Water Saving Solutions in Time for Summer

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  • 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 this beautiful spring weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because that’s what we happen to do, as well. We’re here to help you with your fix-up questions, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. If you’ve got a project that you’d like to get done, we’d love to talk with you about it. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s show, as we’re moving towards summer, saving water is going to become more and more important. But rather than rely on your kids and family to use less water, there are actually new fixtures that can do the water-saving for you. It’s a very simple plumbing project. We’ll tell you how to find faucets, toilets, showers and sprinklers than can do that job without wasting water.

    LESLIE: Plus, the one thing that can ruin a beautiful spring morning is the howl of gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and string trimmers. And pretty much, it’s usually way earlier than you want to wake up on that spring/summer day. Well, we’re going to share an update on battery technology that can make all that gas-powered gear obsolete.

    TOM: And as you enjoy the great outdoors more and more, keep in mind that there are pests out there and they’re enjoying it, too. And some of them can make you really sick, so we’re going to tell you how you can protect yourself from ticks that carry a new virus. And it’s even deadlier than Lyme disease.

    LESLIE: Every summer, there’s something worse but here’s some good news. What if we told you there was one simple improvement that costs less than $300 and would cut your electricity bill, make your house safer and more sustainable all at the same time? Would you be all in?

    TOM: We bet you would and that improvement is the Sense Home Energy Monitor. It tells you where the electricity that you get billed for every month is going. And it’s literally the single best way to reduce your electric bill.

    I kid you not. I have one in my home. I love it. Check out the video at GetSense.com. But we’re also giving one away, this hour, to one caller drawn at random. If you want it to be you, you’ve got to have a home improvement question. It’s worth 299 bucks so call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dennis in Michigan is on the line with a roofing issue or something along those lines. What’s going on?

    DENNIS: Well, a while ago I dropped a container of roofing cement off a shelf in my garage.

    TOM: Ugh. Yuck.

    LESLIE: Oh. OK.

    DENNIS: It was a powder form and apparently, it got a little wet at one point.

    TOM: OK.

    DENNIS: And it then dried onto the floor. Now, the floor is a concrete/cement floor, which I had stained years ago. I put a cement stain on it to protect it. So, I’m wondering, what is going to be the best way to get that off? Am I going to have to use some muriatic acid to loosen it up and then scrape it off or …?

    TOM: So I guess it’s all dried and crusty now?

    DENNIS: Yeah, it’s kind of dry and crusty, powdery-like, you know.

    TOM: Yeah, I mean the first thing you should do is start to try to physically scrape off as much as you can. I don’t think you’re going to be able to save that stained finish underneath. You’re going to end up having to stain it when you’re all done. But you need to physically get off as much as you can. The fact that it’s so …

    DENNIS: With a putty knife or …?

    TOM: Right, exactly. Yep. The fact that it’s so old is going to make it very, very difficult. You may be able to use a solvent after you get as much of it physically off as you can, like mineral spirits, for example.


    TOM: And you could also work it in with a wire brush so that you’re really getting into the concrete. And see if that starts to break it down.

    DENNIS: Mineral spirits. Or would something like an acetone work?

    TOM: Acetone would work, as well. I know that the roofers of the world would tell you to put gasoline on it. It probably would work but it’s dangerous and we don’t want you to do that. But I think mineral spirits and acetone is flammable enough as it is.


    TOM: If you apply it and brush it in carefully with a wire brush so it gets into that material that’s into the pores of the concrete, then you may have a shot at getting it up. Now …

    DENNIS: And then just re-cement stain those areas?

    TOM: Well, see – and that’s the other thing. Once that’s all in there and it’s filled up all the pores of the concrete surface, even if you cement-stain over it, you may find that it’s still a different color. You may actually have to do an epoxy finish on that floor, when you’re all done, so that it covers.

    DENNIS: OK. Yeah.

    TOM: You can try the stain, especially if you’ve got a little bit left. But yeah, I’m not confident it’s going to look great.

    LESLIE: Joyce in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JOYCE: Have an in-law apartment and someone who was living there for a while was smoking. And we wanted to do whatever we could to get the smell of the smoke out of the apartment.

    TOM: Do you have wall-to-wall carpet in there?

    JOYCE: There is.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be a bit of a problem because I’m sure the odor is into that carpet.

    So, a couple things you could do. First of all, if you’re going to paint the apartment, you’re going to want to prime all the walls first. Well, first of all, wash them down, then prime them with a good-quality primer, then paint them. That will help seal in what’s gotten into the walls.

    As far as the carpet, a good, thorough, deep steam-cleaning of that. You may have to go over it a number of times to try to get as much dirt and debris and odor out of that carpet as possible. The best thing – if we have situations where this is a real problem, the carpet’s kind of worn, we’ll tell people to take it up and prime the subfloor underneath, believe it or not, to make sure we really seal out any of those odors that have soaked into the wood. But if you prime and paint the walls and if you steam-clean the carpet, that’s probably the best you can do.

    What about furniture? Is this place furnished? Do you still have the old furniture in there that the smoker lived with?

    JOYCE: The only furniture that’s really in there is a leather living-room set.

    TOM: Leslie, what do you think about that? Will the smoke odor get into the – go through the leather and get into the cushions?

    LESLIE: Leather is such a natural surface that it is porous in its own right and it depends on what the cushioning is on the inside. You really have to be careful and of course, you can’t really thoroughly clean leather because of its inherent natural qualities. You don’t want it to stain. You might want to see what those cushions are like on the inside. Take out the inserts. If you can replace those, that could be a huge help.

    JOYCE: OK, great. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, as we move towards summer, saving water becomes more and more important. But rather than rely on your kids and family to use less later, new fixtures can actually do that water savings for you.

    TOM: It’s a simple plumbing project. We’ll tell you how to find faucets and toilets and showers and sprinklers that can do the job without wasting water, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by for your calls, your questions to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And we’re getting ready to head to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas next week. It’s an industry-only event where we get to be your eyes and your ears, giving you the scoop on the show’s hottest, new products.

    TOM: That’s right. We love that show because we see all the new, very cool things. And I’ve got one very cool thing to give away this hour: it’s the Sense Home Energy Monitor. It’s worth 299 bucks.

    Hey, have you ever opened up an electric bill and been like, “Oh, my God. How can I possibly have used that much electricity? Where is it all going?” Well, that’s what this product does. It is the single best way we’ve found to help you save energy and know what’s going on in your house. You can check out the video demo at GetSense.com. That’s GetSense.com.

    But once it’s installed, it basically tells you what’s on, what’s off and how much energy you’re using in real time. And it can help you avoid problems by identifying sort of the unusual activity in your home before it becomes an issue, like if your sump pump’s running and you’re on vacation and maybe it hasn’t rained, your water heater may have broken. It can do all that.

    It’s available at GetSense.com for 299 bucks. Check out the video there. But we’ve also got one going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question, your décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jason in Arkansas is on the line and has a question about lightning control. What’s going on?

    JASON: Due to a hailstorm a couple years ago, I replaced my roof with a metal roof. And in a recent storm, lightning destroyed my heat-and-air unit.

    TOM: OK.

    JASON: And the technician was out here and there’s actually an old grounding rod on the southwest corner of my house that I didn’t even know existed. But it is no longer connected to anything, so I need to know what I can do to prevent further loss of air-conditioning units and whatever other appliances are at my house here.

    TOM: First of all, do you have homeowners insurance?

    JASON: Oh, sure. Yeah, the insurance paid for the heat-and-air unit.

    TOM: OK, good. Yeah, I wanted to make sure you knew that, that lightning’s covered.

    JASON: It was covered.

    TOM: OK, perfect.

    JASON: But I need is this – there’s this ground rod in the ground and it has a wire connected to it that’s buried but it is no longer connected to anything. I didn’t even know it existed here.

    TOM: OK. So I’m not sure if that wire – what that wire was connected to. There could have been a lightning rod on the old roof and when it was taken off and replaced with a metal roof, they just never replaced it.

    But typically, if you had a lightning rod on your roof, there would be a heavy copper cable that went down the exterior wall of your house and that would be connected to a ground rod – which is a long, metal stake maybe 4, 5 or 6 feet long – that goes deep into the earth. And the idea is that if lightning strikes, it strikes the lightning rod, the electricity is carried through that cable down to the ground.

    Now, the position of that cable is important. If you know that there’s plumbing in the exterior wall, you don’t want to run the cable along where the plumbing is. Because what will happen is the electricity will jump across the cable to the plumbing pipes and electrocute anybody that’s in contact with them. So it has to be done correctly. But I suspect that you’re talking about parts of an old lighting-rod system that was in place and is no longer active.

    JASON: That’s what it would appear. So I need to purchase some – is this something that’s available at Lowe’s or somewhere, these lighting rods that I can put on the …?

    TOM: I don’t know if you’re going to find that at a big-box retailer. I’ve never seen it but then again, I don’t shop – I don’t live in an area where lightning is prevalent. Perhaps in your area, you do. But I would start online and if they’re going to have it in the big-box stores, you’ll find it on their websites. And you ought to be able to get some more advice on how best to install it that way.

    JASON: And you think a dummy like me can install this? I don’t need an electrician?

    TOM: Well, it’s not really an electrical project; it’s really – it’s more of a structural assembly. But you need to know a little bit about electricity in the sense that you’re making electrically-tight connections. And you’ve got to use all the right materials and parts. And like I said, you’ve got to know how to run it so that you don’t hit anything, the electricity doesn’t jump across and connect with the pipes. And of course – and when you drive that stake in the ground, you want to make sure there’s nothing underneath you’re going to hit. So there’s a bit to know but it’s not a terribly difficult job to do.

    JASON: Alright. Well, I appreciate it very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, now that summer is getting closer, saving water becomes more and more important. But rather than rely on your kids and family to use less water, updating your plumbing fixtures can do the water savings for you. It’s actually a very simple pro plumbing project.

    TOM: We’ve got tips on how to find faucets, toilets, showers and sprinklers that can do that job without wasting water, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    Alright. First, let’s talk toilets. They can last for decades and that really makes them one of the most durable plumbing fixtures in the house. But while they don’t really wear out, those old toilets can waste plenty of water with every flush. So, instead, what you want to do is switch to a WaterSense-certified toilet.

    LESLIE: Now, WaterSense is a program that’s run by the EPA. And just like the ENERGY STAR program helps consumers find products that save energy, WaterSense is designed to help consumers identify products that will save water.

    Now, to qualify, a product must be certified to use at least 20-percent less water, save energy and perform just as well or better than the regular models.

    TOM: Now, besides toilets, if you were to also replace your bathroom faucet and the showerhead, the EPA reports you can save 26,000 gallons of water a year, create 380 fewer pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce your utility bills by 250 bucks. That’s a huge savings and that’s just the first year.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of utility bills, if you use less water, you’ll also use less natural gas or electricity to heat that water, so it all adds up.

    Plus, besides bathrooms or kitchens, WaterSense fixtures are also available for outdoor use, where lawn sprinklers, rain controllers and other irrigation products can be updated to help you avoid wasting water while still enjoying that beautiful landscape.

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

    LESLIE: Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.

    And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.

    So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again, I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that you can fill in with (inaudible).

    LESLIE: Like a Bondo.

    BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.

    And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.

    BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?

    BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.

    LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.

    Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.

    So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.

    Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.

    Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?

    BETH: Yes, ma’am.

    LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.

    And then there is an actual decorative wrap, that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have, that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.

    So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.

    BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips, alright?

    TOM: Beth, it sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you on that job. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, the one thing that can ruin a beautiful spring morning is the howling of gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and string trimmers. We’re going to share an update on battery technology that can make all that gas-powered gear obsolete, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, we love the sounds of warm weather, like birds chirping and kids playing in the yard and all that wonderful, peaceful feeling. Well, it’s not very peaceful once it gets interrupted by loud, gas-powered mowers, leaf blowers and other yard equipment. And it usually happens early on a weekend morning?

    TOM: Well, thanks to innovative battery technology, that’s all changing because now you can pretty much do anything that needs to be done with battery-powered equipment that needs no gas, no oil and no hearing protection for you or your neighbors when it’s operated. Greenworks Tools is a leader in battery-powered lawn tools. And with us to talk about that is Don Koon from Greenworks.

    Hey, Don.

    DON: Hello. Thank you for the opportunity.

    TOM: I think when you think of battery-powered tools, that some folks still have a hard time believing that they can do the same job as those loud, annoying and smelly gas guzzlers that we’re so used to hearing and dealing with on the weekends. But it’s really amazing what you’ve been able to do with the battery technology and the brushless technology in your lawn-and-garden equipment. There’s almost no reason to have gas-powered tools anymore.

    DON: You are absolutely right. Since lithium has come on the scene, things have changed altogether. In fact, if you remember the first battery-powered tools that you got probably 20 years ago, they were – those were NiCad batteries. And the characteristic of NiCad was that as you’d use the tool, the battery would begin to go down. So did the power curve. And by the time the battery was dead, the tool would hardly work at all.

    With lithium, that has changed everything. So, consider yourself, as you drive down the road in your car at 65 miles an hour, when you run out of gas the car just simply shuts off. And that’s exactly the same characteristic as lithium-powered batteries. It runs at full speed and when the battery is out, it stops working and it’s time to put another battery in. So it has been the revolution of the industry.

    TOM: I remember my first battery-powered tool was a little, tiny screwdriver. And I just used it to take the screws out of electrical panels in the years I spent as a home inspector. But that was about all it could handle, you know.

    DON: Yeah.

    TOM: Today, you can use a battery to power a lawn mower, a leaf blower, the string trimmer or even an 18-inch chainsaw.

    DON: That’s absolutely true. And the interesting thing and the exciting thing about that is the same battery will run all of those tools. So imagine, as you’re doing your lawn and you do your mowing first, when you’re done you simply take the battery out of the mower, you put it in the string trimmer, you do your string-trimming. When you get done, you take it out of the blower, put it in the blower. And then when you get done, you rack the battery and recharge it for the next use and you’re done.

    TOM: We’re talking to Don Koon from Greenworks Tools about the technology that we’re seeing across the lawn-and-garden tool industry.

    Now, one class of tools that is not battery-powered just yet, but it’s coming, are pressure washers. And I guess the reason for that is because they just take so much power to do the job. But you guys have some pretty amazing electric pressure washers. We’ve been talking about the 1,800-PSI one and the 2,300-PSI one. But let’s kind of describe, from a consumer’s perspective, if they’re looking at purchasing a pressure washer, how do you decide what the right size and features are for you?

    DON: So, generally speaking, electric pressure washers do not have the power that a gas-powered one would have. So, it’s perfect for the consumer because you can do your cleaning work and not necessarily get in trouble with it. So it’s powerful enough to do the job but not powerful enough to where you can potentially hurt yourself or potentially do damage to whatever you’re cleaning.

    I remember one of the first times I used a pressure washer, I actually etched the patio furniture that I was cleaning and basically ruined it.

    TOM: Whoops.

    DON: So these are powerful enough to get the job done but not powerful enough to where you would get into trouble.

    So let’s talk about the 2,300-PSI. It’s our latest entry into the electric power-wash segment. It runs at 2,300 PSI. It pumps 2.3 gallons of water per minute, which is an ample amount. Much more – in fact, twice as much – as the 2,000-PSI unit that we sell, as well. Which means that not only does it clean but it also has enough water to wash away what you actually have cleaned.

    It’s a great tool. And one of the interesting things about it is if you recall using a gas pressure washer, you start the gas motor and it runs until you shut it off. And the pump actuates when you pull the trigger. On an electronic or an electric pressure washer, the whole unit comes on and off as you actuate the trigger on the wand. So when you’re not cleaning, it’s totally silent; it’s not running. When you pull the trigger again, then it begins to pick back up and it does its job. And it’s really nice because it’s not intrusive to the environment, your neighbors aren’t going to get upset at the droning on and on of the gas motor running for hours. And it’s really a very effective tool to clean. It’s easy, it doesn’t take a lot of space in the garage and it’s very, very environmentally friendly.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know, Don, it’s one of those tools that you don’t want to put down. I always find that it’s one of those things you start and then all of a sudden, you’re doing your yard furniture, then you do the patio, then you do the siding, then you’re doing your neighbor’s house. It really is one of those things you just want to keep doing.

    DON: It is a little intoxicating like that. You go, “OK, what else can I clean?” So I use mine to clean my – I actually use it to clean my vehicle. I clean my driveway and my walkways, my porch. I actually use it to clean the carpet in my boat. So it’s very, very versatile. And again, it’s strong enough to do the job that you need to do but it’s not so powerful that you’re going to do damage to what you’re cleaning. So it’s very safe for a consumer to use.

    TOM: Don Koon from Greenworks.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Don, and filling us in on the new technology and all the amazing things you’re doing with battery power and the new line of pressure washers.

    If you’d like to learn more and check out some of their products, go to GreenworksTools.com. That’s GreenworksTools.com.

    Thanks, Don.

    DON: Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a lot of buzz lately about the effects of Lyme disease. But another virus carried by ticks is even more lethal and it’s popping up in the United States. We’re going to tell you how to protect yourself, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    LESLIE: Jim in Delaware is on the line and has a question about a dryer vent. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JIM: I have a dryer vent that’s coming through a concrete wall. And the three flaps that – have broken off. I was wanting a good way to replace the vent. Or can I just place the flappers or what?

    TOM: Yeah, I would replace the exterior part of that dryer vent: the exhaust port.

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: If those fans – if those little blades that flip up and down have broken off, I would just replace that. Yeah, you’re going to pull it out of the existing hole. And depending on how it was put in place, it may be tough to get out.

    JIM: It’s concrete.

    TOM: OK. Well, but depending on how it was attached to the concrete, it might be difficult. You may actually have to grab a piece – a pair of shears, like Y-snips (ph), and cut it out. It’s just sheet metal. And then you’re going to basically install a new one in its place.

    And when you buy the new dryer vent, they usually sell the dryer vent and they sell the metal venting separate. Make sure you get a piece of hard metal dryer-exhaust duct to run through that concrete – through that hole.

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: And then if there’s flex duct, you can attach it on the other side. Try to keep it as regular duct as far as possible, because the flex duct is – has a lot of resistance to it and the clothes don’t dry quite as quickly.

    JIM: Great. Thank you for the advice.

    LESLIE: Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. We’ve got a great prize to give away this hour. A lot of us are using a lot of electricity as the summer season gets into full swing. Air conditioning, all different things around the house are on and buzzing. But maybe you don’t want to be spending that much money and maybe you don’t know where to start.

    Well, we’ve got a great solution for you. It’s the Sense Home Energy Monitor worth 299 bucks. Now, Sense is the single best way that we’ve found to help you save energy and know exactly what’s going on with your house in real time.

    Check it out. There’s a great video demo online at GetSense.com. Once you install it, the Sense app is going to tell you what’s on, what’s off, what’s using how much energy in real time. Plus, you can avoid problems by identifying any unusual activity that’s going on in your house before it becomes an issue, like say you have a sump pump that seems to be running and running but maybe you’re on vacation and you know it’s not raining. Well, that could signal that something else is going on at home, like a big water leak.

    It’s a great prize. It’s a great product to add to your house if you’re looking to save some dollars. You can save a lot by winning it. It’s $299. Check it out right now, the Sense Home Energy Monitor, at GetSense.com.

    TOM: We’ve got one going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    MARILYN: Hello. I have moved into an old home that has unfinished and some finished wooden floors that were carpeted. Unfortunately, in taking that carpet up, former pets that were here have left their mark all over the floors.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    MARILYN: There are stains and there is a dreadful, dreadful odor throughout the house. The dogs that I have brought in have continued that process and now have to live outside. My question is: what do I do? What can I do to get the odor out of these wooden floors?

    TOM: What I would do, Marilyn, is I would sand the floors. This is the one time where I think it makes a lot of sense to do a thorough sanding of these floors.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’ve got to completely refinish.

    TOM: Yeah, especially if you’re saying that some of the floors were unfinished to begin with. So I would sand all the floors to take off some material, vacuum up that sawdust and then I would add three coats of polyurethane.

    Now, I’m sorry, let me back up. Before you polyurethane, if they’re still stained, then I would add some wood stain to the floor to darken the color a little bit and hide any of those remaining marks. Because if you try to go totally natural, the stains will obviously show up. But if you add – you know, it’s like a slight tinting to – a tinted stain. Like, say, one of the colors that I use a lot is called Early American, which is like a very light, brown color. That looks really nice and does hide some of those stains that could be in the wood. And then add the three coats of urethane.

    LESLIE: A big trend is dark gray, almost even like an ebonized wood floor. Dark wood floors, even if it’s a super-dark chocolate or almost on the black/gray scale, really are impactful and beautiful and that could hide a lot, as well.

    TOM: Yeah. And well, that’s a good point. I mean you could – you don’t have to go dark is what I’m trying to say. You could just go just very fairly lightly. But from there, I think you’ll be good to go. I think once you put the urethane coating on it, you’ll no longer have the odor issues.

    MARILYN: Love your show. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, here’s a happy thought for your next summer adventure: there’s a new virus being carried by ticks that’s popping up in the Northeastern U.S. It’s called Powassan and it’s reported to be even more harmful than Lyme disease.

    LESLIE: Yes. So while you’re enjoying the great outdoors this summer, make sure that ticks and the diseases they carry aren’t along for the ride.

    TOM: Yeah. So when you’re out in nature, especially if you’re in the brush or in the woods, you want to wear long sleeves. And if you’re wearing pants, tuck them into your boots or socks. And make sure all your clothes are light-colored so those ticks are easy to spot.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You also want to use insect repellant, ideally the kind that’s designed to be applied to your clothing. And once you’re back inside, inspect yourself, your kids and even your pets for ticks.

    Now, you want to find them before they bite and then burrow into the skin.

    TOM: And if you do find one, don’t panic. Infected ticks don’t usually transmit the Lyme organism in the first 24 hours. Just call your doctor and schedule a check.

    LESLIE: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question. What are you working on?

    DAVE: I had a couple electric, plumbing and heating contractors go ahead and come give me estimates and now I’m – PEX piping put in. And they discouraged me from it because they were told that it was made with soy oil so that they could put a green label on it. And they already had to replace, in some homes, the PEX piping because rodents had been chewing on the pipes.

    TOM: Yeah, I guess I could see that. I can see rodents potentially chewing on plastic pipes. But I will tell you that I have not heard that as a long-term – as a widespread problem. PEX piping is really quite good and enables you to do things that you can’t do with metal piping – with copper piping. And it’s just a lot less expensive to install, as well.

    So, I don’t think it’s a wide enough problem that I would stop using it. I would continue to use it.

    DAVE: But you don’t know if they make it with soy oil or not.

    TOM: No, I don’t. But I tell you what, rodents will chew anything. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe they had some rodent issues with it. But I don’t think it’s a problem that would prevent me from using PEX.

    DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.

    TOM: Alright, Dave. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, what are you working on? We can help. Call in your question now to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    Up next, before you throw anything out, decide if it can be used for something completely different. Sound crazy? Not really. We’re going to have an ultimate repurposing tip, just ahead.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to take your calls, your questions about your home, your house, your décor, your remodeling projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call, right now, presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: And don’t forget at MoneyPit.com, you can always post your question in the Community section, just like Frank from California did.

    Now, Frank writes: “I want to replace windows and walls of stucco. What’s the best way to cut and remove the stucco?”

    TOM: Well, Frank, the trick would be to not cut and remove the stucco but to cut and remove the windows and then put new windows in those sort of old spaces. That’s kind of the way that replacement windows are built. They’re built to fit inside the old window jambs, the outside frame sort of that window.

    And the reason for that is – and in your case is particularly applicable – because you don’t want to have to tear out stucco to put a window in. But if you could just remove the sash, right – that’s the part that slides up and down; you remove the top sash and the bottom sash – you end up with this very clean wood frame. And then the replacement window is designed to fit right inside that. It’s trimmed on the outside, it’s trimmed on the inside and you never had to touch any part of that stucco whatsoever.

    So, what you want to do here, Frank, is not tear it out with the stucco. Basically, you want to order replacement windows to fit. I would work with a replacement-window company, though, because it has to be ordered, it has to be measured just right so this all comes together. But it really is the best way to get a nice, clean, new energy-efficient window in that space.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Deborah who says, “I have a dog who I can’t keep from jumping and scratching the inside of the front and back doors. I’ve refinished them twice but they continue to get damaged. Do you have any clever, practical or decorative ways to protect my doors?”

    TOM: If you used a tough finish and they’re still getting through that – you know, one thing that I’ve seen, Leslie, for dogs that jump is to put clear Plexiglas on the inside surface of that.

    LESLIE: I’ve seen it.

    TOM: And yeah, I mean it’s a little tacky but it does – it looks a heck of a lot better than the doors getting all scratched up and it’s easy to clean. So, take a sheet of Plexiglas just as high as the dog jumps and attach it to the back side of that door.

    LESLIE: You could always put shoes on the dog. Just an idea, Deb.

    TOM: Well, the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – these are key to a green lifestyle. And Leslie has tips to help with one green table-building project that delivers all three, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. This really is a tip that’s truly about repurposing and it’s a great trick of the trade. Think about turning unusual items that you’ve got around the house into functional and good-looking side tables. There are so many things that you might have on hand that could perform this double duty, so let’s think about it.

    You know those glazed, ceramic garden stools that you see? You can find them everywhere, from discount shops to super high-end stores. They can really look fantastic as little, unexpected side tables or even in the bathroom as a little place to put a candle or an orchid or some rolled-up towels. Just again, something that you might not initially use it for becomes suddenly something that you couldn’t think of not having before.

    Now, rain drums, vintage wire baskets, old suitcases, even musical instruments can work just as well. All you need to make that transformation complete is a custom piece of tempered glass that you can use as a tabletop. And suddenly, this one, ordinary piece that was kind of lying in waste at your house becomes a really functional and unique side table.

    So, think creatively. Sometimes, look at a piece upside-down, look at it a different way, turn it over. You never know. You might have a great table.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We hope we’ve given you some creative solutions to your home improvement questions. You can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to our website at MoneyPit.com. But for right now, that’s all the time we have but the show does continue online.

    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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