and stuff in the mountains there. So it does have crawlspaces underneath.

    TOM: It does.

    JEANETTE: Yes, it does have crawlspaces where you – we have sump pumps in there to help anything that might cause that. So you can crawl under the house but it’s not very much room.

    TOM: OK. And how is it heated? Is it hot water or a hot-air system?

    JEANETTE: Hot air but we mostly use pellet stoves.

    TOM: So, it sounds to me like you’re going to be limited to an electric radiant-heating system. There are different types of heating underlayments, so to speak, that you would put on a bathroom floor and you would tile on top of.

    Now, is it expensive? Yes. It’s electric heat. It’s expensive to purchase and install, it’s expensive to run. It’s not a way to save money on your heating bill. There’s nothing cost-effective about electric heat. It’s very pleasant and nice to have that warm floor but it is an expensive project and it’s expensive to run. That said, if you put it on its own timer so it’s only on, say, in the morning or in the evenings for a limited period of time, you could manage that expense.

    Is it a do-it-yourself project? Yes, if you’re pretty experienced. Because the tile mats usually have to be ordered custom-made. And you have to make sure that they’re installed properly because if you get that floor down and it doesn’t work, you’ve got a big problem. You’d end up having to tear it up.

    Frankly, my advice would be to not do it yourself, because I would rather have a contractor do it that’s worked with it time and time again. I’d hate to see the whole thing get together and you’ve got a problem with it and you’ve got to tear it all up and start again. So, the amount of additional expense for labor, I think, would have sort of an insurance quality to it to make sure it comes out right.

    JEANETTE: Well, thank you all for your advice and I appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, ceiling fans have certainly been getting a workout this summer but they can be costly to operate. So to help, the Department of Energy has released some new energy-efficiency standards for those ceiling fans. We’re going to tell you how to find the most energy-efficient model for your home, next.

    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: Well, now that we’ve hit these dreaded dog days of summer, our air conditioners and fans are really working overtime to keep us comfortable and that includes our ceiling fans, which can actually cost quite a bit to run.

    LESLIE: Well, the Department of Energy has now sought to change that with a new efficiency standard for ceiling fans. With us to talk about that is Lauren Urbanek, a senior policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Welcome, Lauren.

    LAUREN: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So what prompted the interest in ceiling fans?

    LAUREN: So, ceiling fans are incredibly popular in the U.S. and also around the world. But in the U.S., there are about 80,000,000 households that have at least one ceiling fan. So, really popular, really a great way to stay comfortable in your home. And we’re using more energy than they really need it to be.

    TOM: So the DOE stepped in, decided to develop an energy-efficiency standard. Now, is this like ENERGY STAR? Is there going to be a standard that you’re going to see these manufacturers make new fans to meet?

    LAUREN: So, this is actually a standard that all ceiling fans on the market will have to meet. So, unlike ENERGY STAR, which is actually a voluntary program that signifies that products are – go above and beyond the federal standard, the standard that we’re talking about today is actually one that regardless of where you purchase the ceiling fan or what brand or anything like that, it will meet a new, updated, more efficient standard.

    LESLIE: So, Lauren, for families that are taking advantage of these ceiling fans with new efficiency standards, I mean are they looking for a tremendous amount of savings? Will it be noticeable?

    LAUREN: The Department of Energy estimates that the average homeowner will save about $25 in energy costs for each new fan that meets the new standard. But the great thing is that many homes actually have more than one ceiling fan, so that saving would be per fan. So the more fans a homeowner has, the bigger the savings could be.

    TOM: Now, ceiling fans do more than just cool. If you use them correctly, they can also warm your home by moving that warm air that gets trapped up along the ceiling down to sort of the living space. So this is something that could really give you not only summer savings but year-round savings, as well, correct?

    LAUREN: Yeah, that’s right. Actually, so during the summer months, a homeowner will want to make sure that the ceiling fan is rotating counterclockwise. So when you stand underneath the fan and look up, in the summer it should go counterclockwise whereas in the winter, the ceiling-fan blades should go clockwise. And that can be switched with a switch that’s required on every ceiling fan.

    LESLIE: And that’s going to stay the same with all of these new standards and improvements. Are we going to notice any difference in the functionality based on these new improvements?

    LAUREN: The functionality of the fan is not going to change. So, when you look at a fan, when you use a fan, you really won’t notice any difference in how it operates, how it keeps you comfortable. The only thing that you should notice is that your energy bills will be lower.

    TOM: And that’s always great to see.

    We’re talking to Lauren Urbanek – she’s a senior energy-policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council – about some of the new DOE standards that are coming out, that are going to make some of the equipment in our homes much more energy efficient. And I think it’s a great point that unlike ENERGY STAR, these will be required standards, not a voluntary standard. And so, in addition to ceiling fans, it seems like there’s some other improvements that are on the horizon. You’ve got improvements in battery chargers, dehumidifiers and central-air conditioners, as well.

    LAUREN: Yeah, central-air conditioners and heat pumps, that’s another new standard that will be active within the next few years. And this was actually an agreement between manufacturers, between industry and efficiency advocates. And what’s great about this standard, it is an update to an – excuse me – an existing efficiency standard. But this – with this update, air conditioners and heat pumps are going to be 50-percent more efficient than they were when the first national standards took effect in 1992.

    TOM: Fifty percent? That’s huge.

    LAUREN: Right. It’s really great. So, a lot of homeowners have old central-air conditioners, old heat pumps that maybe meet the 1992 standard or even earlier. And they could really get a big bang for their buck for switching to a new unit.

    TOM: That’s great information. Lauren Urbanek from the Natural Resources Defense Council, thank you so much for stopping by on The Money Pit and filling us in.

    LAUREN: Great, thanks for having me.

    TOM: And if you’d like to learn more, you can visit their website at That’s the website for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    LESLIE: Alright, Lauren. Thanks so much by on The Money Pit.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. You can post your question to or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. Get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home improvement project and book appointments, all online, for free.

    TOM: Just ahead, could you use a brand-new washer and dryer? We have details on a brand-new promotion from Speed Queen that might just drop a set at your door, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    You can post your question to or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by Find top-rated home improvement pros you can trust.

    TOM: And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    LESLIE: Sandy in Florida is dealing with a squeaky door. Tell us what’s going on.

    SANDY: Well, we’ve had this squeaky door now for three years. We’ve tried putting oil on it, we tried using WD-40 and then we went out and bought three new hinges and put on it. And it still is a squeaky door.

    TOM: Are these hinges sort of standard hinges?

    SANDY: Yes. It’s just three standard hinges.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is go out and buy some ball-bearing hinges. There are some upgraded hinges. They’re often used on heavier doors but they rely on ball bearings to open and close instead of just the metal sitting on top of the metal. There’s actually bearings there that the different sides of the door will ride on. And those will be absolutely quiet and they’ll last forever.

    SANDY: Wow. Where would they carry those?

    TOM: Well, I would expect that you would find them – you may need to go to a home center and order them. Go to the millworks section of a home center, bring an old hinge along and try to order a ball-bearing hinge to match it. Or your hardware store. Or you can probably find them online, as well.

    SANDY: Yeah, that’s what we’ll try. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Joseph on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JOSEPH: I’ve got an older house. It was built in the 1940s and my daughter’s nursery, the overhead fan and lights work but none of the sockets in the room function. And I have no breakers that have tripped.

    TOM: So somewhere, those sockets are disconnected. Now, are you sure the sockets are not connected to a light switch?

    JOSEPH: I am 99-percent positive, sir.

    TOM: There’s a seed of a doubt there that perhaps they could be. You know, sometimes the light – the outlets are operated by a light switch. But I would say that it’s not normal for that to happen in a 1940s house.

    But what you need to do is this – and when I say you need to do, more accurately an electrician needs to do. You’ve got to get into the wiring that’s supplying those outlets and try to figure out why it’s disconnected. I can’t imagine a reason it would have been physically disconnected, which means it’s most likely some failure in the wiring of the outlets themselves. But if you open up the outlets, you can see if you have hot wires there and try to figure out at what point they became de-energized. Because they are probably wired in series, so the wiring goes from one to the next to the next. And you need to do a little bit more investigation to figure out why that is.

    But it’s really not a do-it-yourself project. I don’t want you to make a mistake and I don’t want you to get electrocuted.

    JOSEPH: Yes, sir. Then I will definitely look at calling an electrician.

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

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    TOM: So, what, 40, 50, 52?

    LESLIE: Fifty-two prizes.

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    Give us a call right now. We’d love to take your question on whatever home improvement project’s on your mind at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?

    MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?

    MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?

    MARY: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside, looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.

    We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on Just search “how to stop a leaking basement” and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.

    And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETE has a patching-compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.

    Then, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.

    MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?

    TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff. Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pam in Florida has a porch question. How can we help you today?

    PAM: We live on the water and in Florida, there’s a lot of wind on the water. We’re close to the Gulf of Mexico. And we have a screened porch with aluminum railings and the wind keeps blowing the screen sections out. We’ve tried all different types of screens and double-screening them and all different types of splines. And I wondered if you had any better ideas for us.

    TOM: Are we talking about on doors or windows?

    PAM: We’re talking about screen sections on a screened porch.

    TOM: Screened porch. OK. And so, how big are these sections?

    PAM: Probably 4×6.

    TOM: Pretty big. Are you using vinyl screening or are you using metal screening?

    PAM: Vinyl.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that’s the issue. The vinyl screening is pretty soft and pretty flexible. Not very sturdy. I think you’re going to need to use a heavier-gauge screening in order to make this more permanent. And you’re also going to need to consider not only the attachment points – I’m not quite sure how you’re doing that – but it’s got to be super-secure. And you might want to add grilles to divide that up into a bit smaller space. It could be a thin grille but it could – but a grille would give it some additional strength.

    So I think you’re going to need to use much heavier screening and not vinyl screening, OK? Because I think putting on a double layer of the vinyl is going to really not get you where you need to be. It really should be heavy metal screening when it’s that – when it’s a 4×6-foot area.

    PAM: Right. Do you know if metal screening comes in a fine enough mesh to keep no-see-ums out?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. It comes in different mesh densities and different gauge metals. You’ve just got to find a good source or supply down there for it.

    PAM: Thank you very much. Appreciate the help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, are you looking for a super-affordable and simple way to update your kitchen? Up next, we’ve got an idea that lets you show off your, too, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    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: Post your home improvement question to us or call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find a home service pro you can trust. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments online, for free. Maggie was online.

    LESLIE: And Maggie wrote: “When I dust my house in the evening, everything is covered again by the next morning.” That’s a dusty house, Maggie, and a pain in the butt. “Could the problem be stemming from the heat-pump air-conditioning system? We’ve had the unit thoroughly cleaned inside and out but no avail.”

    TOM: Well, it may not be the unit’s dirty inside. What it might be, most likely, is that you don’t have the right filters. You know, you need to use a really good-quality filter and – because when the A/C is running, it’s going to pull air through that filter. And if the air’s got dust in it, it will strip the dust out.

    Take a look at all the filters that are made by Filtrete. They’ve got a wide range of them. Some are designed for excess dust, some for allergies. Get a good filter on there and that dust problem should disappear.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to make sure that you install the filter in the correct direction. There’s usually going to be an arrow pointing to airflow, so make sure you install it the right way.

    TOM: Well, we hear it all the time here at The Money Pit. Homeowners are wanting to add a stylish touch to an outdated kitchen without having to replace those cabinets. Well, Leslie has got some quick ideas for affordable and fun solutions, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah, when it comes to kitchen cabinets there’s, you know, a lot of ways that you can change the look without spending a ton of money. A lot of them are do-it-yourself. And here’s a trick that I’ve used on countless of our TV shows that we’ve designed, where you’ve got a kitchen space, you’ve got a very limited budget but you want to make a big transition. So what you can do to those door and drawer fronts is add a decorative panel. It gives them dimension, it gives you a chance to bring in your personality and it also will completely change the look of the space.

    Now, you can start by painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and the boxes, if you want. If not and you’re happy with the way the wood looks and you’re just going to really cover a good portion of the door and drawer front itself, so you don’t have to worry about painting – so what you can do is start with painting, if you want. If not, leave the finish as is. Then what you would do is you want to cover that portion of the door and figure out how much of the original door or drawer front you’re still going to see. Whether it’s an inch all around, 2 inches all around, that’s really going to depend on what is going on with your door front now. Is there already sort of a decorative router in there or a groove or something else? So you want to see what you want to cover.

    Once you’ve decided what size that panel is, you want to have them cut out about a ¼-inch hard board, in a hardboard or luan or something like that. And you can have the home centers around you cut those pieces for you to size. You’ll go in there saying, “I need 4 at 14×26,” whatever it is. Go in there with all your measurements, tell them exactly what you need. Know exactly what cabinet doors and drawer fronts those are for and then bring those in and have them cut them for you.

    Once you’ve got those pieces, what you want to do is if you’re going to cover it with paper, you can use a decorative paper, you can use a wallpaper, you can use some sort of woven paper, you can use a fabric. Whatever it is, cut it about 2 inches larger all around in that size. So if your panel is, say, 16×28, you want to cut it to 18×30. That gives you an inch all around that’s going to go around to the backside. That depending on what you’re using, you can use a double-faced adhesive tape, you can use staples. It really depends on what you’re putting on there, what’s best going to adhere it that hardboard.

    Now, once you’ve got it, you want to make sure you have nice, neat corners. Make it look really beautiful. And then you can go ahead and attach it to the cabinet door itself. And you can do that with a staple gun or a brad nailer. You want to make sure that you put it so it doesn’t stick too far into the door on the backside; it wants to sit just so. If it does stick through, make sure you hammer it down so it doesn’t poke through.

    That can really change the look of the space. It’s not difficult. It sounds complicated but it is not. I promise you it will make a huge difference.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, you might feel like you know your local climate. But when it comes to your lawn and your garden, what you really need to know is your microclimate. We’re going to tell you how to plan for these very local conditions and ensure landscape success, 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.


    (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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