Tips to Keep Ticks Away, Summer Vacation Season Security Advice, How to Pick the Perfect Chainsaw and more
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
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: Give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your home improvement project. We want to solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Need some tips and advice on a project that you are about to start or perhaps you’re just thinking about a project? Want to know where to begin? Begin with this: 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a great hour planned for you. Coming up, the hottest part of the summer always brings out the most bugs. And ticks are especially dangerous because of the diseases that they carry. We’re going to have tips on how you can avoid ticks and the threats to your health that they bring with them.
LESLIE: And also ahead, summer-vacation season is often a bonanza for burglars. We’re going to teach you the simple and low-cost steps that you can take, right now, to keep your home safe.
TOM: Plus, does the word “chainsaw” make you think of heavily bearded men wearing plaid? This versatile tool is not just for lumberjacks. Once you own one, you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood. We’re going to help you figure out what you need to know to choose the right chainsaw for your project, with expert tips from the folks at Stihl.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the BerryBreeze for your refrigerator. It’s a handy device that will release activated oxygen, which will keep fresh foods from going bad so quickly.
TOM: It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: J.C. in Missouri is on the line with a water-heater issue. Tell us what’s going on.
J.C.: Say, I’ve got a seven-year-old water heater and I have to change my heating element every six months, especially during the wintertime. It builds up a lot of calcium in it. And I was wondering if you know anything about that or a product that I can use to eliminate that problem.
TOM: Well, if you have mineral salts that are building up a lot, you can use a water softener. There’s one that doesn’t require any salt and it’s called EasyWater.
TOM: And it’s an electronic water softener that hooks up to your main water line. And you plug it in and it basically forces the mineral deposits to not stick. It keeps them liquid or keeps them moving through the water so it doesn’t stick to water heaters and things of that nature.
That said, I don’t necessarily think that mineral-salt deposits are the reason that your electric coils are burning out every six months. I wonder if you’ve got a bad batch of coils or you’re buying them all at the same place. I wonder if there is any kind of fluctuation in the voltage to the water heater. There may be another cause for those to burn out so quickly, because they certainly shouldn’t be doing that. And if you had any kind of mineral buildup, it’s going to be in the bottom of the water heater, not on the coils.
J.C.: Oh, OK. Yes, I do have that white calcium. Every time I drain the water heater, I have to get something to scrape out the bottom of the water heater. Yes, you are right about that. Yes, you are right.
TOM: So, if you use a water softener like EasyWater, I think that that will help.
J.C.: I’m going to try it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in California is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
CAROL: I have an old house. It sits high off the ground and it’s one of the houses that when they dismantled the camps, they took houses out and people bought them and set them up. And it’s all open underneath and it is freezing cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Is there something that I can do underneath the house?
TOM: So there’s no insulation?
CAROL: I don’t think so. Very little, if any.
TOM: Yeah. Are there – is it like a sort of open floor joist? Like do you see the floor joists when you look under and up?
CAROL: You know what? I haven’t been under the house.
TOM: Yeah. Well, look, you’ve got to get somebody under there, Carol, to see what the structure is. But we have the technology, OK?
TOM: You know, if it’s a standard floor-joist construction, you can add insulation in between the floor joists and then under that, you could use 2-inch insulating foam board and then nail that to the bottom of the floor. And that would seal up the floor from the cold air that’s getting up in there.
And I would also take a look at the attic to make sure that that’s insulated. And you just may have a house that needs a few very basic, energy-saving improvements to it.
CAROL: Alright. Well, I appreciate that information.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home improvement or your home design or décor question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’d love to give you a hand. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, don’t let ticks ruin summer fun. We’re going to have tips on how these bugs can hitch a ride and teach you how to avoid the bites, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
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: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question.
And one caller is going to win the BerryBreeze System. This is an interesting product. It’s a battery-operated, patented device that uses activated oxygen or O3 to eliminate unwanted odors and tastes in your refrigerator.
LESLIE: Now, this is such a great product because not only does it take care of bad tastes and smells, it’s actually going to keep your food fresher longer. Even in the fridge, your fruits and veggies can spoil kind of quickly. But with the BerryBreeze, you’ll notice that your fresh food stays fresh much longer.
TOM: And that’s because of the O3, which is completely safe. It slows the growth of microorganisms. It’s a good product that will save you money and prevent waste.
Check it out at BerryBreeze.com. And give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Bobby in North Carolina is very busily trying to remove a red-wine stain from a kitchen floor. Did you have an awesome party or just a tipsy evening?
BOBBY: No. Well, I had a dinner party and I had a person who just actually – it had been raining outside and their shoes were a little slick and they had a glass of wine and was walking across and just slipped. Needless to say, this glass of red wine went all over our kitchen vinyl floor. And we thought we had it all cleaned up but about a day later, we saw this huge, red stain on the floor.
TOM: Oh, wow.
BOBBY: And we have tried OxiClean, we’ve tried a product called OOPS!, Goo Off, Clorox bleach. And nothing seems to even fade it.
TOM: Wow. Well, unfortunately, I suspect that since it sat on that overnight, that you may have absorbed into the vinyl or it may have been – have created a reaction, an oxidation between the – in the vinyl itself, which means it’s physically turned colors.
Sometimes, when you have a rubber mat in front of a kitchen, where you have one of those little kitchen rugs and people stand on it while they’re washing dishes and so on, you pull that up, you get what looks like a stain underneath.
TOM: But it’s really not a stain; it’s a chemical reaction between the rubber that’s in the mat and the vinyl that’s in the floor. I wonder, to myself, whether that could have happened from the wine and the alcohol and the grapes that are in that wine, whether it actually physically changed the color of the vinyl, in which case there’s really no stain left; that’s the color of the vinyl. It just has changed and now it’s not pleasant anymore.
LESLIE: Is it an area you can cover with a rug?
BOBBY: Well, unfortunately not. And I don’t – I really hate to – in this townhouse, we’ve just moved there and I hate to have to tear up a whole floor and have it replaced. But if you were going to recommend a product to even see if it would fade it or take it up, is there something other than what I’ve used you would recommend?
TOM: Bobby, when you tried bleach on this, did you simply just try to sort of wipe it on, wipe it off kind of a thing?
BOBBY: I did the first time and then I actually poured some Clorox bleach in the area and just sort of let it set there for three or four minutes and then tried wiping it up. But nothing changed the color at all.
TOM: OK. So what you might want to try to do is to dilute the bleach with water in a ratio of about one part bleach to four parts water. And then soak a towel in this. Get it nice and wet and then lay that rag with the bleach mixture in it over the stain and let it sit there for about an hour.
TOM: And let’s see if that tends to pull it out.
BOBBY: Alright. Well, I greatly appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Jean in Pennsylvania needs some help with a roofing question. You’ve got black marks on there. Do you think it’s moss? Tell us what it looks like.
JEAN: I don’t know what it is. It is in the sun most of the day, so it’s not under a tree or it’s not in the shade, really. And I don’t know if it could be some kind of a mold or something that would be causing it. I tried spraying it with bleach to no avail, so I was wondering if there’s some product out there that …
TOM: Yeah, there’s a product called Wet & Forget that will work very well for this. And just like the name implies, you simply mix this up – it’s a concentrate – you spray it on the roof and it sits on the roof. And if there’s any mold, mildew, algae that’s causing these stains, it will attack them and make them disappear.
JEAN: Oh, well, that’s good. It probably is a mold because even though my driveway is in the sun all day, I found that there was a mold accumulating on that, also. So I guess I could use the same product for both?
JEAN: Great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Well, we are in what is traditionally the hottest part of the summer: the dog days of summer, as we like to call it. And it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. That’s why now it’s important to take steps to make sure those ticks don’t ruin your summer fun.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, ticks and Lyme disease that they can carry are major threats to your health. So you have to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you’re outdoors.
First of all, you want to try to always wear long sleeves, tuck your pant cuffs into boots or socks, which isn’t the most stylish but it’s very effective. And choose light-color clothing. This way, it’ll be easy to spot those ticks if they’re on you. Then you want to layer on insect repellent that’s designed to be applied to both your skin and your clothing.
TOM: And while you’re outdoors, you want to stay in the center of hiking paths and avoid grassy and marshy areas. Ticks don’t jump. Instead, they sort of hang onto shrubs and tall grass just waiting for you to brush by.
And once you’re back home, make sure you inspect yourself and your kids for any of those clinging ticks before the bites happen.
LESLIE: David in Texas is dealing with some rotting wood. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: I have an area on my house. I removed my siding and there’s a low spot where the porch meets my house. And the water stayed there and it rotted out my siding and I pulled it off. The bottom lower plate is also rotted.
DAVID: And I dug all of it out – all the dry rot out – and I was wondering what would be the best to put in there.
TOM: OK. So where the siding reached the porch, that all rotted. And because the water was sitting there, it actually went into the frame itself and rotted out the sill plate of the wall?
TOM: OK. So where have you – have you exposed the wall from the porch side? So is the siding torn off there?
DAVID: Right. I pulled off the bottom sheet of siding.
TOM: So what you have to do here is a little wall surgery. You have to cut out that sill – the rotted area of sill – and you have to slip a new sill underneath the studs. Is that possible from that side?
DAVID: I don’t think so. I was wondering if there was some type of composite I could put in there.
TOM: Well, the thing is the sill is a member of the structure, OK? So the studs would sit on top of the sill and the sill sits on top of the foundation. So you can’t really fill the sill or – like you would, say, a rotted piece of wood that you fill with wood putty, because it’s not going to be structurally sound. If the area underneath the stud itself is not compressed and rotted out, then maybe you could just walk away from it and leave it alone now that you fixed the leak issue. But if it’s structurally damaged, the only thing you can do is dig that out.
We see damaged sills all the time with termite infestation, for example. Now, usually it’s easiest to do this from the inside of the house.
Is the house on a basement?
DAVID: No, it doesn’t have a basement.
TOM: So it’s on a crawlspace or a slab?
DAVID: It’s on a slab.
TOM: OK. Yeah, really, what you have to do is remove the siding. You can use a tool called a Sawzall. You know what that is? A reciprocating saw? And you can reach into the wall with that, cut out the old sill, slip in a new sill and put it all back together. That’s the way – the right way to do that repair.
DAVID: Alright. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Being that I’m trying to be more conscious of the energy that we use and most times that we don’t use, as far as wasting – so one thing that I’m contemplating whether or not to do is putting on a timer for my water heater in my home.
JOHN: Being the fact that we only really need the hot water in the early morning, taking a shower, or in the evening times when we come home, is it doable? Is it worth investing and putting a timer in your system for that? And is that something that the average homeowner can do or is that something that you have to get a licensed contractor for?
TOM: Well, first of all, it is a good project to do because you’re right: you don’t need your water heater heating water to 110 degrees 24-7. You only need it when you are home, when you’re showering, when you’re bathing, things like that. And it will stay warm for the rest of the time, so setting the water to heat only for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening makes sense.
TOM: That said, unless you’re very experienced with electricity, it’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project because it is or could be quite dangerous. You have to turn off the power at the breaker panel and then you have to install an electrical box between the water heater and the panel.
And there’s a type of timer made by Intermatic called – the Little Grey Box is what it usually says on it. It’s the Little Grey Box.
JOHN: OK. Well, that’s great. Well, thank you. Hey, it’s a great show. I enjoy listening. Getting a lot of ideas.
LESLIE: Rose in Pennsylvania is on the line who has a problem – and I’m sorry to say in this horrific, hot summer – cooling her home. Tell us what’s going on.
ROSE: Well, actually, it’s just one room. The house is air conditioned but we have a room addition that was put on over a concrete porch and below that, a basement. And I was told that we couldn’t get a duct or an outlet into this room. And I heard Richard Trethewey from This Old House talking. He was going to talk about heating and air-conditioning a room without ducts. And unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to listen to it and I wondered if you could tell me about that.
TOM: Yeah. What Richard was talking about is something that we call “mini-split ductless.”
Now, in a situation like this, a mini-split-ductless system would be perfect. Because, like the name, you don’t have any ducts, so you don’t have to have a traditional air handler and then ducts that extend into the space.
A mini-split ductless consists of a compressor that’s outside and then the air handler, which hangs on the wall inside your addition. And there’s a refrigerant tube and electrical wires that go from one to the next. And when the thermostat tells it to come on, the mini-split-ductless system will come on. It will cool your house and it will also – could potentially warm it, as well, because you can get a mini-split-ductless system that’s set up as a heat pump, as well as just an air conditioner. So you could have additional heat in that space, as well as cooling.
They’re made by a wide variety of manufacturers. You could take a look at, for example, Mitsubishi.
TOM: Mr. Slim makes one. Fujitsu makes one.
And I have one in my office – actually, in my studio. And I have one in the studio because it’s so quiet, we can be on the radio even with the mini-split ductless running.
ROSE: Well, that’s great. And the – if it had heating, obviously that would be an electrical heating, right?
TOM: Well, it’s a heat pump.
ROSE: Oh, OK. Because we have oil heat for the house and air conditioning but just this one room …
TOM: Yeah, it’s electrical, yeah. But it’s a heat-pump system. Basically, the difference between heating and cooling, when you’re using this, is a heat pump reverses the refrigeration cycle so that you get warm air inside, as opposed to cold air.
ROSE: Oh, OK. And are there any estimates, like just starting out, what price might be? I know it depends on, I imagine, the – how large a room is. But I just wondered, into the thousands, of course?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, it will be into the thousands. I’m going to say probably a couple of thousand dollars.
ROSE: For the unit plus installation?
TOM: Right, exactly. Yeah. It’s not inexpensive but it’s a real problem-solver.
TOM: And once you have it, you’ll be so much more comfortable. And you’ll get the use out of that room, you know? Right now, you can’t use the room too much, so you’ll get the use out of it.
ROSE: Well, we have the door open and the air and the cool – I mean heat comes in somewhat but you need a fan. In the winter, you need a little heater to add to it.
TOM: Yeah, this is a perfect solution for you, Rose. Take a look at the mini-split-ductless systems. They have to be professionally installed but it’s going to make you much more comfortable in that space.
ROSE: OK. Well, thanks a lot and I do enjoy listening to you every week.
LESLIE: Still ahead, do you think a chainsaw is better left to the pros? Well, not so. It can actually be a great tool for the average do-it-yourselfer. We’re going to have tips on choosing the perfect chainsaw for your project, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And when you think of a chainsaw, you might imagine plaid and heavily bearded lumberjacks slicing through lumber with incredible speed and efficiency. But a chainsaw isn’t just for pros. There are dozens of projects in your own neighborhood that could be made easier with the right tool.
Here to help us choose the right saw for you is Kent Hall. He is the senior product manager for Stihl.
KENT: Hey. Thanks, Tom. Good to be here.
TOM: And listen, I said “neighborhood” because once you own a chainsaw, you become the most popular guy in the neighborhood. This is the guy that everyone loves to tap for the fallen branch and a lot more, right?
KENT: That’s true, that’s true. And as you mentioned in your introduction, the chainsaw is a very handy and efficient tool to have. But it also can be a very dangerous tool if it’s not handled properly or properly maintained. It could result in serious injury or even death sometimes, unfortunately. But yeah, it is something that does come in handy around the home.
And you don’t necessarily have to have the biggest and baddest chainsaw to be purchased. There are a huge variety of models that are available to the homeowner to meet their needs.
TOM: Let’s start with the basics here, Kent. The first choice, I would think, is how you want a chainsaw to be powered. Now, you’ve got electric, gas and battery-powered, right? What would move a homeowner towards choosing one over the other?
KENT: Well, certainly, it would definitely have to be the needs. And they have to understand how much wood they’re going to be cutting. Are they just going to be trimming branches, whatever? Also, are they close to an electric source, if they want to go to – with a cordless or a corded electric chainsaw, or would they prefer something more environmentally friendly, like a lithium-ion-battery cordless chainsaw?
TOM: Now, you think of lithium-ion battery-powered tools for many types of applications today: circular saws, drills and so on. A chainsaw would seem that it takes a lot of power. It’s got to be on the – one of the bigger power-consuming appliances for a battery-powered. What kind of a life can you get out of a battery-powered chainsaw?
KENT: The battery, it actually depends on the number of cells that are in the lithium-ion battery. But usually, with our products, they’re designed to run as if – you have to look at the battery as if it’s the fuel tank, like on a gasoline chainsaw. And they’re designed to run about the same amount of time as a gasoline-powered saw. So you get about 25 to 35 minutes run time out of a good-quality battery saw.
TOM: Yeah, that’s terrific. Now, you mentioned earlier about the importance of being safe. And I know that that’s something that’s very important to Stihl, that you design a lot of safety into your equipment. So I want to talk about some of those features so folks are familiar with them. And I think the idea of a quick-stop feature is really, really critical so that that blade is not going to continue to spin after you sort of take your finger off the trigger. How does that work?
KENT: Well, it was a feature that was designed and – by Stihl back in the 60s. And it’s evolved in its design but it’s designed to, as you mentioned, stop the chain within milliseconds, based upon what they call “kickback forces” or the various reactive forces that are a result of that chain moving around that guide bar and coming in contact with a hard surface.
And so, the original chain brakes, if the hand guard is – when the saw came back and the hand guard touched the operator’s back of the hand or the wrist, it would push the lever and activate a brake around the sprocket. But today’s technology, it’s actually inertia-driven where you don’t necessarily have to have your hand or arm in the area of the hand guard. As long as you have your hand on the front handlebar and the saw happens to kick back, that reactive force will – is enough that it should trigger that quick-stop feature and stop that chain within a fraction of a second.
TOM: Yeah. And how impressive is it that you guys came up with that in the 60s? So for other – over 50 years, you’ve been designing safety into your chainsaws.
Now, when it comes to gasoline-powered equipment, sort of the nightmare scenario that most people will come to mind when they think about it is the guy out trying to start his lawn mower, he’s pulling the cord over and over and over and over again and it’s just not coming on. You guys actually have designed something called Easy Start into your gas-powered saws. How does that work?
KENT: It alleviates the amount of pulling force that you need to pull that starter cord over. And so, those people that find it – have found it difficult, as you mentioned, to pull a traditional type of gasoline engine over, whether it is a lawn mower or a chainsaw, now have the opportunity with Easy2Start – it doesn’t need as much pulling force.
And it’s kind of like a spring inside of a spring. And it winds itself and then releases once the engine compression is overcome by those springs. So, much – it makes starting a lot easier with this type of feature.
TOM: Now, with a gasoline-powered saw, what kind of maintenance do you have to do to take care of it and keep it running properly?
KENT: Well, the interesting thing with – as technology has evolved with even these chainsaws, they have a philosophy similar to the automotive industry, where they followed with modular ignition systems, electronic ignition which – now you don’t have to tune up the products, the chainsaws, as often.
The chain – the spark plug will last a lot longer because – and with the emissions technology now, these engines now have less harmful emissions that are emitted. So they’re more fuel-efficient, they burn cleaner and – but even longer run times between having to clean the filter – the air filter.
The maintenance of that, because of their designs, and the technology that’s put even into the saw chains and everything, they stay sharp a lot longer if you use the saw properly. Certainly, if you happen to get into dirty wood or hit the dirt, ground or whatever, it’s going to dull it. But the design of the chains now are designed to run longer and stay sharper a lot longer.
TOM: We’re talking to Kent Hall – he’s the senior product manager with Stihl – about how to choose a chainsaw for your application.
And Kent, you mentioned about the long run time. I think one thing that wears people out when they’re using a chainsaw is the vibration – the natural vibration – that occurs in the saw. What kind of anti-vibration technology does Stihl put in its equipment?
KENT: They refer to them as buffers. And they can be a combination of materials or they could be just a simple rubber buffer that’s strategically located in various spots on – in the chainsaw. Also, they use a combination of springs and buffer – rubber buffers – to isolate the vibration from the operator.
But one of the key things, when it comes to a chainsaw – and particularly with Stihl – Stihl makes its own saw chain and guide bars, which they refer to it as a cutting system. And the saw chain is actually one of the keys to where a vibration comes from – is that cutter impacts the surface of the wood that is transferred, in vibration, back through the guide bar to the engine and then to the operator. Well, even the design of the saw chain now is designed to reduce that initial shock of that cutter hitting the wood surface. So, they’ve done a lot in the area.
TOM: Those are a lot of great features. And as you said earlier, chainsaw safety very, very important. You want to make sure that you learn how to use your tool properly. You want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You want to wear protective gear. You want to be aware of your working conditions. And I know that you guys have some great videos on your website at StihlUSA.com that can walk us through a lot of those topics, as well.
So, thank you so much, Kent Hall, for stopping by The Money Pit.
Kent Hall is the senior product manager at Stihl Incorporated. And if you’d like to learn more about the Stihl Products, go to their website at StihlUSA.com. And Stihl is spelled S-t-i-h-l – USA.com.
Thanks again, Kent.
KENT: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Alright. And still to come, summer is the busy season for burglars, if you can imagine that they’ve got one. Well, while millions of Americans vacation, those break-ins do increase. We’re going to teach you about some simple and low-cost ways to keep your house out of the crosshairs, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the BerryBreeze System. Now, this is a battery-operated, patented device that will use activated oxygen or O3 to eliminate unwanted odors and tastes in your fridge. Not only does it take care of bad tastes and smells, it can actually help keep your food fresher longer.
TOM: And it’s interesting because the average American wastes 40 percent of their fresh foods because of spoilage. With something like the BerryBreeze, you’re going to notice that your fresh food stays that way a lot longer. And that’s because of the O3, which is completely safe and slows the growth of microorganisms. And you’re not even going to need plastic containers or bags to keep your fruits and veggies fresh.
You can check it out and read about the science at BerryBreeze.com. Then give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that unit at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, summer season is when many of us take long vacations. That’s why break-ins increase this time of year. Now, you can do several simple and inexpensive things to keep your home safe. Burglars don’t want to work hard to get into your house. So, if your home is not an easy target, they’re going to move on.
TOM: The first thing to do is to eliminate dark, shadowy spots around your house by trimming back bushes and shrubs. Also, consider motion-sensor lighting around the perimeter. You can use timers on inside lights so it appears someone is home. And make sure you’ve set those timers to have lights come off and on in different rooms of your house at different times. This is going to make it look like somebody is around when really they’re not.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And you don’t want to leave anything outside that a burglar could use to get into your home. You know, tools and ladders should be stored in a garage or locked in a shed. You want to make sure that somebody is taking in your newspaper and mail or just put a hold on things. Leave some drapes open. Hanging all of your drapes and shades down for an extended time, that really sends a signal that no one’s home. Plus, if somebody gets in, then nobody from the outside is going to see that something shady is going on inside.
TOM: It could be a good idea to have your neighbor use your driveway. Their comings and goings will make it look like the home’s occupied. And if you can, have your calls forwarded. If not, turn down the ringer. It’s important: don’t advertise your absence on social media, either.
Follow these easy and inexpensive tips to help keep your house from being a target for a break-in.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Sue from New York who’s dealing with some moldy caulking. Tell us what’s going on.
SUE: I have a bathroom that has mold all over the caulking.
SUE: I’ve tried bleach and water but I was wondering if there’s something else I can do to get rid of the mold on the caulking.
TOM: Well, sometimes the mold really takes hold, literally, in the caulk and it grows into it and it discolors the caulk. So if you’ve cleaned it in those traditional ways, probably not going to come out. So I would recommend that you recaulk the bathroom tub. And let me tell you how to do that successfully.
First of all, you can purchase a product that’s called a “caulk softener.” It’s kind of like a paint softener or a paint stripper but it softens the caulk and makes it easy to get all of the old stuff out of the tub and the joint between the tub and the tile wall and so on. Then once you’ve got it all out of there and all cleaned up and dried out – and I like to wipe the wall with a bleach-and-water solution in between, just to make sure we’re killing any mold spores that are left behind.
The next thing that you’re going to do, Sue, is fill the tub with water. And you’re doing that because you’re going to kind of weight it down. And then once it’s filled, you can go ahead and recaulk that seam.
Now, the caulk that you use, make sure you use one that has a mildicide in it. So if you use a kitchen-and-bath caulk, it probably is going to have a mildicide. I know that the DAP products have an additive called Microban; I’m sure there’s others, as well. And then once that caulk dries, then you let the water out of the tub, because then it comes back up and compresses the caulk. And when you step in to take a shower, it doesn’t cause as much stress to that caulk seam between the tub and the wall and it stays in place.
So, again, if you’ve already cleaned it, it’s probably a foregone conclusion that you’re not going to be able to get that mold out of the old caulk. I would just replace it. It’s not a hard job and it’ll look really nice when you’re done, OK?
SUE: Very good. Thank you very much. I really appreciate all your help.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, your refrigerator, it’s the most heavily used appliance that you’ve got in your house. And it can cost you a bundle if it’s not running efficiently. We’re going to have some tips to help it do so, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, time is running out, so you’ve got to enter The Money Pit Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Sweepstakes now. All you have to do is like us on Facebook, then you’ll enter. And you can share the sweepstakes with your buddies for some bonus entries.
TOM: Now, we’ve got great prizes, including a set of ceiling fans from Hunter, a Craftsman Quiet Lawn Mower and both a grill and propane to go with it from Blue Rhino. Visit Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit for all the details.
And you can also post your question there in The Money Pit Community section. And Roshonda (sp) did in Maryland and Roshonda (sp) says, “What, if any maintenance, does a fridge need? Mine is only a few years old but when I happened to be cleaning it – cleaning around it – I noticed the back feels a little warmer than I think it should.”
TOM: Well, the back is where the evaporator coils are. And typically, you are going to have some heat off of that.
Think about this: if you’ve ever seen a window air conditioner run, it always blows cold air inside and hot air outside. That’s kind of what you’re seeing; you’re seeing the refrigeration cycle.
But in general, you want to keep those coils clean and you want to inspect the seals around the refrigerator door. If they get marred or smashed, that causes the cold air to leak out. And that’s probably the single most costly thing that can go wrong with a refrigerator, aside from the compressor failing. Because when those seals go, you lose a lot of energy and that’s going to cost you more to run it.
LESLIE: Yeah. You want to keep those seals clean. You know, spilled juice and fruit juices, they really do not make a good seal. So a little maintenance now will go a long way.
TOM: Do you want a one-of-a-kind kitchen? Leslie has an idea on how you can get a great look for a very small budget, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. One of my design mantras has always been “make it your own.” It’s your space. You’ve got to live there. You want it to feel like you, so go for it.
Now, when it comes to your backsplash, most people think tile or maybe even the laminate extension that comes with the countertops that you see at the home center. But if you’ve got a blank slate there and you want to be a little creative and do something different, listen here, because this is a little unusual, but you can use vinyl wallpaper.
Here’s why. You can actually scrub it. It’s going to stand up to the heat and humidity that you’re going to generate in your kitchen. And here’s the best part: it comes in tons of different designs. So this way, your kitchen really isn’t going to look like anyone else’s on the block but it is going to look totally your own.
Now, you don’t have to go crazy. You can actually find designs that will compliment your counters and cabinets. And vinyl isn’t easy to cut, so you’re going to need some super-sharp scissors or a wallpaper razor knife, because those will work the best to give you a nice, straight cut. And vinyl wallpaper is pretty easy to install because vinyl won’t stick to vinyl.
Now, when it comes to the wallpaper itself, it depends on which way your pattern goes. Because a backsplash isn’t going to be wider than possibly 21 inches, which is generally the width of a roll of wallpaper: 21, 26, 27. It depends on the type of paper you get in the manufacturer.
So, if it’s just a basic pattern or a color blend that doesn’t need to go down the roll, as they say, you can railroad it the other way so that it will just be one smooth sheet and you just cut corner to corner. But if you do have to match seams, you want to make your cuts about a ½-inch overlay. You need to move it around until you get it to where you want and then you use special vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive. You can order it online or pick it up at your wallpaper store.
And it’s really something that you can you do that you will love. The only thing here is if you go a little crazy, you might have to take it down before you sell. But while you’re living there, live it up.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we are seeing on the Jersey Shore weather-resistant building materials can make a big difference in how your home stands up to storms. We’re going to teach you why everyone can benefit from these materials, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2014 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.)