Low-Water Lawns that Survive Drought

  • 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: What are you working on now that we are officially moving into what we call the “dog days of summer” here in the Northeast? It gets really hot and sticky. And if you live in South Carolina, you’re probably thinking, “We call that Tuesday,” you know? But up here, it’s pretty much in the most miserable part of the summer and therefore, we’re probably not thinking about doing a lot of outside work. We’re enjoying that central air conditioning.

    Whether your project is inside or out, we would love to help you take some steps to get it done easier, quicker, faster; make sure it’s going to last longer; make sure it’s going to come out right; help you get over those humps and bumps in the project, those surprises when you tear open the wall and go, “Oh, my God, I didn’t count on that. What do I do with it?” Is it a leaky pipe? Is it termites? What’s going on? If you’ve got questions, that’s what we do. We’re here to help you as your home improvement coaches, your remodeling directors, your decorating diva. Well, there’s only one decorating diva here; that’s Leslie.

    LESLIE: I thought it was going to be you.

    TOM: Nah, nah. You don’t want my decorating advice. I turn to Leslie for my decorating needs, as well.

    But hey, whatever is going on in your house, we’d love to chat with you. We’d love to help you get it done. The number to get in touch with us is 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974.

    So, coming up this hour, it is usually this time of year that homeowners grow pretty tired of paying high water bills to keep their lawns looking lush. It doesn’t have to be that way, though, if you choose drought-resistant grass. We’re going to tell you about drought-resistant grass, because it’s something that you might want to think about adding to your lawn this fall.

    LESLIE: Hey. And while we’re on the subject of lawns, do you hate seeing weeds in your yard and garden? Well, they kind of feel like they’re your enemy but they’re actually holding clues that will help you take your garden back. We’re going to share some tips on how to read your weeds for gardening success.

    TOM: And cleaning is a non-stop task for virtually every homeowner. And usually, it requires a lot of different cleaning products, including those with harsh chemicals. We’re going to share a single, non-toxic cleaner that can safely remove dirt and grime on hundreds of surfaces without harming you or the environment.

    But first, we want to hear from you.

    LESLIE: Yeah. What are you guys working on this summer season? How are you getting your money pit in tip-top shape so that you can actually enjoy it and maybe not spend all the time working on it? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand. So give us a call anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Laurie in New York is on the line with a gardening situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAURIE: I have a tea-rose bush in my backyard, which attracts a lot of Japanese beetles. And I was wondering if there is something that I can do to get rid of the Japanese beetles, to save the tree.

    TOM: Well, yeah, I mean there’s traps for that. And the traps work very well. They’re usually scented or they have some sort of a chemical attractant for the beetles. And the beetles are essentially – will essentially walk into the trap, fall into a bag and that’s that.

    One company that makes them is called Rescue – R-e-s-c-u-e. You can go to Rescue.com and take a look at the Japanese and Oriental beetle trap. I’ve used the Rescue products on wasps and bees and always found that they worked really, really well.

    And we’ve seen these folks at many of the trade shows that we go to and they always seem to have a very good-quality product line and they’re very serious about making sure their products work well. And I think that you’ll – that would be a good place for you to start. The Rescue Japanese Beetle Trap, Rescue.com.

    LAURIE: Very good. Thank you very much. I’m going to try that. As soon as I get off the phone, I will look at their website.

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

    LESLIE: John in Kentucky is on the line with a trim question. What’s going on?

    JOHN: Well, I have got a house that was built in the 70s and it had really dark, varnished trim on it. And the guy that sold me the house – I guess when he decided to put it up on the market, he just painted all the trim white. And I think he just put one coat of latex on it or something.

    The problem with it is if you brush up against it, the paint peels off of it. And I’m exaggerating a little bit but when we’re moving stuff from room to room or something like that, yeah, you just barely touch it with something and it …

    LESLIE: Probably didn’t sand it or anything.

    JOHN: Right. He just made – because real estate agents will tell you to paint everything white.

    TOM: Yeah. But it’s probably – it’s like trying to paint over Teflon, John. When you don’t – it’s too smooth and it didn’t – wasn’t going to really bite. So, what you have to do is really strip it off completely. You have to take off the old paint, you have to sand down into that varnish coat a bit to rough it up. And then what you have to do is prime it.

    The primer is very important, because the primer is going to be the glue that sort of makes the paint stick. It will adhere well to the old varnish, as well to the paint. And that’s going to make the difference on giving this new paint some durability.

    JOHN: Yeah. Well, see, that’s what I don’t want to do, because it’s all the trim in the house.

    TOM: Right, OK.

    JOHN: And I can’t go and sand and strip all that. So, what I was hoping could be done is – if there’s like a heavy enamel paint or something that would be tougher and wouldn’t scratch off as much?

    TOM: No, because you have a layer in there that’s not adhering to the substrate which, in this case, is the original trim. So anything that you put over that is only going to be as strong as the first layer that was on it and that’s not sticking. So, I would not make the problem worse by putting another paint on top of that. It’s just not going to work.

    JOHN: OK. Thank you for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Catherine in Rhode Island is on the line with a leaky roof.

    Tell us about the problem, Catherine.

    CATHERINE: I have a small hole in the ceiling, in the corner of the back end of the house. And I was just wondering if when I go to have it replaced, how much of the plaster they’re going to have to take down.

    TOM: So you say it’s a small hole. So this is a hole that was caused by water damage?

    CATHERINE: Yes. It’s coming from the roof. I’m going to have to have a new roof, also.

    TOM: How old is the roof that you have now?

    CATHERINE: The roof is about 20 years old.

    TOM: OK. Well, it might be at the end of a normal life cycle.

    In terms of that ceiling space, you don’t have to take a lot down. How big is the hole that you have right now?

    CATHERINE: I would say it’s about 8 inches across.

    TOM: Eight by what?

    CATHERINE: It’s just like a slit.

    LESLIE: So there’s nothing open; it’s just like a crack.

    CATHERINE: Yes, it’s like a crack. And water drips but just from one area; it’s just like a little drip.

    TOM: If it’s not swollen or deformed in any way, then what you can do is you can add drywall tape across that crack, which would be perforated. You use – it looks kind of like a mesh; it’s a little sticky and it’s like a mesh. And then you spackle over the tape. And so you can basically spackle this crack closed and then prime it and paint it without having to replace any of the drywall.

    CATHERINE: Oh, really? Oh. Well, thank you very much. I thought I’d have to replace the whole ceiling.

    TOM: Nah, don’t let the contractors tell you it’s any more than that. It’s a real simple repair. If it’s just a crack, it can be spackled, primed, painted and you’re good to go.

    CATHERINE: Well, thank you very much. And I just want to add I love listening to your show. I learn so much. I listen to it every Saturday night.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much, Catherine. We really appreciate it. Thanks, again, for calling us at 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. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.

    TOM: And just ahead, if you want to keep a healthy-looking lawn, you shouldn’t have to do that at the expense of the local water supply. We’re going to tell you about drought-resistant grass that delivers more green with less water, after this.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful July weekend. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your how-to question, your DIY dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?

    AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.

    LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?

    AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.

    TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?

    AMANDA: Right.

    TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?

    AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.

    TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?

    AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?

    TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.

    Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?

    AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.

    TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.

    So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently and see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.

    But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.

    AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.

    TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.

    AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.

    TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.

    AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.

    TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jeff in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation situation. What can we do for you today?

    JEFF: Yeah, I should vent a little bit, because I had to insulate that attic up there.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: Yeah. So, you know, it’s an old addition and when they built it, they covered the old gable up. And so, when I went up there to insulate this spring, I had to kind of cut a hole through the old gable end to get into the addition. And so my question is: do I need to – should I keep cutting away at that or do I – how do I properly vent that? I don’t want to cut the whole thing out because I suppose there’s some supports there.

    TOM: OK. So they – basically, when you added the addition, they added it onto the gable end of the old roof. So when you go up in the attic, you kind of see the old roof structure and the old gable end where the vent used to be, correct?

    JEFF: Right. In fact – and I couldn’t get through there. There was – the vent was too small for me to get through to get into the addition to insulate.

    TOM: Oh, so there wasn’t even any access in there to insulate. They didn’t insulate when they built the addition?

    JEFF: They did. They did insulate but how they actually got it in there, I don’t know. But I couldn’t get to it, I know that.

    TOM: The answer to your question is that you want to basically treat each space separately in terms of ventilation. And the best type of ventilation is – actually no longer do we consider gable vents to be the best type of ventilation. The best type of ventilation: a continuous ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang. So this way, we take air in down low, we run it up under the roof sheathing and exit it at the ridge. And that cycle will repeat 24/7, 365.

    JEFF: Yeah. The only problem is there’s no soffits in this house.

    TOM: Alright. So if you did want to improve the ventilation, you could use a type of vent called a “drip-edge vent,” which would require a little bit of carpentry. You’d have to extend or actually re-shingle the bottom layer of shingles at the edge. But the drip-edge vent actually extends that roof line by about 2 inches and creates a continuous soffit.

    And if you go to AirVent.com – that’s the website for the CertainTeed air-vent companies – I know they’ve got a good diagram of one right there. So that’s the way to improve that.

    Now, if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, for all the obvious reasons, and maybe you’re not seeing that you have a big ventilation problem right now, then I guess what I would suggest to you is to put in the ridge vents, since that’s something that you can always do, and then couple that with as many other roof vents as you can.

    Jeff, thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, now that it’s quite warm out, you may be using tons of water on your lawn to keep it green. And that can definitely take a toll on your wallet and the water supply. It’s been estimated that the demand for water has increased more than three times in just the past 50 years. And that’s going to keep going in the decades ahead.

    LESLIE: Well, the good news is that new, drought-resistant grass species can survive on reduced or even limited water while still maintaining overall plant health. So, to find this grass, you actually just need to look for products that are endorsed by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance. I know that’s a lot. It’s the TWCA. You’ll see it on the packaging.

    Now, these folks are an organization that are aimed at saving billions of gallons of water each year. And one way they do that is by testing plants, grasses, shrubs that claim to save on watering. And then they give their stamp of approval to those products that actually meet their stringent criteria.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a really good organization. We’ve got the details on MoneyPit.com. Just Google “money pit drought-resistant grass.” You’ll find our post with all the links you’ll need.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We are ready to take your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Janet in Georgia on the line who wants help with a decking project. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JANET: I just had a deck built last month and already, some of the boards are kind of shrinking because it’s been raining on and off a little bit.

    TOM: Right.


    JANET: And I was wondering when it would be the best time to stain the wood. Is it that I’m staining it against the water or I’m just staining it in general?

    LESLIE: OK. Do you know what material your deck was made out of?

    JANET: We bought the wood at Home Depot. It was supposed to be a pretreated wood?

    LESLIE: So just a pressure-treated lumber.

    JANET: Pressure-treated. That’s correct.

    LESLIE: OK. So, really, what I always do with a pressure-treated lumber, just because of the fact that they inject a different type of chemical into the wood itself to make it weather-resistant – so it can be a little wet. And since you’re dealing with a high-moisture situation in your weather anyway, you might just want to give it the summer season to sort of dry out as best it can. And then in the autumn – when you’re dealing with some drier, low-humidity weather – it could be a great time to put a finish on it.

    Now, you do want to let it dry out. So if you’re dealing with some wet weather as you’re getting into a weekend that you want to work on the project, wait until you’ve had a good few days of dryness and you know it’s going to be dry the day you’re working, so that that wood does get a chance to dry out. And then, depending on how it looks and the look that you want, I definitely wouldn’t paint it, because paint is just going to sit right on top of that lumber and then just peel off throughout the winter season and you’ll have to do something again in the spring.

    JANET: Right. I really didn’t want painting, because I just like the look of the wood. And I know that there’s something that I have to do every so often. They tell me every year I’d have to stain it or something.

    LESLIE: It really depends on what manufacturer’s stain that you buy. And keep in mind there’s solid-color stains and there’s semi-transparent stains. So if you want to see the grain in the wood, you’ll want to go with something more semi-transparent so that you’ll actually get some color or just some natural tone. And you’ll be able to see that grain through it.

    And you want to apply it just in the way that the manufacturer says. And you’re probably going to get about three years on horizontal surfaces, maybe five on vertical before you’ve got to tackle it again. Depends on how dry that lumber is on that decking when you do, you know, put the stain on.

    JANET: OK. That sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: You can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here. Always have somebody standing by at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, weeds in your yard and garden hold secrets to gardening success. But don’t yank them out just yet. We’re going to have tips to help you understand what your weeds are actually saying, after this.

    Making good homes better, you are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On a warm July weekend. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Hey, do you need new flooring in your kitchen or your bathroom? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job for free.

    And hey, Leslie, speaking of pros, you had some pros working on your outside room, your outdoor living space, your backyard. I know it was happening all spring long. Have you been enjoying it this summer?

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. So much so. We’re eating breakfast out there. We’re enjoying the space. And it’s interesting how when you reclaim sort of 3 feet here and 3 feet there, how much more space the yard actually seems to have.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And the kids went from complaining about having no space to run around. And granted, I’m on a 40×100. I am on the smallest lot allowed in my village and my house is 100 years old. So, I’ve got nowhere to go. And all of a sudden, the kids are running and they’re loving it.

    But now I’m at a point where I really – all I’ve ever wanted is my own bathroom. So I’m debating. Do I invest a little money into this house, since the yard is lovely and we love the space and we love the location, and make my bedroom a little bigger and get that bathroom?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Because truly, that’s the only expansion I’m going to be allowed to do to my house without causing all kinds of problems in the village. And I still need a variance to do so, because I occupy the full amount of my property as is.

    TOM: OK. And that’s common with a lot of homes in older neighborhoods, too.

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: Because you couldn’t build that house on that lot today, because the setbacks are a lot greater than what they are. So that means that if you were going to do anything on the outside of that building, you’re going to need a variance, which really complicates things.

    LESLIE: And then here’s the question. The village I live in, the taxes are very high. It’s just the nature of the beast. My house, I’m very lucky it’s on the low side. So, every time I look at a new house that gives me the extra bathroom, that gives me the little bit more space I want, the taxes suddenly skyrocket to 20, which is not anywhere close to what I pay.

    So I’m trying to figure out – if I do the slight expansion on my house and get the bedroom a little bigger and get my own bathroom, what does that do to my taxes? I don’t want to go from 11 to 16 or 18 or 20 when I could have bought the slightly bigger house with a bigger yard and been at that tax bracket? It’s hard to understand.

    And I’ve put in an email to the village. I’ve asked appraisers. And the answer I keep getting is: you don’t know until you do it.

    TOM: Well, here’s the thing. First of all, I think it’s safe to say that that is going to be the most expensive bathroom imaginable, either way, right?

    LESLIE: Oh, I’m sure.

    TOM: You just want to get – you want to get one more bathroom and either way you do it, it’s going to cost you a boatload of money because of the tax situation. But taxes are based on home value. So, it’s really going to come down to what the home value is.

    So, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out. If you have a friend that’s in real estate and say, “Look, what’s the difference between a house like mine with one bathroom in this neighborhood and a house like mine with two bathrooms in this neighborhood? How much is that going to increase, potentially, the sales price?” Understanding it’s a point-in-time number, right? So it’s only going to be what it would be worth today. Tomorrow, the next day, the next year, 10 years it’s going to be different. But let’s just set a point in the map for just today to figure this out.

    So then what you can do is look at your tax rate and calculate what the difference will be, assuming that the tax rate is the same again. And that will tell you what the new taxes approximately should be, because it’s going to be based on what the value of your house is. And you can compare that number to what they are for another house you might move to. But you’ve just got to predict what your home’s value will be after the renovation and then adjust the taxes accordingly. And this way, you’ll have both numbers that you need.

    LESLIE: I mean could …

    TOM: See, the village, the tax assessors, they’re not going to commit to anything.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Because then you’re going to say, “Well, you told me it was going to be X.” And they’ll go, “Well, you know …”

    LESLIE: I’m just trying to get an idea.

    TOM: But I think to just get an idea, that’s basically what you have to do. You need to figure out what the new value of your home would be in its newly remodeled state. And I think the best way to do that informally, with some degree of accuracy, would be to talk to a good realtor in the area because they have their finger on the pulse of home value.

    LESLIE: I think that’s smart.

    TOM: So there you go. And that was Leslie’s portion of The Money Pit.

    Give me a call – give us a call right now. We have got the ability to help you guys with all sorts of things and we love doing it. So the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?

    TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?

    TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40 but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.

    And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.

    TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.

    LESLIE: Well, are you seeing more weeds in your lawn and garden now that we’ve reached this mid-summer season? It’s not uncommon but knowing the type of weeds that you have can actually help you learn the best way to prevent them from coming back.

    So, here’s how you battle the five most common types of weeds. Now, are you seeing crabgrass? That’s a direct result of cutting your lawn too short, scalping that turf. So what you’ve got to do to fix that is simply raise the height of your mower blades.

    I think, Tom, the problem is people think, “Oh, if I cut it really short, I only have to cut it X amount of times in comparison to this many times.”

    TOM: Right. Yeah. Right. But it actually makes the lawn grow more weeds and then it looks worse. So, no, you can’t save time just by cutting the lawn as short as possible, because it’ll burn out that way. And that’s what leads to more weeds.

    LESLIE: Now, another one is something called the “common plantain.” And it’s not a banana. It’s something that happens simply because your lawn is too wet or it’s slow-draining in the soil just simply by the way your yard is graded and the quantity of watering.

    So, if the lawn is too wet, reduce that watering. Regrade so that it drains better or simply replace that area of lawn with a rain garden, just because you know it’s getting too wet. And it’s really not going to be changed until you address that situation. But that’s a great way to fix that.

    TOM: Alright. Let’s talk about one that I see a lot. It’s called “white clover.” Now, white-clover weeds happen because of the soil quality. If the soil is …

    LESLIE: Isn’t that that pretty, little white flower, though?

    TOM: Yeah. The soil has very low fertility. You need to run a soil test and then you add organic fertilizer as recommended. And that takes care of those lovely white clovers.

    And then here’s my favorite one, because I know that you have one, Leslie. It’s called the “creeping Charlie.”

    LESLIE: Mine’s a completely different kind of creeping Charlie.

    TOM: And he’s a really cute creeping Charlie. Creeps up on you and scares Mom.

    LESLIE: He certainly does.

    TOM: I know. I can just see it.

    Well, creeping-Charlie weeds happen because of too much shade. So, if you’ve got creeping Charlie, you want to overseed that area with a shade-tolerant grass variety. That’s going to make a big difference.

    And finally, let’s talk about knotweed – k-n-o-t, not n-o-t. K-n-o-t-weed. And that is caused by compacted or very heavy, thick soil. So, for that, you want to aerate that soil and especially those areas that are prone to a lot of foot traffic. And do that every single year.

    Now, if you’re not familiar with the type of weed you’re seeing, we’ve got a great resource for you and that is the National Gardening Association. They’ve got a handy online weed library. Lots of pictures to help you identify what you’re dealing with. It is at Garden.org/WeedLibrary.

    LESLIE: Hey, now you can be on the air with us. Let us know what you are working on. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Give us a call anytime. And maybe you are working on a cleaning project this time of year. I feel like cleaning is basically just a non-stop task all year round. And if that’s that way for me, it’s probably that way for every homeowner out there. And you find it requires a lot of different chemicals and products and all of these things that are just not the best for you or your home. Well, we’re going to share a single, non-toxic cleaner that can safely remove tough dirt and grime on hundreds of surfaces without harming you or the environment, 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: Give us a call right now. We’d love to talk about what’s going on in your money pit. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and that’s presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Kevin in Rhode Island has a question about keeping a basement dry. What can we do for you?

    KEVIN: I removed the downspout extension that took the water away, maybe, 3 feet from the foundation.

    TOM: OK.

    KEVIN: And I replaced it, because someone said it didn’t look good. I replaced it with a cement kind of water carry-away, which is 2 feet. And I noticed I have some water in the basement. So, it’s very damp. It’s damp is what it is.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: So I put a little crushed rock at the end of the extension, hoping that that would maybe help out on the water dispersing down or something.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not going to do anything except prevent erosion. If you want to make your basement drier, you’ve got to move the moisture away from it. You were on the right track with the downspout extension.

    Now, if you don’t want to see that, you might want to explore the possibility of running your leader into a solid PVC pipe and running that underground. But it has to be pitched and then discharged somewhere. So it depends on kind of the shape of your property as to whether or not you could make that happen.

    But I would rather see those downspouts extended away from the foundation wall than deal with the water that can accumulate in the basement as a result.

    KEVIN: Good idea.

    TOM: Well, cleaning is a constant task for pretty much all of us. And usually, if you think about it, it requires a lot of different cleaning products, right? You’ve got cleaning products for walls and floors and counters and everything in between.

    LESLIE: Bathrooms.

    TOM: Bathrooms. And in our case, the shop.

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: Well, we actually made a switch recently to using Simple Green. And I like Simple Green because it handles pretty much 90 percent of all of my cleaning tasks, both inside and out. But it’s safe and completely non-toxic.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think what’s important is that Simple Green is both a cleanser and a degreaser. And usually, it’s one or the other but this is both. And it’s safe for use on virtually any washable surface. You can handle spills, splatters, stains in both kitchens and baths, counters, walls, floors and even your furniture upholstery and clothing. There’s no need to buy multiple cleaning products anymore.

    TOM: Yeah. And the other thing about Simple Green that’s neat is it’s concentrated and it’s very economical. So, I buy the 1-gallon jugs of Simple Green. And in my local store, they’re under 10 bucks. And you can use it straight out of the bottle for tough stains. Or check this out: you can make up to 10 bottles of general-purpose cleaner or 30 bottles of cleaner for reflective surfaces. And that’s a cleaner for your countertop.

    So, with my 1-gallon bottle of Simple Green concentrate, I can make 30 gallons of, say, any – say of a countertop cleaner, right? And I’m not going to mention the brands but I’ve got to tell you, it would cost me a heck of a lot more money to buy 30 gallons of that stuff compared to what we pay for Simple Green. It’s a product that really, really works.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what’s so great about Simple Green is it’s perfect for homes with families. It’s great for the environment, also.

    Now, in fact, Simple Green actually has earned the EPA Safer Choice label, which comes with a 100-percent money-back guarantee. But this EPA Safer Choice label, Tom, that’s not easy to get. I mean you really have to be a certified product for this to happen.

    TOM: No. It really is. And that’s another reason that I trust it. It’s available in three scents: it comes in original, as well as lavender and lemon.

    SimpleGreen.com. Take a look at their website. They have got hundreds of different uses for Simple Green there. They give you the right concentrations for everything. It’s amazing. You’ve got mechanics using this to wash greasy parts and you’ve got homeowners like us using it to clean bathrooms. It works for everything.

    In fact, yeah, I put some of this in my pressure washer when we were cleaning the patio. It was fantastic. It did a really good job. Soaped it up nicely, cleaned it in a jiffy. So, no matter what cleaning job you have to do around your house, Simple Green is the answer. That website, again, is SimpleGreen.com.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question, design question, renovation question, whatever it is you are working on. I’ll always convince you to use the wallpaper. I’m just saying. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up, are you spending more time on a porch this summer? Well, we’re going to have some tips on the best way to paint those porches so that they’ll last for many summers to come, when The Money Pit continues.

    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: We’d love to hear what you’re working on. You can give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question on The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com, which is what Laurie did.

    What’s Laurie working on, Les?

    LESLIE: She’s working on a porch project. She says here, “I want to repaint my wood porch floor and steps but I have some moss growing on them. How do I clean the steps of the moss and then what can I do to keep it from growing back?”

    TOM: So, good questions. So, first of all, you’re absolutely right that if you’re going to do a new painting project, you’ve got to get rid of that mold, moss, mildew, algae, whatever is growing on that surface. Because the paint is just not going to help there. It’s just going to peel right off.

    It also says that you’ve got too much moisture going on and not enough drying. So the reason that it’s happening, Laurie, is I suspect that this particular area of the steps is in a fairly shady spot. Anything that you could do to get a little bit of sunlight in that space – maybe the trees have become a bit overgrown. If you can thin them out – you don’t have to take them down but thin them out so we get some light in there. That will help naturally reduce that.

    But before you paint, the moss has got to go. Best way is to use a moss remover. You could use 30 SECOND Cleaner, which works well, or Zinsser’s JOMAX Cleaner. Both products are going to work quickly to get rid of that moss.

    Now, once it’s gone, you want to make sure that you prep the surface well. That’s the hardest part of painting. You’ve got to sand it. You’ve got to remove any loose paint. And then, because it’s a porch floor, I would recommend you stick with solvent-based or oil-based products. You want to put on an oil-based primer because it has really good adhesion. It’s going to stick to that old paint and that old wood. And then you could put a good oil-based exterior floor paint on it.

    And the reason I say to use the oil-based or the solvent-based over latex, even though it’s a lot harder to clean up, it just is a lot harder finish. It’s much more durable. Anytime you’re going to walk on a surface like that, you need a super-hard finish. And latex just doesn’t do it. Latex is pretty much just great for everything else. But if it’s a surface that you have to walk on, I always go with solvent-based.

    So, it sounds like you’ve got that project under control. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And do it soon so you can enjoy the porch for the rest of the summer.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Richard in New Mexico. Now, Richard writes: “ I have a Southwest-style home with a clay-tile roof. Can I replace this with another material that still looks authentic to this type of architecture?”

    TOM: Well, those clay-tile roofs are certainly beautiful and I’m not going to tell you that you can put on an asphalt roof and have it look anything like the real clay.

    The asphalt shingles today have changed so much in the last decade. And now these dimensional shingles are made such where they have kind of shadow lines built into them, so they appear to have more dimension, more depth than a flat asphalt-shingle roof. So you could go with that as an option.

    But I believe there’s also lightweight clay tiles that are made of composite. So if you do have to replace it, that could be an option, as well.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: True. I mean I would go with something that looks like a traditional clay tile. There are several manufacturers out there that do a composite that has the same shape and shadow lines and look of a clay tile. One of them is Quarrix. It comes in a couple of different clay-color looks. It is made as a sheet or a tab and it installs differently than those tiles but it’s worth taking a look, because you want to maintain that Southwest style.

    TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and Podcast. Thank you so much for spending this part of your summer day with us. If you’ve tried to get through and you couldn’t, sorry we’ve been very, very busy for a summer weekend. But our lines are open 24/7. If you call and leave a message, we will call you back to answer your question the next time we are in the studio.

    Until then, enjoy the rest of this beautiful weekend. 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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