How to Spring Clean Your Yard #0410172
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How to Spring Clean Your Yard #0410172

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    How to Spring Clean Your Yard #0410172

    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: Happy Spring. This is a busy week for home improvers. Well, for everybody, it’s like tax week, right? So you have to have gotten your taxes in by about now, we hope. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be getting a tax refund. We can help you spend that money on your house. We’re really good at that, especially Leslie. She’s probably better at it than I am but you know what?

    LESLIE: I love spending money, especially other people’s money.

    TOM: If you want to get a home improvement done, if you want to get a décor project done, whatever you want to do to improve your money pit, we are here to help you take that first step. It’s real simple: call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, post your question to the Money Pit Community and we will get to work.

    Coming up on today’s program, it’s the season for weed-whacking, lawn-mowing and loud gas-powered blowers, right? Well, maybe not. We’re going to have some tips on how you can get the most out of your leaf blower from the folks that make blowers with none of that racket, because they’re battery-powered. And that’s Greenworks, coming up.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’re going to talk to the head of training for the DIYZ app. Now, these guys take dozens of video chats every week from folks just like you, that need help with home improvement projects and then reach out to their pro advisors for guidance. We’re going to find out what projects most of you seem to be tackling and how they can help you through it.

    TOM: And if you love the look of real hardwood but you don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood might be a perfect solution. We’ll explain how that material works, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’ve got a $50 Amazon gift card to give away, this hour, to one very lucky caller courtesy of Speed Queen Washers and Dryers.

    TOM: Yeah. You can use it to stock up on your laundry supplies or just about anything else. So give us a call right now. We are here to help you get started with your next project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alice in Arizona is on the line with a leaky roof. How can we help you today?

    ALICE: I need to know what kind of product to put on my roof if I have a do-it-yourself prepare.

    TOM: OK. Is it a flat roof, a pitched roof, low-slope? What do you got?

    ALICE: Well, I have a little bit of both.

    TOM: OK.

    ALICE: In my – the front and the back are flat but the living-room area is kind of at an angle. It’s an old house. It’s a very old house, in the 60s.

    TOM: OK.

    ALICE: Previous ownership sprayed a foam on the entire thing as insulation and a sealer, I guess.

    TOM: And then they roofed over that?

    ALICE: They just paint rubber stuff on it or a silicone or something on top of it.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    ALICE: And what’s happening now is that’s starting to break apart.

    TOM: Right.

    ALICE: So I went to the hardware store and they said if somebody applied a product that was petroleum, that may be my problem, so …

    TOM: OK. So, here’s the thing: the type of roof that you install depends on the pitch. If it’s a flat roof, that’s one type of roof. It’s a pitched roof, it’s a different type of roof. It sounds to me like you really kind of need to start from scratch here because, unfortunately, once you have a flat roof that starts to break down like that, you can keep throwing sealers at it and you may stop the leak now and again but you’re going to have to do it over and over and over again. It’s just not going to be a permanent fix.

    The best way to fix this would be to pull up what’s there and then you’re going to put down not a spray foam but you put, actually, down a stiff insulation board. They have different types of material: blue Styrofoam board that DOW makes; it comes in different thicknesses. That goes down first. Then the roof actually gets kind of assembled.

    And assemble is a good term for a flat roof. It’s not a spray thing. It actually kind of is assembled between putting different layers of roofing material. Or if it’s a rubber roof, it’s a different way to do it or if it’s a ballasted roof, it’s another way to do it. But it’s assembled on top of that foam. So you have the insulation, you have the waterproof membrane.

    Then for the pitched roofs, usually the trouble spot, Alice, is where they come together with the flat section. That flashing point is what’s most critical. You know, a lot of folks call us and they want the solution to a leaky roof. It’s rarely, in a situation like this, something that you can just spray on or brush on or trowel on. It’s really a matter of either replacing the entire roof or remaking the joints that pull it together, because that’s where they often also break down.

    So, sorry I can’t really make this much easier for you but that’s kind of what you’re up against, OK?

    ALICE: OK. Well, it’s been a – for sure, I’ve had a couple of estimates and I didn’t like the numbers. That’s why I thought, “Well, maybe there is a fix-it.” But nope, it doesn’t sound like it.

    TOM: Well, I tell you what I would do. I would go to HomeAdvisor.com. That’s a great website for finding pros because you can read reviews. And maybe find one or two guys there. It’s free. And this way, you can get a couple of other opinions.

    And then make sure you’re comparing apples to apples because sometimes, every contractor has their own solution and I get that. But you want to make sure that you start to see some consistency across these bids. And when you do, you’ll know you’re probably talking to people that are following sort of the most accepted typical procedures for your area. Alright, Alice?

    ALICE: OK. Well, thank you for your time. I so appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Richard in North Dakota is on the line with a septic situation. Sounds gross. Tell us what’s going on. Not going to lie.

    TOM: Hey, Richard.

    RICHARD: Right around this time of year, probably through the end of May, the water table gets so high that the septic just constantly fills and my leach shield doesn’t drain.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    RICHARD: And I don’t know what a good way to – I was thinking to put a back-water valve in but I wouldn’t know where to position it properly to where it would actually function.

    TOM: What do most folks do in that area? Because you can’t be the only guy with that problem. It sounds very unique to that space.

    RICHARD: Talked to another neighbor and we’re the only two in the area that this seems to happen. We’re both located about a ¼ mile west of a refinery. And all of the land around us is just farmland. So, every year we just kind of deal with it.

    TOM: So when the water table is low, the septic field functions fine. But when it comes up, that’s when the trouble starts.

    RICHARD: Yes.

    TOM: It doesn’t even sound like it was properly designed, because this is not a new condition. You know, this would probably have always been that way.

    Is there another option on your property for the field that’s at a higher elevation?

    RICHARD: No. And it’s a multi-level house, so there’s a bathroom basement – or yeah, down in the basement there’s a bathroom. So every year what I do is I go stick a plug – there’s a floor drain in there and then I stick a plug into the shower. And then the toilet – they plug that up, as well, with a balloon. So then you just don’t use the downstairs. It’s inoperable. It will flood out if you take any of those out.

    TOM: Well, in most cases, where you have a high water table that is impacting the septic system’s ability to drain as designed, you typically would install what’s called a “mound system.”

    So a mound system is just that: basically, what it means is that the earth is mounded up. And it’s done strategically; there’s some engineering to this in terms of what the actual layers are that go into the mound itself. But the mounded system basically puts the leach field above the grade or higher up on the grade. But I mean it kind of looks like rolling fields when it’s done but it brings it up higher.

    Unfortunately, it’s a pretty expensive system. But in your case, it sounds to me like you don’t have a lot of options here. You can’t continue to use the home as you are now and plug in your basement so the whole bottom of the house doesn’t fill with septic. I think a mounded system or another type of engineered system will be your only option.

    RICHARD: OK. I was thinking of something like that but instead of just a mound, I was going to do a 4-foot retaining wall. Basically, a swimming pool with dirt.

    TOM: There are systems that are like that and there are new systems coming on the market all the time that use sort of an open or an aerobic treatment system that sits open. Those are used on waterfront areas and environmental-sensitive areas, as well. But 9 out of 10 times, when you have a high water table, you’re going to see a mounded system as the solution.

    RICHARD: Alright. Well, thank you for confirming my worst fear.

    TOM: Well, yeah. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that is the way to fix this once and for all. And look, you’ve got to do it because it’s going to help improve your home’s value. You’re going to be kind of stuck with that place if you’ve got a system that only works half of the year.

    RICHARD: Yeah. And then they really said the reason it was so cheap was because the refinery.

    TOM: Yeah. Alright. Good luck.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if your spring cleaning includes a cleanup of your yard, a blower can be a very handy tool to have around. We’ll have tips to make it even more effective, presented by Greenworks Tools, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, we’d love to talk with you about your next home improvement project, whether it’s one you’re going to do yourself or one that you’re going to hire a pro for. And if you give us a call, we will drop your name into the Money Pit hard hat because we’re giving away, this hour, the Amazon gift card worth 50 bucks, sponsored by Speed Queen.

    Speed Queen Washers and Dryers are built to last 25 years. They include the industry’s best warranty and they have over 100 years of commercial reliability behind them. Available at 2,800 dealers nationwide. You can visit SpeedQueen.com to learn more.

    So, that gift card is worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joe in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JOE: I’ve got a question for some bamboo laminate or snap-together flooring.

    TOM: OK.

    JOE: And somebody told me I needed to have a special underlayment that goes with the bamboo, compared to just the regular underlayment that you can use on the other free-floating floor.

    TOM: Well, first of all, let’s just clarify. You mentioned two materials. You mentioned bamboo and you mentioned laminate. Now, laminate is not bamboo. You could have a bamboo pattern on laminate but are you talking about real bamboo here or are you talking about a laminate floor?

    JOE: I think it’s a laminate, because it snaps together. It’s about a little bit over a ¼-inch thick by 5¼-inch wide.

    TOM: OK. So, laminate flooring, depending on the manufacturer, often has a type of underlayment that they recommend. And it’s usually a very thin, I’d say, maybe about a 1/8- or 3/16-inch thick, spongy kind of material. I have seen it as sort of a roll of what looks like sort of white foam, like the kind of material that you might pack dishes in if you’re moving, where you wrap it around and around. I’ve also seen it where it’s attached to the back of the board.

    So, typically, there is some type of soft underlayment material that goes down and it just gives the floor a little bit of give as you’re walking across it. So that’s kind of what you’re looking for. I would go back to the manufacturer that made the product, find out exactly what underlayment they recommend and then just use that.

    JOE: That sounds good. We’ll have to look at the box and see what – who the manufacturer is.

    TOM: There you go.

    JOE: Somebody gave me a 130 square foot of this laminate flooring, so …

    TOM: Oh, fantastic.

    JOE: Yeah, yeah. It looked right. It’d just be the right fit for our kitchen, also.

    TOM: All you’ve got to do is pick up the underlayment and you’re good to go. That’s a fun do-it-yourself project. Listen, Joe, just remember this, when you get close to the edge of the room, don’t go right up against it. Make sure you leave about a ¼-inch, at least, between the laminate and the baseboard molding. And then you cover that gap with shoe molding.

    A lot of times folks go too close and then as the floor starts to expand, it sort of buckles up and there’s not much you can do about it. So leave a little bit of gap. It’s called a “floating floor” for a reason, OK?

    JOE: Thank you much. I appreciate you folks.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much. We appreciate you, as well, Joe. Good luck with that project.

    Well, if your spring cleaning includes a cleanup of your yard, a blower can be a very handy tool to have around. Now, the secret to using a blower is to not scatter debris around, because you don’t want to make more of a mess than what you started with, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. So you always want to blow around the outer edges of a debris pile and never into the middle, which really is just going to make more work for you. You want to work in one direction only. Now, that’s going to help prevent you from blowing leaves and debris into an area that you’ve already worked through.

    TOM: Now, here’s a few tips. If you want to make this project easier, you can first use a rake or broom to kind of loosen debris. And if the conditions are dusty, just grab a hose. You want to slightly dampen the surfaces before you get to work.

    Now, if you want to improve the efficiency of your leaf blower and minimize dust, start with that nozzle very close to the ground and then raise it to a height where it doesn’t generate dust. Make sure you’re wearing eye protection, because you’re going to be blowing around small sticks and leaves and other debris. And that can easily jump up and get into your eyes.

    LESLIE: And today’s tip was presented by Greenworks Tools, makers of the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Leaf Blower, delivering powerful performance with no gas and no cords to pull. The high-quality lithium battery and high-efficiency brushless motor deliver up to 140 miles-per-hour wind speed and up to 45 minutes runtime. And a no-gas engine means ultra-quiet operation, so you can clear your yard, patio and driveway without bothering your neighbors.

    TOM: The Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Leaf Blower is available at Lowe’s and Lowes.com for $199 and includes a battery and a charger. Greenworks, life gets easier. Learn more at GreenworksTools.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Arkansas where Deborah is on the line thinking there might be some mold at her money pit. Tell us what you’re seeing.

    DEBORAH: The last rain that we had, water got in one of my bedrooms. And once the water got in, I noticed that there were black spots on it, which was mold that was on there. And I was just inquiring about should I get someone to come out and clean it or if I would be able to clean that myself.

    TOM: Have you fixed the leak yet, Deborah?

    DEBORAH: No. I have not fixed that.

    TOM: OK. So the first thing you need to do is fix the leak. Because if you don’t fix the leak, it’s just going to come back over and over and over again. So do that, first off.

    Secondly, with respect to the mold, I would spray a bleach-and-water solution on that: about one-third bleach, two-thirds water. Protect the surrounding area so you don’t stain the carpet or the furniture or anything like that. Let it sit for a good 15 or 20 minutes and then you can clean it up after that – rinse it off and clean off the wall after that. And I’d spray a product called Concrobium Mold Control over that, which will leave sort of a residue behind that will stop any future mold from growing.

    But there’s no sense doing all that if you still have a leak, because that leak’s going to cause the mold to keep growing. So fix the leak first, then get rid of the mold after that. OK, Deb?

    DEBORAH: OK. Alright. Thank you. Appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Jim in Washington is on the line with a water-in-the-crawlspace situation. What’s going on?

    JIM: Well, we live on the West Coast and like most of the homes out here that are less than 40 years old, we have a crawlspace instead of a basement.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And in December, we had record rain – the most ever – and we discovered, by chance, that we had about 3 or 4 inches of water in our crawlspace.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: The dirt floor is covered with plastic. It’s about 1,500 square foot of area, so that was a considerable amount of water.

    TOM: Has that drained out?

    JIM: Well, we rented a pump and I pumped for a couple of days and then I used my shop vac and took out 5 gallons of water at a time. And yes, it is all out now.

    TOM: And we don’t want it to come back, right?

    JIM: Well, not only that but I just don’t know what to do to make sure there was no further damage.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I have fantastic news for you. It’s so great that your crawlspace flooded after a heavy rainfall, because that tells me that the solution involves your gutters and your grading.

    This is not a rising water-table situation. This is a scenario where you have to reduce the amount of water that’s collecting at the foundation perimeter. And usually, that happens because the gutters become clogged and overflow and dump all their water right at the foundation perimeter. Or the downspouts are not extended far enough away and dump water right near the corner of the foundation. Or the grading around the house is too flat or in some cases, even sloped backwards into the house so that the water never has a chance to run away. So when you have a lot of rain and that results in a flood in a crawlspace or a basement, that is always, always, always the cause. So the solution is just to reverse all that.

    Now, in terms of damage, if the water was only in there for a short period of time – a week or two and you got it pumped out – I don’t think there’ll be any ongoing issues. If these spaces stay wet for a really long time, you can get increased decay or insect activity. But an occasional flood like that is not likely to have any effect on the house. More important that you make sure it doesn’t happen again by trying to address whatever drainage deficiencies you find.

    JIM: Fantastic.

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

    Up next, we’re going to talk to the head of training for the DIYZ app. Now, these guys have pro advisors. They’re trained professionals that take dozens of video chats every week from folks just like you, that need help with home improvement projects and reach out to those pro advisors for guidance. We’re going to find out what projects most of you seem to be tackling and common pitfalls to avoid, next.

    ROGER: Hi, I’m Roger Cook, landscaping contractor for This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. If you want to grow more confident in taking care of your money pit, tune in to Tom and Leslie every week for great ideas on saving money and maintaining your home.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, if you’re in the middle of a home improvement project, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just have an expert pro stop by, take a look at what you’re working on and offer a few tips to help you get the job done? Well, you can if you download the DIYZ app, which gives you access to top-rated professional advisors right through your smartphone.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Jim Anderson is one of the very talented DIYZ pro advisors and he’s joining us now to share what he gets to do every day, which is help DIYers just like you.

    Welcome, Jim.

    JIM: Thank you, Leslie.

    TOM: So, Jim, you were probably the guy that everyone liked to turn to to get some advice, maybe the handy neighbor. But now you get to do this every day for folks all across the country. Tell us about being an advisor. What’s it like for you?

    JIM: You’re right, Tom. It’s a great opportunity to talk, one on one, with a variety of homeowners from across the country as they, perhaps, are in the midst of a DIY project and they realize, “Oh, I need a little help here.” Or they may have a question even before they get started, if they’re trying to decide – “Is this something I want to take on or not?”

    LESLIE: I mean you’ve got to. You’ve been doing this for a little while. Is there a favorite call or somebody’s video that really just stood out to you?

    JIM: There have been a number of memorable calls. There was one case where a homeowner wanted to replace an old electric outlet with a more modern, decorative one. So he watched the video, which is part of the DIYZ app, but he was still a bit unsure. So he called the pro-advisor line. I asked him if he was comfortable working with electricity and he said, “Well, maybe.” Because he’s never really done it before or he didn’t know.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: But I talked him through the steps again and he said, “OK, I think I can do this but will you stay on the line?” So we did just that. He went ahead and changed out the outlet, basically, with me watching over his shoulder. He was able to ask questions as he went along. He was kind of looking for reassurance with each step and I told him, “Yes, that’s right. Keep going.” And he was successful and he was pretty pleased and proud that he was able to do it himself.

    TOM: Well, that’s fantastic. And just having that expert guidance through this process just gives DIYers that much more confidence to tackle projects that they never would’ve done on their own.

    Let’s talk a bit about the DIYZ app. It’s a pretty cool concept. You download the app and then, in the app, you have access to educational material, like videos. You can get tools-and-materials lists for projects that you want to take on. And you have that all-important button that connects you with pro advisors. What kind of background do you guys have to be able to give this kind of advice?

    JIM: Well, we are all licensed contractors and been in the – doing this professionally in our own business for a number of years. And so we’ve got experience working with homeowners and working on home improvement projects ourselves.

    LESLIE: Really, why do you feel that this is such a useful service? DIYZ really does offer such an amazing service for the people that do reach out. So why do you think this is so great and such a useful resource?

    JIM: You’re right. And DIYZ is unique, in the world of how-tos for homeowners, in that it’s not just a video that you find on the internet where you’re not maybe entirely sure of the qualifications of the presenter. Plus, the specifics of the video might not match your own situation.

    LESLIE: It might not match exactly the project you’re working on and that tends to trip people up sometimes.

    JIM: Absolutely. If it doesn’t follow exactly along and you run into a little bit of a variation, it’s like, “Wait, now what?” But with DIYZ, in addition to the high-quality videos done by professionals, the homeowners can also talk, in real time, with pro advisors about their specific questions. They can show us the project from their phone or their tablet. They can send us a picture and we can annotate it or mark it up and send it back to them. And nowhere else can the homeowner get that kind of live, real-time, one-on-one attention and pro advice.

    TOM: That’s fantastic. Now, this service is still pretty new. It’s been incredibly well received. And right now, there’s no charge for it, as well. You’d expect to have to pay for service like this. But right now, it’s free.

    So I would thoroughly encourage our audience to download the DIYZ app. That’s spelled D-I-Y-Z. You can download the DIYZ app in the Apple App Store and also at Google Play for Android devices. And take a look at DIYZ.com. That’s D-I-Y-Z.com. You will really enjoy the amazing videos and tips and advice that they have on their site.

    And remember, if you’ve got a question about a home improvement project, a craft project, maybe it’s a project you haven’t started and you want to do some planning, connect with a pro advisor. You’ll get a guy just like Jim that can walk you through the steps, answer your questions and get you on track in a really quick and efficient way.

    Jim Anderson, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. DIYZ pro advisor.

    JIM: And thank you, Tom and Leslie, for the opportunity.

    LESLIE: Alright. If you love the look of real hardwood but don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood might be the perfect solution. We’re going to share details just ahead in today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away an Amazon gift card by our friends over at Speed Queen.

    Now, Speed Queen, they really make amazing washers and dryers that are built to last 25 years. And they include the industry’s best warranty. They’ve got over 100 years of commercial reliability, so why not welcome Speed Queen into your home for a washer and dryer that will last and last?

    Check them out at SpeedQueen.com. But give us a call today for your chance to win an Amazon gift card worth 50 bucks.

    LESLIE: Getty, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    GETTY: Oh, hi. My uncle is struggling with a mouse problem.

    TOM: OK.

    GETTY: And he wants to get rid of them the old-fashioned way but his wife doesn’t want them to be harmed or killed or anything.

    LESLIE: That’s a tough one.

    GETTY: Yeah. So they’re trying to figure out a way of, I don’t know, catch them or keeping them out of the house, stuff like that.

    TOM: So, what I would suggest is that, first of all, you try to mouse-proof your house as much as possible. So, by doing that, you need to seal all the gaps that may surround the exterior, most commonly around where pipes and things come through the walls.

    Secondly, you want to avoid anything that creates a nesting site or areas where the mice can sort of dig into. For example, a common one might be firewood piled close to the house and that sort of thing, high grass. So you want to try to make that as un-mouse-friendly as possible.

    Next, you want to look at moisture sources and food sources that are inside the house. So, for example, I’ve seen folks develop mouse problems because they have pet food – in the big, heavy pet-food bags – perhaps sitting on the garage floor where the mice decide they’re going to cut their own door into the side of that bag and help themselves. So, you want to make sure that any type of food source is off the ground, up on shelves and in rodent-proof containers, metal containers.

    GETTY: OK.

    TOM: You could also put in – now, see, she doesn’t want to kill them. So pretty much any other way to get rid of these things is going to remove – is going to kill them. I mean you could use bait stations where they’ll – does she just not want to kill them or she doesn’t want them to die in the house? Because it’s a fine point, you know? If you use a bait station, they usually take the bait and go outside while that stuff goes to work.

    GETTY: Right.

    TOM: I can understand her perhaps not wanting to use mousetraps, because that can get kind of messy and gross. But I would suggest you try to make your home as rodent-resistant as possible. We’ve got a great article on how to do that. It’s called “Beating the Rat Race.” It’s on MoneyPit.com. But I do think that if you really want a permanent solution, you’re going to end up having to use some rodenticides, as well.

    GETTY: OK. I think that’d be a fair idea. She’s wanting to catch them all and take them down the road somewhere.

    LESLIE: Oh, geez.

    TOM: You’re not going to catch them. They’re pretty fast.

    GETTY: Yeah.

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

    GETTY: Thank you.

    TOM: Well, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly floor option but you don’t have the budget for a solid-hardwood floor, you ought to be thinking about engineered hardwood. It’s a great option, because engineered hardwood flooring is made with real hardwood but it’s just the top layer. That’s then attached to kind of a structured-wood core. And once it’s installed, engineered hardwood looks just like the solid hardwood. But because there’s less hardwood needed, guess what? These floors cost a lot less.

    LESLIE: Now, another big benefit for engineered hardwood is that the core structure makes the floor dimensionally stable, giving you a lot more options when it comes to the installation. It’s also a lot less likely to be impacted by humidity and temperature change. So you can use it in a wide variety of climates, including areas below grade: those spaces where dampness can really ruin a solid-hardwood floor.

    TOM: Now, there’s also a lot of options when it comes to installation. Engineered hardwood is available as tongue-and-groove flooring and that can be nailed down. You can even edge-glue it together to form sort of a floating floor. Or if you want an even easier installation, it also comes as a quick-click floor.

    Now, that’s the really the easiest kind because the boards kind of just lock together, so there’s no adhesives, there’s no clamping required. And that’s really great if you’re kind of doing this as a do-it-yourself project.

    LESLIE: Now, before installing the engineered flooring, it really is a good idea to let that floor acclimate to the room that you’re installing it in. So pick up the flooring a few days in advance and then leave it in the house so it can get used to the temperature of that space.

    Now, if you’re going to be doing the installing yourself, you want to just be sure to follow the instructions that that manufacturer is providing. The whole process really is pretty easy. You’re going to be so proud of yourself. You’re going to be amazed at the results. So, fear not, read the directions and then forage forward, guys.

    TOM: And today’s Flooring Tip was presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you can get the best selection of prefinished engineered floors for less. You can choose from a wide variety of styles, from light to dark hardwoods, smooth to distressed in domestic species like oak and hickory and exotic species like Brazilian cherry and Brazilian pecan. Available at Lumber Liquidator stores nationwide and online at LumberLiquidators.com.

    LESLIE: Heading to Minnesota where Beth is doing some work in the bathroom. And you want some toilet help. What’s going on?

    BETH: Toilet kept running. The water kept running into it, so I decided to install a new fill valve and flapper. And I measured everything and I followed the instructions and I did solve the original problem. But now I developed a new one. When I flush it, the water goes into the bowl OK, except now anything in the bowl goes to the top of the bowl, almost to the rim. And then when the tank itself is filled, then the bowl goes down slowly and it flushes but then it only leaves a little water in the bowl.

    So I called the manufacturer and talked to them. He said, “Well, try plunging it because it might be a clog.” So I did that. I tried hot water and bleach to see if I could get that if it is a clog. And nothing has worked. And I don’t know what to do. I give up.

    LESLIE: I mean that’s what happens, typically, in a clog is it’ll fill to the top and then the tank will fill and then it’ll – the suction force will just bring everything down.

    TOM: Yeah. And the one’s with the trickiest to diagnose is when you have a partial clog where you have some water that’s getting past but not a lot. So I wonder if something is lodged in either the trap of the toilet or the line beyond that. And really, the next step is to have a plumber come out and do a drain-cleaning on that.

    I’ll tell you a funny story about how this happened when my kids were younger. We had a toilet that was clogged in a downstairs bathroom and I – outside this bathroom, we had a willow tree. And I knew that the willow-tree roots used to get into the plumbing line, so I immediately assumed that was what it was. And I went outside and dug up my yard and found the pipe cleanout, which was a couple of feet below the surface. And I snaked one way and snaked the other way and I couldn’t find any clog.

    So, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s between the pipe break and the toilet.” So I decided to pull the toilet off. And don’t you know that when I did that, I turned it over and noticed something blue in the bottom of the toilet. And of course, you’re not supposed to have anything blue in a ceramic toilet. It turned out to be a little toy telephone that one of my kids had dropped down there that was letting just enough water through to trick us.

    And so you never know what’s going to be in there. And if you have a partial obstruction like that, that could explain for what’s happening.

    BETH: OK. Well, the only thing I can do then is to get a plumber?

    TOM: Yep. You don’t want a carpenter, that’s for sure.

    Beth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you unpacking your outdoor furniture? It’s such a fun way to mark the start of the spring season. You know what’s not so fun? The dirt and grime that it brings with it. We’re going to share tips to clean off those chairs and tables, without making a bigger mess, when The Money Pit continues.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, The Money Pit has got five – count them – five new podcasts on MoneyPit.com. Check it out. You can subscribe to not only our weekly show, you can also subscribe to a new podcast called “Your Calls, Our Answers.” We get so many questions from folks every week on this show, we decided, “Heck, why not make a podcast out of just those?” You can listen to questions, you can search for the answers. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, guys. Post your question, just like Darcy did. And she writes: “What direction should the blades on a fan turn during the warm months and the cold months? I was always told that the blades should push the air down during the warm months and pull the air up during the colder months.”

    TOM: You know, that’s a great question, Darcy, and it’s one that a lot of people don’t get. But you are correct. Most people don’t know that you can use a ceiling fan, first of all, in both directions in the winter and the summer. There is a small switch right above the blades, on the side of the motor. And that is, in fact, the reversing switch. So during the winter, you want to sit your ceiling fan to turn clockwise. That’s designed to move that rising, warm air down into your room. But when the weather heats up, then set the fan to turn counterclockwise and that will deliver a very cooling breeze.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s always confusing but it really is smart. And it does make a huge amount of difference. So once you’ve got the directional right, you’re really good to go.

    Now, Jeannie in Connecticut writes: “My sunroom is only 100 square feet but needs a new floor. What do you think I should use: hardwood or laminate? I thought with a small area I would go for wood but it does get a lot direct sunlight.”

    TOM: Leslie, I think the finishes on hardwood – especially the prefinished hardwood, either hardwood or engineered hardwood – are so good today that the concerns over fading are really not significant.

    So I would tell you, Jeannie, go ahead and do whatever you want to do, girl. If you want hardwood, I would go for it.

    If it’s an area – you say the sunroom. If it’s an area that maybe gets any moisture kind of coming in and out, then I would use engineered because it’s a little more dimensionally stable.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Either way, whatever flooring you choose, you’re really going to find a lot of beautiful options that will help to complete the look of your room. So, hopefully you find something nice that’s durable and you’ll love it.

    TOM: Well, uncovering your outdoor furniture is a fun way to mark the start of warmer weather. But if that furniture usually brings some gross stuff with it, Leslie has got some tips on getting those tables and chairs back in shape, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Even if it’s been in your shed or basement all winter, your outdoor furniture could probably use a good cleaning right about now. So, for your plastic furnishings, you want to mix a little dish soap, some Borax and ½-cup of peroxide into 1 gallon of water. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a nylon brush to scrub it onto those plastic pieces. Rinse it well and then you’re finished.

    Now, for metal, you want to use soapy water and our favorite cleaning agent: good old-fashioned elbow grease. That’s right. You’ve just really got to work it.

    Now, if rust is on there, you want to remove it with some sandpaper. And then you can go ahead and repaint the entire piece with a rust-prohibiting paint or even a metal varnish. But you want to look for something that is specifically made for metal furnishings.

    Now, for wood furniture, you need to oil those surfaces with a sealant or a preservative that’s appropriate to that material. You can clean the furniture a couple of times a month with an oil soap, too.

    Now, you want to let the furniture dry completely before you put all those cute, little cushions on them. And speaking of cushions, they probably need a pick-me-up, too, right about now. So mix one teaspoon each of dishwashing detergent and Borax and a quart of warm water. Use a spray bottle. Douse those cushions generously, let it sit there for about 15 minutes, then hit those cushions with a hose to really rinse them. And then stand the cushions on their side to help drain out that water and let them dry really, really well.

    TOM: Good tips, so let’s get to work. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’ve ever had a roof leak, the first question is always: where? Coming up next week, Tom Silva from This Old House is going to join us with tips to find and fix those sneaky leaks before they cause big damage to your house.

    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.

    (theme song)

    (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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